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Posted 12/17/2011 9:15pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Kale has a special place in a CSA.  Growers love it because it grows in most conditions and it stores well after harvest.  It has a great flavor which sweetens after a frost.  It contains many vitamins (see chart below) and it tastes delicious in soups, steamed or sauteed.

For new CSA members, kale symbolizes the challenges of learning to prepare unfamiliar foods.  Many people have tried kale for the first time in this and in other CSAs.  After people figure out what it is, most people find that it becomes one of their favorite vegetables.  Other people find it frustrating, strange, and unappealing. 

This CSA gave out Kale about 6 weeks out of 22 this year.  End of the year surveys show that an equal number of people want more kale as those that want less kale.  As a kale lover, I wish everyone would want to eat more kale.  Maybe they have never eaten it sauteed in olive oil, garlic and salt.  After just 4 or 5 minutes in the pan, kale becomes a slightly wilted treat. 

Although kale has been largely lost from modern diets, a traditional Scottish diet included a lot of kale.  Up until the 20th century, a Scottish lowlander ate cabbage, turnips, and carrots in the summer and kale all winter.  Kale was so common that they referred to the vegetable garden as the 'kail-yard'.  Kale was also the word used for the evening meal - "Will you come and tak your kail wi' me?".  Broth or soup could also be called just 'kail'. 

As I plan next year's crops, I am trying to balance conflicting member feedback.  I always plan so that the majority of the vegetables are familiar and then I fill in with less requested items.  I expect that this CSA will always include some kale, because that is what makes the CSA idea unique and great. 


 Food Chart

Posted 11/28/2011 7:55pm by Reuben DeMaster.

       This summer, Willow Haven Farm added fencing and several new animals.  The plan took several years to execute.  We planted the first pasture in the fall of 2009 and the next pasture in the fall of 2010.  Meadow View Fencing did the task of putting up the fence.  Four workers installed over 2500 feet of fence in 1 1/2 days.  The fence is a high-tensile, electified woven wire.  It comes from New Zealand.

       Soon after the fence was in place, a neighbor introduced me to someone with goats.  To make a long story short, I ended up with 3 billy goats (male).  Later, I found someone else with a dairy goat that they were willing to part with and I added a doe (female).  Therefore I am expecting kids in the spring and I have the potential to try milking.  The goats are friendly and curious.  I don't know if they will become a larger part of the farm.

      Early in September, my long awaited Jacob sheep finally arrived from their home in West Virginia.  Well, they mostly arrived.  The shepherdess attempted to lead them from her van to the pasture.  They followed half way and then decided that they had other ideas.  The flock of 8 went for a short jog and we stopped them over the next hill.  The next few hours were spent wading through soybeans trying to capture sheep.  We had some success sneaking up on them and then tackling them.  To make a long story short, captured 5 of the 8 sheep on that Saturday.  The next day, a neighbor found the 6th sheep in his pasture with his flock. 

     That left 2 loose Jacob sheep, both ewes, and the hunt began.  For several days, we knocked on neighbors' doors and drove around each day looking.  Often someone would see the renegade pair and report their location.  However, when we tried to surround or lure the sheep, they always ended up running.  This happened for weeks.  The sheep disappeared for a week and then showed up near the farm. 

     Late in October, the two ewes left the area, crossed interstate highway 78 and were sighted on the other side of the township.  This told me that they were probably not coming back and that I was not going to be able to find them.

     That was the last that I heard about the sheep until the story in the Morning Call newspaper the day before Thanksgiving.  The article featured a picture of the lost sheep with an arrow sticking out of her rear end.  Obviously, some bowhunter decided that he was going to take a shot at a Thanksgiving sheep.  For the past week, this wounded sheep has been wandering around someone's property still evading capture.  There apparently was no sign of the other lost sheep. 

     Regardless of how this story turns out, my fence still holds 4 beautiful ewes, 1 ram, and one wether. This is Newell, a four  horned ram:     













Posted 10/17/2011 7:40pm by Reuben DeMaster.

A huge thank you goes to Debra Davis who prepared 3 delicious dishes to taste at the open farm event last Sunday.  Debra used vegetables from the farm to create some unique tastes.  If you would like to try to make it at home, here are the recipies that she used: 


Carrot Soup

4 slices bacon
1/2 C. onion
1-3 cloves garlic
26oz chicken broth
2 C. carrots, chopped
1 C. potatoes, diced
2-3 fresh tomatoes or 1- 14oz can diced

In a stock pot, cook bacon (till crisp), onion and garlic. Stir in chicken broth, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer until veggies are tender. Using a stick blender or pour soup into a blender; puree until smooth. Add more broth if necessary. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and chopped fresh parsley.


Baba Ghanoush

1 Lg eggplant(about 1 lb.)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 C. finely chopped fresh flat-leafed parsly, plus more for garnish.
2 T. tahini
2 T. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450*F
Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, grill the eggplant over a gas grill, rotating it around until the skin is completely charred, about 10 minutes. Let the eggplant cool. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid, and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process the eggplant until smoothe and transfer to a medium bowl.
On a cutting board, work garlic and 1/4 tsp salt together with the flat side of a knife, until it forms a paste. Add the garlic-salt mixture to the eggplant. Stir in the parsley, tahini, and lemon juice. Season with more salt to taste. Garnish with additional parsley.


Sweet Potato Muffins

1 1/2 C. unbleached A P flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1/2 C. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 lb. sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed,(1 1/2 cups)
3/4 lb. unpeeled succhini,shredded(1 1/2 cups)
1 T. minced fresh tarragon
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375*F. Grease 2 muffin tins or line with paper muffin cups. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate large bowl, beat the oil, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Stir the sweet potatoes, zucchini, tarragon, and cinnamon into the oil and egg mixture. Add the flour mixture and stir until blended.
Pour the batter into the muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes.
2 dozen regular size muffins or 1 doz oversized muffins.

Posted 6/12/2011 6:32pm by Reuben DeMaster.

     Three weeks ago I purchased 90 day old chicks.  These are not layers raised for egg production.  This batch is broilers which are raised for meat.  The first 2 1/2 weeks of their life, the chicks spent in a confined area with a supplemental heat source.  After their feathers developed, I moved them to a moveable pen.  The pen is constructed of PVC pipe and plastic netting.  Part of the top and sides have metal roofing material to provide some shade and protection from the weather.  I also put 2 bicycle tires on the back to hold some of the weight off of the ground and to help move the pen.



   Each day this pen, or 'chicken tractor' gets moved to a new patch of ground.  This method ensures that their poop gets spread around and that they continually have clean ground.  The chickens also have fresh plants and insects to eat.  With this kind of access to pasture, I am able to reduce feed costs by 15 to 30 percent.  There is also a possibility that they will gain weight more slowly which increases my feed costs. The safety of the pen helps to keep the birds safe from hawks, foxes, and other predators.

     I hope to butcher these chickens at about 7 weeks and I hope they will reach about 5 pounds.  Yes, I do plan to do the butchering myself.  Small farms in Pennsylvania are allowed to process and sell their own chickens. 


     The first week in the pen has gone well.  I found that the pasture is often uneven and the chicks like to squeeze under the bottom.  A few nights I have tried to get them back in before dark.  One morning during the recent storm, I found that 6 had died during the night.  I could not find the cause of death and I hope this does not happen again.  I might prop up the front of the coop so that the chickens can run in and out as they please. 

     All in all, it seems like a decent system although it takes some work to haul food and water up to the birds.  I am feeding organic feed and plan to sell some of the birds in July.  I am still working out my expenses and the sale price.  I have found several farms selling organic, pastured chicken for between $3 and $4 per pound.  The higher price comes from the increased cost of organic feed and the time it takes to manage a system like this.  You may preorder chickens through email by contacting the farm.


Posted 6/7/2011 8:56pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Last fall while I was selling vegetables at my stand at Jim Thorpe's Fall Foliage Festival, I took a break to wander through the other vendors stalls.  Some beautiful platters and bowls caught my eye so I walked over to talk to the pottery artist.  The artist purchased some of my vegetables and ate them for lunch.  That day I made a friend who loves nature, beauty and good food.  Robin Neidelcheff has a gift for using forms and designs in nature to create pottery.  She has developed beautiful glazing color combinations and enjoys teaching her skills to others.  When I found out that she offered classes, I was eager to get on her busy summer schedule. 

On June 25, Robin plans to teach a 10AM and a 2PM clay tile class.  This will be a hands on event in which participants will collect leaves from the farm and press them into clay.  These tiles will be glazed during the class and Robin will take them home to fire.  Each participant will pick up the tiles and take them home.  You can see an example of the tiles on the flyer and they are beautiful.  You can see Robin's work at www.playtimewithclay.com

If you would like to spend a few hours at Willow Haven Farm while learning to create a beautiful tile, please let us know soon.  The class is $25.  Children may also register for the class and the second child you register is $10. 


  • Email the names of participants and your preferred class time to willowhavenfarm@live.com.
  • You will recieve a confirmation email when the class is filled and payment is due. 
  • Please respond ASAP if you are interested. 

See flyer HERE  or HERE.


Leaf Imprint Tiles

Will make an Impression …

     on your Life

Saturday June 25, 2011

Learn about “the plants at the WILLOW HAVEN FARM

through a walk and discussion tour.”



Then choose a leaf and record your time at WILLOW HAVEN FARM.

You will create your own fossilized leaf tile out of earthenware clay.  Artist Robin Nidelcheff, of Perkasie Pa,

will direct you in the basics of tile making, imprinting and underglazing to give your tile life, color and depth.

Tiles will be dried, fired and ready for pick up July 9th.


Use it as a trivet, wall hanging, or coaster. It’s a great summer learning

opportunity for the whole family.


          Make a set to serve your farm fresh produce.


To sign up email:  willowhavenfarm@live.com

Questions?  Call:    610-298-2197

Price:  $25






Posted 5/14/2011 10:17am by Reuben DeMaster.

On Tuesday night I received a call telling me that my bees arrived.  This year, I ordered bees from an apiary in Bethel, PA.  Neither of my two hives survived the Winter, so I ordered replacements.  To get honeybees, over 500 boxes of bees are shipped from Georgia.  Each box contains about 3,000 bees along with a queen.  The queen travels in a smaller box with 5 or 6 attendent bees in the box with her.  There is also a jar of syrup for the bees to eat on their journey. 


Early Wednesday morning, I picked up the bees and placed them in the hives.  First, I cleaned out the dead bees from the old hives.  Then I sampled the delicious honey left in the hive from last year.  I scraped off any comb that the bees built in the wrong place.  I removed the weeds from around the hive and made sure that they tilted forward slightly.  Finally, I was ready to introduce the bees to their new home. 

I pried off the top of the box and removed the smaller queen cage.  I placed that in the hive.  This cage is sealed with a sugar plug on top that the bees will consume in order to release their queen.  Then I removed the syrup can and proceeded to shake the bees into the hive.  Once most of the bees came out of the cage, I placed the top on the hive.  I set the cage in front of the hive so that the other bees could fly out.  Then I repeated the process for the next hive.


On Friday evening, I opened the hives to make sure that the queen was released.  I knew she was out when I saw the empty box.  Surprisingly, the bees had brought a lot of honey into the hive in just two days.  I did not find the queen, but if things go as expected she should immediately start laying up to 1200 eggs per day.  Now I will watch and wait.  I may open the hive in 6 weeks to make sure that the colony is healthy.

It is difficult to describe the excitement and thrill that I feel when handling bees.  I'm not sure if other beekeepers have the same feeling, but I suspect that they do. 



Posted 5/4/2011 5:04pm by Reuben DeMaster.


Apr 27, 5:01 AM EDT

China seizes melamine-tainted milk powder

BEIJING (AP) -- Authorities seized 26 tons of melamine-tainted milk powder from an ice cream maker in southern China three years after widespread use of the chemical in infant formula killed six babies, state media said Wednesday.

The discovery underscores China's stubborn problem with illegal food additives used to turn a quick profit regardless of the health risks.

Caches of toxic milk powder repeatedly have been discovered since a crackdown in 2008 that saw dozens arrested and a dairy farmer and a milk salesman executed.

The Global Times newspaper quoted police in the southern city of Chongqing as saying Tuesday that the Jixida Food Co. bought the milk powder a year ago to make pastries and ice cream.

The report said the tainted powder was stored in a warehouse and had not yet been used. Five suspects were detained and three could face criminal charges, the paper said, but did not identify their suspected roles in the contamination.

The report said the milk was traced to a company in Inner Mongolia but didn't say when it had been made. Other seized batches have been described as old stocks that were hidden when they should have been destroyed.

Adding melamine and water to milk and milk products makes the tainted, weaker products appear to have the correct protein content. Health problems from the industrial chemical include kidney stones and kidney damage.

At least six children died and nearly 300,000 children fell ill after consuming tainted infant formula in 2008.

That scandal prompted China to pass tougher food safety regulations and step up inspections.

A recent spate of new problems prompted the State Council, China's Cabinet, to last week order a renewed crackdown on the illegal food additives. So far this year, authorities have uncovered sales of drug-tainted pork, bean sprouts treated with a carcinogenic chemical compound, and old bread treated with sweeteners and dye to make it seem fresh.

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Posted 4/19/2011 5:38am by Reuben DeMaster.

My honeybee colonies did not make it through the winter.  At first, I thought that they ran out of honey.  Last year was their first season and they had to spend a lot of time and energy making comb in the hives.  By fall, the bees seemes to be thriving and had produced a fair amount of honey.  Other beekeepers had advised me to feed the bees in the fall, but I didn't get around to it.  So when I checked the hives in January and did not find live bees, I assumed that they had run out of honey. 

In February, I decided to take another look in the hives and discovered that one of the hives still had honey in it.  I tasted it to make sure.  This hive colapsed from something other than starvation.  Then my neighbor told me that all 4 of his hives had died and they all had honey in them. 

I was late in ordering new bees this spring.  Last week when I called the Lehigh Valley Beekeepers association, they told me that they were not taking any more orders for bees.  I happened to hear of a friend who had ordered bees from another source and was able to get an order in with him for two new colonies.  This has been another bad year for the bees with a lot of winter losses.  It doesn't seem like a good time to be a beginning beekeeper, but I guess that I'll keep trying. 

If anyone identifies honeybees living in a building or swarming in a large cluster outside, please call me or another beekeeper.  When honeybees swarm, they are looking for a new home and they are not aggressive.  Swarming bees have stuffed themselves with honey which they are trying to bring to their next home.  You should never spray them.  We will be happy to come and remove the bees because we will be able to start another hive without spending $80 on bees.  One person recently told me that honeybees were living in the walls of his house.  If this is true, maybe I'll get to start another hive this spring.   

Posted 4/10/2011 8:51pm by Reuben DeMaster.

This year, Willow Haven Farm welcomes Ben and Jade Chessman as farm interns.  Ben will be working full-time on the farm and Jade will fill in occasionally.  They arrived April 1 and plan to stay through the season.  Each of them add new gifts and abilities that I hope you will notice this season.  You can expect to see some excellent photos soon.  They bravely drove here from Texas and moved into our house without knowing quite what to expect.  So far, they really enjoy life on the farm and my children love having them around.  Both Ben and Jade wrote an introduction so I'll let them tell you something about themselves. 


New Tripoli is quite a ways from Dallas, but I couldn’t be more glad to be here for the season.  My wife Jade and I have already learned so much in this first week on the farm and are looking forward to everything else that will come over the next 7 months. 

Reuben thought it would be nice to give a bit of an introduction for those who are interested so here it is. 

I have grown up all over the U.S. but have called the Dallas area home for about the past 6 years.  I just graduated from the University of North Texas in 2008 with a degree in History and went from job to job not really sure what I wanted to do.  Farming has been a strong interest of mine since I was a kid (my father is an agronomist with the USDA so I’ve been surrounded by it) and I eventually decided to just go for it and see what kinds of opportunities were out there for me.  After applying for about 40 farms all over the country similar to Willow Haven, Reuben contacted me and after some correspondence and discussion with my wife, we decided this would be a good fit. It was definitely the right choice. 

My interests with agriculture have strong ties to my future plans for life in the horn of Africa.  The culture there is strongly tied to farming and the raising of livestock and the need for expertise is pretty great.  I am confident that the skills I gain here will transfer well to a life in a culture that can’t be dependent on access to chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and other aspects of conventional farming here in the U.S.  Poor farmers who make a meager subsistence living are doing so with farming techniques that are about 100 years behind our commercial farms here in the states.  If anyone would like to be of any assistance to farmers in a setting such as this, working on a 2,000 acre conventional farm doesn’t equip you so well.  But Willow Haven Farm is close to perfect. 

I look forward to meeting all who are friends of Reuben and Tessa’s and friends of the farm so come see us at the farm or market anytime.

Ben Chessman


Howdy Ya'll! 

Just kidding, no one actually says that in Texas, but I couldn't resist the urge to say it.  I was born and raised in Texas, but have yet to be told I "sound like it."  I spent most of my life there with the exception of a few short term stays overseas.  I graduated with a Sociology degree from the University of North Texas and have begun working on an M.A. from Redeemer Seminary in Dallas.  "What brings a seminary student to a farm?" you may be asking.  Well, my husband, partly, but also our mutual aspirations to live overseas where we anticipate every life skill will be put to good use.  The more I learn here, the better off I am in being equipped for what the future may hold.  I plan to help Tessa with her life, since she seems to have a few things on her hands, learn to can, learn to make bread, make butter, grind flour, etc.  I do miss cooking for my husband, myself and our friends, but have certainly enjoyed some of the very best food on this planet.  Eating this local, this fresh and this heartily has been incredible, to say the least.

When I am not working hard on the farm, you will probably find me with my camera, honing in on the subtle and remarkable details strewn about the land, riding my bike, or playing with one of the children (of whom there seems to be a plethora).  Come say "hi" to us whenever you're ready to work alongside.  I'll be the one in the cowboy boots.

Jade Winter Chessman

Posted 4/5/2011 8:50pm by Reuben DeMaster.

Insects have killed the first plants of the year.  Two weeks ago, I noticed a few wilted cabbage plants.  After examining several of them, it looked like the roots had been chewed.  I knew that fly larva can cause this, so I called a Penn State Cooperative Extension agent and brought her a sample.  Two other knowledgeable people looked at my plants are agreed that the culprit was...millipedes. 

Who knew that millipedes could kill cabbage plants?  This made sense when I realized that I had seen a lot of millipedes in my greenhouse this year.  Immediately I removed over 100 seedling trays from the greenhouse.  I shook out my fabric covers that were under the trays.  When I put the trays back into the greenhouse, I elevated them on boards so that they no longer contact the compost bunkers or the soil.  The Penn State experts told me that there were no reliable methods for killing millipedes which didn't surprise me. 

Needless to say, I was concerned about the extent of the damage.  Yesterday, I planted over 15 trays of plants that were affected.  I examined each tray carefully as I prepared the plants for transplanting.  Most trays had several affected plants and a few trays had a larger number.  However, I estimate that only about 5% of the transplants had significant damage. 

It appears that the damage was small and that I will be able to avoid further damage by keeping my trays elevated.  If this story ends successfully, it will be because I was able to identify a problem in the greenhouse quickly and find a solution with the help of a support team.  I hope that more and more problems will be solved in this manner. 

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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