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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.
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March 1, 2015
Are CSA's a Sustainable Model?
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The Farmer and I had a date night this week. Yes, its true, we didn’t actually go anywhere. After the kids finally fell sleep, I slipped into a new dress and put on my pink fuzzy bathrobe. We enjoyed a salad together and a piece of Endangered Species chocolate. As usual the conversation drifted to the farm. We revisited a previous discussion about our three, five and ten year goals for the farm.
Invariably, this subject brings up the question of the long term sustainability of the CSA model. Recently we have seen evidence that big corporations are moving in. We have already been approached by “Big Name Corporation” asking if we want them to sell our “local” produce nationwide. All we have to do is pack and ship. Hmmm....
But aren't we all super busy? Running all day long and always looking for ways to save a few minutes here and there. Many of you have supported our farm for a decade, or longer. Is it getting more difficult to find the time to run and pick up your box?
The Buy Local movement gained momentum after the recession, but now more and more people are questioning it. How about this article written a few years ago, titled, 'Buy Local' Movements are for the Economically Illiterate? Or here is another, The Locavore's Dilemma: Why Pineapples Shouldn't be Grown in North Dakota. In this article the authors state, "Local food is generally more expensive than non-local food of the same quality. If that were not so, there would be no need to exhort people to 'buy local.'" After my recent trip to buy vegetables from Giant food stores (such a painful wintertime necessity for the Farmer's wife!) I can safely argue that our produce is no more expensive, and mostly less expensive than the organic alternatives I find there. Two packages of romaine lettuce for $10? That seems pretty pricey to me. And the taste? Well, I can't go there because I am completely biased.
Nevertheless, an argument that resonates more soundly with me is based on the economy of time. We are all short of it. I frequent Firefly Bookstore, a small family owned treasure just 15 minutes from the farm. And yet I confess that I still find it easier to pop online and order a few books and a spiral staircase from Amazon, wait a few days and pick them up from my front door step. (Okay, I didn't really order a spiral staircase, but did you know that you can?!)
The Farmer and I have long believed that CSA needs to be about the customer, as much as the farm. Supporting a local farm has value, but we feel the consumer should feel valued and supported as well. That’s why we offer online ordering. We believe that this gives the vegetable consumer a better experience than simply receiving a box of any old vegetables the farmer wants to put in there. But we still recognize the flaws in the system.
Now don't get me wrong. We aren't trying to shoot ourselves in the foot. And we certainly hope we haven't persuaded anyone to UN-register for our CSA this season.
We DO want to hear from you. What makes CSA work for you? How important is time efficiency versus the feel good moment of supporting your local farming family? Looking down the road, what do you think needs to change to make the CSA model remain a viable option for busy families?
Simultaneous to this blog, we have opened this discussion on Facebook. Please hop over there and post your comments, concerns, and thoughts. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Let’s gather together, virtually for the moment, and talk about this. Times are getting harder for CSA’s, the market is filling with large and small farms vying for the same customer base. And now big business wants a piece of the same pie. View our Facebook post here
Oh, was our date romantic? It was.
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February 4, 2015
Nature as Mentor - PASA's 2015 Conference
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
The farmer travels this week to Penn State for his annual visit to the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture’s Farming for the Future conference. He will speak on a panel called “Size Matters.” Okay, he didn’t choose that name and he’s talking about the size of our farm size, really!
Traditionally this event is like a family vacation for us, although this year he goes solo. If you ever have a yearning to learn more about farming, local food production and all things green this is the place to go. Penn State main campus become a weekend oasis as farming families and like-minded friends gather in celebration of sustainable living. The Young Farmers of the Future program for kids provides a great learning environment full of projects, a live raptor show and swimming in the hotel pool.
A huge array of classes ranging from one about feral swine in Pennsylvania to organic bee keeping and artisan cheese making, keep the adults happily occupied.
A gastro-delightful highlight of the event is the Winter Picnic on Thursday night. This indoor event features locally grown and produced food for an evening meal of great social fun. Local farmers donate the best of what they have to offer, roast beef, salad greens, baby red potatoes, even homemade local ice cream. No one leaves that table hungry.
The most inspiring moments come when the huge crowd gathers and listens to the keynote speakers. Friday evening author Frances Moore Lappe will speak about her new book, World Hunger: Ten Myths. The Saturday keynoter, Ray Archuleta, “The Soil Guy,” will tell you more than you ever thought possible about how exciting dirt really is.
Vendors of all kinds peddle sustainable goods and line the halls as you walk to and from the cafeteria. Green Heron Tools designed especially for women, a bookstore with hundreds of titles on growing things naturally or eating them or making them, organic fertilizers, organic seeds, organic T-shirts, organic yogurt and organic-you-name-it. You can even buy dirt!
Worth it even as day trip for Friday or Saturday! http://conference.pasafarming.org you go, be sure to say hi to your Farmer!
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