NWPA Growers Co-op

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News about NWPA Growers!
Posted 6/29/2011 9:44pm by Amy Philson.
Hello everyone!  Just a reminder that not all shares are alike!  The full shares got Kohlrabi this week, which is an interesting veggie if you haven't experienced it before!  Try our our recipes and see how you like it!  Or look up your own, test it, and let me know how you liked it!  We had a lot of the same things as last week, so if you need a recipe I did not post this week, look it up in the Recipes section on our webpage!  Check out our facebook page, and feel free to post your own pictures of the food you made with your share!

What is Kohlrabi?

Have you ever eaten a kohlrabi? These little sputnik-shaped vegetables come in green or purple, can be eaten raw or cooked, and taste a lot like broccoli stems. The word kohlrabi is German for cabbage turnip (kohl as in cole-slaw, and rübe for turnip) though kohlrabi is more related to cabbage and cauliflower than to root vegetables. We usually eat them raw, just peeled, sliced and added to a salad, but they are also delicious cooked and are often used in Indian cuisine.

KOHLRABI & APPLE SLAW with CREAMY COLESLAW DRESSING

Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Makes 4 cups, easily adapted for less


DRESSING
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon good mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt & pepper to taste - go easy here
Fresh mint, chopped

1 pound fresh kohlrabi, trimmed, peeled, grated or cut into batons with a Benriner
2 apples, peeled, grated or cut into batons (try to keep equivalent volumes of kohlrabi:apple)

Whisk cream into light pillows - this takes a minute or so, no need to get out a mixer. Stir in remaining dressing ingredients, the kohlrabi and apple. Serve immediately.

 

ROASTED KOHLRABI

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serves 4 (smallish servings since roasted vegetables shrink so much)


1 1/2 pounds fresh kohlrabi, ends trimmed, thick green skin sliced off with a knife, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic (garlic is optional, to my taste)
Salt
Good vinegar

Set oven to 450F. Toss the diced kohlrabi with olive oil, garlic and salt in a bowl. (The kohlrabi can be tossed with oil and seasonings right on the pan but uses more oil.) Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and put into oven (it needn't be fully preheated) and roast for 30 - 35 minutes, stirring every five minutes after about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with a good vinegar (probably at the table so the kohlrabi doesn't get squishy).

 

Braised Mixed Greens

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for finishing

1 small onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, 1 slivered, 1 halved

1 lb greens, such as chard, broccoli rabe, spinach, kale, washed and chopped

A few leaves or a few handfuls of sorrel, 5 or 6 lovage leaves or a handful of chopped cilantro and parsley

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 ½ cups cooked beans (borlotti, cannelloni, etc), home cooked or canned

3 to 4 slices chewy country bread

Shaved parmesan or crumbled gorgonzola

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch over. Add the onion and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the onion starts to soften a bit, after 3 or 4 minutes, add the slivered garlic. Cook for a minute more, then add the greens and any herbs. Season with ½ teaspoon salt.

2. As the greens cook down, turn them in the pan to bring the ones on top closer to the heat. Once they've all collapsed, add ½ cup water or bean broth, lower the heat and cook. Partially covered, until tender. Depending on the greens as long as 20. Just make sure there is some liquid in the pan for sauce. When the greens are done, add the beans, heat them through, then taste for salt and season with pepper.

3. Toast the bread and rub it with the halved garlic. Arrange on plates and spoon on the greens and beans. Drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with the cheese, if using, and serve.

Serves 3 – 4

 

Radish and sesame soy noodle salad

Ingredients

For the noodle salad

  • 200g/7oz whole wheat noodles, cooked according to packet instructions and drizzled with groundnut oil to prevent sticking
  • 200g/7oz red radishes, washed and quartered
  • ½ cucumber, halved lengthways, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 small handful black sesame seeds or toasted sesame seeds
  • fresh coriander sprigs, to garnish

For the sesame soy dressing

  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp Chinese black rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar

Preparation method

  1. Place the noodles, radishes and cucumber into three separate bowls and transfer to the fridge to chill for at least one hour.
  2. For the dressing, combine all of the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
  3. To serve, transfer the noodles to a large serving dish, layer with some radish and cucumber and scatter over the black sesame seeds. Spoon the dressing over the noodles and garnish with coriander sprigs. Serve immediately.

 

Posted 6/24/2011 5:48am by Amy Philson.

Northwest PA Growers is excited to announce two new share options. We are working with Wild Purveyors, LLC, to offer a Mushroom Medley Share and a Best of Pennsylvania Cheese Share. Both will be delivered to CSA drop-off sites once per month July - November.   The Mushroom Medley will normally be delivered the first week of each month, and the PA Cheese share the second week. However for the month of July only, both will be delivered at the same time ( July 6th), with the normal schedule resuming in August.

These options are not for CSA members only! They are available to the general public; simply select the CSA drop-off site of your choice when prompted during the sign up process. (we now have drop-offs in Slippery Rock, Grove City, Franklin, Hermitage, Mercer, Butler and New Castle)

Also new: non-CSA members can sign up for access to our Summer Market webstore.  A $15.00 fee covers access from June - November 2nd. You may purchase items to be delivered to the CSA drop-off site of your choosing.

Please go to our website for details about all three new options. Sign up is simple with our automated process. We accept Paypal or checks.

www.nwpagrowers.com     

Questions?  email our manager Sarah Lawlor  marditheaw@att.net

As always, thank you for your interest in  local food systems, we appreciate your support.

Posted 6/22/2011 7:08pm by Amy Philson.

What to do with those….

 

Mustard Greens:

Mustard Greens Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound mustard greens, washed and torn into large pieces
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp chicken broth or vegetable broth (vegetarian option)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil

Method

1 In a large sauté pan, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant.

2 Add the mustard greens and broth and cook until the mustard greens are just barely wilted. Toss with sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4.

 

Mustard Green Gratin

Ingredients

  • 1 pound stemmed mustard greens
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for baking dish
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • 10 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for garlic and mushrooms
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup crushed round butter crackers

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove any large stems from the greens and wash them thoroughly; do so in a sink with at least 5 inches of water. Moving the leaves around in the water and allowing them to sit for a few minutes to allow the sand or dirt to fall to the bottom of the sink. Once clean, roughly chop the greens. You should have 1 pound finished greens once they are stemmed. (Weigh the greens after stemming, but before washing.) After washing the greens, place them in a salad spinner to thoroughly dry them.

Butter a 9 by 11-inch or 2 1/2-quart baking dish and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

In a large, 13 by 11-inch roasting pan set over 2 burners on medium heat, melt the butter in 1 corner of the pan. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and a pinch of salt and cook until the mushrooms give up their liquid, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the greens and cook until they are wilted, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. The greens will reduce to less than 1/4 of their original volume and begin to look like thawed, frozen spinach. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the greens to the egg and cheese mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish, top with the crackers, place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve.

 

Swiss Chard:

Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans and Fresh Tomatoes!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch red Swiss chard, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Stir in shallot and green onions; cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Stir in garbanzo beans, and season with salt and pepper; heat through. Place chard in pan, and cook until wilted. Add tomato slices, squeeze lemon juice over greens, and heat through. Plate, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Onion Pizza with Swiss Chard

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 pounds onions, sliced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 pound chard, stemmed, leaves washed

1 14-inch pizza crust (1/2 batch pizza dough)

3/4 cup ricotta (6 ounces)

2 ounces Parmesan, grated (1/2 cup, tightly packed)

1 egg yolk

1. Thirty minutes before baking the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until tender and just beginning to color, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme, garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook another 10 to 20 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown and very sweet and soft. Remove from the heat.

2. While the onions are cooking, stem and wash the chard leaves, and bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the chard. Blanch for one to two minutes, just until the leaves are tender, and transfer to the ice water. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Alternatively, steam the chard for two to three minutes until wilted, and rinse with cold water. Chop the chard medium-fine.

3. Roll out the dough, oil a 14-inch pizza pan and dust with cornmeal or semolina. Place the dough on the pan.

4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, egg yolk, Parmesan and chard. Spread over the pizza dough in an even layer, leaving a 1-inch border around the rim. Spread the onions over the ricotta mixture.

5. Place in the hot oven, and bake 10 to 15 minutes until the crust and bits of the onion are nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and serve hot or warm.

Yield: One 14-inch pizza (eight slices).

 

Crimini Mushrooms:

Sauteed Mushrooms and Green Peas

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb medium crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 TBS low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 lb frozen green peas
  • 1 TBS sunflower seeds
  •  
  • Mediterranean Dressing
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop or press garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to enhance its health-promoting properties.
  2. Heat 3 TBS broth over medium heat in a stainless steel skillet.
  3. When broth begins to steam, add the sliced mushrooms and saut� for 3 minutes.
  4. Add green peas and saute for 4 more minutes.
  5. Transfer to a bowl. For more flavor, toss crimini mushrooms with the remaining ingredients while they are still hot. The Mediterranean Dressing does not need to be made separately.
  6. Top with sunflower seeds.

 

Quinoa Pilaf with Crimini Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon kosher for Passover olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves removed from their stems
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, or water

Directions

Place a saucepan on high heat and get it hot. Add the olive oil and swirl it around to make sure the entire surface is covered with oil. Add the shallot and sweat (cook until translucent but not brown). Add the crimini mushrooms and cook until brown. Add the quinoa, thyme leaves, bay leaf, kosher salt and black pepper to the pan and stir. Let the ingredients heat up and roast a little to bring out all their fullest flavors. The steam coming up should be very aromatic.

Slowly and carefully add the vegetable stock (it will spatter because the pan and ingredients are hot). When it comes to full boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and allow to steam for about 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, remove lid and fluff the quinoa and then replace the lid and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.

Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary. Serve.

 

Radishes:

Braised Radishes

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches radishes, about 1 pound, trimmed of tops and roots
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Place radishes in a skillet with stock, butter bits, shallots, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Uncover the pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook radishes 10 to 12 minutes and if the stock has not cooked away, remove radishes and cook down to 1/2 cup, about 2 minutes.

Quick Pickled Radishes

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Coarse salt
  • 15 medium-size red radishes (about 6 ounces), ends trimmed, thinly sliced

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together vinegar, sugar, and 2 teaspoons coarse salt. Add radishes, and stir to combine. Let stand 30 minutes before serving. Pickled radishes are best used within a few hours but can be kept refrigerated for up to 1 day.

 

Sugar Snap Pea and Radish Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sugar snap peas, ends trimmed, and halved crosswise if desired
  • 4 radishes, sliced paper-thin
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Place sugar snap peas, radishes, lemon zest, lemon juice, and oil in a serving bowl.
  2. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

 

 

Posted 6/16/2011 7:37am by Sarah Lawlor.

Below are some recipes to use with your share this week!  I hope you all enjoy!

Cucumber Sandwiches

2 slices cranberry walnut bread

several lettuce leaves

cucumber slices

lite soft cream cheese mixed to taste with chopped garlic scape


smooth both slices of bread with cream cheese mixture

pile on veggies

--ask a friend over and enjoy!

Strawberry Rubarb Muffins (makes 12)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1/3 cup amaranth flour
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped strawberries

Directions

  1. Place rhubarb and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Strain the rhubarb, and reserve the juice. Measure the juices, and if necessary, add a bit of water to make 3/4 cup liquid.
  2. Whisk together rhubarb juice, honey, oil, and egg.
  3. In a large bowl, mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, and allspice. Pour juice mixture into flour mixture, and stir briefly to combine. Do not overmix. Fold in rhubarb and strawberries. Spoon batter into 12 oiled or paper lined muffin cups.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 22 to 25 minutes.

Nutritional Information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 149 | Total Fat: 4.6g | Cholesterol: 18mg

Beet Greens Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes

While this recipe calls for discarding the stems, if you want you can use them too if they aren't too woody. Just cut them into 1-inch segments and add them to the onions after the onions have been cooking for a minute.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beet greens
  • 1 strip of thick cut bacon, chopped (or a tablespoon of bacon fat)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/6 cup of cider vinegar

Method

1 Wash the greens in a sink filled with cold water. Drain greens and wash a second time. Drain greens and cut away any heavy stems. Cut leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

2 In a large skillet or 3-qt saucepan, cook bacon until lightly browned on medium heat (or heat 1 Tbsp of bacon fat). Add onions, cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occassionally, until onions soften and start to brown. Stir in garlic. Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to a boil.

3 Add the beet greens, gently toss in the onion mixture so the greens are well coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5-15 minutes until the greens are tender. Stir in vinegar. (For kale or collard greens continue cooking additional 20 to 25 minutes or until desired tenderness.)

Yield: Serves 4.

 

Raw Green Garlic
Mince and add to salads
Pound it into a paste to make green-garlic aioli
Use in salad dressings  
Cooked Green Garlic
Poach the last 4" of the tips and dress with a mustard vinaigrette
Blanch in water or chicken stock and puree it.  Add the puree to a custard or soufflé.
Dice and sauté the tender portions and add to an omelet or frittata
Chop and add to stir-frys
Chop and add to homemade potato soup

 

Spaghetti with Green Onion Sauce

yield: Makes 6 main-course servings

active time: 30 min

total time: 35 min

 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped scallions (from 4 bunches)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)

print a shopping list for this recipe

 

Preparation

Cook spaghetti in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

While pasta cooks, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallions and garlic, stirring occasionally, until scallions are softened and garlic begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes.

Transfer scallion mixture to a blender and add zest, salt, pepper, remaining olive oil, and 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then purée until smooth. (Use caution when blending hot liquids.)

Drain pasta in a colander and return to pot.

Toss pasta with scallion purée, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste over moderate heat until pasta is well coated.

GARLIC SCAPE AND ALMOND PESTO

Makes about 1 cup

10 garlic scapes, finely chopped

1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (to taste and texture)

1/3 cup slivered almonds (you could toast them lightly, if you'd like)

About 1/2 cup olive oil

Sea salt

Put the scapes, 1/3 cup of the cheese, almonds and half the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor (or use a blender or a mortar and pestle).  Whir to chop and blend all the ingredients and then add the remainder of the oil and, if you want, more cheese.  If you like the texture, stop; if you'd like it a little thinner, add some more oil.  Season with salt.

If you're not going to use the pesto immediately, press a piece of plastic against the surface to keep it from oxidizing. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or packed airtight and frozen for a couple of months, by which time tomatoes should be at their juciest.

Posted 5/27/2011 5:56am by Amy Philson.

[We apologize if you receive more than one of this email.  Many of our customers are listed in more than one membership database  ie, 'Winter Market', 'CSA', 'General Mailing list'.]

 The Northwest PA Growers Cooperative is pleased to announce that we have hired a new Manager, Sarah Lawlor. She has been training with our current Manager, Octavia Elder, and will take the reins officially on June 1st.    Sarah will handle all business related to the CSA and Summer Market webstore. She can be contacted at marditheaw@att.net.   

Sarah writes:

 Dear NWPAGC customers: Hello my name is Sarah Lawlor and I am your new NWPAGC Manager.  I am pleased to have been offered this position and look forward to working with you and bringing fresh local food to the members and their communities.  Let me tell you a little bit about myself, I have a passion for the environment and personally work towards lessening my carbon footprint.  I have a love for farmers markets and local agriculture and have always enjoyed learning from the farmers about the food that they grow.  Academically, I am a 2009 graduate of Slippery Rock University with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Geography, and a 2011 graduate of Miami University with a Master’s degree in Geography.    Please do not hesitate to contact me about any questions, comments or concerns that you have. 

Posted 5/27/2011 5:39am by Amy Philson.
Hello everyone,
Well, the end of Winter Market and the Spring Fever Shares is here, and we are very excited about the upcoming CSA. Surely you've noticed--and how could you not?--how wet it has been, and how overcast. It was an unusually cool and rainy spring, which has made planting on schedule impossible.  The almost-daily rains of April and May prevented western PA growers from plowing and planting, and many CSAs in our region have made the decision to delay as the spring crops are 4 - 6 weeks behind schedule this year.  One of the Spring Fever Share customers said yesterday he heard that normally at this time of year in Pennsylvania, over 90% of corn crops are planted, but that this year, only about 5% of corn crops are in the ground. That said, we've made the decision to take a cue from other CSA groups in Pennsylvania and delay the start of the CSA for two weeks, until June 15th. That will enable us to start the season with a wider variety of top-quality produce, instead of giving out smaller, not-so-impressive shares on schedule. We intend to extend the CSA one week in the fall and also give each person the equivalent of one week's share (full $25, small $18) in webstore credit. Your pickup location and times will remain the same. This will delay the start of egg and chicken shares, too. Thank you for understanding, and for being flexible.
Posted 2/21/2010 6:52pm by Amy Philson.

If you just can't get enough of us, and would like to see interesting photos throughout the year, become our fan on Facebook!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Slippery-Rock-PA/NWPA-Growers-Co-op/362940736424?v=app_2373072738#!/pages/Slippery-Rock-PA/NWPA-Growers-Co-op/362940736424?v=wall

Posted 9/29/2008 11:36am by Amy Philson.
Small farms today are direct marketers and as such are in the business of relationship marketing with each customer that buys products from the farm. The customer is not at the CSA pickup, farmer's market,  or on-farm market because it is easiest or cheapest food source -- they are there because they respect the farmer, want to support the local economy, and feel that their dollars are spent on a worthwhile endeavor. Every chance you get as a farm to interact with your customers should reinforce the connection to the land and make the customer feel like they are doing a good thing by patronizing your business. This is a very difficult task for a busy farmer. I challenge you to take your relationship marketing into the 21st century and start a blog on your farm website.

I'm sure some of you are unclear on the meaning of the term "blog". It is a rather fluid term that is a shortened version of "weblog." In my mind, it signifies a webpage that displays content of varying lengths in chronological order and invites readers to interact in the form of comments. Often, blog postings are categorized or tagged by topic so that users can navigate through related blog entries by the tags, such as "farming challenges" or "farmer's market." Blogs take many different forms from personal, public diaries to political commentary to blogs that are published by businesses themselves. This is the most popular form of content generation and information retrieval on the Internet today and the very website you are looking at right now, Small Farm Central, is a blog-style site. If you have heard of the term "Web 2.0", blogs are big part of the Web 2.0 movement.

Your farm should blog because it is an easy and time-effective way for you to get your story out to customers. Repeat customers come to you because of the relationship that they have with you and a blog is a perfect way for you to start and augment the real-world interaction that you have with the customer. Granted it does take some time, energy, and thought to produce effective blog posts that communicate the farm experience, but that post will easily be read 100s or 1000s of times over the life of your blog. That works out to be an extremely time-efficient way to build a consistent and faithful customer base. Customers that read your blog will be more understanding of blemishes or crop shortages because you can explain the exact cause of the problems. This becomes a story that they can take home with their produce and they will feel more connected to the farm and the food if they know some of the challenges that went into growing it.

The complaint I hear the most is that farmers don't have time to be writers as well as producers. Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo dedicates one afternoon every two weeks to writing six blog articles. He then releases one each Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. There are other techniques of course too: get a trusted intern to write an article each week, find a very enthusiastic and involved customer who will volunteer to write a blog article every once and a while, or just commit to posting a short update once each week. There is no right way to write or schedule your blog, but post on a regular schedule and write with passion because passion is infectious.

At this point, if you are considering a farm blog, start reading a few established farm blogs and get some general advice on how to write blogs. I have discussed some aspects of blogging at Small Farm Central in Farm blogging isn't always literature, but this is and What I learned during an interview with Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo. Blogging will be a topic that I come back to over the next few months because I believe it is the core of any modern farm web marketing strategy.

Some farm blogs to get you started:
  • Eat Well Farm Blog : recently discussing problems with the Med Fly and how they are certifying their packing shed as Med Fly-free.
  • Life of Farm Blog : this blog is sponsored by the Mahindra tractor company. Perhaps the writer got a free tractor for writing the blog?
  • Tiny Farm Blog : wonderful photos and at least a post a day.
  • Rancho Gordo Blog : this popular blog receives 300-500 unique visitors a day (which is impressive for a farm website) and even helped the author secure a book deal.

Read about the process of writing a blog and more:

Spend the next few weeks reading farm blogs and exploring some of the resources listed above. Then when you think you know enough about blogging to start, you will probably want to go back to Hosting Options to get your blog online. Not coincidentally, the Small Farm Central software contains all the features you need to get your blog (and farm website) up and running within a few days. I know that not very many farms are taking blogging seriously as a marketing tool, but I have a strong feeling that every serious farm will have a blog in five years.
Posted 9/29/2008 11:36am by Amy Philson.
If this entry is on your front page, you are seeing the blog-style homepage. In the control panel, navigation to Display / Template / Change template settings to change this front page to the description front page. Your choice!