Get Your Kids to Finally Start Eating Better

Get Your Kids to Finally Start Eating Better

Can you count the times your kids have pushed away a plate full of vegetables with a “yucky” expression on their faces? We have news for you: you are not the only parent facing this problem. In fact, it is highly likely your mother had a couple of similar situations with you. The easiest thing to do would be to let your children eat sweets, burgers, and everything else they want, but parenthood is not easy. Your priority is to keep them healthy, so you will need to use all the tricks in the book to get them to eat food that is good for them. Here are a few foolproof tricks.

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Garden Goes Berserk; Bulk Food Orders Now Available!

Sweet potato squash!
Better Farm's gardens are literally bursting forth with delicious, fresh produce—which means we're now taking discounted orders for organic food that's available for delivery, pick-up, or pick-your-own on a one-time, weekly, or daily basis.

Look at all this beauty!
Organic, heirloom tomatoes: perfect for sauces, salads, sandwiches, and more!
Tomatoes, onions (red, white, yellow), garlic
White Scallop Squash
We are offering a pick-your-own bag sale, in which you can fill a grocery bag with as much produce as you can pick for $15. Or, place an order now for up to 50-percent off bulk rates of the following organic produce items:
  • Apples (heirloom)
  • Beets
  • Borage (edible flowers, great as garnishes)
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Corn
  • Elderberries (frozen)
  • Kale 
  • Leeks
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemon Cucumbers
  • Lettuce 
  • Mint
  • Nasturtium
  • Onions
  • Oregano (giant red, standard)
  • Pumpkins
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Soybeans (Edamame)
  • String Beans
  • Sweet Potato Squash
  • Swiss Chard
  • Wheat Grass
  • White Scallop Squash
 Place your orders or set up a pick-your-own visit by calling (315) 482-2536 or emailing info@betterfarm.org.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Blueberry Wine Workshop Aug. 10

BetterArts presents its third annual Art of Winemaking workshop at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10, at Better Farm in Redwood.

Fermentation expert Paul Jennings will teach attendees basic fermentation principles and discuss various methods for wine- and beer-making. Students will gain hands-on experience creating their own batch of blueberry wine with blueberries picked locally.

Each participant is invited to take a bottle of blueberry wine home for aging (wine may be picked up at Better Farm several weeks after the class, when bottling has occurred).

The cost for this class is $10. Pre-register by emailing info@betterarts.org. If you would like to participate in the picking of local, wild blueberries, please let us know! There will be a picking field trip scheduled several days prior to the workshop.

Better Farm is located at 31060 Cottage Hill Road in Redwood. To see a complete listing of upcoming workshops and events, visit www.betterfarm.org/upcoming-workshops.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

What's Growing at Better Farm

Seedlings and seeds enjoy some fresh air on (yet another) rainy spring day.
In spite of the perpetually crummy weather outside, spring is upon us at Better Farm. Asparagus, chives, garlic, leeks, strawberries, raspberries, peach and fig trees, and many many more plants and herbs throughout the gardens have been waking up each day and spreading new, green leaves. Inside, seeds are sprouting every day and we're getting regular shipments of new exotics like dwarf pineapple trees, coffee plants, and Mediterranean olive trees.



With evenings just starting to offer the sustained warmth necessary to harden seedlings off in the greenhouse, we've been getting the babies ready for the great outdoors by exposing them to the elements during daylight hours on the back deck. This late season hasn't reaked any havoc yet in regard to the health of our preemies—but it has certainly been inconvenient! Usually by this time of year, all the plants are living full-time in the greenhouse, potatoes are in the ground, and we're starting in on onions. Regardless; here are some photos of all the activity afoot:
Asparagus heads poke up out of the wet soil out back.
Tomato seedlings reach for the sky.
A preview of what's to come: eggplant, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, and cauliflower make their grand entrances.

Our CSA begins today; but there are still spaces left if you'd like to sign up for weekly shares of fresh produce throughout the season. We also offer amended CSAs to those who are only in the North Country on weekends; or those who would like a bulk rate on what's in-season but can't commit to a weekly pickup. Our updated list of produce this season:


Vegetables (all organic)
Artichoke—Imperial Star Organic
Asparagus
Beans—Black Coco, Monachelle di Trevio, Envy Soya, Garbanzo, Great Northern
Beets—Lutz Green Leaf
Broccoli— Belstar
Brussel Sprouts—Royal Marvel Hybrid
Cabbage—Derby Day
Carrots—Purple Haze Hybrid, Rainbow Blend, Yaya Hybrid
Cauliflower—Veronica Hybrid
Celery—Redventur
Corn—Northern Xtra-Sweet Yellow
Cucumber—Lemon
Eggplant— Rosa Bianca, Japanese White Egg
Kale—Red Russian
Leeks— Giant Musselburgh
Lettuce—Buttercrunch, Sunset
Okra
Onions— Yellow Sweet Spanish
Peanuts—Jumbo Virginia,
Peas—Little Marvel Shell Pea
Peppers—Green California Wonder, Italian Sweet Red
Potato—Yukon Gold, Red, Sweet
Pumpkin—Shishigatani/Toonas Makino, Connecticut Field
Quinoa—Shelly
Radish—Pink Beauty
Rosemary
Swiss Chard - Bright Lights
Soybean
Squash— Thelma Sanders' Sweet Potato, Crookneck-Early Golden Summer, Caserta Zucchini, White Bush Scallop, Argonaut Hybrid Butternut, Black Beauty Zucchini
String Beans—Compass Bush Bean
Tomatoes—Ananas Noire, Purple Calabash, Better Farm heirlooms
Watermelon—Sugar Baby

Fruits and Trees
Apple
Apricot
Dwarf Banana (indoor)
Blueberry
Catalpa
Cherry
3-in-1 Citrus (indoor)
Coffee Plant
Fig
Kiwi
Mediterranean Olive (indoor)
Peach
Dwarf Pineapple (indoor)
Raspberry
Strawberries

Herbs
Basil—Large-Leaf Italian Basil, Lime
Borage—Blue
Chives
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Lemon Balm
Mint
Nasturtium—Mixed Dwarf Jewel
Parsley
Ramps/Wild Leeks
Rosemary
Sage
Salad greens—various

Flowers
Mammoth Gray Stripe Sunflower
Kochia Scoparia Grass
25 Giant Allium
“Red Sun” Sunflower
Various wildflowers

To join Better Farm's CSA and enjoy a weekly share of fresh produce all season long, please email info@betterfarm.org or visit www.betterfarm.org/csa.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Tidy Trellises

Squash trellis image from Pinterest.
Some of the most cluttered plants to grow in the garden are squashes, tomatoes, pole beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, and watermelons. With all their vines, fruits, and leaves, it can be hard to see exactly what's going on—and can make treacherous work of so much as navigating your way through your garden.

Trellises solve this problem completely by taking these plants up off of the ground. Even for heavier plants like hubbard squash and pumpkins, low trellises at least provide a guide for vines so they're not just tangled piles on your garden floor.

Below are instructions for trellis construction (gleaned from the amazing Instructables site); you can modify the height of the trellis as your needs require.
The hoop house was about $100 in materials (all purchased from a big box store), which certainly seems like a lot, but this thing is BIG!  It's about 7' wide, 10' long, and 7' high.  The materials used in this project are weather resistant, UV resistant, and rust resistant which means it can be left in place for years, and the fencing material allows a great deal of light to hit the ground allowing for ground crops if vines aren't desired one season or another.  Additionally, shade cloth can be attached to the hoops to prevent burning for any crops that don't particularly love full sun in certain climates.

The goal of this project was to create a trellis that is sturdy and inexpensive for the amount of crops that can be grown and that allows a lot of air flow, sunlight, and easy access for picking fruit and maneuvering the vines.  Although we did this for tomatoes, this trellis isn't limited to that particular crop.  Just imagine this thing covered in cucumbers and sweet peas!

Materials:
  • 1 1/4"x10' UV resistant electrical pvc pipe (x3) 
  • 3/4"x10' UV resistant electrical pvc pipe with connectable ends (x10) 
  • PVC plumbing adhesive  
  • 3'x50' Galvanized welded wire fence (x2)
  • Pack of rebar ties
Tools:
  • Measuring tape 
  • String
  • Saw
  • Wire cutters
  • Gloves
  • Sledge hammer
  • Scrap piece of 2x4
Method:
  1. Prep the soil for growing your crop. 
  2. Glue 2 lengths of the 3/4" pipe together (repeat 4 more times to get five 20' long pipes) and allow to cure for 24 hours. 
  3. Cut the 1 1/4" pipe to 2 1/2' lengths. 
  4. Measure a 10' by 7' area and create line guides making sure to square the corners. 
  5. At 2' intervals along the long side of the measured area, pound the 1 1/4" pipe into the ground using a piece of 2x4 for cushioning so as not to damage the pipe.
  6. Insert the 3/4" pipe into the 1 1/4" pipes creating the hoop. 
  7. Span the wire fence over the hoops and attach the fence to the pipe using rebar ties. 
  8. Plant your vegetables or ornamentals or whatever!  Have fun and enjoy!
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Better Farm's First-Ever CSA Program

An afternoon harvest from last fall.
Better Farm' s Community-Supported Agriculture program is designed to bring individuals and families living locally weekly shares of fresh produce from Better Farm's gardens at extremely affordable rates.

Community-Supported Agriculture, or CSAs, allow individuals or families to have direct access to high-quality, fresh produce grown locally. When you join a CSA, you're buying a “share” of produce from a particular farm or group of farms. Better Farm's CSA runs weekly from May 1 through the end of November, about 31 weeks. CSA members can visit Better Farm on a weekly basis to pick up their shares of produce. CSA members pay for the entire season of produce up-front. This early bulk payment allows Better Farm to plan for the season, purchase garden supplies and seeds to ensure a productive yield, and more.

Weekly share amounts fluctuate in accordance with what is in-season. In May, a share may only consist of some salad greens and asparagus; while a share in October will include artichokes, tomatoes, greens, herbs, Swiss chard, potatoes, flowers, pumpkins, leeks, and much much more.

Typically, seasonal CSA costs are between $400 and $600 for an individual. Because Better Farm's goal is to increase access to delicious, organic, healthy food, the first year of this CSA program is available at rock-bottom rates:

These rates represent a a full 31-week program:
  • $250/individual (roughly $8/week)
  • $450/couple (roughly $14.50/week)
  • $800/family of four (roughly $25/week)
CSA members will be notified of additional add-on opportunities (meat, eggs, cheese, soaps, baked goods, etc.) should these become available throughout the season; and may opt in to hear about food-related activities held at Better Farm throughout the year (supper clubs, farm-to-table events, workshops).

Click here for a list of the organic produce we are growing at Better Farm in 2014. Please note that this does not necessarily indicate produce you will receive (in some cases, certain plants do better than others based on weather, pests, etc.).

If you would like to sign up for Better Farm's CSA, send an email to info@betterfarm.org with the below information and we will bill you through Paypal (additional Paypal fees will apply). Or, you can print out the below form and mail it us along with a check made out to Better Farm. Those of you with special scheduling needs may contact us for a prorated CSA plan.

Mail to: Better Farm CSA Program, 31060 Cottage Hill Road, Redwood NY, 13679.

Name: ___________________________________________

Address: _________________________________________

Phone Number: ___________________________________

Email: __________________________________________

CSA Membership Level (About 31 weeks starting May 1):   
  • ______$100 Summer Weekender (weekends only June 1-Sept. 1)
  • _____  $150 Weekender (weekends only May 1-mid-November
  • ______$250/individual (roughly $8/week) 
  • _____$450/couple (roughly $14.50/week) 
  • _____$800/family of four (roughly $25/week)
Preferred Day for Weekly Pickup: _________________
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Delivery CSA Coming to the North Country?

Image from Etsy.
Better Farm is in the process of outlining a grant that would provide the sustainability campus with start-up funding from SARE to create a network of farms providing a delivery CSA to residents living in the region, and is looking for local farms interested in participating in the proposed programming.


The Northeast Chapter of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) is offering partnership grants to agricultural agencies, organizations, businesses, or local governments working directly with farmers to address issues that affect the farm community. Farmers must be partners in the planning process and the proposal. SARE funds production, marketing, on-farm demonstrations, and community development efforts that address key themes in sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is understood to be agriculture that is profitable, environmentally sound, provides a good quality of life for farmers, and is beneficial to the community.

To that end, Better Farm is seeking local farms to partner with for the following proposal:

Better Farm plans to increase access to fresh, locally produced foods for community residents in and
around Redwood, N.Y., while strengthening farmer-consumer relationships and supporting local agriculture by creating a delivery CSA service to people living locally. Community-Supported Agriculture programs provide weekly stipends of fresh food to a community; Better Farm enhances this programming by bringing fresh fruits, vegetables, jams, syrup, meats, cheeses, eggs, and milk from a variety of local farms directly to neighbors' doors. Better Farm would act as liaison between individuals, families, and farmers; creating the network of farmers necessary to provide people with a diverse assortment of weekly groceries for a low rate. Redwood is a small community of 500 people with limited access to food. Shopping at a grocery store in Alexandria Bay is a 20-mile round trip; Watertown a 50-mile round trip. Funding would allow Better Farm to coordinate with local farms and families, create inventory lists and price sheets, convert a diesel truck to run off refined vegetable oil thereby eliminating gas costs, and put the program into its first year of production. With EBT cards now accepted at farmers' markets and farm stands, this programming encourages even those with the lowest incomes to purchase local food at a premium rate. 

How It Works
This is a buy-in program. In its first phase, Better Farm partners with local farmers interested in selling their goods at a bulk rate to individuals and families living locally. Those farms provide Better Farm with available products and bulk rates, along with seasonal information. Then, Better Farm will disseminate information via radio, print, online, and mailers to homes in the community alerting them to this available program. Signing people up will involve educational workshops, greeting people at their homes, calling campaigns, and public seminars. Individual and family seasonal rates will be available, as well as tiers:
  • Vegetarian (with or without packaged goods, checking all that apply: maple syrup, jams/jellies, lotions/salves, fibers/yarns, dairy products, eggs)
  • Omnivorous (with or without packaged goods, checking all that apply: maple syrup, jams/jellies, lotions/salves, fibers/yarns, dairy products, eggs)
Rates will include fees to cover all-inclusive delivery fee (driver rate, basic maintenance of delivery vehicle, fees due to participating farms, and overhead costs for future marketing efforts) and will be payable via EBT card, check, credit card, or through monthly or weekly installments.

Interested participants will be given a survey at the beginning of each season to go over their expectations, what products they would be interested in purchasing, and their budgets. A similar survey will be distributed at the end of each season to gauge customer satisfaction with products received, chances of having return customers, and suggestions for improvements.

What It Does
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Better CSA solves the problem of a food desert in several ways. One, it creates a network of local farmers offering a variety of goods at competitive rates. Two, it creates a network of buyers that can then purchase food at a bulk rate. Three, it uses a “green” vehicle (a diesel pickup truck converted to run on spent vegetable oil) to deliver the food to people's doorsteps, reducing their fuel costs and amount of time spent grocery shopping.

This project enhances sustainability in the following ways:
  • Reducing pollution from vehicles going to and from several supermarkets to get groceries
  • Reducing pollution associated with the import-export of produce, meat, dairy products, and eggs
  • Shifting demand from large-scale agricultural practices to more sustainable, family operations
  • Encouraging local farmers to employ sustainable, organic practices
  • Encouraging consumers to eat more nutritious food that sustains healthy lifestyles in the long-term
  • Educating children (and adults!) in the community to make healthier food choices and to enjoy a larger diversity of products in their diets
 Farmers interested in partnering with Better Farm on this project should email nicole.caldwell@betterfarm.org.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Winterizing Your Strawberry Plants

Image from Scenic Reflections.
Strawberry plants will come back annually to provide you with beautiful, yummy fruit for years. But if you live in a northern climate, it's imperative that you protect these plants from the elements. If a strawberry plant's root system freezes solid, the plant you nurtured will die and you'll have to replant the following year. Thankfully, prepping your strawberries for the winter months couldn't be easier.

In-Ground Strawberries
If your strawberries live in garden beds, simply cover them up with a few inches of straw or leaves for the winter. Wait until the ground is fully cooled off and your plants are done growing for the year. Then give them a nice, thick layer of mulch. This does double duty; protecting the fruits from frigid winters, and providing great compost material for your soil. Be sure to check on the plants a few times over the winter to make sure freezing and thawing hasn't forced them up. If so, tamp them back down, water, and add more straw or leaves.

Container Strawberries
Strawberries that are growing in pots should be placed somewhere cold but not frozen. An unheated garage is a great place to store the fruits for the winter, but you'll need some sort of insulation to ensure your strawberry plants don't freeze solid. Don't worry about the lack of light, as the strawberry plants will be dormant and won't need any light. Just be sure to add water every few weeks to ensure the roots don't dry out. You can also plant your strawberries in the ground for the winter, utilizing the straw-as-insulation approach outlined above.

One of the best ways is to over-winter container strawberries is to put the pot in a larger container and insulate the space between with leaves or straw. Or, place the container on the ground next to a heated wall and ideally out of the winter wind. Insulate the exposed sides of the container with mulch, leaves or straw. Or just bury the container. The surrounding soil will insulate the roots over winter. Then dig up and hose down the container next spring.

Please don't try taking your strawberries inside to continue growing as houseplants! Strawberries need a dormant season in order to trigger a new round of growth in the spring for fruiting.
1 Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Hydroponic Tomatoes

Image from www.thisiscolossal.com
In addition to the aquaponics setup at Better Farm, we're installing a hydroponics system this year in order to grow tomatoes all winter long. While researching the best methods for a prolific crop, I came across a great tutorial at Vertical Hydroponic that walks you through the whole process. Those instructions are below.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular species of plants to grow hydroponically. Although many types of plants exhibit faster growth rates and accelerated fruit development in hydroponic systems, soft-tissue plants like tomatoes do especially well.


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Tomato Seeds or Starts
Since tomato seeds germinate relatively rapidly, most growers will begin their tomato plants from seed. Tomatoes seeds take approximately 10 to 14 days to germinate. A tomato plant will become fully mature in about two months. There are hundreds of different cultivars of tomatoes, including determinate and indeterminate varieties. Cherry, Roma, and Beefsteak are just some of the many popular tomato cultivars. Determinate varieties produce a large crop of tomatoes all at once and may also top off at a specific height. Indeterminate varieties produce multiple crops that grow in overlapping stages. Most heirloom varieties of tomatoes are indeterminate. It’s a good idea to research the different cultivars to find out which variety works best for your gardening situation. After about two weeks, your tomato plants should be ready to transplant into your hydroponic system.

After inserting the strongest plant starts into your hydroponic system, your tomato plants will begin to produce fruit within 60 days. Make sure you plan ahead and have an appropriate support system for your tomato plants. Tomatoes are a soft-tissue vining plant that requires a lot of support. Without a trellis or support stakes, the stems of your plants will most likely break under the weight of the tomato fruits.

Although spacing will depend on the particular variety that you are growing, typically tomato plants should be spaced about 18 to 24 inches apart. However, you can place the plants closer together if you train the vines appropriately to allow enough room for the fruits to develop. Vertical hydroponic systems such as the Bio-Tower are especially well suited to growing vining plants like tomatoes since the vines can easily hang off the sides of the growing containers.

Like many other fruiting plants, tomatoes require pollination in order to develop fruits. This will naturally occur in an outdoor environment from wind movement or bee activity. If you are growing indoors, you can either manually pollinate your flowers by touching different flowers with a small brush, or you can use alternating wind currents to induce cross-pollination.
Light
Tomatoes like a lot of light but can thrive with as little as seven hours of sunlight per day. However, tomatoes in too much strong direct sunlight may eventually show signs of heat stress.

Temperature
Ideally the temperature for tomatoes should remain between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and between 55 to 65 degrees during the nighttime.

Nutrients
As a fruit-producing plant, most tomato varieties require relatively high levels of phosphorous and potassium. A typical hydroponic nutrient solution for tomatoes has a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Tomatoes may also require a calcium supplement since the creation of fruit uses significant amounts of this secondary nutrient. However, make sure to follow the instructions for your particular brand of nutrients before adding any supplements to your reservoir.

Harvesting
After approximately 60 days, you should begin to have tomatoes that are large enough to harvest. Although there are many different varieties, most tomatoes turn red when they become ripe. You can pick off immature fruits and blossoms to maximize the size of the remaining fruits. You can also increase your harvest by “suckering” your tomato plants. “Suckering” is simply removing internodal branches that are not producing fruit. This encourages the plant to devote more nutrients to the branches that are producing fruit.

Pests and Diseases
Tomatoes are susceptible to a variety of plant diseases; including tobacco mosaic virus, fusarium wilt, and various other mildews and fungi. Tomato plants require significant amounts of calcium for fruit development so blossom end rot is another common problem that growers encounter. Common pests include the cutworm, aphids, and the tomato hornworm. Check with your local garden supplier to find the best pest prevention treatments for your particular environment. Remember, birds, squirrels, and deer will also eat tomatoes if they can get access.
2 Comments

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Autumnal Harvest

Better apples.
It's Autumn in the North Country! Colors are bolder, fruit and veggies are coming out our ears, and all the tourists have left the lakes, streams, and rivers empty for the locals' enjoyment. Look at all this beauty:






Better Farm's gardens are virtually overrun with more zucchini, cucumber, string bean, pumpkin, lettuce, kale, artichoke, onion, you-name-it than we can shake the proverbial stick at. Kristen and I picked 50-plus-pounds of veggies in about 20 minutes the other day:
Kristen shows off the string bean harvest.
String beans, zukes, tomatoes, leeks, broccoli, tomatoes, Swiss chard, and kale.
We've kept the farm stand open later than ever, and we're taken custom orders and even doing low-scale CSAs with those living locally who would like a weekly share of fresh produce. And I've been juicing like a mad woman! Here's one of the smoothies I made the other day:
Smoothie made from apples, raspberries, Swiss chard, kale, wheat grass, peaches, and cantaloupe.
No need to start buying produce from the grocery store just yet! Swing on over or give us a call at (315) 482-2536 to place an order or pick your own.

Contact Better Farm at info@betterfarm.org to schedule a pick-up, tour, or set up a CSA program until the snow starts to fly!
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Save Your Own Tomato Seeds

Saving seeds is a great way to ensure a steady supply of heirloom fruits and vegetables in your home garden. All you have to do is collect seeds from your best plant, dry them out, and store them until you're ready for growing season.

One of our favorite heirloom produce items is the tomato; and each year, we have a bunch of different fruits to choose from that we'd love to duplicate. This autumn, we're selecting some of the best-looking tomatoes and extricating the seeds so that we can grow the plants indoors in a new hydroponics setup (more about that to come!).


Here are some very easy-to-follow instructions for harvesting your own tomato seeds, gleaned from Garden Web:

You may have brought home a particularly delicious tomato from the supermarket, or gotten an heirloom tomato from a Farmer's Market, or grown one in your own garden that is so wonderful you want to save the seeds from it and grow them next year. Nothing ever tastes quite as good as a home-grown tomato!

So, how do you save the seeds? The method is easy to do....it's a little gloppy, and it's a little funky, but you'll be able to save seeds in a manner that will lesson the occurence of tomato disease while giving you plenty of seeds to germinate, and with left-overs to share or trade. This seed saving process is a process of fermentation.


Select to save seeds from a tomato that has a flavor that you love....if you're a home gardener and saving seeds from tomatoes that are growing in your garden choose tomatoes from the very healthiest-looking plants.

Take your chosen tomato and slice it in half across the middle (its "equator"). With a spoon or your well-washed fingers scoop out the seeds and their gelatinous "goo" into a clean cup or container. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to the seeds.


Cover the container with a piece of plastic-wrap and then poke the plastic-wrap with a paring knife or pen point to put a small hole in it...this is to allow for air-transpiration. (A little fresh air needs to get in and out of the cup to help foster fermentation.)




Place the container of seeds in a warm location; a sunny windowsill or the top of the refrigerator are both excellent sites to place the container of seeds. Now Mother Nature will take over and begin to ferment the seed and water mixture. This takes about two or three days. Each night remove the plastic-wrap, stir the seed and water mixture, and then replace the plastic-wrap, if you use a new sheet of plastic-wrap then don't forget to put a small hole in it for air-transpiration. The top of the liquid will look "scummy" when the fermentation process has seperated the "goo" from the seeds. It also helps destroy many of the possible tomato diseases that can be harbored by seeds.

Take the container of fermented seeds to the sink and with a spoon carefully remove the scummy surface. Then pour the container's contents into a fine kitchen sieve and rinse the seeds with water several times...stir them while they're in the sieve to assure that all surfaces are thoroughly rinsed. Give a few sharp taps to the sieve to help remove as much loose water as possible from the seeds.
Line an open plate with a piece of waxed paper or a large automatic-drip coffee filter. Place the rinsed seeds onto the wax paper or coffee filter and spread them about so they are in a single layer. Place the plate in a safe location where the seeds can dry for a few days. Stir the seeds a few times during the drying process to assure that all their surfaces are evenly dry. Spread them out again into a single layer after each time you've stirred them. Tomato seeds are thick and can take up to a week to dry thoroughly. If you're having a rainy week that drying time may lengthen by a few days.


How do I know when the seeds are dry?
Dried seeds move quickly and easily across a plate, they do not stick to each other.


How do I store them?
I like paper packets or some folks like plastic. Whichever envelope style you choose is a matter of personal preferance. If you choose to store your seeds in plastic the seeds must be BONE DRY....otherwise any moisture in the seeds will be transferred to all seeds inside the plastic packet, it will foster mildew and rotting and the seeds will be ruined.


How do I label them?
Tomatoes are generally self-pollinated so there is rarely a chance of cross-breeding. If you save and trade your seeds you might wish to describe your trade offering as "open-pollinated" tomato seeds. That way the trader knows that Mother Nature was solely involved in the fertilization of the flower which produced the tomato that you have saved seeds from.


Onto the packet write the tomato variety name (if you know it) or a very good description if you don't, add the term "open-pollinated" if you're sharing or trading your tomato seeds, and also add the current year to the packet description.


And that's that! Do enjoy saving tomato seeds and growing your own tomatoes at home from them. Home-saved tomato seeds are a wonderful gift to tuck into a holiday card for when you want to add a "little something extra", or to share with friends and neighbors.

—Trudi Davidoff
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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.