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Thursday, September 29, 2011

We Made the Top 50

I found an email in my in box that announced that this blog has made the top 50 on the Seametrics farm blog list Woo Hoo which you can view here! or by clicking on the badge in the side bar that says this is a top 50 blog.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We are mentioned in Hobby Farm Magazine

I found this doing a search on Boulder belt. It is an article from Hobby Farm Magazine about the US 127 Yard Sale and we are mentioned
Hobby Farm's US 127 Yard Sale Article

Boulder Belt goes CSA!

after 15+ years of doing farmers markets 2011 will be the last year we do this as in 2012 Boulder Belt Eco-Farm will go over to doing CSA as its' main source of income. This will be a huge change for us but we have found over the years that farmers markets have made us less and less money for the past 3 years and we find we really don't like the "crap shoot" at market as far as marketing goes. By this I mean we have no way of knowing what will sell at a particular market so if is rare that we harvest just what the market demands and too often go home with a lot of produce, much of it that needs to be tossed onto the compost pile.

With a CSA that does not happen. The farmer knows exactly how much to harvest so there is little to no waste. And the farmer knows what to plant as well because the farmer knows how many share holders they will be growing for months before the season starts.

We have been doing a CSA on and off (we took off 2 years after we moved to this farm) for the past 14 years. We are one of the oldest CSA's in the state of Ohio and yet until very recently we really did not take the CSA part of our market strategy very seriously. We would tend to give more emphasis to the farmers market as we saw that as our cash cow and the CSA as a back-up. And until this year I feel this was the correct thing to do as we would usually struggle to get and maintain members. And we were making 75% of our income from the Oxford Farmers Market Uptown and only 25% from the CSA (or less).

But 3 years ago this started to change. We were finally able to get more than 10 members and we were retaining over 80% of our members from year to year and taking on new members each year. And we noticed this year that the CSA was taking in a lot more than 25% of our annual gross income. AND we were getting unsolicited requests to join our Farm Share Initiative towards the end of our season. Unfortunately due to a horrendous growing season this year we could not take on any new members to our FSI but we are able to take new members for our Winter Share Program and so far have picked up 5 brand new members.

The fact that we now have a waiting list was what pushed us into doing the CSA full bore for 2012. This is a brand new thing for us and we like it, a lot. In the past we have been slow to change. For years we did part time work at a horse barn (me giving lessons, grooming horses, training horses and catch riding for shows. Eugene was repairing fences & building, running tractors and other maintenance jobs). We did not think while we were working at that farm that it was keeping us from expanding the farm. But once we quit Boulder Belt started growing fast and we became full time farmers. Granted we were not getting rich from the farm and we still are not) but we went from netting, say, $4K a year to making a more livable wage (okay, for many it still would not be a livable wage but we live very, very cheaply so it works for us as long as we stay away from most luxuries like vacations.). We expect the same phenomena will happen now that we have made the decision to drop our last farmers market and concentrate on the CSA. Only time will tell.

If you are looking for a CSA home and are in the Greater Dayton (OH) region check us out at http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com and click on the Farm Share link in the side bar

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cantaloupe Jam

We had a fabulous melon season. Lots of very high quality melons were grown on our farm. But, sadly, not all the melons were sellable so when life gives you too many melons you eventually make jam (and freeze them as well but we already discussed that here on this blog).

I have had this melon jam idea in my head for a couple of years now but until a few weeks ago I did not get around to making such a jam.But faced with a growing amount of beginning to fester must be used ASAP and I already have filled the freezer with more than enough frozen melon I needed to do something so I looked around the web for a good melon jam recipe and found...none. Not a single melon jam recipe out there. I did find a couple preserve recipes but I had no interest in putting slices of melon into jars filled with a simple syrup. I wanted a real spreadable jam.

So I had to invent a recipe which I did. Fortunately the pectin box had a basic recipe for all jams which is 4 cups fruit, 4 cups sugar and pectin (and maybe some lemon juice). Since I had both regular pectin and low/no sugar pectin (and a lot of both) and a lot of melons I experimented. I found the best results with the low/no sugar pectin and around 6 to 7 cups of fruit an 2 cups of sugar. It had the best flavor, sugar to fruit ratio and set up well. The jam made with regular pectin always set up poorly, even when I paid attention to measurements and used exactly 4 cups of fruit, sugar, etc., etc..

I I used Organic sugar and regular cane sugar and found little difference in taste or how well the jam set up.

For flavoring I used salt and vanilla extract along with 1/4 cup of with either lemon or lime juice plus a TBL of butter which originally I used to keep the foaming to a minimum but used more butter because it added great flavor

so here is the master recipe
4 to 7 cups fruit processed to a smooth foam in a food processor (use only 4 if using regular pectin)
2 to 4 cups sugar
2 TBL vanilla extract
1 TBL butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 lime or lemon juice
1 pkg pectin

Prepare according pectin direction than fill hot jars that have been boiled for at least 10 minutes. put on lids and rings and than put in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Remove from canner and put on a clean towel and let cool at least 12 hours. When cool remove rings, write on lid or label what's in the jar and the date and put in a cabinet.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Farmers Market late August/early September 2011

Freshly washed Melons

Eugene sorting and pricing melons the day before market

Melons and more packed and ready to go on the Van, the night before Farmers Market

Melons at Market!

Heirloom mater and jalapenos

Pearl Onions

Mini peppers



Another satisfied Melon customer


Sunday, September 04, 2011

Organic farming more profitable than Conventional Farming

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0901-hance_organic_money.html?utm_campaign=General+news&utm_medium=Twitter&utm_source=SNS.analytics