This past spring, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Sussex County Farmers Market at the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show grounds taken at the official early this spring. I attended as a representative of the Sussex County Board of Agriculture. I also made the market’s first sale, selling N.J. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen a bottle of Upper Meadows Farm’s maple syrup.
The first earth day, back in 1970, was organized as a peoples protest against what was happening to the land, earth, water and air. There was a huge outpouring of public concern that took the form of action; from the planting of trees and local cleanups to calls for changes in public policy. We like to think that every day on the farm is earth day, maybe because of our so frequent interaction with the soil and fresh air, but also because every day we are working to grow food that nourishes both people and the earth.
Here’s what’s new this week on the farm, during our constant Earth Day Celebration:
- We finished our last batch of maple syrup! All of the buckets are collected and washed, ready for next season. We produced over 20 cases of amazing syrup this season, thanks to cooperation from weather and the trees. All of our buckets are recycled food grade buckets, and will be used again this summer for harvest and maybe even to pickle.
- Our older greenhouse that was blown around this winter has been reassembled and all of our baby kale, cabbage, collards, broccoli, and cauliflower are in their new temporary home. Bonnie has been planting lots of lettuce, tomatoes (I can’t wait for good tomoatoes!), and peppers in the potting shed. We lovingly/tediously mended the old green house cover instead of buying a new one. One more season and then we’ll get a new one.
- The cows are moved into their new ever-expanding pasture, and we welcomed our newest calf, Miriam, to the farm. Pasture fed beef is better for the environment than industrial beef in countless ways. Some big ones are cleaner water and air, better soil, and healthier animals and humans.
- We are cutting potatoes furiously to be ready for our big Potato Planting Party this weekend! Traditional farming of potatoes in places like Iowa, in sandy permeable soil, can leak chemical pesticides into the groundwater. Our clay loam soils consistently produce the most wonderful, dense and tasty potatoes folks have ever had according to most of our members.
- Our first batch of asparagus is up for the season! Spring at last!! Of course, the weather is like a huge roller coaster now but keep your fingers crossed that we’ll get a good harvest this year and we’ll all be enjoying these super spears.
NJN News has done a piece on our maple syrup making. I just got notice that it is scheduled to air tonight. 5:30 p.m. on channel 13 only and then at 6:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m. and again tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m. These times would be seen on your local cable network channel 8, 21, 23, 50 or 52. You can also see it on NJN.net once it airs. Enjoy!
I’m just catching up to an odd story in The New York Times a few days ago. Food manufacturers are taking high-fructose corn syrup out of their products and replacing it with … sugar. And adding the word “natural” to the food’s label to trumpet the switch.
Pizza Hut has a pie called “The Natural” because its tomato sauce is now made with sugar. Pepsi has Pepsi Natural soda and ConAgra has introduced Healthy Choice All Natural frozen entrees, sweentened with sugar or honey. This is a huge departure from past practices and it makes me wonder if there is a big enough sale advantage to adding the word ‘natural’ to make this cost effective or even more profitable than using HFCorn syrup. Sugar, via sugar cane, is one of the most heavily subsidized crops in the world. You can read more on that in an article by the CATO Institute from June 2007. It is also really important to recognize that the players in this new discovery of the merits of sugar (at least as a sales tool) are the biggest food producers in the world like Kraft, Con Agra, and Pepsi to name a few.
From the time that Europeans arrived in North America in the late 1400s and up until the 1800s, maple sugar was the most sought-after and most common sweetener. The indigenous peoples showed the colonists that the maple trees could provide for sweetness through the process of sugaring, that is boiling down the sap until it concentrated and crystalized into a dark sugar. The importation of the European honey bee and the honey they produced was the other sweetener. Now most maple product is made as syrup and honey production is in danger from colony collapse disorder. The history of sugar production is an eye-opener if you haven’t considered human beings’ collective sweet tooth.
Leonard has been boiling down the results of his maple-tree tappings over the past few days. Look for the big announcement on Upper Meadows Farm’s maple syrup sometime soon.
UPPER MEADOWS FARM WILL BE MAKING ITS TV DEBUT AND WE NEED YOUR HELP TO GET READY!
Because Upper Meadows Farm is one of the only maple syrup producers in New Jersey, NJN News will be bringing a TV crew to the farm on Tuesday, March 24 to document just how we do it! This is an amazing opportunity to show all of NJ what we’re up to here at the farm, as well as gain some exposure!
Here’s where the volunteers come in: Things are moving along at an awesome pace at the farm! Planting is well under way in the potting shed, and construction on the new market area is moving along briskly! Because we are so busy getting ready to grow lots of amazing food, we could really use a few extra sets of hands to help us make sure the farm is looking its best for the shoot next week. We need volunteers this Saturday and Sunday (March 21 and 22) to help us do things like organize, help get a greenhouse righted, and general tidying up around the farm. It’s a great way to get your 4 volunteer hours in early, and help Upper Meadows put its best foot forward this season. It’s also a great way for new members to begin their relationship with the farm by seeing it first hand, and getting their hands dirty! And, you’ll be able to see all of your hard work when the program airs on NJN!
When: Saturday March 21 and Sunday March 22
Where: Upper Meadows Farm
What: Helping Upper Meadows Farm look its best for our TELEVISION DEBUT!
R.S.V.P: By e-mailing Megan Moore, our volunteer coordinator.
NYC residents please note: There is a Short Line bus from Port Authority to Milford, Pa., which is just a few minutes from the farm. If you take the 10:00 a.m. bus, a farm staff member will be able to pick you up and bring you to the farm, and drop you back off for the 2:55 p.m. return bus. The schedule is available here under “Pennsylvania Points”.
I used to hate maple syrup as a kid. I hated the sticky forks and fingers, sticky syrup handles and mouth corners. I really don’t like being sticky. However, as we are preparing for what I am lovingly referring to as Sap Tap 2009 here at the farm, I can’t help but be excited to confront my sticky-phobia and get ready to produce hundreds of gallons of maple syrup this year. The buckets are washed and the taps are boiled. We’re just waiting for a nice cold night (check) followed by a nice warm day (waiting), to get the trees tapped. I am very new to the farm, and I am anxious in the face of this nature waiting game.
I have recently opened up to the tacky and earthy sweetness of maple syrup, and on chilly days have been craving stacks of warm blueberry pancakes. I caved to my out of season desires and made the below recipe this week for dinner.
I thought there could be no better time to share the recipe with you all than on this Shrove Tuesday.
(Thanks for Lyn for helping me make the Pancake connection.)
Here’s some info on why people eat pancakes today from wikipedia:
“Pancakes and doughnuts are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foodstuffs such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: In many cultures, this means no meat, dairy, or eggs”
So enjoy pancake day with this awesome hearty recipe! Continue reading