Monday, August 23, 2010

Food Safety Guidelines

At the local marketing club, several of our members mentioned the confusion over allowable processed foods at the farmers markets, especially pertaining to the Community Garden Market. For instance, hot pepper jelly is no longer allowed, and there is a lot of confusion as to why this is.
On the DHHR website there is a handy guide titled: Farmers Market Vendors Guide. It is a PDF file that can be found at the link below:

This guide is very useful in answering any questions vendors may have on what they can and cannot sell at the market and also the reasons why this is. It lists Apple Butter, Sorghum, Molasses, Eggs, Meat, Jams and Jellies, Honey, Baked Goods and a host of other foods. If you are interested in producing any goods for the farmers markets in your area, you can use the form to get the proper information on food safety.

Friday, August 20, 2010

High Tunnel Visit

This past Thursday, Dr. Lewis Jett from WVU paid a visit to the high tunnel on Chestnut Ridge. As a continuing source of technical assistance, Dr. Jett has been very involved in the high tunnel from the initial planting to the present. During his visit he recommended some late season crops to plant and also some ways to prepare the high tunnel for the coming fall and winter seasons. Dr. Jett provided them with several different seeds for a late season crop. He handed out several types of peas, some beets, and lastly some carrots. These are crops that will flourish in the warmer environment of the high tunnel as the temperatures begin to drop.

Along with some seeds, he also provided some technical advice. For instance, the night temperatures are beginning to drop, so he recommends that the sides of the high tunnel now be rolled down at night to hold in the heat. The crops inside the high tunnel were not his only focus however. He also recommended some treatment for a blight that is occurring on the pepper plants located outside the high tunnel.

Dr. Jett was very impressed, as were we at the difference in quality between the pepper plants inside the tunnel versus the pepper plants outside the tunnel. Both rows of plants have received the same treatment (or a lack thereof in the case of pesticides), in watering, initial manure application and fertilizers. The peppers outside the tunnel are suffering from a pretty severe blight which has obviously stunted their growth. Overall, they do not look very healthy. However, the pepper plants inside tell a completely different story. They are flourishing to say the least. The have avoided the blight, despite being some 10 feet away from the other plants. They are at least 1.5 times taller than the plants outside, and the peppers they are producing are large and healthy. This small 'study' being put on clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of a system that a high tunnel can create.

As well as pepper plants, the tunnel also has several varieties of tomatoes, as well as a row of green beans. The tomatoes are large and will be ready for harvesting soon. The green beans have been coming in for several weeks now and are green and delicious.

The high tunnel project on Chestnut Ridge is proving to be very valuable and informative. Now we need to begin spreading this technology around the area.

Please check back soon for more updates!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Opportunity For Local Growers!

WesMonTy recently spoke with the Produce Manager of the Shop N' Save in Belington. This locally owned store has been featuring locally grown produce on their shelves for the last 5 seasons! A small section is given to in-season produce which currently includes:
Yellow Squash

We recognize this great effort on their part to support the local growers. We are also incredibly grateful that a store that large would take the lead in such an important issue for the community and the region.

Thank You Belington Shop N' Save!

Market Information

Hello all!

If you are looking for a Farmers Market in West Virginia, here is a great resource:

Another great resource is to look at the Buy Fresh Buy Local/West Virginia Farmers Market Association Website:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Community Garden Market featured in The InterMountain

Recently, the Community Garden Market was featured in a wonderful article in The InterMountain newspaper.
Here is the link:

This section really describes the market and it's place in the community:

"The garden market promotes the health and well-being of our community, not only from a nutritional standpoint, but economically, as well as socially," Hunt said. "It's not just a place to buy and sell fresh, local produce; it's also a place where people come together to share ideas, learn new growing or cooking techniques, support one another, and just catch up on community news. It provides an opportunity, too, for some of our local families to supplement their income. We've had several of our growers tell us that they depend on the income from the market to help pay high winter heating bills or cover medical expenses."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Traditional, or Modern, Agriculture

The other day I was listening to NPR in Michigan and they had a piece on the 'dead zone' in the Gulf of Mexico. The dead zone is a large area of water that is unable to support life due to extremely low levels of oxygen. Every year the area gets larger, and scientists believe that the oil spill will contribute to it. The point of the piece was to mention how the problem of the dead zone is being overshadowed by the spill in the Gulf, despite the latter's contribution to it.
The dead zone they believe is caused by chemical run-off from farms in the midwest. The fertilizers and chemicals from these farms all flow into the enormous watersheds that contribute to the Mississippi river. The Mississippi river then flows out into the Gulf of Mexico and causes reactions within the ecosystem, creating lots of dead organic matter, which when decomposing uses oxygen in the water, creating a dead zone.
This dead zone has been known about for years and has been monitored by various groups. The part of the broadcast that stuck out for me though was the word they used to describe the farms. The person being interviewed said that 'traditional agricultural' farms were contributing to the fertilizers and chemicals and runoff. I mainly found this interesting because if someone tells me something about 'traditional agriculture' I tend to think back to the days before large mono-cultured farms with hundreds, or even thousands of acres of one product. I think back to a small farmer with a homestead and maybe a few hundred acres to plant.
My question is more of a sociological one. When did modern agriculture become traditional? And if it never was, wouldn't the new 'organic' and poly-cultured farms count more as traditional, than the new stuff? Take for instance the beatniks. Would one say that they are a traditional culture? The use of the word would more or less imply something much older.
Modern agriculture in the form we know it now, has really been around for about 40-50 years. Slowly over the decades, the small farmer lost against large industrial agriculture that could afford to buy the latest seed, and all the chemicals needed to intensify and increase yield. Slowly but surely during the industrial revolution and beyond, people began to forget about utilizing nature's own devices to create a balance on the farm. Modern agriculture is really the exception rather than the rule in the course of human history. Everything that is happening now, would suggest almost a circling back to the older ways of doing things. Smaller production, fewer chemicals, etc.

The purpose of this post is just to ask the question and hopefully create discussion on this matter. What is traditional agriculture, and has modern agriculture turned into the tradition, or in other words the 'norm'?