Broad Valley Orchard

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A Tale of Two Small Towns, of Food Co-ops, and Mead

Hello All,

I spent Tuesday morning cutting hay with the sickle bar on our BCS 820. Three decades ago, I used to cut our 2 acre hayfield with a scythe, and bail it by hand. Where did that youthful energy go? I got a lung-full of Timothy pollen, and was down yesterday, but am ready to get back to work. The curculios are in their next ‘peak’ and I will apply my final Pyola spray to the orchard tonight. We are also hand-thinning the orchard. We got lucky and got 0.7″ ( 2cm) of rain, while the rest of the county got zip – May has only had 25% of normal rainfall regionally.

A high point of this week was our ‘honey-sharing’ at CSA. When I was in Lancaster last week, buying mason jars for jelly and jam making, I saw that Dutch Gold had 5 gallon pails of certified organic honey, for a great price. I bought one, and split it up among our share holders. This really took me back to 1972, and our ‘honey co-op’, in Moscow, Idaho. We moved out there, to a small rental farm house, and an acre of pature. We local hippies started buying pails of honey, and sharing them. This small start soon lead to the formation of the Moscow Food Coop. One of our farm interns, Anna Johnson, recently visited Moscow, and reports that MFC is now a thriving large store front.

This success story was not repeated by the Adams County Food Coop. When we first visited here, in 1975, ACFC was already up and running, sharing bulk goods at a local garage. When we returned for 1978-1979, it was thriving, had moved to a small storefront, and we worked as co-ordinators. We then went back to Moscow for grad school, and watched MFC grow into a small store front. When we moved back here, in 1982, ACFC folded its tent. Jeff Charles, one of our fellow co-ordiantors opined that small scale community efforts seemed to be waning in the Era of Reagan.

Well, now, in this Bush II Era, of impending environmental, economic, and political chaos, we feel it is necessary to re-vitalize ACFC. We became the first CSA in ADCO, in 1997, and there are now 3 CSAs here, plus dozens of small sustainable farms; CSA is a great building blick for Local Foods & Local Economy. We are also associated with Hundred Fold Farm, our local Co-Housing. Together we need to form our “Solari”.

One interesting sidelight, is that those of us who formed our Moscow group, were also home brewers, and wine makers – we called ourselves the “Swede Town Beer and Wine Co-op” ( after the informal name of the student ghetto). Now that we are back here, we find that the ‘make your own’ crowd is also interested in coop-ing. Sherry and Rob Fergeson, of Ambrosia Farm are mead makers. Sherry has distributed ‘quick mead’ kits to our CSA, and this fits right in with our honey co-op. I have mixed up two of the kits, and they are happily a-bubble in our kitchen pantry. I’ll let you know how it tastes next week. This is a nice summer addition to my beer, wine, and hard-cider.

Now, we mulch, to keep our spring planting from wilting in the heat. Our friends on local farms, who missed our nice rain, are having trouble getting seeds to come up. I have scary memories of our “5 year drought’ from 1998-2003. Our area used to advertise itself as ‘drought proof” Things are sure changing…

Thank You
thom marti

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