katie on October 11th, 2014

Regular season members have had their shot at the early spots, and there’s several left for the 2014-2015 winter season!  Here’s what you need to know.

All deliveries are on Tuesdays.  The first one is Tues. Nov 23, two days before Thanksgiving, and then every two weeks after that.  Ten deliveries in total.

Pickup locations are in Dauphin at the farm (3 pm), Penbrook (near the Wendy’s on Progress) at 3:00 pm, Camp Hill (near the library) at 3:30 pm, Mechanicsburg (close to downtown) at 4:30 pm, New Cumberland (close to downtown) at 5:30 pm.  If you can’t pick up your bag within a few hours of the drop…….don’t sign up for a CSA, please.  I can’t ensure the quality of your bag after a certain point.  Our site hosts are not responsible for your bags if you don’t get them before 8 pm.

The cost is $350 for the full winter season.  there are no small or full shares for the winter season – just the one size.  You’ll need to pay in full (by check) before the start of the season.

Want in?  Email me at katie@komta.com to reserve your spot, and I’ll send you payment information.  Let me know which pickup spot you prefer, and I’ll give you the exact address.  Any other questions, get in touch with me.  Thanks!

katie on October 6th, 2014

Toying with the idea of earning some income by producing food on your land, or just interested in maximizing the potential to grow nutritious food for your own family? Want to find your inner farmer and connect with like-minded people? How about joining us for the first series of “Third Thursday” classes at Stoney Creek Valley Farm?

Let’s skip the fluffy PR terms and get right to it. I used the phrase ‘maximizing potential’ above and that’s about as trite and cheesy as I want to get. And that ‘finding your inner farmer’ soundbite is pretty awful, isn’t it? Although I will add some pretty photos here because they always catch my attention.

Here’s what’s really going on: after several years of farming full time I still don’t know what I’m doing. So I’m calling in some fantastic people to anchor a once-a-month class to bail me out. And I figure it sounds like an excuse for a party. So I’m inviting you, too!

Third Thursday of each month. The first three are planned, there will be a minimum of six, and after that we’ll see how it’s going. You belong here if you’re interested in growing food, maybe raising animals, preparing and preserving food, working towards a culture where raising food is respected……heck, if you EAT, I think you’ll find it interesting. You belong here is you have five acres, an urban backyard, or you just hope to have some land someday. The only people who don’t belong in this class are those who already think they have all the answers, okay?

First class is Thurs Oct 16, and our speaker is a soil agronomist from Fertrell who will get us started from the ground up, so to speak. Because it doesn’t matter what variety of seed you purchase if your soil can’t support it. Dan will give us enough good info to get our planting areas prepared for next season. Future speakers include a fruit grower who will help us salvage a neglected apple tree in a hands-on workshop, and a butcher who will talk about both raising healthy animals and how to buy meat directly from a farmer. (First time I did that and the butcher asked me how I wanted it cut, I just said “Huh?” because I didn’t even know what the options were.

I have an almost unlimited supply of really smart friends, and I’ve made a definitely unlimited amount of stupid mistakes. This is where I get my act together, bringing in the cavalry to take Stoney Creek Valley Farm to a whole new level. Why make your own mistakes? Why not just learn from mine?

But wait, there’s more. The ‘class’ will run from 7-9 pm. But festivities will start each month at 5:30 with an optional potluck, so if you want to come early and hang out and talk and solve some problems, you’re welcome. Or just show up at 6:50 and find a seat at the big table.

Also, you can hang out afterwards for beer or wine. Sometimes the best parts of these things happens in the unscheduled time, so I’m making sure there’s plenty of that. I want to have some structure to this, but at the same time, make sure that whatever questions you have can be heard and answered.

If I were independently wealthy, this would be free, but I’m not, so it isn’t. I’m asking for a $12 donation per person. It’s going to provide a gratuity for the speakers, will cover the cost of the snacks that I provide, and will offset taking me out of the work force here for a few hours. And honestly, I’d like to transition Stoney Creek Valley Farm into a teaching farm as I get older, and this is a way to test the waters.
Bring your questions, your ideas, your dreams, your frustrations (oh, and twelve bucks, and a potluck thingie if you’re coming early for dinner) and let’s make some magic happen. RSVP’s are required so the speakers can prepare take-home materials. First class THURSDAY OCT 16!

(In case this link gets passed around, here’s some background info: Stoney Creek Valley Farm is in Dauphin, PA, about ten minutes north of Harrisburg. Katie has a plant nursery license and a certified home kitchen (still in progress), and earns farm-based income running the 50-member Cool Beans CSA, including a winter CSA; selling produce at markets and to a local chef, selling tall bearded iris as Stoney Creek Iris on the internet and at plant shows, and selling vegetable and flower seedlings in the spring.)

katie on April 11th, 2014

We are expanding by a few shares this year and there is still room in Cool Beans for the 2014 regular season, which will begin Tuesday, May 20……and that’s not too far away! Please click the links at the top of the page for more information and the signup sheet, and contact me if you have any additional questions.

katie on January 16th, 2014

It might still be winter on the calendar, but it’s spring in your farmer’s heart.  Time to get this show on the road!

There are multiple steps involved in updating the website each season, and I’m fitting them in between outdoor chores today.  If you read this before the links at the top of the page are changed from 2013 to 2014, you’ve caught me in mid-process.  If you’re concerned about reserving a spot in the Cool Beans CSA for the 2014 season, an email or a message sent through this site will get your name on the list.

I have two choices here;  I can write in detail and answer all the questions I anticipate, or I can just crank out the dates and numbers.  I suspect the latter approach is the most efficient, but it goes against my nature to not use lots of words…..so here’s the compromise.  This post has the nitty-gritty details.  If you have questions or want further explanations, I’ll write a few more posts today, each focusing on one part of the CSA process.  If I miss something of importance to you, email or send a message through this site and I’ll take care of it as soon as I can.

Simply contacting me will get your name on the list, but I will need the information that’s requested on the contract and your payment to actually confirm your spot.  You’ll want to print out that contract by following the link at the top of the page, but please hold on until you see that it’s been updated for 2014.

Cool Beans Main Season 2014

Dates:  Every Tuesday from May 20 until October 28 inclusive.

Cost:  Full share $500, Small share $300.  Optional egg share:  $86 for one dozen each week, $50 for a half dozen.

Delivery locations and times:

Stoney Creek Valley Farm in Dauphin:  after 3 pm.

Penbrook, about two blocks from the Wendy’s on Progress Ave, after 3:30 pm.

Camp Hill, across from the Fredericksen Library in 19th St, after 4:00 pm

Mechanicsburg, Locust St close to downtown, after 4:30 pm.

New Cumberland, 2nd St, after 7 pm, or at the Town Band rehearsal; band members should choose an alternate location for those when we do not rehearse.

Payment due dates:  Sorry……I need to use a lot of words for this one:  I am pulling together financing for a huge on-farm project, and if it’s possible to pay your share in full as soon as you sign up, I would be very, very, very grateful.  But, I also know that’s a lot to ask.  If you can’t do that, a $50 deposit will hold your spot, and I will ask that you pay at least half of the remainder by the end of February, and the balance by the end of April.  (Most years, that’s been our practice, and I will of course honor that for all of you for this year as well.  But if you can manage it earlier, it would be helpful for this year.)


katie on October 18th, 2013

Time to sign up for the Cool Beans Winter CSA! Shares are $350, and are all one size. There are ten deliveries, all on Tuesdays, spaced two weeks apart with the exception of the gap between the first and second, which spans the Christmas holidays. The first delivery is December 17.

I’ll be delivering to the same locations we’re using for the regular season: Harrisburg (Penbrook area), Camp Hill, Mechicsburg, New Cumberland, and of course here at the farm in Dauphin.

This is a significantly higher price than last year’s winter CSA, but is still less than or the same as other local winter programs. The difference between last year and this year is that I did not take a salary at all last winter, since it was the startup year and I knew it was a bit of a gamble. In order to make it sustainable, the $350 is the price that will work.

Contact me if you need any more details!

katie on August 6th, 2013

Today’s tomatoes:

1:00 Garden Peach
2:00 Black Cherry
3:00 Striped Roman
4:00 Yellow Pear
5:00 Tomatoberry
6:00 Sungold
7:00 Brownberry
8:00 Snow White
9:00 Juliet
10:00 peacevine
11:00 Yellow Cherry
12:00 Red Grape
center: Indigo Rose

katie on June 11th, 2013

Strawberries, Chinese cabbage(s), lettuce(s), carrots, radishes, scallions.  A nice late spring bag.  Couple of quick comments before I leave to deliver bags:  the berries were rained on the day before harvest, and this puts them at risk for mold.  To prolong them, put the berries in a bowl of water to which a small amount of vinegar has been added – leave them in the water for about 20 min, rinse, drain thoroughly, and put in a bowl in the fridge.  You won’t have a vinegary taste.

Cool Bean Krista suggested I post the newsletter online as well, so people who share bags can each see the info. That excellent suggestion was Plan A, but I figured I’d shorten the info somewhat, as the newsletters, like your farmer, often ramble. Sat down to do that an hour ago, and when i logged onto the computer, I discovered that “I” had just bought several computers, and had them delivered to “my” address in California. So instead of editing the newsletter to a reasonable length, I spent the precious pre-delivery moments getting my credit card cancelled, etc. Thus, here it is in all it’s rambling glory, with a photo of your soggy but happy farmer as well.

Cool Beans May 28, 2013 – Week #3
Soggy and wet today – both your produce and your farmer! Your bags of greens aren’t as dry as they ought to be, so please don’t seal the bags when you put them in your fridge. Tristan and I could either keep the bags themselves dry, or use the garage bay where we pack to spin the greens dry…..but there wasn’t enough room for both, so we did the best we could for the greens in drying trays….but it wasn’t enough, they’re still a bit too wet.
First, a leftover bit of info from last week, when I forgot to include a note about the plant that was in your bag. It’s a bay plant. You may already use dried bay leaves in soups and stews. I believe the dried leaves also repel pantry moths. It’s a pretty plant with glossy leaves, it will be okay outside in the summer, and it should come inside for winter. It would like a larger pot in, say, eight weeks. Don’t harvest any leaves until this fall, when it’s grown up a bit.
So. Several kinds of lettuce this week – remember, you should always rinse your greens, but especially when we have to pick in the rain. You have a bag of kale. The plastic (yes, sorry, but someone gave them to me and I’m going to use them up) clamshell has a few early snips of fresh basil, plus mojito mint. If you use both the basil and mint in the mojito, it’s going to really, really rock. I do a lot of research on your behalf in this area.
The rubber-banded greens are lamb’s quarters. This plant’s related to quinoa and amaranth, both of which are trendy and high priced and very much prized by the green crunchy crowd……..who may well be overlooking their local cousin, the lamb’s quarters, which were one of the first cultivated crops in the Northeast, thousands of years ago. It’s probably growing in your back yard. The greens are highly nutritious, more so than spinach (to which it is also related). Use Cool Bean Lisa’s strategy for the braising greens last week: snip the LQ leaves into a pan with some hot olive oil, reduce the heat, sauté until they’re wilted, crack an egg on top, and you have an outstanding breakfast. Or just use the leaves in a salad. Don’t let this freak you out – there are tens of thousands of edible plants, if not more, and most North Americans only eat about twenty. We have kind of arbitrary ideas about what’s a weed and what’s not, and as a result most of us are missing out on some tasty and nutritious (and readily available for free) food choices. Also, you get to go to the office tomorrow and tell everyone you ate weeds. So – a good meal and a good story, all in your CSA bag this week.
Lamb’s quarters seeds are use like quinoa seed; perhaps we’ll get to that later, but based on last year’s experience harvesting the seed, I think I’ll just invite all of you to come up and get your own when they’re ready. Let’s just say it gives one an increased appreciation for our ancestors, and I would probably have starved to death in pre-historic times.
If you have a full share, you have some asparagus. When it’s picked fresh like this, all of it is good, there’s no need to discard the bottom few inches. The grocery store stuff is harvested mechanically, and the machines simply cut the stalks at ground level. Yours was harvested by your favorite farmer, last night, and I snapped each stalk at the point at which it was tender. Even the kind of spread-out top parts are still awesome. I didn’t get enough for everyone this week. Cool Bean Diane is growing it, and she’d asked me to run up to her farm yesterday while she’s on vacation to rearrange the eggs in her incubator: hatched Marans chicks went to a stock tank, had their beaks dipped in water so they’d understand how to drink (they’re not bright) and the duck and guinea eggs moved down a rack into the hatching tray. (Doesn’t this make feeding your vacationing neighbor’s cat seem like a breeze?) In return, I got to pick any asparagus I could find. Managed to score about ten pounds, which covered the full shares. Perhaps Diane will need a favor next week and I can get enough for the small shares!
You have bean sprouts, too. I wish I’d thought to take a picture of the kitchen this week: I started soaking ten pounds of organically grown beans last Thursday in six mixing bowls. The sprouts got rinsed and drained 3-4 times a day, and as they sprouted and grew, they obviously needed more room. So by this morning they filled twelve hug mixing bowls, three roasting pans, the crockpot, and four aluminum trays. Shades of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, but with beans sprouts instead of brooms.
You can eat the sprouts like popcorn (add garlic salt, or curry powder, or whatever), add them to soups or stir-fries, put them in salads, or put them on sandwiches. Have another idea? Post it on the Cool Beans CSA Facebook page!
The first of the cookbooks were returned this week and I’m happy to see that many of them have notations written in, with comments about recipes you’ve tried or ones that look interesting……..if you’re a Camp Hill Bean, you’ll get a book next week. Because of the books, I’m adding a plastic bin at the Penbrook, Stoney Creek and Camp Hill pickup spots, so that when you return your bag every week, you can put it in the bin. If you have a book to return, that will keep it dry. I think the Mechanicsburg and New Cumberland drop spots are sheltered enough that it won’t matter there.
We will happily recycle egg cartons and canning jars, by the way. Just put them in your returned bag each week.
We are looking for two or three working refrigerators for the farm. They can look awful, they just have to run. We could also use a really big chest freezer, and it doesn’t have to be working. I have a big truck; I can pick the items up.
Things are going to calm down on the farm a bit once the iris are done blooming – there have been nonstop visitors here enjoying the bloom. If you’d like to see them, the last day to do so will be this Friday, I’ll be here all day. With the heat that’s predicted for the rest of this week, I think that will be the end of them.
Love from your soggy wet farmer,

Yes, it’s not much notice, but that’s the nature of fresh food. I had chickens and ducks butchered yesterday. I calculated the cost of purchasing them, feeding the monsters for 10 weeks, butchering them, and added in 15% extra for labor. It’s still less than minimum wage, just to put it in perspective. And I’m not apologizing for the cost, I’m just explaining it, because if you compare this to the price of grocery store chicken, it seems awfully high.

Raising free-range birds on grass, moving the pen twice a day so they’re never standing in poop, is not the lowest-cost way to raise poultry. But they taste amazing, like real chicken should. They look good, and they don’t have that creepy smell that factory-raised birds do. I’m okay with the relatively low return on this because I raised some for us at the same time; that’s why I don’t add any $ for electricity for the brooder lights, or the cost of the movable pens, or the travel to and from the butcher.

So……with a discount for Cool Beans, they’re available for 3.25 for chicken and 3.50 for ducks. (It’s fifty cents a pound more for non-Beans.) Chickens are averaging about 3 pounds, ducks around 4. Pickup at the farm today or tomorrow after 3 pm while they’re still fresh; we’ll see what’s left after that point, and possibly they’ll be available for sale frozen later. I don’t know if I’ll offer this again or just raise them for the family, it’s going to depend on the response to this post.

katie on April 11th, 2013

Not all cookbooks are CSA-friendly, because often the ingredient list pairs items that aren’t in season at the same time. I learned recently that some CSAs purchase cookbooks in quantity and sell them to their members at a profit. Here’s the Cool Beans spin on that idea: I’ve been collecting gently used copies of several cookbooks I know and trust, ones that have simple, beautiful, fast recipes using seasonal fruits and vegetables. Jodie, who delivers my mail, has been bringing packages all week – this photo is about a third of what’s been ordered. I’ll put one in your bag every other week or so, and you can keep it for a week or two. The only catch is that I hope everyone will recommend the best recipes they come across, so we can all enjoy them!