Down on the farm
Are you enjoying the bounty of your gardens? Are you deriving great culinary pleasures like sweet corn on the cob, cucumber and tomato salad, green fried tomatoes, zucchini bread, squash medley? A friend gifted us with fresh peaches which found its way into a yummy peach pie last weekend.
I think it's great that our local fairs still celebrate, honor and showcase what our farmers and gardeners produce. And thanks to Mark and Karen Green, who initiated the wonderful "Farmer For A Day" display which has become an integral part of Carbon and West End Fair each year, our kids can learn first hand what it means to be a farmer and how important they are.
As we were celebrating the Labor Day holiday at our family's lobster, shrimp and clam bake, which included fresh corn on the cob, conversation ensued about how much we appreciate our local farmers, how farmers don't usually get a day off and about how hard they work.
I did a story one time on a llama farm, raising llamas strictly for their wool and another story on a fish farm. Well, it's actually called a hatchery but basically, they raise fish so it's a fish farm. I did a story on Hahn's Dairy, which raises dairy cows to produce milk. They also grow their own feed. Roger and Dean Hahn are the two happiest farmers I ever met. They absolutely love what they do and can't imagine doing anything else.
I did a story on a co-op farm where people give the farmer a set amount of money to grow produce and sometimes eggs, dairy and even livestock. Then you come pick whatever fresh produce you want when in season. The farmer encourages families to help weed, cultivate and harvest the crops, if they so desire. It might be a tough row to hoe but the clients derive great satisfaction from it.
Then I got to thinking about all the different kinds of farmers there are, besides vegetables and grains.
There are tree farms. I think one of the best Christmas memories you can make is going with your family to pick out a Christmas tree at a tree farm. I'm fortunate to have some of those special memories, thanks to my dad's own little tree farm.
I remember Decker's Turkey Farm in Saylorsburg. It employed many of our locals. It was always a sight to behold when you drove by and saw all those turkeys. Of course as kids, we'd hold our noses. P U.
We all remember how hard things got for farmers back in 1985 when Willie Nelson organized a concert to benefit American farmers in danger of losing their farms through mortgage debt. It was called Farm Aid, which raised over $9 million. Today it is still helping farmers in need.
One such farmer is Bob Jones and his sons Bobby and Lee who grew soybeans and corn in Huron, Ohio, but in 1983 a crop failure forced them into bankruptcy and beyond. They lost the farm and had to sell everything, down to the family car.
Farming was all they knew. So they leased land right across from their old land. They gave up on conventional farming when a local chef asked them for squash blossoms. Virtually unknown in the commercial market at the time, the Jones family discovered that squash blossoms weren't the only interesting exotic crop to interest chefs. They decided to listen to chefs and hear what they wanted which led to growing tiny microgreens, infant versions of herbs and lettuces, intense in flavor and with beautifully dramatic colors and shapes. Chefs went wild over these. They became a farm resource for chefs and cater exclusively to their needs and the farm is now known as The Chef's Garden.
On a trip to Idaho a few years ago, we were amazed at all the wind mills (well, that's what I call them). It was my first experience with a wind farm where the countryside was dotted with wind turbines. We learned that the wind power there has the potential to provide all of the electricity used in the state of Idaho. Here in Pennsylvania, we have the highest potential for wind energy in the eastern United States. The mountain ridges of central and northeastern Pennsylvania, including the Poconos, offer some of the best wind resources in the region. If all wind energy potential in Pennsylvania was developed with utility-scale wind turbines, the power produced each year would be enough to supply 6.4 percent of the state's current electricity consumption.
This next kind of farm is not for the faint of heart.
A friend of mine, Marily from Oregon, told me her sister-in-law was dying and told her family after she died she wanted to be sent to a body farm. Marily was left to do all the planning and it really "creeped" her out.
"What the heck is a body farm?" I asked.
Are you ready?
The body farm is really called a forensic anthropology research center. Her sister-in-law's body was sent to Texas State University where they have a 7-acre facility where human decomposition can be studied in a variety of outdoor settings. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the decomposition process, permitting the development of techniques for extracting information (such as the timing and circumstances of death) from human remains. The body farm serves as a resource for students of forensic anthropology as well as state and national law enforcement agencies. Body donations for scientific research purposes is under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. Even bodies that have been cremated can be placed at the forensic anthropologic sites as long as there are bone fragments that can be studied.
Gives new meaning to the phrase "she bought the farm."
And don't forget, if your garden or farm has produced an unusual looking item, call me at 610-826-9641 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have or you know someone with an unusual farm, let me know. I would like to do a story on it, because, I'd love to see you, down on the farm.