Archive for Farms

It’s A “Love A-Fair!”

This past weekend, my Dad came to visit Raleigh all the way from Philadelphia to continue our annual tradition of visiting the NC State Fair. The theme of the fair this year was “It’s A Love-A-Fair.” Since I have made my big move down to Raleigh, I have enjoyed having my Dad visit this time every year to explore the new “unique fried treats” of the state fair. Last year’s new food invention was the Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger, and this year the popular item to try was Fried Kool-Aid. By no means am I condoning the idea of eating mass quantities of deep-fried, sugar-laden foods all day long, but it was very interesting to check out the food that was offered at each vendor and see what people are willing to wait in line for half an hour for! After all, it is only ONE day (hopefully) out of the year, so I don’t see anything wrong with trying something new….but the foods offered at the fair are certainly not for everyday consumption!

Mt. Olive Pickle Booth- a local NC based company!

My favorite booth- the giant candy apple stand!

3rd Place Winner of the Cake Contest- A Farmer's Market!

The State Fair is all about having fun, and I definitely had fun spending time with my Dad. Not only were there jumbo pickles, fried oreos, and candy apples galore, but we got to see pig and billygoat races, and bought tickets to see Kansas and Kelly Pickler in concert. The state fair is a great local event to attend, and for those who are out-of-town, it is something that I recommend everyone experiences at least once in their lifetime. Although I am not a huge fan of fried foods or street food, I did try a jumbo Mt. Olive pickle, candy apple, and NC State Laughing Cow homemade ice cream (fyi- I got the Campfire flavor, filled with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate chips, and it was delicious!). For the remainder of the weekend, I brought a couple snacks with me to keep me from getting too hungry at the fair- peanut butter crackers, trail mix, and protein bars were my snacks of choice 🙂

I hope you enjoy some of the fascinating (and shocking!) pictures that I took of the state fair this year:

My Dad, enjoying a giant dill pickle at the NC State Fair

My Dad again, about to try a Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger for the first time

Holy fried food!

I'm standing in the middle of the world's largest gummy bear sign. The gummy bears and gummy worms for sale weighed in at 5 pounds a pop!

Check out some of the “healthier options” of the State Fair, which I found in the agriculture and farming booths:

Check out the state's largest watermelon and pumpkin!

The state's largest sweet potato weighs in at 19.05 pounds!

One squash plant yields 10# of squash, while one tomato plant yields about 25# of tomatoes

One cabbage plant yields a 3-4# head, while one sweet potato plant yields about 50# of potatoes

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A Great Family Adventure: Visit Jolley Family Fun Farm!

Is it corn? Is it a maize? It’s a cornfield maize! As owners of a first time corn maize, Elaine and Mike Jolley are excited to welcome you to the Jolley Family Fun Farm in Zebulon. Over 70 acres of open land have been filled with corn, soybeans, and watermelons in the past, but the Jolley’s were in need of an innovative solution in this tough economy to keep the local land. Come check out their new agritourism adventure, and see how this farm has turned from construction site to corn maize! So climb aboard, get lost, and have family fun in the sails of an intricate pirate corn maize journey!

This is the map of the giant corn maize, in the shape of a pirate ship!

Jolley Family Fun Farm had their opening day on Saturday, September 17th, and will be open every weekend throughout the fall season. Come experience our 8 acre corn maize, climb aboard our pirate ship, pick a pumpkin to carve, solve a puzzle maze, enjoy a hayride, and just take the time to explore the outdoors. We can’t wait to see and meet you!

 

It’s fun, it’s fall, it’s a fun farm! This is a must-see attraction for your family during the fall season. Our current September hours are Friday and Saturday from 10am-7pm, and Sunday from 1pm-7pm.  Be sure to visit us during Halloween, too! Admission for children ages 2-12 is $7, and adults ages 13 and up are $9. We also offer birthday party packages, and group discounts for 20 people or more. This is a perfect outing for school field trips and church groups. Please contact us for special scheduling and discount rates. For more information, please call us at 1-765-CRN-MAZE or visit our new website at http://www.jolleyfamilyfunfarm.com.

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Bringing It To The Table: Part 2

I will continue my discussion on Wendell Berry’s book, “Bringing It To The Table,” which I have been reading as part of my Food and Society class curriculum. I was so excited to read this book, as it relates perfectly to the content of my blog!

Wendell Berry explains that people in modern society need to “eat responsibly.” This term can mean many things to different people, however, Berry states that to eat responsibly is to understand and enact, so far as one can, the complex relationship between man and food. As confusing as this sounds, he has provided a simple list that everyone can do to be more responsible with their food:

1. Participate in food production to the extent that you can. If you have a yard or even just a porch box or a pot in a window, grow something to eat in it. Therefore, you will appreciate the food fully, having known it all its life.

2. Prepare your own foods. You will be able to instill “quality control” and have some knowledge of what has bee added to the food you are eating.

3. Learn the origins of the food you buy, and buy the food that is produced closest to your home. In other words, EAT FRESH AND LOCAL FOODS!

4. Whenever possible, deal directly with a local farmer, gardener, or orchardist. So, know your farmer, know your food. Maximize your use of CSA boxes and farmer’s markets!

5. Learn as much as you can of the economy and technology of industrial food prodution. For instance what has been added to the foods you are eating?

6. Learn what is involved in the best types of farming and gardening.

7. Learn as much as you can, through direct observation and experience, of the life histories of the food species.

(Excerpt taken from pg. 232)

What are your thoughts on this current passage? Are there any additional tips that should be added to this list? If so, share them here!

 

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Bringing It To The Table: Part 1

I am currently enrolled in a graduate course called “Food and Society” at Meredith College, a discussion-based course that focuses on the evolution of food, what the world eats, and the impact the agricultural and industrial revolution had on our current eating habits. I am only three weeks into the course, and I am hooked! I have been reading such interesting books and articles related to cavemen and hunter-gatherers, paleolithic nutrition, the agricultural revolution, and much more.

I wanted to share my latest reading assignment with you. I know, you are probably thinking that I am going to bore you with mundane graduate school information, but this particular passage relates directly to our shared interest in farming and local foods. I strongly recommend reading Wendell Berry’s “Bringing It To The Table,” which focuses on farming and food. Wendell encourages his readers to “eat responsibly,” which means that you eat with understanding and with gratitude. He states that

“a significant part of the pleasure of eating is one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes. The pleasure of eating, then, may be the best available standard of our health.”

Amen! I couldn’t agree more to this statement.

Check out a fascinating excerpt from Wendell Berry’s book, taken from the Chapter entitled, “The Pleasures of Eating” (pages 227-234).

“I begin with the proposition that eating is an agricultural act…Most urban shoppers would tell ou that food is produced on farms. But most of them do not know what farms, or what kind of farms, or where the farms are, or what knowledge or skills are involved in farming. They apparently have little doubt that farms will continue to produce, but they do not know how or over what obstacles. For them, then, food is pretty much an abstract idea- something they do not know or imagine- until it appears on the grocery shelf or on the table.

“Patrons of the food industry, who have tended more and more to be mere consumers- passive, uncritical, and dependent…the food industrialists have by now persuaded millions of consumers to prefer food that is already prepared. They will grow, deliver, and cook your food for you and beg you to eat it. That they do not yet offer to insert it, prechewed, into your mouth is only because they have found no profitable way to do so.

“…The industrial eater is, in fact, one who does not know that eating is an agricultural act, who no longer knows or imagines the connections between eating and the land, and who is therefore necessarily passive and uncritical- in short, a victim. When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous.

“The dreamer in this dream home will perforce know nothing about the kind or quality of their food, or where it came from, or how it was produced and prepared, or what ingredients, additives, and residues it contains- unless, that is, the dreamer undertakes a close and constant study of the food industry, in which case he or she might wake up and play an active and responsible part in the economy of food.”

What are your thoughts on this passive and the modern food movement? Share your thoughts and opinions here!

 

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Purchase a CSA Membership!

I promise you won’t regret your decision!

During my practicum, I had the opportunity to visit, speak with, and “taste test” produce from a variety of farms and farmers markets. I do not think that you could go wrong purchasing a CSA membership from any farm in the Triangle region. Growing up in Philadelphia, I never had the exposure to such wonderful farming, fresh produce, and hands-on experience. Every farm and market that I have visited since moving to Raleigh has been awesome, and the food they sell is delicious!

However, if I were to give you my own personal opinion, my two favorites are Hilltop Farms and Wild Onion Farms. Hilltop Farms has an amazing CSA from personal experience and provides fresh and tasty produce each and every week. Farmer Fred Miller and his workers are so friendly and helpful, and really make you excited about consuming local foods. In addition, Wild Onion Farms has a produce stand at the Midtown Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning. To me, they have the most delicious produce available, the greatest selection, and the most affordable cost. That constitutes a winner in my opinion!

Here are 15 different farms and local businesses in the Triangle area that provide seasonal CSA boxes:

1. Farm to Form- Raleigh, NC

2. Britt Farms- Mt. Olive, NC

3. The Produce Box- Raleigh, NC

4. Rare Earth Farms- Zebulon, NC

5. Kellam-Wyatt Farm- Raleigh, NC

6. Freshtables CSA Farm- Apex, NC

7. Hilltop Farms- Willow Springs, NC

8. Five Points CSA- Raleigh, NC

9. Triple T Ranch- Fuquay Varina, NC

10. Smith’s Nursery- Benson, NC

11. Coon Rock Farms- Hillsborough, NC

12. Ben’s Produce- Clayton, NC

13. Fickle Creek Farm- Efland, NC

14. Wild Onion Farms- Middlesex, NC

15. Beausol Gardens- Pittsboro, NC

 

Search http://www.localharvest.org/, type in zip code to get a complete list of CSA programs in your region

 

If you are still undecided about which CSA membership to sign up for, or what to consider when purchasing a CSA, check out this website: www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-38.html

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Organic, Seasonal, Local…on a Budget!

I hope you are having a happy and healthy Fourth of July!

There are so many benefits to organically grown foods! According to the Toxic Free NC organization, organic farming reduces pollution, uses no pesticides or chemicals, promotes biodiversity, and bring a fairer price to farmers for their hard-earned produce. I enjoy purchasing organic products whenever possible; however, I often find that purchasing organic produce, meat, and eggs at the supermarket is too expensive for my “graduate student budget.” How have I solved this problem in my daily diet? I now purchase the majority of my food at a local farmer’s market, or I get it straight from the farm in my weekly CSA box!

Buying at the farmer’s market eliminates the “middle man,” and lets you buy produce that is grown just a few miles down the road from your home. Prices on organic produce are often much lower than in a retail store, not to mention they taste so much fresher! Another great perk of buying from a framer is knowing where their food is grown, what their labor practices are like, and how to best prepare and serve their produce.

When I shop at the Farmer’s Market, I feel like a kid in a candy shop- there is to much healthy food to choose from! This past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the Midtown Farmer’s Market in North Raleigh. Not only did I find some delicious produce, but I found some unique specialty items that are hand-crafted and made with local ingredients. Here are my top finds for local and fresh items, made just for you at the farmer’s market!

1. Best BBQ sauce and rubs: J-Rod’s Backyard Grill

I am not a big meat- eater, but J-Rod’s Chipotle Brown Sugar Rub and BBQ Sauce makes any local meat taste amazing! This sauce is best used on chicken, beef, pork, seafood, and burgers. They are a locally operated company in Morrisville, NC and include natural ingredients such as sea salt, paprika, peppers, ketchup, onions, vinegar, and tomato paste.

One tablespoon of BBQ sauce has only 15 calories and 2 grams of sugar, compared to Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce which contains over 16 grams of sugar! The brown sugar rub doesn’t contain any sugar. J-Rod’s rub and sauce have a sweet, tangy, even spicy taste and is so delicious you will be coming back to the farmer’s market for more!

www.jrodsbackyardgrill.com

2. Best dessert: Prodigal Farm’s goat cheesecake

Prodigal Farms is well-known for their rich and creamy goat cheeses. They have recently taken their specialty one step further by making homemade cheesecakes, made from goat cheese instead of cow’s cheese! I was a bit skeptical at first…but after tasting a sample of the Mexican chocolate, I was sold! Goat cheesecake has a rich and tangy flavor, and a creaminess to die for! I would much rather indulge in this cheesecake over original cheesecake. The flavors offered this week at the farmer’s market were Mexican chocolate and Lemon Creme. An 6″ homemade cheesecake costs $8…which provides 4 slices of rich cheesecake. This is a must have for special occassions!

www.prodigalfarm.com

3. Favorite daily snack: Senora Dixie salsa

This spicy salsa comes in three flavors: Mild, medium and hot! Every jar of salsa is made with fresh and all natural ingredients. The best thing about this salsa is it is a low calorie and low sodium snack, especially when paired with vegetables. Salsa is a very versatile ingredient and can be paired with chips, rice and beans, eggs, or used as a marinade.

www.senoradixie.com

4. Best baking ingredient: The Pleasant Bee Honey

This honey is made locally in Raleigh by two certified beekeepers. They sell regular honey and creamed honey, as well as various lotions, soaps, and lipbalms! This week, I tried creamed cinnamon and wildflower honey, and this was quite amazing! So far, I have tried this honey on toast, in slow cooked oatmeal, and on top of grilled peaches. It adds a unique and sweet flavor to any snack. In addition, this local ingredient has helped my terrible summer allergies, because it acts as a natural antibiotic, antihistimine, and anti-irritant.

www.thepleasantbee.com

5. Favorite selection of produce: Wild Onion Farms

Besides its adorable name, Wild Onion Farms is a small and sustainable family produce farm that focuses on quality, variety, and consistency. During this particular trip to the market, I purchased eggplant, squash, and cucumbers. Believe me when I tell you that this farm produces the BEST cucumbers I have ever tasted…and they’re only $1 each! Check out Wild Onion’s great summer selection of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, potatoes, peppers, carrots, and berries as well! Everything is grown using strict organic methods. This week, I have made eggplant parmesean, roasted squash, and sliced cucumbers and hummus…all of which were hearty, fresh, and flavorful!

www.wildonionfarms.com

6. Favorite sweet treat: The Chocolate Flower, Chocolates and Truffles

This had to be my favorite item of the day, and although this is not the best food to be trying samples of at 9am, I was immediately drawn to this stand. The chocolate flower is owned by Jennie Orcutt, who rents a church kitchen weekly in order to work on her “truffling” skills. These truffles and chocolates are made with fresh and local ingredients, and are melt in your mouth delicious! The Chocolate Flower rotates their flavors weekly, and offers flavors suchas Green Tea Ginger, Basil Pistachio, Orange Honey Caramel, and Elderflower…just to name a few. Truffles are $1.50 each or 8 for $10, and homemade chocolate bars are only $2 each. My favorite flavors this week included the Mexican chocolate and pumpkin seed bar, Kai Kai Peanut Butter truffle, and the Equal Opportunity Banana truffle. Yum!

www.chocolateflowernc.com

Do you have any farmer’s market treats that you enjoy? If so, share them here!

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What’s in the Box? Week 9

 I am so excited about the contents of my CSA box this week! Due to the hot and humid weather, we are now into potato, bean, and cabbage season! I am thrilled to try out some new recipes using these different seasonal ingredients. Farmer Fred also was selling honey (made fresh from Hilltop Farms!) and organic chickens from Triple T Ranch in Fuquay Varina. I already have plenty of local honey to finish eating, but I did purchase a pound of chicken breast for only $10.59. It looks so fresh and was reasonably priced. I can’t wait to make a meal with it this weekend…any suggestions for a great chicken dish?

Here is the remaining contents of my CSA box this week:

1 pint sugar snap peas

1 green cabbage (which means more yummy homemade cole slaw to come!)

3/4# green and dino kale

2# white and red potatoes

3 red spring onions

1#  white and green snap beans

Doesn’t all of this fresh, local produce sound wonderful?! I am looking forward to sharing some delicious recipes with you over the next couple of weeks! I am off to start dinner…I am making another batch of my tuscan kale soup tonight!

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