Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Road Goes on Forever

"Born a poor young country boy--mother nature's son. All day long I'm working the farm for everyone. Sit beside a mountain stream--see her waters rise. Listen to the pretty sound of music as she flies."

There really is no rest for the small, sustainable farmer, let alone an organic farmer whose challenge is greater due to limiting their use of fertilizer and bug spray that is natural. With market day being on Sunday, most of the harvesting is done on Saturday. A couple of crops are harvested earlier. Cucumber, squash, and beans need to be harvested on a regular basis in order to encourage the plant to continue producing more cukes, squash, and beans. (Please note, David brings the recently harvested of these crops to market.) Just about everything else is picked and cleaned on Saturday. This means David is in the field at sunrise and doesn't finish until it is dark. This past week, even with a little help from his friends, David didn't get finished in the fields until past 9 o'clock and finished cleaning that last batch at 11. Then he got up Sunday morning to pick basil at 6AM, packed up his van and got to market by 8. Cleaning entails putting the freshly picked produce in a cold water bath and then rinsing the soil off of the crops. Thus, when they get to market they are fresh and clean. Unless you have your own garden, you won't get fresher produce.

There is a book entitled Fatal Harvest that is the basis of the Organic and Beyond Campaign. The book takes a look at issues pertaining to making our food safer for ourselves and for the planet. The Organic and Beyond Mission Statement states that it "seeks to maintain strong organic standards and to promote agriculture that is":
  • Local
  • Small-scale and family operated
  • Biologically diverse
  • Humane
  • Socially just
The ultimate goal of this campaign is to replace the industrial agriculture model with a new vision of farming and the natural world.
For more information you can go to the Fatal Harvest website.

At Gravity Hill; good food grows there.

You might not need a weatherman in order to know which way the wind is blowing, but this weather vane shows the symbol of Gravity Hill.

David in action. Here he is harvesting some beans. To maximize production, beans need to be picked on a regular basis. David's position in the above picture only minimally conveys how much bending David does. Whether it is to harvest or weed or plant, a farmer spends a lot of their time bending over. It is not an overstatement to say that farming is a back breaking endeavor.

After the produce is harvested it is put into a cold bath to both clean it and to freshen it up after being cut. Above is some head lettuce enjoying a nice, refreshing dip. Below is an indication of the soil that is on some of the produce.

After being washed, the lettuce (in this case) is put in crates. The lettuce is not packed tightly to avoid, as best as possible, any damage to the produce. Once in the crates, the produce will then be covered with a wet piece of burlap. This is intended to help keep the produce moist and fresh.

After the produce is harvested and washed, it is put into the cooler to keep it fresh and happy. Prior to getting his own cooler, Farmer Matt at Cherry Grove Organic Farm (where David apprenticed the past three years) shared some space in his cooler. Matt's graciousness and generosity is much appreciated.

What follows are some more pictures of the vegetables at market waiting to be taken home by some discerning gastronome - not a glutton, but someone who appreciates food that is good and good for you; someone who takes pleasure in the enjoying of a good meal; someone who values biological diversity and the hard work of the small farmer. (Ideas and quote from Slow Food Nation, Carlo Petrini)

Picture above: Left bottom - cipollini onions (sweet); top left - fennel; top right - basil; bottom right - parsley.

Picture below: top (left to right) - scallions (yes, the deep purple ones), swiss chard, broccoli rabb (peppery in taste), beets (red ace and chioggia); bottom (left to right) - summer squashes (zucchini, magda, zephyr), and kale (eat more kale).

Top row - tropea onions (long believed by men in Italy to enhance lovemaking, research now shows that the chemical compound of the onion is similar to that of Viagra. Never mind, eat more kale, eat more tropea onions) and carrots.
Bottom row - summer squash, cippolini onions, kohlrabi (in the cabbage family), and cabbage.

Holy! Moly! What a great day for market! What a great day to be a farmer! All the hard work and it pays off at market. Gravity Hill - Great Food Grows There. Stop by the Lawrenceville Farmers' Market and get to know your farmer and learn more about the food you eat.

In addition to the Lawrenceville Farmers' Market, Sunday mornings from 9-1, Farmer David is now going to be setting up his stand at the New Hope, Pa. farmers' market on Thursday afternoons, from 3-7. Hope to see you at market.

Happy and healthy eating to all.

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