Infrastructure is another element that is tied into all the others. Nothing would happen without the infrastructure the 1. ties us all together and 2. allows us the energy and resources to feed production systems. The time we all spend talking about how investments in Infrastructure can be designed to feed agricultural systems is what will lead to sustainable societies.
The difference between a fresh product and an excellent fresh product is Handling. The niche that local agriculture can fill is to produce quality products close to the market, THEN handle them professionally and their customers will be back each week! Here in lies the greatest challenge for small scale operations – washing, cooling, packaging and distribution. To handle these issues professionally takes investment in infrastructure, expense that only pays off with large scale production.
Greenhouses are here to stay, and in our urban state, it seems likely that the future will include a greater and greater percentage of production in controlled climates. Detail oriented managers will find great success in the greenhouse. It is definately less forgiving than the outside environment. Our greenhouses provide us with the opportunity to produce our seedlings, provide winter shelter for livestock, increasingly we are looking to increase winter production and generally a nice place to be on a sunny December day!
We have a number of tractors and small engine driven implements like a ‘walk behind’ mower and rototiller. The second year of Training is when we introduce our workers to these power tools. As workers develop their skill and interest they are encouraged to “be the one the gets the job done!” Equipment at North Slope Farm has never been our greatest strength but we strive to provide trainees with multiple opportunities to experience the power, danger and effectiveness of the combustion engine and its ‘Power Take Off.”
Crop Care is always on the Task List. There is always some way we can care for our crops. Weeding is one of those tasks that we hope to outgrow but still invest many worker hours, especially on closely spaced crops like carrots and salad mix. This element also includes irrigation, trellising, mulching and pest control.
Compost is a critical component of our Organic Management System. We add compost to the soil to counterbalance the damage done to soil structure by tillage. Our observation of soil structure at North Slope Farm is that even soil with an organic matter content of 5%, regularly tilled soil does not have strong bonds. Our permanent raised beds have around 8% organic matter and they do show significantly improved soil structure despite regular tillage.
Farm Manager, Mike Rassweiler seeks to keep the Administration simple and accessable. Primary data collection is all pen and paper, transfered to summary format at the end of the season. Administration is the back drop for all other activities, the better we do here, the better our business will be.
The “Greens and Beans” page was created as a space to share nutrition information and recipe ideas for the bounty of life giving plants foods that we grow and make available to our community. It is for individuals who are interested in cooking and eating with the seasons.
An Unexpected Reaction To Carrot Soup
It reminded me so much of a traditional sweet potato dish that I loved to cook during my years in Sub Saharan Africa. I was unexpectedly transported back to that coziest of places next to the cooking fire, preparing my evening meal. Comforted by the sounds of neighboring families drumming, dancing, singing, chatting about the day and relaxing for the first time since just before sunrise. This is what I experienced after just one bite of carrot soup.
Each bite of soup brought on an additional wave of memories. Happy moments woven into the difficult, yet soul-satisfying daily life of a subsistence farmer, in a small village, in Africa. Most villagers (myself included) found hope, joy, warmth and comfort each night around the fire. Bellies full and satiated further by song, dance, fire and community. All matter of pain and suffering were dissolved into the night. And at the peak of my carrot soup induced trance, I am quite sure I proposed marriage to the chef.
We served up our carrot soup alongside: Basil Mashed Potatoes, Basil Pesto with Brown Rice, Corn and Beans, Mixed Greens Salad with Tomato and Parsley and Basil Lemonade.
Carrot Soup Recipe
Recipe details to be updated, but for now here is a sneak peak at the flavors involved.
Onion, Carrots, Peanut Butter, Soy Sauce, Hot Pepper, Basil, Cooking Oil.
Really the recipe will be posted just in time for our fall carrot harvest.
Let’s Talk Nutrition
Carrots are one of the best sources of carotene, a substance that is converted by the body into Vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for proper vision, especially night vision. Carrots also provide fiber, calcium, potassium and other trace minerals.
1 cup of cooked carrots (fresh carrots not frozen or canned) contains:
Calcium 48mg, Carbohydrates 16g, Protein 2g, Fat 0.1g, Calories 70g, Phosphorus 47mg, Iron 1mg, Potassium 354mg, Sodium 103mg, Vitamin A38,300 (IU), Ascorbic Acid 4mg, Thiamine, Riboflavin and Niacin <1mg.
Accept all of what this brilliant root has to offer by not peeling. Wash the carrots well but try your best to keep every good bit for your soup pot. To retain maximum amount of nutrients, you can steam your unpeeled carrots and top with chopped herbs, either butter or olive oil and a little sea salt.
You can also try raw carrots cut into sticks for snacks or appetizers (they make great dippers), shredded carrots go well on salads. My favorite is grated beets, carrots and fennel with citrus sesame dressing. You can find the dressing and salad recipes at Thesuppersprogram.org.
As fall approaches we can talk more about roasting root vegetables which a another delicious option for carrots. Carrot and parsley juice is refreshing and energizing any time of year but everything serves our bodies best when eaten in season.
The Next “Greens and Beans” Cooking Club meeting will be Thursday September 9th. For more information or to RSVP please call 609-647-9769.
NOFA-NJ Twilight meeting at North Slope Farm .
Tuesday, October 26th at 5 pm.
At ‘The Farmhouse’ at North Slope Farm, 1701 Route 579, 08530
located on corner of Route 579 (b/w Routes 518 and 31) and Rock Road East.
Twilight Meeting to focus on a few of New Jerseys ‘New Agricultural Enterprises, featuring their operators, discussing the season with North Slope Farm’s owner/operator, Mike Rassweiler.
Also see www.nofanj.org for more events – and become a member!!
The NOFAsummer conference in Amherst, MA was inspiring. We started the journey with a three hour field salad harvest at 6am with our friend Ryan, who used to work at Cherry Grove Organic Farm. After the harvest we began the drive up to the summer conference. We arrived just in time to make a two mile bike ride to U Mass and hear Bill MacKently, from St. Lawerence Nurseries, talk about alternative energy on the farm. He was enthusiastically spreading do-it-yourself construction of renewable energy sources. Saturday morning started off with Robert Fuqua describing how a 4 cycle engine works, repair techniques, and where to get parts. Next stop was Agroforestry in the Northeast taught by Conor Steadman and Mia Frank. This was a great introduction to permaculture. Small fruit on a organic farm, by Julie Rawson and Jack Kittredge, went into production techniques for blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries, grapes, currants, and elderberries. After the workshop we got an amazing tour of Hampshire College CSA. They didn’t have a weed in sight! Saturday night consisted of finding a guitar case for Sam in a dumpster, riding a moped around a corn field, and meeting more friendly people that are into sustainable ways to approach life. Sunday morning started off with Potato Culture, by Bryan O’Hara of Farms at Tobacco Road Farm in Lebanon, CT. This peaked my intrest in potato growing. I stayed for his next lecture on winter production techniques. He explained cost effective ways of extending your season in the field, and how to direct seed crops in December for an early harvest in spring. After the conference we drove to Battleboro, Vermont. We stayed at Harvest Hill Farm where we fed their four pigs and took a walk through their vegetable and herb garden. It was an a amazing time. Sam and I left Ryan at his home, a converted chicken shack, and headed back to NJ with a culture for Kumbucha while listening to Tilth.