Are You Buying Less To Get More?

I got an interesting e-mail the other day from a graduate student at the City University of New York. Kirsten Firminger is enrolled in CUNY’s Social Psychology program and she’s looking for volunteers in the New York metro area to participate in an online research survey about buying less. Rather than focus on people who are buying less because of the recession, she is looking for people who have voluntarily chosen to reduce how much they buy.

Kirsten says the purpose of her research is to get a better understanding of how people learn to buy less and what barriers and supports people have encountered while trying to voluntarily buy less. She also says:

It does not matter how long you have been buying less or how successful you have been — I am interested in learning about all the different experiences people have had. Similarly, I would like to hear from people who have chosen to buy less for a variety of reasons. You could be buying less because you are:

  • Concerned about the environment
  • Looking to save money or be financially independent
  • Want to live a simpler, less materialistic lifestyle
  • Unhappy with the influence and conduct of corporations or businesses
  • Whatever the reason you choose to voluntarily buy less, I am interested in what you have to say.

In order to participate, you need to:

  • be currently living in the New York City Metro area,
  • have voluntarily chosen to buy less, and
  • be over the age of 18.

For more information and to participate, please click here.

Kirsten says the survey takes around 15 – 25 minutes to fill out. Participation is voluntary and all information provided will be treated as confidential. She can be reached at kfirminger[AT] or 718-238-1803.


Vote ‘Yes’ Tuesday on Public Question 1

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey is calling on voters to go to the polls tomorrow and vote YES on Public Question #1. This is the ballot question that will assure continued funding for Green Acres, farmland preservation and historic preservation, and yes, you have been asked to support this initiative many times over the last four decades. And it has worked: According to NOFA-NJ, more than 1,800 farms totaling 176,500 acres have been preserved since the first open space ballot in 1961.

More remains to be done. As David and Michelle Glenn, NOFA-NJ’s co-executive directors, wrote in an email to me this morning:

On Election Day, Nov. 3, voters can decide whether we will remain the Garden State or be doomed to the Strip Mall State. Now is truly the time to “choose it or lose it!”

George Washington’s Kale

George Washington KaleAfter months of waiting, I finally got White House tour tickets for my family. So last Thursday we headed to DC for a long weekend and, while the rest of the Verona CSA group was at pick-up, we were at Mount Vernon, looking at George Washington’s kale. We were also looking at the founding father’s walnuts but I thought that would push the bounds of good taste in a headline.

Mount Vernon could be held up as a model organic farm, except that, in the mid-1700s, that was really the only kind of farming around. No synthetic pesticides to run off into the picturesque Potomac below, no fungicides on the fruit trees. Of course, Washington’s success as a farmer–he had 8,000 acres and was highly successful–was due in no small part to the fact that he was also a major slave owner. He freed his slaves only upon his death.

George Washington SquashMount Vernon today is a fraction of its old size, but several colonial-era farming practices are still in evidence. There was a deep, straw-lined manure pit next to the stables, much to the dismay of a group of visiting teenagers. And yes, I did try to explain why that was a good idea until my older son rolled his eyes and moaned “Mommmmm”. There were also several beautifully maintained garden plots, with rows of lacinato kale, cardoons, and several kinds of winter squash and cabbage.

None of which, alas, was for sale in the gift shop. But I did pocket a walnut or two.

New Year

Shana Tova to all those celebrating New Year!

Restore Yourself mini-workshop in Milford, PA on Sept 11th with Dr. Edy Greenblatt

Join us at the FREE Restore Yourself mini-workshop in Milford, PA on Sept 11th with Dr. Edy Greenblatt
Here at UMF, we work all year to help you get nutrition and social sustenance from eating our organic food.  To further help you find your physical, psychological, social and cognitive energies, we invite you to join us at the FREE Restore Yourself mini-workshop and book signing this Friday, Sept 11th across the river from us at the Seventh Street Coffee Shop in Milford, PA.  The workshop will  be taught by 2009 Indie Book Award winning author and friend-of-the-farm Dr. Edy Greenblatt and we’ll be there to learn.  If you haven’t yet come out to do your volunteer hours, why not come out to the farm at noon this Friday and then come with us to the workshop after work?  Here are the details:577_RestoreYourselfCoverLarge

Restore Yourself: The Antidote for Professional Exhaustion
Mini-Workshop and Book Signing
with Edy Greenblatt, Ph.D.
Friday, Sept 11th, 2009
5:15 pm – 7:00 pm
Seventh Street Coffee Shop
611 Broad Street
Milford, PA 18337
For info on Dr. Greenblatt’s award winnng book, go to
For info on the workshop, see
For more info on the event, email or call 626.644.7745
To schedule your volunteer time at the farm on Friday (or any day), call Len at 570.228.8368
See you Friday!

Pick Your Own NJ Peaches

In the right-hand section of this page, you’ll see links to a lot of different things: Blogs we read, blogs written by our members, music Leonard participates in, and “Food Producers We Love”. (Quick digression: If you blog and we don’t have yours listed, let me know.)

The second link in Food Producers is to Melick’s Town Farm, one of New Jersey’s oldest family farms. Melick ancestors arrived in Hunterdon county some time between 1725 and 1735, and the family now farms in Oldwick and Califon. The latter of these two locations is the one you want to focus on if you want to participate in a quintessentially New Jersey summer activity–picking your own peaches. I found my way here a few years back, after getting lost on a supposedly well-marked detour to someplace else entirely. The kids now look forward to peach picking every year, and last year picked a record 66 pounds!

The Melicks grow white and yellow peaches in Califon, as well as apples and Asian pears, which are tart like Granny Smith apples. The cost is $1.09 per pound during the week and $1.19 per pound on weekends and holidays. They have wagons to help you haul your peaches back from the orchard to the cash register, though you do have to give a $10 (refundable) deposit. The Melicks are not certified organic growers, but pretty close to it. They practice what is known as “integrated pest management”, which means that they spray as little as possible as infrequently as possible.

The results are delicious. So if you want to taste a peach that has travelled fewer miles than you have this year, take a trip to Califon.

Farm-fresh food is all the rage in N.J. restaurants

Farm-fresh food is all the rage in N.J. restaurants
An increasing number of chefs in New Jersey are teaming with small local farms or even growing their own produce for their restaurants. The benefits include access to unusual varieties, and inspiration to modify the menu depending on what ingredients are most plentiful. The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.) (8/19)