Good Food Neighbors are Blogging! Over the next few months we will be introducing some guest bloggers to our Good Food Neighborhood. These PASA members are passionate about local foods and sustainable agriculture. They will be sharing their experiences, points of view, and the goings on in their communities. We want to thank them for their contribution of time and talent to our Good Food Neighborhood. We look forward to sharing their fresh perspectives in this blog.
If you would like to be a guest blogger in our Good Food Neighborhood please contact Jean Najjar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Lisa Goodale-Brinton of Chester County
It is a welcome gratification to visit a farm that is thriving both economically and culturally. Green Meadows Farm run by father and son, Glenn and Ian Brendle, respectively, near Gap, PA., is such a model. Green Meadows is one of Pennsylvania’s original farm to table businesses, in existence since 1981. I have wanted to tour the farm for several years, hearing frequent reports from a friend who works there, and who also helps my husband sustainably dig spring ramps, many of which are in turn sourced by Green Meadows for customers in Philadelphia. In particular, I have wanted to see how they grow their fig trees as I have a small portable orchard that spends the winter in the greenhouse and the summer outside.
It is refreshing to find a large scale organic farmer who plants directly in the ground, cultivating between the rows rather than the industrial model of mass plastic smothered fields. The farm utilizes several greenhouses as well that are heated with recycled fryer oil in the winters and cooled with exhaust
The herb field was plentiful and humming with pollinators, populated by classic herb choices and specialty choices, to please the ever expanding tastes of modern chefs. This theme of providing the unusual, alongside of the dependable choices, pervades all of the growing fields and greenhouses. We enjoyed tasting some items new to us, such as: Shungiku, whose leaves taste like carrots, Papallo, a Cilantro replacement in Guacamole, and the tantalizing leaves of Cardamon. Another cultivar that piqued my interest was Tromboncini squash, which as the name suggests, is shaped like a trombone.
Returning to the farmhouse after our tour, I noticed what looked to be an ancient Asian pear tree. Glenn told us the fascinating story of this tree which turns out to be what is believed to be the oldest surviving Hosenshank Pear, roughly 250 years old. Named after John Shank from the Mt. Joy area, this pear was popularly used for canning and cider, circa 1820. Apparently Mr. Shank always wore britches (or hosens) hence the name Hosenshank. Cuttings from this tree were sent to the University of Michigan where the stock has been revived. These are the kinds of stories that give me faith for a future.
I did not find a magic trick for growing my Mediterranean loving figs in Pennsylvania, in fact Green Meadows has cultivated them in the same manner I have; a few left in the ground that do better after mild winters and are slow to rebound after polar vortexes, or the more reliable survival method of ” in for the winter and out for the summer”. Either way a bumper crop of figs grown in Pennsylvania remains a serendipitous event.