October, 2011

1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Well, the contestants of Farmshed CNY’s 1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest have all submitted their entries, and voting has begun. We received 5 submissions by Friday night’s entry deadline of 10pm, and they are all strong contenders.

Voting continues Saturday and Sunday, and ends at 8pm Sunday evening. I hope many readers will take the time to vote for their favorite pumpkins, the 1st and 2nd place contenders will each receive a 15-pound, pasture-raised natural Thanksgiving turkey from our friends at Creekside Meadows Farm in New Woodstock, NY

To vote, go to the Farmshed CNY Facebook page and “Like” one or more of photos submitted on the Farmshed CNY Wall by the contestants themselves, or one or more of the photos included in the album “1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest.” Viewers can vote for one or all of the entries, it’s your choice. While you’re there, I hope that you’ll also “Like” Farmshed CNY and become an active member of our Facebook network. You’re also welcome to post a comment here on the blog.

We’ll announce the winners of the 1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest on Facebook page late Sunday evening, and will again here on Monday.

So, let’s meet the contestants:

1. Jerry Longden, “I Love Creekside Meadows Farm.”

2. Lauren Michel, “New York State Sheaf of Wheat and Eggs.”

3. Jessica Rose Allen’s mom, “Organic.”

4. Jessica Rose Allen, “Buy Local.”

5. Lacey Scriven Cashman, “Eat Local.”


Farmshed CNY’s 1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Fall is officially here, and despite the unsettling fact the some local growers still have heirloom tomatoes on the vine – seriously, what’s up with that? – I’ve accepted the fact that Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner.

Actually, I’ve only reluctantly come to grips with the arrival of autumn, a season I typically adore, because it arrived much too soon after an inexcusably short, difficult summer. My therapist dragged me kicking and screaming to this realization by suggesting that I surround myself with all the familiar symbols of Fall: pumpkins, mums, kitschy Halloween lawn ornaments. I suggested instead decorating the front porch with dead raccoons, of which, like apples, there seems to be a macabre bumper crop this season, but she didn’t get the joke. Not much of a sense of humor, that one.*

In truth, autumn this year has been glorious, with warm, sunny days, moderate rain, and the woods all ablaze with color. So, to embrace Fall to the fullest, and to officially welcome Matt and Tricia Casper Park of Creekside Meadows Farm as Farmshed CNY’s newest business sponsor, I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and show you all some serious love. Of course, since this is Week 2 of the Farmshed 2.0 “Show the Love, Taste the Love” promotional campaign, you’re going to have to show some serious love in return.

Farmshed CNY’s 1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest.
(Hint: not just any carved pumpkin will do, boyo.)

1. The Reward.
To get everyone into the spirit of the season, this week we’re giving away 2-15 pound, natural, pasture-raised turkeys (a $60.00 value, each), from Creekside Meadows Farm, a grass-based farm in New Woodstock, NY. Matt and Tricia Park employ rotational grazing and sustainable farming practices, process their poultry on the farm, and use no herbicides or pesticides. They are master meat producers, and their chickens, turkeys and pork are amazing.

If you’ve never enjoyed a pasture-raised turkey, well, let’s just say you’re in for a treat, assuming you like real food with genuine flavor and texture, because naturally-raised turkeys taste nothing whatsoever like the inbred, industrially farmed, turkey-like food product found in your local supermarket.

2. The Task.

This week’s promotion is a true contest, because we have only 2 turkeys to give away. To participate, you need to carve a “locavore pumpkin,” and post one or more photos of your creation to the Farmshed CNY Facebook page.

By “locavore,” I mean anything that can be broadly but reasonably associated with local farming or food production here in Central New York and the Finger Lakes. I’d love to see a pumpkin carved with “Farmshed CNY” or our logo (see below), but “Buy Local,” “Syracuse First,” “Pride of New York,” “No Farms, No Food,” “Slow Food,” or the name or logo of your favorite farm, farmers market or state, regional or local farming-oriented organization, would work, as would images of livestock or seasonal crops. I trust your imagination, and will err on the side of inclusivity. But I’m not the person you have to convince, because the Farmshed CNY Facebook community will vote on the submitted carvings, and they collectively will select the 1st and 2nd place winners.

So sharpen up your knifes, hone your carving skills, and get creative. You’ll have until 10:00 pm next Friday evening, October 21, to submit your photos, and until 8:00 pm Sunday evening, October 23 to vote for – i.e., “Like” – your favorite submissions.

3. The Details.
a. The Contest begins immediately and will run through 8:00 pm Sunday evening, October 23. Contestants will have until 10:00 pm Friday evening, October 21, to submit one or more photos of their carved locavore pumpkins.

b. Contestants may submit as many different pumpkins as they want, but the submissions must be of pumpkins that they or someone in their immediate household carved – no ringers, please – and individual contestants can win only one of the two available turkeys. In the spirit of fair play, contestants must provide proof on request that they carved and are in physical possession of any pumpkins submitted for the contest, or their submissions will be invalidated.

c. The turkeys will be available some time in early November. The two winning contestants must pick up their turkeys at Creekside Meadows Farm, and make arrangements with Tricia Park as to when the turkeys will be processed and picked up. Anyone living in Central New York or the Finger Lakes (or outside of the region) is welcome to participate, but you must be willing and able to pick up your turkey at the farm, which is in Madison County.

d. Individuals must be 18 years old or older to participate.

e. Viewers may vote for – “Like” – as many carvings as they wish, and may vote as many times as Facebook will allow. If you submit a pumpkin for consideration, vote for it as many times as you can, and get your friends to visit the Farmshed CNY Facebook page and vote for it too. This is a promotional giveaway, so go for it, share the page with your friends, bribe relatives with offers to clear the table and clean up after Thanksgiving dinner, etc., etc. As far as I’m concerned, the more people who visit the Farmshed CNY Facebook page, the better.

d. To be eligible, photos of pumpkins submitted for consideration must be posted to the Farmshed CNY Facebook Wall. If for some reason you post one or more photos and they do not appear on the Wall, attach the photos to an email and send them to me at info@farmshedcny.com. In addition to posting the photos to the Wall, I will create a Facebook Photo Album titled “1st Annual Locavore Pumpkin Carving Contest,” and will periodically update and repost the album to our Wall.

e. In case I’ve forgotten something important, or my lawyer strokes out because I omitted some critical legal disclaimer, I reserve the right to revise the terms of this contest at any time, for any reason whatsoever, and without prior notice, or to cancel the contest altogether.

*I’m not actually seeing a therapist – “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Nor am I a “food pornographer” (see last week’s  “Show the Love, Taste the Love” blog entry). I just can’t resist a bit of artistic license every now and then, especially when it comes to indulging my warped sense of humor.


Show the Love, Taste the Love, Week 1: Critz Farms Maple Syrup

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Momma always said I’d turn out bad. “Son, you gonna be a criminal, or a pornographer.”* Turns out you were right, momma, but not like you thought. See, I’m a food pornographer. A hardcore local food slut. I just can’t get enough. Look at the sweet, moist flesh of that organic Honeycrisp apple from Adams Acres; that silky smooth organic yogurt from Maple Hill Creamery – YEOW! WOWZA! WATCH OUT NOW! – and that sinfully delicious maple syrup from Critz Farms – OH LORD! PLEASE HELP ME! I CAN’T HELP MYSELF!

So, you want some of this?

Today marks the kickoff of our Show the Love, Taste the Love promotional campaign for Farmshed 2.0, our newly released web app. We’re giving away awesome good eats all month, into November, maybe longer. Straight up for real. Real food from local farms; awesome, shut-your-mouth products from local businesses and food producers; maybe even gift certificates from some of the region’s top locavore restaurants. Ridiculously good stuff.

But there’s a catch.

You’ve got to show us some love. Show us the love, and we’ll taste the love back at you. Week after week, until all the swag is gone. We’re trading local farms and food producers ad space in Farmshed 2.0 in exchange for their products, and as long as they keep trading, we’re gonna keep the promotion going.

Here’s what you’ve got to do.

Each week, by that Friday (hopefully sooner), we’re going to announce that week’s task. It might be something as easy as sharing the Farmshed CNY Facebook page with your friends, or uploading a photo or video of yourself at a local farm or business. Or maybe you’ll have to a carve a pumpkin with the words “Grow Local” or “Farmshed” and send us a photo, or bust a rhyme about how much you love local food. Pride of New York, baby, represent!

Week 1. The Task.

Go to the Farmshed CNY Facebook page, “Like” the page if you haven’t already done so, and “Share” the Farmshed CNY Facebook page with your peeps by 10:00pm this Sunday evening, October 9 – the “Share” button is located on the left sidebar beneath “Likes.” Make sure to include an active link – @Farmshed CNY – in your message, so it shows up on our Wall. If yours is one of the first 30 posts to show up on our Wall, you get a reward, maple syrup from Critz Farms in Cazenovia. If you’re number 31, no promises, but we’ll see what we can do.

The Reward.

A 100ml bottle of Critz Farms’ Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup, made on their farm from their own sugarbush.

Fair enough, right? But this week, because we’re rolling out the campaign, there’s also a Bonus Task. Upload a photo of yourself displaying the Farmshed 2.0 homepage on your smartphone, PC or tablet to our Facebook page (in addition to liking/sharing our Facebook page), and we’ll upgrade your reward to a 1/2 pint of maple syrup.

We’ll notify this week’s winners by posting a note or message on your Facebook page. If you live in the Syracuse area, we can arrange to drop off your reward or for you to pick it up during the week at Critz Farms. Otherwise, we’ll mail it to you once we get your address. We’re not culling or selling your data or doing anything uncool with it, we’ll just need an address to mail you your reward.

If you have any questions or want to contact us, shoot us an email at info[AT]farmshedcny[DOT]com.

Remember, if you miss out on this week’s reward, we’ll be giving away something just as awesome next week, and the week after that, and the week after that…


Legal Stuff.

1. You need to be 18 years old or older to participate. We’re not 100% sure about this, but it probably will make our lawyer happy, and we like our lawyer.

2. You need to be a resident of the United States, preferably a resident of Central New York or the Finger Lakes region. Sorry, but postage is expensive, and we’re cheap.

*Actually, my mom is a very sweet Jewish lady from Brooklyn – BROOKLYN! – who always thought I’d be an orthopedic surgeon. Sorry mom, for the first of many disappointments. Love you!


Lune Chocolat: The Dark (Chocolate) Arts Come to Manlius.

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Life, lately, has been nothing like a box of chocolates. More accurately, it’s been a box full of sharp, pointy things, painful to the touch. Fortunately, however, chocolate – meaning really good, high quality chocolate – remains a readily accessible, reasonably priced antidote to life’s difficulties;  and, when it is really, really good, it remains a thing of mystery and marvel.

A storefront filled with delicious mystery and marvel opened two weeks ago in Manlius, with the arrival of Lune Chocolat. Co-owned and operated by husband and wife Michael Woloszyn and Emily Wrisley Woloszyn, Lune Chocolat specializes in handmade, small-batch, artisanal chocolates made from natural, and if available, locally sourced ingredients.

What, you ask, is natural chocolate? It is chocolate made from naturally grown cacao beans, in this case cacao fino de aroma beans grown without pesticides or the use of chemicals by small family farmers in Columbia, which are then processed into couverture chocolate using 100% cocoa butter and natural vanilla.

Along with this natural chocolate, which Mike and Emily selected after testing a number of fine chocolates, including Callebaut, Lune Chocolat chocolates are made with a natural, non-corn-based glucose syrup, heavy cream from Byrne Dairy, and a range of locally sourced special ingredients, including pretzels from Terrell’s, bacon from Creekside Meadows Farm (for a forthcoming Bacon Maple Cream chocolate), and chilis from G & M Farms in Morrisville.

Mike and Emily also use Guinness Stout for their Stout and Pretzel chocolate, and Glenlivet whisky for a single-malt, single-origin chocolate currently in the works, which will be made from cacao beans grown in the Tumaco region of Columbia. Single-origin chocolates, I am told, represent the unique climate and geography, or terroir, of the region where the beans are grown, making them the chocolate equivalent of vineyard-designated wines.

There’s a good deal of mystery in the story of how Lune Chocolat came to be. Mike works in the pharmaceutical industry, and stumbled on the idea of opening an artisanal chocolate shop when completing his MBA at Syracuse’s University’s Whitman School of Business. Intending originally to launch a line of environmentally friendly running clothes for women, Mike’s professor advised him to “do it on chocolate,” when he and his thesis partner could not agree on a topic.

Emily’s path to becoming a chocolatier is no less marvelous. A former surgical tech at Community Hospital, and a gifted silversmith who makes sterling jewelry, Emily became Lune Chocolat’s resident chocolatier after taking a course on chocolates at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.

Lune Chocolat’s chocolates are not something to indulge in everyday, or to eat by the bagful. Nor should they be. The first time I tasted one of their chocolates I was caught off-guard by its unexpectedly deep, complex flavors. Like most of life’s finer things, this is chocolate that invites serious contemplation rather than mindless consumption.

The real mystery and marvel of Lune Chocolat, than, – beyond the fact that it is located in Manlius – is that it reminds us that life does not have to be a box of chocolates to be worth living. Indeed, in this brave new world of Post- or Peak- everything, where the byword of the day is to live sustainably, and better, with less, the analogy of a box of chocolates seems outdated, and overdue for reformulation. Life is, and should be, like a piece of chocolate: a really, really good piece.

Lune Chocolat is located at 315 Fayette Street Suite 5, Manlius, NY 13104. Their hours are: Tuesday – Friday, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm; Saturday, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, Closed Sunday and Monday. Their telephone number is 315-692-4173.