Facts from the Farm: Food Safety

By Ron Eichner

Hi Folks! With the rising temperatures and increasing of gatherings, I would like to discuss the topic of food safety.
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Local Farms

Clarion River Organics is a cooperative of 12 horsepowered family farms working together near Clarion, PennaMost of the families are Amish, and all of our farms are certified organic and strive to maintain healthy soils as their main means of pest and disease control. Since we have multiple farms working together, we are able to offer a wide selection of produce over an extended season. Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a way for you to connect with the farms and farmers that grow your food. At its most basic level, a CSA involves subscribing to a portion of a farm or cooperative’s harvest for a given season, but it’s about a lot more than just the produce. We consider our CSA to be the best expression of the mission and vision of our cooperative and joining it as the best way for people to connect to that mission–and to enjoy a bit of agrarian life in their wider community. Our popular CSA serves Pittsburgh, Erie, and rural Northwestern Pennsylvania. In addition to certified organic produce, the farms now also offer organic grains, pastured meats and jarred specialty products. In addition to subscribing to our CSA, you can find our produce at Whole Foods Market, the East End Food Cooperative, Sunny Bridge Natural Foods, Erie Whole Foods Cooperative as well as several Pittsburgh restaurants.  [Read more…]

Buying Local

Buying Local-1By Ryan C. Meyer

In this fast-paced world, time has become one of the most precious commodities. A day’s hours are few and its stresses many. To fit our tight schedules, speed and efficiency are favored while quality seems to be pushed aside. Massive industries meet our demands with cheap merchandise and fast food, but are we making the right demands? [Read more…]

Local Farms in Pennsylvania: Growing Quality and Service

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By Marianne Reid Anderson

Why shouldn’t you tell secrets on the farm? Because the corn has ears, the potatoes have eyes and the bean stalks. Our local farms and multi-generational families of farmers are not just hard-workers but they are also full of creativity, homespun goodness, and deep-rooted values. In this, our second look at local farms in our area, we are proud to bring you further insight to these amazing places and the people dedicated to bringing us the bounty of the earth. [Read more…]

Sowing, Tending and Savoring Spring

By Ryan C. Meyer

 Each season has its own appeal, its own possibilities. As winter draws to a close, the time for cold noses warming in the steam of hot chocolate gives way to a more inviting outdoors. A winter landscape is beautiful but the biting cold that accompanies it, is much less appealing. Spring brings a renewal of life, a surge of color, and the warmth to enjoy it. To not take part in the season’s splendor would be folly.

Sowing SpringGetting out in the elements and immersing yourself in nature is one of the best ways to actively enjoy the changing of seasons. If we are only appreciating the world through a window, we are four senses short of a full experience. Each of our senses wants in on the action. There are a plethora of activities that come with the warmer weather, but none exemplify Spring quite so much as gardening.

Everywhere, flowers and leaves emerge from buds and life wakes from its winter rest. The cycle has begun once more and we too must come out of our homes to stretch our limbs. What better way to do so than to touch knees and shovel to soil in an activity that brings rewards throughout the year? Unlike other springtime endeavors, the satisfaction that comes with cultivating a garden does not end when the day is done. After planting, one has the pleasure of witnessing its growth, harvesting and enjoying its fruits. There is, of course, the task of maintaining the garden but it is possible to find enjoyment in that as well.

Even though there is great satisfaction in initiating a long-considered project, digging in the dirt, and absorbing the year’s first warm air; the goal and most rewarding part of the garden is the harvest. While there is quite a bit of time between planting and harvesting, the wait is well worth it. The foods you plant are obviously ones that you will enjoy, but there is a special fulfillment that comes from homegrown produce not found anywhere else.

Rather than just exchanging a few dollars for a single serving, you have put passion, time and effort into growing something you will savor—this food will be something you have grown and anticipated for months and you will get out of it what you put in. Witnessing and participating in the creation of what you eat brings about feelings of great appreciation. With all of today’s health concerns, there is also something to be said for knowing where your food comes from. Even if not a major concern, there is always peace of mind to be found in  knowing how few hands have touched the produce before it comes to your kitchen.

If starting a garden is something you have ever considered, I strongly encourage it. For the price of a couple vegetables from the grocery store, one can get a packet of seeds that will produce many times that (and of a much more appealing variety). The most challenging part may be finding space for one. To this I can only say that you don’t have to go “all in.” Even if you don’t have enough space for a full-sized garden, you can still get a taste of what it’s like with a few plants or even a window-box herb garden. Since we have four unique seasons, I think that it is important to get involved with each of them, and there are few places tied as closely to Spring as a garden.