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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Drug Deathmatch

This is funny and I think it actually happened (if the pix are not photoshopped)

Drug Deathmatch:

To identify the strongest medicines on the market, I decided to undertake a Drug Deathmatch, pitting one over-the-counter drug against another, and seeing which emerged victorious in my body. Honestly, Consumer Reports should be covering this crap, but obviously they don't have the guts...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Weekend Events

The weekend is over and I am spent. Had a lot going on-a visit by my Father, my cousin Jack and my brother Scott and his girlfriend Speranza. They arrived Friday afternoon and left Sunday morning. The visit was nice. Jack stayed with us and everyone else stayed in a motel near Brookville, OH. Friday we all went out to eat in Eaton at Fiesta Charra. Saturday we went to market with Jack and Dad and Scott met us there minus Speranza who was "taking the day off". It was a good but windy market. We sold out of a lot of things. Dad and Scott left us at market to go see Joe Bien, a neighbor from our Springwood days (Springwood is a subdivision east of Oxford where my father built a house in 1957). Joe taught viola and music theory at Miami University and played in several orchestras. He was also my viola tutor/teacher when I was 15 or 16 years old.

We left market with Jack and said we would meet Dad and Scott back at the farm. The wind was getting heavier as we drove home. We got home and the Mort Miers for Congress sign, one of the political in our yard (but these are bigger than yard signs) was trying to break loose. Eugene went out to fix it but noticed that one of the hoophouses was also beginning to break loose so he left the political sign to its' own devices and ran up to try and get the plastic back in the ground. The political sign flew across the street never to be seen again.

Jack came out and went up to help Eugene get the hoophouse back down and than Scott and Dad showed up and Scott went out to the garden to help the boys. Dad told me the reason for Speranza's absence was because she and Scott had a fight that morning and wanted to be alone. The boys came back having been successful with the hoophouse but reporting the wind had blown all the row covers off. C'est la vie.

We were all sitting in the kitchen having a beer when Speranza called and soon after Scott left to go be with her. That left us with the problem of what to do about dinner which we postponed for naps around 3pm. When we all got up we again faced the problem of what to do about dinner and I got some ratatouille I made back when eggplant was plentiful out of the freezer and made some garlic biscuits with local organic lard and fresh garlic and we had pasta for dinner with beer because the red wine my father had bought for dinner was back in the motel room in Brookville, OH. Scott and Speranza came by to collect Dad at 8:30pm and Jack, Eugene and I watched some of the world series but went to bed at the beginning of the 8th inning missing the cardinals win the series. It was a bad game, lots of errors.

An odd addendum to the World Series it was played this year by the teams of the two most dangerous cities in the US and the most dangerous city won.

Sunday we got up to a time change and Eugene got domestic and made some tasty waffles. Dad, Scott and Speranza arrived to collect Jack and take him back to Detroit before the waffles were all done so they waited while we ate breakfast (they had eaten, ironically enough, at a waffle house). With breakfast done we said our long goodbyes and off the visitors went to the great state of Michigan.

Than we opened the store and waited for the Earlham student to show up for her tour and interview. Around 1:30pm I looked out the window and did not see the Earlham student but did see Chuck Herm's car turning into Kayler Rd. And than around and end up in our driveway. He came in and about 5 minutes after he arrived the Earlham student called to reschedule so suddenly we had a fairly free afternoon and Chuck to hang out with. And that is what we did along with selling things to the occasional customer that cam to the store.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

CSA Conference, Michigan

Raising Vegetables and Civic Values: CSA in the 21st Century

Second Biennial Conference for Community Supported Agriculture

When: November 10-12, 2006

Where: Kettunen Center near Tustin, Michigan (Just south of Cadillac)

Contact: CSA-MI

3480 Potter Rd

Bear Lake, MI 49614

231-889-3216 (toll free 877-526-1441)

Email csafarm AT

(replace AT with @ and paste into your mail program)

November 1 is the deadline to register for the CSA conference without a late fee. We can extend that to November 6. Register today!

Keynote Speakers
We have two exciting keynoters coming to the CSA conference:

Steven McFadden
Farms of Tomorrow Revisited – Community Supported Agriculture and Agriculture Supported Community

Scott Chaskey
Peconic Land Trust at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, New York and This Common Ground – Seasons on an Organic Farm

A Mini-school for new and prospective CSA growers still has a few openings.

WORKSHOPS led by experienced growers and other professionals include sessions on animals and the CSA, Seeds for the CSA, Distribution strategies, a CSA Council Circle with Steven McFadden, biodynamics, permaculture and more. See schedule at

Vendors, like MACSAC (order your A to Z Foodbooks), Crop Services International, Fertrell products, Morgan Composting, Higher Grounds Trading Company, Steve and Sons Grassfields Cheese and more will be on hand.

A Silent Auction offers great stuff for the farm and home (Planet Jr Seeder, hand-knit items, maple syrup, books, art, CD's, gift certificates and lots more). See

Time for meeting and mixing with your fellow CSA farmers and farm advocates, and great entertainment on Saturday eve with NW Michigan favorites Seth and Daisy Mae.

Much more information at the website!

There are a few stipends remaining for growers who need financial assistance to attend. Reply to this email for more information.

CSA Conference in Michigan, November 10-12, 2006
Five Springs Farm
The Community Farm newsletter

Friday, October 27, 2006

Weekend Visitors

It's raining once again so that means harvesting for tomorrow's farmers' market will be on the miserable side 'ceptin the stuff in hoophouses which will be dryish (the hoophouse plastic collects moisture and when you walk in to one it tends to dump all that moisture down the back of your neck sending a delightfully invigorating stream of water down your back and into your underwear). Fortunately, on Wednesday I did harvest some greens-turnip greens (yuk!) and spring mix (yum!) and yesterday Eugene dug more sweet taters so really the only unpleasant things to harvest will be chard and kale and perhaps some arugula (if I can find any that has not been wind burned or is too big). Oh, and we need more cilantro and parsley for tomorrow too and maybe the lettuce is big enough to cut. With two of us harvesting this should take us about 2 hours, perhaps less, of outside work. Than another couple of hours in the hoophouses harvesting and pollinating. Than another couple of hours cleaning and packing greens and roots and we are basically done with prep for market tomorrow except loading the van which can be done this evening.

And I also am expecting a visit from most of my male relatives (we will have a house of testosterone this weekend!). My brother, Dad and favorite cousin are arriving from Tiger country (that's Detroit to those few of you NOT paying attention to the World Series) some time this afternoon. I have no idea when they are leaving and don't care, they can stay for weeks if they want. Generally, when my Dad visits we do a trip down to Jungle Jim's, the world's best grocery store. I have not been to JJ's in several months and need to restock on several items-Olive oil, maple syrup, vanilla powder, flavorings such as hazelnut and orange, a case of cheap but excellent wine, a good feta (the local Kroger's and Wal-Mart both have feta but not good feta), exotic fruit and other things I have not even thought of. I guess, if we do not do a family trip to JJ's Eugene and I will have to go on our own in the next 2 to 3 weeks. The reason why I have doubts about getting to JJ's is because we are over scheduled for the weekend. We have relatives visiting, a farmers' market saturday Morning, the farm store will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday and Eugene agreed to show an Earlham Student around the farm Sunday afternoon which would be the most logical time to go to JJ's if everyone decides to leave Monday (which they might, though I am dealing with folks who are either retired or self employed or seasonally employed so they likely will be able to stay past monday). I told him that this weekend was not the best time to schedule a farm tour and if we do decide Sunday is the day to go to JJ's he gets to stay home and tend the store and do the tour (it's his alma mater after all and he did the scheduling).

I hear the husband stirring upstairs and rain pouring on the roof (a really nice sound). The Arlo dog has just walked into the computer/guest room (he sleeps outside most nights but I let him and the other dog in when I get up around 5am and Arlo generally goes upstairs to sleep on the floor beside Eugene. Nate, the other dog does not do stairs). It is time for me to end this entry and go coffee up and watch some morning news-The Daily Buzz being the preferred news show

Nice Farm Blog

I was surfin' the web and found this really great farm blog written by a woman in rural GA who started out life in Urban Minnesota. Well written and entertaining (at least to me) I suggest you check out this farm blog

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fall Clean Up Time

It's a dark and cloudy day not making me want to do a lot of field work but at some point before it starts raining I should go out and cut some kale, cilantro, arugula and see if there is any chard to be had. We have had some problems with mice or rats eating the base of the chard plants to death. Last Friday I caught one of the li'l SOB's and let Nate kill and eat it but I doubt that was the only one doing this damage.

We have been busy the past week or so putting the garden to bed. This entailed pulling up dead tomato, pepper, eggplants, etc.. The tomatoes had the added task of removing stakes and twine before the plants could be removed. After the plants were removed and put on compost piles to help feed the soil we ripped up the landscape fabric we have been using as a mulch/weed barrier. A lot of weeds get established along the edges of the landscape fabric that have to be pulled off. I find it is easiest to ripped the fabric up and lay it out and let it dry for 24 to 48 hours before removing the weeds and mud. Dried dead weeds come off the mulch a lot easier than alive weeds. After that we pull up the drip tapes. We have to squeeze the water out of each tape as we rolled it up into a small bundle. At this point the beds are ready to be lightly tilled and a seeded with a cover crop or planted in garlic or greens for early spring.

Organic methods demand that we keep as much soil covered over winter as possible so we put down rye seed from September through early November on all beds that are either not in use in the fall or will not be used in early spring. Which is about 3/4 of the beds. The rye germinates before winter and if planted early enough will grow a foot or two before it goes dormant over winter. In the spring it comes back to life and grows to about 6' before getting mowed down and incorporated back into the soil. We will let one bed grow into summer to get seed for the following autumn. The rye keeps early weeds from establishing, stops erosion and adds tons or organic matter to our soils

Fall cleanup is important. Without doing this we could not plant cover crops in the fall or early spring crops in the late winter. We would allow a lot of places for pests and diseases to hibernate for the winter. We would not be able to make nearly as much compost because the plant debris would still be in the beds. We would put a lot of unnecessary wear on the fabric mulches. We would have to remove stakes, mulch, plants etc., in the very early spring when you can be assured it will be freezing and wet which is an incredibly uncomfortable way to work. In other words, not doing fall clean up would be stupid.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Maine Grass Farmers Grazing Conference

3rd Annual Maine Grass Farmers Network Grazing Conference

November 18, 2006
Kennebec Valley Community College
Fairfield, Maine
9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Sponsored by The Maine Grass Farmers Network and
The Western Mountain Alliance

The 3rd Annual Grazing Conference will be held November 18th in Fairfield, ME and will feature nationally recognized speakers, as well as local and regional experts. This year, the conference will address issues relevant to producers as well as consumers of pasture based livestock products.

Jerry Brunetti of Agri-Dynamics will be the keynote speaker and will talk about the relationship of human health and pasture raised livestock products. Jerry educates and consults with farmers who are transitioning to ecologically responsible and sustainable farming practices.

Break-out sessions throughout the day will appeal to a wide range of interests. Morning sessions will include a discussion of a Humane Animal Certification program with Holly Bridges. Beth Calder of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will provide some background on food safety and nutrient values of pastures livestock,and Vivianne Holmes will discuss Holistic Management systems.
Additionally, Betsy Greene, Extension Equine Specialist with the
University of Vermont will discuss paddock and pasture management
of horses.

In the afternoon, additional breakout sessions will include talks on wool production with pasture raised animals, managing hay quality in the field, and raising Katahdin sheep for meat production. One of the afternoon sessions will be a meat cutting demonstration designed to help producers better understand cutting for value and taste with Arnold Luce of Luce's meats. Jerry Brunetti will also lead several discussions on forage quality and soil health.

For more information and registration materials, you can contact MOFGA at 207-568-4142 or visit the Maine Grass Farmers Network website, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners website, or the Western Mountains

The Western Mountain Alliance recognizes Maine as part of a growing national movement to bring food production home and support rural economies, conserve the environment, and ensure greater food security.

In 2005, the Western Mountains Alliance with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and in partnership with the Maine Alternative Agriculture Association began a two-year initiative to promote and stimulate local farm production for local consumers.

Maine Grass Farmers Network has been created with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program, to gather and provide information and support to interested farmers. The MGFN is coordinated and sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Meadowsweet Farm, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, The Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Maine Department of Agriculture.

Another NAIS Site

This anti NAIS site is from the western rancher POV. Most of the other sites I have seen around the web have been from the POV of the small diversified farmer who maybe has a cow or a horse but certianly has chickens. Lots of info about NAIS and how to combat this regulation.

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Red meat radishes

It's Tuesday, it's early in the morning and I have not had any coffee yet. It is a crisp (meaning cold) morning and the dogs and cats are all smashed around the space heater (we have no other heating though a furnace and installation have been ordered and 1/2 paid for and should be installed in the next 5 to 10 days) sucking up all the heat into their bodies and leaving little heat for the rest of the household (pets can be so selfish).

The Final Tuesday market of 2006 is this afternoon but if the weather conditions are anything like last week we may skip the market making last week's mid week market the Final Tuesday market of 2006. Last week we spent hours getting ready for the market went down to Oxford, OH and sat around for 3 hours doing next to nothing. We were the only vendors to show up. We had 5 customers and made about $20. I believe that was the worst turn out for this market in about 5 years. Granted, the weather was sucky, cool, cloudy and threatening to rain at any moment (but it was about 15˚F warmer than this week). The last half hour of the market our friends Steve and Chuck showed up and we talked of worldly things. At around 6:50pm Marc showed up and the three of them helped us tear down and than we all went to dinner at the Smokin' Ox (great BBQ) where we enjoyed good food and better conversation and that dinner made the trip to town worth it for me (which is good, because the market was not cutting it at all last Tuesday).

So I sit here writing and trying to decide if we will go to market today. The weather prophets have indicated it will be colder than last week (but warmer than yesterday when the temps did not break out of the 30'sF (that would be around 3 to 4˚c to all you non USA readers out there) and that there is almost no chance of snow. This means that the weather will be worse than last week and that means it is likely that once again few people will be out and about looking for fresh veggies in Uptown Oxford

Reading what I just wrote is making me think, "Nah, ain't gonna go to market today". But of course Eugene will want to go if for no other reason than I do not want to go and we are often contrary to one another about such things. Than again Eugene is as burned out with this farmers' market bidniss (probably more so as he is mourning the death of his mother and that really takes the wind out of one's sales) and if we cannot do at least $150 in sales it is not worth the hours it takes getting ready for market (it takes about 4 hours of prep work for every hour we sell so if the Tuesday market is a 3 hour market it takes about 12 hours doing all the things that must be done to be able to sell such as harvesting crops, cleaning and bagging/bunching the crops, marketing/writing and sending email newsletters out to our loyal customers, filling out a tally sheet so we know what and how much sold, making sure we have correct change in the till, loading the van, driving the van 30 minutes to Oxford, finding a parking spot that is not too far away (easy in summer, tricky in the fall), dragging all the crates, coolers, tables, scales, baskets and setting all the stuff up so we can peddle our wares to the public. Thus if we do not make a certain amount all this work is really for naught.

So the question is will Eugene and Lucy make it to their last weekday farmers' market of the 2006 season?
Stay tuned....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

This is Interesting

Organics Fail to Yield Cash Crop for Food Giants

$14 Billion Category's High Prices Turn Off Consumers

By Stephanie Thompson

Published: October 15, 2006
NEW YORK ( -- It's been enthusiastically embraced by marketers, blessed by Wal-Mart and touted as the holy grail of growth for an industry desperately in need of it. But after a stupendous start, organic foods are looking suspiciously like a sensation sizzling out.

Consumer resistance to high prices is thwarting efforts to expand the nation's $14 billion organic foods business.

Companion Story:
Critics Blast Wal-Mart for Low-Priced Organic Foods
Small Farmers Say Retail Giant Cheapens Value of Label

$14 billion
Organics are a $14 billion business with a brisk growth rate, but they account for only 2.5% of total food sales despite hundreds of millions spent by major marketers in the past 12 months to make them mass. Some marketers are spending more to introduce organic versions of mainstream foods than they are earning from sales of organics, as consumers balk at paying double the price for organic versions of their favorite products. It's all mounting evidence that the trend, like the low-carb craze before it, is hurtling toward a crash.

Prego and Ragu
"Most of my consumers couldn't care less," said one Midwest grocery executive who recently discontinued Campbell's Prego organic pasta sauce and Unilever's Ragu organic sauce due to low sales, and who predicts the same fate for Kellogg's organic cereals. "I see this going the same way as low-carb."

With the notable exception of Wal-Mart, which has pledged to sell organic products at only 10% higher than average price to make them affordable for the masses, all but the very high-end grocers tend to treat organic foods as niche, ditching many entries from large marketers and turning away new ones.

After an expensive flop with its Carb Options line, Unilever this year introduced Ragu organic pasta sauce with $20 million in advertising, only to see it wither on the vine. An executive close to the company said Unilever has failed to sell enough to cover its marketing outlay for the brand and has been forced to "scale its organic strategy way back" as a result. By next year the brand will be limited to -- at most -- 15% of traditional grocery stores, mainly those that cater to upscale clientele interested in organic products.

'Definitely slowing down'
Although Unilever recently launched three varieties of Bertolli organic pasta sauce and has some Lipton organic teas, it's unlikely to introduce much in the space beyond that, the executive said. "The mainstream-organic trend is definitely slowing down," he said, "and though it won't likely come to as drastic an end as low-carb, it definitely appeals to a much smaller demographic than originally anticipated." Unilever declined to comment.

Others, such as Kraft, are not willing to abandon the organic market just yet, given the fact that the segment saw sales growth of 16.2% to $14 billion last year, according to Nutrition Business Journal. But that number still represents less than 3% of food sales -- and some 41% of total organic-food sales are from commodity fruits, vegetables and meats.

Major marketers' success in the segment to date has come not from organic versions of their stalwart brands but from independents they've snapped up, such as General Mills' Cascadian Farm and Kraft's Back to Nature.

Organic Macaroni & Cheese
Indeed, some of the entries seem discordant with the image of organic foods as fresh, natural and healthful. Among Kraft Foods' offerings are organic Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and two DiGiorno frozen pizzas made with organic flour and tomatoes. The country's largest food marketer also plans to roll out organic versions of Kraft salad dressings in January, believing there's still plenty of life left in the segment.

"The consumer demand for natural and organic products is increasing, and Kraft is bringing organics more into the mainstream so more and more consumers have access to [them]," a spokeswoman said.

The launches, however, are unlikely to be shelved near their faster-moving nonorganic counterparts. One wholesale grocery executive said she didn't accept the organic version of Kraft's blue-box dinner because "it was too far a stretch to expect consumers to pay $2.29 for it when I sell the regular blue-box at two for 99 cents. It would just sit on my shelf."

Against the grain
She was equally skeptical about the salad dressings -- unless Kraft plans to price-promote them along with the rest of the line, something that goes against the grain for organic products, which appeal to major marketers mainly for their premium prices.

That's not to say marketers have given up. H.J. Heinz, which has done relatively well with its Heinz organic ketchup, is gauging retailer interest in Classico organic sauces, notwithstanding the problems rivals Ragu and Prego have had with their organic lines. And Campbell Soup Co., despite gaining spotty distribution for its Prego, Pace and V8 organic offerings, is sticking with them and its more consistent performer, Swanson organic broth. "We have dedicated resources and logistics to organics and, though not huge, they're a small niche component of our overall sales," a Campbell spokesman said.

And they're likely to stay niche. "Organic tends to play best in fresh produce and in fresh dairy, and it has far less relevance to shelf-stable products," said Landor Managing Director Allen Adamson. When the organic label becomes overused, he said, "it loses some of its horsepower and its ability to be a differentiator."

So don't count on organic products becoming the flailing food industry's growth rocket. Without them, food marketers are finding little to innovate around. According to a slew of retailers and marketers in recent weeks, the 2007 pipeline promises little in the way of true product development.


OFU: Ohio Rule Unfair to Dairy Producers

OFU: Ohio rule unfair to dairy producers

By Jeff Eschmeyer, government relations director, Ohio Farmers Union
FARMERS WORLD – Oct. 11, 2006

Consumer's ability to make responsible and personal choices about their food and their health is under assault by our state government. Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Director Fred Daily signed an order last week to revoke the Grade-A milk producer license of Dark County dairy producer Carol Schmitmeyer and her husband, Paul, for operating a herd-share agreement which allows participants to drink raw milk from a dairy herd which they have purchased ownership.

The "sale" of raw milk in Ohio is illegal; however, state law allows an owner of a cow to consume raw milk. Twenty-eight other states allow the legal purchase of unpasteurized milk in some manner, whether direct farm to consumer sales, retail sales, or through herd-share agreements.

In Ohio, there are thousands of consumers who are adamant that fresh, unpasteurized milk best meets their health needs. Consumer have made substantial investments in the ownership rights of dairy herds such as the Schmitmeyers, whose management skill has earned them prestigious honors from a national dairy cooperative. Additionally, participants compensate the farmer with an ongoing boarding fee to support their part of the herd and to continue to receive their part of the milk. These actions maintain a legal avenue to a product that consumers feel is healthful and nutritious.

Currently, Ohio does not address the specific issues of herd-share agreements, yet the ODA has decided to target the Schmitmeyers. The Schmitmeyers attempted to contact the ODA early on to discuss concerns regarding the herd-share arrangements but were refuse4d a meeting.

After an ODA hearing, the Schmitmeyers learned their grade-A license had been revoked from a daily newspaper reporter looking for comment instead of through the Department. The loss of this license could make the Schmitmeyers lose their family farm, even though 87 percent of the gross income is from sales of Grade-A milk to processors, not through herd-share agreements.

Other recent investigative ODA activities include a sting operating on an Amish dairy farmer in which undercover agents solicited a raw milk "sale" ion return for a donation. He has his license revoked as well, yet it was later reinstated. In that case the judge explicitly said the farmer's herd-share agreement was not at issue in the case.

The timing of ODA's recent action is of additional concern. The democratic wheels are already turning in the state legislature regarding raw milk. Representative Arlene Setzer (R-Vandalia) has introduced House Bill 534, which would create a "raw milk retailer license" giving the ODA the authority to establish rules and handling protocols to ensure the health and safety of the public. Active debate is taking place in the House Agriculture and Resource Committee where concerns are being addressed and progress made on the legislation.

The ODA's intervening to place farmers in the position of possible bankruptcy, while discussion is taking place at the Statehouse, seems heavy-handed.

Why punish those farmers who are assisting consumers in their freedom of choice, when Ohio's courts and laws have not made clear judgment on the issue? Penalizing farmers won't curb the thirst of those who choose raw milk; I fear it will only drive them underground and away from the rules and protocols designated for their benefit.

Ohio Farmers Union supports legitimizing the "sale" of raw mil, including House Bill 534, as long as appropriate safeguards are in place, and the sale is from a conscientious farmer to an informed consumer.

The regulatory process put in place by the ODA would establish a set of rules – it would spell out the guidelines and expel the ambiguity.

People have the right to consume these dairy products and Ohio's dairy farmers can provide them in a safe manner.

Whether one aggress completely with raw milk advocates or not, it seems in the matter, that Ohio's consumers and family farmers are getting a raw deal.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

After the Frost

One of the big events on our garden calendar is the first frost of the year. We do a lot of season extension but that first frost brings on a lot of anxiety for us and I don't know why because generally by the time the first frost arrives we have hoophouses and row cover exactly where they need to be and all the plants that will be and saved are well protected. This is how it was this year. We have been ready for the killing frost for about 3 weeks now

And so the frosts came this past Thursday, Friday and Sunday mornings. Any tender summer crops such as tomatoes, peppers and basil are all dead. So that means they get removed from the garden ASAP so we can get the remaining fall/winter crops in the ground (mainly spinach, lettuce, arugula, garlic and spring mix) and cover crops which is mainly winter rye because it works well for us and we have a lot of seed we have saved from previous years.

Work wise this means getting the dead things out of the ground, tearing up the landscape fabric we used as mulch against weeds and cleaning that up so it can be stored (this is a plastic mulch but it lasts for years and years and because it is woven and not extruded it breaths and lets in water. We like landscape fabric.) and than the bed is ready to be tilled or raked and planted with something.

We are still doing farmers' markets, we have 4 hoophouses up with things like strawberries, zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in them so we still have plenty to harvest. Not to mention the cold lovers like kale, lettuce, spring mix, arugula, spinach, rutabagas turnips beets, chard, etc., that are not in hoophouses because they do not need such protection yet (that comes when we try and over winter these cold crops). When I think about it, we still have a heavy workload and I guess we will through the beginning of November when all regular farmers' markets stop giving us a lot more time to do things around the farm.

We farmers rarely get any kind of break from farming as when the fall works stops we will be crunching the numbers from this season, making the big decisions about what to plant, what crops to drop and what new crops to try. This year we are looking for a new yellow storage onion, new red onion and a new red pepper to replace hybrids that are now owned by the Monsanto Corporation, an entity we will not knowingly buy seed from. I am hoping we can find heirlooms to replace these hybrids as an extra TV bonus as we would like to be planting 100% heirloom varieties in the next 5 years or so. And there will be several heirloom tomatoes that will catch my eye to be tried next year as well as other crops like zucchinis, melons, lettuces, etc..

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Weird Day at Market

Steve Dana buying local produce from Eugene in quieter times (warmer too)

Had a farmers' market this morning. It was a cold clear morning. The temperature was hovering near freezing as Eugene and I loaded the van in the morning dark preparing to leave for Oxford so we could get there by 7:30am.

Drove down as the sun slowly rose in the east taking bucolic country roads (I guess all country roads are bucolic) watching the growing light.

Got to market just as it opened. We should be set up at this point but, hey, it was cold! Quickly pulled canopies, tables, table cloths, baskets and produce out of the van and set up the store in about 10 minutes (we have this down to a science). Started selling things to people and talking about the cold. As time went on and the sun got higher it got warmer and everyone was happier until...

The evangelical christian sect set up in the Martin Luther King Park to the SW of where the farmers' market is. It started out okay. We heard a commotion and looked over to see a group of people with signs and placards saying things like "Repent" and other scary "Hands of an Angry God" things and they had these really big Bleeding Jesus on the cross banners they were carrying around.

Okay, I believe in freedom of speech and religion. They were in their area away from our area so I was okay with what they were doing even though I do no agree with their message, it is their coinstitutional right as Americans. Than they broke up their prayer meeting and spread out over the uptown area and started doing loud preaching. One bullet headed type with a crewcut decided preaching at the farmers' market would be a good idea. So he trundled his ample figure over to the western edge of the market and with bible in hand started screaming at us that we are all sinners and it is time to repent and other such bullshit. Now I realize I just wrote that he was within his rights to do this but what he was doing was not just making us uncomfortable but it was also ruining business and I guess these clowns do not realize that most the farmers selling things at the Oxford farmers Market, Uptown do this for a full time living and he was hurting our bottom line. perhaps if the religious sect had come to the market and spent some money and bought our food and crafts we would feel a bit more congenial about all this. but they did not, they simply were assholes to the nth degree.

I am sorry but I am not religious and I do not appreciate being screamed at in order to save my soul. No one does. I do not understand why these odious evangelical christians continue to alienate people in an attempt to save them. I feel that a person's faith is a personal thing between them and their god(s) and perhaps their church, temple, synagogue, grove, nest, meeting, etc.. Screaming at me will not do any good except to create hostility towards your religion on my part.

So the bullethead stands on the edge of the market right next to poor Scott Downing and screams scripture and his interpretations of the bible. The customers were upset, the vendors were upset even the dogs seemed upset by the guy. OFMU board Pres. Steve Dana tried to get the guy to go away and did distract him for about 15 minutes so we farmers could go about business. But soon enough he was screaming THE WORD to everyone in ear shot. Steve even called the cops to see if they could stop these people but no, they had a legal permit. So they guy was in his legal rights to stand a foot outside the farmers' market and be loud.

The market ended and we were serenaded by this guy the whole time we were packing up. I have never seen the market clear so quickly. Usually we have customers for about 10 to 15 minutes after close. Not today. We had one person right at the bell than no one and by 11:45 we and Don Schwab were the only folks left and that is because we were talking about the religious people and the Tuesday market. Fortunately by that time the evangelicals were leaving as they had to stop at noon sharp. I noticed an Oxford Cop was parked a half block away watching them pack up. I guess there must have been a lot of complaints to the cops over these guys. Perhaps they will not be issued a permit next year.

We can only hope.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Basil with Recipes

I'm doing some laundry and trying to fit some of Eugene's mother's things into our already fairly crowded house. We have succeeded in setting up the overly large TV (Fran was no huge fan of ostentatious TV's but was given this a couple of years ago by her niece) and now I am getting a room ready to put a twin bed together so we have a fer real guest room.

But what the topic here is really about is basil. Basil has been one of our best crops this year. We started it early and it has been providing us with fresh and dried basil since early June. We did two succession plantings this year. One in April in a hoophouse and the second in June outside under row cover. We start cutting it when it gets 4 to 5 sets of leaves and it responds to the cutting by putting out 2 new stems for every stem cut. After a month a twice weekly cutting you can get some very bushy plants that will produce a lot of basil leaves. We had a wetter than normal growing season which helped the basil out quite a bit as it likes it wetter than drier.

Basil is a wonderful herb. Many cultures regard it as holy. Me, I regard it as delicious. We use fresh basil is salads as an additional leafy green.

We use it in pesto

1 cup Fresh basil
2 or more cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
1 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Destem the basil and parsley.
put the ingredients in in this order
garlic, pulse a few times, walnuts,
pulse, cheese, basil, pulse, oil and process for about 30 seconds or until smooth

We use it in fresh tomato basil sauce

4 to 6 medium to large tomatoes, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil stemmed and chopped
2 or more cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
olive oil
salt to taste

Heat a large frying/sauté pan, add the oil and let that heat until it shimmers. Than add the yellow onions and cook them until they start to turn translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Than add the maters, basil, garlic and salt. Cook another 10 minutes or so and serve over hot pasta. Grate some good parmesan cheese over top and serve with crunchy garlic bread

We dry it for use in a lot of cooking like good old spaghetti sauce, on garlic bread, on pizza, etc. Dried basil is 3 to 4 times more intense flavor wise and can generally be used in any recipe that calls for fresh basil. The big exception is pesto which must have fresh basil as an ingredient.

The other thing we do with our dried basil is sell it at our farm store, farmers markets and over the web at our Local Harvest Store front. It's a nice crop to have in the colder off season months when we have little to nothing actually growing.

When Should You Buy Organic?

You should always buy local organic food but when you cannot here are some alternatives. The more you know...

OCTOBER 3, 2006
2:16 PM

CONTACT: Environmental Working Group
(202) 667-6982

When Should You Buy Organic?
Free Guide Ranks Pesticide Contamination of Fruits and Vegetables

WASHINGTON - October 4 - If you're concerned about food safety, you probably already look for organic produce at the supermarket. But if you can't always buy organic, you can still dramatically lower your family's exposure to chemical pesticides by choosing the least pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables with the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

The Shopper's Guide is a handy, wallet-size card that lists the "Dirty Dozen" most contaminated fruits and vegetables, as well as the 12 most "Consistently Clean" items. It's available for free download at FoodNews. The newest edition of the Guide comes in both English and Spanish versions for the first time.

The Shopper's Guide was developed by Environmental Working Group (EWG), based on the results of nearly 43,000 tests for pesticides on produce by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2004. EWG's computer analysis found that consumers could cut their pesticide exposure by almost 90 percent by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead.

Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables will expose a person to about 15 pesticides a day, on average. Eating the 12 least contaminated will expose a person to fewer than two pesticides a day.

"Federal produce tests tell us that some fruits and vegetables are so likely to be contaminated with pesticides that you should always buy them organic," said Richard Wiles, EWG's senior vice president. "Others are so consistently clean that you can eat them with less concern. With the Shopper's Guide in your pocket, it's easy to tell which is which."

EWG's analysis of federal testing data found:

* Peaches and apples topped the Dirty Dozen list. Almost 97 percent of peaches tested positive for pesticides, and almost 87 percent had two or more pesticide residues. About 92 percent of apples tested positive, and 79 percent had two or more pesticides. The rest of the Dirty Dozen include sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes.
* Onions, avocados, and sweet corn headed the Consistently Clean list. For all three foods, more than 90 percent of the samples tested had no detectable pesticide residues. Others on the Consistently Clean list include pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, and papaya.

There is growing scientific consensus that small doses of pesticides can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects. Because the toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, shoppers are wise to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.

While washing and rinsing fresh produce can reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. Peeling also reduces exposures, but valuable nutrients often go down the drain with the peel. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Although the Shopper's Guide only measures pesticide residues on produce, buying organic also makes sense if you're concerned about bacterial contamination. Organic farmers meet all the sanitation standards required of conventional growers and, on, top of that, meet tight restrictions on the use of compost and other organic material that do not apply to conventional fruit and vegetable growers.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Death Walks Nearby

It's been a hard week for me and I have been weighing in on how to write about this. 2 people close to me die last week. One, Ann Bell, an old friend whom I have not had much contact with the past 8 years due to a stupid rift that came between us (in the form of my husband) that did get repiared a bit after she got sick.

The other is a much more devastating death. Fran, my mother-in law, died suddenly this past Saturday, September 30th while walking her dog, she was 80 years old.

Fran was a special person. A peace activist, mother and wife (though Sig her husband had died before I was inducted into the Goodman Family). I really liked her as well as loved her. I was lucky to get such a mother in law.

We shared a similar political outlook (way to the left) and went to see Dennis Kucinich together a couple of years ago when he was running for President. She was far more politicly active in her heyday. She went to Sri Lanka to be a human shield against the Tamil Tigers in her late 60's and she spent more than one night in jail protesting various injustices of our Federal government in washington DC. Apparently she and my uncle Jim (aka Scott Rutherford) were at a couple of protests together in the Whitehouse Rotunda and never knew it until they met at our wedding 10 years ago.

She and Eugene shared a deep connection. They were very similar people which could be infuriating to the rest of us as they would go off into their own world together looking at something or talking their own language (it sounded like english)

I did not know Fran as a young or middle aged woman or as a wife. I knew her in her declining years as a widow, activist, Quaker and all around delightful person.

Okay, the other memorial here (I probably should break this into two entries and maybe I will come back and edit this later and do just that) Ann Bell. I have known Ann pretty for at least 20 years, maybe longer. I knew her Mother Irma Sandage since I was a pup because she and my Mom worked as social workers together in Butler County back in the 1970's and Ann's Brother Dennis was a political legend around my family at the same time.

Ann was a drinking/partying buddy of mine. We met at the Circle Bar 9a notorious Townie bar in Oxford Oh that was run by J Harris, a notorious drunk and small businessman at the time) in the early 1980's and became tight. She taught me how to create things on an Apple II Classic computer and turned me into a Macintosh aficionado (my brother tells me my biggest mistake is using Macs and not PeeCee's. I think is is wrong) Ann was a very talented artist and was a pioneer in desk top publishing. When she started teaching me how to use a computer I remember she had drawers full of Fonts she had paid thousands of dollars for the rights to use them in her profession. The computer I am using right now had twice as many fonts loaded into it as she had in her drawers (they could not be stored on her computer as it had 1mb of RAM). When I bough my first Mac, a IIci, it had 5mb of memory and she asked what was I going to do with ALL that memory. Ah the good old days.

Ann and I hung out a lot talking about philosophy, gossip, weather, computers, sexuality, feminism, how to save the world, etc.. There was very little we did not talk about over the years. I once took up to our cottage in Michigan where my father gave her greek plays to read. She especially loved the play Lisistrata. Where the women of I believe Troy quit putting out for their men until the men agree to quit engaging in perpetual war.

I will miss Ann but she went through a long and painful illness and now is out of pain. I'd say she's in a better place but, Frankly, the woman did not live the purest of lives and if she believed in heaven and hell (that I am not sure about, she did have a Christian burial but was not exactly christian) I think she will end up in hell over heaven (as will most christians). For one thing she was a semi practicing witch and another she identified with gay people better than straight folks.

She leaves a son, Georges and a lot of friends behind.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Farm Tours

Yesterday and today have been devoted to giving farm tours to a class from Earlham College, a Quaker School on Richmond, IN. This is the 5 or 6th time we have given this tour to this group. We did not do it last year because we were in the middle of moving the farm from the Crubaugh farm to this farm and had no time or really a farm to tour.

The students are a mix of all years and majors. They are studying sustainability and are taken to two farms. A conventionally managed grain farm owned by Earlham and us, a small organic produce farm. After doing the two tours they than have to write a paper comparing and contrasting the the two ways of doing agriculture.

One day I would like to read some of these papers to see where these people are at in their thinking about agriculture.

So what we do with the groups is take them out to the market garden and than stand around and talk about what we do, the state of organic agriculture, the difference between local organic/not certified small organic farms and industrial organics and other germane subjects and answer a lot of questions. The end of the tour takes them through the farm store where they can buy things if they want. The group yesterday had no time and no one expected to be able to shop so few had money the ones that did bought a lot of honey and other items.

I really like doing farm tours. I have always enjoyed public speaking (the one thing about 80% of the population would rather die than do) and I like discussing organic/sustainable farming topics. over the years we have given about 20 farm tours. Some have been about season extension/hoophouses. Some have been pretty general, mainly a stroll through the market garden talking about what is growing. Some are directed to students and speak mainly about sustainability issues. Some are for other market farmers or MF wannabes and are about how to set up a market garden and how to market.

I would like to get into doing more of these and doing all day tours/workshops so we can delve deeply into a subject instead of simply scratching the surface.