|Jessamine and Timothy sitting on the tractor.|
What to Expect in Your Share
If you are at the regular drop-offs, here are your options for this week. If you have a full share, choose two, and if you have a half share, choose one in each category.
|Jessamine helps harvest cherry|
tomatoes for dinner.
Snap beans or eggplant
Delicata squash or sweet potato greens
Cherry tomatoes or a few slicing tomatoes
Sweet pepper or turnip greens
Lettuce or beets
Cilantro or kale
Onion, garlic, or kohlrabi (Choose two for a half share or four for a full share).
If you get one of the prebagged shares, here are the A and B options for this week:
Share A: Share B:
Snap beans Eggplant
Cherry tomatoes Slicing tomatoes
Delicata squash Sweet potato greens
Turnip greens Sweet pepper
All About our Pigs
On our farm, our veggie produce is the main focus. It's where Fred's expertise lies, and it's where we concentrate the vast majority of our time and effort. But many of you also know that we raise pigs and egg chickens in addition to the yummy produce! Almost every year since starting the farm we have had pigs, including this year. Our pigs are both functional (they help work up the ground in preparation for next year's crops and eat our ugly veggies and scraps) and delicious. Over the course of this time we have learned a lot about their care and keeping, as well as their temperament and habits. They hate sharing (in fact, they can be completely uninterested in something until another pig wants it, and then it immediately turns into a big squealing pig fight), and they can be incredibly persistent when they want something (like to be out of their pen).
Pigs have been domesticated by humans for thousands of years, and their history extends over many continents as early peoples found these fattier animals to be calorically dense, extremely hardy, and pretty much able to fend for themselves. Before refrigeration, they were considered mostly a fall food beacause the pigs would be butchered at the end of the growing season when plant-based food sources died out for the year. Many people groups revered the pig, and remains of hogs are often found in burial sites as sacrifices and as food for the afterlife. (Because rare is the person who doesn't secretly think that bacon would make the afterlife that much better, right?)
|Along with laying around and annoying each other, rooting|
around in their pasture is our pigs' favorite thing to do.
We have raised many different breeds of pigs over the years and have found that crossbreeds usually do the best. Fortunately this year we were able to get a cross of two heritage breeds: Gloucester Old Spot and Hereford. Gloucester Old Spots originated in England and were known as a peasant pig that was domesticated but usually allowed to forage. The Hereford originated in Midwestern farming communities back when each farm mostly only had a few pigs. These varieties were meant for outdoor ranging and are not used in modern CAFO systems.
A CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) is where many animal are kept in close quarters together, and in the case of pigs, completely indoors. These operations produce pork very cheaply in terms of pure dollars and cents per pound of meat. However, they have many external costs to the environment, local communities, CAFO workers, and public health. For example, because CAFOs house so many animals (and all their associated waste) right on top of each other, they often smell terrible. No one wants to live near one, which brings down housing values and other economic development possibilities. The widespread use of chemicals and antibiotics mixed with huge amount of concentrated manure creates a huge threat to the local environment, especially aquatic areas. Workers are at much greater risk from poor air quality from the close confinement of so many animals. Finally, drinking water from both groundwater and surface water can contain elevated levels of nitrates and still carry low doses of the antibiotics used in CAFO production systems, which contributes to the development of antibiotic resistant superbugs. Also the quality of meat from CAFO operations is often lower in eating quality, nutritional benefit, and at higher risk of bacterial contamination. When taking into account these external factors CAFO meat, it shows some of the disconnect between the out of pocket expense to each of us, and the real cost that many rural communities are subsidizing for the rest of us.
Our pigs are raised without these external costs to society, as they are currently being raised at Fred's parents' house, where they have both an inside area and a pastured area they can access 24/7. (We had to move them over there after we had so much trouble with them escaping from their pen at the farm and thus making themselves a huge risk to all of the cars on M-46. Now they are a few miles away on a quiet dirt road where they are only a risk to any rodents unlucky enough to wander into their pasture area.) Being only eight in number, their manure is easily absorbed by the nature’s natural processes in the pasture, and unlike CAFO operations we use none of the chemicals and antibiotics. You also would never smell them unless you went into their enclosed pen, so they don't alter any of the neighbors' quality of life. Since our pigs can freely root around through the soil with their strong noses they can live like they were meant to, eating roots, grass, bugs, worms, reptiles, an occasional rodent, and the grain that we provide for them. This grain is their primary caloric intake but their ability to eat other things that pigs eat in the wild means the pigs are healthier and the meat will taste better with better nutritional content. Pigs are naturally fattier animals and their access to pasture means their fat will be of higher nutritional quality: higher in omega 3s and vitamin D among other things.
After raising these animals, even with the frustrations that the these pigs often give us, we have great respect for them as they are amazingly strong and naturally resilient animals. We are definitely looking forward to eating many grilled pork chops, morning bacon, and many other tasty cuts throughout the fall and winter. We still have a few pigs available, so if you are interested in buying a half or whole pig let us know and I can fill you in on how you can get some for your family. We feed them locally raised non-GMO Amish grains and they are processed locally by Bellingar’s Packing, another small local business who does great work. Just let me know if you want more details!
If you want to see a very short video of our pigs click here:
|I bet you never knew kohlrabi could be this gorgeous,|
This week, there are several things in the share you might not be familiar with, but never fear! We have three different recipes at three different skill levels so you can use all of your new stuff to best advantage.
Really Easy: Leon O'Neal's Turnip Greens
Fairly Easy: Fred's Own Sweet Potato Greens
1 cup cooked rice
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
½-3/4 bunch of sweet potato green chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup cubed grilled eggplant optional
½ fresh lemon squeezed
Fred's Notes: "I cook the rice first then in a separate pan lightly saute the sweet potato greens in olive oil until they are wilted. Then I put in the coconut milk, soy sauce, and sugar and stir until the mixture has a gravy like consistency then before serving I squeeze the half lemon and stir in just before serving as a side dish."
Not all that Easy: Shaved Kolrabi with Apple and Hazelnuts