NWPA Growers Co-op

News and blog

News about NWPA Growers!
Posted 12/13/2011 3:52pm by Amy Philson.
Don't forget that the Northwest PA Grower's Co-op will be having a *Christmas Market* December 14th and the 21st from 4:30 to 6:00pm at the United Methodist Church in Slippery Rock. (for directions, click here) This market is open to the public - so bring a friend! This will be a special market, as our growers will have extra items at the Market Table during those times.  So, come on over and browse, its a great way to pick up a few extra goodies for the company coming into town, or to fill those stockings!!!
Posted 11/24/2011 11:25am by Amy Philson.

Northwest PA Growers Co-op


November 2011


The End of the CSA Season

The end of our CSA season was November 2, 2011.  Our CSA season ran 21 weeks plus one week’s credit in our unique online webstore.  Due to the weather conditions at the beginning of the year, we pushed the CSA into November, hoping the weather would cooperate.  And, it did!  We had a great CSA season this year with a wide a variety of vegetables and herbs!  Our customers got one fresh herb each week, plus a spread of local fruits and veggies.  We also brought back the “choice box” part way through the season to help our members customize their share each week.  The choice box not only helps out our members but our growers as well!  We had 87 members this season, and its hard for growers to have 87 units of one item if they are a smaller farm.  The choice box lets the growers sell the smaller units they have available that way you all get a variety of well-grown fruits and veggies, and our growers get to share their food with us!  Along with the shares each week, we had a variety of products in our webstore, with bulk potatoes, onions, squashes, as well as honey, breads, meats and cheeses!  Each week is different!  We hope that all our CSA members enjoyed the season!  We are always hoping to improve our CSA and welcome your comments and suggestions, as we want to keep our customers happy and well fed!

Join Our Winter Market!

The NWPAGC Winter Market runs throughout the winter, making local, natural food easy to find!  The Winter Market is done through the webstore entirely, so you get to choose the items you want to end up on your table!  We have a wide variety to choose from, including seasonal squashes, brussel sprouts, greens (cooking and lettuces), and also delicious items from the summer season frozen for preservation - such as blueberries and raspberries!!  We also have a variety of hand-made products (that make great gifts), as well as our grass-fed meats!!! To join the Winter Market, visit our webpage and look for the Winter Market Information and Application.

NWPAGC Showcased at Slow Food SRU Meeting!

Monday, November 21, 2011 6:00-8:00pm

McCoskey Center, Slippery Rock University

Slow Food SRU is dedicated to bringing awareness to local, sustainable food.  This SRU chapter has meetings every month, usually a Monday evening.  This month, Sarah Johnston, manager of the NWPAGC spoke about the organization at their meeting.  She spoke about the co-op itself and also the benefits to local foods.  The group was a mix of students, faculty and community members.  After the presentation, there was group discussion and talk of doing more joint activities in the future.


Farm of the Month:

An Interview with Patty Wilson of Springfield Acres!


How long have you been farming?  When and why did create Springfield Acres?

 I have been growing things for as long as I can remember, starting with houseplants.  Since then I have been growing a small vegetable garden and basically giving away what my family did not eat.

 Three years ago circumstances in my life gave me the opportunity to own a small farm with 11 acres.  The previous farmers who lived here for 60 years planted apple trees, pear trees, lots of red and white currants, chestnuts, sweet cherry trees, blueberries, blackberries and butternut trees.  Their garden area was fallow for ten years.  When I learned about the NWPA growers I knew that I wanted to be a part of supporting local farmers and local food systems using natural methods.  I am now Certified Naturally Grown and use no chemicals or fertilizers other than compost.


Do you raise any animals? If so, what do you use them for?

I have a small flock of laying hens whose eggs I use. 

What do you grow in your gardens? 

I am committed to using open pollinated heirloom seeds for my vegetables. This season  I grew lots of beans for drying, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, swiss chard, kale, corn for drying (I just finished making cornmeal for the first time!), carrots, salsify, parsnips, tomatoes, peppers, collards and three types of winter squash.  This year I added three new gardens, one for herbs, one for peppers and the third for blueberries.

What is your favorite thing to grow?  Why?

This year I am enjoying growing rare heirloom deans for drying. I enjoy their bright colors and unique flavor and textures.

Do you have any help on your farm?  Or do you manage all on your own?

My son helps sometimes but I pretty much do it on my own.  I work at a local high school so I have two months off in the summer which really helps!

Do you have favorite recipe using the things grown in your garden?

Lately I have been enjoying braised greens using either kale, swiss chard, collards or brussel sprout greens.  I use lots of garlic, onion and olive oil.  I make this after work usually three or four times per week.

Do you have any short term or long term goals for your farm?

I would like to get a couple of pygmy goats to protect my chickens and have plans to begin raising angora rabbits this spring.

Tell us a little about your soap and body care making!  Where do you make it?  Do you use herbs from your garden in your products?

This is something I really enjoy.  I feel like a mad scientist in my lab/kitchen. I use no petroleum products whatsoever in my products. Last weekend I made my first liquid soap using potassium hydroxide, OG sweet almond oil, OG coconut oil and lavender essential oil. My plan is to make liquid shampoo and cleaning products using natural, healthy raw materials.

 I just made my first beeswax candles using local beeswax from Butler. They are small votives with no added essences, just the natural sweet honey smell provided by the bees.  Each votive burns for 15 hours.   I will be offering these in the webstore next week!

I have been making homemade soaps for many years.  Since I added my herb garden I can now incorporate flowers and herbs into my soaps.  The colorful specks in my calendula bar are finely ground calendula flowers from my garden.  I will be making a new bar soap using my lavender flowers over the holidays. 

I am very happy with the lip balms and hand lotion.  I will be making hand lotion with no added essence for those with sensitive skin. The Coco Butter Body Lotion is still a work in progress.  I recently found a technique that will make it much softer and easier to use.  I hope to offer this over the holiday season also.

Posted 11/9/2011 4:47am by Amy Philson.

Our staunch NWPAGC supporter, Vince Anastasi, asked that we send an email to Grove City members of the CSA. We are happy to forward this information to you and heartily applaud the propect of chickens in Grove City!  Contact Vince at the email address below.  We will bring print copies of this email to the Winter Market later today.

  **Tomorrow night the Planning Commission is going to be voting on the proposed Chicken Ordinance for Grove City. I have been working closely with Michael Coulter, and it looks like there may be enough support at the Commission level to have the ordinance passed on the the Town Council for final approval. The ordinance would allow residents of Grove City Borough to keep 4-6 laying hens (no roosters) in coops/runs that were enclosed. My son, Sebastian (11) and I have been gathering a list of supporters, a list of those interested, and any letters people would feel like writing to the Town Council. We just need to let the borough know that there is support for such an ordinance and interest from more than just one family. People could just email me at this address and we'll compile all the letters to present either at the meeting Wednesday night or later down the road when it comes before the Town Council itself.


Posted 11/8/2011 4:00pm by Amy Philson.


  This is your last reminder about the Winter Market Kick Off Event!

When: Wednesday November 9, 2011 (TOMORROW!)

Where: Slippery Rock United Methodist Church (find directions here)

What time: 4:30-6:00pm

Why: This is a chance to meet some of our growers and see what we have to offer! Its going to be a big event with a lot of variety to look at, touch, smell, and buy!  We will have: corn wreaths (for the birds and/or decoration), pumpkin bread, apple bread, lettuce, lettuce mix, middlefield cheeses, potatoes (5# bags), dried beans, apple cider, bath and body products and more! The list is long, so stop by and take a look for yourself!  Yes, good, local food does exist in the winter!  Its not just squahes and potatoes, but greens and more! You won't want to miss this, so set some time aside and support your local farmers!


Posted 11/8/2011 4:51am by Amy Philson.
Good morning--    we  have officially opened our Turkey Dept, and it will remain open 24/7 until Monday, Nov 20th or until the turkeys sell out.   We are offering both Fresh and Frozen turkeys. Frozen are available for pick up on 11/9 or 11/16 (or 11/23 if you don't need it for Thanksgiving dinner).  Fresh are available for pick up on 11/23 only. Pick up location is the Winter Market site at United Methodist Church in Slippery Rock.

You don't need a log in or password to access the Turkey Dept, it is open to the general public.    
Simply click on the "Winter Market' tab on the Main Page toolbar (upper right), then choose "TURKEYS" from the drop-down menu.

OR click here to go directly to the TURKEY dept.

As always; thank you for choosing local foods and farms!   

Posted 11/7/2011 5:42pm by Amy Philson.

Hello Everyone! 

This is a reminder that we are having out Winter Market Kick-off event this Wednesday, November 9, 2011.  This is an exciting event you wont want to miss, as it will be run as a "farmers market" with our own NWPAGC growers!  Several of our growers will be present selling their products!  We will have a variety of items ranging from fresh veggies, cider, herbs, body care products, corn wreaths, cheeses and more!  Here is a list of the things that Patty Wilson, from Springfield Acres will have with her at the event!


a variety of heirloom dried beans

blueberry jam

raspberry jam

currant jam

blackberry jam


fresh collards

fresh kale

fresh swiss chard


fresh and dried herbs:

coriander seeds

fennel seeds

dried lemon verbena


fresh cider-half gallons (not frozen)


bath and body:

rosemary lip balm

mint lip balm

coco peppermint lip balm

hand cream

coco butter body cream

calendula shampoo bar

gourmet bath bar

There will be *small* samples of some of the body products available as well!

Posted 11/2/2011 4:31pm by Amy Philson.
We now have gift certificates available!  We have two amounts available, $10.00 and $20.00.  They make great gifts!  Please email Sarah at marditheaw@att.net if you are interested in purchasing! 
Posted 11/2/2011 5:15am by Amy Philson.

The turkeys are coming!  The local, naturally-raised, pastured turkeys are coming!

NWPAGC will offer both fresh and frozen turkeys, available in our webstore soon.

Fresh Thanksgiving turkeys will be sold in the webstore as "under 10 lbs"  or "over 10 lbs". Pick up your pre-ordered fresh turkey at the Winter Market in Slippery Rock on Wednesday, November 23.

Stay tuned for detailed product and ordering information,  we will send out an email announcement when the "Turkey Depaerment" opens for business later this week.

Thank you.

Thanksgiving Countdown:  22 Days

Posted 11/1/2011 4:49pm by Amy Philson.

Hello CSAers!

  Just a reminder that Wednesday, Novemeber 2, 2011 is the LAST CSA pickup for our CSA season!  It is also Chicken CSA day, Cheese CSA day and Mushroom CSA day!  So come and pick up your local goodies!!!! 

Our Winter Market kicks off Novemeber 9th, with a farmers market style gathering in Slippery Rock at the United Methodist Church on Maple and 108.  Stop by and say hi!

Now a letter from the President of the NWPAGC:



In these tough economic times, it seems like more and more people are “getting it”; coming to the realization that ‘investing’ in the local food system is a wise choice—and that this choice ensures  high-yielding ‘returns’  of  higher levels of nutrition, health, and community involvement. The food is fresh, not transported from California  or Chile. You know who grew your beef or your beets. You can even see photos of your beefs or beets on our website. You know that it is safe to feed these foods to your family, no food scares or recalls here.  No poisons.  No hormones.  No irradiation.


So, thank you for choosing local foods and farms, and our CSA, again this year.


It was a very tough year for the growers, starting off with 2 solid months of soaking rains in March and April---did you know that there were only five non-rain days TOTAL in March and April combined?  We sure did, because we could not get into the fields to plant, and if we did, the seed frequently washed away.  Carrot, beet, bean and pea seeds washed away or rotted, the onions and potatoes were planted 4 – 6 weeks late, and the broccoli just melted. Hence the delay in the start date for the CSA,  but you were all very kind about the delay and we thank you for your flexibility.

July:  wowee zowee we got socked again, but this time with a killer heat wave + drought that burned up the tender, young plantings of fall crops (broccoli again, cauliflower, beets)  As I said, a tough year, the worst in a decade. The  good weather months this season were the frost-free months of May and October,  allowing for early May tomato plantings and extended harvest of crops late into October.


We also thank you for your feedback—the good and the not so good-- as it helps us to do a better job of  providing you with what you really want. (which is our goal) So, based on what you have told us so far, the Board is actively addressing the following for 2012:


**  consistently including the most popular vegetables in all shares, Small and Full alike.

      ( weekly lettuce, carrots, green beans, tomatoes in season. Especially lettuce.)


**  no mustard, please!  Ok, we heard that. No mustard unless you want mustard.


**   where’s the cilantro?  We heard that too, and will pointedly grow lots more.


**    “The apple situation”: during a season with wild swings of weather, we were thrilled that the local apples came through in mega-bushels due to the frost-free May. We understand that they are nothing like supermarket apples; but when you peel the bumpy skin, you find inside the complex, rich, spicy flavor of old-fashioned apple-ness. Putting together a CSA share in any given week is a fine balancing act of what we, the growers, have and what you, the eaters, want. ‘The apples’  are a prime example of the paradox of local sustainable agriculture. Everyone wants it, but sometimes everyone doesn’t like it.  And that is my apple homily. Thank you Bender Family Farm, for your apples!  Thank you, CSA members, for baking those pies and cobblers!


** Full Shares will once again receive 2 Choice Items per week.


**  The Exchange Box will be more visible at all drop-offs.


**  Farmers will be scheduled to visit all drop-offs regularly for Meet and Greet.


**   At least one Farmer-Grower Event will take place at one of the farms. Maybe more.


**  Major  changes with the Butler drop-off.    (location and coordination)


**  We will send out a survey to ask which vegetables, herbs, fruits you like and which you do not.  We will also ask (again) for comments and suggestions for improvement.


Our thanks go also to our tireless Site Coordinators who made everything run smoothly every Wednesday. We appreciate your willingness to shoulder the extra duties.


And last but not least,  our boundless gratitude to Manager Sarah Lawlor Johnston who started this job 2 weeks before  the CSA season, yet fearlessly jumped into the endless phone calls, emails, driving, invoices, checks, and computer work to make the whole CSA run for 22 weeks.  Imagine several hundred pats on the back and cheers for you right now, Sarah, because you did it and you did it well! THANKS


Not much time to rest, Winter Market starts next Wednesday, Nov 9th-  join us at the United Methodist Church  in Slp Rk at 4:30 for this Farmers market-style event to kick off the new season. Our growers will be there in person with their products.


To all of our CSA customers:  thank you for joining with us this year to create a remarkable local food system.  It is hard work, but it works.


Thank you choosing local food and local farms.


Lori Sands

President, NWPAGC 

on  behalf of the  NWPAGC Board members.

Posted 10/26/2011 4:01pm by Amy Philson.

Irish Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage (from food.com)


    • 3 lbs peeled yukon gold potatoes or 3 lbs red potatoes, halved
    • 2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cabbage
    • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 1 chicken bouillon cubes
    • 1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup light sour cream
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large stockpot; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Drain.
  3. Return potato mixture to pan. Add cream cheese, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper; mash with a potato masher. Spoon potato mixture into a 1 1/2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
  4. Note: This can be made a day ahead; just cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat in oven or microwave.

Spicy Red Cabbage (from mayoclinic.com)


    • 1 1/2 pounds red cabbage, cored, quartered and shredded
    • 2 medium onions, chopped
    • 1 tart apple, cored, peeled and chopped
    • 1 cup pitted prunes
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
    • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • Ground nutmeg, to taste
    • 1/2 cup water


In a large pot, add all of the ingredients. Stir to mix thoroughly. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Add water as necessary to prevent the cabbage from drying out. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve either warm or cold.


Butternut Squash with Potato Gratin (from finecooking.com)

1 butternut squash (about 2 lb.), peeled
2 Idaho potatoes (about 1-1/4 lb. total), peeled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs combined with 2 Tbs. melted butter

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8-inch (2-qt.) glass or ceramic baking dish. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and fibers. Slice the squash and potatoes about 1/8 inch thick (use a mandoline if you have one). Line the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of squash (overlapping slightly), season lightly with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a little of the Parmigiano, and drizzle with a little of the cream. Cover with a layer of potato slices, season with salt, pepper, Parmigiano, and cream. Repeat with the remaining squash and potatoes until the dish is full, ending with a top layer of squash, seasoned and topped with any remaining cheese and cream. (You may have extra squash.) Press down lightly to distribute the cream and compact the layers. The last layer of squash should be just sitting in the cream, but not covered by it. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the vegetables feel tender when poked with a thin, sharp knife (check the middle layer), about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

For a gratin, alternate layers of squash and potato, drizzling cream and sprinkling Parmigiano in between.

Press gently on the completed layers to distribute the cream evenly.

Combine the walnuts and buttered breadcrumbs. Remove the gratin from the oven, sprinkle with the breadcrumb-nut mixture, and bake until the top is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Let sit in a warm place for 20 minutes before serving so that liquids will set and tighten the gratin. Cut into 9 squares and serve.

Roasted Green Beans with a Dill Vinaigrette (from allrecipes.com)


  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper


  1. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Combine the green beans in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the coarse salt; toss to coat.
  3. Roast the green beans in the preheated oven until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  4. Whisk 1 tablespoon of olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, dill, and pepper together in a bowl; drizzle over the roasted green beans to serve.

Sweet and Sour Eggplant, Tomatoes and Chickpeas (from nytimes.com)

1 large eggplant (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise then cut in 1/2-inch slices

Salt to taste

3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, grated or peeled, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

Freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, or a combination of mint and parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, and oil it with olive oil. Lay the eggplant slices on top. Salt lightly and brush with olive oil. Place in the oven for 20 minutes until the eggplant is lightly browned and soft to the touch (the surface will be dry). Remove from the heat, and fold over the foil to make a packet around the eggplant slices. Allow them to soften and steam inside the foil for 15 minutes while you proceed with Step 2.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy lidded casserole or skillet. Add the garlic. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, salt to taste, sugar and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and smell very fragrant.

3. Add the eggplant, molasses and chickpeas. Cover and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. The mixture should be thick and the eggplant should be very tender, melting into the mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle on the parsley and/or mint, and serve. Alternately, allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: Serves four to six.

Advance preparation: This dish keeps for three or four days in the refrigerator and tastes even better the day after you make it. Reheat gently in a skillet, or serve at room temperature.

 Roasted Eggplant (from bonapettit.com)


  • 3 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds total)
  • 12 elephant garlic cloves or 24 large garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper

·         ingredient info

Elephant garlic, available at melissas.com, is a close relative of the leek and grows in heads about the size of a small grapefruit. The large cloves are very mild in flavor.


  • Preheat oven to 500°. Using a two-pronged fork, pierce eggplants at least 6 times per side (make sure to penetrate at least halfway through). Place eggplants and garlic in a large cast-iron skillet or other large heavy ovenproof skillet, pour oil over, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt.
  • Roast eggplants in oven until tender, charred, and slightly deflated, basting twice with skillet juices, 15-20 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes, then cut each in half lengthwise. Place eggplant halves and garlic cloves on a platter. Whisk honey into juices in skillet, then spoon mixture over eggplant and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.