Sunday, September 16, 2007

Summertime Blues

"Well I'm gonna raise a fuss, and I'm gonna raise a holler. About workin' all summer, just tryin' to earn a dollar. Well, I went to my boss who governs me. He said, "No dice bud, you gotta work late" Sometime I wonder, what I'm gonna do, there ain't no cure for the summertime blues."

Since David is essentially his own boss, he has no one to complain to but himself about his hours. As the season has progressed long hours in hot and humid weather has been the norm. As summer fades into fall the temperature might be getting better but the hours available to work are getting shorter. While working shorter hours might seem like a good thing, the amount of work that needs to get done does not decrease along with the shorter days. In particular, Saturday harvests have been ending past sundown. There is no let up in the amount of work that needs to get done despite the decrease in the available hours in which to complete the work. And so it goes.

Despite the travails, David continues to push through and continues to grow good things to eat at the farm. With the changing of seasons some veggies are going and some are coming. Cucumbers are gone. Summer squash are close to going. And most sadly of all, tomato season is rapidly drawing to a close. Beets are back. Spinach is coming back. Winter squash, including pumpkins are here. Being involved with farming allows for a deeper appreciation for the natural flow of the seasons and the changing availability of locally grown crops. As a society we have grown accustomed to all produce at all times of the year. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does lead to a disconnect from how people lived in the not too distant past. The small, local farmer is part of our national heritage. Regardless of where you live, support your local farmer, whether they grow organic or in a conventional manner.

It's a dog's world- David's dog, Hule, has had herself a busy summer and most recently some adventures. Over the summer she has kept the ground hog population in check by catching 8 ground hogs. Considering the potential damage to crops that ground hogs can cause, this is an important contribution to the farm. A few weeks ago as David was going down to the field he noticed that a deer had somehow gotten into the fields overnight despite the fence surrounding the field and the closed gates. Hule went after the deer and in the process of chasing the deer suffered a cut paw that required stitches. The worst part of the experience was that Hule was confined to the apartment for close to two weeks. And just last week Hule had an unfortunate encounter with a skunk. No, it was not a dead skunk in the middle of the road. It was a very much alive skunk that was not happy to be confronted by a dog. If you have never had the 'privilege' of smelling a skunked dog there is one word of advice, DON'T.

In brief organic farming is an approach to agriculture that aims to create a system of farming that "uses our understanding of nature as a guide for gardening and living, and caring for the plants without using synthetic chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers." (Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening) While this sounds simple enough, nothing is ever as simple, or easy, as it could or should be. There is debate and discussion about the value, validity, and importance of the organic label on foods. There are some larger agribusinesses that are trying to stretch the definition of what constitutes organic. And there are some who question whether there is any real value to growing things in an organic manner. Each individual needs to do their own research into the issues and make their own decision about how to shop and eat. An article in the New York Times (August 19, 2007 addresses some issues about the whole notion of organic labeling. If you interested you can read the article through the following link:

As summer heads to fall winter squash have arrived. Pictured above is a spaghetti squash. When cooked you cut it in half, length wise and using a fork scrape out the insides. In doing so you get strands similar to spaghetti.

This is a butternut squash. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to pumpkin or sweet potato.

This is another winter squash called delicata. One of the tastier winter squashes. Creamy pulp that tastes a bit like sweet potatoes.

This is a buttercup squash. Sweet and creamy orange flesh. One of the more highly regarded winter squashes.

This is only a portion of the winter squashes that were harvested. In addition to those pictured and described above David has acorn squash, Long Island cheese pumpkins, and various sizes of pumpkins. Unlike various other sellers, all the pumpkins and summer squash that David sells he grows.

The following pictures are intended to show the various colors that mother nature offers in her bounty of vegetables.

The current growing season will be coming to an end within the next 4-6 weeks. You are encouraged, once again, to enjoy the freshness and flavor that is available to you through a local farmers' market. You can find David and Gravity Hill Farm at either the Lawrenceville Market on Sunday mornings (9-1) or New Hope, Pa on Thursday afternoons (3-7). If you are reading this, please make it a point to stop by and say hello. Get to know your local farmer. Know where your food is coming from.

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