May 21, 2017
In the Pea Patch
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The Farmer and the Farmer's daughter have a pea patch together. One of the best treasures of the early summer lies within a crisp, green pod: the sweet pea. One of the most satisfying vegetables to grow, this became a perfect project her to try out her gardening skills. In February she seeded her own tray of peas, and watched with excitement when they sprouted and began to grow. Together, father and daughter transplanted the babies into straight rows, mulched them with straw and strung the first few rows of string. Most peas are climbers. Their tiny prehensile tendrils seek and find the string as if by some hidden perception. As the plants grow in stature, additional strings are added, encouraging them to reach to the sky, so that later their juicy green pods are easy to pluck. Peas thrive in cool weather and in our zone this means they are short-lived. The most perfect patch can be thwarted by a week of hot, dry weather. When temperatures rise, the peas get fat and bitter - a disappointing trick of nature for the young farmer. This year's patch looks marvelous. If all goes well we will be picking peas for more hours than you can imagine. All you have to do is open that CSA box and yum them up!
Tips on growing your own peas: it is late to plant peas, but still a fun project with kids. Purchase sugar snap peas for the quickest and most child-gratifying experience. Soak the seeds overnight for a jumpstart in germination. Simply fill a glass half full with water and add pea seed. In the morning, strain off the water and you are ready to plant. Peas are as happy in a large container as they are in the soil, so if you lack garden space, a pot will work nicely. Fill with potting soil and have your child poke holes about 1 inch deep all around the surface. You can squeeze a lot of peas in one pot, so don't be shy. Drop eat seeds into the holes, cover and water gently once or twice a day. Once they are sprouted they will appreciate a stick or pole to climb up, but are happy to sprawl all over the ground too. Once the white blossoms appear you won't have long to wait for the delight of the first sweet and crunchy pod to appear. The wonderful thing about the sugar snap pea is that they can be eaten pod and all, no shelling necessary. Even if you only reap a handful, the experience is magical - even for the Farmer and his daughter!
May 20, 2017
We Need Your Help!
100 Members in 1 month!
Calling on your support and creativity! We need 100 more members or we are going to be drowning in produce at the Farm!
Here's how you can help:
- If you haven't renewed yet, LOG IN - the Main Season starts June 5. We are counting on you!
- Share our Flyer found here on google docs also on our Facebook page if you can't open that link
- Choose one of our blog posts and share it via Facebook or Twitter
- Visit our Facebook page and like, share and comment on any posts - this gets them out into the news feed
- And BEST of ALL? Tell your friends why you chose Red Earth Farm! Word of mouth is our NUMBER ONE source of new members!
If each of you took ONE of these steps we will reach our quota! Small farms have small advertising budgets and need community support to get the word out. Thank you!
May 20, 2017
A New Partnership with New Bethany Ministries
By Charis Lindrooth
Recently we have launched the Community Supported Accessible Food initiative. One of the primary goals goal of this initiative is to make fresh, local produce accessible to those who face food scarcity. We are doing this is through partnerships with local organizations who share this common interest.
New Bethany Ministries is now officially one of these partners. Located in the south side of Bethlehem, New Bethany Ministries served over 57,000 meals to more than 1,700 unique individuals in 2016 alone. They also offer a significant food pantry open five days a week.
New Bethany Ministries serves a cross-section of the local population and their services are utilized by many people for many diverse reasons. Within the past few years New Bethany has experienced an increase in working poor individuals and families requiring services, as well as an increase in the number of vulnerable populations including children and the elderly.
Red Earth Farm is prepared to provide fresh, sustainably grown produce, ensuring that guests of the New Bethany Food Pantry have access to nourishing produce, recently harvested and grown on a Lehigh County farm. Each week of the growing season the New Bethany Pantry will be able to select items which will arrive in 5 bulk boxes every Wednesday. We estimate that the produce will provide vegetables for approximately 10 families each week, with a goal of increasing that number if the project is successful, and the need apparent.
The cost of this “Bulk Share” is funded in part by Red Earth Farm. The remaining cost depends on donations by individuals and organizations who have an interest in combating food scarcity in our urban regions.
A special thanks to the Lehigh Valley Friends Meeting for kicking off this partnership with a substantial donation!
Group donations totaling $114/week, or $2500 for the entire 22 week season, June through October, are needed. A single tax-deductible donation of just $45 ensures that approximately 1 family will have fresh, nutritious, locally grown produce as part of their meals for a month.
Tax-deductible donations of ANY amount can be made directly to New Bethany Ministries, tagged with “Red Earth Farm,” or online through the New Bethany Portal.
For over thirty years, the mission of New Bethany Ministries has been to provide opportunities for a secure future to the homeless, hungry, poor and mentally ill of the Lehigh Valley. Our organization’s goal is to help families and individuals who are capable to become self-sufficient and live independently. We also strive to identify and optimize opportunities to improve the quality of life for our guests who cope with mental illness, disabilities, and/or extreme poverty.
As the only comprehensive provider of basic services in a central location in the Lehigh Valley, New Bethany Ministries offers services through the following programs:
· Transitional Housing Program: 13 single room units of short-term, case-managed transitional housing for homeless families (both single and two-parent families) referred by Northampton and Lehigh Counties and with supportive services from providers. Our Transitional Housing Program is one of two programs in the Lehigh Valley that keeps families together as they work towards self-sufficiency and long-term stability (most Lehigh Valley organizations house dad separately from mom and the children).
· Restoration House Apartments: 10 apartments providing long-term, case-managed transitional housing for homeless families requiring enrollment in and completion of an educational program (both single and two-parent families). Additional goals of this program include increasing income via sustainable employment and securing permanent housing.
· Wyandotte Apartments: 7 permanent housing apartments for low-income families, most of whom are graduates of the transitional housing programs of New Bethany Ministries. Apartments are subsidized by the Bethlehem Housing Authority.
· Single Room Occupancy Program:
o Bethlehem: 15 single room occupancy units of case-managed housing in Bethlehem for low-income adult men and women, most of whom suffer from mental illness, disability, or emotional trauma.
o Columbia House: 20 case-managed single room occupancy units subsidized through Lehigh County Housing and one Section 8 apartment in Coplay, PA for low-income adult men and women, most of whom suffer from mental illness, disability, or emotional trauma.
o Grace House: 6 case-managed single room occupancy units in Allentown, PA for chronically homeless adult men and women, in partnership with the Lehigh Conference of Churches and Grace Episcopal Church.
· Mollard Hospitality Center: comprised of:
o The Meal Center – providing two meals daily to about 150 people Monday through Friday; a continental or hot breakfast and a hearty, nutritious lunch which is served by volunteer teams. Breakfast is also served two Sundays and Saturdays a month and special meals are served on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas thanks to generous volunteers.
o Emergency Food Pantry – Three-day food baskets are distributed to households residing in the 18015 area monthly. This program supports about 250 households a month.
o A Day Shelter open 8-4 Monday through Friday, with additional hours from December 1st through March 31st.
o Wellness Services: A twice-monthly primary medical care clinic run in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Health Network “Street Medicine” Program, and weekly life skills and mental health referral services through a bilingual representative run in partnership with Haven House.
o Other services include: the only free, public showers in the Valley, referrals to local services, as well as access to clothing, laundry, mail address services, and case management.
· Representative Payee Program: Homelessness prevention program providing financial case management, including direct bill payment, for low-income adults suffering from mental illness, disability, or emotional trauma.
May 13, 2017
Kitchen Magic: Mastering Kale
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
CSAs have what some might consider a bad reputation, others might argue good, for sending a lot of kale to their customers. If you are a kale lover, you can probably stop reading here, since you likely know all your favorite ways to consume large amounts of the nutrition-packed green. But if your taste buds balk at a big green pile of mushy brassica, you might want to read on.
Here are some tips on preparing a tasty feast out of your kale bonanza:
- First, be aware that while spring kale is quite tender, as the season progresses it gets a little tougher and the cooking time lengthens. If undercooked, it often remains on the dinner plate.
- Second, the bitterness of this green can deter some palates which proper seasoning can overcome.
Let’s look at three recipes that are simple and tasty for those who have been intimidated by kale in the past. Mind you, I’m often a hurried cook, and work in the kitchen from the seat of my pants, more than from a recipe book. I’m also partial to using seasonal, local veggies whenever possible, so if I use a recipe, I often adapt it to suit what’s in my CSA box. At the end of each recipe, I offer a link to a “real” more formal version, for those who want more detailed instructions.
1. Portuguese Kale Soup
2 large yellow onions diced fine, or chopped as you wish!
2 TBS butter or olive oil
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2-4 potatoes sliced 1/8 inch thick, or peeled and cubed if you prefer
1 bunch, or bag of kale, stripped from the stems, torn or chopped into bite size, and steamed for 10 minutes.
1/2 lb of chorizo, or mild sausage if spiciness is an issue for your crowd. Feel free to sub a vegan sausage.
Cannellini beans, 16 oz can, drained and rinsed
1-2 sprig rosemary, or 2 tsp dried
1-2 sprig thyme, of 1 tsp dried
Salt, pepper to taste
A dash of turmeric and paprika (optional)
Fresh basil for garnish, or sliced of lemon
In bottom of sturdy soup kettle, saute onions in butter, on medium heat, just until clear. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add potatoes and simmer 5-10 minutes. I often take a potato masher and loosely crush the potatoes into smaller pieces. Add kale and sausage. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Add beans, rosemary and thyme and seasoning to taste. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Serve with garnish. Double the recipe for fantastic leftovers.
2. Kale Pesto - I have yet to try making this, but plan to use it to make a nutrition-packed pizza. Spread the pesto on a prepared crust (preferably homemade) and top with your favorites: cheese, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic top my list.
3. Kale Salad with Hemp Seeds: The key to a successful kale salad is to massage it and let it marinate. This tenderizes it and gives it time to soak up some great flavor to counteract it’s bitterness. Take 1 bunch of kale, stripped from the stems and torn into bite size pieces and place it in a large salad bowl. Drizzle olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, salt to taste and add crushed garlic. Massage until the leaves turn oil and darker green. Let sit for at least an hour if possible. Add dried cranberries, hemp seeds, grapefruit and radishes. Drizzle a small amount of date balsamic vinegar, toss and enjoy.
April 21, 2017
Your Magic Kitchen: Part 1
By Charis Lindrooth
photo credit Caroline Attwood,
Way back when I was a real CSA member and not a Farmer's wife I received a partial share. Each week I eyed up that box with the goal of finishing it before the next one arrived. This was no easy task for a busy single mom who was working full-time. My then two-year-old was little help polishing off this box. However I wanted to eat more vegetables on a daily basis and this was one of the most simple and inspiring ways to eat more healthfully. Challenging myself to finish my box by the week's end became most of the most satisfying health journeys I have ever faced.
This post is the first in my series highlighting tips to make it easier for you and your family to eat more vegetables. For me one of the biggest obstacles to eating more veggies is the the amount of time it takes to prep vegetables. It's so much easier to slab to throw a slab of meat into a pan and throw a few potatoes in with it and call it a meal.
The first step to eating more vegetables is to take some time to do some vegetable prep before your busy week begins. Wouldn't you be more likely to cook at home and use more vegetables in your meals if your refrigerator was full of perfectly wash chopped and stored veggies just waiting for use. True you still have to do the washing, chopping and storing in advance, unless you're lucky enough to have a sous chef, but this can be done efficiently and even be fun if you involve your kids. My daughter has her own special chopping knife that is kid-safe and yet effective enough she feels involved. I find that her participation inspires her to eat more of these vegetables either while she's chopping them or later when they land on the plate.
So let’s get started. Ideally, you have done some menu planning before your CSA box arrives, but if you are like me, you probably haven’t. That means the box dictates your meals, or to put it more poetically provides inspiration. On CSA day, when you come home with your bag of goodies, stop before you shove the entire bag in the fridge and sit down with a glass of wine. Instead, follow these steps to ensure that you will be using this fresh bounty to the best of your ability.
- Assemble your tools: Clear off a bit of counter space, center a cutting board and line up a series of glass or plastic containers of various shapes and sizes. Have one large chopping knife, and 1 small paring knife and maybe a pair of scissors handy. A roll of paper towels, ziplock bags and a salad spinner are also helpful.
- Assess your CSA box and determine which items might be used for healthy snacking, which might be used for soup, salad or stir fry, and which might be used for smoothies or juicing. If you are already stuck for ideas, fear not, I will be addressing these choices in later posts.
- Chop items for snacking into bite-sized pieces. I like to place mine in a glass container so they are visible and enticing to refrigerator perusers.
- Chop soup, stir fry or steamable items and store in glass or plastic containers with lids or ziplock bags. Some items, such as broccoli and carrots can be tossed into the freezer for future soup. Diced onions and crushed garlic can be stored tossed with a little lemon juice, salt and olive oil and stored in fridge or freezer.
- Wash lettuce or salad mix, spin in salad spinner, and place in plastic container lined with a paper towel. You will be amazed how fresh it will keep. Be aware however that salad mix is more perishable than stiff head lettuce like romaine. Always use salad mix first. In fact I almost always use the salad mix on CSA night. It is only one day old and so packed with so much flavor it needs little else to make it tasty. In the spring I slice a little radish, add grapefruit sections and a bit of avocado for a refreshing side dish.
- Wash and trim smoothie and juicing items and store in ziplock bags lined with paper towels, or take it a step further and can the blender/juicer out, process and freeze in single serving containers.
Yes, this takes time, but it might be only 15 minutes now and the rest of your week is streamlined. And yes, produce that has been chopped does lose some nutritional value, but not as much as produce that you never eat.
We'd love to hear your veggie prep tricks! Comment here or email them to us for a future post!
Know someone who could eat more veggies? Please share this post and tell them about our CSA!
Get more info about our family farm here
April 15, 2017
Endeavor to Eat More Veggies
By Charis Lindrooth
Nothing cheers a person up about Tax Day more than the very first baby green salad out of the greenhouse. Come midsummer I might take salad with a ho-hum attitude (note that I said “might”), but in spring the return to our homegrown bounty is a relief. Some may call me a veggie snob, but I truly believe nothing tops fresh picked baby lettuce and radishes…except the summer heirloom tomatoes!
Everyday I think about the obstacles that keep me from eating 8-10 servings of vegetables daily - not an easy thing to accomplish, even for the Farmer’s Wife! I see the issue as two-fold. First is the ready access to fresh produce that inspires the palate. Second, is the time and know-how needed to prepare the vegetables in a way that satisfies the family. I am always looking for creative and simple ways to incorporate more vegetables into my family’s diet.
I have decided to run a “Kitchen Series" through this season offering tips on storage, preparation and time savers for the dedicated veggie eater. If you have suggestions or recipes, send them my way - I’d love to incorporate your ideas too!
Of course the first step to eating more vegetables is to buy, or grow, local produce. The flavor and nutrient value will leave your kids asking for more.
April 9, 2017
The Good Ol' Days
By Charis Lindrooth
Once upon a time Red Earth Farm sat on a 14 acre plot of land, with just over 4 acres in vegetable production. So many heads of lettuce have been harvested since that time, maybe 100,000? That’s just a Farmer’s Wife’s guess, so we will see what the Farmer says when he hops off the tractor and reads this. Back then a collection of old bent kitchen paring knives constituted the tools for harvest. Now we use slick machetes with fat yellow handles. And now we cultivate over 30 acres in produce.
Sometimes the Farmer reflects on the “good ol’ days.”
Things didn’t always run smoothly, and the quality of the produce lagged behind our standards today, but a sweetness blessed those early days. One of the best things about those times, were crew lunches. We shared our housing with several employees and took turns cooking a hot lunch for the entire crew. Rickety tables, and even more rickety chairs set up outside were laden with steaming curried greens, homemade cornbread, vegetable soup and always the ever present salad. If the salad arrived on the table as a simple pile of lettuce, we called it a “George Salad” because crew member George lacked creativity or inspiration when making salad. Promptly at 1pm a hot, sweaty crew would pile down the hill from field to table, and while plates full of food circulated, the banter began.
I savored these moments.
Featured topics included politics, much less eventful in those days, TV shows from the 80s and the secret lives of our chickens. Ian, a red-haired Johnny Appleseed sort of fellow, teased the kids about "Chuckles the Chicken" who was always calling his cell phone. Todd, Ian’s counter-part, strummed his guitar and crooned songs like Long Black Veil as the tea kettle whistled: hot tea after every meal for the Farmer, no matter how hot the day.
While the intimacy of those days have disappeared, a strong camaraderie still thrives among the crew. The challenge of long rows of a single task, be it bean-picking, tomato-stringing or cultivation with the hoe, becomes a backdrop for friendships that endure. Crew lunches still happen, now in the new lunch room, albeit no hot fare prepared by the Farmer’s Wife.
And once in a while you still might hear the notes of Old Joe Clark, when the Farmer is feeling sentimental and can spare a moment to pick up his banjo.
Sometimes it feels like the Farm has grown up, just like a child ready for college. We can't help but feel excited about the potential this "child" holds, but a little worry about pitfalls and a little wistfulness for what once was, the pitter-patter of little feet, as it were, seems appropriate.
CSA shares are available for Spring and Summer seasons.
Join our "Farmily!"
April 1, 2017
The Economy Share
By Charis Lindrooth
No fooling, things are heating up on the farm. The tractor hums by me daily, the driver happy and content to be back in the “saddle,” as it were. The nursery is turning a brighter shade of green, touched by the magic of popping seeds and emerging shoots. The haygrove, our triple-bay hoop house is covered and full of baby lettuces, bok choi and sweet salad turnips, designated for Spring Share
boxes later this month. Did I say later this month? Yes! In less than 4 weeks, our season begins again
. I can hardly wait to taste those first, most tender and sweet baby vegetables. I cannot wait to visit the grocery store less often, when my refrigerator is bursting with vegetables.
I still get a CSA box every week. Being the Farmer’s Wife, I get a steep discount, of course. You might think that because the farm is right at my feet I wouldn’t need a box, but thirty acres is a lot of ground to cover when you want something specific. And nothing beats the thrill of the weekly list that magically appears each week, picking my favorites, planning my weekly menu and then the delight of opening the fresh box each week.
Recently I asked our members what works and what doesn’t work for them about CSA. If you haven’t responded to this question yet, feel free. We are listening! Almost everyone lists “choice” as a top priority, and we have that covered. Others mentioned the need for pick up site closer to their home. We are willing to accommodate any group that organizes enough interest to host us - we need help with that! And others mentioned that they wish we had a smaller, more affordable share size.
Our recent work on our Community Supported Accessible Food initiative has highlighted this same issue. We have created a new Economy Share to fill a niche for a smaller share for those people who want a more economical option. This share will include 5 Farmer’s Choice items weekly for 22 weeks. The Farmer will pick vegetables for these boxes that are family favorites, with the hopes that the customer will easily be able to use the contents of the box each week. The cost of the share is $306 for 22 weeks, just $13.91/week. In mid summer the box might hold 1 large head of lettuce, 1 quart of tomatoes, 1 quart of potatoes, a quart of green beans, and 4 juicy cucumbers.
Please let us know if you have questions or feedback for us!
March 26, 2017
A Little History Lesson
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The Farmer was barely a farmer when he first heard the term “CSA.” In 1999 the phrase “Community Supported Agriculture” was still a new concept in the Philadelphia area. The first CSA in this country began in the mid 80s when Jan Vander Tuin, a Swiss biodynamic farmer, introduced the model to a small farm in Massachusetts.
When the owner of a small farm where Michael (the Farmer) worked approached him about starting a CSA, he was dubious.
The idea of selling a season’s-worth of organic produce up front before the first field had been tilled seemed half-crazy, if not nerve-wracking. But even more concerning to him was that the customer had to accept anything the farmer wanted to stick in their box. Don’t like kale? Well if the kale harvest was good you might get half a box of the stuff. Eat it or compost it, right?
This concept seemed both unfair and un-modern to the Farmer. He he decided to offer their shareholders the ability to choose which vegetables landed in their boxes.
Four years later the Farmer began his own farm, and the Future Farmer’s Wife was one of his first CSA members. With about thirty members, the then-Bachelor-Farmer collected each week’s orders off an ancient answering machine. In an even ancienter Ford van he delivered boxes to several drop off locations. One of these was the Future Farmer’s Wife’s chiropractic clinic. Her staff and patients raved about the fresh food and the following spring attended an Open House to hear the Farmer speak on organic gardening. Okay, that day is a whole story in itself. Suffice it to say that two years later the Future Farmer’s Wife became the Farmer’s Wife and they founded Red Earth Farm together.
More than fifteen years later, the Farmer feeds a growing number of avid vegetable eaters. He is still adamant about offering his customers the ability to choose what goes in their weekly box. And ordering is now streamline through online accounts - no more dreaded evenings of handwriting orders from a scratchy answering machine recording! We are still the only CSA in the Philadelphia region that offers online weekly ordering.
And the Farmer’s Wife? Believe it or not, she is still a member, and loves ordering her veggies online each week. Getting that box (she has home delivery!) each week still feels like a birthday present!
Does "The CSA that Let's You Choose" resonate with you? How much does choice matter in a CSA? Are there other factors that are key to your positive CSA experience? We'd love to hear from you!
March 18, 2017
The Secret of Success
written by a friend of the farm
"Some say that success is the result of a combination of hard work and luck, or determination and talent, or being in the right place at the right time. While any of these may be determinants of success, they are not its essence. What the world doesn’t tell you — because it doesn’t know — is that you cannot BECOME successful. You can only BE successful. Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment. And what is that? There is a sense of quality in what you do, even the most simple action. Quality implies care and attention, which comes with awareness. Quality requires your presence.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
These words of Eckhart Tolle sing in the heart of the Farmer’s Wife as she looks out over the late winter fields in her walk to water the fresh green shoots coming up in the nursery. The mad world slips far away with each gentle footstep on the precious earth, for quality permeates the very air on a small sustainable farm such as this, where gentle stewards of the land work with care and attention to all the joys and caprices nature has to offer. Growing food demands care and attention to the present moment. A sunny day means extra watering, a little more time with the young ones. If a little detail is dropped such as mindlessly skipping a flat during the watering, dozens of plants will perish.
The fact that care and attention must be paid to every detail here can sometimes feel grueling. Sometimes whole crops perish due to weather, or blight, or insects or a momentary lapse into mindlessness, or an impatient impulse to rush or force something that isn’t intended in the present moment. Success as the world knows it can seem fleeting or impossible when faced with the strain of nature combined with human nature, and the rigors of keeping the whole operation accountable business-wise. But the quality of the very air here when breathed deeply into the lungs immediately brings one back to the present moment, and the knowledge that what we are doing is bringing nature’s finest food to local tables allover this region, and that this food builds the bodies of so many diverse and magnificent souls who are choosing to eat for success, for a sense of quality in what they eat. The green shoots patiently waiting for water refocus one back on the now, and the knowledge that this farm grows much more than vegetables.
Yes, the mad world, when it comes to success, may view the small farm, which requires so much care and attention in order to sustainably feed the local community, as an exercise in futility, especially when viewed next to some of the huge corporate farms. But in truth, at least according to Eckhart Tolle, it is the very essence of success. The care and attention that each miraculous plant demands allows for all involved, from the seeding to the eating, to be energized with quality, the sap of success, the bliss of the present moment. May the hearts of all who savor this precious food be filled with joy.
Your membership supports this family farm. Join now.
March 11, 2017
Action Steps that Support Local Farms
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Do you value local food and want to support your local farm? Here are some simple action steps you can take to make a difference.
1. Join a CSA
- we are hoping you choose ours! www.redearthfarm.org
The CSA model offers an essential security to small farms since your early commitment allows the farmer to plant knowing his product will be consumed.
2. Recruit ONE new member for our CSA. Put your thinking cap on. Eating more vegetables is a simple and effective way to support one's health. Do you know someone who has never tried a CSA? Tell them about your experience! Break down the expense - show them that CSA can be more cost effective than shopping at the standard grocery store.
3. Post flyers
, or postcards at local businesses where potential CSA customers visit. Only 1% of the population uses a CSA, which means quite a few people have never experienced the wonder of a just-picked box of produce delivered to them. Email us if you would like us to send you postcards or flyers, or both.
4. Leave a rave review
on Google or Yelp - your honest reviews help potential customers choose our farm. To leave the Google review open Google Maps
, search Red Earth Farm, Kempton PA and click the stars and leave a comment.
5. Email us your testimonial. Let us use your words of praise to help others know that we are the real deal.
6. Send us a "Selfie Video" of you raving about your favorite aspect of the CSA - use your smart phone and make a short clip: if you do we will send an extra goodie in your first CSA box of the summer season!
7. Like our Facebook page
, follow us on Instagram,
share our posts or even better: make your own veggie loving post, or even a live video on Facebook, opening your first CSA box. It really helps!
We know we say it all the time: YOU are our best advertising! Your efforts to spread the word really make a difference. Take a step today. Thank you for your ongoing support.
March 6, 2017
The Early Bird Gets the Veg!
Announcing the Spring Share
It's official! For those of you who cannot wait to get your hands on Red Earth produce, we are once again offering a Spring Share. The early greens are the sweetest and most tender of the entire season, and not to be missed! We are offering a limited number of shares to select locations.
The Spring Share will be Farmer's Choice only (no ordering, take what you get - you know like those old fashioned CSA's?). The cost will be $115 for 6 weeks, 5 items/week, beginning April 26.
Possible and likely items in your box will be green onions, radish, baby salad, arugula, bok choi, head lettuce, kale and swiss chard. Egg shares are delivered weekly for $4.25/week.
All deliveries will be on Wednesdays.
Your participation makes a difference!
to sign up for the Spring, and/or the Main Season. You won't be sorry!
March 4, 2017
Herald of Spring
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The tractor has already been busy. Never ever have we been able to start our field prep so early. Beautiful even rows of brown earth wait for the Farmer, like a blank canvas awaits the artist. In many ways farming is an art and the summer fields become an expression of the passion of the farmer. Nothing feeds his spirit like the miracle of growing food. Every time seeds sprout and thrive, it feels like magic.
In spite of winter-like temps today, the Farmer made the trek to Farmer's market with early greens and radishes from the hoop house. Even on chilly days, which have been scarce, you can now feel the power of the sun again. The birds know it. Chirps, twitters and a flurry of activity remind us that nest building is underway.
If things continue this way, we will be on target for our Spring Share, a 6-week share featuring the priceless first greens. We have set the date for this to start in late April, so stay tuned for all the details.
If you haven't registered for the Main Season, jump in now
. We are happy to have you back.
February 22, 2017
CSA Day is Feb 24!
A Word from Small Farm Central
In honor of CSA Week, Simon Huntley, Small Farm Central, asked us to share this letter he recently posted. We thought he had some great ideas!
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a personal relationship between a farmer and eater. You join the farm as a member and you get a box of food from the farm throughout the growing season. The CSA Charter
describes this relationship well.
As our culture and economy becomes more homogenized and centralized, CSA is the opposite. It is about a personal relationship between a farmer and the CSA members.
It is an intimate connection between local farmland and your dinner table.
You get the freshest possible ingredients from a farmer that you know and the farm gets advance knowledge of demand so he or she can focus on growing healthy food and getting the food to you.
In world of intractable problems - take your pick: political and economic instability, nuclear weapons, global warming, and on and on - joining a CSA is a positive act that you can take today that has profound impacts on your health, your local economy, and the environment.
CSA farmers spend money with other local businesses which circulates money in our local economies. CSA farmers take care of their land. CSA farmers treat their employees well. You know all this because you can go visit your CSA farmer and see for yourself.
CSA keeps small scale, local farms in business so they can continue producing food for you.
To be frank, joining a CSA is not the easiest path to eating healthy. You can continue to shop at the grocery store and maybe visit the farmers market a few times throughout the season. However, joining a CSA puts you in partnership with a local farmer.
A CSA membership enriches your life with high quality food as you spend your food dollars in a way that you will feel good about.
The investment you make in your CSA farm is modest. The average CSA share costs $25/week during the season, so that is $100/month. (editor's note: Red Earth Farm CSA is just $21/week for a Partial Share) and $30/week for a Full Share). That’s probably less than your cable bill and less than your cell phone bill - for food grown with care in local soil and delivered directly to your neighborhood! There usually is some up-front investment, though most farms will offer payment plans (if not, ask your farmer for a payment plan if you need it!).
Thank you for supporting local farms and making the commitment to a CSA share. Your support makes all the difference and keeps our farms running.
If there is something that is preventing you from joining your CSA farm, you should let your farmer know so they can improve their program in the future!
Founder, Small Farm Central
February 8, 2017
What DO Eaters Want?
a Note from the Farmer's Wife
And so it is that the farmers and their families wend their way home from Penn State after the 26th annual farming conference hosted by PASA (Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture). If you’ve never attended this inspiring event, you can’t imagine the incredible energy when several thousand sustainably-minded, idealistic farmers come together. The conference is loaded with informative classes, from labor laws to field fertility, from marketing trends to cheese making; there is something for everyone.
I attended a session with Simon Huntley, CEO of the marketing firm, Small Farm Central
and avid CSA proponent. His topic, What Eaters Want
, reminded me of a blog post
I wrote a few years ago, speculating on the future of CSA.
Huntley provided some data that validated some of our concerns and some that proved our concerns wrong. He also offered some creative encouragement to negotiate the changes in the CSA market.
He noted that while $703 billion is spent in the US on food at home, only 0.5%- 1.0% of that amount is spent on food purchased through the local food movement channels, such as CSA and Farmer’s markets. To gain some perspective on that figure, Whole Foods alone receives almost twice the annual dollars spent on food, as retail local farm outlets.
When you look at those numbers, the idea that the CSA market is saturated seems kind of ridiculous. Surely the CSA model is a good fit for more than 1% of the population. The trick is figuring out why that figure is so low, and how to either meet the needs or spread the word to those who do not participate.
According to Huntley’s research, last year was the first year that spending at restaurants and bars surpassed money spent on food for home consumption. Clearly this reflects our busy lives and the drive for convenience. After long days at work, juggling kids’ activities and other responsibilities, a stop to pick up takeout can be a relief. Many restaurants offer dishes made from local foods, with plenty of options for healthy choices, making the temptation to buy out even more tempting and justifiable.
Another obstacle that many CSA consumers face is the daunting task of preparing and cooking the entire contents of their box each week. This takes commitment, and for those who are less confident in their cooking skills, truly challenging. To meet the needs of the unconfident-wanna-be home chef, mail-order services like Blue Apron offer meal kits utilizing perfectly portioned local foods and easy to follow recipes. At $60/week this option is more than three times the expense of a CSA farmshare box, and yet 3% of consumers have tried it. Compare that with an optimistic 1% that have tried CSA, and a Farmer might get a little discouraged…or start selling to Blue Apron. Meal kit services have a notoriously low retention rate when compared to farm shares, which leads one to believe that CSA is still a more sustainable option in the eyes of the consumers that actually try it.
Does the term “CSA” still mystify the consumer? Or is that now a mainstream word that has meaning when mentioned on Facebook, or print advertising. Huntley suggests that even though the term is now used by non-farm “shares,” such as a Beer CSA
, or a Bread CSA
, it might make sense to use a term whose meaning is quickly understood, such as "Farm Share" or "Farm Box." The term CSA literally means, Community Supported Agriculture, but it is evolving into a more generic term meaning something like community supported artisan, or activity as much as anything to do with a farm.
Regardless of the term used, Huntley confirmed our experience that CSA’s expand by word of mouth. We rely heavily on a good reputation which our customers who are passionate about the farm and the good food that comes to them convey everywhere they go.
We would like to hear from you. Have you tried a CSA before? What was your experience? If you have never tried a CSA, why not? What do you think would make this model more accessible to veggie consumers, and more user-friendly for the new customer? If you have been, or are, a CSA customer of Red Earth Farm, do you have ideas that can improve your experience?
Feel free to comment below this post, or email us with your thoughts. If you are willing to speak to us personally, that would be a great help. We are all ears. email@example.com
January 22, 2017
5 Tips to Eat More Vegetables
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
With the holiday feasting and gastro-extravagance behind us our minds turn to New Year’s resolutions. Diminishing the midline tops many lists, with ideas of elliptical workouts and newfangled diets.
Perhaps, one simple adage could be remembered for those seeking trimmer, healthier bodies. “Eat your vegetables!” We repeat it all the time to our kids, but do we follow up ourselves? I’m guessing there is room for improvement for most of us and implementing a few of the following strategies may help make this goal a reality in 2017.
1. Eat More Meals at Home
For some carnivores, this can be challenging - especially if you are trying to satisfy a teenage boy. The goal here is to increase vegetable consumption, not bread, noodle and cheese consumption. Look for vegetables that have a hearty, meaty flavor such as eggplant, mushrooms, winter squash. A side of mashed local potatoes can please almost any teenage palate. Try a vegetarian shepherd’s pie, for example.
4. Invest in a Vitamix or Juicer
Juicing roots, greens and fruits can be delicious and very beneficial to energy and appetite. Try using leftover pulp in burgers, homemade bread or homemade dog food.
5. Join a CSA!
You knew this was coming of course! Your CSA box arrives every week. Set a goal to finish your box before the next one arrives. One of our members lost 25 lbs the first year he joined our CSA - just by eating more vegetables. And the early registration discount is still on!
What tips do you employ to consume more vegetables? Any ideas for kid-friendly recipes?