Monday, November 29, 2010

The End ... Or Not

"This is the end, beautiful friend."

As was previously mentioned, Oct. 30th marked the end of the Lawrenceville Farmers' Market. Wednesday, November 34th marked the last farm stand at Z Food Farm. Saturday, November 20 marked Z Food Farms final market of the season at the Rittenhouse Square Farmers' Market. Or so it was anticipated. Though the progression of fall has brought much cooler temperatures, the weather has mostly been cooperative for the continued survival of much of the fall produce. This will allow David to continue to sell to elements Restaurant and the Blue Bottle Cafe. This will also allow David to make at least one more appearance at the Rittenhouse Square Market!! Z Food Farm will be at the market on Saturday, Dec. 4th. Essentially the end is not yet at hand. David will have most things that he had at the last market- lettuce, Swiss Chard, kale, Asian greens, various root vegetables, and carrots.

In addition to some final harvesting for restaurants and market, there still remain a few odds and ends. The field still needs some final cleaning up. The inside of the barn needs cleaning and organizing. The truck used to go to market needs its annual maintenance. The tractor needs its own measure of TLC. Then David can take a well-deserved rest. Then again, not for too long. Though David will take a break from farming activities for a few days, there are a number of items that will take up a fair amount of his time. He will tackle the paperwork that will lead to official organic certification. He will peruse the seed catalogs and make decisions about new things to grow to compliment what was grown this year. He needs to determine how much additional land to put into production and how to organize the fields. This year he farmed four-five acres. Next year he will possibly go to eight to ten acres. David will also need to determine the quantity of other necessary supplies- drip tape, row cover, peat moss, seeding trays, and vermiculite. And then the process of seeding for next years crops will, weather permitting, begin towards the end of February. Whew! That break from farming went by quickly.

David is well aware of those instances where things did not go as he would have wanted. There are various reasons for this and David knows what to do to avoid these problems next season. Yet when all is said and done, this was a most successful first year for Z Food Farm. There was definitely blood, sweat, and tears but when all was said and done, David, Gregg, and Oscar have much about which to be proud. Once again, thanks and appreciation to all who supported the farm over the course of the inaugural growing season.

If you check earlier posting you will see the greenhouse bursting at the seams with tray upon tray of both newly planted seeds and plants in various stages of germination. And look at it now, empty and waiting for spring to arrive.

Couldn't resist one last picture of a beautiful tomato. This was harvested shortly before Halloween. Striped Germans are a beautiful tomato. And delicious.

David doing one last mowing of the front field. And it's just a beautiful fall day in the neighborhood.

One of the last tasks of the fall is to get the garlic planted. Cloves of garlic are broken apart from bulbs of garlic that are specifically used for 'seed' garlic. Once the cloves have been pushed into the soil they will be covered with compost to provide important nutrients. After this task is completed the beds will be covered with straw. The straw will help suppress weed growth in the spring and to provide the cloves with some protection from the elements over the course of the winter.

David and Oscar are pushing the cloves into the soil. This position of bending over is one that was repeated on virtually a daily basis for either planting, weeding, or harvesting. Farming is indeed back breaking work. Though not pictured Gregg is actively engaged in this process.

During the warmer months the white row cover provides the plants growing beneath with some measure of protection from insects and some warmth to help promote growth. As the weather chills the cover provides the plants with some measure of protection against frost and freeze damage.

Hule and Maple, on behalf of David, Gregg, and Oscar, want to wish everyone a belated Happy Thanksgiving as well as a Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year. May the coming holiday season be one of health, happiness, and hopefulness to you and yours.

Support local, sustainable farmers. Eat healthy. Eat organic. Peace and well being to one and all.

Friday, October 29, 2010

And Miles To Go Before I Sleep

As the beginning of November approaches things at Z Food Farm are starting to slow down. Despite the lessening of the pace, much is still happening. The field where the produce was grown is being cleaned of weed cover and drip tape. The rows where the tomatoes were growing have had the tomato stakes removed and put away. And produce continues to grow which means it needs to be harvested so that it can be brought to market. In regards to markets, October 31 will be the last market of the season at the Lawrenceville Farmers' Market. Despite the end of this market, you can still enjoy Z Food Farm produce at the farm stand on Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to seven. David will keep the stand open until the Wednesday immediately preceding Thanksgiving. Thus, while Davids wants to thank you for your support throughout the season at the L'ville Market, he wishes to extend everyone in the area a cordial invitation to the farm for the next few weeks. For directions on how to get to the farm go to Once there, click on the link that says 'visit'.

David will be continuing at the Rittenhouse Square Market through the Saturday immediately preceding Thanksgiving. As always, your Support of Z Food Farm is greatly appreciated. It has been a long season with far more ups than downs and thus an over all great success. Those of you who have bought produce from Z Food Farm are part of the success of the farm.

With the fall in full swing there are a number of vegetables that are specific to the fall season to accompany some of the crops that have been available throughout the season. Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsley, cilantro, celery and others are still available. Some that you might not be as familiar with include the following. Enjoy.

Celeraic- Also known as celery root. May be used raw or cooked. It's tough outer surface is usually sliced off before use because it is too rough to peel. Has a celery flavor and is often used as a flavoring in soups and stews. Can also be used on its own, usually mashed or in casseroles, gratings, and baked dishes. Keeps well and should last three to four months if stored between 32º and 41º and not allowed to dry out.

Daikon- A mild-flavored, very large, white East ASian radish. Is used in Chnese, Korean, Japanese cuisine. Can be eaten raw, added to salads and are commonly used in stir-fries. Can be pickled. Can be stored for some weeks without the leaves if kept in a cool dry place.

Hakurei Turnip- Known for its excellent flavor. Mild and sweet flavor makes it a favorite salad ingredient. The freen tops are mild enough to eat fresh. Both can be lightly sauteed.

Leeks- The edible portions of the leek are the white onion base and light green stalk. The whites and light green stalks are most often used for adding flavor to stock. Has a mild onion-like taste and are less bitter than a scallion. Boiled, it is soft and mild in taste. Fried, it is is crunchy and preserves the taste. Can be used raw in salads.

Lemon Verbena- Used to add a elmony flavor to fish and poultry dishes, vegetable marinages, salad marinades, salad dressings, jams, puddings, and beverages. The following web site provides various recipes and uses-

Rutabaga- Roo vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. The leaves can also be eaten. Can be roasted, baked, or boiled. Can be mashed with potatoes.

Watermelon Radish- Can be cooked like a turnip, creamed and served as a side dish, sauteed andbraised to be served as a vegetable dish, or added to stir-fry dishes. Store without the tops and place in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic to keep fresh for several weeks. (On the right side of the picture.)

Happy and healthy eating to all. Support organic farmers. Support local farmers. Support sustainable farmers.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Outstanding In The Field

"What is an heirloom tomato;? A thorough answer to this question can be found at (Note: This is an excellent site for information about tomatoes as well as for ordering seeds.) A partial answer, from Tomatofest, is "an heirloom is generally considered to be a variety that has been passed down, through several enerations of a family because of it's valued characteristics." Another aspect of a definition is the notion of open-pollination. "When heirloom gardeners refer to open-pollination, they mean that a particular cultivar can be grown from seed and will come back 'true to type'. In other words, the next generation will look just like its parent. For example, plant a Brandywine tomato, let some of the fruit mature and collect the seed, process it properly, and store it well. The next year, plant the seed and it will grow another Brandywine tomato." ( In comparison, if seeds are saved from a hybrid tomato, or other begetable, when grown the following season, the "young plants will probably not have many of the characteristics that made its parent noteworthy." There are plenty of wonderful hybrid tomatoes to compliment the wonderful bounty of heirlooms. Talk with your local farmer about the various tomatoes that they have. David had 50+ varieties of tomatoes this season, including six varieties of cherry tomatoes. Enjoy.

Originating from California there is a group called Outstanding In The Field. Their mission is to "re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it." Go to their site to learn more about who they are and what they do.( On Sept. 4 Outstanding In The Field hosted a dinner at Mosefund Farm (, home of the Mangalitsa Pig; a specialty pig known for its exquisite flavor. The invited chef for the event was elements Restuarant's (Princeton, NJ) Scott Anderson. Farmer David was asked by Chef Anderson to provide most of the vegetables for this prestigious event. This was a great opportunity for Chef Anderson to showcase his skills. It was also a great opportunity for Farmer David to gain exposure for his produce. The event also served as a birthday present from David to his mom. What a great way to celebrate mother's birthday.

Things at the farm continue to move along. Though it is now fall, Z Food Farm is still in full operating mode. David and his crew of Gregg, Oscar, and sometimes Mario, continue to put in full days. Weeding, harvesting, and planting continue on a steady basis. Currently, and to come, are kale, arugula, lettuce, salad mix, celery, kolrabi, leeks, celery root, parsnips, brussel sprouts, and more, including many varieties of winter squash. To obtain the bounty Z Food Farm will continue at the Lawrenceville Farmers' Market through the end of October. Produce will continue to be sold at the farm stand on Wednesdays and Fridays, noon to seven for the next few weeks. Any changes will be noted as soon as possible. David will continue at the Rittenhouse Square Farmers' Market at least until the end of October; hopefully until Thanksgiving. The bottom line is that David will sell produce for as long as the weather permits.

By the way, Hule has now accounted for ten ground hogs. Considering that ground hogs have continued to eat various crops, their removal is a matter of great importance. Thanks Hule!!

Eat healthy. Eat local produce. Eat organic. Support local farmers. Support local artisans of meat, cheese, and bread.

The following four pictures show some of the variety of tomatoes that are being grown at Z Food Farm. Without exaggeration, there are thousands of tomatoes that are available- different sizes, shapes, colors, and tastes. Yum!!!
Green zebra, Black zebra, Kellogg's Breakfast, Cherokee Chocolate and Purple, Paul Robeson, Cream Sausage, Roman Candle, and on and on.

Cherry tomatoes- Green Grape, Tomatoberries, Sungolds, Sweetie, Black Cherry, and Dr. Caroline.

Decorative gourds come in various sizes and shapes. They are not edible.

Here are some of the winter squash that is available.

And we'll close with Red Rubin basil.

See you all at the farm, in Phillie, or at the L'ville Market. Peace, good health, and hopefulness to all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pictures At An Exhibition

Meet Peanut and Maple. They are Z Food Farm's cats. As kittens they are social and loving. Hopefully they will turn into 'mousers' and keep the barn and greenhouse as mouse free as possible. Earlier in the season mice ate two seedings of one variety of sunflower and one variety of winter squash. Also, having mice in the barn is not a good thing. We look forward to a decrease in the local mouse population.

Garlic is a one time harvest. It is then place on the tables you see below to 'cure'; that is to keep it dry so that moisture does not cause it to go bad. Not seen in this picture are a couple of fans that are used to aid in keeping the garlic dry. The variety David has is a hard neck garlic; "Hardneck garlics have fewer, larger cloves then the softnecks. They also have less of an outer bulb wrapper, sometimes none at all. This makes them more sensitive and reduces their shelf life." Most garlic found in stores is 'softneck'; "Almost all supermarket garlic is a softneck variety. This is because softneck garlic is easier to grow and plant mechanically and also keeps for longer than hardneck. garlic." ( the specific variety that David has is musik. It is a wonderful tasting garlic. If you like garlic you won't need to worry about its shelf life. As it is, if you don't immediately use it, it will still last 3-4 months or more. Keep it in a cool, dry place and you should have no trouble with it lasting.

A bed of salad mix. David has four varieties of lettuce in his mix. Both salad mix and head lettuce are currently on hiatus. Both will return within the next two-three weeks.

elements Restaurant of Princeton has an appetizer on their menu called- Z-Food Farm vegetables. Thank you Scott, Joe, and staff of elements!!

Here it is, David's walk-in cooler. It is 10x40. A 25,000 btu air conditioner is being used to cool it. Heavy duty plastic has been taped up in two places to divide the cooler into thirds. The back third at about 41º. The middle part is a little warmer and the front end is warmer yet. A sturdier plastic barrier will eventually be installed to make the whole thing more efficient. For now the system is working out just fine and life is much improved.

This is what the truck looks like after being loaded up on the way to Rittenhouse Square. As you can see, the truck is quite packed. Ah, the fresh goodness of locally grown organic produce.

Happy and healthy eating to all.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summertime Blues

'I'm gonna raise a fuss, I'm gonna raise a holler about workin' all summer just to try to earn a dollar. Sometimes I wonder what I'm a gonna do, but there ain't no cure for the summertime blues'.

These words have been used before in this space, but late August of a very hot and dry summer makes it an appropriate repetition.

As mentioned in the most recent post, David finally has his walk-in cooler in place. This is critical part of the continued success of what David is striving to accomplish this first year of Z Food Farm. Not having a cooler has been a source of David having a serious case of the summertime blues. Walk-in coolers are an essential component of a farm- once the produce is harvested it needs to be kept fresh. Left in the sun and heat the produce will wilt and lose its freshness. (That is why David uses coolers and cold water at market- he is keeping his produce as fresh as possible. Produce is put out for display and purchase. If it is not quickly sold it is put in a nice cold tub of water and fresh produce is taken out of the portable cooler for display and sale. The goal/intent of course is to sell the produce as quickly as possible.) In the absence of having a cooler at Z Food Farm David has been, once again, greatly aided by the generosity of Farmer Matt at Cherry Grove Organic Farm. Matt has allowed David to use space in his walk-in cooler. This has been inconvenient for both David and Matt. For David it has meant multiple trips to CGOF to put produce in the cooler. For Matt it meant having to work around David's crates of produce. For David it also meant going back to CGOF on market days to get the produce that was being kept there. This added to the amount of time required to get ready to leave for market. And when time is tight, every minute counts. Matt has been a gracious host, but it is a great relief for both now that David does have his own cooler.

The daily grind continues for David, as it does for all farmers. Weed. Seed. Plant. Harvest. Mow. Repeat. One trait/shill/attitude that allows farmers and their workers and volunteers to survive is a sense of humor. Not just any humor, but MASH humor. If you have seen the movie MASH, or the TV show, you know what is being referred to. IF you have seen neither, then let it be said that the humor that helps one to survive an extremely challenging environment can be referred to as irreverent. In general, farm humor is not for the faint of heart. If you can't find some means of having fun while grinding away in extremely hot and humid conditions you aren't going to last very long as a farmer.

As always, thanks to all who support David, his workers, and his volunteers by purchasing your produce either at the farm stand, at the Lawrenceville Farmers' Market, and at the Rittenhouse Square Farmers' Market. Also, your kind words about the produce David brings to market are a great source of encouragement to keep on keeping on.

Happy and healthy eating to all. Eat local. Eat sustainably. Eat organically.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Keep On Working

I was digging in the yard today when a letter came from Southampton way, keep on working, keep on working. I must admit I was a bit in the red, but if you never have pleasure then you could be dead. Keep on working.

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." With all respect to Mr. Franklin, farmers, especially small organic farmers, might not buy all of what is being said. Yes, the physical labor is invigorating and helps build strength and endurance and aids in weight loss. But all that sun, despite regular use of sunscreen, and all that bending over to weed and plant, and all that lifting of heavy crates, are not the best ingredients for great health; if not in the short term, then in the long term. Dry skin, cracked hands, and aching backs are the farmers' lot in life. As far as wealth goes, well a farmer can, in time, make a decent wage. Yet, if you take into account the number of hours a farmer works on a daily basis from mid-March through the end of November, the hourly wage is minimal. And as far as being wise, there are a lot easier ways in which to make a living. This leads to the question for the farmer, 'why put yourself through this day in and day out for the better (worser) part of eight months'? The answer to this will vary from farmer to farmer, but in all likelihood a common theme will emerge- a love, a commitment, a passion for what they are doing. Farmers who are growing to a local community, farmers who grow organically and sustainably, are in fact wise in that they are striving to preserve the land and the environment. These farmers are wealthy, not necessarily in monetary rewards but in the responses their produce elicits from consumers. When a customer tells David that she and her husband attribute an improvement in their overall health to what David is making available to them, then David, and farmers with similar experiences, is indeed wealthy.

As of this posting the fullness of the bounty has arrived. Lettuce, carrots (purple, orange, and yellow), beets (four varieties) fennel, basil (four varieties0, parsley, cilantro, summer squash (a variety shapes and colors), cucumbers (including Suyo long and Striped Armenian), tropea and cipollini onions (both very sweet), scallions (white and purple), garlic, melons, and on and on, have all hit their stride. Most wonderfully the heirloom tomatoes have arrived. For those not familiar with heirloom tomatoes, this will be explained int he next posting. For now, believe the following- Run, don't wlak to your nearest farmers' market and buy yourself some heirloom tomatoes; if you like tomatoes you won't be sorry and you will then have a hard time going back to what is sold in stores. They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. A painter's palate won't have more colors than these tomatoes. (OK, there aren't any blue tomatoes, that that's about it.) And the flavor, ah, the flavor. Once you have enjoyed the wondrous flavors of heirlooms (or even 'regular'), grown locally, organically, and sustainably, you will be challenged to enjoy the tomatoes that you find at your local store once local tomatoes are out of season. (This is probably true of most of the produce you will find at markets.) And when you get your tomatoes home, please, do not put them in the fridge.

People who come to the Lawrenceville (NJ) Farmers' Market, thank you. People who come to the Rittenhouse Square Farmers' Market in Philadelphia, than you. Thanks to one and all who come to the on site Z Food Farm stand. Thanks also to the chefs of Rouge (Philly), Pumpkin (Philly), Blue Bottle (Hopewell, NJ), Palate (Newtown, Pa), and elements (Princeton, NJ). David is well aware that there are multiple options as to where produce can be purchased. David is greatly appreciative and grateful to all who obtain their vegetables from Z Food Farm. Many who come to market comment on the multiple colors of the various vegetables that are offered. Many indicate their appreciation of the attractiveness of what David is offering. Your kind words mean a great deal to David. Again, thanks to one and all.

Late breaking news- David finally has his walk-in cooler up and running. This is a huge part of putting together the puzzle that is Z Food Farm. More details about the cooler coming soon.

One final note- Currently, elements restaurant in Princeton, NJ is presenting an appetizer named: z-food farm vegetables. With a couple of exceptions the ingredients for the dish are vegetables grown by Farmer David. The support shown to Z Food Farm by elements is greatly appreciated. Great food, great cocktails, and great people are waiting to provide you with a wonderful dining experience. If you are interested in checking out elements head on over to

Good, healthy eating to one and all. Eat local. Eat sustainably. Eat organically. Support local farmers. Keep on working.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer In The City

"Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty, been down, isn't it a pity, doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city. All Around, people looking half dead, walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head".
The past few weeks have seen temperatures in the Z Food Farm area in the 90's. And dry. (It did finally rain July 13/14.) This year's weather is in stark contrast to last year's weather. Last year, for most of the month of June, it was wet, cool, and breezy. This had a devastating impact on most organic farmers throughout the Northeast; the early onslaught of late blight which wiped out tomato crops of many organic farmers and severely limited the abundance of the harvest for those who did manage to have some. While the current dry conditions in the Z Food Farm area of NJ, and elsewhere, are not great, in fact damaging, for many farmers, David has been able to avoid significant drought related problems. The well at Z Food Farm has, to date, been up to the task of keeping the crops adequately watered. And, from this, David is anticipating a good tomato crop. The first tomatoes are expected by the beginning of August. As with a couple of other varieties of produce, David's tomatoes are a couple of weeks behind where he would like them to be. This delay goes back to the beginning of Z Food Farm when there were weather delays in building the green house and then a delay while waiting for the deer fence to be put up. Still waiting to have their first harvest are carrots and sweet peppers, among others. Despite the delays, there is a great abundance of various crops including- summer squash, cucumbers, Swiss chard, kale, lettuce, salad mix, basil, parsley, radishes, red tropea onions, cipollini onions (both varieties are just wonderful- sweet, delicious and multi-purposed), and beets. The bounty is here. For much of the spring the catch phrase that helped David plug away was, 'getting there'. Now the helpful phrase is, 'getting closer'. Once the tomatoes and potatoes are available David will 'be there'.

Being at the markets has been a wonderful experience. The support of friends old and new at both Lawrenceville and Rittenhouse Square is greatly appreciated. Bringing fresh produce, both the usual and the different, is an essential part of Farmer David's approach to farming. David looks forward to seeing everyone in the weeks to come.

David's dog, Hule, has been at it again. As of July 11 ground hog number five has been dispatched. This one was caught as it was in the process of eating lettuce. It is hoped that this is the one that had been doing the most recent damage to the lettuce bed.

Another word about the recent heat wave. As much as the heat has the potential to be problematic for the crops, the impact on those working the fields can also be severe. There is no shade. There is no relief from the relentlessness of the sun and the heat. To be a farmer, or a farm employee, requires a task commitment regardless of the weather conditions. Weeding, planting, harvesting need to be done; the rhythm of the plants isn't going to wait on whether of not the conditions are convenient for those working the fields. With this in mind, please keep in mind all of the hard work in miserable conditions that are part of the process of bringing you fresh farm produce, especially if you are shopping at your local farmers' market. In this context please know that the produce that David brings to market is invariably brought to market within 24-48 hours of being harvested.

Eat healthy. Eat local. Eat sustainable. Eat organic!

Happy and healthy eating to all.

Here's David embracing the bounty of his labor at the Rittenhouse Square Market. This is from earlier in the market season. At this time there is much more available for market.

This is version 1.0 of the sign that is put up in front of the farm for the Wednesday farm stand. There is a newer sign that will be posted the next time.

This is Z Food Farm Friend, Mary Jo. Her assistance in helping get everything arranged for the first farm stand was invaluable.

In addition to produce, various plants were available for sale.

The summer squash comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes. In regards to the squash, David believes that the smaller the better. At a smaller size the squash is more tender, less seedy, and more tasty. Do a taste test comparison on your own and see how it turns out.

That's all for now. Enjoy your fresh, sustainable produce.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pictures At An Exhibition

Welcome to Z Food Farm. We hope to see you and get to meet you at either of our two farmers' markets or at the farm itself.

Here is David doing the first harvest at Z Food Farm. Swiss Chard had the 'honor' of being the first pick.

A big thumbs up for the first bunch. You can see some of the other crops growing on either side of David.

Here David is dunking the Swiss Chard in cold water. This serves two purposes- The first is to clean off as much of the soil from the produce as possible. The second is to rehydrate the chard. When it is cut, especially during the excessive heat we've been experiencing, the chard, as does other produce, can begin to wilt. Putting the produce in the cold water helps to revitalize the produce. Following this step the produce is then put in crates and then placed in a walk-in cooler. At this time David does not yet have a walk-in cooler. Once again Farmer Matt has come to David's aid by allowing David to utilize space in his cooler.

David is growing 14 varieties of lettuce. Some are better suited to the warmer weather than others. While it is challenging to have lettuce throughout the summer, David does seeding on a regular basis and is thus able to put new plants into the field on a steady basis. Thus, even if some of the lettuce does not do well, enough is planted to allow him to always have a supply to bring to market.

David grows two types of kale (one of those super nutritious greens). Pictured is Red Russian Kale. Not pictured is a variety named Toscano. Both varieties are crisper and creamier to taste than the traditional kale that most kale eaters are most familiar with.

The sign says it all- these are various types of summer squash. The round ones are a variety called 8-Ball. A few of Z Food Farms customers have found these to be particularly tasty. David harvests his summer squash on the smaller side. Smaller sized summer squash tend to be less seedy, more tender, and more tasty. Big is not always better. Over sized squash will be available for those who like to make bread or other baked goods.

And here's the Swiss Chard all bunched up and ready to be cooked and eaten. Pretty as a picture.

This is a picture on the building across the street in Philadelphia where the Rittenhouse Square Market is located. This saying sums up Farmer David and Z Food Farm.

Happy and healthy eating to one and all.

From Farm to Market to Market to Farm Stand

To restate the obvious, farming is hard work. Just ask a farmer. Or they just might tell you without waiting to be asked. Farmers put in long hours in weather conditions that try the souls of men/women. Farmers, be they small and organic, or large and conventional, must have a passion and love for what they do. To be successful farmers need to have an outlook that what they are doing is a reflection of who they are as a person; that farming is not just a job. (To be a farmer also requires a high tolerance for uncertainty and a willingness to take risks. To put it another way, farmers make high stakes poker players look risk aversive.) Planting and then watching as the seeds germinate is a rewarding feeling. (Waiting for the germination is a time of anxiety- will the seeds germinate and provide seedlings that will make it into the fields or is there some problem with the seed/soil mix/watering that will impede germination?) Watching the seedlings survive to be planted in the fields is a rewarding feeling. Watching the plants grow to a size ready to harvest is a rewarding feeling. (Will the deer jump the deer fence and destroy the crops? Will the ground hogs do incalculable damage?) And from that harvest comes the next step, selling the produce. While farming has various esoteric and intrinsic rewards, if there wasn't a financial payoff the farmer wouldn't long be a farmer. Some farmers have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is where the farmer sells shares to people who pay for a seasons worth of produce up front. The members go the the farm (some farmers have a delivery mechanism) to pick up their share for the week. In the course of the season people will get more for their money than if they paid for their produce on a weekly basis either at a farmers market or at a store. By belonging to a CSA the members are supporting local farmers. The farmer has an assured income and the consumer gets locally grown and fresh produce on a weekly basis. The consumer is making an investment that the farm season will provide them with a bounty of produce. By getting their money up front, CSA farmers are given a buffer in case of bad weather or some other calamity (such as last years Late Blight that attacked tomatoes). Some farmers do a CSA and a farmers' market. A farmers' market, for those who may not know, is where the farmers will participate with other vendors (produce, prepared food, crafts, baked goods, cheese, eggs, and so on) and sell their produce directly to the consumer. Some farmers do a weekly market only, or they may do more. In the case of Farmer David and Z Food Farm, he is doing two markets plus selling from the farm one day a week.

As previously written, David sells his produce at the Lawrenceville (NJ) Farmers' Market on Sundays from 9-1, Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia on Saturdays from 9:30-3:00, and at the farm on Wednesdays from noon-7:00. There have now been four markets at Lawrenceville, three at Rittenhouse Square, and three at the farm. Apart from the need to make enough money to survive and to have some financial security, the markets are where the farmer gets to share their joy and passion for what they are doing. At the Lawrenceville market David has found it enjoyable and rewarding to reconnect with people who have been enjoying the fruits of his labor over the past five years. It has been exciting to tell Lawrenceville friends old and new about David's great adventure of going out on his own. For those who have known David they recognize that his sense of personal satisfaction has increased now that he is his own 'boss'. David is appreciative of the opportunity he had the past three years, but he does have a greater sense of accomplishent, joy, and overall satisfaction in a job well done being on his own.

In adding the market at Rittenhouse Square, David is bringing his produce to a new environment, a big city. The first three weeks have been exciting as David is getting to convey his enthusiasm for farming, and his produce, to a whole new audience. Each week has seen an increase in what David has had available to bring to market. Though a couple of weeks behind where he would like to be, David is catching up to where he would like to be. And more, much more, is on the way.

Things have gotten off to a slow start at the on site farm stand. The word is being spread and there was an improvement fro week one to week two. He is looking forward to better days ahead.

Bits and pieces:
  • Gregg the intern and Oscar the hourly worker continue to work their butts off. They are both great and David is extremely gratified, satisfied, and relieved to have them working at Z Food Farm. For a brief time Gregg had a fellow intern. Paul, finishing his junior year in high school, joined the team a couple of weeks ago. However, this coming week will be Paul's last. He is a water polo player and the practices for his club team are going to significantly increase. Thus his schedule does not allow for a full time farm job and training for water polo. So, to borrow from the Beatles, Paul, hello, goodbye. In addition, Angela, Malaika, Mary Jo, and Frank the bee guy continue to provide invaluable assistance as their schedules allow. Thanks also to Emma and another David for spending some time helping out. Laugh if you choose, but when it comes to farming, it does take a village in order to succeed.
  • As of today Hule has now caught four groundhogs. (She almost got another one on Friday but it reached its hole in time. Darn!) The Have-A-Heart traps have caught none. (A possum was caught, but possums don't pose a threat to a farmer; he was released and living, we assume, a happy and grateful life.) As much as a dog is man's best friend,for a farmer a dog is both a friend and an invaluable member of the teams. The most recent groundhog was caught in the act of wreaking havoc on a bed of lettuce. The lettuce had been previously attacked, much to David's annoyance and frustration.
  • Organic status- David is farming in accordance with all USDA guidlines. He farmed organically while doing his internship at Cherry Grove Organic Farm. At Gravity Hill all standards were honored the first year and certification was attained the last two years David was there. The land on which David is currently farming at Z Food Farm is eligible for certification. The paperwork required for certification is extensive and this has taken something of a backseat to the process of getting the farm up and running. Being officially certified is very important to David, it is the only way he knows how to farm. He is aware that official certification is important to many and it is his full intent to obtain his certification as he goes along. So, to those for whom official certification is important, please be patient and know that all standards are being honored. If you have any questions about this, or anything, please contact him at
In wrapping up David wishes to extend his heartfelt appreciation to 'old' friends who have been supporting him over the years. While it is a new farm, it is the same high quality product. To new friends he would like to say, welcome. While selling quality produce is David's main goal, providing quality service is just as important. He is willing to take whatever time is necessary to answer your questions about anything he is selling. From David and Z Food Farm you get high quality product and high quality service.

Eat local. Eat organic. Eat healthy. Peace, good health, and happy eating to all.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bits And Pieces

There are many things that take place on small farms, as well as large farms, that most people don't think about. This is not a critique. It is simply a reflection of not knowing what goes on behind the scenes. We might be familiar with the outcome of a particular vocation, but have no awareness of the day to day tasks of a particular line of work. When it come to food, we eat food, we might even have a family garden, but what a farmer actually has to do in order to bring food to your table is not something that most do not pay much attention to. In that knowledge is power, knowing how your food gets from farm to table might enable you to better appreciate and enjoy what you are consuming; especially if what you are eating comes from a local farm. The bias here is that organic produce is the best way to go. Local and sustainable agriculture, even if not organic, is a great way to go.

Before showing some of the details that go into a farm operation there is some flattering news about Farmer David and Z Food Farm. In the June 2 issue of U.S. 1 (a weekly 'newspaper' that identifies itself as "Princeton's Business and Entertainment Newspaper) there was an article by Pat Tanner (pg. 19) about David and Z Food Farm. It's a very nice article about David and how he has reached this stage of his life. If you are interested in reading the article go to, click on the archives tab to locate the June 2 edition and then go to page 19. (One correction- David does go to Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, but the market is on Saturday [9:30-3:00], not Sunday as mentioned in the article.) As has been mentioned previously, David has benefited from the assistance and support of other local farmers, especially Farmer Matt of Cherry Grove Organic Farm; also in Lawrenceville, NJ. The farm community in the broad, general area in which David lives (Mercer County, NJ) is comprised of some pretty great people. To be repetitive, if you go to a farmers' market far more often than not the farmer will be there and will be quite happy to answer your questions about the food you are buying from them. Here's to farmers and farming. Without them you would get pretty hungry.

Previously you've seen a picture of the posts. Here are the posts that have been wired. The wires are hooked up to electricity. You might think to yourself, why? Simply answer- deer; lots of them. Without a deer fence the farmer would be feeding the deer, not you. Each wire that you see was placed where you see it with one person going all the way around the field- one strand at a time. Another one of those tasks that seems (and does) to take for ever.

It's a BLUE SNAKE!!!! No, it is the tubing that carries the water from the well head next to the barn out to the field. This blue tubing is connected to black tubing- into this black tubing 'faucets' are punched into the sides and attached to the 'faucets' is the drip tubing which delivers the water to the rows of plants. Ah, drink my little hearty's.

A single piece of the blue tubing is not used. There are a number of sections which are attached by the connectors that you see.

Here is a picture of the field. Some plants are covered by the 'white cloth' that you see. This is intended to keep out at least some of the insects. It also provides a little extra warmth to the plants as they get started on their journey from seed to field to harvest to being eaten.

Weeds are pernicious and combating them is an ongoing endeavor. One weapon in David's arsenal is a flame weeder. It is used to burn weeds in planting beds prior to seeds being directly seeded into the bed. Getting to the weeds early gives the newly planted seeds a better opportunit to germinate and to not be over matched by the weeds. In the second picture you can see intern Gregg having way to much fun burning the weeds.

A quick word- today, June 12, marked David's initial appearance at the Rittenhouse Square Farmers' Market in Philadelphia, Pa. There will be more about this in the next post. For now Farmer David wants to extend his thanks to all who stopped by, whether a purchase was made or not. He looks forward to spending the months ahead getting to meet people and to bring his high quality produce to Philadelphia.

Good health and happy eating to one and all.
Peace and hopefulness to one and all.