Friday, October 31, 2014

Overwhelmed... In a Good Way.

First of all we need to apologize for being disconnected from our blog for so long.  The reason will, we hope, be admirable in the long run - a new business launch that features an interactive, educational book and vegetable seeds for children.

The goal is to get kids back outside, better connected with the natural world, and growing their own food.  We will be letting you know the details in another blog next month - just in time for the holiday season.

Old School Farm has experienced another busy and productive season.  Much infrastructure continues to be added, laying the ground work for what we hope will soon become a more economically viable, bio-diverse farm.

Here are a few things we have gleaned over the past three years:

1)  Small scale organic farming is incredibly labor intensive.  The price you can charge (because the industrial farm model has suppressed price points) makes it very difficult to make any sort of profit, let alone cover costs.

2) The crops and food products you produce have superior flavor and nutrition.  It is hard to go back to store bought vegetables, eggs and meat.  It is often disappointing to eat out at restaurants - the food often lacks flavor.

3)  Raising and then selling (or sharing) food you raise is incredibly rewarding. Your body and mind feel healthier for many reasons.

4)  What you produce and can sell it for is very much dictated by your local market.  Our area sees many people with backyard gardens and a local big box grocery store - both of which impact pricing.

So what's new at the farm you ask?  
Well for starters, Dave has been hard
at working constructing a
Dave Benner and Dave Campeau with a 3 Root Grex beet

seasonal cabin (pictured above) to house summer interns.  The 14' x 14' cabin was designed by Dave and Al, and Dave has it all framed out and ready for the "living edge" hemlock siding and metal roof.

The really big news however is that Old School Farm Manager,  Dave Campeau was wed to Christin Schwamberger from Germany in late August at nearby Fox Hill Farm.  The event was described by many as "the best wedding" ever.  The couple plans to live in a home Dave will build on a 4 acre plot that has recently been subdivided from the farm.

Other projects at the farm include: A new pasture fence line that will allow us to move our sheep to higher ground during flood season and provide rotational grazing.  With another even larger pasture above this one, we believe we can eventually expand the flock to 50 or more animals.  Other news was the completion of our commercial kitchen and certification as a bakery.

As we move towards winter we will be carefully analyzing our past year and planning accordingly to chart the future for Old School Farm.  We continue to see a diverse operation and a variety of crops.
We are considering a more serious on farm self-serve stand, bread and pizza baking, and possibly moving some product to the Philadelphia market.  How we expand and where we focus our time and energy will greatly impact the future of the farm.

Regardless of the exact moves we make, we know two things will remain consistent:   The food we produce will be incredibly flavorful and nutritious, and the learning and experiences that are born out of our endeavor will remain with us all always...

Now for your enjoyment, here are a LOT of photos with some interesting information - there is much to catch you up on!

Until next time -

Your Friends at Old School Farm

Sun Chokes - delicious tubers, a cousin of the Sunflower
Bump out over kitchen windows on barn - prevent water entry and provides shade in afternoon for veggie prep area
Nice Dino Kale
Dave Benner & Dave Campeau - 3 root Grax beet


Gorgeous Grasshopper on moist moss mat

Our favorite tomato - Snow White !!

Jimmy Nardello sweet pepper - Italian heirloom

Locust posts for middle pasture fence line

Purple tomatillo - delicicoso en salsa!

Nothing beats a carrot fresh from the patch!

Uncus Jr. enjoys his kale

Fall broccoli crop
Three sisters 

Nice looking cabbage
party left overs make fun food for the flock

boy's harvest basket

The heat in high tunnels is outstanding for producing peppers well into fall

Coleman Benner after removing "ribs" from Dinosaur Kale - these were soon turned into kale chips

Big knives and small boys....we take a few chances, but that's how kids learn....

Chopped cabbage and salt will soon turn into Sauerkrat in this old crock

Antique Farm equipment show in Pocono Mountains

Kale Smoothie ingredients

That's one incredibly delicious and nutritious smoothie

Eggplant Parm - new recipe requires no pre-frying - need to be at 425

Benner boys and neighbor "JD" and one of their pans of parm...

On November 15th the flock will go from 20 to 5.  These birds were all hatched
on our farm or our friend's more mail order poults!

Our Asian pear tree produced for the first time and they were
small, but GOOD!

The privy getting a face lift

And a new seating area

Locust fence posts going in

Rental auger made Dave's job somewhat easier
The middle pasture area

Water cress has exploded - from a few small transplants last spring. 

Al threw a few extra Purple Viking seed potatoes into the compost pile in spring.  This fall he pulled several pounds from one small hole...plants love compost!

Mary - no longer all black.

Bosc Pear - the 8 year old trees just started to produce

Clipped wings....the turkeys were flying up to roost at night so Christin and
Dave clipped their wings...

Ma Benner and son Coleman pick the last of the raspberries

Nice baker Russet!

It's like a treasure hunt - complete with plenty of silty loam for the clothes

Few and far between, but the fall Spinach was delicious

Harvesting Cannellini shell beans

Once soaked, these are amazing in soups and stews

Our first Oyster Mushroom emerges from sugar maple log we
inoculated 18 months ago

Baby Shitake!!

A big purple viking potato, sun chokes, and what's that Owen is holding?

What is that Dave?   As it turns out it is an avocado seedling that sprouted from a discarded
pit in our compost pile - tool cool!   It's now in a pot in our kitchen.

The Benners and Campeaus take a break on the old dairy barn wall

Map at recent Farm to Chef event held at the Cooperage in Hoesdale.  We are #5 on the map -
right next to 800 acres of game lands!

The PASA (Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture) farms that provided food for the event....

Deena Benner at the Farm to Chef event at the Cooperage

Thirsty turkeys drink from water dripping from moss mat growing

Dave Benner visits the farm - and catches 4 nice
fall rainbow trout in the Dyberry!
Super cool beetles...metallic blue/black.  Looks like a "good guy"?
Enormous clump of cushion moss with spore heads

Waltham broccoli 

After harvest - "children" emerge

Topping Brussle Sprout plants forces sprouts to develop

Roger's nice block of pop corn

Dave has recently cleared out high tunnel and planted with oats for a cover crop for winter/early spring

As crops finish, we till them in and plant cover crops

Al's deer blind for crossbow hunting

Christin cleans and weighs carrots for market

Red Cored Chantenay Carrots 

Our first Shitake mushrooms - they are INCREDIBLE - when grilled they taste like bacon