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The Barnstorming Grand Finale

It’s time for the final Stonyfield Blogger Barnstorming post! I know some of you will be sad to see these posts end, and some will be happy I’m back to normal blogging, but I hope all of you at least learned something, because I sure did! :)

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My final post will start with the last organic dairy farm we visited — the Beidler Family Farm!

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The owners, Brent and Regina Beidler, purchased the farm 12 years ago and went organic 2 years later. I actually saw Regina speak at last year’s Healthy Living Summit, so it was fun to see her again (love that her shirt says “I’m your farmer.”!)

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The Beidlers have 27 milking cows and also grow a variety of foods such as millet, spelt, wheat, and oats. Hence the spelt flour I used to make my awesome Banana Spelt Muffins! :)

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We arrived at the perfect time, because the milk truck was actually there picking up their milk!

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The milk truck comes every other day, and it takes 13 farms to fill it up; it holds 53,000 lbs of milk (about 6,000 gallons). That’s a LOT of milk! Regina said their farm produces about 56,000 gallons of milk per year.

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The Beidlers said that short term profitability and long term sustainability was what initially drew them toward organic, and they’ve been very happy with the results.

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Like the Choiniere’s, they have seen a big jump in their cow’s immunity levels — Regina said they spend less on their cows at the vet now than on their dogs!

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Check out this video to hear the Beidlers talk about why buying organic matters, how it helps land sustainability, and if that USDA organic label really means anything:

The very last farm we visited on the tour was Middle Branch Farm, which is an organic veggie farm owned by Roger Noonan.

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His farm is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) provider, which means that individuals or groups will pay a set up-front price for a share of the farm’s output. This will usually consist of a weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables, fruit, and sometimes dairy products and meat.

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Roger’s CSA also gives participants the option of coming and picking their own food. Fun! I would love to try that.

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I really want to join a CSA when I move to North Carolina. Do any of you belong to CSA’s? How do you like it?

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It seems like CSA’s are a great way to not only support local farmers and get a super fresh variety of produce, but also to try out foods you might not normally have heard of or purchase. I know I’m guilty of buying a lot of the same ingredients at the store every week. Anyone else?

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For example — kohlrabi! None of us had even heard of this veggie before! Roger let us try some straight from his fields. It was delicious — very crisp and juicy, almost earthy? But in a good way. Apparently it’s in the cabbage family!

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The best part of this farm visit was definitely all the nibbles we got — everything tasted SO much more flavorful, crisp, and delicious compared to the veggies I normally get at the store.

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Mmmm…

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It was also really cool to be able to pick something right from the field and take a bite without worrying about any pesticides! :) Roger has been farming organically for 9 years and says it’s better for him, his workers, the soil, AND the environment. Sounds good to me! One of the simple ways he avoids bugs? Crop rotation!

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Did you know that the first CSA was in Japan and it’s name translated to “The Face of the Farmer”? Cool! 

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I will leave you with this amazing quote from Roger:

I don’t have a lot of money, but I eat well. I don’t know what else there is to life.

Amen to that :)

I just wanted to say one more big THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me and gave me the opportunity to go on this amazing tour. I cherished every minute of getting to meet the farmers and their cows, talk to their families, and sample their delicious produce. I will be making a BIG effort from now on to purchase organically whenever I can — in particular organic dairy products, organic meat, and anything on the current “Dirty Dozen” (foods most contaminated by pesticides) list:

  • Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Lettuce, Grapes (imported), Blueberries, Spinach/Kale/Collard Greens, Potatoes

What have you learned or most enjoyed from reading my Stonyfield Blogger Barnstorming Tour posts? Will anything you’ve learned change your purchasing habits?

Comments

  1. 1

    I joined a CSA for the first time this year and it is literally one of the best “healthy” things I have ever done. It has so many upsides: I never have to worry about what veggies to buy at the store each week, I love knowing my $$ is going right back into a local farmer’s pocket, everything tastes AMAZING (so much better than store-bought!), and I especially love the vibe of the pick-up each week. Everyone is friendly and bubbly and happy and discussing each week’s haul. It’s been such a wonderful experience so far. I say go for it in North Carolina, I’m sure they have some great ones!

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    i’ve really enjoyed these recaps! i always purchased stoneyfield and other organic brands (mostly stoneyfield), but i feel like i know so much more about what is behind the product and i feel good with my choice!

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    The foods on the dirty dozen are the ones that my husband and I will spend our organic dollars. It is expensive to buy everything organically so when you can buy somethings sometimes it really helps! We too purchase pretty much the same foods each week but it’s nice when something comes into season that you are really excited about! (like Rainer cherries are in season right this second–go get some they have a short season!) Anyway, what else? Ohh, I can’t wait to join a CSA as well!!!

  4. 4

    These have been wonderful, Anne, very informative. Thx for taking the time to educate us! It’s been great to learn about the effects of going organic on the soil, animals, and so forth. Great stuff! Thanks again -

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    First time commenter – nice posts about the barnstorming. I’ve had a CSA for four years now – the last three with the same organic farm. I love it; we’ve definitely eaten vegetables we never would have otherwise (ramps, fennel, parsnips, kohlrabi) and as a result have eaten better. I think it’s a great way to become a better at home cook – you have to use what you have on hand. Plus, obviously, it’s nice to know the place my food comes from and to get the weekly newsletter filling me in on the state of the fields as well as the workers. Highly recommended – if you do, refer to the CSA newsletters or get a great cookbook like Farmer John’s The Real Dirt on Vegetables to help you experiment with new stuff. Cheers!

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    Thanks for supporting organic family farms and I’m glad you enjoyed your experience! I work on an organic farm and I truly adore my job. Work doesn’t feel like work, it feels like play. Yes, it’s physically challenging but so satisfying. It feels so good to be doing something that I truly believe in, surrounded by awesome like-minded people and delicious food.

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    angierunner says:

    One thing that I learned from your posts was that dairy cows that are on organic farms live longer…. which I found interesting….I already try and buy organic when I can, this just makes me believe that I chose right by thinking organic was better for the animals and us.

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    Desiree says:

    I’ve done a CSA for the past two years, and would recommend it to anyone who was interested. My husband and I have a full share, so we get it every week instead of every other week. It’s A LOT of veggies, but it’s great because it forces us to eat more veggies and experiment. I particularly love it because it means I don’t have to worry about shopping for veggies anymore, except an occasional special ingredient – it really keeps the weekly grocery bill down.

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    This is my first year participating in a CSA. I am splitting a half share with a friend. I find the amount of food (even though I’ve only got half of a half!) is sometimes overwhelming. It is fun to get veggies I wouldn’t normally buy and it’s a challenge to use everything before they go bad or the next box comes in. Although there is quite a variety, I find that I still need to supplement my veggies with some staples that I like to cook with. So I don’t think it really saves me money, but I’m glad I can support some local organic farming.

  10. 10

    I really enjoyed the posts too. So much info for you to take in and give back to us! I even made a post about what I learned.

    http://www.marcigilbert.com/?p=435

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    Anne – On behalf of Girls on the Run International and the 70,000+ girls we serve each year, we’d like to thank you for your support of our organization. We’re a lean non-profit and an office of 12 women…and we LOVE Stonyfield and your blog. Thanks!!!

  12. 12

    I followed your posts on Stonyfield religiously. I watched Food Inc. last night and the contrast between the farming/processing portrayed in the movie compared to the organic farming you blogged about is disturbing. It’s horrifying to see how our farmers are treated by the food industry and how our food is being processed. I don’t know how I will ever eat anything non-organic again!

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