Hot showers. Man, I could literally write an entire column about how much I love hot showers. It is such a pleasure to take a shower each morning. I used to get up and throw wood in the stove and then stand there and let the heat wash over me for a while before I got my day going, but now I can let the heat of a hot shower actually wash over me. It’s one of the main reasons I get out of bed every day. Well, that and work and animals to take care of and my soon-to-be wife and stepson. But really, the shower is the best part of my morning. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘local food’
This is a revival of a column I wrote a few years ago about community gardens. I couldn’t resist digging it out of the mothballs because, like other local food and gardening efforts it’s gaining momentum with wide interest.
When I last encouraged folks to look into community gardens there were just a handful in the North Country. Last summer, when Adirondack Harvest published its annual local food guide, we listed 21 community and school gardens, just in Essex County!
My introduction to community gardens took place 25 years ago when my husband and I, devout gardeners and homesteaders, abruptly moved from the rural green of Vermont to Minneapolis and St. Paul (yes, we started out in one city and a year later moved to the other one).
While we adored the Twin Cities, there were no backyard gardens for us. And so there entered a new concept in my life: community gardens. We discovered that plots of land had been cordoned off in, among other places, parks and vacant lots. Each area was divided into many 20’ by 20’ plots with water access. For a small fee, we were able to secure a space, tilled for us at the beginning of the season. » Continue Reading.
I’ve considered raising chickens for many reasons, and not just because of the recent popularity of the backyard chicken movement. Raising my own chickens would be more than the bucolic setting where my children skip (they must skip) out the backdoor to the chicken coop to collect eggs. (If the scene is to be complete, my daughter is most likely wearing gingham and some sort of bonnet.)
The reality is less picturesque. The fewer miles my food needs to travel, the better off my family is. With constant food recalls and salmonella poisoning as just a few reasons to be wary, finding a local source for eggs, dairy and meat is one step, in my opinion, toward good health. So for those that haven’t jumped on the chicken-raising bandwagon, attending a seminar is the perfect opportunity to find out if this is the way to bring your own food source closer to home. » Continue Reading.
Well, the low temperature last night was still above zero for the first time in a week. It’s not much, but it’s something to look forward to. And then tomorrow they’re saying that the highs will be above freezing. It has been a wild winter so far, weather-wise.
While the rest of the nation was experiencing record cold last week, we were watching the snow melt and the ruts in the driveway disappear. Then we had bone chilling cold with nasty wind. So much so that if I didn’t check the chicken coop every hour or so for eggs, the eggs I did find would be frozen and cracked.
One nice development out here at the cabin is that Brownie the chicken has started laying eggs too. Nice light brown ones that make the egg carton look so pleasant. With Whitey and Brownie laying now pretty much every day, I’m getting more eggs than I can eat. At least when I find them unfrozen. » Continue Reading.
I have often said that I am blessed because I get paid to do something I love. And I often put in more hours in my week than I get paid for in my pay check, but it is a balance. I also for the most part set my own schedule. Of course we have set office hours, and I have a desk and a chair I am supposed to be in during the work week. But I also have meetings and consultations outside those office walls. Because of my job, I have gotten to travel to places I probably wouldn’t have gone on my own. Have seen and experienced places I would not have done if I hadn’t had the job I do.
At the end of the day, I am fairly certain that I am paid for the work I do and the contributions I have made to my organization and community I live and work in. So it is rather distressing when many of the people I work with (yep I am talking about farmers) don’t feel they are paid or even that their customers could pay them what they are worth. So they end up settling for what they feel customers can afford, or that customers expect to pay. For someone who is trying to inspire farmers to raise good quality products for their customers that they as farmers can be proud of raising, growing or making, it is disheartening to hear the heavy sighs followed by such statements.
» Continue Reading.
The local food movement is still going strong here in the North Country. During the winter months we tend to be focused less on the fresh fruits and vegetables and more on the products we can access out of season: honey, maple, dairy, eggs, storage crops, value-added items like jams and mustards, and especially locally-raised meats.
We have many Northern New York farmers raising beef, poultry, pork, bison, lamb, goat, and rabbit, but buying meat from your farmer down the road can seem like a puzzling prospect. The cuts may not look exactly as you’re used to, the price may seem too high, and depending on the method by which they were raised (e.g. grass-fed vs. grain-fed), the cooking styles may need to be adjusted. This is a great example of why it’s to your advantage to get to know your farmer. The farmers I know are chock-full of information about how their animals are raised, the various cuts of meat and great recipes to help you turn that brisket into a melt-in-your-mouth meal.
A large percentage of the farm workers who harvest New York State’s apples, potatoes, onions, and other fruits and vegetables are immigrants working long hours with no overtime pay, few benefits, low salaries, often substandard housing, and no right to collective bargaining, as those rights fought for over fifty years ago in California by Cesar Chavez were excluded from being applied here.
Illegal immigrants comprise approximately five percent of this workforce. » Continue Reading.
Autumn is, of course, the traditional time to celebrate the harvest. This is evidenced by the numerous harvest festivals throughout the North Country during September and October. As a farmer I always appreciate this time of year. Sure, I love the foliage and crisp air as much as (if not more than) the visiting busloads of leaf-peepers. But what I truly relish is the prospect of not growing anything for a few months. I need rest, as does the soil, and winter is the perfect time to recharge.
As Adirondack Harvest coordinator, my autumn work involves lining up farm tours, promoting member events and participating in area festivals. This year brought something new to the region: Farm Aid. I had heard about Farm Aid for years – most of us know about the famous Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp-founded musical tour whose mission is to “keep family farmers on their land.” It seemed a natural fit for Adirondack Harvest to participate this year since the whole gala was coming to Saratoga. » Continue Reading.
Pretending to confuse a giant puffball mushroom with a soccer ball (or vice versa) is a well-worn joke among mushroom foragers. For the rest of us, finding out that there exists a common mushroom in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire that frequently grows to soccer ball size sounds like more of a hidden-camera, the-joke’s-on-you kind of gag.
Not only do these giant mushrooms exist, says Ari Rockland Miller, a Vermont based mushroom foraging expert, they are edible, even delectable, early in their lifecycle, when their flesh is white and has the consistency of Styrofoam. » Continue Reading.
“Think you’ve got what it takes to be a true locavore?” That’s the question posed by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York’s (NOFA-NY) annual Locavore Challenge. For the past 4 years, NOFA-NY has sponsored this event in recognition of National Organic Harvest Month, and it’s gaining ground. If you are a seasoned locavore, or just starting your foray into local eating, the Locavore Challenge has something for you.
What is a locavore, exactly? At its simplest, the word defines someone who eats locally grown food whenever possible. How you define “locally grown” is largely a personal decision. When considering where you’d like to purchase your food you must ask yourself what distance you are willing encompass and still feel comfortable calling it “local.” 50 miles? 100 miles? If you draw a 100-mile radius around your home in, say, Chazy, you are going to include a sizeable chunk of New York, but also decent pieces of Vermont and Canada, possibly violating your own rules to stay within New York or even the United States! » Continue Reading.