Thursday, June 21, 2007


"This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me."

As you may or may not know, honey bees have gone missing around the country. A Feb. 23, 2007 article, written by Alexei Barrionuevo, in the NY Times summarizes the situation. The article begins with an anecdote about a bee keeper who "found half of his 100 million bees missing." This is not an isolated experience. The explanations for this occurrence are varied and reading this article, or related articles is encouraged. You might be asking what this has to do with Farmer David. As mentioned in the last blog, David, along with Bent Spoon Gab, have placed three bee hives on Gravity Hill Farm. For those not familiar with the value of bees, bees are an essential part of fertilization of plants. No bees, no fertilization, no fruits and vegetables. (Overly simplistic, but this is not a scientific forum.) Bee that as it may, David and Gab have plans to place hives at other locations and when that occurs you will be informed.

Manifesto On The Future of Food (Produced by the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture) {Can be found at
"The growing push toward industrialization and globalization of the world's agriculture and food supply imperils the future of humanity and the natural world. Successful forms of community-based local agriculture have fed much of the world for millennia, while conserving ecological integrity and continues to do so in many parts of the planet."

Support local agriculture and your local farmer.

To bee or not to bee? Are you a good bee?

These are the 'boxes' into which the bees will be placed. Each hive will have one queen and various worker bees.

A beatific moment with Gab and David. Can't wait for fresh honey ice cream made from fresh Gravity Hill honey.

Let's suit up and play ball. As you might think, taking safety precautions when dealing with bees is often suggested.

Gab and David- safety first. Posing to impress the bees.

In the boxes are frames. It is in the frames that the bees will deposit their honey. When you see the hives, the bees, and the honey it is impressive. It is easy to take the miracle of bees for granted.

In April, Gab and David took a three day bee class at Rutgers. It was taught by Bob Hughes, past president of New Jersey Beekeepers Association. ( That is Bob showing David the finer points of holding a slat of bees. Don't try this at home unless you are a trained professional.

This is just one slat from a hive. And there are three hives. That is a lot of bees. These are the little guys who are essential to the process of helping fruits and vegetables, and other growing things grow. Don't let this picture fool you, the shortage of bees has been documented by a variety of sources.

This shows the three hives. Notice the hive on the left; a second story has been added. As the bees do their thing, the hive fills up. As the hive fills up another box is placed on top. This process will continue. Honey will be harvested from the upper boxes. The lower boxes will be left for the bees to eat and continue to produce more bees.

Please bee kind to your local honey bees.

Happy and healthy eating to all.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


"Oh, Mother Earth, with your fields of green, once more laid down by the hungry hand. How long can you give and not receive, and feed this world ruled by greed. And feed this world, ruled by greed."

June 10th was the first market of the season. David had kale (his favorite saying is 'eat more kale'), spinach, spring mix, arugula, mizuna and totsoi (both are Asian greens), radishes. Due to the complications in building the greenhouse, David was delayed with getting things planted and is thus a little behind in the quantity of produce he has to bring to market. As the season proceeds he will have a much greater variety of items to sell. At the farm he is seeding and planting like crazy. Overall David is doing his thing from dawn to dusk. Maybe not quite dawn, but certainly until dusk and then some. This past week he was first laying down plastic irrigation drip tape at 8:45 at night. He needs a coal miners hat with a lamp on it. It was great to be back at the Lawrenceville Market. It was nice to visit with the old friends who have bought produce from David the past two years while representing Cherry Grove Organic Farm. Now that David is managing the farm in partnership with landowner David, those familiar with David were very supportive of his endeavors on behalf of Gravity Hill Farm. In addition to old friends it was rewarding to make the acquaintance of many new people who have an appreciation for the value of organically grown produce. (It should be noted that at this time Farmer David is in the process of completing the paperwork that will lead to official certification as an organic farm.) Bringing good stuff to, and meeting people at, market is the payoff for all the hard work. David is as busy as a bee.

This is the sign in front of the farm. It is a beautiful sign, or at least was until some yahoo decided that they wanted it and tried to take it. As you can see, they partially succeeded. The initial vision for the farm comes from landowner David. Once he established the property with the infrastructure he went looking for a farm manager. He found Farmer David and a new partnership was formed. Watch out Abbot and Costello.

Welcome to the Boomtown, David and David. That is Farmer David on the left with landowner David on the right. Long may the partnership live.

Seated is Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement. More will be said about this in the posts to come, but for now part of the philosophy of the movement is offered- "Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. We believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work." (From the Slow Food website. Go there for more information.) From left to right standing are Matt (co-owner with his wife of the Bent Spoon Ice Cream Shoppe), Mikey Azzara (who works for NOFA- Northeast Organic Farming Association), and Gabby (co-owner with her husband of the Bent Spoon Ice Cream Shoppe). You'll be hearing more about Matt, Gabby, and Mikey in the future.

No, David is not lying down on the job. He's simply enjoying a moments respite and giving himself a big thumbs up for a hard days work.

Yes, David is busy as a bee. David and Gabby are establishing bee hives at Gravity Hill Farm. The next post will have more information about the bees.

Sky Blue Sky. Another beautiful night at Gravity Hill. Happy and healthy eating to all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Hoop Hoop Hooray

"Let's go let's go down to junior's farm, Take me down to David's farm, ev'rybody tag along"

Though this site is specific to Gravity Hill Organic Farm, and Farmer David, it is important to be clear on what it is that David is doing and why he is doing it. So, while there will continue to be pictures and information specific to Gravity Hill and David, this site will also be used to provide some background information about organic food, farming, and something called the Slow Food movement. The simplest place to start is with a definition: The term 'organic foods' refers to the methods used to produce the foods rather than to characteristics of the food themselves. The most common concept of 'organically grown' food was articulated in 1972 by Robert Rodale, editor of Organic Gardening and Farming magazine, at a public hearing: "Food grown without pesticides; grown without artificial fertilizers; grown in soil whose humus is increased by the additions of organic matter, grown in soil whose mineral content is increased by the application of natural mineral fertilizers; has not been treated with preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, etc." To be fair, it should be noted that there is some controversy about what constitutes organic foods and the way in which the federal government accredits farms. I'm not going to get into this issue. If interested about this, go to your favorite search engine.

Regardless of the politics and debates about what is or is not organic, Gravity Hill is in the process of being certified as an organic farm. When all is said and done, Gravity Hill Farm will provide fresh produce within the local community. Fresh produce tastes better and, in the absence of chemicals and pesticides, is better for the land and the consumer. Plus, by buying local produce at local farmer's markets, you are supporting your local farmer and the local economy. And finally, it is MARKET TIME!!! The Lawrenceville Farmers Market starts Sunday, June 10th from 9am-1pm. Come to Lawrenceville on Route 206 and turn on Gordon Ave; it is the traffic light in the middle of town. See you there.

Now, onto the farm. What people may not realize is the tremendous importance of a heated green house. Without one, a farmer can't get their seeds germinating in a timely manner. This makes it hard to grow crops to sell at market. (Not a good thing when your income is based on what you grow and sell.) As the result of a variety of circumstances, David was delayed in getting his green house (or hoop house if you prefer) erected. This put him behind in his seeding and growing. Much thanks to Farmer Matt at Cherry Grove Organic Farm for the use of his green house as well as for providing David with some of his extra seedlings. Cherry Grove is where David worked for the past three years, living in an extra hoop house that Matt had on his farm. Compare the general structure of the hoop house that you'll see in the following pictures and the pictures of the apartment from the first post. A definite step up. What follows are a series of pictures showing the building of the first green house at Gravity Hill Farm. Hoop, hoop hooray.

Getting the posts level prior to placing the hoops into the posts was a never ending task. The fact that the land wasn't leveled properly did not help matters. A bolt connects the wood, post, and hoop to provide stability to the entire structure.

A view from the deck gives good perspective. In addition to the wood at the base of the structure, notice the wood at the bend of the hoop. In addition to providing additional stability to the green house, the wood will also be used in another function; described later on.

Hmm? I could have sworn that there was supposed to be a bolt going through here? Oops!

A boy and his dog enjoy a quiet moment of relaxation.

What you can see at the back of the structure is the beginning of the back wall. In the front left corner are electrical outlets.

The construction of the walls continues.

With the walls complete, a double layer of plastic was placed over the hoops. Help was provided by Farmer Matt, one of his interns and a field hand, David Earling (the owner of the farm), and Patrick (a friend of David E.). Thanks

You can see the wood at the bend of the hoop. It holds the plastic to the wood that you saw earlier. What David is doing is rolling up the plastic that is hanging below the wood. Depending on the weather, this plastic, which is attached to a metal pole by plastic clips, allows David to have some control over the temperature in the green house.

This is what the green house looks like when the sides are rolled up.

Finishing touches include a nice paint job. On the front right is a vent that automatically opens when the fan, which is mounted in the back goes on. There is also a heating unit mounted on the back wall. This allows David to keep the green house warm at night so that the growing seedlings are happy in their warm home.

The heating unit and fan are propane powered. The fan is in the middle of the structure. The heating unit is mounted inside this back wall.

For now we will fade into the mist. Happy, healthy eating and peace and well being to all.