Tour on Dec. 7 for prospective CSA members

This coming Saturday, December 7, we will be hosting a free farm tour. We realize the weather forecast is less than ideal, but this will still be an excellent chance to see the farm and discuss the CSA program with the farmers.

Who: Anyone considering our Community Supported Agriculture program for 2014, including current members. 
When:
2 p.m. on Saturday December 7. Our farm tours usually last ~1-2 hours.
Where:
The farm is about 12 miles north of downtown Columbia. We’ll send a map to those who contact us about coming. The driveway leading to the farm is rough but passable to most vehicles with a little care. Due to the driveway, if meaningful snow accumulates, we will postpone to a future date.
What: We’ll take a half-mile walking tour of Chert Hollow Farm, discuss how the CSA works, look at growing areas and farm animals, and talk about our farming ethics and thoughts on ecosystem management. The weather forecast looks chilly, so we’ll finish by answering any remaining questions by the wood stove over a cup of hot, farm-grown herbal tea.
How: Send us an email (contactus@cherthollowfarm.com) if you’re interested so that we’ll know to expect you and so we can send you a map.

Please spread the word to anyone who might be interested!

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CSA distribution #27 & newsletter

The final CSA share of the year will be on Monday, November 25 for all members (because we won’t be delivering on Thanksgiving day). We hope you’ve all enjoyed this year’s productive season, and will miss us over the winter! Members will be receiving a couple of important emails in the coming days or week; one will be an end-of-season survey, and another will contain information about rejoining for next year. We appreciate your membership and support for healthy local foods this year. We’ll be working throughout the winter, albeit at a more relaxed pace, to have the farm ready to go for spring.CSA27_1

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Our official comment on the FDA’s FSMA proposed produce rule

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) was mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act to provide “science-based” standards for production of safe food. The rule that most concerns our farm is open for comment through this Friday November 15; the rule is known as “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.” We don’t think highly of it, for many reasons including that it does little more than to promote the paranoid Pasteurian paradigm, essentially suggesting that the solution to food safety is to kill more microbes.

See our post from yesterday for some “highlights” of the proposed rule, as well as websites of organizations that provide good advice on how to comment.

The text of our official comment to the FDA follows:

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Quiz: Do you think like the FDA on food safety?

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) was mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act to provide “science-based” standards for production of safe food. The rule that most concerns our farm is open for comment through this Friday November 15; the rule is known as “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.” We’re not at all impressed with it or the supposed science behind it, and we’ve written up a lengthy (but still not comprehensive) comment to submit to the FDA via regulations.gov (assuming the site starts working again; it seems to have picked up a bug from healthcare.gov). We challenge readers to this quiz about the proposed produce rule, which highlights just a few of the features that we consider to be most astonishing.

1)      The FDA defines what soil amendments it considers safest and least safe by defining the waiting period between application and harvest. Try ranking the following according to the FDA, bonus points for knowing/guessing the application interval:

  • a) Manure from feedlot-raised (overcrowded, antibiotic-fed, unhealthy) animals that has been heated and treated with ammonia–and that is at least momentarily a microbial blank slate waiting for microbial opportunists of unknown character to colonize it.
  • b) Raw manure from feedlot-raised (overcrowded, antibiotic-fed, unhealthy) animals.
  • c) Raw manure from pastured animals (such as our chickens or goats).
  • d) Compost made from bedding from pastured animals (such as our chickens and goats).
  • e) Treated human feces (and all the medications and other sketchy stuff that comes along with the sewage).

2)      How many illnesses attributable to produce has the FDA documented in an average year and how many does the FDA forecast that this rule will prevent?

  • a)      Documented: ~2 million/year. To be prevented: ~1.75 million/year.
  • b)      Documented: ~1,000/year. To be prevented: ~1.75 million/year.
  • c)      Documented: ~100,000/year. To be prevented: ~50,000/year.
  • d)      Documented: ~50,000/year. To be prevented: ~100,000/year.

3)      Which of the following items does the FDA consider to be “rarely consumed raw” (and thus exempt from  the practices that the FDA considers to be necessary for safe produce production)? Hint: 7 of the following are on the FDA’s “exhaustive” list of produce that is “rarely consumed raw.”

  • a) black beans
  • b) kale
  • c) chestnuts
  • d) water chestnuts
  • e) bamboo shoots
  • f) thyme
  • g) beets
  • h) figs
  • i) kidney beans
  • j) tomatillos
  • k) ginger root
  • l) garlic
  • m) sweet corn

Answers below the break.

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CSA distribution #26 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Thursday November 14 and Monday November 18.This is the second-to-last share of the season, which will end with the Thanksgiving share distributed to EVERYONE on Monday November 25. It’s pretty clear at this point that these last two shares will be quite diverse, ending what’s been a very productive season on a fitting note. If you’re planning to travel but not cook for Thanksgiving, keep in mind that pretty much everything expected to be in that share should store in your fridge or on your counter just fine until you get back. Continue reading

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CSA distribution #24 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Monday October 28 and Thursday October 31. We’ve now loosely scripted out the remaining shares and we’re simply hoping for reasonable weather through Thanksgiving. We expect shares to be smaller from now on, after many weeks of overflowing bags and super-abundant produce, but there should still be 8-9 items in each share (plus herbs). The farm is as busy as ever as we continue to manage the transition into fall while getting next year’s garlic planted. Continue reading

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Planning the final four CSA shares

With four shares to go in our 2013 CSA season, we’ve spent some time discussing the remaining produce and how to best divide it among these remaining distributions. At this point most crops are stable, just waiting to be harvested and/or stored until used, with a few exceptions. Here’s a rough look at how we hope the season plays out. We thought this might be useful both for meal planning, and as a look under the hood of CSA management. Continue reading

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CSA distribution #23 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Monday October 21 and Thursday October 24. There are five shares remaining in the season (including this one), culminating in the Thanksgiving share going out to everyone on Monday 11/25. Remember to consult our online calendar if you are uncertain of the schedule. The Fall Harvest Celebration is coming up on November 2nd as well: please be sure to complete  the RSVP survey we sent out, to help us plan this major event properly. This is your best remaining chance to visit and take part in the farm this season, and we hope to make it a well-attended and thoroughly worthwhile event. Continue reading

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