Thursday, November 8, 2012

Turkeys and Cheese

We are prepping for a delicious holiday season this year and so can you, starting with pastured turkeys for your Thanksgiving feast. The birds range in size from 15-20 lbs and can be reserved and picked up at the Pittsburgh Public Market before your celebrations. Email us at to reserve your locally raised, pastured turkey straight from the farm. 

   While you're picking up your turkey, why not grab some appetizers too? Forget your standard cheese tray and start a new holiday tradition by adding a Goat Cheese Sampler to your appetizer menu. Sam and Suzie Byler have crafted a Chevre Holiday Plate and an Aged Goat Cheese Gift Sampler. Both samplers would work great as host gifts for your holiday parties or impress for a family function. These can be ordered from the online store and picked up at the Pittsburgh Public Market.

Aged Goat Cheese Gift Sampler
Chevre Holiday Plate

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Winter '12 CSA - Now Accepting New Members!

We are now accepting new members to our Winter '12 CSA. Our Winter Shares will be $30 each, and will be delivered to our pick-up locations every other Saturday, from Nov 10 through Jan 19 (6 distributions). The shares will include a mix of storage crops (potatoes, onions, winter squash), lettuces and greens, grains, and canned goods. While our Summer CSA has entirely consisted of produce from our farms, we will likely include a couple items in the Winter Shares from other local, organic growers. We encourage you to read our list of items we plan to include before signing up.

Due to limited availability of produce during this time of year, we are only able to offer our Winter CSA to a limited number of members and at a limited number of sites. Please click the link to sign up to view a complete list of our host sites and pick-up times. You can also view that list on a map by clicking the "map" button on the top left of the screen. Currently, we have not been able to confirm all of the details with some locations, and they appear at the bottom as "wait list" locations. You can still sign up for them, which will reserve your share and we will contact you as soon as everything is confirmed so you can complete the sign-up process and be taken off the wait list.

Due to the limited size of the Winter CSA, we will not be offering our bread, and will only offer our eggs in full dozens (though it's every other week) for $5.50 each. We will also provide a 25% discount if you pay with SNAP benefits. If you plan to pay with SNAP benefits, please choose to pay with check and write a note in the box at the bottom of the payment screen telling us you will be paying with SNAP; we will get in touch with you to confirm the payment details.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Peak of the Season Farm Tours and Harvest Celebration

I am very happy to formally announce our Peak of the Season Farm Tours and Harvest Celebration Event; which will be happening on our farms this Labor Day (September 3).  The event will feature farm tours, pick-your-own-pumpkin (or other winter squash--we have yet to see if pumpkins will be in by then), and we are hoping for home canning demonstrations.  CSA members are also invited to join us for a potluck picnic before the tours start, at noon--where you can enjoy a meal together with each other, and the families that grow your food and organize the cooperative.  

Everybody must RSVP to attend.  Please click here, or on the image above to do so.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What do to with Spelt Berries

Wondering what to do with Clarion River Organics spelt berries? Perhaps you would like to eat them the way the Pittsburgh Steelers do! Gretchen McKay of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette used our spelt berries to replicate the wheat berry salad the Steelers are served at their summer training camp. Scroll to the bottom of this link for the recipe.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Melon Season

I just ate the out first cantaloupe of the year. Melon season, like everything else, is coming early this year.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

How to use squash blossoms

All of the sudden summer is here in full force, and it brings lots of new treats from our fields to our farm stands and CSA bags. One of the most special but underappreciated ones is squash blossoms.

Zucchini, Yellow Squash, and Patty Pan Squash all make tons of these edible flowers, but because they are so delicate and seasonal they have not gotten very popular outside of gourmet circles. But they are delicious, easy to use, and pretty so if you find them for sale you should definitely try them. Raw they have nutty flavor and can be cut up in a salad or eaten whole with dip like anything else on a vegetable plate. You can toss them on a pizza or in sauce or soup to add a burst of color, but the most popular way to cook them is to stuff them and deep fry them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kale and Garlic Scallion Pasta

Quick and delicious Kale and Garlic Scallion Pasta (serves 4 or 5)

  • 3 Kale leaves chopped
  • 3 or 4 Garlic Scallions (whole plant can be used, slice from bulb to leaves)
  • olive oil and butter
  • 1/2 cup broth
  • 1 lb pasta (any kind) 
  • Salt and Pepper
Put water on for pasta and cook according to directions.  Meanwhile cook the kale in a pan, stirring on medium heat with about a tablespoon oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  After a few minutes the kale will look bright green from cooking, this is when you can add the garlic and cook a few minutes more.  Add the broth and a tablespoon of butter and simmer about 2 minutes more, then remove from the heat.  When the pasta is finished cooking, drain and toss with the kale and garlic and serve.  It is great with Parmesan cheese.   

With the garlic scallions you can remove the papery skin by peeling off one leaf. They come off very easily!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

NOW we get ice!

January was so warm we barely got any ice harvested for our cold storage. Now in June we get a 15 minute hail storm that destroys thousands of dollars of summer produce. Sunday afternoon the storm hit and rained marble size balls of ice on most of the Clarion River Organics farms.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CSA option for low incomes

We are happy to announce that Clarion River Organics CSA shares can now be paid for with Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards. And to make our shares even more affordable to people with low incomes, we are offering a 50% discount to anyone paying with SNAP.

Organic food and CSA shares are often seen as something for people with extra money. It shouldn't be that way. Most of us actually can fit a good amount of local organic food into our budgets if it we make it a priority. But it is difficult for some people to put up a couple hundred dollars at one time for a CSA share. Thanks to the USDA which is trying to help farmers use the SNAP payment system, and thanks to all our CSA members whose commitment has made it possible for us to create this opportunity, we're trying to lower that barrier.

If you or anyone you know would like to use these payment methods for the Clarion River Organics CSA share just give us a call and we'll tell you how exactly it works.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Strawberry Harvest Party - May 26 - Reserve Your Spot Now!

We are happy to announce our first farm event of the season, our Strawberry Harvest Party.  The details for the event are in the flier below.  There is limited space, so you will have to reserve a spot.

This is our first (and biggest) farm event of the year.  We hope you can make it out to meet our farmers, see our produce and fields, and celebrate the first fruits of summer together!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Only 2 Weeks Left to Register for Our Full CSA!

Our first CSA delivery is coming up in just a little over 2 weeks--which means there are only 2 weeks left to sign up as a member for the full season.

Yes--there is still space.  Our cooperative is young, and our CSA is even younger, and we have plenty of room for growth, so we are accepting as many people as sign-up this year.

We will also be accepting sign-ups throughout the season, but if you're interested in joining--we encourage you to join now and not miss out on some of our spring produce (like asparagus and strawberries) that won't be around for long.

If you are interested in our CSA, we encourage you to learn more by clicking on the "CSA" tab at the top of this page.  If you have decided you would like to sign up, you can do so here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Organic Art

Brooklyn artist Luisa Caldwell makes paintings incorporating the little stickers found on fruits and vegetables. Here is a piece she did using our Red Kuri Squash sticker as daisy petals.

I love how she evokes the beauty of nature using man made stuff that would usually go in the trash. It very much in the spirit of the beauty we're trying to create with Clarion River Organics. Check out more of her work at her site:

Friday, April 20, 2012

+Clarion River Organics at the Pittsburgh Farm Markets+
Hello Farm-Fresh Local Produce lovers!

The Sewickly Farmer's Market is now OPEN and we're excited.We've listed the market schedule at the end of this newsletter, so be sure to check out your closest seasonal market!

Also, be sure to come down and check out our new DAIRY STAND! All the Riverview and Pasture Maid dairy products are now located at a separate stand at the Public Market. We expanded into a second stall so that we can bring you MORE exceptional local farm-fresh cheese from MORE family farms, and so we could have more room for all the amazing fruits and vegetables we are growing this year. (see more in the highlight section!)

GOAT MILK, you say? We would like to start carrying goat milk at the dairy stand but we need at least 10 people to order - $7/half gallon - $4/quart - Place your order in the online store or email

..ONLINE STORE? Yes! We've opened the online store, a new and exciting way to purchase the variety of goods that our farmers are producing. You can place an order for meat, produce, dairy products, grains and more, and then pick up your goods at the Public Market on Saturday that week.

Also, MORE GRAINS are on the way! Not this weekend but next weekend we will have in freshly milled local organic grains, Corn, Wheat, and Spelt:
Corn meal, polenta, puffed corn, spelt berries, spelt flour, honey coated puffed spelt, golden spelt flour, bran, and whole wheat flour

To find more ways to keep up with the farms you can follow our blog (interesting news from the field!), facebook (socialializing and important updates), or twitter (tidbits and bites)!

This Week
From our Clarion River farms we've brought down:
- Daikon Radish
- Turnips
- Mixed fingerling potatoes
- Red Beets
- Russet & Red potatoes
- Eggs
- Beef (Organically Raised, Grass-Fed)
- Pork (Organically Raised, Pastured)
- Chicken, stewing (Organically Raised, Pastured)
- Lamb (Grass-Fed)
- Goat
- Rabbit

Organic Grains
- Rolled Spelt
- Spelt flour
- Pancake Mix

And also:
- Greens from our friends at Goose Creek Gardens.

*indicates products only available at the Pittsburgh Public Market

:: HIGHLIGHT: More Cheese! ::

We have expanded at the Pittsburgh Public Market!

In an effort to be loyal to more local family farms, we're bringing in DELICIOUS cow & goat cheese from Western PA dairies -- most of which are available to sample at the stand, just ask if you don't see it out!
The cheese stand is called Family Farms Creamery because it will carry all things dairy from family farms that process their own milk that they are producing.
There is some amazing cheese from Clover Creek Cheese Cellars and fun 100% grass-fed cheeses from Milky Way Meadows located near Meadville.

Keep up to date with Family Farms Creamery at
"Long Live the Micro-Diary...Long Live the Family Farm!"

Farm Market Schedule

Day                Location                Time              Season
Tuesday SouthSide (18th and Carson) 3:30 - 7:00 May - November
Wednesday          Phipps Conservatory   2:30 - 6:30 June - October
                              Fox Chapel         3- 6:30      June - October
Thursday                    Market Square 10:00 - 2:00 June - November
                    Upper St Clair        4:00 - 7:00 June - October
Friday                                Oakland      4:00 - 7:00 June - October
Pittsburgh Public Market 10:00 - 6:00 Year Round
Saturday                      Sewickley 9:00 - 1:00 Now- Thanksgiving
Pittsburgh Public Market  9:00 - 5:00 Year Round
Sunday          Pittsburgh Public Market   10:00 - 4:00 Year Round

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Planting

The greenhouses and fields of Clarion River Organics are a storm of action and change this month. Every day seeds are being planted, fields are being plowed, and rows of vegetables are getting set for production. 

Almost everything starts in the greenhouse. The first seeds were planted into cells trays about eight weeks ago: cool weather greens like lettuce and cabbage, as well as tomatoes and peppers that will be grown in plastic-covered high tunnels. These days it is the summer crops like zucchini and field tomatoes that are being seeded into trays

Below on the left are baby cabbage plants and on the right are broccoli transplants.

On the left is a close up of the broccoli transplants, and on the right a whole table full of romaine lettuce.

Each farm in the Clarion River Organics co-op has it's own home-made green house. Our biggest farm has a new greenhouse of the standard type, seen below on the left. On right is the greenhouse one of our smaller farms built from scratch. It is sunk into the ground about three feet to conserve heat and it can be accessed from their basement for convenience.

Once the transplants have grown sturdy and almost big enough to put into the field, they are moved into cold frames as an intermediate step. Here they 'harden off,' getting used to the colder temperatures and drier air they will face in the field. Pictured below are fennel, swiss chard, and red cabbage in the cold frames on two of our farms.

While the transplants are growing in the green house, the farmers are getting the fields ready to receive them. First they plow down the thick cover crop that has grown over the fall and winter. A cover crop is a mix of plants put into a field just for the purpose of increasing the nutrient level and organic matter of the soil. It takes a team of eight horses to pull a two bottom plow.

Next they smooth out the ground with two pieces  of equipment: a cultimulcher, and a pile of heavy boards nailed together. Seriously, it's just some boards they stand on as the horses drag them around, breaking down the remaining dirt clods so the soil is ready for bed making and transplanting.

The bed-maker then comes through and makes raised beds, lays irrigation lines, and covers it all in plastic in one pass. The farmers consider field plastic a necessary evil - it prevents weeds and it warms the soil, so it allows us to produce a lot more veges a lot earlier. But we realize it costs us and the earth something to use and we'd like to get away from it if we can.

Then they bring the transplanter along and punch the little plants through the plastic into the warm soil. They then put metal hoops of the rows, as you can see above to the left. These hoop hold up the row cover, which is a synthetic cloth that keeps insects and wind from harming the plants and keeps them warmer too. The plants are now set to provide us a great crop of organic vegetables in a couple months.

Below are some pictures of the early tomatoes, planted into the high tunnels. These plants will bear fruit at least a month earlier than the field tomatoes, and they are all heirloom varieties. Since we're still getting nights below 20 degrees, this farmer has a small wood stove in there to supplement the protection provided by the tunnel and the layer of row cover fabric you can see draped over the plants.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More Warm Winter Weirdness

Winter ended last week but the effects of the unusually high temperatures linger on. The fruit tree blossoms came out much earlier this year. That's dangerous because a hard frost could wipe out the whole season's fruit in one night.

Here is a mulberry tree in full bloom on one of the Clarion River Organics farms. 

And here is a plum tree. These were taken on Monday, March 26. That night temperatures dropped to 25 degrees, which could be a killing frost. Here is what we found the next day.

These plum blossoms got singed pretty badly, but not totally destroyed, so we don't know yet whether the trees will still bear fruit this year.

 The peach blossoms have some damage but weren't hit quite so hard. Luckily, as you can see in the photo below, there were still lots of unopened blossoms on the peach tree so there is a good chance we'll get fruit out of them this summer.

The good news is the apple blossoms were still in the bud stage, so they weren't affected at all. But the unseasonal warmth continues and we have another month of potential frosts to get through, so we're either going to have early fruit or no fruit this year. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Saint Kilian Parish - New CSA Pick-up Site in Cranberry Twp

Many people have expressed interest in a CSA site in Cranberry Township--and here it is!  We're very glad to announce that Saint Kilian Parish on Franklin Rd in Cranberry--just down the street from our friends at Restaurant ECHO on route 228 will be a pick-up spot for our CSA farm-share program this summer.

If you're interested in our CSA, there is a lot more information on the tab at the top of this page.  You can sign up there, and if you've already signed up, and would like to change your subscription to this site, please email us and we will be glad to change that for you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gearing Up for the New Season

Last week the farms got in their seed and soil orders. With 11 farms growing produce, we use a lot of potting soil just to start the seeds. Like, 25 pallets, 1500 bags, 22,000 pounds worth. One semi trailer full came into the warehouse and now sits ready for the growers to take as they need.

Here is the seed order for our biggest grower, Rippling Brook Farm. Although it doesn't look like a lot, that is tens of thousands of seeds that will yield a tremendous amount of produce if all goes well this season. Soon we'll have greenhouses full of young seedlings, and not long after that it will be time to get into the fields. Can't wait!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New CSA pick-up site in Erie!

We are excited to be delivering to Erie now!  If you call Erie home, pick up your Clarion River Organics CSA share at Frankie & May Fresh Grocer.  Pickup will be on Wednesday.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Harvesting Ice in a Warm Winter

Because the growers of Clarion River Organics do not have electricity on their farms, they rely on ice to cool their produce throughout the summer. They usually cut the ice from their ponds during the coldest part of winter when temperatures are in the teens and below for days on end. That yields six inch thick blocks which will last all through the summer and into the next winter. Unfortunately this winter was so warm that thick ice never formed on the ponds. Finally the farmers broke down and after a cold couple days in February they went out in boats to collect the thin layer of ice that was their last hope. Using garden rakes they broke the ice into pieces and pushed it towards the end of the pond by the ice house.

There a motorized conveyor carried the ice into a small hole cut out of the wall of the ice house.

As you can see, the ice this year was only about a half inch thick.

By the end of the day they had filled the 16 foot by 16 foot room 8 feet high with ice.

The ice in that room will keep any produce stored in
the adjacent room at 35-40 degrees even in the hottest months of summer.

The farmers cleared this entire acre-plus pond of ice in one day. This should be enough to get them well into the fall of this year, and hopefully next winter will be a better ice making season.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New CSA Pick-up Site in Squirrel Hill

We are very happy to announce that we are offering our CSA at Commonplace Coffeehouse in Squirrel Hill this summer.

Commonplace is located on Forbes Ave between Murray and Shady Avenues--between Sun Penang and the Carnegie Library.  We really look forward to having this great spot to connect with the community in Squirrel Hill.  If  you're interested in more info on our CSA and what exactly a pick-up location in, please check out the tab at the top of this page!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bloody Mary Mix

Our bloody mary mix is featured in the On the Rocks column in this week's City Paper.

As they note--you can find it every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at our stand in the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip.