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Nature + Food

Nature + Food

Fantastic farming at Star Route Farm, NY

October 23, 2018

Early in the morning around 7.30 am I arrive to Star Route Farm. Four other devoted farmers have gathered around the Star Route Farm barn to go through the daily implementation plan. Coffee is brewing in the percolator. There is no heating nor water from taps in the barn and the mist brings humidity.

It feels like an enchanted realm!

Charlotte Valley is covered with a low horizontal mist floating above the circa 70 acres of farm land. The hills opposite the valley are lush green and just the tops are visible amid the mist. It feels like an enchanted realm! This area has rich and healthy soil, some parts having a clay-like feel. It is especially propitious to heirloom produce with purple coloring like the Magic Molly potato, Cosmic Purple carrots and red cabbage.

What strikes me the most is the high level of quality and work by hand.

The farm provides incredible Italian heirloom produce to Brooklyn and New York´s best restaurants (Harts, Reynard and Cervo´s to name a few), like Castelfranco lettuce and cardoons (a relative of the artichoke). My favourites, the tomatoes have an abundance of taste and for a cook are closest to heaven. What strikes me the most is the high level of quality and work by hand. All the arugula leaves for example are cut by hand, washed in two bathtubs of cold water and dried in an old washing machine tumbler.

The owners, the organiser Tianna Kennedy and the knowledgeable Walter Riesen  are diligent workaholics. There are no days off in farming. Walter is the man behind the tractor and Tianna runs the daily operations. The rest of the crew are a lovely mix of personalities, all with very different backgrounds. The mutual love of high quality produce unites the bunch.

Farm work stops for lunch and this is the moment when you are rewarded for all the hard work on the fields. There is always some produce from the farm and it is soo good! It really is a matter of having the highest quality ingredients to prepare good food.

Star Route Farm is the founding member and part of the 607 CSA (community supported agriculture) that delivers produce to NYC. Seeing the bountiful harvest, preparing and packing it was weekly exciting and especially imagining what the receivers would prepare of it. I love the idea that a pickup point in Brooklyn is a record shop!

The day has passed breathing fresh air in this small wonderland where lettuce, vegetables, greens, herbs and flower grow.

The farm´s workday ends around 6 pm. The day has passed breathing fresh air in this small wonderland where lettuce, vegetables, greens, herbs and flower grow. Today I have for example improved the growing conditions of herbs (like sage, shiso and basil) by weeding. Simple work. It is surprising how a day at the farm makes me feel valuable, humble and salutary. Charlotteville Valley prepares for the night; the mist rises and small drops of moist form on the leaves. May the growing continue!

@starroutefarm

 

Nature + Food

Busy Buzzing Bees

September 25, 2018

Life is full of surprises!

Some years ago I was living right in the center of Helsinki and now am happily living in the countryside with three beehives in my garden.

I have a connection with bees as my grandfather in England had several beehives in his garden and wonderful tasting flower honey. I was just a little child when I first visited these beehives and can still remember the sheer excitement of putting on the white coverall with the veil and the long gloves. The outfits looked like aliens had landed on earth! And then seeing thousands of bees buzzing with the incredible and recognizable sound and sensing the intoxicating scent of fresh sweet honey in the hives.

A single queen bee lays eggs up to 1500 daily during summertime.

In each beehive there are three different types of bees; a queen bee, worker bees and male drones. A single queen bee lays eggs up to 1500 daily during summertime. Thousands of female worker bees (20.000 – 60.000) look after the queen bee, keep the beehive tidy, collect pollen and suck nectar into their honey stomach. The nectar is passed on through worker bees mouths to other worker bees until gradually it turns into honey that is stored in honeycomb cells. The male drones sole purpose of life is to fertilize the queen bee.

Up to 2 million blossoms are visited by worker bees to produce half a kilo of honey.

The worker bee collects about a teaspoonful of honey and flies 800 kilometers during its short life. Up to 2 million blossoms are visited by worker bees to produce half a kilo of honey. The bees are truly workaholics! Think of all the incredible work bees do to humans next time you are about to enjoy honey.

Pollinating bees make a huge difference in my garden. Flowers blossom and especially apple trees and currant bushes produce at least over 20% more crops. It is a soothing sight to recognize my bees at work in the garden and knowing that my neighbours gardens benefit of the bees, too.

Did you know that honey is the only food that includes all the substances to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals and water?

Illustration by Teresa Moorhouse @teresa.moorhouse