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Posted 7/20/2009 8:33pm by Reuben DeMaster.

     The season has been a good one so far and the farm has produced abundantly.  Several places have taken my vegetables and I would like to recommend them to you.  First, a wonderful chef at the Bake Oven Inn has been buying my extras and also buys from other local farmers.  I have not eaten there but have heard good things.  He is located in Germansville.  Two health food stores have been buying some of my vegetables - Healthy Alternatives in Trexlertown and Healthy Habits in Schnecksville.  Finally, I have been selling at the Jim Thorpe Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.  It is in Memorial Park and goes from 9-1. 

     When you support establishments like these, you are supporting a vibrant, local food system. 

Posted 6/30/2009 7:35pm by Reuben DeMaster.

     I wish that you could hear some of the comments and stories that I hear about vegetables.  My favorite ones are from children.  One child decided to have more broccoli instead of ice cream.  Another smiled happily when I told her that there was broccoli in the bag because she said this broccoli was better than store broccoli.  When my oldest child was 1, we covered the broccoli on the table because once she saw it, she refused to eat anything else. 

     It is wonderful to see children learning to eat and enjoy vegetables at a young age.  Parents who help their families eat well are giving a great gift to their children. 

     Some farm members signed up this season in order to increase the amount of vegetables that their families eat.  This impresses me as well because changing eating habits can be very difficult.  For any number of reasons, many families and children do not enjoy eating vegetables.  I don't enjoy eating vegetables either when they come out of a metal can or when they are flavorless and cooked until they are mush.  Having high quality vegetables is the first step in solving this dilemma.  Giving people access to the same fresh vegetables that I have grown accustomed to eating is a major motivation to start this farm. The second necesary step is learning to prepare and serve them in a way the is tasteful and appealing.  

     Three simple ideas are these. Serve raw vegetables with a salad dressing or dip that you and your children enjoy.  Cut the veggies into diffent shapes: coins, cubes, sticks, etc. Many children especially love to dip thier food.  Try it even with kale, zuchini, peas, and onions.  Secondly, many greens and other vegetables are delicious sauteed in a little olive oil with garlic and a little salt.  Try adding a bit of the herb that you recieved that week.  Lastly, try a new recipe for a sweet bread or cake with the shredded vegetable added, like chocolate zucchini cake.

   

Posted 5/30/2009 8:30pm by Reuben DeMaster.

     One interesting adjustment that I am learning to make this Spring is that my daily schedule depends greatly on the weather.  Each type of weather helps some farm tasks and hinders others. 

     For example, we just completed a cool, wet week.  I now have beautiful leafy green vegetables, cabbage, and broccoli.  The transplants and seeds that I was able to get in the ground started growing quickly without extra watering.  Some of the weeds became easier to pull.  However, my strawberries did not ripen, my fruit tres had extra disease exposure, and I'm concerned about downy mildew on my cucumbers and squash. 

    If and when the weather warms up, my vegetables will grow quickly as will the weeds.  If it gets too hot, tender greens like spinach and lettuce will turn bitter and start to form seeds.  If it gets too dry, I spend more time watering. 

     Because of the wet week, I was not able to get enough seeds in the ground.  Early next week, that will be a priority along with trying to keep pace with the weeds. 

     

Posted 5/20/2009 7:49pm by Reuben DeMaster.

I knew that I was in trouble when I had to scrape the ice from my windshield Tuesday morning.  I'm told that the frost broke the the record low temperature by 3 degrees.  Despite the fabric covers, I lost the early tomatoes and beans.  The potatoes may have lost a few leaves but look like they will survive. 

Adjusting to the weather is one of the keys to farming and the weather got the better of me in this case.  I replanted the lost crops already and we will all have to wait a few weeks longer for tomatoes and beans. 

Posted 5/14/2009 1:24pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Our family loves Kale.  The kids eat it raw, right out of the garden.  We like cooking it too.  Our favorite recipe is for Sausage Kale Soup.

Kale is a super green vegetable. It is high in Vitamin K, A and C. 

How to Store Kale

Kale should be wrapped in a damp paper towel, placed in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator crisper. It should not be washed before storing since this may cause it to become limp. Kale can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, although it is best when eaten within one or two days after delivery since the longer it is stored, the more bitter its flavor becomes.

Tips for Preparing Kale:

Before eating or cooking, wash the kale leaves thoroughly under cool running water to remove any sand or dirt that may remain in the leaves. Both the leaves and the stem of kale can be eaten, although the stems of mature kale are tougher. After removing any roots that remain, you can just cut it into the desired shape and size.

If your recipe calls for the leaves only, they can be easily removed. Just take each leaf in hand, fold it in half lengthwise, hold the folded leaves near the base where they meet the stalk, and with the other hand, gently pull on the stem. You can also use a knife to separate the leaves from the stems.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Click Recipes to go to the kale recipes on our blog.  You can use the search function to find all recipes with kale.

Sauté kale with fresh garlic and sprinkle with lemon juice and olive oil before serving.

Braise chopped kale and apples. Before serving, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and chopped walnuts.

Combine chopped kale, pine nuts and feta cheese with whole grain pasta drizzled with olive oil.

The taste and texture of steamed kale makes it a wonderful topping for homemade pizzas.

Posted 4/20/2009 7:06pm by Reuben DeMaster.

    When I talk to people about vegetables, I discover a few common attitudes.  Some people flat out enjoy eating vegetables.  They like seeing them, cooking them, experimenting with them, learning about them, and are genuinely excited when a new variety is introduced.  They say, "Wow, an orange eggplant", or "That purple brocolli looks wonderful".  These people have no problem eating several vegetable courses at meals and snacking on carrots or radish between meals.  I tend to have this attitude and thankfully, my children have learned it as well.  We snack on mint leaves, baby kale, garlic chives, spinach, beans, tomatoes, and any fruit that we can find.  I adore sweet corn fresh in the field, but that is another story. 

     On the other end of the spectrum, I find people who have been told that they should eat vegetables.  They want to eat vegetables, but let's just say it does not come easily to them.  Their minds tell them how healthy the vegetables are, but their mouths haven't learned to take pleasure in eating them.  If you are a person like this and you have signed up in order to increase the vegetables in your diet, I want to welcome you to membership in Willow Haven Farm.  My goal is to help you eat more fresh, healthy vegetables and to enjoy doing it.  I invite all of the vegetable lovers out there to join me in helping these vegetable nibblers become vegetable lovers. 

     Throughout the summer, I will be posting vegetable descriptions and recipes from other members to encourage you not to be afraid of your eggplant.  Because iceberg head lettuce just annoys me after awhile, I grow dark red lettuce, and kale, and spinach, and swiss chard, and collard greens, and so on.  You can be sure you will receive plenty of beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers this summer, but I want everyone to enjoy a broader variety of vegetables.  So get your recipes ready and stay tuned for a great summer. 

Posted 4/12/2009 7:33pm by Reuben DeMaster.

I have decided to deliver to Bethlehem.  Please spread the word to anyone living in that area.  Thank you.

Posted 4/11/2009 7:27pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Several people have asked me to describe our flock management.  We have 29 hens, 1 rooster, and 4 guineas.  They are housed in a permanent location with access to food, water, and a fenced yard.  At certain times of the year, I let them wander around the farm, but their scratching is very destructive to the plants that I am trying to grow.  I hope to fence off a larger area for them someday.  Most of our chickens are Rhode Island Reds, and I have a few Americana hens.  If you see a turquoise egg in your delivery, they are produced by the Americanas. 

I feed the chickens Layena brand chicken feed.  You can read the feed description at the following link.  http://poultry.purinamills.com/OURPRODUCTS/Products/Layena/default.aspx  During the warm months, I try to throw some green plants (weeds or vegetable trimmings) to the chickens every day.  We also feed them eggshells, grains, apples, and other fruit.  The chickens do not receive our table scraps because we have very little extra food and because the table scraps go to the dog and cats. 

The guineas are a unique bird that you will hear immediately when you visit.  They announce the presence of anything unusual with their loud cries.  I keep them because they spend their days searching for insects to eat and they scratch less than chickens. 

As I write this, a new brood of chicks has started to hatch.  One hen has been allowed to sit on her eggs and she has faithfully perched on 16 eggs for just over 20 days.  I saw one chick attempt to break out this evening and I hope more follow close behind.  Stay tuned for future updates.

 

 

Posted 4/1/2009 8:24pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Flattened    

It is difficult to lose a farm building.  Last weekend, I pulled down a large shed that had served the farm for over 100 years.  It was built with 8 inch oak beams and had a flat roof.  At one time, it had sliding doors and probably housed carriages.  But over the decades, insects and water damage reduced the building to an unstable shanty.  Each year the township added stone and tar to the road directly in front of the shed until the road bed became 12 inches higher than the shed foundation.  This caused water to run off of the road and into the wooden shed beams.

     The ease with which the shed collapsed told me that I had made the right decision.  We have still lost a building, and now it is time to start planning a replacement.  Maybe next year...

Posted 3/15/2009 9:54pm by Reuben DeMaster.

    Success

Well, the greenhouse survived the first test.  We only got 2" of light snow (figures) and the wind didn't rip it apart.  I now have many more plants growing and have planted other varieties such as shallots, leeks, celery, and coneflowers. 

     My daughter, A, has been recording daily temperatures at 8 AM, 1 PM, and 6 PM.  I am including this as part of her 3rd grade science lesson and I must say that she is doing an excellent job.  A typical temperature in the greenhouse is 15 degrees over the outside temperature on overcast days and 40+ degrees over the outside temperature on sunny days.  When the inside temperature hits 80, I open the door and that has sufficiently cooled the interior. 

New recipe: Simple Sauteed Yellow SquashJune 20th, 2017

-adapted from www.food.com   3 medium summer squash, sliced 1/8 cup butter 1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly or diced 1/2 to taste salt & pepper   Melt butter in large skillet. Add on

New recipe: Sauteed ZucchiniJune 20th, 2017

2 medium sized zucchinis, washed and unpeeled 1/3 cup pine nuts (or slivered almonds) 1 tbsp butter 1 or 2 cloves of garlic minced Grated cheese (optional)   Cut zucchini in bite sized strips. M

New recipe: CUCUMBER ALMOND COUSCOUS SALADJune 20th, 2017

1 1/2 tsps salt, divided                   3/4 cup plus 2 Tbls couscous* 1 cup slivered almonds    &

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