Monday, November 26, 2012

In Memoriam

A couple of months ago David arrived at the farm to find the farm cat, Maple, dead in the bike lane in front of the entrance to the farm. A car had evidently hit her, but it was impossible to figure out what happened. She tended to be skittish of cars and had not been seen to go on the road. However, the fact remained that sometime over night she had been hit by a car and killed. As might be imagined this was an extremely heartbreaking occurrence for David, Lynn, and me. She had become far more than a farm cat that kept the mice population at bay. She was as much a pet/friend as any house cat could be, as much as any pet/friend a dog could be.

The general cycle of farming is about life and death. Plants are seeded, they germinate, they are planted, they produce, and they die. So it is with the animals in our lives. We obtain a kitten or a puppy. They grow and mature and become an integral part of our lives. Their passing, in the natural course of living, is a painful and normal occurrence. When a death is not anticipated, when it is sudden and out of normal expectations, the death is more painful and lingering in its emotional impact. While the daily routine of working the farm continued without missing a beat, there was a pall that hovered over the mood and spirit of all. The passage of time has helped to soothe some of the raw edges of Maple’s death. However, her absence is still keenly felt. The following are some pictures to celebrate her life. 

Maple loved to sleep in baskets. 

Cat on a hot tin roof. And she did get help getting off the roof.

Another day, another nap.

Here's looking at you kid.

Another action packed day.

No basket? No problem. I'll just curl up on this blanket.

While Maple and Hule didn't actively play together all that much, they did get along well with each other. The phrase, 'fighting like cats and dogs' did not apply.

This is Peanut. She and Maple enjoyed playing with each other. It was very cute.

You want me to move? I don't think so.

 Peace and love

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


It has been way too long since last writing about the happenings at Z Food Farm. So, much belatedly, and probably out of order, forthcoming there will be a few posts to provide a sense of what has been happening. 

The first item is the weather. Certain crops can survive temperatures into the low 30’s. Some can survive cooler temps if they have row cover to protect them. However, tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplants, and summer squash are not among plants that can tolerate the lower temperatures. So it came to pass that on October 12 that the temperature went down to 30 degrees, which resulted in the death of the 
above-mentioned plants. While frost and the death of plants is routine for this time of year, the frustrating thing about this was that it wasn’t until November 5 that the temperatures were again that low. But for that one night David would have been able to have tomatoes, peppers and the others to bring to market. Such is the nature of farming

Staying with the weather theme, you might have heard of a certain hurricane by the name of Sandy. The farm came out of this storm relatively unscathed. In three places a tree fell on the deer fence and the power went out for five days. In total these were minor inconveniences that, when all is said and done, is nothing to complain about. Considering the staggering impact that the storm had throughout many parts of New Jersey and New York, and the severe damage sustained by other farms, Z Food Farm was extremely fortunate. Z Food Farms  great fortune is a blessing that is not taken for granted. 

On the heels of the hurricane, there was a Nor’easter storm that came through the area November 7. The storm dumped about six inches of snow on the farm and this proved to be more of a problem than the hurricane. With the hurricane the biggest issue was being unable to get crops washed following harvest in anticipation of getting to market. No power meant no water, as the well’s pump requires electricity. As he has in the past, Farmer Matt of Cherry Grove Organic Farm was a great friend to David. Since Z Food Farm was without water to wash the produce, Matt, whose farm did not lose power, gave David access to his sinks. This allowed David to wash the field soil off of everything and to bring things to market in the manner to which all are accustomed. As has been said before, thank you Matt. 

The snow was more problematic. The short version is that the harvesting scheduled was thrown out of wack. This resulted in the absence of a couple of items at the Philly market on Saturday and the New York market on Sunday. Again, in the overall scheme of things, these were inconveniences, not tragedies. The writing of this is to provide a historical perspective of the happenings at the farm. It is not a complaint about these two events. The reality, beyond the hurricane and the Nor’easter, is that farming, large farms and small, is always at the mercy of the weather. 
The support and concern of all who asked about the well being of the farm is greatly appreciated. Thanks to all. 

Prior to the first frost, the third planting of summer squash was producing a bounty of produce. Sigh. Something to look forward to in the coming season.

Kale is very hardy and is quite able to tolerate cold temperatures. If anything, the cold weather enhances the taste of kale.

While these fennel fronds look good in this picture, the cold temps of recent days has taken a toll on the fronds. The fennel bulbs are still in good shape and will make it to market.

Leeks are another very hardy item. These leeks will actually 'winter over'; they won't be harvested for this season and will be available for harvest in the spring. 

Something to look forward to- organic strawberries! Strawberries are planted in the fall and produce fruit in the spring. The big challenge will be for them to survive the deer. Deer are a very expensive pest for farmers, home gardeners and anyone trying to grow things. 

These two pictures show a couple of the trees that fell on the deer fence. Some chain sawing and restringing of wire will fix things without too much fuss or bother.

 Again, thanks to all for your concern about the well being of the farm. 
Support your local farmers. Know where your food is coming from. Peace and good health to one and all.