Monday, October 30, 2006

Pesticides in your Food

I got the following information from the World's Healthiest Foods web site ( They put out a good email newsletter. To avoid consuming pesticides in your food you may want to be very careful about the foods on the first list. Even if you buy directly from the orchard or farm, you may be subjecting yourself to a lot of unhealthy contamination. Peaches and apples often get 15-20 separate sprayings per season. It is very difficult to find an organic orchard. For our fruit trees we are adopting organic methods instead instead of toxic pesticides, fungicides, insecticides. None of our small fruit crops, for ex raspberries, blackberries, etc are treated with pesticides.

While we recommend enjoying organically grown food, sometimes organic foods are not readily available or accessible. We have previously shared with you the Environmental Working Group's list of "The Dirty Dozen" - those foods that have been found to be the most highly contaminated. This week we want to share with you their latest updated version of this list. Red raspberries and have been removed from the list while lettuce has been added. The Environmental Working Group's simulation of consumers eating high and low pesticide diets showed that it is possible to decrease exposure to pesticides by 90% by avoiding those foods that are the most highly contaminated and selecting those that are the least contaminated.

The Dirty Dozen
12 Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

pesticide load
Peaches 100
Apples 89
Sweet Bell peppers 86
Celery 85
Nectarines 84
Strawberries 82
Cherries 75
Pears 65
Grapes (imported) 65
Spinach 60
Lettuce 59
Potatoes 58

12 Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

pesticide load
Onions 1
Avocados 1
Sweet corn 2
Pineapples 7
Mango 9
Asparagus 11
Sweet peas 11
Kiwi 14
Bananas 16
Cabbage 17
Broccoli 18
Papaya 21

These lists are a great tool to help you make the best choices to avoid pesticide residues when you purchase conventionally grown foods from your local market.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Romney Farmer's Market

Well the farmer's market season has wrapped up for the year. We would like to Thank all of our customers that visited us at the market this year! We met a lot of nice people at the market. Lots of folks are indeed getting into the fresh and local spirit with their fresh food purchases. Unfortunately, the market is still not very well publicized although there was one article in the Hampshire Review about mid way through the season. Ruth did get her picture taken at the market which was printed in the Cumberland Times. Just as a reminder, the Romney Farmers Market is held Saturday AM from 9 AM until 12 Noon on Main Street (Route 50) in the Bank of Romney Community Center parking lot. Its right across the street from the Sheetz store. There are always a few vendors, and at the peak as many as 6-8 vendors, at the market. The market season runs from about Memorial Day until mid October. The market was really well attended around mid July when some vendors had local corn. That seems to really bring the market traffic out. We had plenty of tomatoes then, including Brandywine heirloom tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes are another must have item for most people attending the market and we sold out most times. I've included a few photos of our market stand for you to see.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Boxing Mantis

Our dog Daisy had a very large preying mantis cornered on our back deck the other day. We snapped a picture of it. He had his arms up like he was boxing and stood tall in a threatening stance. What the still picture can not show is how it was also swiveling its head side to side. Interesting how the mantis' body had changed to a partial light brown color to blend in to the grasses which are also a mixed green and brown. Of course a preying mantis is a beneficial insect so we let this one alone.

What the Heck is a Hair Sheep?

Most people think sheep produce wool. But some don't. This year we purchased our first ewe lambs which are the Kathadin breed. Kathadins are not sheared for wool. They are generally raised for meat. The advantage of Kathadins is that there is much less maintenance required, no shearing. There is really no market for wool in the US anymore so wool sheep are not really kept by producers. They are mostly kept by hobbyists that may want to spin their own wool. There is a growing demand for lamb from ethnic populations in the US. Amazing to me is that when you speak with anyone that has had a meal of lamb, they can remember and recount it for you. Lamb on US dinner tables is still somewhat rare simply because of the cost. The ethnic populations often do their own butchering and one lamb may feed dozens of people at a family celebration.

The Kathadin Association in the US can be found at The picture is one of our ewe lambs, this one happens to be named "Little One", as she was the smallest of the group. You can see that there is no wool.

We bought our first lambs from Susan Schoenian, who works for the University of MD as a small ruminant specialist. She also has her own sheep flock at her farm in Clear Spring, MD. She has traveled extensively and is probably one of the US leading experts on sheep and goats. She maintains two web sites and two blog sites which are Baalands and The Baalands Blog for her farm, as well Shepherd's Notebook Blog and for her work at UM. There is a wealth of information at these sites. She has been very patient with our questions.

I originally got interested in Kathadins after attending a Rural innovation Forum in Winchester, VA. There was an interesting talk by David Redwine from the Scott County Hair Sheep Association in Southwestern Virginia about how they had started raising and marketing Kathadins in Scott County, VA. Then I attended another Farm Innovation meeting in Kingwood, WV where Susan spoke. I would not have met Susan had I not attended the Kingwood meeting.

Ruth has done a great job training the lambs and getting them settled in at the farm, as you can see from the picture. They will call out to her any time they see her. They are nicer to have around the farmstead than cattle. They romp around and enjoy their snacks, much like dogs. In spring 2008 they will have their own first lambs. We'll sell the ewe lambs for breeding stock and the males will likely be sold into the meat market. If a Ram lamb has good characteristics, he can be kept and sold as a breeding Ram. This will be a great venture for the farm.

County Fair Display

We were asked to set up a display of our farm products at the Hampshire County Fair this year. Looks like we'll be doing this every year. The displays are on one side of the "Vo-Ag" building at the Hampshire County Farigrounds in Augusta, WV. Paul Roomsburg, one of the Vo Ag teachers at the high school is in charge of setting up the building. The other half of the building is for the displays for the individual fair competitions. This is where the "blue ribons" are awarded for many categories. We got lots of nice feedback on the display and I think the effort was well worth it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fall Garden and Salad Mixes

Our fall garden this year includes the following: mustard greens, spinach, radishes, broccoli, kale, and collards. Of these we are currently selling mostly salad mix, kale, and radishes. Although we will have quantities of the items items to sell shortly. The picture is of me with the first handful of radishes harvested this fall. The other photo is the bed of fall salad mix and kale. We had never grown kale before or used it in salads. We had obtained some before but it was too large and too tough to eat and we were turned off by it. It was sort of like chewing twine. I think we ended up giving that to the chickens. But since growing our own, we have found that it is just great when picked smaller and more tender. Just wonderful in salads. And packed with vitamins and minerals. The kale mix I planted contained 3 varieties. I think the purple stemmed variant is the best. Our salad mixes are something special. You really can't find it anywhere else. We grow spring, summer and fall salad mixes. They are a mix of 10-12 different plants. We grow this in the smaller "kitchen garden" as it is shaded and well suited for lettuces and salad crops. You want dappled sunshine for lettuce, the shade of the maple tree is perfect for it. And the kitchen garden is close to the house so we can water the garden effectively. The seed is somewhat expensive but worth it. I get it from a place in Oregon called Wild Garden Seed ( Contact them if you'd like to get their catalog. We sell the salad mix for $3.50 for a gallon size bag which is very reasonable; this probably makes about 6 dinner salad portions. The customers that have tried it are dedicated. You would only find something like it at a very high end restaurant. I hope to continue growing fall crops in our cold frame on through the holidays.

Tilting at Windmills

There has been a lot of media coverage recently about wind power. But I find that few people have ever seen a commercial scale wind turbine up close. We were on our way to Weston, WV to attend the WV Beekeepers Association meeting last week and we passed the wind turbine facility located on Backbone Mountain just below Thomas, WV. Here are a few pictures just to give you the idea and scale of these turbines. Especially note the one where I am standing near the base. Since I'm 6 feet tall, you can just imagine the overall height of the turbine. We belong to the WV Highlands Conservancy ( and there have been a lot or articles about these wind turbines. There are more wind farms proposed throughout WV and surrounding states. There is one under construction near Mt Storm, WV which is about 1 hour west of Romney, WV. There is a bit of noise from the turbines. Kind of a low hum and you can hear the "whoosing" of the air off the turbine blades. But at a distance of a couple hundred yards, there is no perceptible noise. This wind facility near Thomas, WV has turned into quite the attraction as there were cars pulled of the road snapping pictures. Of course, it was also a beautiful October day with good views. A very impressive piece of engineering.

First Post

We'll this is my first post to the new Blog for Church View Farm. Not at all sure yet where it will lead. I'll lay out a few ideas and some ground rules here. Years ago there was a series in the Washington Post about an organic farm in Southern PA. It was published weekly in the Food section of the Post. I used to look forward to it every week. It described the operations of the farm from week to week, what they were growing and why, the successes and failures. I'd like to do the same thing here for our farm and country living. Its primarily a means to keep in touch with colleagues and customers. I am generally pretty bad about keeping in touch with people. When you get busy during the actual growing season there is very little time to keep in contact or do any marketing. the focus is on producing at that time and not much emphasis on marketing. And I'd rather write than talk on the phone anyway. Many phone calls start with, "Well what's new at the farm?". And I always think that I can't possibly recount it all, or even know where to start since it may have been a while since I have talked to that person the last time. Of course I wish this had been started many years ago, but the tools were just not yet there. Now, and other tools, as well as innovation by the likes of Google, Yahoo and many others are providing the required tools. I've tried keeping customer email lists, and there is never enough time to continually update a web site. I'll still email customers if I now of their specific interest. I think web sites are one of two things now. They are either dynamic news feeds, or else they are pretty much static bulletin board type of displays. We'll still keep our web site. But it will just be general info, the ongoing current events information will be posted on this blog. I think people are too busy to go and check too many web sites anyway. I tend to get up early, as I'm a morning person. I like that quiet time to read and think and I usually make coffee and read and study for several hours, and now I'll also write for this blog. I'm sure Ruth will post some items also. My personal interest areas are farming-gardening-sustainable agriculture, building-construction-real estate, nature-environment-ecology-healthy lifestyle and finance-investing-financial markets. My mental energy goes into these areas and I'm interested in the ongoing innovation in all of these areas. All of these subjects sort of come together with a farm. Any farmer locking in his future revenue with a futures contract, while hedging the rest of his production with an option contract is as sophisticated as any stock or bond trader. They just prefer jeans and shorts to suits and ties. Even homeowners now buy their propane, natural gas, phone service, or electricity with a contract for forward delivery. Most don't even know that the cost of the option is just buried in the price. The world is changing fast. I won't discuss personal information here, or ever invade anyones privacy. But as I describe people, places, things, and local events, you'll hopefully get to know us, the farm, and the loacl area just a bit. This will likely be factual-informational and about "things". When someone visits the farm, they are usually full of questions. This blog may answer some of those questions before they arrive. Many people are now much more interested in where their food comes from and a healthier lifestyle with an emphasis on staying healthy. The recent spinach
e coli scare was just the latest news item. Enlightened consumers want to see things for themselves and that is a very favorable thing. The Fresh and Local farm movement is definitely catching on and spreading. I'll cover activities, work, books, web sites, people, tasks, challenges and just about everything that makes up the life of the farm or country living in present day West Virginia. So let's begin.