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May 28, 2017
Happy Birthday to the Farmer!
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The Farmer's Dad always tells a story about the Farmer's birth at a Memorial Day swim party...well not exactly at it, but dramatically almost at it. Now, a little grey speckles the Farmer's beard and swim parties remain a distant memory. His mind is focused on things like dirt, what's growing, including weeds and what needs to be done. With the CSA main season beginning this week, we are all distracted from thinking much about celebrations. Still, I want to take a moment to celebrate this hard-working guy in front of anyone who cares to listen.
It takes a special kind of guy to farm vegetables sustainably. He needs endurance, perseverance and vision. He must like the outdoors extremely muchly. Blazing heat, pouring rain, chilly mornings and long days cannot deter him. Dirt must be one of his best friends, since he has little time for socializing. Working 7 days a week during the growing season, from dawn to dusk, must seem like a great idea. Multi-tasking is essential as is managing a crew of 20 people simultaneously performing a variety of chores. And then we he is finished the farm work, he must be a cheerful, available Dad for his kids and a patient, kind ear for his Wife. That's me.
This is my Farmer, honest as the sky is big and hard-working as the ocean is deep. I am proud to stand by him on this journey we have chosen. And happy to make him a big, sloppy, strawberry cake in his honor! Happy birthday my love!
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.
May 6, 2017
Grow Veggies Like a Boss
or like the Farmer at least!
Ready to get in the garden? Red Earth Farm will be offering plants again through our annual Plant Sale in May. Who can order? ANYONE! Where will your plants be delivered? To the closest Spring Share Site - if your site does not host a Spring Share, let us know where you would like to pick up. When will your plants be delivered? Wednesday May 17. Ordering starts Thursday May 11...details on how to order if you do NOT have a Spring Share will be coming soon.