September, 2010

“Farmshed-to-Table” Harvest Dinner, Creekside Meadows Farm, Tully, NY, Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Here’s an update on this Sunday’s Farmshed harvest dinner at Creekside Meadows Farm. Chef Abigail’s new menu and the list of participating farms and food providers are detailed below. We still have 3-4 seats available.  This is going to be seriously fun and delicious, so I hope you will join us. Contact me at neil@farmshedcny if you want to reserve seats or for more information.

Farmshed CNY is pleased to announce our first “Farmshed-to-Table” Harvest Dinner, Sunday, October 3, from 5:00 to 7:30 PM at Creekside Meadows Farm. Chef Abigail Henson, winner of the Vegetarian Times 2010 Chef Challenge, will prepare the menu using ingredients from Creekside Meadows and other local farms and food producers. Wines will be provided by Red Newt Cellars, and hard cider will be provided by Beak & Skiff Apple Farm.

The dinner is $45.00 per person and seating is limited to 24 guests. Please e-mail me at neil@farmshedny.com to reserve seating or for additional information. Payment must be received prior to the dinner to reserve seating, and can be made by check or PayPal.

Menu:

Hors d’oeuvres
Farmhouse Cheddar/Hard Cheeses and Artisanal Breads

Soup Shooter
Autumn Squash and Carmelized Pear Soup

1st Course:
Harvest Cobb Salad with Spicy Greens, Heirloom Tomatoes, Grilled Sweet Corn, Farmhouse Bacon and Shredded Turnip, with Creamy Horseradish Dressing.

2nd Course:
Roasted Chicken and Rainbow Chard Cocotte with Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower

3rd Course:
Apple Tart and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

The menu is subject to change without notice depending on the availability of seasonal produce. Weather permitting, there will also be a short farm tour before the dinner.

To learn more about Creekside Meadows Farm, please visit their website at: www.creeksidemeadowsfarm.com. Ours thanks to Tricia Caspar Park and Matt Park at Creekside Meadows Farm for hosting this event; David Whiting of Red Newt Cellars for providing the wines; and all the other participating farmers and food producers:

Anna’s Rose Hill Flowers, Skaneateles
Beak and Skiff Apple Farm, Lafayette
Critz Farms, Cazenovia
Circa Bistro & Market, Cazenovia
Creekside Meadows Farm, Tully
Daily Harvest Farm, Marcellus
Gianforte Farm, Cazenovia
Green Hills Market, Syracuse
Lively Run Goat Farm, Interlaken
Neil Casey’s Farm Market, Tully
Quarry Brook Farms, Sherburne
Red Newt Cellars, Hector
Tim’s Pumpkin Patch, Marietta
Wake Robin Farm, Jordan
Wyllie Fox Farm, Cato

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Adams Acres, NY’s First Organic U-Pick Orchard

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Adams Acres, a new organic U-Pick apple orchard, opened last weekend in Jamesville, just south of Syracuse, and currently has organic Honeycrisps and Spartas, both sweet eating varieties, and Liberty, a tart cooking apple, for sale.

I stopped by Adams Acres last Sunday and toured the orchard with owner and farmer Bill Adams. Bill’s orchard is small, about 2 1/2 acres, and although the trees are only 3 years old they were heavy with large, beautiful organic apples.

Bill previously managed Emmi & Son’s in Baldwinsville before moving on to a different career. Adams Acres marks a return to his roots, and to farming in Central New York. Once Adams Acres receives NOFA-NY certification, which should occur sometime next year, it will be the first certified organic U-Pick farm in New York State.

As Bill and I toured the orchard, our conversation ranged from trellising and other management techniques to the use of Surround®, a relatively new pest control spray made from kaolin, a natural clay, that deters insects from damaging the fruit. Surround offers New York apple growers a powerful new tool for managing pests, and may persuade other farmers to switch from Integrated Pest Management to organic farming.

Adams Acres is located at 7047 Sevier Road between Route 91 and Sweet Road. They are open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 AM to 5 PM until early-to-mid October.

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Harvest Dinner, Creekside Meadows Farm, Sunday, October 3

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Farmshed CNY is pleased to announce our first “Farmshed-to-Table” Harvest Dinner, Sunday, October 3, from 5:00 to 7:30 PM at Creekside Meadows Farm in Tully, NY. Chef Abigail Henson, former sous chef at Elderberry Pond, will prepare the menu using ingredients from Creekside Meadows and other local farms and food producers. Wines will be provided by Red Newt Cellars.

The dinner is $45.00 per person and seating is limited to 20 guests. Please email me at neil@farmshedcny.com to reserve seating or for additional information. Creekside Meadows Farm is located at 2113 State Route 11A in Tully, which is just off Route 20 in LaFayette. Click here for a map view.

Menu:

Hors d’ouvres
Local Farmhouse Cheddar/Hard Cheeses and Artisanal Breads

Soup Shooter
Curried Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

1st Course: App
Trio of Root Mash
Purple Potatoes (garnished with clove of roasted garlic)
Sweet Potatoes (garnished with sweet corn kernels)
Turnips/Parsnips (garnished with bacon crumbles)

2nd Course: Entree
Roasted Chicken Breast on Bed of Rainbow Chard with Roasted Cauliflower and Maple-Glazed Brussel Sprouts

3rd Course: Dessert
Apple Tart with Vanilla Bean Cardamom Ice Cream

The menu is subject to change without notice depending on the availability of seasonal produce. There will also be a short farm tour before the dinner.

To learn more about Creekside Meadows Farm, please visit their website. Ours thanks to Tricia Caspar Park and Matt Park at Creekside Meadows Farm for hosting this event; David Whiting of Red Newt Cellars for providing the wines; Heather Hawkins of Green Hills Market for supplying the artisanal breads, and all the other participating farmers and food producers.

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Organic Apples in Central NY: A Bit(e) of Information

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

A number of people recently have asked me if there are any organic apple growers in Central New York. The question caught me a bit off guard, in part because my thinking over the past year has moved away from organic farming to the benefits of buying locally and sustainably grown fruits and vegetables.

The question of whether there are organic apple growers in Central New York, however, is perfectly valid. The simple answer is that there are a few, but not many organic growers in the region, for reasons I will explain below. I hope to investigate and publish a more extensive list of organic orchards in the near future. In the mean time, however, I know of at least three organic apple growers in Central New York: Mizrahi Manor Farm in Norwich, which employs organic methods but is not certified organic; Daring Drake Farm in Interlaken, which is a NOFA-NY “Farmers Pledge Farm,” and Hemlock Grove Farm in West Danby, which has been certified organic since 1988.

I spoke earlier this morning with Robin Mizrahi of Mizrahi Manor Farm, and our conversation was instructive about the many problems Central New York farmers face growing organic apples. First, the Mizrahis operate a small, diversified farm that produces fruit, vegetables, free-range eggs, and pasture-raised poultry, beef and pork, as well as honey and maple syrup, so unlike an apple orchard they do not rely economically on a single product. Second, they harvest a small number of organic apples from 100 year old trees planted on the farm by the original owners, which presumably are an ungrafted, full size, native species (most orchards now employ grafting and plant “dwarf” varieties).

Why so few organic orchards? The answer lies primarily in the environmental challenges New York farmers face in growing salable fruit. Unlike Washington State and other areas west of the Rockies, which are much drier that the East Coast, Central New York apple growers have to contend with high humidity, which encourages a range of fungi, scabs, mildews, blights, rusts, and rots, as well as with 60 different types of insects. The majority of New York fruit farmers, accordingly, practice what is known Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which combines the limited use of conventional synthetic sprays with sustainable farming practices to manage, rather than fully eradicate, these insects and diseases.

Consumers, moreover, still expect perfect fruit. While the market has slowly come to accept that “ugly” field-grown, heirloom tomatoes taste better than picture-perfect hothouse and conventionally grown varieties, most of us still envision large, flawless fruit when we think of apples. Organic apples, Robin Mizrahi pointed out, are smaller, more prone to skin discolorations, and more expensive than conventionally grown apples.

The compound benefits of supporting local food production, alternately, argues for the value of purchasing locally grown apples over organic fruit imported from Washington State, even if these apples are grown using IPM or conventional methods. I’m not suggesting that folks abandon a commitment to buy organic, simply that the relative benefits of organic versus local are worth considering. To get a good sense of the issues involved in the “organic versus local” debate, check out this 2007 article by John Cloud in Time Magazine, titled “Eating Better than Organic.”

Mizrahi Manor Farm has not yet harvested their organic apples and says once harvest begins organic apples will only be available for a few weeks. They sell at the Sidney (Tuesday), Chenango County (Wednesday), Earlville (Friday) and Hamilton (Saturday) Farmers Markets.

Your best bet for purchasing organic apples, accordingly, is to visit the Ithaca Farmers Market (Tuesday, Saturday), where both Daring Drake Farm and Hemlock Grove Farm sell their produce. In addition to the Ithaca Farmers Market, Daring Drake Farm operates a fruit stand at the farm, located at 7726 Rock River Road in Interlaken, from September 1 to October 31 (they suggest you call ahead to check on availability). The Greenstar Cooperative Market in Ithaca also carries organic apples from Hemlock Grove Farm.

For further information on organic apple farming and the problems facing New York apple growers, check out:

“A future for organic apple farming in the Northeast” (Rodale Institute)

A Grower’s Guide to Organic Apples (Cornell University)

Organic and Low-Spray Apple Production (ATTRA – National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service)

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