Saturday, March 31, 2007
[Be sure to check out Blue Hill's "Food Mission & Philosophy," which states, in part, "Actively reconnecting the farm and the table creates a distinct consciousness...Through our choices of food and ingredients, we -- chefs, waiters, diners - are inescapably active participants in not just eating, but in agriculture. This awareness adds to the pleasure of eating."]
Chef Barber and a number of other chefs are members of a sustainable farm supporter Berkshire Grown. The article covered the 9th Annual "Farm to Table" 'networking event' sponsored by Berkshire Grown.
Always good to hear from the farmgirls in these articles and I wasn't disappointed with a mention of Laura Meister, who owns the beautifully-named CSA "Farm Girl Farm" in North Egremont.
This story is further proof that the next Rock Star may indeed be your local farmer.
As an aside, Virtual Farmgirl had to point out that Farmgirl Laura also produces documentaries and in 2005 was on the road with "Sweet Soil," which featured the Berkshire farm co-op community.
Friday, March 30, 2007
From what I can tell, kits like these from Murray McMurray Hatchery, are great for helping pollinate gardens. My family maintains a significant garden and has a summer roadside business, so we're going to have to check this out.
Here's another great site - Pollinator Paradise - with loads of research and resources for the would-be honeybee hobbyist.
I'm not sure we'd want to get into the honey business, but according to the Agriculture Department there are an estimated 140,000 to 212,000 beekeepers in the U.S., most of them (95 percent) considered "hobbyists" with fewer than 25 hives. More info about this sweet biz from the National Honey Board [Which is yet another good source of info about Colony Collapse Disorder].
For City Farmgirls and those not interested in pollinators, check out these alternative bee kits from one of my favorite green companies, Burt's Bees.
[Photo links to a page featuring the New Mexico Native Bee Pollinator Project.]
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The podcasts explore a range of topics, beginning with a discussion of Colony Collapse Disorder from January, followed by segments exploring possible diseases that might be related to the disappearances, potential economic impact, and interviews of beekeepers about CCD.
A release accompanying the series outlines some of the issues -- agricultural and economic impacts, etc. - and directs readers to the Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium, which maintains a repository of major research and developments concerning CCD.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Indeed, the New York Times reported about the vanishing bees - which have disappeared by the millions - in February. The bee mystery was today's front page news in Chicago, with the Tribune running this story by one of my favorite investigative reporters, Maurice Possley: "Missing Bees Create a Buzz: Whole colonies are vanishing across the country."
Possley traveled to Missoula, Mont., to the offices of Bee Alert Technology Inc., which is investigating what happened to the bees. Besides the loss of honey, the vanishing bees are threatening a $14 billion agricultural industry that relies on pollination, according to the Tribune. The Agriculture Department is going to hold hearings on what experts have dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder this week. [More in an AP story in February.]
Estimates going back decades declare that at least a third of the food we eat is supported by bee pollination. Wow. Something definitely to watch.
We had thought about putting hives on our property. Gotta wonder if there's enough of a bee population to fill the hives. Let's hope so.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
"Of course, as a gardener, I know that bees are beneficial insects. But I never knew I could be cited for Apicide. Bees are the tiny, efficient hinges that our entire agricultural system swings on. Without them our state's farming infrastructure would collapse. In fact, bee keepers have reported a strange disappearance of bees from hives across the country recently and this mysterious die-off is deeply alarming. I thought of the tens of bees that had died at my hands, crushed beneath the glossy pages of a gourmet food magazine and the irony smacked me upside the head. No bees cross-pollinating the almond and fruit trees? Then no almond pear clafouti. It's that simple. I felt a pang of guilt realizing that not only was I endangering our delicate ecosystem, but also the future of desserts everywhere."
The graph links to a February story in the New York Times, "Honeybees Vanish, Leaving Keepers in Peril," about the bees disappearing from dozens of states around the country "at an alarming rate."
[Photo links to a story from the University of California, Riverside, last spring with tips on how to keep bees from choosing to reside in your home.]
Monday, March 26, 2007
Farmgirl Anna Wattenbarger says it's been her dream to keep the family ranch going for her son and grandchildren. The Wattenbargers were paid a grand $585,000 from the California Farmland Conservancy Program to preserve their 200-plus years for agricultural purposes for an indefinite period.
In a release about the easement, Anna says about the land and her farming husband Bill, "We’ve grown all kinds of crops on the land - at various times, cotton, corn, sugar beets, alfalfa and other things. We’ve slowly but surely moved into permanent crops. Bill is semi-retired now. He only works when he wants to. We’re just very happy to know that future generations will be able to farm here, too.”
One conservation trust director is quoted in the Bee saying that it is part of the program's "mission to promote agricultural uses that are consistent with protecting the river. I think you're already seeing the pressure of urbanization spilling into agricultural areas, so we hope more people become interested in conservation easements."Here's another story, in the Madera Tribune, about bees on the Wattenbargers' almond ranch.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
There are some insights into the difficulties in farming on reservation land, which because of divisions in the '50s have left many ranchers with too little land to expand. Another huge hurdle is the lack of water. According to the Daily Times, farmers have switched to raising Beefmaster cattle and piping water to specific portions of the crops to adapt to the arid conditions.
Check out more about water management and ranching in Shiprock in this piece in Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.
Friday, March 23, 2007
The film, "Deep Roots: Legacy of 150-year-old Family Farms," will be screened at the Chicago Cultural Center. Producers hope to have it finished sometime this summer for airing on PBS or some similar venue, the Herald reports.
Among the families featured is the Flanders clan, headed by Tom and Farmgirl Carol Flanders. Their family has been farming the same plot of Kaneville Township land since 1851. It's also one of 28 farms enrolled in an agricultural protection program to protect it from development, according to the paper.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
To conclude the column about the new book, Phil shared this spring perfect recipe for "Not Just Another Carrot Cake."
2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups flaked coconut
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup dark raisins
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups powdered sugar
* Combine sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl.
* Stir in flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt and mix well.
* Fold in carrots, coconut, pineapple, walnuts and raisins.
* Pour batter into a 9-inch-by-13-inch greased and floured baking pan.
* Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 40 minutes before frosting.
* To make frosting, combine all ingredients EXCEPT powdered sugar, blending with electric mixer, then add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Frost cake and keep covered and refrigerated until served. Makes 16 servings.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
There were some cute one-liners in the newsletter. But the best were on the Women in Ag discussion board. Here are of my favorites, from a post published on March 8.
Let's call them the Virtual Farmgirl Top 10:
10. If your name is taped to the side of a cake pan.
9. If the vet's number is on the speed dial of your phone.
8. If your second vehicle is still a pickup.
7. If your husband has ever used field equipment to maintain your yard.
6. If a "night out" involves the local 4-H club.
5. If you've ever washed off each other with a pressure washer.
4. If you can mend a pair of pants and the fence that ripped them.
3. If your tan lines are somewhere below your shoulder and above your elbow.
2. If you have lots of machinery and each piece is worth more than your house.
And the best way to know you're a farm wife is:
1. If the directions to your house include the words, "miles," "silos," "last," or "gravel road."
Sunday, March 18, 2007
The Klatys started out boarding horses, but more recently got into the raw milk business, distributing unpasteurized milk to 50 leaseholders. Part of Business Week's interest is in the problem the Klatys face with expansion of their growing farm...a near impossibility considering their land is constrained by a housing development and a golf course. [BizWeek also reported on raw milk in 2006.]
The family doesn't gross enough from their farming operations for Robb to give up his lawn care business. The magazine quotes Katherine Ozer, executive director of the National Family Farm Coalition, says most family farms rely on one or more family members to work outside the farm.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
The miniature llama-like alpacas are raised for their fleece that is currently a small niche textile business. In the article, Erin says she expects there to be an increase in alpaca farming - enough to support a commercial processing facility. Meanwhile, Erin is working with the North Carolina State University College of Textiles to develop such a commercial processing business model.
[Image is of Cara Blanca, one of the alpacas Erin has for sale...list price? $20,000.]
Thursday, March 15, 2007
According to this piece in the Dickinson Magazine, the 77-year-old Alexander has never lost a case at trial and has maintained a law practice for more than 50 years on Dillsburg, Pa.'s main drag [Image from Dickinson Magazine]. Here's my favorite quote about how her grandfather, a district judge, predetermined her career: “When I was 5 years old, my grandfather said, ‘Jane, you’re going to be a lawyer,’ ” Alexander is quoted saying. “It was decided on that day. He said, ‘We’re going to overlook the fact that you’re female.’”
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
That means women are poised to "shape the future of a farm business," Lynda Brushett, of the Cooperative Development Institute, is quoted saying.
This Agriculturalist article is a teaser for a program coming up this month in Vermont (and later in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire): "Women, Families, Farmland: A Farm Transition Gathering for Vermont Women."
The free programs (funded by the USDA Farm Service Agency) are supposed to help "senior" women figure out how to transition to ownership, pass on their land, "retire comfortably" and "ensure the agricultural future of their farmland."
Monday, March 12, 2007
"This is a simple chicken or egg question, but one that is very important to archaeologists, anthropologists and evolutionary biologists," one of the researchers, Dr. Mark Thomas, is quoted as saying. "We found that the lactose tolerance variant of the lactase gene only became common after dairy farming, which started around 9,000 years ago in Europe."
Image: Women Milking Cows, from Harvest of History.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Thursday, March 8, 2007
So what does this have to do about farming? Well, actually, I landed on Nika's site because she was blogging about Northeast Family Farms, a grass-fed beef operation and the community of artisan farms with "natural" and "organic" products marketed by the 139-year-old Dole and Bailey. Both are great sites, especially if you're in the New England area.
But after clicking through Nika's site, I'm starved.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
The double-platinum troupe is set to open this year's Savannah Music Festival on March 15.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
The site turned me on to this cute nearby farm near Valparaiso, Creme de la Crop. The organic farm was founded by Farmgirl Leann Landgrebe-Stephens in 2003, with the first three acres planted by hand. The farm has grown every year and is venturing into Community Supported Agriculture.
Some of Leann's ups and downs - having to lay off her whole crew during an Indiana drought - are featured in this 2006 piece in Lake Magazine.
Monday, March 5, 2007
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Saturday, March 3, 2007
But Farmgirl Glendora Stump, who owns the farm, questions the health department's findings. Glendora told the York Daily Record that her family regularly drinks the milk and none of them has been sick. "I just feel bad for my customers because they depend on us," she is quoted saying. The dairy apparently provides raw milk to some 250 customers and been in business for 40 years.
The advisory in Pennsylvania came a day after the CDC and FDA issued a joint warning about the dangers of raw milk. A Virtual Farmgirl thanks to the Food Poisoning Law Blog for details about the CDC/FDA warning and tons of info on food-borne illnesses. Here's a Q&A from the joint warning too.
[Photo is of Glendora from a 2004 feature "Old-Fashioned Flavor" in Enzyme University.]
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Virtual Farmgirl content (unless otherwise noted) at Virtual Farmgirl is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at virtual-farmgirl.blogspot.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available here.