Friday, December 6, 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.
A volunteer helping prep Thanksgiving dinner at Wayside Food Programs in Portland.
The holiday season is a time for many of us to be thankful for our blessings – our family, friends, health, and job. Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service report (released September 2013) there are 33.1 million adults and 15.9 million children in our country who struggle with hunger. In Maine, the USDA estimates that 15 percent of households, or more than 200,000 Mainers, are food insecure.
Earlier this month, families nationwide saw their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits cut, further straining their food budgets. In his recent op-ed, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon highlighted the continued need for SNAP, particularly around the holidays, and reiterated the need for Congress to act on a comprehensive, long-term Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.
Happy Thanksgiving, Root readers! Are you looking forward to the holidays this year? I can hardly believe they are already here. Tomorrow, I will be volunteering with Wayside Food Programs helping prepare Thanksgiving meals for the less fortunate (my post about this will run on Thursday).
Also in the lineup, preparing for the holiday meal at my home. I am keeping it simple this year with friends bringing the turkey and vegetables, and only making the desserts and Cranberry Relish (an old Martha Stewart recipe). Every year I make Derby Pie (pecan pie with chocolate and whisky from a family friend in Kentucky) and try a new recipe – this year it’s Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Taking a cue from the piece I did with cheese expert Shannon Tallman on putting together a cheese plate, I picked up some wine and cheese from Whole Foods Market in Portland for guests to snack on. For those who want to kick it up a notch there will be ‘Ti Punch (see Portland Hunt & Alpine Club owner Andrew Volk’s recipe here from the piece we did on Bartlett’s Spirits of Maine Distillery).
Stacked hay bales in the barn help prevent drafts.
Steve Burger and son at Winter Hill Farm
About five miles northwest of Freeport Village you’ll find a picturesque farm set up on a hilltop, surrounded by 55 acres of gently rolling pasture and mixed forest. Here, Sarah Wiederkehr and Steve Burger and their two children run a small family-run diversified farm. They raise a rare breed of Randall Cattle and are the only purveyors of purebred Berkshire pork in the state of Maine.
Sarah has a BS in Horticulture and Agronomy from UNH and degrees in International Agricultural Development and Integrated Pest Management from UC Davis. Steve grew up in rural northeast Missouri, on a large hog, cattle and grain producing farm. While in college he took a part-time job on a small farm that grew organic produce for local restaurants and farmer’s markets, changing his life’s path. They met when Sarah purchased a few goats from Steve.
Three American chestnut trees in Baxter Woods in Portland, Maine.
Since being elected, Mayor Michael Brennan of Portland, Maine has overseen the planting of several apple and cherry trees. However, it is his support of the planting of four blight-resistant American chestnut trees in Baxter Woods earlier this year that has made the news. Portland already has two small American chestnut trees growing in the Longfellow Arboretum and two wild American chestnuts, one of which is in the woods at Evergreen Cemetery. Maine is a part of the campaign to resurrect this valuable tree, which once provided food for wildlife and wood for everything from barn rafters to furniture.
The American chestnut tree was a fast growing tree in North America, making up an estimated 25 percent of the population of hardwood trees on the east coast, until the beginning of the twentieth century, when it was practically wiped out by a fungal disease transferred from imported Asian trees.
Learning pressure canning at U. Maine Extension's office in Falmouth.
America is built on the determination and vision of brave immigrants who traveled here to start a new life. A century ago, immigrant laws were different, but the motivations were the same. Seeking a better economic situation based on determination and hard work, millions of people came from around the globe. Today, people still travel here from different countries to understand the “Do It Yourself” spirit. This past summer four people from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) came to Maine for farm business training with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Last month one of those persons and five more from the DRC traveled to Maine for Food Safety and Preservation Training with U.Maine Extension.
The two-part training program was a result of M'Vita M'Bambi of the Congolese American Sustainable Economic Development Foundation, having been a student in one of the U. Maine Extension “So, You Want to Farm in Maine?” classes held in Falmouth in 2013. At the end of the class, he asked staff for assistance in educating persons from the Congo (visitors and recent immigrants living in the Portland area) by organizing a farm training program for them.