Life on the creative side

Posts tagged “farmer markets and farm tours

A Trip To The Orchard: one of our favorite fall activities

apples at reed valley orchard

With a new crispness in the air and leaves blushing hints of colors to come, it’s time for one of our favorite fall activities.

apples at reed valley orchard

This is the season of pumpkin patches, fall festivals and, for hubby and I, a trip to Reed Valley Orchard. The family run orchard is situated at the end of a gravel road that meanders along a lovely little creek and through gently rolling hills and pastures of bluegrass. On the scenic road to reed valley orchard, one of our favorite fall activities

Nestled between Paris and Cynthiana Kentucky in a particularly scenic region of the bluegrass state populated by magnificent horse farms and historic stone fences,  Reed Valley Orchard boasts 3000 trees of numerous varieties including apples, peaches, pears as well as various berries. Scenic drive along Kentucky's bluegrass region back-roads reed valley orchard one of our favorite fall activities

They sell their produce along with baked goods, canned goods and gifts in the country store. store at reed valley orchard

You can purchase bags of fruit…

large bag of mixed apples purchased at reed valley orchard

apples at reed valley orchard

or grab a wagon and wander through the groves picking the fruit yourself.

Apple picking wagons for you pick at Reed Valley Orchard fall activities picking apples at reed apple orchard one of our favorite fall activities

Hubby and I purchased apple cider, peach nectar and a bag of mixed apples we’ll be drying; minus of course the ones that ended up in yesterday’s apple pie. For more information about Reed Valley Orchard check out their website http://www.reedvalleyorchard.com/ or find an orchard, pumpkin patch or corn maze near you; it may just become one of your favorite fall activities.

more resources: http://www.pickyourown.org/index.htm#states  http://www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/index.php


Farm to Table

egg avocado cheese sandwich

organic, permaculture farm, produce market, ky

Summer time is the perfect time to embrace farm to table dinning. Blue Antler Studio sits on a rocky ridge in rural Kentucky, where farm to table is just simply the way of life, so farm fresh produce is easy to come by this time of year.  In fact I sometimes come home to find a sack or a basket of fresh produce, a gift from one neighbor or another’s garden.

basket of sweet potatoes

Out the road a little ways sits my dad’s treasure-stuffed, man-cave cabin…

a man-cave cabin

just inside the door there is a small refrigerator. If you look inside the frig you’ll usually find several dozen beautiful farm fresh eggs sitting beside a jar labeled with a hand-written note that reads, “egg money $2.00 a doz”. The eggs are not from my dad, as he and mom no longer keep chickens, but from Danny, a life-long neighbor, who keeps my family in lovely brown, pale-blue and cream-colored eggs all season.

colorful farm raised eggs

Much to my disappointment however, this year has been so hot the hens haven’t been laying well; but today I got word that finally there were eggs in the frig.  So I hurried out the road, threw open the frig door and to my delight discovered four dozen Danny eggs stacked beside the money jar; yipee!

egg jar

In true farm to table fashion, or Rocky Round tradition, this evening I enjoyed a delicious egg, cheese and avocado sandwich on a hardy, grilled bread; complimented by a glass of red wine sangria sweetened by in season, peaches and blackberries.

egg avocado cheese sandwich

LOL – I was so excited about this lovely meal, I had eaten half the sandwich before I thought to stop and take a picture.

                    .fresh sangria makings

Does life get any sweeter?

:)

To learn more about farm to table living  check out – http://www.farmtotablenm.org/

 


Kentucky Backroads Farm Tour

organic, permaculture farm, produce market, ky

northern ky back roads farm tourAt eight forty-five Saturday morning a small group of Blue Antler Studio regulars loaded a cooler into the back of my sister-in-law’s SUV, then all five of us piled into the car and headed down the gravel road and off the ridge.  It was a hot day for the local back roads farm tour but our spirits were high; at least the ride would be air-conditioned.  We had done our homework and had mapped out several of the fifteen or so small family run operations we wanted to visit, including a small organic  farm, a horse ranch, a cattle farm, a beekeeper and three wineries.

permaculture produce marketWithin fifteen minutes we were pulling into Greensleeves, a twelve acre sustainable farm and our first stop of the day. We were met by sweltering heat and an enthusiastic volunteer as we got out of the car. After registering and sticking on our nametags, we were directed toward a small building surrounded by several other structures: a couple of small barns, a greenhouse and another shed or two. Tall grasses and flowers, both wild and self seeding cultivars, were competing for space and sun alongside the buildings and pathways, giving the place a slightly unkempt appearance.

 Inside the building a long low table filled with produce, jams, jellies, flavored mustards, raw cheese and soap stretched out beneath a canopy of drying herbs and flowers that hung from low rafters. Gretchen, the farmer and our guide, led us on a very informative and inspiring tour starting with the barn; where we met Valentino, the resident sheep, and saw large cloves of garlic drying in racks. As Gretchen explained the principles of permaculture, we strolled through the gardens; where a few hardy volunteers were defying the heat, pulling weeds by hand so not to disturb the soil. There was evidence everywhere of the competition between unruly weeds and the crops, but Gretchen picks her battles wisely; truly organic practices involve maintaining a delicate truce between nature’s disorderly behavior and a farmer’s attempt to coax a living from the land.  We then walked by a small orchard populated with apples, pears and peach trees. As we passed back through the yard we stopped to see the crowing rooster and his harem of hens, before finishing up our tour back at the produce building.

In the produce shed, Gretchen took us into her cold storage, a cool piece of heaven on such a hot day, where the cheeses, berries and greens were stored.  Then after loading the cooler with our purchases and promising to return to help pull weeds,  but not before the heat wave had passed, we were off to our next stop.

As we pulled into Little Rock Farm they were grilling up goodies in the yard.  For a buck fifty we tasted some of their home-grown beef-burgers; grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free: fifty cents more treated us to corn-on-the-cob, hot off the grill. Also for sale was some home-baked zucchini bread and local honey. They keep vacuum packed, frozen beef stored in a freezer right there in the barn. A payment box is  permanently mounted on the wall by the door so customers can help themselves, if the family’s not around you just pay on your way out; self check out farm style. If its produce or fresh eggs you need, simply step into the cold storage at the other end of the barn, get what you need and drop your cash into the box; country life is a blessed life.

The next stop was our first winery of the day. I prefer dry red wines, and my experience has been that small family run operations tend toward milder, sweeter selections: Not Camp Springs Vineyards, they produce a full range of wines from sweet to dry. After tasting, and purchasing a few bottles, we wandered through the small art gallery, in the loft of their tasting room, enjoying the artwork and visiting with the artists. Local photographer, Don Wiedeman whose preferred subjects are the historic, German, stone structures of the area, voiced an interest in seeing the log structures out on the ridge, including Blue Antler Studio. Then an ohio river valley winery Campspringsunexpected down pour forced us to wait out the rain over a glass of Merlot in the tasting room: Isn’t summer time sweet.

I also found wines to my liking at our next two stops; StoneBrook and Seven Wells. Each offered a full-bodied red that I enjoyed. As the afternoon began to slip away we made our last stop at the impressive LazyK horse ranch. The LazyK is a beautiful facility offering boarding; riding lessons; an impressive, dust-free, indoor arena; and riding trails. But the heat and the wine were taking their toll so we headed back to the ridge, content in our decision to plan a visit to the Beezy Bee farm on another day.

  On the ride home we made plans for one more gathering at Blue Antler Studio before my sister Jane goes back to her life in California and me back to mine in Florida. While we’re always a little sad to leave our family on the ridge, our roots run so deep in this rocky soil that no matter how long or far we travel we stay grounded with a good sense of place. After this wonderful summer together we carry away with us the memories of creative gatherings and time shared, keeping the ties that bind us to our family and friends on the ridge ever strong.

 

 

 

(more…)


A Trip To The Farmers Market Kicks Off A Wonderful Pre-Wedding Weekend

Cindy flew home for the weekend and what a wonderful weekend it was.  She looks great, she’s eating healthy and working out regularly, not to mention all the walking that comes with being a NY City girl; she’s in the best shape of her life.  While this is a good thing, the inch that has melted away from her already slender waist has made another dress fitting necessary! So everyone please say a little prayer that when she next slips into her lovely gown, a mere four days before the wedding, that it looks and fits perfectly.

On her first morning home we rose early and headed off to the local farmers market.  The day was clear and, as it was early, the temperature was a perfect 75 degrees. We spent the morning wandering through stalls of hand-made and home-grown products. After tasting , squeezing and smelling all manner of veggies, we purchased  tomatoes, the first of the season; baby cucumbers; a bag of mixed greens  from my favorite greens vendor;  fresh-baked farmers bread from the German baker; giant sweet carrots; red onion  and some locally made Gouda.

A collection of hand-woven baskets caught Cindy’s eye, she returned again and again to the booth filled with the free trade products; impressed not only with the lovely baskets but the humanitarian business philosophy.  When we finally headed for home with our sacks full of fresh organics, a beautiful hand-crafted, free trade basket swung from her arm.

The best part of the weekend, not counting catching up over a beautiful bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and the lovely shower hosted by friends of Cindy’s future mother-in-law, was making the bouquet prototype. The all green succulent arrangements are going to be more beautiful than even we imagined.  Cindy is thrilled.

We also worked out the cake design, finalized the menu, walked through the photos she wants taken, decided on the ceremony layout, worked on the veil, picked out the father of the bride’s wedding-wear and practiced our up-does.

So after three frenzied days of wedding planning, wonderful fresh meals eaten under the arbor, a little wine, a little sangria and a little more of Wayne’s amazing orange crushes; it was time for her to leave.  Although we had been very productive, getting much checked off our long list, by the time she turned to wave good bye at the airport, our to-do list and excitement was growing.


%d bloggers like this: