Green Bow Blog

Our point of view

Discovery Lab at Green Bow Farm

We are really excited to announce that we are working with Discovery Lab a local STEAM based school to have mini farm school workshops at Green Bow Farm. Our sons started attending Discovery Lab this Fall. They love it and we have been impressed with their hands on learning curriculum that emphasizes child lead interests. We started the year with DL students coming out and observing sheep shearing and also learning how to skirt and card fleeces. This got us excited about doing more educational outreach in our community. It's something we have always wanted to do but haven't made it a priority yet. So this winter with the support of the school's teacher and parents both Farmer Matt and I have worked on a simple curriculum for the students that touches on many different aspects of the farm and also gives them some hands on learning opportunities. The farm is at its healthiest when we are in touch with how all the different animals and plants are working together to create soil biodiversity and food for both humans, animals, and insects. In order to do this we need to closely observe the land on a daily basis and make adjustments to our work and how the animals are moved around on pastures. Working more with the community to teach people about how and why we farm the way we do is another way that we can be responsible stewards of the land and hopefully inspire a new generation to also look differently at where there food comes from . So here is a sneak peek at the workshops that the Discovery Lab students will be participating in. BoosterCampaign Laying Hens

February 1st visit Learn about how we use microscopes on the farm Discovery Lab Students will get samples from two different ponds and compare and contrast using a microscope If weather allows obtain fecal samples from sheep and cattle in the pasture to check on health of animals also using a microscope. Also learn about a permaculture experiment with our ducks 2nd visit Spring Sheep Shearing Observe shearing and help sort fleeces from our flock of Icelandic Sheep Compare multiple fleeces and their quality Compare fleeces from different breeds of sheep Lesson in felting and making a felt bowl

March

1st visit Seed Starts for Spring Planting Lesson on seed germination Make fermented kraut-chi with spring greens from Washington farms

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2nd visit Chicken day Learn about the role the chickens play on the farm Help rebuild small chicken tractors Visit chicks and learn about the brooders that help keep them alive when they are really young and also help add bedding and fill water Help collect eggs

Eat Fermented Kraut-chi if it's ready!!

April

1st visit Lambing Season Visit new lambs see lambs born if we are really lucky Learn about the Icelandic Sheep breed Explore pastures and identify plants with a scavenger hunt

2nd visit Lesson in Beekeeping After a lesson in Beekeeping with Farmer Matt each student will take a turn looking inside the beehives with safety gear on IMG_0669 First Lamb May 1st visit Planting Spring Starts Possibly seed carrots and beets Learn about compost, soil biodiversity, And compost tea. Also how it's integrated into our irrigation system

2nd visit Forage for plants on table mountain for dyeing fiber Bring back to farm and dye fiber. Students can bring dyed fiber back to Discovery Lab for future art projects

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Winter Grass-fed Meat CSA and Plans for the 2015 Season

We are currently signing up members for our Winter Grass-fed Meat CSA 2015. The CSA is three months long, February-April, and includes a box of grass-fed meat (approx. 6-8 lb. per box) per month for pickup at drop off locations the third Saturday of the month. The drop sites include one in Ballard, one in West Seattle, and in Ellensburg on the farm. We are reserving the last of our pasture raised chickens for our Winter CSA members and our members will also have priority when we have more available this summer, our chickens are rotationally grazed on our pastures with our sheep and cattle and fed a locally grown, whole grain feed, that is soy and gmo free. Most of what will make up the csa boxes will be our 100% grass-fed lamb and beef. The three month CSA membership is $225 and you will receive approximately $80 of food per box so you will get a 6% savings from our farmers market prices. For a registration form please e-mail us info@greenbowfarm.com image

Besides being an easy way to stock your freezer with tasty grass-fed meat being a CSA member means you are also making an investment in our farm. You are helping us get our 2015 started helping buy equipment, chicks, seeds, and in turn you are repaid with delicious food. We enjoyed the CSA we started last fall so much that we want to work towards having it be a year round membership with seasonal installments. Besides having members that are really excited about what we are doing on the farm we also liked connecting with them about food. So many are like us and choosing to have backyard chickens, ferment veggies, making cheese, or just really wanting to know where their food is coming from.

Visitors

Some of the plans we have for the new year include expanding the CSA but also having some CSA memberships specifically for Eggs starting in the spring and one for Pastured Raised Chickens in the summer. We are also looking at expanding what we grow on the farm and selling at farmers markets. The past two seasons we have grown vegetables mostly for our family and we grew heirloom tomatoes to sell at the markets. This year we will do both of those things again and in addition we will grow fresh herbs for the market and also to turn into added value products like dry rubs and marinades that will work well with our grass-fed meats. We are both passionate about cooking so this is one area we are really excited about growing in and also sharing more recipes and tips for easy fuss free family meals!

Eggs

We will also have way more pasture raised eggs available this year compared to last. This is one area we saw lots of demand in last year and started planning ahead raising a new group of laying hens in the late fall. Our eggs are in great demand which is huge for a small farm like ours but it also means with that many more chickens we have so much more of that nitrogen rich chicken manure to fertilize our pastures with. Healthy soils make healthy animals, and in turn healthy people!

Bottle Feeding

Thank you for your support! Without our members and regular farmers market customers we wouldn't be able to do what we do. We also wouldn't be able to keep expanding the food we produce on the farm and see a bright future on the farm one that also includes financial sustainability.

Farm Mentors

Farmer Christina wrote a guest essay for The Female Farmer Project discussing Farm Mentors. She had a great discussion with Shelley Pasco-Verdi of Whistling Train Farm in Kent, Washington, Blair Prenoveau of Madstone farm in Northern California, and Whitney Johnson of Cloudview Ecofarm in Royal City, Wa. http://audramulkern.com/the-female-farmer-project/

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Chicken For Every Pot

In today's industrial food system, chicken is raised by farmers who don't own the birds, only the infrastructure used to raise them. Or at least they own the debt as the agro industrial poultry corporations require farmers to build facilities to their specifications on their own dime, carry the debt of hundred's of thousands of dollars while the corporation has the right to cancel their grower's contract with a thirty day written notice, leaving them with expensive empty buildings to pay for. The feed that is used is heavily made up of subsidized corn and soy grown in depleted soil propped up with synthetic petroleum nutrients and sprayed with herbicides all of which end up in the food chain. The subsidized grains mean that the taxpayer is footing the bill for these less than nutritionally valuable food products and the corporations are able to buy them for less than it costs to produce them. The finished birds are then rounded up and shipped to processing plants where underpaid workers are hired to process them. The parts are then shipped out to the domestic and global market. If all this wasn't enough, the chicken is then often plumped up with saline injections to repair moisture and flavor compromises during growing and increase market weight.

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Cooking Backwards

Last month I spoke at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle with a great group of women all dedicated to local food. Audra Gaines Mulkern, the creator of The Female Farmer Project and the Oxbow box project, Greta Hardin, author of "Cooking Your Local Produce: A Cookbook for Tackling Farmers Markets, CSA Boxes, and Your Own Backyard", and Megan Boyce Jacobs, one of the Directors at Oxbow Center and Organic Farm. We had a great time talking about food and farming before the official speaking began, I really enjoyed the passion that all of these women brought to the table hoping to inspire people to eat locally grown and raised food but more importantly on this day to try to inspire bloggers to write about eating local food. Our topic was Cooking Backwards, a concept both Greta and I wrote about when we took part in the Oxbow box project ( My blog post for this project is titled Eating locally grown food will make your stronger, smarter, more beautiful, and possibly funnier. Two posts back if you haven't read it). Cooking without a recipe, cooking intuitively, cooking in season, all of these topics were a part of our conversation. I wish I had a transcript of all 4 speakers because we worked together to make a informative plea to this audience that cooking with local ingredients is not hard and not fussy, its everyday food that nourishes both you and your community. photo(161)

Personally the conference helped me realize how much more I want to reach out to our CSA members, and farmers market customers, really anyone who is interested in listening and create more conversations about the food we raise and how we all are cooking it. People have a wealth of knowledge that they don't really think about, but when you put all of that knowledge together there is endless possibilities of how we can help one another. Our good friends and loyal Green Bow Farm customers, Erin and Scott came up with this idea of people sharing their food evolution. It's still in the works but I would like to find a way to have people share their story about their relationship to food and how it has evolved over time. Sometimes it can happen because you start a family, a serious health concern, or you read about factory farming practices. For a lot people there is a moment where the food on their plate and how it effects them and the environment starts to play a role in what kind of consumers they are, and its usually anything but passive. Over and over again we have had people tell us at the market that they can't buy one of our pasture raised chickens because they have never cooked a whole chicken. So we have worked diligently to educate people about easy ways to cook a whole chicken and make it an everyday food. Or to talk to them about how to make one chicken into 2 or 3 meals. So I have been starting a dialogue with our CSA member asking them to send me pictures and recipes of what they make with their box of grass fed meats and sharing it on social media with the people that follow our farm. It has been great getting so much feedback and hearing from people who are as excited about the food we raise as we are. So here is a transcript of my talk at the IFBC, I hope you enjoy and I would love to hear from you if you have a food evolution to share.

Chickens

"Hello Bloggers. First I would like to thank Audra for inviting me to speak here today and also for the opportunity to take part in the oxbow box project. Both of these things have helped me solidify why local food is important to me but more importantly why it should be important to you. I may be a little biased, I’m a farmer. My husband and I raise chickens, ducks, turkeys, sheep, and cattle on pasture in a way that we feel is giving back to the land and creating healthy soil. We sell our eggs, grass-fed meats, heirloom tomatoes, and honey at farmers markets, to our csa members, or right off the farm when people come to visit. We get to meet pretty much everyone we are raising food for, so there is nothing anonymous about the work we do. It also happens to be one of our job perks. We get to talk to people face to face about how we raise our animals, why we do what we do, and teach people how to cook the food they are buying from us.

The oxbow box challenge appealed to me because its a box of veggies you pick up and you have no say in what goes into it, because the farmer has decided all of that. Oxbow farm invites bloggers to take one of these boxes and write about the food that they make with it. I had all sorts of grand plans about writing several brilliant recipes and taking gorgeous pictures of the meals I made. The thing is-- I don’t cook like that. Not only am I a full time farmer, but I am also a mother to three small boys under 7 years old. My days are full of farm chores, keeping up with my very active kids, office work, planning farm projects with my husband Matthew, changing diapers, and washing eggs, lots and lots of eggs, so there isn’t a lot of time for meal planning most days. Everything is done on the fly. So, unintentionally, I have learned to cook more intuitively by looking at what’s in the fridge, pantry, or garden and throwing together whatever we have for a meal. So instead of writing recipes,  I just documented what I ended up making that week. However, I also wanted to take the challenge up a notch. I wanted to try to make 10 meals for around 100 bucks for our family of 5. So I added to the box of veggies one of our pasture raised chickens, a couple dozen eggs, a few things from our favorite farmers market vendors, pantry staples like grains and yogurt and made the 10 meals with only these ingredients.

One of the complaints I hear all the time about eating local and sustainably raised food is that its too expensive and its too time consuming to make meals from scratch. I would like to dispel this myth because I think with a little practice, cooking simple healthy meals for our families is obtainable for everyone.

It seems like a daunting task, but it’s how our family cooks, all the time. We are new farmers, and one of the biggest lessons we have learned is how much work goes into growing and raising food, so we try our hardest not to let anything go to waste. I started the Oxbow Box week off with a quick veggie scramble, sauteing torpedo onions and dinosaur kale in butter and then throwing in a generous amount of dill and sharp cheddar cheese. It was nothing special, not a very photogenic meal but it was quick and easy to make with no complaints from the boys, which these days is how I judge if a meal is successful.

The next couple of meals are what really set us up for the week. I took most of the dill that was left and made a large amount of dill yogurt dressing, adding some garlic, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. That was the dressing for the smoked salmon salad we had with one of the most gorgeous heads of red bib lettuce I’ve ever seen, but the dressing was also used in three other meals that week and also used to just dip veggies in for a snacks. The next meal was a butterflied chicken that was smothered in butter and fennel fronds, and roasted on top of a bed of fennel and onions. I took the backbone and neck and started making a large pot of broth that was then used in two more meals that week. The chicken was mostly eaten that night with a big salad and homemade croutons I make with the ends of our loaves of bread, and I took what was left of the chicken meat and made a pasta dish with it. After all that, there was something left that in a lot of kitchens might get tossed out, but I think it is one of the best parts--the fat. The chicken had been covered in butter and fennel fronds and was slow roasted, so what was left at the bottom of the pan was pure gold. A mix of rendered chicken fat and butter with bits of roasted veggies stuck to the bottom. I scraped up every bit I could and saved it in the fridge not knowing what I was going to do with it. It ended up being the base for one of the tastiest frittatas I’ve ever made. You’re probably starting to see where I’m going with this and the importance I place on using up every bit of food you can. It not only saves you time and money, but you get to be creative with your food on a daily basis AND have fun doing it. Most of the time.

Local food and the Farm to Table movement is often associated with beautifully prepared food cooked in beautiful settings, but really its not all that precious. It’s the food that most people cook everyday to nourish their families and themselves. They have a limited amount of time and if they choose to spend it cooking, they are most likely looking for the freshest and tastiest ingredients they can find and it doesn’t get any fresher or tastier than cooking with local food. Cooking this way is not a new idea and there are probably tons of people out there that are doing this, just not that many people talking about it.

This kind of cooking is not always sexy, photo worthy, or even successful-I have to expect that things will sometimes not turn out the way I planned or sometimes be a total flop. Being a farmer, especially a new farmer, I have come to expect and sometimes even appreciate the uncertainty of success. When you’re a farmer you have no control over the weather, how the animals are going to behave, when they birth, whether anyone will show up to the markets to buy food you have worked so hard to raise, or if you will have the funds you need to get the next season off the ground. You just have to show up everyday and make the most of what you have. We trust our instincts and learn from our mistakes day after day.

In both farming and cooking it all goes back to my favorite Arthur Ashe quote “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."  "

Fall Meat CSA

We are very excited to announce our first ever Meat CSA for Fall 2014. What is a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture is what it stands for but it is much more than that. They can be structured different ways but the basic idea is that you are supporting your farmers directly by buying a share in their farm and farm food. This is huge for a small farms like ours where costs just to run the farm can be daunting and it gives us the support we need to plan for our next season and gives us the capital to do things like build new chicken tractors. In return you get a monthly bounty of grass-fed meat that is less expensive than if you bought it retail. You can think of it similarly to buying a whole or half of an animal directly from a farm but instead of investing in a large chest freezer we will be bringing the meat to you in monthly installments that are less overwhelming and instead of having hundreds of pounds of just beef or just pork you will have a mix of chicken, pork, lamb, and beef over the course of four months. We feel its a enriching experience for both the farm and the members, giving us a greater connection to the community we are raising food for and giving you a better understanding of where your food comes from. So I will go into detail about all the different kinds of meats that will be included in the CSA and other member perks (yes! member only perks!!!) If you want to skip to registration click here. Please fill out the form and mail it to us with a check. No credit cards will be taken for CSA memberships unless you are okay with the extra 3% bank charge added onto your total amount. There is already a discount on this membership and we can't afford the bank fees on top of the discount. Now onto the exciting part! The nuts and bolts- There will be once a month drop offs on the 3rd Saturday of each month, September-December 2014. One in West Seattle (Location TBA), One in Capitol Hill at Nube Green, and one in Ellensburg (Location TBA). The cost is $600 and you will be receiving approximately 12-16 pounds of meat each month depending on the price of the cuts and it will be a mix of 2-3 different kinds of meats (chicken, pork, lamb, beef) each month. You will be receiving approximately $170 worth of meat but the cost to you will be $150 a month (so slightly more than a 10% discount). The CSA member perks will include but not be limited to priority on our waiting list for Thanksgiving Heritage Turkeys, Member only discounts at Farmers Markets, special farm made gifts that we don't sell at markets, and other things like honey when we harvest them. The gifts will be things that we think compliment our meats or may work with the recipes we include with each box. These recipes will be ones we have written ourselves or tested ourselves and think they work well with grass-fed meats. We are very dedicated to teaching people how to cook things they are unfamiliar with so we will be more than happy to talk people through things like cooking a whole chicken or how to part up a whole chicken. Register here! Mail back the form and check for your spot in the Fall Meat CSA.

Green Bow Farm Pastures- Are never sprayed with chemicals of any kind and we fertilize them by practicing multi-species rotational grazing in addition to using on the farm made fertilizers like compost and compost tea. We believe the animals when rotated around on pastures the right way will give back to the land and make the soil richer, this soil in turn will grow the animals healthier grasses to forage for. It's a beautiful symbiotic relationship that goes far beyond any man made fertilizers. If you treat animals right they will reward you and heal the land in ways you can't possibly imagine.

Pasture Raised Chicken- We raise our chickens on pasture with all of our sheep and cattle which is beneficial to the animals and beneficial to the soil. The chickens clean up what the ruminants leave behind and in this way they help fertilize the pastures and the chickens in turn are getting more nutrition from eating bugs and grass which give them a higher amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. In addition we feed them a locally grown whole grain feed that is soy and gmo free. There have been recent studies showing that chickens fed a soy free diet have an even higher amount of  Omega-3's compared to pasture raised chickens that have soy in their diet. The chickens are processed at a humane certified WSDA facility that our neighbor runs just up the road from us. We are very lucky to have neighbors that are as dedicated to sustainable agriculture as we are because in Washington State you are not allowed to sell chicken at farmers markets or to CSA's unless they are processed at a WSDA facility.

Grass-fed Lamb- We breed Icelandic Sheep at Green Bow Farm for both Wool and Meat. They are a very hardy breed that works well with our cold winters not to mention they have excellent maternal instincts and birth very easily. We raise them on pasture with our cattle and chickens letting them nurse as long as the ewes will let them. We breed them for a spring arrival and harvest in October so they are on green grass almost the entire time and 100% grass-fed which we find makes a huge difference in the quality of the meat.We have also found that their meat is slightly milder in flavor compared to the lamb that most people are used to eating and even people who swear they don't like lamb have been converted when they try ours. Our lamb and our beef are both processed at a humane certified USDA facility that is run by a cooperative of farmers and ranchers.

Grass-fed Beef  We breed Scottish Highland Cattle for many of the same reasons we do the Icelandic Sheep. They are hardy and in addition to grazing on pasture they also browse which means they are less picky about forage and it helps create healthier pastures that are less water intensive. If you've seen this handsome breed you've seen their red and sometimes black thick coat that insulates them so much so that they end up with less fat then traditional Angus beef. Our Cattle are also 100% grass-fed which means the meat has a much darker red color compared to the beef you are used to seeing in the grocery store.

Also fun fact: the British Royal Family breed Scottish Highlands and I have read it is their beef of choice. If it's good enough for the King and Queen of England it's good enough for our CSA members :)

Pastured Pork- When we started talking to people about a Meat CSA one thing that was requested was pasture raised pork which at this time we have only raised for ourselves. So in collaboration with our neighbors at Windy 'n' Ranch we will be including pastured pork with the CSA membership. Here are some details about how they raise their pigs-

"Our Pastured Pigs are sired by Berkshires which are a wonderfully flavorful Heritage Breed and bred to Yorkshire/Landrace sows known for their meat quality and maternal characteristics. It might seem odd but by purchasing Heritage Breeds you are supporting the effort to bring back breeds which have virtually vanished but were at one time common in early America because of their superior taste. Originally from Britain and known as Britain’s oldest breed, Berkshires are the most popular of the Heritage Breeds. Known as “Kurobuta” in Japan as their most prized pork and is looked at like Kobe Beef. Berks have become a favorite with chefs because of its intramuscular marbling. The breed yields a brighter pork than most, and features a thick, delicious fat cap. Something which make us VERY unusual in the industry is our feeding of Fodder which is Organic Barley Sprouts fed to our slaughter animals in the winter when fresh grass is not available." From their website. Windy 'n' also does not spray their pastures with chemicals of any kind.

 

Now go and register here! There is a limited amount of spots available based on how much we can fit on our truck so if you are interested send back your registration and check as soon as possible.

 

 

 

Sourdough apple french toast bake

Image We have been enjoying sharing recipes at the farmers market. Here is one I threw together this morning for a quick and warm breakfast for a chilly day on the farm.

Sourdough apple french toast bake recipe

2 cups of sourdough bread cubed

1 apple sliced

3 eggs whisked

1 cup milk

1/2 cup yogurt

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

freshly grated nutmeg approx. 1/2 teaspoon

butter or coconut oil for pan

Preheat oven 450 degrees and grease cast iron pan with butter or coconut oil. Place bread then apples in cast iron pan. Whisk together all other ingrediants and pour over bread and let sit for 10 minutes. Cook in oven for 20 minutes then take out and put under the broiler on high for 2 minutes. Cool and serve.

Farmer Friday

photo(151) It's Farmer Friday and Farmer Matt's Birthday. This is a picture of Matt with our three year old Boden in the middle of our gigantic irrigation project that I am happy to say is officially finished. Farmer Matt inspires us everyday working hard, problem solving, and taking breaks to be goofy and change a dirty diaper when needed. There are many inspiring farmers out there working from sun up to sun down to bring us clean food that is good for our families and the planet. Please give Farmer Matt a shout out and tell us the name of your favorite farmer and what they are doing to create a healthier world.

Volunteers Wanted

Volunteers Wanted Green Bow Farm is looking for an intern this summer. If you are interested we have ads up on wwoofusa.org and attra.org. You will learn about caring for sheep, chickens, turkeys, rabbits and be moving them around on pasture on a daily basis. You will also get to work on a small market size garden, learn about beekeeping and have a small garden of your own. If you are unable to commit to a live on the farm internship but are interested in helping out we are always looking for people willing to come out to the farm for a day or a weekend and volunteer their time.

For more information contact christina@greenbowfarm.com