Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Know Your Farmer: Goodell Family Farm

Second in our "Know Your Farmer" series is an entry from Goodell Family Farm of Mantua. Goodell Family Farm has particpated in our Shaker Square Market for many years! They specialize in maple syrup and maple products.

"Goodell Family Farm is a seventh generation family farm dating back to 1825 when Jonas Goodell purchased the original farm site. Presently, three generations are involved in the farm business. Virginia, two of her sons and their wives Jay/Barb and Bruce/Sherry and Jay’s son and his wife Nathan/Rebecca are active on the farm. There has been many changes over the years, but one continuous venture for the Goodell family has been maple syrup. With great tradition, we take great pride in our maple syrup.

The 2011 season has concluded and it was a very successful year. Compared to last year’s poor season we doubled our maple production. The season started earlier than usual on February 15 and ended late on April 5, creating a long span of favorable maple syrup weather. Light amber maple syrup was the dominant grade produced this year, but plenty of medium amber and grade B were also made.

In an effort to continuously improve upon our maple operation, we introduced disposable spiles into our maple tubing system. By using a new spile each year, the tap hole will remain cleaner and therefore more productive throughout the season. In addition, the new spiles are 1/4 inch compared to the previous 5/16 inch spiles, which means a smaller hole for the tree to heal.

If March isn’t busy enough, we also hold our own pancake breakfast for three Sundays in March. The buckwheat or plain pancakes are served with sausage and, of course, our own Goodell Maple Syrup. Local residents, as well as, distant visitors have enjoyed these Sunday breakfasts for nearly 30 years.

Currently we are working on an exciting tree planting project. We have enrolled an old hay field that is surrounded by our woods into the NRCS’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The nearly 10 acres is being planted with 5 different species of trees: Sugar Maple, Red Maple, Red Oak, Black Cherry and Tulip Poplar. Half the trees will be Sugar Maple with the other half divided between the remaining species. It will take close to 20 years before the maples will be large enough to tap. Also included in the project will be a pollinator strip for bees and butterflies.

Amongst all the madness that fills the maple season was a wonderful addition to the Goodell family. Evan Jaymes Goodell was born on March 30 to Nathan and Rebecca Goodell and big brother, Ryan. The next farming generation is expanding and learning about the traditions and joys of growing up on an active farm. Now that the maple season has finished we are turning our attention to the other farm responsibilities, the dairy cows, grazing and hay season, and farm markets."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Know your Farmer: Bluebird Meadows

New! North Union will begin featuring stories and words directly from our farms! This entry is from Bluebird Meadows, a family run farm that practices sustainable agriculture while providing its customers the best pastured pork, beef and poultry. Add in fresh berries and jams and they are busy on the farm Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter!

"Bluebird Meadows is a family run farm located in Northeast Ohio. Here on the farm we pride ourselves in providing top quality, pasture raised beef, pork, poultry, and eggs to our family, friends, and customers.

It is our mission to raise and sell the highest quality products all while practicing sustainable agriculture. We are committed to taking care of the earth and the gifts we have been given. We use simple, old-fashioned farming techniques that give back to the Earth what has been taken.

We use natural fertilizers on our berries and vegetables, provide ample room for our chickens to roam, and have planted a lush red clover and alfalfa pasture for the cows and pigs. On our farm water is used from our pond and we will soon be adding rain barrels to collect rain water, reducing our use of 'city water'. We compost any unneeded organic material, use the manure for fertilizer, and provide all of the animals with humane living conditions.

Every season has its challenges and keeps us busy here at Bluebird Meadows. The spring is busy with replanting pastures and mending fences and buildings that have been damaged by a long winter. Summer is very busy with the many farmers markets we attend. Fall is busy with back-to-school activities, the fair, and canning and preserving produce from our garden and from other vendors at the market, with whom we barter. The winter months on most farms is a little quieter, but so far for us this winter has been eventful. We are blessed with 4 of the most amazing kids ever. They are hard workers both in the classroom and here on the farm. During the winter ALL 4 like to fill their free time with basketball. So on our farm, the winter months are filled with 4 crazy basketball schedules. Add in Chris coaching, and there is not too much time for other things. This presents a slight problem for us here on the farm; who is going to do the chores? During the spring, summer and fall no one ever complains about watering the pigs and cows, feeding the chickens or collecting the eggs. During the winter, where we now have to carry water out to the barn from our house one 5 gallon bucket at a time, where we now have to don on boots, snow pants, gloves and hats and hike through snow drifts to collect the eggs, and now where hay and cracked corn is hauled by the pulling of a sled; no one seems to want to do chores. Luckily for the farm, we have a rule in place that no one can go to basketball until all of the chores are done. And since NO ONE wants to miss their court time, (including Chris) the chores are always done.

We love every season here at Bluebird Meadows, all of the joys and challenges."

--Julie Blankenship, Bluebird Meadows

You can find Bluebird Meadows at our Indoor Winter Market this season and at our Crocker Park, Chagrin Falls, and Cleveland Clinic markets beginning this spring!