Category Archives: Canning and Preserving

CSA: What Is That?

Community Supported Agriculture or CSA...what does that even mean... CSA's were established as a way for the farmers to get payment at the beginning of season when they need it most for seed, compost, and fertilizer. You, as a community, are supporting the farmer. When you sign up for a CSA you are agreeing to accept whatever the season produces. Every year is different on a farm and it can mean one crop does better than another. Farmers typically have no control over Mother Nature so they never know if it's going to be a great tomato year or a great lettuce year or maybe even a bad year. You, as the consumer, get whatever did well that week. Every week, or bi-weekly, you pick up, or some deliver, your share of produce. Some CSA's let you decide which items are included and some choose for you but either way it is an assortment of items. A select few CSA's even include meat, dairy, and eggs like my friends Mike and Judy at Country Gardens.
CSA week 17 pick up. On the farm!! Sign-up for our fall CSA now beginning October 13th!

CSA week 17 pick up. On the farm!! Sign-up for our fall CSA now beginning October 13th! ----photo by Ashley Rodgers at Serenbe Farms

Farms offer different packages depending on growing conditions and harvests. Some are year round and others are seasonal. One of our local farms that my friend Ashley Rodgers (read about her here) manages, Serenbe Farms, is opening up their Fall CSA now. If you need to find a CSA near you Local Harvest can help find one! What are the benefits... for the Consumer...

Relationship - Knowing where your food comes from is very empowering! Meeting your farmer who grows it and developing a friendship that last a lifetime is priceless.

Fresh Food - Most CSA items are picked the morning you receive them! You will notice a difference in flavor when your food is that fresh!

Try New Things - Some items in your share are going to be new to you. You will have an opportunity to cook new recipes and discover new favorite veggies! Maybe even some turmeric or ginger from our friends Scott and Nicole at 180 Degree Farm.

for the Farmer...

Relationship - A farmer spends 90% of their time in the fields growing food and not a whole lot of socializing. The CSA pick up or delivery is a chance for them to get to know their customers and to talk to a human instead of plants.

Seed Money - Farmers make most of their money during growing and harvesting when their sales are highest. Very little is left after the slow winter months and this is when they need to make their biggest purchases. Having money at the beginning allows them to purchase the seeds they need to grow.

Time Management - Farmers work very long hours in the fields so spending time advertising or marketing is the bottom of the list. CSA allows them to focus that marketing time.

for your Community and beyond...

Economic - Keeping money local always helps your local economy. It is also a good thing to support small business and family farms, they need your money much more than Big Ag or grocery chains.

Environment - Keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible makes a difference. Eating and shopping local is reducing the amount of fuel being wasted shipping vegetables all over. Supporting local farmers is supporting the environment.

So whats stopping you! Sign up now for a local farm CSA share! Help your community, the environment, a farmer and yourself! Do you already belong to a CSA? If so, tell us what you love about it!


 

Milk Kefir… Easy to Make and Easy to Turn into Cheese!

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Mmm... Milk Kefir!

How did I not know how easy and awesome Milk Kefir was!? I have been fermenting lots of different things in the last few years and just never made it to Milk Kefir (MK). My sister sent me some starter culture in December and I am amazed at how fast and easy it is! And so yummy and good for me! Read more »

Our Homestead Then and Now

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The sun setting over our pond... breathless every time!

  Where we were. We spent the last 6 years in a run down rental home trying to find our dream home. It had 6 acres most of it woods that we were able to hike in and enjoyed that. In the small area that was open around the house we had a large organic garden and a small flock of chickens. Of course we canned, cooked from scratch, and made our own natural hygiene and cleaning products etc. But we longed for more... Read more »

What is “Homesteading” Anyway?

  cropped-carrots13.jpg Definition. Homesteading (v)- The act of living off of the homestead.
Homestead (n)- House, land, animals and outbuildings that operate as one, frequently a farm.
The term homesteading is traced back to The Homestead Act in the 1800's. It was designed to open up the west. People were given a plot of land to establish and if they stayed at it for 5 years it was theirs!!! Boy, how I wish we could do that still today! It became more about getting back to the land in the sixties and seventies when people like my parents realized how important it was to the natural environment, and the political and economic environment also. We are seeing another surge in the homesteading movement in our current day as well. The sons and daughters of the hippies are realizing that they can make a difference and be more sustainable. The values our parents taught us are becoming more important to us as we have children and desire to raise them well. More and more ivy league graduates are turning in their ties and offices for overalls and organic farms.   What it actually is. People who are trying their best to survive off the land where they live. This can be very broad as some live in urban areas and sign up for local CSA's to provide their vegetables. They are growing herbs on the windowsill and are committed to grass-fed local beef. While others have acres of vegetable fields they grow organically and can stuff all summer long. In addition to raising their own eggs and meat, they probably build all the fences and outbuildings with as much reclaimed materials as possible. The key is to be as self-sufficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly as you are able. What it means to me. Freedom. Growing most of our food and raising some of our meat gives us the ability to eat healthy and put our food dollars towards local organic food when we need more. We are free from the constant poison that is put into our food system. Family. Many activities we do on the homestead require a group effort! We all do our part no matter how big or small. My 3-year-old collects eggs every day and loves it! We cook and eat together every day as a family. My older two kids are very capable of creating a wholesome complete meal with little to no directions. Future. I have big plans for our little rented homestead! We hope to be here long-term if not forever and we are invested in making this our very own fully functioning homestead! We already grow a lot, can, cook and ferment most of our food. Our chickens give us plenty of eggs even in the winter and the occasional chicken soup. We will be adding to our gardens and even planting fruit trees for a home orchard. I should be getting bees in the spring for honey if that works out for us. Some day I will have dairy goats and will make cheese and soap from the milk. A pig or two for bacon and chops is not out of the question either. If I do all this just right we should even be able to sell at local farmers markets making us even more self-sustaining. Homesteading is...? What is it to you? How are you fulfilling your homesteading dream?  

Want to Know About My Homesteading Childhood?

My childhood has influenced me in many ways...
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My childhood homestead in print.

  I grew up in a small coastal New England town in a dairy-farming community, in quite a different manner than most of my peers. While everyone else I went to school with had cable and video games, I had gardens and animals. We had a small self-sustaining farmette that provided most of our food. My parents were very passionate about raising their five children off of the land.   Picking the ripe raspberries and cherry tomatoes was a summer-long chore that I remember fondly. We had gardens everywhere and preserved or fermented what we didn't eat fresh. My mother encouraged diversity in the garden to keep the insect population happy and well-balanced. She had an eye for attractive chaos in her layout and still does to this day on the same land. You can visit her Humble Jungle at Grammy's Potager on Facebook. Everything was grown organically, of course. My parents wouldn't have it any other way! Read more »