Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Big Red Farm Stand, Wednesday August 6, 1-5pm

Tomatoes, July 1...
Hello friends,

Well, that hot tomato weather we've been waiting for finally arrived at the beginning of this week.  We did our first "real" tomato harvest on Monday, and we think you'll be pleased with the result.  Though quantities are still in what you might call the Easily Manageable range, all four types of tomatoes we grow will be represented at the Stand this week: heirlooms, Romas or plums, slicers, and cherries.  Also new-ish this week: okra!  I know you're out there, fellow okra-lovers!  Unite!  (We might also have one or two eggplants and/or hot peppers, but I make no promises.  You'll just have to stop by to see.)

...and August 1.  What a difference
a month makes!
Sadly, this week we say goodbye to our amazing summer interns, who will be going off to college and/or other commitments.  Libby, Geena and Shubhankar -- from seeding to weeding, transplanting to trellising, we couldn't have done it without you all!  Our heartfelt thanks and best wishes go with you into all your future endeavors.


This week, instead of talking about our little farm (too much rain, not enough rain, giant weeds, tractors, you've heard it before), we thought we'd talk a bit about Agriculture with a capital A.  As you may have heard in the news recently, the citizens of Toledo, Ohio (and surrounding area) were unable to drink, bathe, or wash dishes in their tapwater over the weekend.  The city's water supply was contaminated by cyanotoxins from an algae bloom in Lake Erie.  Exposure to these toxins can cause flu-like symptoms and liver damage, and, residents were warned, boiling the water actually increases the toxins' concentration.

These algal blooms, caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the water, are increasingly common in Lake Erie (and around the world), due to a number of factors: Ineffective sewage treatment, failing septic systems, runoff from lawn fertilizers, and global warming are all cited.  However, the most significant contributor to excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the lake is, you guessed it, agriculture.  Lake Erie's main tributary, the Maumee River, drains some four and a half million acres of agricultural land, stretching through northern Indiana and into southern Michigan.  By and large, that means four and a half million acres of land farmed conventionally, in a monocrop system with lots of petrochemical fertilizer inputs, and it's the runoff from those fertilizers that travels down the Maumee and into Lake Erie.

Spring seedlings
 We would never claim to have all the answers when it comes to farming, but this past weekend reinforced our feeling that it is important not to use these chemical inputs on the Big Red Farm.  Usually our focus is on what is right in front of us -- we don't use synthetic fertilizer because we don't want petrochemicals in our soil or on our produce -- and it's good to be reminded that decisions we make as farmers can affect people (not to mention animals, birds, insects) much farther afield than those who come to our little farm stand every week.

Peppers, lettuce and beets share space
I heard a short interview with Dr. Jeffrey Reutter of Ohio State University on NPR (read or listen to the interview here) in which he talked about the blooms, and one point he made was that the Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, deals mainly with sewage treatment, and basically fails to address water contamination from agricultural runoff in any serious way.  Dr. Reutter says that, in order to prevent dangerous algae blooms, a 40-percent reduction in fertilizer runoff is necessary, and "we're trying to modify the behavior of farmers and that's challenging."

As farmers, we want to grow healthy crops and raise healthy animals using methods that don't poison the land, water, or people who live downstream, and we ought to be willing to modify our behavior when necessary to achieve that goal.

These things, combined, make
delicious pesto

Tomatoes are finally here, so I can unleash my favorite tomato recipes on you all!  Here's a quick and unfussy one to get you started -- though if you use its Italian name, pesto Trapanese, it sounds very highbrow indeed!  {Tomato-Almond Pesto}


This week we hope to have the following available from 1pm to 5pm in front of Pop Hall:
  • Basil - $2.50 bunch
  • Beets - $2.50 bunch
  • Baby Carrots - $3.00 lb
  • Cherry Tomatoes (limited quantity) - $3.50 pt
  • Flowers - $5.00 bouquet
  • Garlic - $1.00 bulb
  • Heirloom Tomatoes - $3.50 lb
  • Kale - $2.50 bunch
  • Lettuce - $2.50 head
  • Mint - $1.50 bunch
  • Okra (limited quantity) - $2.50 pt
  • Fresh Onions - $2.50 bunch
  • Mixed New Potatoes - $3.00 lb
  • Rainbow Chard - $2.50 bunch
  • Roma (Plum) Tomatoes - $2.50 lb
  • Slicing Tomatoes - $2.50 lb
  • Look, a farm stand!
  • Summer Squash/Zucchini - $2.00 lb
  • Sweet Corn (from Village Farms) - 2/$1.00


The farm stand is located right in front of Pop Hall, at the top of the stairs that lead down into the Bowl. Enter campus by the main gate on Route 206 (opposite the Lawrenceville Post Office and Craven Lane) and bear right into the circle. Bear right again at the fork in the road and continue straight until you see the Farm Stand signs.

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