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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 12, 2017
Making Food Accessible
A New Initiative
When I met the Farmer many years ago I fell in love with his passion to serve the underserved. Over the years we have had many conversations about how we might make a difference in communities that have difficulty accessing local, fresh produce.
Several obstacles prevent many people from benefitting from fresh produce. Among these are expense and limited availability. So-called “Food Deserts,” communities with very limited food choices, have come to public awareness. These communities may be home to many people without consistent use of an automobile, who are forced to do their grocery shopping on foot, by mass transit or when they can get a ride. People in this situation may need to take valuable time from crowded work and family schedules to travel long distances in order to simply find good quality fresh food. Otherwise, they may be limited to the worn-out produce at the corner grocer or quick mart. This is both a rural and urban problem. These Food Deserts can be found in neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading and in many rural towns as well.
To us, this seems both ironic and unnecessary, considering the abundance of good fresh food produced in our area.
This lack of access to good quality fresh food has negative repercussions on people’s lives. The consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has measurable health benefits. It is an affordable and proactive way for people to improve their health and avoid much higher health related expenses and challenges further down the road.
Giving people the ability to better control their own health simply by making better food choices is empowering and a smart way of helping to address the ever rising cost of health care.
Red Earth Farm wants to take a step towards providing access to fresh local produce for some of these communities who not currently have it. We are launching Community Supported Access to Food (CSAF). Through this initiative we hope to reach out to underserved families with the help of community partners. Community partners include organizations, institutions or even individuals who can help us better identify families that will truly benefit from this effort.
We aim to work with our partners to make our fresh produce and other farm products accessible to families who currently lack access.
How you can help?
Connect us with community partners: Connect us with someone who might wish to work with us in this effort. Identify neighborhood centers, synagogues, churches or any organization that has interest in food access in their community. If possible, personally introduce us to people in your community who can help with this initiative. It always helps to have a personal connection to build trust and open the conversation.
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.