Watch as Farmers Grow

Guilder reccomends Local pottery

October 2nd, 2012 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on Guilder reccomends Local pottery)

Guilder Todd H has been working with John Shedd, of John Shedd Designs, and reccomends we check out his studio.

Found in Rocky Hill, NJ, near excellent access to the Delaware Raritan Canal and towpath,

200 Washington Street, 08553.

West Amwell Township, Master Plan Reexamination Report 2009 – Public Comment

November 17th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on West Amwell Township, Master Plan Reexamination Report 2009 – Public Comment)

West Amwell Township Master Plan Reexamination Report, 2009 – Public Comment

November 17, 2010

West Amwell Twp Master Plan Reexamination Report 2009 – Public Comment**

Michael Rassweiler

West Amwell, NJ 08530

I have been a resident of West Amwell since 1994, Owner and operator of North Slope Farm, located on the South East border of West Amwell Township, Hunterdon County, NJ, USA.

The following comments are directly focused on the text and ramifications of the West Amwell Township Master Plan Reexamination Report of 2009.

Page 2, ‘Findings” section a:  “It was decided that public sewers were not appropriate in West Amwell ‘because of the negative impact they can have on the municipalities rural character’”

-This statement about sewers is contrary to the planning knowledge and advice published in both the NJ Department of Agriculture Smart Growth Plan, and the Hunterdon County Strategies for Managing Growth.

-More accurately this sentence could read: “It was decided to seek the removal of West Amwells only Sewer Service line from the State Wastewater Management Plan.”

-Also, if the Planning Board truly honors the input of its citizens, there must be some reference to the huge response by the public, to the 2003 “proposed zoning changes.” – including a footnoted reference to the minutes of that historic public reaction.

– I suggest adding the sentence; The 2003 revision of the Master Plan was noticed to all WAT taxpayers and there was voluminous public testimony.  Provide Reference to the minutes from the meeting.

 Page 4, Objectives:  The planning Board would have us believe that a sole reliance on individual, on site wells and individual septic systems will: “protect natural resources, preserve open space for agriculture and maintain community character.”

This philosophy, or agenda, has been discredited regionally, nationally and internationally as insufficient and misdirected.  Please reference both the NJ Agricultural Smart Growth Plan and the Hunterdon County Strategies for Managing Growth.

Individual septic systems rely on positively establishing that household, commercial and industrial wastewater will enter the groundwater.  We should not seek to dilute pollution – waste water should be cleaned, and waste nutrients and energy should be captured.  This will be accomplished through managed wastewater systems.

Nor should we accept that land use planning, dictated by soil suitability to septic systems will protect agriculture or open space – Quite the contrary,

For example, the Planning Board, using soil suitability for septic systems has designated the highest allowable residential densities, RR-4, on our soils best suited for agriculture.

Page 7, Policies #3:  “The Township will consider and evaluate innovative design proposals that would enhance and protect environmental features, minimize energy usage and encourage development densities compatible with existing patterns of development.”

This policy basically describes “Clustering.”  In fact, to quote from the NJ Agricultural Smart Growth Plan, “Clustering is a development design technique that concentrates buildings on a portion of land to allow for the remainder to be preserved for agriculture, recreation and environmental purposes.”

The Hunterdon County Strategies for Managing Growth also highlights the importance of incorporating Clustering as a development policy crucial to curtailing the increasing rate of fragmented open spaces and poor control of development patterns.

What the West Amwell Plan hides or does not sufficiently explain, is that the policies stated are rendered impotent by the overriding criteria that all our land use planning and approvals are dictated by soil suitability to the least environmentally sound method of waste water management – the individual septic system.

Page 8, Residential Districts:  The statement that consideration of Transfer of Development Rights is irrelevant in West Amwell.  By removing the potential for consideration of Transfer of Development Rights, the Planning Board has given landowners, who are interested in pursuing development options, no ability to protect their equity except through taxpayer funded easement purchases (of dubious longevity) or standard large lot subdivisions. 

This action stands in direct contradiction to the NJ Agricultural Smart Growth Plan which states “that the achievement , protection and maintenance of equity be a major objective of public policy decisions, including the purchase or transfer of development rights.”

Furthermore, the Board is sidestepping its real job – identifying areas where planned growth might provide affordable housing options and mixed use economic zones as well as options for public transportation and non-car dependant living.

In Summary;

  • The Planning Board’s proposed changes and recent changes to our Master Plan will,
  • Accelerate the likely subdivisions of the few remaining large agricultural and open space properties, through land use planning based solely on soil suitability to conventional septic systems,
  • Deteriorate the potential purity of our groundwater, by prohibiting wastewater cleaning facilities,
  • Sidestep their job, by refusing to discuss and identify future growth areas, and
  • Hide actions that actually accelerate, even more, the ruination of our last farmland through the “Redundant Septic Regulation” where by engineers are invited to design not just one failing septic system but Two!

 To Come Clean and Step Back Into the Light:

  • Make Clustering a requirement of all future subdivisions.
  • Repeal the Redundant Septic Regulation.
  • Reinstate and incentivize waste water treatment system options, that clean waste water and especially those that feed resources of water, nutrients and energy into agriculture.
  • And Finally, Take Responsibility for the hard job ahead of identifying growth areas and focus time, resources and attention to the details required to ensure that the inevitable future growth of West Amwell meets our Original Master Plan Objectives and Modern Realities.


**(I missed the public hearing by a year! but submit these comments to the public sphere because I feel strongly that the Master Plan has been abused by personal adgendas and a misguided belief in the power of limited options)**  

My Industrial Tomato

October 25th, 2010 | Posted by Casey in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on My Industrial Tomato)

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. 


Step right up and get your perfectly symmetrical, red tomato.  It was picked green by a machine, packed into a cardboard box and shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to reach us.  Don’t worry, this tomato was bred deliberately to withstand these exact conditions and still reach us perfectly symmetrical and red.  All that was sacrificed was the flavor. 

Hybridization did not exist until the early 1950’s.  Up until that time, families selected tomatoes for a variety of desirable traits which always included flavor.  They saved the seed each season to ensure these varieties were passed down from generation to generation. 

The family heirloom tomato is how we refer to them today, in order to distinguish them from “industrialized” tomatoes.  They are often called “ugly tomatoes”, “antique tomatoes”, “heritage tomatoes” or “mystery tomatoes”.  There are so many shapes, colors, sizes and textures and all of them have flavor. 

Well, there is a bit more to the story here.  Flavor is not all that is being lost through hybridization of our plant foods.  We lose diversity.  Yup that’s a biggy.  It is a direct threat to our food supply.  Allow your mind to ride my drama-queen-brain-wave for just a few moments.  Think of it in terms of the Irish Potato Famine.  Were potatoes really the only thing they grew and ate?  No, but most of the land was planted with “the simple potato” destined for export.  Within six months of the first crop failure people began to starve to death and in the end over 1 million of them did.  Over the past couple of decades, our food industry (the Bristish if you will) is dictating what we (the Irish) consume.  We are losing diversity, nutrients,  and flavor quickly.  The question I have for you is “Are we as helpless as the Irish were?”.    

Do I think we are all going to starve to death if we do not protest hybrid tomatoes?  No I do not.  However, it does scare me how quickly and easily we have forgotten what a real tomato tastes like.

 Every heirloom variety is gentically unique.  Each has evolved in it’s own specific growing conditions where it is able to resist the diseases and pests that exist in the same tiny corner of the universe. 

It is up to us a gardeners and responsible stewards of the earth to assure we sustain the diversity gifted to us through heirloom varieties.   

The Spread

On a lighter note, below is a list of what we cooked up at last weeks Greens and Beans coooking club meeting. 

Tomato, Avacado and Corn Salsa

Tomato and White Beans Soup

Sliced Tomato with Mozzarella and Basil and

we dressed up our mixed greens salad with

Tomato Vinegrette Dressing.

Let’s Talk Nutrition

Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of molybdenum, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, chromium, and vitamin B1. In addition, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, folate, copper, niacin, vitamin B2, magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, vitamin E and protein.

Whenever a discussion comes up about the health benefits of the tomato, most of us think of the phytonutrient Lycopene.  Lycopene has a reputation as a cancer-fighting antioxidant.  A ton of research had been conducted to study this effect and not just on rats, on humans as well.  The antioxidant function of lycopene is known to help protect against prostrate, breast, endometrial, lung and pancreatic cancers. 

Lycopene is a fat soluble carotenoid which means in order to get the protective benefits of the tomato, you need to consume them with a fat.  Olive oil, cheese, avocado or nuts are some good options. 

The color of the tomatoes has also been studies for lycopene content.  A slightly higher amount can be found in the dark red and dark purple varieties.

I recommend buying organic.  Not just because I am an organic farmer but also because the organic tomatoes were found to contain much higher amounts of Lycopene.  Up to 5 times as much in some studies. 

Step right up and get your plump, juicy, deep red colored, vine-ripened, hand-picked, local organic heirloom tomato.

Invest in Agricultural Enterprise

October 14th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on Invest in Agricultural Enterprise)

Agricultural Enterprise Opportunities

NorthSlopeFarm, West Amwell NJ, USA

October 14, 2010

A challenge for agricultural enterprise is capitalization.

 To provide an incentive for Farmers to invest themselves in regenerative, environmentally sensitive, quality production of locally valuable products and services,

Those with access to “underutilized” capital can invest it,

In Agricultural Enterprise !!

North Slope Farm is developing a public format to track the evolution of “small scale agricultural enterprise”.  The base data being the information shared on this web site and through our Training Program about the basic operation of North Slope Farm.

 We will track our new enterprises under the Category – Special Projects – Poultry.

 Agricultural Enterprises currently listed:

  • Poultry – Field Birds

 How North Slope Farm can help you invest in Agricultural Enterprise:

  • Shop from Local Farmers!!  Join us at Farmers Markets!!
  • Ideally North Slope Farm hopes to establish its Trainees in positions of responsibility, managing valuable resources to regeneratively produce products and services for local communities.  Each Trainee has their own hopes and desires but most will be challenged by available capital to invest in long term plans and effort.  To encourage investment by outside parties – sympathetic to the real challenges of doing good – North Slope Farm can serve to partner with Trainees, active and graduated, and individuals or groups from the community who would like to actively invest in Agricultural Enterprise.
  • To discuss agricultural investment opportunities email – ; subject Agricultural Enterprise

Greens and Beans/Carrot Soup

September 16th, 2010 | Posted by Casey in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on Greens and Beans/Carrot Soup)

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

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. 

Kale for Breakfast

July 26th, 2010 | Posted by Casey in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on Kale for Breakfast)

The “Greens and Beans” Page was created as a space to share recipes, nutrition information and hopefully inspiration to friends, family and community members who would like to incorporate these life-giving foods we grow into their diets.   


We start our kale in the spring after the threat of a hard frost passes.  This cooler climate seems to keep the plants happy and the leaves tender, crispy and sweet.  Although kale hangs on through the hotter, dryer summer months, it grows best in the cool crisp autumn air.  Like most vegetables in the brassica family, kale is sweetened by a touch of frost.  Some call it the perfect fall crop. 

Kale was our very first “Vegetable of the Week” for our “Greens and Beans” cooking club.  Below are some suggestions based on our night in the kitchen with kale.

There were four or five recipes we trialed at that meeting and the results gave us some tips to share.

Most of us agreed that if kale has just recently come into your life, you should start off with a recipe in which the kale is cooked.  Steamed, blanched or in a stir fry.  You can transition to raw salads and even juicing if you become a true kale “junky” like myself.  We also noticed that our favorite recipes included lemon juice, olive oil and a touch of sea salt. 

Recipe Ideas

Start with:

1 bunch kale (lacinato or red russian) chopped

2 cloves garlic (minced)

2tablespoons olive oil or other cooking oil

2 tablespoons water

Heat oil in a pan on med/high heat, add garlic and saut’e for 1 minute, now add kale and 2tbs. of water (to prevent sticking) and cook for about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.

This basic recipe is delicious on it’s own. You could also try adding one of the following to the basic recipe:

1) Fresh juice of 1/2 lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

2) 2 tablespoons balsamic vinager, 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup feta cheese.

3) Try adding 1 cup sliced mushrooms and 2 tablespoons tamari to the saut’e pan at the same time you add the garlic.  OR

4) Add 1/2 cup chopped kale to your omelet or scrabbled aggs in the morning.

Nutrition Talk

It was during a nutrition course I took that I first started really paying attetntion to how my body (and mind for that matter) responds to different foods.  I discovered I am a “greens girl” through and through.  How do I know?  Try keeping a journal or log of what you eat and how you feel before and after each meal, snack, drink and dessert.  It is time consuming but even if you track just a few days you will discover something.  Over time you will be able to adjust your diet resulting in increased energy, mental clarity, digestive wellness and overall optimal health. (*Learn more about keeping a food/mood log this fall/winter at our Suppers meetings.  For more information go to

Here is what I found out about kale:

Kale is an excellent source of vitamin K (1328%DV), vitamin A (354%DV), vitamin C (89%DV) and manganese(27%DV). It is also a very good source of dietary fiber (3g/1cup cooked), copper(10%), calcium(9%DV), vitamin B6(9%DV),  iron(6%DV), potassium (8%DV), lutein and the phytochemicals sulphurophane and indoles which research suggest may protect against cancer. 

These percentages are based on the average person ages 4 and older consuming a 2000calorie diet.  Remember that we are all biologically individual and amounts may vary based on our indivudual needs. 

As a “greens girl”, I eat kale for breakfast.  Try it!

(*Just  a reminder that none of the information found on the “Greens and Beans” page is medical advise.  For that  you should always visit witha medical professional.)