Friday, December 4, 2015

SHF 1848


It seems hard to comprehend that we have been able to keep farming our micro farm and maintain the young farmers enthusiasm for the past number of growing seasons. The pressure of offering a CSA and staying true to the farmers conviction of delivering fresh goods week after week despite all Mother Nature driven obstacles became an annual mental challenge.

The entire family has developed a unique understanding of our foods place in society and the unfortunate fact that the majority of the public has virtually no comprehension of the herculean effort and dedication required to bring food to the table.

Our oldest was able to capture visually what is a consequential bonus of growing up on the small farm. She has captured the ramshakled essence of the farm property that she and her siblings experienced while growing up.

We started this blog years ago and simply titled it, Schoolhouse Farms Learning and Growing. So even as we are changing course and stepping out of the CSA aspect of the business stayed tune as yet another chapter unfolds at SHF1848 still learning and growing

Potato planting from hole to row!


The potato as humble as it gets in the vegetable family but as popular and versatile as any. Consequently we are big fans of these tubers and after years of trials and experimenting with numerous varieties we finally settled on what works best for us and is delicious regardless how it is prepared.

300 pounds of seed potatoes arrived yesterday, well actually 250 pounds was delivered with an additional 50 floating around on a delivery truck. In years past the farmer picked up her handy shovel and proceeded to dig a hole every 2 feet.  Up to 500 holes! This Mother’s Day tradition was slow painful and deserving of revision for sure.

Wing plow opening up the rows
During one particularly dry spring the ground simply would not yield to the shovel and the tiller bounced more then it dug in. Scratching our heads and feeling more then a little defeated we set about to find a remedy. Not being a large enough operation to invest in the full on potato planter we needed to find some economical as well as functional solution.

The results of our determination was the purchase of a small wing blade plow that hooked on to the rear of our tiller to open up a trough that we could drop the seed potatoes in. It was a simple effective, labor saving and when timed properly an end to the Mother’s Day tradition.
Dropping seed potatoes in the rows




All 300 pounds (about 2500 holes) were planted by 2 adults in under 4 hours...the last 50 pounds were delivered right on cue as we had just finished planting the 250 pounds. When we ventured down for a cool drink of water the delivery had been made. Nine 250 foot rows of potatoes. Learning, Sowing and Growing!
The still laborious method of covering, in definite need of an overhaul

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Agrarian Feast of Heirlooms


The agrarian feast of heirloom tomatoes and other delicious finds from the farm last weekend was terrific. The dream of such an event has long been on our minds. This season, although far from perfect,  the quantity and variety of heirlooms tomatoes was sufficient to share the bounty with friends and family. The harvest was at a level we were comfortable that it would sufficiently showcase our passion for the heirloom tomato. The actual plan to host the feast of heirloom tomatoes for the Labor Day weekend developed quickly. The last minute invites were sent off with only a few days prior to the event. The responses came back quickly and the stage was set for a dinner of 35 in the one room 
schoolhouse at schoolhouse farms





The menu was created with a pretty good idea of what was available to harvest in the field. It included a handsome sampling of what were growing and the challenge of preparing and producing the menu began in earnest the morning of the event, chopping, slicing, dicing, roasting, toasting, simmering, pureeing, straining, washing, rinsing, tossing and arranging. The pace was steady and pretty much non-stop from 8 AM until service began at 6:30 PM. The counters and tables began to fill with bowls, plates and platters heaping and dressed then whisked to the waiting guests.


The dinner started with appetizers including tomatoes salsa, traditional salsa, tomato jam, pepper jelly, and roasted tomato soup as well as host of other delicious bites. The main course that followed was a steady parade of color and flavor that were a feast for the senses. Orange tomato mozzarella salad, platters of large sliced heirlooms, ratatouille, puttanesca sauce with riccioli pasta, yellow Tomato onion butter parsley sauce with orechette, stuffed black cherry tomatoes, grilled zucchini, radicchio with onion olive oil and rice vinegar, heirloom lettuce with tomato vinaigrette, oven dried black plum tomatoes with rosemary chicken on fettuccini, beef oregano meatballs and pork sage meatballs with san marzano red sauce, and heirloom tomato tarts. Wine flowed freely and the laughter and merriment swelled, as did the waistlines.

The event has passed school has resumed friends have returned home, but the smells, sounds and colors remained etched in our memories with the fervent hope to repeat it all again next Labor Day weekend.










Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Togo Trifle seeds grown saved and harvested at SHF1848

The Togo Trifle a tomato story It was never a part of the Schoolhouse Farmers plan to become custodians and as it appears pretty much the sole source for the Togo Trifle tomato seed. The seeds for these cute little red ribbed tomatoes were initially ordered 15 years ago from a small seed company (Shepherd Seeds or Cook’s Garden, we can’t really pin it down with so many catalogs and so many seeds) The farm at that point wasn’t saving seeds as it was in it’s infancy and was pretty much just caught up in sourcing unique heirlooms tomatoes and doggedly focused on attempting to grow a crop in a region far to challenging to make a harvest an even bet. The Togo Trifle was the darling of Schoolhouse Farms early tomato trials. It was so darn cute with great flavor a beautifully stylish and photogenic little tomato. Winter is when the planning begins and orders for the spring season are started. After scouring piles of seed catalogs the Farmers were unable to find a single source for the Togo Trifle tomato, apparently it was no longer offered for sale by a seed company. Undeterred and buried under a blanket of snow the Farmers continued the search for a source and after considerable effort found a package of 20 seeds for sale by a seed saver for what was considered an absurd amount. Several more weeks past before the frugal farm opted to make the investment. Fast-forward to the following spring. The Farm’s seeds have been started and germination is solid overall for the 100’s of starts fighting for attention. The Togo’s suffered a little neglect and sunburn during hardening off and as a result the 20 seeds became two seedlings. These plants were babied and protected until they produced in an effort to protect the frivolous seed expenditure. The time had arrived to learn how to save seeds. The years of farming have continued and with each season Schoolhouse farms transplants hundreds of Togo Trifle starts to the field from the very seeds the farm has grown and saved. In fact we have actually sent seeds back Africa, the very source of these wondrous tomatoes, as they too no longer had a reliable seed stock from which to continue the harvest. For the first time we are offering these coveted seeds for sale to the public. The SHF Farmers

another bucket ready to made into SHF1848 Quince Jam

Togo Trifle

Togo Trifle
Heirloom Tomato seeds

Red Metamorph

Red Metamorph
Marigold SHF1848

noble turnips

noble turnips

Togo Trifles

Togo Trifles

Quince

Quince
The start of something good!

New Project SHF1848 farm kitchen Click the picture

New Project SHF1848 farm kitchen Click the picture
click to see the start of a transformation to a farm kitchen

tender white turnips

tender white turnips

Pages

“Fabas indulcet fames”

(Hunger sweetens the bean)

SHF-1848 Heirloom Tomatoes

SHF-1848 Heirloom Tomatoes
Good & Local

Heirloom Tomatoes for a October Snack

Heirloom Tomatoes for a October Snack
Late but not forgotten..simply the best

Heirlooms

Better then a bird in the hand

Better then a bird in the hand
So Ugly So Good 2011

so ugly so good

Rose Gold

Rose Gold
ready for our CSA shares

Water is key

Water is key
Hand watering slow but steady and life saving

Tractor training

Tractor training
Sit..Stay..Good Deere!

Click on the Honey man to see the harvest

Click on the Honey man to see the harvest
Raw Honey SHF-1848

A single Cherished Heirloom Tomato for 2009! Seasons like the past two will test a farms endurance

A single Cherished Heirloom Tomato for 2009! Seasons like the past two will test a farms endurance
What a long strange trip it's been! We are not going to let a little blight, cold and wet keep us from farming!

Bee Balm

Bee Balm
Pretty with a hint of blue

Help maintain Registered National Historic Schoolhouse a rural agrarian treasure

Hosta in Bloom

Hosta in Bloom
Beauty so close!

Inspiration

My Box

By Brahm Douglas Malcolm

My box is a ship
My box is a plane
My box is a race car
My box is a rocket
My box is
A secret
home for me

My sisters say
“Just give it away”
My sisters say
“Let’s throw it away”
My sisters say….

I don’t want to listen
My sisters are too old to see
My sisters are not
At all like me

BCS

BCS
Farms best friend

The benefit of moisture

The benefit of moisture
Swiss Chard

Followers

Schoolhouse farmer and one in training

Schoolhouse farmer and one in training
ready to plant the peas

The lil Deere

The lil Deere
Micro-farming

The Heart Spud

The Heart Spud

Schoolhouse Farms @LocalHarvest

Schoolhouse Farms @LocalHarvest
Schoolhouse Farms @LocalHarvest

Black Currants

Black Currants
Click to link to NYT article on Currants

What dreams may come

What dreams may come

Borodino Market

Borodino Market
For imformation about the Borodino market Click on the schoolhouse to visit the Borodino Market Blog

Schoolhouse Farms

A must see if you like it "Green"

A must see if you like it "Green"
check out "Truck Farm"

Visits

Favorite flower

Favorite flower
Sea of flowers

Follow us

Follow Familyfarmers on Twitter

Dancing among the flowers

Dancing among the flowers

The veggies have had enough rain for July

The veggies have had enough rain for July
all they need now is a little sun & heat!

Two inches of rain are a mixed blessing

Two inches of rain are a mixed blessing
Mud results from too much of a good thing

Seeking Rays

Rain Rain go away
the Schoolhouse Farmer needs to play
Digging the mud is not much fun
to seed what has been left undone
The farm is seeking rays of sun
so the planting season can be considered done!

Now about that Forecast

That perfect stretch of weather we enjoyed during the middle of April 2009 should have really made us pause and take note. The Finger Lakes region just doesn’t escape paying the piper for perfect sunny days that allow access to the dirt early. And so it goes with the conclusion of June and the start of July. Rain, lots of it, buckets of it, fields full of it. Days filled with unrelenting clouds insisting on unburdening themselves several times a day and preventing the Schoolhouse farmers from completing the task of planting.

Fortunately the majority of the 2009 crop had been planted, and some of it seems to be growing well. However some that have been inundated by the overly generous rainfall seem to be in a state of suspended animation not growing nor dying, just sort of being. They all appear a little jaundice due to the loss of nutrients from the soil. We hope the sun will revive them and things will begin anew. Come on beans kick in! We’ve got loyal fans waiting for you!

We remember the 2008 season when the cracked dry earth of June had us all concerned that a drought was imminent, but then gave way to the soaking weeks of July which nearly drowned the heirloom tomatoes and caused equal concern.

At Schoolhouse Farms we believe we have had enough heavy precipitation and the weather needs to transition to the dry side, although we know if that happens it will prompt the whispers of we could use just a little more. Farmers we are just never satisfied.

rain art

rain art

The Real Schoolhouse Farmer

The Real Schoolhouse Farmer
you should really know your Farmer

The buds of Borodino Blackberries

The buds of Borodino Blackberries
Tasty Becky jam to follow soon!

Heirloom Tomato plant Sale

Heirloom Tomato plant Sale
Grown at Schoolhouse FArms

Rolling out or getting rolled over

Rolling out or getting rolled over
All hands on deck

Young Schoolhouse Farmers

Young Schoolhouse Farmers
Planting and protecting the crops

Mulch layed by hand

Mulch layed by hand
That's a lot of work Thanks Kristina! A dirty job well done!

The Mulch Fairy

The Mulch Fairy
Rolling Rolling Rolling

Grape leaf

Grape leaf
An old grape vine with a new leaf May 09

Tiny Togo Trifle

Tiny Togo Trifle
heirloom tomatoes begin to sprout

How to build a hole

How to build a hole
0nly 499 more to go

the first of 500

the first of 500
Planning for potatoes

Low carbon footprint mulching

Low carbon footprint mulching
Warm for April!

Rhubarb

Rhubarb
First year

Young Vine

Young Vine
Vineyard in training

Foods you should embrace

Foods you should embrace
Good Food Good Living

Morel's Young Foodie Blog

Morel's Young Foodie Blog
Flavors that capture youths heart

A Budding Author Finn stories

A Budding Author Finn stories
She writes them cause she likes them

Playing in the Dirt, or Soil-Borne Wellness

In The News: Playing in the Dirt, or Soil-Borne Wellness
Psychology Today magazine has an article about gardenings physical and psycholocial health benefits, but with a new component. Apparently researchers found that gardening exposes people to soil-borne microbes called Mycobacterium vaccae that can stimulate their immune systems. The same microbes also boost the levels serotonin in mice, much like prozac and other antidepressants. Some researchers think that depriving children from playing in the dirt may have led to the recent rise in immune disorders, including asthma. Daniel Marano writes for Psychology Today that "As science digs deeper into understanding the effects of bacteria on human health, and especially on the immune system, it looks increasingly like ingesting components of the soil itself might be as critical to human health as the very finest fruits and veggies grown in it.
In 2007, University of Colorado neuroscientist Christopher Lowry, thenworking at Bristol University in England, made a startling discovery. Hefound that certain strains of soil-borne mycobacteria sharply stimulated thehuman immune system. The very same bacteria also boosted serotonin levels inthe brains of mice."

Best person to know if you don't have a tractor

Best person to know if you don't have a tractor
Roger

Table grapes

Table grapes
From New York

Life is better dirty

Life is better dirty
Healthy Dirt

Happy Camper

Happy Camper
Arm loads of Sunflowers bursting with color at Schoolhouse Farms above Skaneateles Lake

Kevin's Bees

Kevin's Bees
Mr Anderson your Bees are key! Try the honey please!

The Sunflower Harvest 2008

The Sunflower Harvest 2008
Catching rays of Sun as the farmer's arms are piled high with the cheerful Sunflowers

The bees are busy gathering honey

The bees are busy gathering honey
Our Beekeeper Kevin checking the health of the bees

Winter on the Farm….or life of the Shovel

Winter on the Farm….or life of the Shovel

Richard Malcolm

Equipment is a necessary component for any farm operation regardless the size. The ability to be self reliant when it comes to keeping things in greased grooves is equally important when it comes to maintenance and repair. Alternatively you can abandon technology and revert to low tech. This would be applauded as the greenest approach by many and nostalgic by some.

In the fall of 2007 the snow descended early, the ancient but up to that point incredibly reliable 3rd hand John Deere snow-blower failed to kick over and to this day remains parked as garden art. At the peak of the 2008 harvest the small garden tractor we have relied on for years to do far more then mow grass developed some serious issues. As quickly as one issue would be addressed another one would arise until the issues quickly out weighted the speed of repair and the financial feasibility so consequently the unit was retired to join the John Deere. We have been forced by circumstance to revert to manual methods for not just the winter months but for the fore seeable future.

The art of shoveling ones driveway is an exercise in patience as well as the laws of physics. It is an incredibly peaceful event and offers liberal cardio vascular benefit. If you have a driveway of sufficient size the event can be expanded to include all members of the family. We purchased a half dozen snow-shovels last season and when the snow fall is copious we distribute them to the clan to make short work of the horseshoe shaped drive. We are always amused by the look of disbelief on the faces of passersby, and grateful to the plow drivers who lift their blades at the driveways edge so not to rebury what we have painstakingly removed.

Exercise and family bonding opportunities are limited in much of the winter primarily to indoor activities, and often this closeness can lead to controversy if it happens to frequently, thus the outdoor options presents a welcome change. A little fresh air, a little stimulating physical activity combined with ample room for conversation culminating with a hot cup of tea when the task is complete make it a great family activity.


The up side to February

I love February!

Richard Malcolm

Most people really begin to get sick of winter about this time of year and generally for good reason. We have been barraged for the last 3 months with an entire season’s amount of snow and cold air. The blue sky days that a vital to quell the advancement of winter depression are in very short supply and the dry continuous heat indoors is wreaking havoc on the skin. However I find a silver lining in February I can’t help but getting excited about.

What on earth could get anybody excited about February? Firstly if you are a passionate skier generally the conditions are very favorable during February. If you enjoy Ice fishing the lakes are usually frozen thickly enough to set up camp and if you cross country ski, snow shoe or participate in any other outdoor winter activity this is when it peaks. However as passionate as I might be about any and or all these pursuits this is not what really gets me excited about the month.

The biggest bonus is what is happening every morning and every evening. The days are getting longer and longer! I realize that we actually begin to gain time as winter begins, but it flattens out in the early stages and it is not until February that you begin to notice the difference. Suddenly during the first week of the month you realize while driving home that it is practically 6:00 PM and it’s not really dark yet. The effect of extended day light hours has a tremendous impact on people’s moods and begins to waken the hibernating spirit trapped within. Time to start puttering a little later getting prepared for the upcoming longer days of sunlight that lay ahead in the months of March April May and June!

Currants & Clover

Currants & Clover
Not to be confused with Tommy James and the Shondells "Crimson and Clover"

Schoolhouse Farms Veggies of the season past

Schoolhouse Farms Veggies of the season past
Fresh for 2008 arriving soon at the farm stand

Year of the Potato

Year of the Potato

Perhaps this–the glory of the potato–is what caused the UN to declare 2008 “The International Year of the Potato.” Some people might argue for 1845 being the year of the potato (that’s the Irish potato famine, for those non-history buffs out there), but that was about lack, and we’ll hope that this one’s about bounty.
Slow Food USA has three potato varieties on its Ark of Taste:
The Green Mountain Potato, very popular in the latter half of the 19th century
Ivis White Cream Sweet Potato, an extremely endangered and unique variety and
The earthy, nutty, pacific northwest fingerling variety called the Ozette.

Rebecca's Sun Flowers

Rebecca's Sun Flowers