It was domestic bliss at Better Farm yesterday as sustainability students Shayna Jennings and Rachel Magathan did some preserving and baking to host a small tea time with Better Farm residents.
Utilizing elderberries picked locally last season (and kept frozen in a standing basement freezer), Rachel set about making the jam while Shay took charge on the scones. Within the hour, several people from the farm were enjoying a proper high tea outside. Here's how the ladies pulled it off.
- 2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 8 Tbs. vegan butter substitute
- 2/3 c. coconut milk
- Heat oven to 425°F
- Put flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl; stir mix well Add vegan butter and cut in with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers, until the mixture looks like fine granules.
- Add sugar; toss to mix.
- Add coconut milk and stir with a fork until dough forms.
- Form dough into a ball and turn smooth side up.
- Pat or roll into a 6-inch circle.
- cut each circle into six or eight wedges.
- place wedges on an ungreased cookie sheet—slightly apart for crisp sides, touching for soft.
- sprinkle desired amount of cinnamon and sugar on each scone.
- Bake about 12 minutes, or until medium brown on top.
- Elderberries, stripped from the stalk, washed and drained thoroughly
- Juice of one lemon for every 3 oz. of elderberries (adjust accordingly)
- Equal parts sugar-to-elderberry
- Place the elderberries and lemon juice in a large pan and heat over a medium heat until the juices start to run. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Skim off any scum and stems that rise to the surface.
- Add the sugar and stir it in until it’s completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 10 minutes until the jam reaches setting point.
Two things to note here: the jam will bubble up so you do need to use a big pan (a preserving pan, if you have one). To know when the jam has set, put a saucer into the freezer and after 10 minutes, spoon a blob onto a cold saucer. Leave it for 10–15 seconds, then push with your finger. If it has formed a skin and wrinkles when you push, it has reached setting point.
Elderberry jam recipe from Gin and Crumpets.
Better Farm welcomes Grateful 4 Grace from June 27-July 3 for a week of green-building projects, team-building and workshops.
Grateful 4 Grace is a non-profit group traveling all over the country to offer helping hands on projects that further a sustainable mission. From their website:
Combining our love for humanity and the love we have for our planet, we have set out to help others help others become more consciously sustainable. With the universe as our guide we plan to gather in effort to grow our sustainable-minded collective consciousness that will produce what we consider to be a balanced environment that all species can live harmoniously with. To accomplish this we are traveling across the world helping intentional communities and organizations that are currently helping with similar causes become self-sustainable.
Twenty people from Grateful 4 Grace will be staying at Better Farm to help us construct an amenities station next to the Art Barn with compost toilets and solar showers fed by rainwater. We will additionally be constructing a smaller version of the amenities station next to our new solar-powered tiny home, greywater filtration units, and working on other farm-related projects throughout the week.
The public is invited to help us on this project and gain valuable hands-on experience in construction, green building, sustainability, and alt-energy concepts. To sign up, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. Lunch and refreshments will be provided!
Volunteers are welcome to join us from Tuesday, June 28, through Saturday, July 2, at Better Farm between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Better Farm hosted its first-ever solar workshop on Sunday, covering the basics of how solar energy works, introducing basic hardware for setting up your own solar kit (including information on inverters, wires, panels, and more), hands-on experience actually installing a kit on Better Farm's Tiny Home, and take-home packets so students could have reference for DIY'ing their own solar setup on any small cabin, shed, work room, studio, apartment or barn.
The workshop was taught by Allen Briggs, who has lived off-grid for years and has extensive experience wiring and installing solar and other off-grid systems.
Short History Of Solar Cell And Direct-Current Systems
The first commercial use and development of a solar panel was by Bell Telephone in 1954. However, DC systems have been used since the mid-1920s in rural areas of the US. Most were powered by wind generators.
How Does A Solar Panel Work?
In short, a solar panel is a silicon and wire lattice encased in glass that allows photons from the sun to react with electrons in the silicon. Silicon is made up of positive and negative electrons that move freely throughout the migration hole the wire lattice provides. When the photons react with the silicon, the electrons become excited and start moving repeatedly in the panel. At the same time, the positive and negative repel away from each other. This process creates electricity, which is funneled out through wires at the bottom of the solar panel and lead to a storage battery.
A Basic Solar System
First, we start with the solar panel, the wires from the panel connected to a charge controller. From there, we connect to the battery. Wires also branch off from teh battery and connect to an inverter and system monitor.
Setting Up The Solar Array
Solar panels should be set up facing south, so the panels get sun the whole day. Most solar panels are angled from 32 to 52 degrees in order to collect the maximum amount of sunlight.
For full instructions, click here.
A yoga retreat is scheduled this summer at Better Farm from Aug. 12-14.
Activities are scheduled from Friday evening through mid-day Sunday, and are available to people who wish to stay on-site (or for locals who would like to participate in the activities but sleep at home). One-day and half-day passes are also available.Read More
Better Festival is right around the corner! Join us on the grounds of Better Farm for live music by local and visiting bands, a betterArts gallery pavilion with an instrument-building workshop, auctions and art on display, farm tours, vendors, bouncy house, farm-to-table concessions, and a live DJ booth presented by Better Radio.Read More
Well hello there, gorgeous!
We're very excited to introduce Matilda, the newest addition to Better Farm's cast of characters. This little pot-bellied piglet is just 5 weeks old, and joins us because an injury to her back leg soon after she was born means she needs to live in a forever home where she'll get lots of attention and physical therapy.Read More