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.