We’re Moving to The Farm

Wagon Ride at the Farm

This summer we’re leaving Frederick.

I KNOW.

I’ve had people tell me when they think of Frederick, they think of me. It’s funny, I didn’t grow up here, but I’ve certainly planted roots since moving to Frederick in 2001. Our kids were born here. My husband grew up here.

All good things come to an end, and so our next chapter starts.

We’re moving to The Farm.

You  know, the place where my parents live, raise chickens and have huge, beautiful organic gardens? And also the place where Josie and Shawn started Truffula Seed Produce, before moving on to other farm adventures? That farm.

Chickens at the Farm

Truth be told, it’s not really a “farm” in the traditional sense, so I feel like I’m misspeaking when I call it that. It’s more of a farmette – five acres with about an acre devoted to the gardens, chickens and a big high tunnel. We’ve all just called it “The Farm” since my parents moved there from the DC suburbs 10 years ago, and the name stuck.

The rest of the land is filled with my parents’ house (the original farmhouse, built in the late-1800s), a summer kitchen adjacent to the farmhouse that was converted to a one-bedroom apartment (my paternal grandfather lives there), a three-bedroom house that was built in 2009 (my maternal grandmother lives there), and a cute log cabin.

Log Cabin at the Farm

The log cabin will likely be where a lot of my blog’s food photos will be captured – the light is stunning, and you can’t beat the exposed log walls! It’s where I filmed my video for the casting of “America’s Best Cook” on Food Network.

Liza Filming the Casting Call Video for "America's Best Cook" on Food Network

But, we won’t be living in the cabin. Don’t think our family of four would manage well in a one-bedroom space, even if it’s horribly cute!

My grandmother is moving to an assisted living home, which means her house will be empty. When they all moved out there, the idea was that it would remain a family property, a homestead, a compound of sorts. Compound sounds a little creepy, but you know – embracing the whole “it takes a village” concept. Working together as a family to keep things running.

It’s a good thing we get along so well with my parents. We’re lucky!

Kids in the Trees

Which also means on-site childcare in the form of my parents. {It’s okay to be jealous.}

You’ll be seeing a lot more farm-to-table style posts from me one we’re out there, which I’m totally excited about! My goal is to still keep my life easy to relate to even though our situation will be unique.

I still work full-time and I’m not leaving my day job. I’ll only be about 30 minutes from my current office, which makes the commute (on country roads!) manageable.

We’ll have access to the gardens and all the produce my mom grows (she still works full-time too, by the way), but I’m also going to keep my delivery from Hometown Harvest. Mmmm….

Maybe I’ll try my hand at gardening too. Or harvesting.

Raspberries on the Farm

Or maybe I’ll just stick to cooking.

The times they are a changin’.

I’m a Stonyfield Ambassador

Disclosure: As a Stonyfield Organic™ ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions are always my own!

Stonyfield Organic Ambassador

I first discovered Stonyfield Organic™ yogurt eight years ago when my daughter was about 6-months old and moving into the world of eating solids. My mother made her own yogurt, but I felt overwhelmed by the mere thought of what’s involved with making homemade yogurt (which I’ve since learned isn’t terribly difficult with the proper tools).

I’ve grown a bit in the kitchen since then, wouldn’t you say?

Anyway, standing in the supermarket isle, staring at the rows and rows of yogurts, Stonyfield’s YoBaby caught my eye. Made with whole milk? Check. Made with organic whole milk? Check. I was hooked. And so was my daughter.

Stonyfield Organic uses Organic Valley Co-op

Photo via Stonyfield.com

Back in 2005 I wasn’t focused on eating organically. Heck, at that point I was just starting to learn how to really cook from scratch, in addition to managing a baby and working full-time. But I knew that this growing little person needed the best I could get, especially for a first food. I consider this my tipping point into the world of understanding the importance of supporting local farmers, eating organic whenever possible, and spreading the word.

Fast-forward to 2013 and I’d say my family eats organic, local or clean about 70% of the time. And we’re all feeling great!

Organic vs. Natural

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between organic and natural?

Organic vs. Natural Chart

Photo via Stonyfield.com

This chart from Stonyfield Organic™ explains why we try to eat organic whenever possible. Something labeled “natural” can be a bit…deceiving…wouldn’t you say? Right now there are many battles being fought over just how deceptive labeling can be, and the fact that consumers think they’re buying the healthy choice, when in fact their not.

Strides are being made to label our foods properly, but if you either look for organic foods, or you buy from farmers who are farming organically (even if they’re not able to afford to be “Certified Organic” by FDA), then you’re making the right choices.

A Stonyfield Ambassador?

When I applied to be a Stonyfield Organic™ ambassador via Mamavation earlier this year, I spent the month of October following daily photo prompts centered around fighting pesticides. Or, as we called it, Cow-Fu!

Stonyfield Fight Pesticides Cow-Fu

I snapped shots of everything from my kids enjoying time outside and veggies I got at the farmers’ market, to organic blueberries for Saturday pancakes and a bee loaded with pollen that landed on my finger on a warm day. (No, the bee didn’t sting me – but I know you’re wondering.)

Here’s a compilation of my #FightPesticides Instagram pics that tell the story:

(a)Musing Foodie Stonyfield Ambassador

Other Organic Facts

Organic farming means pesticides are forbidden, and instead the farmers use natural means to keep their crops healthy and delicious. One way? Bugs – the good guys!

Ladybugs in Organic Farming

Photo via Stonyfield.com

We invite the ladybugs.

The organic farmers who supply us with milk, fruit and veggies control pests with people-and-Earth-friendly methods, like releasing ladybugs and other beneficial organisms that prey on pests.

Organic cows have a happy life filled with lots of fresh pastures, GMO-free food, and no toxic pesticides.

Pesticides and Dairy Infographic

Photo via Stonyfield.com

Cows need hugs, not drugs.

Our farmers treat cows with kindness, not artificial hormones or antibiotics.

Stonyfield’s organic blueberries are wild!

We’re wild about organic blueberries.

About a third of ours are handpicked in the wilds of Quebec.

It’s important to understand how buying organic helps our farmers!

Support Organic Farmers

Photo via Stonyfield.com

A passion for pasture.

When you support organic family farmers, you help protect rural beauty, rural economies, and the health of our food system.

What’s next?

Through February, you’ll find me posting about Stonyfield Organic™ here, and also on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – follow along with the #organic and #obsessivelyorganic hashags!

And, I’ll be contributing a recipe once a month to The Yogurt Dish, the Stonyfield Organic™ blog. This month I submitted my Cranberry Almond Roasted Chicken Salad made with Stonyfield’s whole milk plain yogurt – yum!

Chicken Salad with Yogurt

I’m super excited to be working with Stonyfield Organic™, and I look forward to sharing more over the next couple of months!

Disclosure: As a Stonyfield Organic™ ambassador, I am being compensated. All opinions are always my own!

Guest Post: The Importance of Eating Locally & Gardening with Your Children

gardening, go local, farm to table, eating locally, gardening with kids
 
Are you new to healthy living? Do you fully understand the impact of teaching children to grow their own food? Locally grown foods refer to crops grown in nearby communities opposed to their far traveled counterparts. These seemingly simple acts have the ability to strengthen local economy, clean up the environment, enhance your health and inspire a new generation.
 

Better for the Environment

Unlike crops that travel thousands of miles before making it to your plate, locally grown meat and produce have less negative impact on the environment. Less CO2 is emitted in their transportation and smaller local farms often do not use quite as many harmful chemicals and pesticides as large commercial farms. Besides all that, raising food is the best use for any large plot of land. Farmland is beautiful. Green plants mean fresh air and natural habitats not just for humans, but for all kinds of creatures.
 

More Nutritious and Full of Freshness

Crops grown locally are sold at the peak of their freshness, so they are tastier and full of more nutrients. The longer a fruit or vegetable has to travel, the less fresh it is by the time you get to eat it. Large commercial farms sometimes chemically treat or genetically modify their crops to make them last longer after being picked. Sometimes produce must be frozen or canned in order to still be good by the time it gets to you. All of these processes are detrimental to the flavor and nutritional value of your food.
 

gardening, go local, farm to table, eating locally, gardening with kids

 
Commercially raised livestock is often subjected to horrible living conditions. These animals are not allowed out to graze and are fed artificial food supplements. Local farms may be smaller, but they have fewer animals so that each can be treated more humanely. Animals that live happy and healthy free-range lives do not need to be injected with so much medicine, which is harmful to humans who consume their byproducts. Free-range livestock is happier and has stronger muscles, so their meat and milk has more nutrients to pass on to you.

 

Strengthens Local Economy

Eating locally is an easy way to strengthen your local economy. When you support local farmers, the money stays close to home and economic growth occurs within your own community. This works when you support any local merchant, but it is especially important to support local farmers. Supporting local businesses helps transfer resources into the hands of the working family as opposed to the corporate giants.
 

Saves Money

Choosing to start a backyard garden is a simple way to save money. Not only will you be rewarded with fresh produce to eat and share, you will also be saving the money you would have spent on purchasing crops elsewhere. You will often find the prices at your local farms to be lower than what you see at the grocery store.

 

go local, farm to table, guest post, gardening with kids

 
Since local crops do not need to be shipped or processed or any of the other things you are paying for when you pay top dollar for grocery store produce, a local farmer is more likely to pass the savings on to you. Any good farmer hates to see his crop go to waste, so you might even be able to strike up a barter system with your local fruit and veggie vendor if you offer a good or a service which he desires.
 

Inspires a New Generation

Gardening with your children is a beautiful form of togetherness that will educate them on the values of farming and caring for their bodies while preserving the integrity of the environment. Children who understand how natural food is grown from a young age will be more likely to eat natural food as they grow. Teaching your children about natural gardening is a great way to inspire a sense of pride in the earth and a good foundation for their future wellbeing.
 

go local, farm to table, gardening with kids

 
Eating locally and gardening with your family are a few of the easiest ways to care for yourselves and the eco-system. By encouraging local farming, you will be helping to inspire seasonal eating while cutting down on the need for outsource crops and harsh pesticide use. This simple act of keeping it local and keeping it fresh is all we need to inspire a cleaner way of eating.

 

gardening, go local, farm to table, eating locally, gardening with kidsGuest Author Bio: Maya Rodgers is a pet owner, animal lover, and small-time environmental activist who always keeps her ears open for ways to green herself and her family. She makes a living helping others combat fleas, but mostly aids people in pest consultation at Terminix. Learn more at about her passion and experience at her blog.

 
Liza’s Note: This post about the importance of eating locally and gardening with your kids is not an endorsement for Terminix, and I was not paid in any way for Maya’s opportunity to guest post today. Hope you enjoyed her thoughts as much as I did!
 

Collecting Fresh Farm Eggs

My faithful readers are well aware that my parents have a flock chickens on their small farm, and most weeks I’m able to get a dozen fresh farm eggs to stock our fridge.

 

If you’ve never had eggs directly from a local farm, you’re missing out. They’re nothing like the eggs you buy at the grocery store, which makes you wonder about those store-bought eggs (and perhaps even a little frightened).

 

Real eggs, as we’ll call them, are produced in a variety of different colors ranging from white to pale blue to light beige (and a rainbow of colors in between), and some of them are speckled. They’re typically all different sizes, and the dozens I get from my parents include everything from large to jumbo. The yolks are nearly orange, and wonderfully rich and creamy.

 

The eggs, like the chickens from which they come, are just…pretty.

 

farm eggs, eggs, chickens, farm to table

 

Last month my folks went away for a long weekend, and my 4-year old and I had the job of collecting eggs from the coop early that Saturday morning. Ever since he was a baby, once I returned to work after maternity leave, he’s spent two days a week at their farm. He builds things, he gets dirty, he crafts, he helps in their giant gardens, AND he collects eggs from the coop. He’s a pro!

 

The only thing he won’t do is collect the eggs from the broody hens. “I don’t like them,” he said simply.

 

I get it. Broody hens are creepy. They’re like gelatinous lumps of chicken that won’t move, except to peck the hand that tries to get their eggs, and my parents have four or five of them in the coop.

 

From Wikipedia:

Under natural conditions, most birds lay only until a clutch is complete, and they will then incubate all the eggs. Many domestic hens will also do this–and are then said to “go broody“. The broody hen will stop laying and instead will focus on the incubation of the eggs (a full clutch is usually about 12 eggs). She will “sit” or “set” on the nest, protesting or pecking in defense if disturbed or removed, and she will rarely leave the nest to eat, drink, or dust-bathe.

Here’s one of the broody hens in my parents’ coop:

broody hens, chickens, farm to table, fresh eggs

 

Creepy, right? Broody hens or not, we ended up collecting quite a few eggs that day – maybe 15 or 20?

 

farm eggs, farm to table, chickens

fresh eggs, farm to table, chickens

Here’s a picture of one of the coops – a converted large shed, with a giant fenced in space with shrubs and trees for the chickens to roam freely. It’s fenced so that critters have a hard time getting in to eat the chickens (foxes, primarily), but the chickens do fly over and get out from time-to-time. (Eventually they make their way back into the yard.)

fresh eggs, farm to table, chickens

And this is one of the cooler features on their property: a log cabin. It’s not original to the land, rather the previous owners moved it years and years ago. My sister used to live there when she and Shawn were farming as Truffula Seed Produce, and now it mainly acts as a guest house, and also as a second kitchen when we’re all gathering for the holidays. Some say it’s haunted….

farm to table, fresh eggs, chickens

Do you have your own chickens, or buy eggs fresh from a local farmer?

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