By Kristie Snyder,
It all starts with a seed. Whatever your produce of choice, wherever it came from, it started with a seed. Those heirloom tomatoes you wait for all year? Started with a seed. That loaf of fresh-baked bread — started with a seed. Your morning bowl of oatmeal — seed. Seeds are foundational to all of plant agriculture, yet they're often the overlooked component in a sustainable food system.
Petra Page-Mann and Michael Goldfarb started out as small-scale farmers with little awareness of what went into seed production. Over time, they became concerned about a lack of regional seed varieties, the loss of seed diversity, and the concentration of seed growers into a few huge companies. To allay these concerns, they created Fruition Seeds, a company that offers certified-organic, non-GMO, open-pollinated seeds specifically bred for Northeastern growing conditions.
Based in Naples, NY, about 60 miles west of Ithaca, Petra and Michael not only grow stocks of reliable heirloom and open-pollinated seeds for farmers and home gardeners alike, but they collaborate with farmers across the Finger Lakes, including, in this area, GreenStar suppliers Remembrance and Blue Heron Farms. Recognizing that every grower has unique needs, Fruition Seeds works with farmers to improve or create varieties suited specifically to their farm and market — refining old varieties for better performance, breeding entirely new varieties, and "untangling" hybrid seed stock (breeding its offspring into open-pollinated varieties that resemble their parents).
By Tina Wright
New craft hard ciders are jumping into the market almost monthly, according to GreenStar's Grocery Manager Adam Morris. He says, "Cider sales are on the rise as more and more people recognize the great taste, the fact that cider is naturally gluten-free, and their desire to support the local food web." Craft ciders are starting to give craft beers a run for their money. GreenStar sold $17,721's worth of hard cider in 2013.
A longtime supplier to our store, Bellwether Hard Cider in Trumansburg has been a lonely outpost of hard cidery on the fringe of Finger Lakes wine country for years, but now they have enough local competition to easily help float the third annual Finger Lakes Craft Cider Week, October 3-12.
The local cider week includes one of the newer cider makers to be carried by GreenStar, Harvest Moon Cidery from Cazenovia. Adam says, "I'm personally very happy to see local apple farmers finding a niche for value-added products in the form of hard ciders. Each local or regional cider we carry represents another strand in the local food web, and I'm proud that our co-op helps get these ciders to customers in the Finger Lakes."
By Kristie Snyder,
For Pat Hickey and Karin Dahlander of Hillberry, farming is a family affair. The couple owns a young blueberry farm perched on a beautiful hillside in Berkshire, running it with the help of their parents, children, and friends. This year, for the first time, they are marketing their fresh blueberries in GreenStar's Produce Department.
Neither Pat nor Karin has a farming background (they are both former GreenStar employees — Pat still works a sub shift now and then). But as owners of prime farmland in Berkshire, they knew they wanted to put the land into production. They settled on perennial crops, and a consultation with Cornell Cooperative Extension and soil maps of the area pointed to blueberries as a crop likely to succeed. The idea "felt right," according to Pat — they liked the idea of farming a crop that is less subject to pest and disease pressure than other fruits, and thus well-suited to organic practices. They researched blueberry culture for two years while cover cropping the ground that would receive the plants, and Hillberry was born. (Their ten-year-old daughter Willa contributed the name. "We have berries on a hill!" she said.)
Pat and Karin's four children, Willa, Emmitt, August, and Winter, form an integral part of the farm. Willa and Emmitt help with picking and looking after their younger brothers. ("We have the cutest blueberry pickers," Pat's mother, Carol, pointed out.) On a recent visit to the farm, Willa noticed a plant with some discolored leaves and pointed it out to her father, who suggested it might indicate some sort of mineral deficiency in the soil. "This field is for the kids," Karin said. "It's something to come back to and be able to make an honest living at."
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New in Produce
Summer's long gone, but its sweetness lives on in the local apple crop. See how many varieties you can try.
Summer is merely a distant memory as we bundle up and get ready for the eventual snow. Gone are short sleeves and shorts, as we lengthen our garments for warmth and pack on the layers to battle the icy, raking fingers of Jack Frost's frozen grip. But hey, why be bleak? 'Tis the season to eat apples! Indian Creek Farm brings us giant Mutsu, and Black Diamond Farm brings in quite the assortment with Arkansas Black, Baldwin, Black Oxford, Calville Blanc, Golden Russet, GoldRush, Keepsake, Newtown Pippin, Suncrisp, Sundance, and Winecrisp. Also look for apples from our friends at Little Tree Orchard, and certified-organic fruit from The Good Life Farm and West Haven Farm. Stick and Stone Farm and Blue Heron Farm still have all of your greens and winter squash needs covered. Don't forget to keep an eye on our continuing Basics, Co-op Deals, and Member Deals sales for great prices on all of your holiday needs!