Monday, February 20, 2017

Farming starts with the Kitchen

santa fe, nm
On my trip to the colorful state of New Mexico this January I ate at Cafe Pasquals where I had (by far!) the best meal of my entire Arizona, New Mexico, Texas roadtrip adventure.  There I learned that San Pasqual is the patron Saint of the kitchen.

cilantro rice, enchilada, egg, beans, cheese & green chile at Cafe Pasqual

I have a very strict rule in life which is if something comes back into my life twice I look into it...which explains why I now have a PawPaw orchard on the farm.   

Well San Pasqual came back into my life for a second time when the sweet souls of the Constellation Collective allowed me to sell tulips in their delightful cafe/bakery/place of deliciousness. 

There he was. 

San Pasqual was sitting in a frame on the display case that held delicious things like "beet butternut pie," "salted honey pie" and "bacon & brussel fritatta."

constellation collective collingswood, nj

Between customers I did a little research on the guardian of the kitchen.  While cloistered with the Franciscan Friars, Pasqual was assigned to cook for his fellow brothers.  After being less than enthusiastic about his assigned station in the kitchen, cooking became spiritual, a place of peace and deeply gratifying.  

This is something I think many of us can relate to you. I will speak for myself when I say I get such a flying high feeling in my heart after I've made something that others (and just me too) thoroughly enjoy. 

It's the same feeling I get when my table is set up at the farmers market (or farmstand) and it's that moment just before the customers arrive when I take a look at the table and take in the spread. 

When I'm ordering seeds the kitchen is always in the back of my mind. What can we make with this or that? What goodness can be created with real ingredients?  I think a large part of farming (especially if you retail) is thinking about the end result....helping you feel/find that San Pasqual-ian joy.  

And it is truly joyful to hear your kitchen stories each week. This Friday, February 24th is National CSA Day.  At the start of this week I thought it would be fitting to mention San Pasqual since really the desire to belong to a CSA or visit a farmstand/farmers market and become a part of a farm family starts with your desire to spend time in the room of: breakfast in Pj's, afterschool snacks and late night snacks, dance parties, fancy cocktails and crafty beer, cookbooks and secret family recipes....the kitchen, the heart of the home.      

Monday, January 23, 2017

2017 Market CSA & Flower CSA Sign Up Open Now!

Tis the season for Market CSA Sign Up!

Link to Market CSA Page

I am as excited as ever for this season.  Thank you so much for checking out our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture Program) and we hope you'll become part of the family!  

First, I would first like to note 2 new things this year: 

1. A portion of our farm will be Certified Naturally Grown 
2. We will be offering a Cut Flower CSA this year

1. Certified Naturally Grown is something I have wanted for a while.  Selected crops will be grown following the Certified Naturally Grown standards. 

I want to be clear that we will not be transitioning the entire farm and items like the peaches and tomatoes will still be grown using the Integrated Pest Management program. A complete and final list of the Certified Naturally Grown items will be displayed on the website as soon as I get my final seed plan done. 

2. So if vegetables aren't you're thing maybe I can interest you in a Flower CSA

The Flower CSA will run from August through September (9 weeks).  Each week you'll get an awesome floral bouquet or arrangement (some weeks mixed floral and some weeks single variety...I'll mix it up in a fun way, I promise!). In addition you will also receive a floral sugar pumpkin centerpiece before Thanksgiving and a wreath the first week in December to properly dress your door for the holidays! 

The Flower CSA can be added in to a Market CSA Share. Just let us know and we'll subtract the $130.00 from your starting balance and you'll get your flowers starting in August. 

Thinking about Joining the Market CSA? 
Here's all of the details....

The #1 most awesome thing about the Market CSA is....(drumroll) pre-packed boxes! 
You get exactly what you want and in quantity you want with the Market CSA system.

How it Works:

Members pay at the beginning of the season and receive an advantage based on the amount they wish to contribute to their account.  Robson's Farm vegetables, fruit and flowers are then picked up at one of the farmers markets we attend each week as well as on-farm at 33 Rahilly Road Wrightstown, NJ 08562.
Members shop at the farmers market or our on farm stand using the pre-paid credit in their account. The amount that is spent is recorded and a bi-weekly email is sent with the current account balance.
Account Sizes:
There are 3 account sizes to choose from 
$200 with a 6% ADVANTAGE - account balance starts at $212
$300 with a 10% ADVANTAGE - account balance starts at $330
$400 with a 15% ADVANTAGE - account balance starts at $460

Head on over to the online store to join: HERE

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Winter Trip to Visit Arizona Ag

I had such an amazing opportunity through the New Jersey Ag Leadership Program to attend the National Farm Bureau Conference in Phoenix, AZ two week ago. 

I then took it upon myself to road trip from:

Phoenix, AZ >> Flagstaff,AZ >> Farmington, NM >>Santa Fe, NM >> 
Lubbock, TX >> Waco, TX >>Austin, TX >>>>> Home! 

And what a trip it was! 

I'm going to post about the most agricultural part of my trip which was Arizona.

Arizona is known for it's 5 C's: Cotton, Cattle, Citrus, Copper and Climate
Notice how important agriculture is to Arizona as farmers get 3 of the 5 C's. 

My first taste of Arizona was walk through a development near our hotel where I found a little dream house complete with strands of chile lights. Yes Please! 

Before our group arrived my friend Jake from Windy Brow Farm and I flew out early and decided to embark on a journey to pretty much the boarder of Mexico to the Organ Pipe National Monument Park.  I highly recommend this destination on your next trip to Arizona. 

Organ Pipe National Monument:

arrow is Jake and I, green is USA and the grid is Mexico

Visiting the Cactus National Monument was one of my favorite parts of the trip
Some Cacti Facts: 
Did you know that it takes the Saguaro Cactus between 75-100 years to grow it's first arm. Cacti will reach their full height of between 45-70 feet around 200 years of age. How incredible is that?!

Saguaro cacti ONLY grow in the Sonoran Dessert. No where else on Earth. 

A 10 year old cactus is about 1 - 1.5 inches tall. Which I hope gives you an incredible respect for these guys. Apparently it's quite a process growing that large.

Guests of the Organ Pipe Nation Monument are welcome to hike trails which we did, as well as camp in a camper or tent camp. I am already planning a tent camping trip!  

pictured here are organ pipe cacti

a gorgeous Saguaro Cactus with many arms and many years lived

using myself for scale you can really see how large the cacti are

Farm Bureau Conference: 
Over 3,000 farmers arrived in Phoenix, AZ for the National Farm Bureau Conference as a chance to speak to what changes need to happen in agriculture and to learn.  Upon arriving you instantly thought (being from NJ) holy cow real life cowboy culture is still alive and that you were at a revival of sorts from both the look and the energy in the room.

While at the conference we were able to choose from a long list of classes to attend on topics ranging from marketing to GMO's to immigration. There was also a vast trade show with all kinds of fun wears to check out.

national farm bureau conference
As part of our Ag Leadership trip and as part of the conference we got to tour some amazing farms and really get a feel for Arizona agriculture!
The Orange Patch: 
The gorgeous Orange Patch is a family farm and one of the few orange production operations left in Mesa, AZ. Their business is based off their store at the farm and from families around the United States. They ship their oranges all over the county and after trying their orange juice and eating countless oranges one my trip I know why. They are so fresh and fragrant and bright sun-shiney goodness.  

They actually grow their own trees which they use in their own orchard as well as wholesale to nurseries for people to buy for their backyard.  It's hard to miss the glorious fact that most people have an orange or lemon tree (or both...swoon!) in their back yard in Phoenix which I am incredibly jealous of. 

The Orange Patch while not advertising it's no-spray-ness actually has not sprayed their orchard in several years.  

And...I got to pick my very own orange. They are not u-pick but they 
made one of my trip bucket list wish come true!   

grapefruit tree

just picked oranges waiting to be graded and shipped all over the country

Olive Oil and Roses: 
We were able to visit Queen Creek Olive Oil which is quite a tourist attraction if you find yourself in Phoenix area. They offer an olive oil tasting and a huge range of olive oil products.

I was incredibly excited to tour 2 rose farms while we were in AZ. We toured the nations largest rose farm and stood in a field of 8 million newly planted roses.  On the last day of our trip we got to visit a slightly smaller rose farm who grows David Austin Roses among many others. 

All of these roses are sold bare root (not in a pot) to a wholesaler who then sells them to nurseries and big box stores. 

Here is an interesting/show stopping fact: The end store charges about $18.00 for any given rose bush as an average. The farmer who's payroll is over $100,000 a WEEK makes $1.50 per rose bush. Wow! That just gives you an idea of the organization, volume, and dedicated staff it takes to make these operations work.

roses are mowed off, dug, tried in bunches of 10 and counted

tied bunches waiting to be tagged with variety

millions of roses and those mountains! 

Danzeisen Dairy not only has the cutest milk truck in town but has an amazing array of milk rootbeer milk (like a rootbeer float) and orange milk (think creamsicle) and of coarse good ole' chocolate milk. Their dairy is actually right down the street from their processing plant. 

Dairy fact: Each cow they have wears a pedometer (a cow fitbit if you will) and this tracks each cows steps daily and based on those steps lets the farmer know when the cow is ready to be inseminated.  

Donkeys and Hot Sauce: 
On one of our day tours we visited the Ass Kickin' Hot Sauce plant. They used to grow all of their chile peppers around their warehouse but have since moved pepper production to New Mexico. After touring their facility I got to give kisses to their mascots. 

meet Hershey

Farmers Market: 
I love the farmers market! I love not only being a vendor but a shopper as fact any chance I get to visit a market I do. I love to experience new things and share ideas with fellow farmers and vendors. 

The Uptown Phoenix Farmers Market did not disappoint. This market run on Saturdays and Wednesdays each week October - April. 

display obsessed

this farm on the right had 20 tents and a full crew of people wearing ear pieces and radios...impressive!
 That summarizes the 6 days in Phoenix...head over to Instagram for me moments of the trip!