Thursday, December 12, 2013
Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, deliciousmusings.com.
When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse.
In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more.
The third annual Food Day is almost here and things are revving up! We’ve got one week till the now annual celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainable food happens on Thursday, October 24. Year-round, Food Day is devoted to mobilizing support for policies that advance healthier diets, promote sustainable and organic agriculture, reduce hunger, reform factory farms, and support fair working conditions for food and farm workers. The special focus of Food Day 2013 will be to encourage children to cook—and to encourage adults who can cook to pass on their skills.
In Maine, and other states nationwide, community events will call attention to food access issues and celebrate the national movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.
First up, The Root has a SPECIAL (EXCLUSIVE) ANNOUNCEMENT - Next week, the City of Portland, Maine’s Mayor Michael F. Brennan will declare October 24 to be Food Day in Portland, Maine. Two years ago Governor Paul LePage did the same for the state of Maine. These declarations give further voice to a worthy cause. Let’s celebrate how hard our dedicated farmers work and the chefs and markets that support them by choosing to serve ingredients that may cost more, but have character and soul. How about thanking the folks who organize farmers’ markets, parents and administrators who demand healthier preferably locally sourced foods for children...
This Japanese garlic is is part of Medomak Valley High School's Heirloom Seed Project in Waldoboro, Maine. Other varieties in the collection include: Asian Tempest, Aunt Louise, Broadleaf Czech, Chesnok Red, Chet's Italian, Chopansky, and French Rose.
Archaeologists have found proof of garlic in Egypt and Mesopotamia dating back to nearly 3000 B.C. It is believed workers and slaves who were building the Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Cheops) were fed garlic to aid their health and strength. In the 5th century B.C., Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian wrote about the use of garlic as a valuable medicine. Garlic is even referenced in the Bible (Numbers 11:5) "We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic." The Vikings (8th to mid-11th centuries) stocked their ships with garlic for medicinal and spiritual purposes.
Perhaps, however, garlic is most famous for it’s role in vampire legends for warding off the fearsome blood drinkers. If you’d like a good tale this Halloween look no further than Fox News year-old account of a village in the Balkans where housewives hung strings of garlic and villagers pocketed cloves of the potent Allium.
During the month of October (American Cheese Month!), The Root is embarking on a short series celebrating Maine cheese makers who have the attention of cheese lovers from near and far. The first piece in the series, featuring Spring Day Creamery, may be found here.
For this series, The Root is collaborating with Shannon Tallman, American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional (one of two in Maine) and Specialty Cheese Buyer for Whole Foods Market.
Cheese cave at Hahn's End.
Buck family home in Mapleton, Maine.
The three weeks at the end of September and beginning of October is a time of purpose for the families living in Maine’s northern most county, who are racing against the frost to harvest the potato crop. During this time, members of Aroostook County’s agrarian communities come together as teams out of a shared sense of loyalty as much as necessity.
Since 1948, school districts in the County have closed annually for what is called “harvest recess,” to enable students to work a harvest-related job. At one point a Maine Potato Board survey estimated that 60% of eligible students worked the harvest in the Presque Isle school system. Last year it was just over 21%. *These figures include harvest-support jobs, e.g. kids who babysit for people who are working in the field. Declining student participation due to a fewer number of farms and the improvement of mechanized equipment is leading some school districts in Aroostook County to eliminate the fall break.
Tate McPherson standing in a potato field.
Miles of potato fields fly by as one drives from just north of Houlton to Ashland, Maine, a journey interrupted only by an occasional farm and the town of Presque Isle. Ashland is in the middle of Aroostook County, otherwise referred to as ‘The County’ or potato country. The family farms here are much larger than those in Southern Maine. This is as close to modern industrial farming as one will find in New England.
According to farmer Tate McPherson, Owner of the Maine Seed Company, LLC., the number of farms along state road Route 27 between Presque Isle and Ashland has dropped from 22 in 1993 to five in 2013. Over the same period, the average size potato farm has increased from 150 to 300 acres to an average minimum of 500. “Given the cost of equipment, farmers have to maintain a certain size,” said McPherson.