Farm Crew Positions Open at Willowsford Farm

Farm July 2012Willowsford Farm is now hiring full-time farm crew members for the 2013 season.

Farm Crew is a paid, hourly position.  Crew is involved in all aspects of farm production: planting, cultivating, mulching, harvesting, washing and distributing produce, and caring for laying hens.

Work Experience/Skills Desired: One full season on a vegetable farm, or similar experience.  Other demonstrated skills or work ethic are considered.

Farm work is physically demanding and we work in all conditions: cold and wet and hot and humid.  A commitment to working hard, having fun, and getting the job done and done correctly required.

Educational opportunities: This is not an internship, but there is a lot to learn here for the interested crew member. Willowsford Farm is also a member of Chesapeake CRAFT, a series of farm tours, workshops, and potlucks – a lot of fun and an excellent opportunity to see how other farms do sustainable agriculture.

These are paid positions, $10/hour.  Housing is available.  The farm crew season is April – end of October.

Please submit resume and statement of interest to farm@willowsfordfarm.com or through our posting on Good Food Jobs.

Food and Farm Books to Pre-Order for 2013

As each chilly January day is ever-so-slightly longer than the last, I’ve found myself not only counting down the days until spring, but also the days until two incredible books publish and get into my library, mind and heart: Michael Pollan’s Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (Release date April 23, 2013), and Forrest Pritchard’s Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm (Release date May 21, 2013).

The Amazon.com summary of Pollan’s Cooked reveals that the book will explore the four classical elements of food and cooking – fire, water, air and earth – seemingly in the deep, co-evolutionary style of  The Botany of Desire. Pollan dedicates sections of the book and of himself to understanding the human relationship and dependence on the “primal magic” of fire, the “art of braising,” the transformation of grain and water into bread via air, and the genius of fermentation. All of which encourage we readers and food system reformers to continue our quest to bring our meals back to the basics.

“…Cooking, above all, connects us. The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching. Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume huge quantities of fat, sugar, and salt; disrupt an essential link to the natural world; and weaken our relationships with family and friends. In fact, Cooked argues, taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life.”   – Amazon description

While I hope each year welcomes a little more kitchen and cooking time into my personal food journey, the heart of my education and energy takes place on the farm. Lucky for me and all my fellow farmer friends, Forrest Pritchard, author of Gaining Ground and pioneering farmer at Smith Meadows Farm in Berryville, Virginia, captures the spirit of those experiences and lessons in his blog posts and speaking engagements. Just this weekend, he ignited applause from an audience of farmers at the Future Harvest conference with a pivotal comment during the panel discussion “Down a New Path  – Stories of Change and Transition.”

“We could be considered niche farmers… Or we could be considered early adapters in a new paradigm.” – Forrest Pritchard

A recording of the discussion will be airing this week on the Marc Steiner Show and the Gaining Ground is set to be released May 21st. Until then, Pritchard and Smith Meadows’ free-range meats can be found at several DC, Maryland and Virginia farmers markets.

Upcoming Events: September 2012

September is full of farm-focused-fun. Here are a few local ones we’ll likely attend and are proud to promote:

Pressure Canning Class Prince George’s County Extension Office: Friday September 14th 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. The class will teach up-to-date techniques and safety procedures (USDA approved) for canning low acid foods such as meats and vegetables.  Pre-registration required. Tickets are $35 per person and fee includes a copy of “So Easy to Preserve” as well as handouts and materials for a hands-on activity. For more information please contact Norma Fitzhugh at 301.868.8784.

6th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello: September 14th-15th. Pre-Fesitval activities on Friday the 14th include “Growing a Greener World Workshop” with Joe Lamp’l (Reservations Required and tickets are $15) and “Grand Preview Field-to-Fork Dinner and Evening” with Joel Salatin (Reservations Required and tickets are $90).

Baltimore City Farm Alliance 2nd Annual Urban Farm and Food Fair: Saturday September 15th 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. There will be lots of local farms and farmers swapping stories, planting and other activities for kids, and beekeeping demos. More details here.

Herbal Medicine Making and Body Care at Centro Ashé Farm: Sunday September 16th 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. This introductory class will be a hands on day including herbal plant walk around the farm, tincture making as well as a medicine making rotation including ear ache oil, tea formulas, herbal salves, and dream pillows.  Each student will leave with their own tincture, salve, tea formula, dream pillow, and ear ache oil, an incredible beginning to an herbal medicine kit! The course will also go through folk medicine making techniques and students will have an opportunity to get hands on harvesting and creating their own medicine!  (Reservations required and course cost is $55)

Farm to Chef Maryland: Monday September 24th at The American Visionary Art Museum. A local culinary competition that benefits ‘Days of Taste.’ 30 Chefs pair with 30 Farms to create amazing dishes for guests to enjoy! ‘Days of Taste’ is an interactive program for fourth and fifth grade students that helps build a food and nutrition vocabulary. (Tickets required. $90 in advance, $100 day of.)

Did we miss any? If so, please email information about your event to: deb@compost2themoon.com

Raising Funds for Reforestation

Brendan Chareoncharutkun, one of our inaugural-season farmers at the Public Health Garden, has been studying Permaculture at Tacome Pai Organic Farm in Thailand this summer and touched base with us from “the land of smiles” to see if we could help promote the fundraising campaign for Tacome Pai’s sister project: The New Land.

We said: “ABSOLUTELY!!”

They’ve got until September 30th to raise the remainder of the $5,200 fundraising goal. With that funding, they aim to revitalize 72,000 square meters of deforested and degraded land by applying Permaculture design principles. The long-term mission of the project is to demonstrate and reintroduce sustainable living techniques to the locals and to create a prototype for reforestation and sustainable livelihood projects all over the world. Read more here and please join us in making a pledge.

July: What’s Growing?

Here in Plant Hardiness Zone 7a, many of us are enjoying our first tomato harvest of the season and keeping a careful eye on the squash and zucchini in order to scoop it into the kitchen before it gets too big and loses that sweetness. Here are a few pics from the past couple of weeks of farm and garden fun that we hope will inspire our readers to head to their local farm market this week!

One of the first Public Health Garden tomatoes (7/5/2012)
First Fish Peppers
Allison’s New Vegetable Garden: Cukes, Squash, Tomatoes, Peppers, Melons
Chioggia Beets: Potomac Vegetable Farms 7/6/2012
Nasturtium – Edible Flowers – at the University of Maryland Public Health Garden
Zinnias: All over the place (lucky us!)
Eggplant: Black Beauty – At a Farmers Market near you!
Okra: Another one seemingly capable of doubling in size overnight
Berry-picking season 🙂
Hardneck Garlic
Shallots: Farmer Ellen Polishuk
Moutoux Peaches: Purcellville, VA
Sweet Onions at Five Seeds Farm: Sparks Glencoe, Maryland
Carrots at Willowsford Farm: Loudon County, VA
Potatoes, melons, tomatoes, green beans, peppers, herbs, cukes from Willowsford Farm CSA

The Secret Life of Peas

Check it out! The common pea is capable of processing, remembering and sharing information with its neighbors. Michael Marder, for the New York Times Opinionater, reports:

“…a team of scientists from the Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University in Israel published the results of its peer-reviewed research, revealing that a pea plant subjected to drought conditions communicated its stress to other such plants, with which it shared its soil. In other words, through the roots, it relayed to its neighbors the biochemical message about the onset of drought, prompting them to react as though they, too, were in a similar predicament.”

Any scientists/geneticists out there know if these findings have anything to do with how or why Mendel was able to study and and demonstrate inheritance through peas? Were those peas co-evolving with us and telling each other that being relevant in modern scientific experiments would foster future generations of intelligent peas that could one day outsmart their human predators? Nah… probably not… but it certainly doesn’t surprise me that they grow and work together.
Read Marder’s full article “If Peas Can Talk, Should We Eat Them?” examining the ethics of eating such intelligent life forms here.

Chesapeake Bay Week on MPT

Did you know that the Chesapeake Bay estuary, the largest in the United States, was created by a meteor impact? Can you identify which aquatic life is native, invasive, protected and depleted? Want to know how you and your community contribute to the well-being of the Bay? Lucky for you, this week is Chesapeake Bay Week on Maryland Public Television! Programming throughout April 15-22 2012 will be highlighting some hot topics around the watershed  including several brand new programs:

  • Menhaden: The Most Important Fish in the Bay – Exploration of how the harvesting of Menhaden from the Chesapeake Bay is affecting its water quality (Monday April 16th 10:00pm, Tuesday April 17th 2:00am)
  • The Maryland Harvest: A Guide to Seasonal Eating – The food-to-table movement in Maryland and its impact on Maryland restaurants, chefs, farmers and consumers (Tuesday April 19th 9:00pm, Wednesday April 18th 2:00am)
  • Restoring the Bay: New Solutions for Old Problems – Riverkeeper Fred Kelley faces challenges to help clean up the Severn River (Tuesday April 19th 10:30pm, Wednesday April 18th 3:30am)

These are just a few of the new and returning programs so be sure and check the website for the full programming lineup and set those DVRs! The week wraps up with a live music broadcast in affiliation with all the amazing folks at WTMD 89.7 too. More info on the Concert for the Chesapeake Bay here. Want more facts? Visit: Chesapeake Bay Journal..

Green Matters: Urban Farming Pioneers

“The essence of the pioneering decision is: Those who choose to change their paradigms early do it not as an act of the head but as an act of the heart.”
– Arthur Baker

This Friday, February 24th 2012, Brookside Gardens is hosting their third and final food-focused symposium titled: Green Matters: Urban Farming Pioneers. The all-day event will highlight innovative approaches to feeding the world’s population and feature the following speakers:

For more information and to register for the conference, visit the Brookside Gardens: Green Matters website.

Cecil County Couple Challenges Zoning Law for Pet Goat

An interesting article was published in The Baltimore Sun this morning regarding a goat turned pet in Cecil County, MD. The Balunsat couple purchased Snowbird for several hundred dollars through a newspaper advertisement and have raised her alongside several other animals since she was just a kid.

Snowbird, who lives in a home with less land than zoning laws require for animal husbandry, was not the original complaint. A rooster was – and the family already got rid of it (seemingly without objections). Neither the law or the family involved are concerned with whether or not the goat (or chickens, dogs, etc) qualify or act as working animals – or about the natural needs/purposes of/for the animal in question. 

The idea of farm animals in urban areas has been a hot topic lately as many urban and suburban neighborhoods are circulating petitions to allow residents to keep chickens for the purpose of fresh laid eggs. University of Maryland Extension sheep and goat expert, Susan Schoenian, points out the separation human beings have had from farm animals and processes and that there is a growing movement back towards that connection. 
But this particular case does not appear to be affiliated with the growing “backyard farmer” movement – which begs the question: What is it that draws human beings to animals? Is it for food? Survival? Companionship? Or a need to nurture? To keep up with Snowbird’s story,

‘like’ her Facebook page.

In The Meantime

Dear Readers,

It came to my attention last night that we may have lost some of you during these last two months of heavy future harvest and herd planning so I’ve decided to continue to post to Just Saying while the new site is under construction. Please forgive us and add us back to your reading list!
Lots of new posts will be up this week but in the meantime, perhaps the greenest and awesomest thing you guys and gals can be doing this month is start researching and supporting your local farmers by purchasing your 2012 share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Here are a few resources about CSAs:
Thank you for your patience,
Deborah Lakowicz-Dramby
Founder and Editor-in-Chief