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Posted 1/15/2015 9:39pm by Reuben DeMaster.
 
Our Farmer, Reuben, left this frozen state, last friday (1/9/15)  for a warmer climate south of the equator.  The trip is work related since he will be visiting small farms in Tanzania.  No, there is no ebola in that country.  The trip came about through Catholic Relief Services and US AID - two groups that have been active in East Africa for many years.  They have chosen to send Reuben as a farmer consultant through the 'Farmer to Farmer' program.  This program sends farmers and agricultural workers to other countries to assist with challenges that farmers face and to make recommendations as to how they could be better supported and served. 
 
Reuben's trip is starting to have a routine. When he wakes up he studies to prepare a talk for the farmers (topics: diginity of farming, composting, etc.). Breakfast (all meals take 1 1/2 hours or so), drive to the village up narrow, bumpy, roads. He has a driver and an interpreter assigned to him. The driver is a retired policeman, Sebastian, with whom he has had good conversations. All the village farmers come for the morning conference/teaching session. Reuben is THE teacher. I think he talks for about half an hour and then takes questions. They have lots of questions. After lunch he does farm visits. At some point he eats lunch; yesterday, he had a passion cheesecake, which was wonderful. He likes that the desserts are not as sweet as in the US. When he returns to town in the evening he eats supper with Shea Belahi for Heirloominous Farms, in IL. She is on the same kind of trip but does her work in a different village during the day. In the evening they do research on the questions of the day, diagnose plant diseases, and prepare for the next day.
 
The 80s/90 humid heat is quite a shock coming from freezing temps in PA.  After the first couple days, Reuben was moved to a nicer hotel that has AC, so he is able to sleep and cool down.  Also, the village he visits is up the mountain so it is a little cooler; 70’s in the morning.  He says all the school children are wearing sweaters and crowd around him wanting to practice their English.  So he gets to greet 20-30 of them “Hello.  How are you? I am fine.”  over and over.  He finds it quite beautiful and funny. 
 
Please see our Facebook page for some pictures.  Willow Haven Farm on Facebook

He thanks everyone for their support for this trip.

 

Posted 12/26/2014 12:24pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Six years ago, Willow Haven Farm existed only as an idea.  The land was being rented by a farmer who farms about 100 acres growing corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay.  His farming methods include the standard variety of sprays, fertilizers, and seeds which means GMO seed and glyphosate. 

This past season, Willow Haven Farm finished its sixth growing season raising organic vegetables, running a CSA and farm market, raising animals, and offering a variety of other farm products.  Through much hard work and a lot of help from other people, we sustain ourselves on about 20 acres.  For the first Winter, I will not have to work off  the farm to earn off season income. 

Your interest and support has made this possible and we are very thankful.  Hundreds of people have supported this farm by purchasing products, telling other people, offering suggestions, volunteering their expertise, and doing physical farm work.  Without your interest in local, organic food we would not be here today. 

This Winter, I have been struggling with questions about how best to grow the farm.  What areas of the farm should get larger or smaller?  Should I produce more bread or more pork?  Do I want to grow more vegetables or have cattle?  Who will work on the farm next season?  Should I borrow money for expansion?  How can I transition the rest of our family land into organic production?  Am I ready to pursue Certified Organic status?  Will the farm be able to pay next year's expenses? 

Small farm struggles will always be present.  Farming is never a secure occupation because things seldom happen as planned.  Your support helps us to continue looking toward another season and we thank you.  Please tell your friends and neighbors about us.  We hope to welcome 40 new members to our CSA this year.

Starting today, we will begin CSA signups for the 2015 season. Like past years, we will offer a discount for returning members and for early sign ups.  If you pay in full by January 31, we will offer a 3% discount.  You may choose to pay with a credit card but a small fee will be added to your total.  You may avoid this fee by mailing a check.  We will respond to email questions as soon as possible during the holiday season.  Here is the link to sign up: http://www.willowhavenfarmpa.com/members/types 

We hope you have a Happy New Year!

Reuben DeMaster

Willow Haven Farm

Posted 11/3/2014 9:19pm by Reuben DeMaster.

The summer CSA is over and the Fall CSA has begun.  We will miss seeing our summer customers at the farm pick up but you can visit us any Saturday through the end of the year.  We will still have fresh grown and picked vegetables until Christmas.

This time of the fall we have planted cover crops on most of our seed beds which will await the early spring plantings.  The cover crops give the soil rest and rejuvenate the nutrients.  The last fall planting was putting in the garlic bulbs last week.  These will be harvested next July.

We also begin winter projects and this is no exception.  Tomorrow we begin putting us a new greenhouse which will give us more room for our seedlings and transplants in 2015.  This structure will be much bigger than the passive solar greenhouse that has served us well in the past.  The new one will also have heaters so it will be more dependable.  The passive solar greenhouse will still get lots of use.  

Thanks for your support this year.  We look forward to next year.  Please tell your friends and neighbors about our CSA for 2015 and our On Farm Market.

Sincerely,

Reuben and Tessa and Family

Posted 8/28/2014 8:19pm by Reuben DeMaster.

 Join Our 2014 Late Season CSA for fall greens and veggies until Christmas!

Are you enjoying your summer CSA?  Are you sad to think about it coming to the end in a few weeks?  It doesn't have to ... You can keep enjoying fresh, farm produce through the end of the year by adding our Late Season CSA.

Maybe you didn't join the CSA this summer but want to try our Late Season to see if you like it.  This short season farm share will be for seven weeks: Nov 5th - December 17th. 

To sign up, click here or go to Member Sign Up on the CSA tab above. Returning members should click on the green box and you will receive a link to use to sign up. 

New members should just follow the directions.  If you have any problems with the website sign up process, please let me know.

Posted 7/9/2014 10:37am by Reuben DeMaster.

We are happy with how this summer is going. It is a joy to pick an abundance of cucumbers, summer squash and beans. We hope you are enjoying these vegetables as well. Our CSA tries to balance giving you a share in the abundance that we have while not overwhelming you with too much. If we give you more than you can use, please share the bounty with someone you know.

Very soon we will be harvesting and curing garlic. Garlic cloves are planted in September. They grow in the fall, rest in the winter and grow again in the spring and summer. Each clove forms a new bulb with another 8 – 10 cloves. Garlic is harvested in July and laid out to “cure.” Curing is simply letting it air dry in the hot summer weather, out of the sun. This allows the garlic to store for several months. You will receive garlic throughout the summer and fall.

This week's share box contains: cabbage, yellow summer squash, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce, mixed greens, dill, basil and a bag with 8 turnip and 2 radish.

Here are some ideas to help you use and prepare this week’s vegetables:

  • Cabbage is great for coleslaw or cooked with pork or sausage and potatoes.This weeks yellow summer squash is a round variety called “patty pan.” This firm but tender squash holds up well to stir-fries and grilling.
  • Herbs like basil and dill are great for adding flavor to salads and many recipes. Basil is also a classic ingredient for pesto.
  • You can easily make a fermented pickle with your cucumber in two days. Slice them into a quart jar; add two tablespoons sea salt to one cup of water and pour over; chop 2 tablespoons of dill and add to jar; add 1 tablespoon of pickling spices, optional; add more water to cover all leaving one inch of space to the lid; cover with lid; leave at room temperature for 2 days then refrigerate and eat. These have beneficial pro-biotic properties because of the lactic acid fermentation process. Actually you can use this process to ferment any vegetable.
  • Green beans are delicious fresh and gently cooked. You can make dilly beans using the process above if you want to dry something new.
  • Turnips are best cooked, though some enjoy them raw. They can be grated raw into salads or casseroles. A favorite way is to season with butter and salt and roast in a 400` oven until slightly golden or crispy around the edges. You can even sneak the radishes in and use them the same way. Simply boiled and mashed with salt, cream and butter is a classic turnip dish.

    Thanks again for joining Willow Haven Farm CSA. We are having a great year!
Posted 7/2/2014 11:24am by Reuben DeMaster.

The hot summer weather we are experiencing in July is great for your farm grown vegetables. Plants like tomatoes, peppers, and melons need the sunny hot days in order to grow and ripen. The hotter the weather, the sooner you’ll get these seasonal summer specialties.

This week we have been weeding a lot. Weeding is important because we don’t want other plants crowding our vegetables and taking precious nutrients, water and sun. So a well-weeded row means bigger vegetables and an easier time picking them at harvest.

Willow Haven Farm has a unheated hoop structure with a plastic cover. Every year we plant a different crop in our Hoop House which heats up earlier in the season than the outside air and soil. This year our cucumbers are doing very well in the hoop house and, as a result, you are receiving cucumbers a little earlier this year than normal. Our outside cucumbers won’t be ready for several more weeks.

Some of you have been sharing information about our CSA with friends and neighbors. Thank you very much. New members can join by signing up  on our website, www.willowhavenfarmpa.com.

This week your box contains: cabbage, snap peas, lettuce, cucumbers, basil, chives, swiss chard, and arugula.

Here are some ideas to help you use and prepare this week’s vegetables:

Cabbage is great for coleslaw or cooked with pork or sausage and potatoes.

Snap peas are good cooked or raw. Just pull off the stem and side string.

Swiss chard is eaten raw or cooked.  Separate the stems from the leaves and cook the stems for a longer time so they are tender and lose their slightly bitter property. We also like it stir-fried with garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil.

Arugula is a green with a unique nutty, spicy taste. Some like it in a salad or sandwich. If the taste is too strong for you, try chopping it up into pasta salad with lots of other vegetable.

Herbs like basil and chives are great for adding flavor to salads and many recipes. Chop them up finely and then sprinkle them on. This week try them in a coleslaw, pasta salad, or cucumber salad.

Thanks again for joining Willow Haven Farm CSA. We are having a great year!

Posted 6/18/2014 10:52am by Reuben DeMaster.

Welcome to Willow Haven Farm’s CSA

This week, we are finishing up the main plantings of winter squash, cucumbers, cabbage, and collard greens. Once the winter squash is planted, the spring planting season is over and I can breathe a sigh of relief. Now our task is to make sure we keep things watered and weeded and picked at the proper times. The summer vegetables love this hot weather and I’m seeing a lot of strong growth in the fields.

The vegetables you receive are usually washed or at least rinsed. However, we expect that you will need to do another washing before you eat most things. Getting your food from the farm usually includes a little dirt and, occasionally, you can also expect to find an insect in or on your vegetables – especially in the greens. As organic growers, we do not spray for insects and they are part of our ecosystem. Insects are organic and they like vegetables too. None of the insects you see will do any harm; just wash them off.

This week a full share box contains: Bok choi, rhubarb, snap peas, lettuce, garlic scapes and mizuna, kale, radish and swiss chard. 

Here are some ideas to help you use and prepare this week’s vegetables:

  • Bok Choi can be used raw in salads or cole slaw. It can also be steamed, roasted, or stir fried lightly. We love to use olive oil, garlic and salt to season them. You can separate the white stalk from the green bok choi leaf and cook the leaf for a shorter time because it cooks quickly.
  • Rhubarb is a tart stalk that is usually cut up and sweetened to be used in desserts. Classic ideas are rhubarb pie and rhubarb crisp. It can also be sautéed and mixed with a rice pilaf for a savory dish. You can also try adding it to muffins or coffee cakes.Snap peas are delicious raw and you can eat the whole pod, just take off the hard stem. Also stir-fry or lightly sautee or steam them.
  • Garlic scapes are the stem that grows up from the plant while the garlic bulb you are familiar with is forming underground. These have a pleasant garlic taste which you can use raw or cooked. Stir fry with other vegetables or sautee with onions to add to egg omelets or soups.
  • Mizuna is a tender leafy, green that is used like lettuce in salads.   You can eat it by itself or mix it with your lettuce or bok choi or Chinese cabbage leaves.Swiss Chard has a brightly colored stem and a tender leaf. Separate the stems from the leaves and cook the leaf for a shorter time because it cooks quickly. The stem may have a bitter taste unless it is cooked until tender. Some use the leaf raw but I prefer to cook it.
  • Kale is a superfood with lots of minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients. It is usually lightly cooked until bright green while the thick stems can be discarded. Our favorites are Sausage Kale Soup and Stir-fried with garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil.
  • Radishes are a common vegetable used raw in salads. Other ways to use it are to grate it into other dishes, cook it in soups, or even slice and stir-fry. When radish is cooked the spicy quality is reduced.

Thanks again for joining Willow Haven Farm CSA. We are looking forward to a great year!

 

 

 

Posted 6/13/2014 6:25am by Reuben DeMaster.

Hello and welcome to Willow Haven Farm's CSA! We are glad you took the opportunity to connect with our farm for the next five months.  You will be partners with us as we work hard to plant, weed, and harvest Certified Naturally Grown, seasonal produce using organic methods. 

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  When you purchase a share you are supporting a local farmer and learning how and where your food is produced.  CSA participants support local food production by sharing both the bounty and the risks inherent in farming.  We will communicate how the growing season is going, both the ups and the downs and we invite you to come to the farm to see what we do.

     Everyone knows we had a long, cold winter and a cool, late spring.  On the farm, that means that planting was late and the vegetables are growing slowly because they need the warmth of the sun.  As a share member you will see that as the summer gets warmer, more vegetables will ripen and your box will have more items in it.  Right now we are harvesting our cool season crops. We realize that some of these vegetables will be new to you.  Every week the variety of your share will change as we try to rotate what we pick and new vegetables ripen.  Next week you will have some repeat items and some new ones.  Some items like rhubarb, snap peas and garlic scapes only grow for a couple weeks per year so enjoy them now.

This week's box contains: Chinese cabbage, bok choi, rhubarb, snap peas, lettuce, garlic scapes and mizuna. Here are some ideas to help you use and prepare this weeks vegetables:  Chinese cabbage and Bok Choi can be used raw in salads or cole slaw. They can also be steamed, roasted, or stir fried lightly. We love to use olive oil, garlic and salt to season them. You can separate the white stalk from the green bok choi leaf and cook the leaf for a shorter time because it cooks quickly. Rhubarb is a tart stalk that is usually cut up and sweetened to be used in desserts. Classic ideas are rhubarb pie and rhubarb crisp. It can also be sautéed and mixed with a rice pilaf for a savory dish. You can also try adding it to muffins or coffee cakes. Snap peas are delicious raw and you can eat the whole pod, just take off the hard stem. Also stir-fry or lightly sautee or steam them. Garlic scapes are the stem that grows up from the plant while the garlic bulb you are familiar with is forming underground. These have a pleasant garlic taste which you can use raw or cooked. Stir fry with other vegetables or sautee with onions to add to egg omelets or soups. Mizuna is a tender leafy, green that is used like lettuce in salads.  You can eat it by itself or mix it with your lettuce or bok choi or Chinese cabbage leaves. 

Have a great week.

Reuben

Posted 12/6/2013 11:49am by Reuben DeMaster.

 

THere is another great article by Brian Snyder.  His article correctly distinguishes between two contrasting views of the natural world. Thank you Brian for writing this.

Brian Snyder is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA).  Willow Haven Farm has been a proud member of this organization since we started farming.  Brian has been writing a series of articles relating to the ongoing food safety debate in congress.   The proposed rules in this bill will affect many small farms. PASA has been involved in the process of discerning who will be affected.

If you would like to learn more about this issue, Brian's blog is called www.writetofarm.com and he has a gift for explaining these issues in a sensible way.  He also includes some helpful information about the Farm Bill.

Posted 11/18/2013 9:29am by Reuben DeMaster.

Occasionally, people come to the farm and ask if I offer gluten-free bread or pizza options.  I usually offer the suggestion that properly prepared grains may be part of the solution.  All of the bread and pizzas that I make use organic grains made with sourdough methods. 

In the past few years, more and more people have realized that their bodies have trouble digesting wheat or gluten - a protein in wheat.  Some doctors diagnose people with Celiac disease, but it appears that people can have gluten sensitivity even without a fully diagnosed condition.  I have spoken with many people who have found that their health has improved by eliminating some or most wheat products from their diet.  A quick internet search will yield more information on this topic that you can handle.  The opinions on wheat vary widely. 

The Weston A. Price foundation has an interesting perspective on grain consumption that I believe should inform our eating habits.  When Dr. Weston Price did his research of 'primitive' cultures, or people groups eating their traditional diets, he found that grains were normally fermented before consumption.  This means that wheat, barley, rye, corn, and even rice had a particular way of being prepared by the peoples that grew and ate them.  In the case of wheat and rye, the traditional way to eat these products was by soaking the grains and letting them begin to ferment.  We call this process a sourdough.  It means that we allow wild yeast strains and various enzymes to work on the proteins in the grain.  What they didn't know but we do know is that this process makes the nutrients in the grains more available to us and helps us with digestion. 

Eating wheat products without this soaking process appears to be very hard on our digestive system and more people are realizing this every year.  However, eating properly prepared whole grain wheat products has been part of a healthy, traditional diet for thousands of years. 

Some people with gluten sensitivity have discovered that they are able to eat sourdough breads without having the same digestive issues.  In other words, people who cannot easily digest gluten find that they can eat sourdough breads without problems.  I have personally met at least a dozen people who purchase and eat my breads that are not able to eat other wheat products.  Obviously there are different levels of sensitivity and I am not offering medical advice.  However, I want people to be aware of the digestive benefits of eating sourdough bread and that it may even help those with gluten intolerance. 

It appears that the science and research has not been able to explain this situation yet.  However, I have a link to a pilot study that tested 16 people with Celiac disease who had been eating a gluten free diet for 5 years.  The results seem to show that after 60 days, the people eating sourdough products did not have the Celiac symptoms.  Although this study is very small and just a preliminary study, it shows that properly prepared wheat products can be safely consumed by some people with Celiac disease. 

We all should be eating grains that have been prepared properly.  The sourdough process makes nutrients available to our bodies and aids in digestion.  Even people with gluten sensitivity may be able to eat properly prepared wheat products.  You can read more at www.westonaprice.org.   

 

 

 

 

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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Willow Haven Farm, 7686 Herber Rd., New Tripoli, PA 18066

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