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Posted 7/17/2015 9:46pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Farming, for me, came at the intersection of myriad interests, concerns, and beliefs. Western culture has developed in such a way as to abstract its participants more and more from nature (and more and more from each other). Such cultural development is wrecking havoc on the global ecosystems of which we, inescapably, are a part. Industrial agriculture poisons our food, our water, the air we breathe, and the soil upon which the health of our global ecosystem hinges. We are taught to consume rampantly, to dispose of waste with no thought of where it goes; that a large house and a nice car are signs of success, while the energy necessary for both contribute largely to the greenhouse gases that are warming our planet.
 
I see organic farming (and especially permaculture farming) as a way of reversing the trends that have brought us to the environmental crisis that we now face as a planet.
 
However, farming practices are also a reflection of the values of a society. Large agribusinesses and factory farms value profit above the health of people and their own economic power over the wellbeing of the small, local farms that once provided for the vast majority of Americans at the beginning of the twentieth century. As such, though they both inform one another, it is not farming practices in and of themselves that we need to address, so much as the social and cultural structures that led to them in the first place.
 
I was interested in visiting Camphill Village at Kimberton for precisely this reason: because Kimberton is not just a biodynamic farm, but an intentional community.
 
About 110 people live at Kimberton, 44 of whom are physically or mentally handicapped; the community is based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, a German philosopher, and is one of many Camphill Villages worldwide, including two others in Pennsylvania. Members of the community live together in group houses spread throughout the 400-acre property, which was donated by local biodynamic farmers in 1972. In addition to the farm, the community includes a bakery, a café, an herb garden, an orchard, and a dairy, all of which provide food for the villagers, as well as revenue for the community as a whole. 
 
My fellow intern Angie, our neighbor Liz from Crooked Row Farm, and I drove down to Kimberton on Monday morning, and met my parents there (they, like me, are interested in community farming).
 
Mimi Coleman, a member of the community, gave us a tour of the village center, which included a large library, a chapel, a healthcare center, various workshop spaces, and assisted living quarters for elderly community members. During our walk we saw people strolling through the garden, children on bikes racing down the road, and talked to people who were sweeping floors, assisting with the elderly, and working in the bakery. Everyone greeted us with a genuine smile, and it was evident that they were proud of their community, and happy to be where they were. Some residents have spent the vast majority of their lives at Kimberton, while others volunteer to live and work at the community for a year or two. I was impressed by the neatness of the whole village, and the general cheer we felt every time we talked to someone new.
 
Head farmer Tod gave us a tour of the farm; a flat ten acres surrounded by a tall deer fence with climbing beans twined throughout. A group of at-risk kids from the city were laughing and pulling weeds in one bed, while some Kimberton villagers helped out in another. In addition to providing food for the community, the farm has a 280-member CSA, and also grows food for a local food bank. We also met the farm’s two draft horses, both of whom were taller than me at the shoulder; while Tod still uses some tractor equipment for cultivating, he prefers the horses.

For lunch, we were divided up into pairs to eat lunch at different group houses on the property. My mother and I ate a delicious lunch at Sycamore house. Our table included three adults with disabilities, a married couple who were the ‘house-parents,’ a farm apprentice, and three young Americorps volunteers, one of whom had just decided to stay on for another year. People answered our questions about the community, and told us the stories of how they came to be there. For desert, homemade apple pie.
 
With places like Kimberton and Willow Haven Farm leading the way, I have great hopes for a sustainable future. All in all, a lovely day. 

Tags: intern
Posted 6/26/2015 9:44pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Reuben is fond of saying that all farms are different, and so to really get a sense of what farming is and what it means to you, you have to visit a lot of farms. Luckily for us, the tri-state CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) organization offers free workshops to farm interns, apprentices, volunteers, and anyone else interested in farming. This week’s workshop was hosted by Urbanstead, a small, urban farming program located in Francisville, Philadelphia.

            When you hear the word ‘farm,’ Philadelphia is most likely not the first place on your mind. And yet, outside of schools, next to libraries, in vacant lots, farms are beginning to spring up, many with great success, and eager communities to support them. Urbanstead itself is tucked behind a small old folk’s community housing development in the neighborhood; a series a raised beds with an assortment of delicious veggies growing, pots filled with flowers, green beans climbing up trellises, and a few fruit trees. Down the street, the local preschool has been planted with fruits trees, grapes, and fruit bushes. Lisa Gaidanowicz, who helped to start the farm along with the community of Francisville, told us that her first year she had two helpers; a high school boy, and a ten-year old girl whose grandmother dropped her off.

            “Do you like carrots?” Lisa asked.

            “Yes!” she replied. Lisa pulled a carrot out of a bed, washed it at the spigot, and handed it to the girl who wrinkled her nose and said, “that is not a carrot.”

            By the end of the summer, though, she was yanking them from the ground, rinsing them off, and eating them with little regard for the dirt that she missed.

            Urbanstead, and many projects like it, prove that the local, organic food movement is not just for those who can afford it. Urbanstead works with local youth to not only give them access to fresh food, but to help them feel pride in themselves and their community, to develop job skills, and to enjoy the natural world and our connection to it.

            To learn more about Urbanstead, check out their website at http://www.urbanstead.org/

Tags: intern
Posted 6/3/2015 3:45pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Greetings!

Please come to the farm on Saturday, June 6 between 10 am and 2 pm to pick out your CSA vegetables. 

We will have a produce display at the farm.  We will let you know how many items to choose.  Because you chose farm pick up you get some choice to customize your items.  You may take one of each item or double up on an item to substitute it for something you don't prefer.  If we don't have extra of something we will ask you to take just one.  Sometimes we will have extras to give away.  That is the benefit of farm pick up.

If you ordered eggs, bread, fruit or cheese you will go into the market building to get them.  Just check in with the Willow Haven Farm staff inside.

We will have waxed boxes available for you to put your items in.  If you prefer, you may bring your own bags, box or basket.

Our market will be open and brick oven pizza will be available.  You are welcome to make extra purchases while you are here.  You may also take your time, visit the farm animals and see the vegetable fields. 

We look forward to meeting our new members and greeting returning ones.

Reuben & Tessa DeMaster

Posted 6/2/2015 11:15pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Greetings!

Home Delivery members will be receiving their first box of vegetables and any add on shares you ordered this afternoon between 2 - 5 pm.

Pick Up members are reminded to pick up their box of vegetables and add-on shares at their pick up location from 2 - 8 pm.

Please be careful opening the box so it does not rip.

You will get another email in the afternoon to tell you more about this week's vegetables. 

Enjoy.

Reuben & Tessa DeMaster

Posted 5/28/2015 7:08pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Hi everyone,

I have a great opportunity for you.  We are in need of some volunteers on Saturday to help us run our market.  We've had several unexpected scheduling conflicts arise with our interns and other volunteers.

We could use help from 8:30 - 2:30 this Saturday at the farm.  Tasks would involve stocking vegetables, helping customers, getting set up and taking down after market. 

We always reward our volunteers with farm vegetables.

This would be a great way to get an inside peak at the farm for new CSA members or those who just haven't gotten out to visit us yet.

Please reply ASAP with your availability and interest. 

Sincerely,

Reuben DeMaster
Posted 5/15/2015 8:11am by Reuben DeMaster.

Hi folks,

Your first CSA pick up or delivery will start in just a couple weeks.  We are excited to send out to you what we've been working on growing this spring! 

It is time to schedule your vacation week for your CSA membership.  This year we are using the "vacation hold" feature on the website.  Please go to http://www.willowhavenfarmpa.com/members/scheduleactions and follow the directions on the page.

You may elect to take a vacation week during the summer.  If you do so, you will receive a make up vegetable delivery on week #21 of the season .  If you plan to be away for more than one week, please consider donating your box to a friend, neighbor, co-worker or charitable organization. Email us if you have questions.

If you do not have yet know your vacation week, you may schedule it at a later date using the same link http://www.willowhavenfarmpa.com/members/scheduleactions

Thanks for using the website to schedule the vacation week you will miss.  This will help us keep information organized for our 150 members.

Sincerely,

Reuben and Tessa DeMaster

Posted 5/11/2015 9:40pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Hello CSA members,

      We are getting closer to the start of the 2015 CSA season.  This has been a challenging spring.  The ground was very cold early in April and I was not able to start planting outside until much later than usual.  The season was about 2 weeks behind normal.  In the past 2-3 weeks, we have had warmer than average weather which helped some plants catch up to where they should be.  However, I am still behind on planting because I could not get many early crops planted until mid-April.  Since it is now warmer than usual, I am also trying to get the later crops such as cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes planted now.  This means that I am rushing to get the early crops planted at the same time that I am planting the later crops. 

     The good news is that it looks like we will be able to start the CSA the first week of June just as I had planned.  I am just as eager as you to start harvesting and eating fresh vegetables.  The first delivery day will be Wednesday, June 3 and the first pick up day will be Saturday, June 6.  For those who signed up for a bi-weekly share, you will be assigned to either the first ( or odd number) weeks or to the second (or even number) weeks.  I call them week A and week B.  If you would like to schedule around your vacation plans, you may request the week that you prefer.  Please get your requests to me as soon as possible. 

    Early in the season, you can expect to receive a smaller quantity of vegetables.  As the season progresses, the harvest will increase and you will have plenty of vegetables.  We also ask for your patience the first week or two of deliveries.  We have a lot of logistics to figure out and communicate in order to make the deliveries go smoothly.  If you miss items, please let us know and we will get them straightened out. 

    Your deliveries will arrive in a waxed produce box.  In order to open the box, you do not need to tear or rip any part of the box.  Please pay attention and DO NOT TEAR any part of the box.  The boxes are about $2 each and need to last for the entire season.  Each week, you will set the box on your porch and the delivery person will pick up your empty box and will leave another box for you.   The delivery people will do their best to set the box out of the sun. If you have instructions about where to leave the box, please let me know.

Looking forward to a great season,

Reuben and Tessa DeMaster

Posted 2/28/2015 9:09am by Reuben DeMaster.



Hi everyone,

We sent you an email earlier this week about National CSA Sign-up Day and today is the day!

This is the day to support our farm if you have been thinking about, but have not quite gotten around to it. We really appreciate your investment in our farm when we are making the investments that will result in a harvest many months from now!

To celebrate National CSA Sign-up Day, we are offering a $10 discount on new members who sign up on February 28th. Use coupon code CSADAY to get the discount.

If you are already signed up or just want to help us spread the word, please post about National CSA Sign-up Day on social media:
Willow Haven Farm is celebrating National CSA Sign-up Day on Feb 28th. Join me in supporting a local farmer: www.willowhavenfarmpa.com #CSAday

To sign up for our CSA, visit:  http://www.willowhavenfarmpa.com/members/types

Sincerely,
Reuben DeMaster

Willow Haven Farm

Posted 2/25/2015 8:33pm by Reuben DeMaster.

 

 

 

Hi Folks!

On February 28th, we are joining with CSA farmers from across the country to celebrate National CSA Sign-up Day. This is an important time of year for us to get new members signed up because we are in the process of making the investments that will result in a successful harvest many months from now.

The CSA model is an important model to support our farm. Laura, who runs First Root Farm in Concord, Mass. put it eloquently: "The CSA model was what allowed me to start my own farm business at age 23. Without the sale of CSA shares, I would not have been able to buy seeds, potting soil, fertilizer, or anything else. Six years later, my business is still going strong. Access to capital in the off-season; the meaningful connections between farmers and CSA members; the sense of ownership and pride members feel about their CSA farms--all these things add up to healthy farms, businesses, and communities. The CSA model is good for everybody,"

So thank you for your support on this and throughout the year. It is so important for us and we are thankful to you!

 To celebrate National CSA Sign-up Day, we are offering a $10 discount on new members who sign up on February 28th. Use coupon code CSADAY to get the discount.

If you are already signed up or just want to help us spread the word, please post about National CSA Sign-up Day on social media:


Willow Haven Farm is celebrating National CSA Sign-up Day on Feb 28th. Join me in supporting a local farmer: www.willowhavenfarmpa.com #CSAday

To sign up for our CSA, visit: http://www.willowhavenfarmpa.com/members/types

Sincerely,

Reuben DeMaster

 



Posted 2/15/2015 8:41pm by Reuben DeMaster.

      This past Saturday I was at the "Real Health Conference" hosted by Lancaster Agricultural Products.  This one-day conference is unique among the many agricultural events that I have attended.  It is unique because it is sponsored by a company and is held is their warehouse.  It is also unique because the majority of the attendees are plain folk.  This year, over one thousand people attended the event.  Seminars covered topics such as soil biology, organic orchard care, making dairy products at home, pasture and forage management, and human health.  

       This conference placed a strong emphasis on the responsibility that farmers have for the health of the people who will eat their farm products.  The first speaker gave us a lot of information about the harmful effects of growing and consuming GM crops.  There are hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies available that show the danger of GM foods.  The chemical glyphosate has been linked to dozens of health problems.  Tests have shown that it is present in our food supply in unsafe levels.  In spite of this, the federal government continues to approve additional GM crops.  More and more consumers and farmers are aware of these dangers and are doing what we can to oppose their use. 

        The conference also explored the connection between soil health, quality foods, and human health.  These things seem so obvious and yet doctors and scientists seem to be oblivious to the direct connection.  I know someone currently in medical school who has yet to hear one word about the ways in which food contributes to human health.  Doctors are trained to solve problems with drugs.  More and more farmers are learning how to prevent health problems by growing better food. 

       If anyone is interested in these topics, I recommend this conference.  In additional to the technical farming information, there were at least 6 seminars on human health and on food preparation.  I hope some of you will consider attending next February.

 

New recipe: Fettucine with ham and napa cabbageOctober 9th, 2017

1/2 pound fettuccine 1 onion, chopped 2 cups chopped Napa cabbage 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1/4 pound cooked ham, chopped 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds 1/3 cup heavy cream In a large saucepan of

New recipe: Napa Cabbage SaladOctober 9th, 2017

2 (3 oz) packages ramen noodles, crushed (flavor packets discarded) 1 cup blanched slivered almonds 2 tsp sesame seeds 1/2 cup butter, melted 1 head napa cabbage, shredded 1 bunch green onions, choppe

New recipe: Beef and Napa Cabbage Stir FryOctober 9th, 2017

1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (not seasoned) 2 teaspoons oyster sauce 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1 pound flank steak 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided 3 garlic cloves, smashed 1 (1

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