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December 10, 2017
Early Registration Begins TODAY!
By Charis Lindrooth
We are happy to announce that Early Registration for our 2018 Main Season is OPEN! Please consider joining during the month of December as your early commitment will save the farm thousands of dollars on supplies that we can buy at a substantial discount before January 1. Without your help, our 2018 expenses can cost as much as $10,000 more. By January we are already starting seeds for our spring and summer harvests!
What is new this year? Our new specialty cheese share will be provided by Valley Milkhouse and is geared for the more sophisticated cheese palate. We still offer Hillacres Pride, which is more family friendly. We continue to offer the amazing Artisan Bread share from our local baker, The Daily Loaf, Fruit Shares, Egg Shares, Yogurt Shares are of course still available, as are tickets to our intimate gourmet Farm to Table dinners and Family Picnic. These on farm events allow an intimate experience on the farm and a chance for us to get to know you better. Funds for these events will go towards the final payoff of our refrigerated truck.
Please note that even though we are looking ahead to summer, the Fall Share delivers one more week!
We look forward to feeding your families in 2018!
Michael Ahlert (the Farmer) and Charis Lindrooth (the Farmer's Wife)
November 12, 2017
By Charis Lindrooth
Those of you who are new to the CSA might not know the secret deliciousness that resides in celeriac, aka “celery root” (even though it’s a tuber not a root…details, details!)
This vegetable might win the award for the weirdest looking vegetable on the farm, although kohlrabi is a close second. Don’t be put off by it’s appearance, or the fact that you have never tried it. I’m here to assure you: it’s not only tasty, but easy to use.
Before we launch in to cooking and eating it, let’s figure out how to prep the gnarly beast:
Place the celeriac on a sturdy cutting board. Chop off the base and the tip of the vegetable. With a significant knife, carefully cut down the sides, close to the skin in order to remove the coarse outer surface of the tuber.
When the skin is completely removed, chop or slice the flesh, depending on your preference. To avoid discoloration, soak the vegetable pieces in cold water and a few lemon slices.
Now for the good part! The first rule of using celeriac in cooking is that you can use it in just about any recipe that calls for celery: apple salad, chicken stir-fry, turkey filling…ants on a log might be tricky, but I bet it can be done tastily. It is delicious raw or cooked. Boil it and add it to mashed potatoes for a unique and tasty mash.
My all-time favorite way to eat celeriac is in Potato Celery Soup. You can make this simply by peeling and dicing one celeriac root and a few potatoes. Saute a sliced onion in butter, ghee or olive oil until clear. Add potatoes and celeriac and toss until warmed through. Add water or broth. Simmer with a lid on until vegetables are soft. Puree in a blender and return to pot (hand-held blenders are fantastic). Season with salt, pepper, and herbs, such as dill, parsley or thyme. To make the soup creamier add a little heavy cream at this point, or canned coconut milk. Alternatively, add a handful of cashews to the pot with the vegetables. They will puree nicely adding a creamy texture.
CSA member, Anne S submitted this recipe, a perfect side-dish for celeriac-newbies:
1 soft-ball size celeriac root
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp mild curry powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
Peel celeriac. Cut into dice-size cubes
Turn oven to 400 deg
Pour into a pot of boiling slightly salted water.
Cook for no more than 2 minutes. Stir once or twice/
Put oil, curry powder, salt in the pan and add drained celeriac.
Stir vigorously to coat the cubes.
Pour cubed celeriac onto a baking tray covered with aluminum foil
Scrape remaining oil and seasonings onto the celeriac.
Cook for 25 minutes. (while you eat breakfast and read the paper)
Provides a lunch time side dish for 2 or 3.
Find a ton more inspiration here.
October 7, 2017
Changing Season: Changing Perspective
By Charis Lindrooth
Drawing of the last Red Earth Farm heirloom tomato by Kerry Burniston
Life on the farm whirls past us. Our summer days demand a tremendous effort, both physical and mental. It seems as though our noses are right up against the work to be done, rows upon rows of young seedlings, thousands upon thousands of baby plants get planted not just in spring, but throughout the summer and early fall. Every single row requires manual weed control, via hand, hoe or tractor cultivation. And every single plant yields a harvest, as long as we have the strength to pick it, wash it and pack it. Some crops like tomatoes need special care, staking and trellising to keep precious fruit off the ground, or summer squash which needs special covers placed over hoops to protect it from insect pressure. Of course ground gets “worked" over and over, which means the tractor rolls back and forth along the beds, tilling, spreading compost, laying irrigation tape and cultivating seedlings. Cool spring melds into hot summer, transforms into chilly autumn seamlessly. When the daylight lengthens we use every bit of light for work, and often drop into a deep exhausted sleep almost as soon as the supper dishes are washed up. We barely notice time go by until that first hard frost hits and our entire landscape changes overnight. The night time chill fills the fall crops with a sweetness unsurpassed by any summer crop, except maybe the sungold tomatoes. Carrots and kale lose their bitterness as they condense their sugars into their root and leaf.
We are still expecting that first frost any day now. The tomato vines are shriveled and brown, dotted with bright red, or golden fruit that looks tempting until you get up close. Rows of spruce green colored kale, and bright green and burgundy lettuces draw one’s attention, and ease the loss of the summer bounty. With only four weeks left of our Main Season the Farmer says we have far more Fall Share crops than we can ever sell. Abundance.
Today I took a few hours to visit with my dear childhood friend. She lives in Great Britain now, and when she comes home for a visit I always carve a sacred bit of time out of this busy-ness to just be with her. She is a fantastic artist, with quite a following in Oxfordshire, so I decided that today we would spend our time together drawing. She always travels with a sketch book and a few key tools so she can draw wherever she goes. Today I supplied colored pencils and a selection of the last picking of tomatoes and together we sat a drew for hours. The exercise of creativity gradually relaxed me and when I finally looked up from my page the farm looked suddenly different. Beautiful and peaceful. Like home instead of work. And then I thought, maybe drawing vegetables is as health promoting as eating them!
August 13, 2017
Making Time to Make Dinner
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
A nifty NYT article popped up on my Apple newsfeed today, What to Cook This Week
by Sam Sifton. It spoke to me, since I have been disheartened and even worried about a previous article about how Americans like the idea of cooking, but don't really make time for it. A CSA thrives on customers who actually prepare their own food
from scratch. Our Farm, depends on you to take time to prepare your own food. As food services madly scramble to make cooking as cookie-cutter and streamlined as possible, the Farmer and I look at each other and wonder at all the waste that goes into this carefully pre-chopped and otherwise prepared, wrapped and packaged pre-cooked meals. It seems so simple to us to take a few items from the field and create a meal that satisfies us in the deepest way imaginable.
Besides a shortage of time, we are all so crazy busy and tired these days, what keeps you from cooking? Do you need ideas? Recipes? How-to classes? Would you like a class on preparing one skillet meals in under 45 minutes?
We like to think that the weekly arrival of your CSA box acts as an encouragement, not a nag, that cooking for yourself is healthy, satisfying and delicious.
When you eat a home-cooked meal that includes local produce, you are supporting a small family farm, an essential part of the the Pennsylvania rural landscape...in our humble opinion, that is!
Join our Fall Share
, and be part of our "Farmily."
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 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.
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!"
February 22, 2017
Win 2 Tickets to our VIP Farm-to-Table Dinner!
By Charis Lindrooth
It's CSA week and Friday is officially national CSA Day
! Yay!! We'd like to celebrate by raffling off 2 tickets to our gourmet VIP Farm-to-Table Dinner
(date and time TBA). How do you enter? The lucky winner will be randomly selected from all who have signed up previous to midnight Feb 24
(Friday). If you are registered for 2017, you're in the running. If not, now's the time! Sign up here!
December 31, 2016
Vegetables Still Make Sense
By Charis Lindrooth
I wrote a post about food
for my health blog yesterday. I started the post thinking about the plenitude of internet information about diets and how one food can be vilified on one site and glorified as a cure-all on another.
If you read the post, or run your own google search, you will quickly find a number of foods we used to think of as healthy on the unhealthy list now, and vice-versa. Hot debates on these foods include whole wheat, gluten, grains in general, beef, butter, coconut and eggs. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Smugly, when I started the post, I thought to myself that vegetables are about the only food immune to the see-saw of cans and can'ters. But that’s not true either: try cabbage, or other brassicas, spinach, Swiss chard, tomatoes, potatoes and beets. Seems like with a little research you can determine that absolutely no food is good for you.
I have spent several decades as a natural health care practitioner, helping people sort through the bombardment of information surrounding what to eat. While I love to read the research, sometimes we need to take our nose out of the books and internet and use common sense.
Without a doubt one of the surest ways to improve your health in general is to eat more vegetables. Whether you cook them, eat them raw or throw them in your VitaMix, most of us have more room on our plates for more fresh vegetables.
Take things a step further and prepare your food with care and thoughtfulness. Share it with friends and family, with conversation and laughter. I have no doubt that these factors play a role in the nutritional outcome as much as the chemical makeup of the food itself.
Now that winter has fully descended upon the farm, I am faced with shopping for my vegetables. While much progress has been made in food transport and flavor preservation, salad mix in a box just doesn’t inspire me the same way as our own. I think most of you would agree, nothing beats the taste of just-picked, local farm fresh produce.
May 10, 2015
Does Mom Still Tell You to Eat Your Vegetables?
A Note from the Farmer's Wife
Once upon a time there was a little girl who didn't really like peas. Or cooked carrots. Or lima beans. Or most vegetables. Then she grew up and planted a garden, the one with the groundhog in it.
And now she is the Farmer's Wife and she could consume a partial share or more by herself. How on earth do we get our kids to eat more vegetables? Or at least grow up and start eating vegetables.
Maybe I was lucky. Or maybe my early childhood radish growing experience with my Dad, infused a love of vegetables that blossomed when I graduated from college. When I started my first garden, I was obsessed with peppers and broccoli. Not obsessed with how they tasted. Just how they looked and how pretty and awesome they would be in my garden. I actually hated peppers and was on the fence about broccoli, when it came to actually eating them. I grew them anyway. My first head of broccoli was GIANT and I was so thrilled! The massive plant that gave birth to this miniature tree was a sight to behold. I had never seen anything like it. Something about this miraculous plant inspired me to eat it. The depth of flavor, the unexpected sweetness and the connection to its short life cycle directly affected my palate. Delicious! Inspired by this success I forced myself to eat the peppers from my garden until my pscyhe realized, "These are amazingly delicious!"
The Farmer's daughter won't touch a green thing on her plate. But take her into the greenhouse and she will graze like a horse. I have witnessed her eat five whole peppers at once. This Spring she discovered the sweet apple flavor of the Hakuri salad turnips. I think she ate two dozen, yanking them up and shaking off the dirt.
We all have tricky tricks in our back pockets to disguise vegetables and bribery of yummy desserts to convince our sweet cherubs to consume ample quantities or leafy greens. But I am guessing that the most potent trick of all is to connect with the magic of nature. "Come see the vegetables growing. Pick them. Taste them as soon as they come from the ground. Get your hands dirty. Sit on the sweet brown earth and eat to your hearts content." This is my modern replacement to the Mother's chiding words, "Eat your vegetables!"