Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA
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Almost Open

This is generally the time of year when I usually start to panic.  As I write this, I only have 3 days left to prepare to open the farm stand for the year, and there is still so much to do!  The grass needs mowing, I have 2 cows worth of beef to pick up and organize in the freezers, a pig to butcher and sausage to grind and package, and I'm roasting coffee tomorrow.  A farmer gets used to never having a day off, but it's a lot, even for me!  

I tend to let myself get overly stressed this time of year, as I often feel like I won't have enough things to fill the tables.  It's been a challenging spring for gardening, with lots of cool temperatures and dry spells.  It snowed here and the overnight low was 24 degrees on May 12.  We may even get another frost over the weekend. So, realistically, I won't have much produce outside of rhubarb, spring onions, and greens this first week, which seems like nothing. Although I always have a customer or two ask where the sweet corn or tomatoes are the first day, most folks are very understanding.  I think more people have a better grasp on what seasonal eating means every year, which is wonderful!  

But folks stop at our farm for more than vegetables.  I actually think meats are a bigger draw, and while the broiler chickens just won't be big enough to process this week as we had hoped, I feel OK about one less major thing to do this week! We will have lots of steaks, roasts and ground beef, plus pork chops and our homemade sausages.  And while I sold much of my inventory of canned goods at the Farm to Table conference, I do have a selection of things- 5 or 6 types of jam, 3 mustards, 2 barbecue sauces, an assortment of pickles and other things.  There isn't a huge inventory of any (well, except things made with rhubarb...I've been busy canning that already) but there will be a nice selection to set out, probably 15-20 varieties.  Plus I'll be roasting coffee tomorrow and we'll have a wonderful selection of that, and Dan is picking up 6 varieties of raw milk cheese (Smoked Cheddar, Longhorn, Havarti, Dill & Bacon, Italian and Garlic & Chive) from Whispering Brook Cheese Haus tomorrow.  And this evening, one of our newest partners, Hummingbird Cafe of Tidioute, brought some of their delicious salad dressings for us to offer for sale as well! So there will be plenty of delicious, local edibles.

There will be other things as well...we've got chicks & turkey poults for sale, and they are always fun for everyone to check out when they visit.  I've got some stained glass items and lots of jewelry, and there are also some things Dan has made in the blacksmith shop we'll have for sale.  I've also been doing a little sewing, turning empty feed bags into cute recycled tote bags.  In fact, once I started setting things up in the stand, I began to wonder where I'm going to put it all, which is the best problem to have! It really helps me to relax and feel like we will be ready by Saturday at 10 AM.  But not too relaxed...there is still plenty to do before then!

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Open for the Season

We survived our grand opening yesterday, and I'm happy to say it was a success!  Thanks go out to all who stopped to see us, your support of local, organic food allows us to spend our time doing what we love- farming!

I admit, I have been pretty stressed about opening.  We did open for a partial season last year, but opening August 1 means lots more veggies are in season.  However, the table was NOT bare looking even though it is only May!  I've been busy with my jams, mustards and flavored vinegars, we have a nice assortment of raw milk cheese, and in addition to early crops like spring onions and rhubarb,  I also have some hardy herbs that are already needing to be cut.   We also had lots of pork and our first chicken of the year.  While we did sell out of one or two things, overall we had enough to keep the table filled all day.  My other fear was that no one would come, but we had a wonderful turnout.  So now that the opening is over, I'll be much less anxious about the coming weeks.  

The garden is looking greener every day.  Last week we put in 10 flats of transplants, so the plastic I put down is now filled and then some!  It's hard to believe, but our last killing frost was actually in June last year, so as much as we wanted to plant earlier, we also hated to take the chance of losing all our seedlings one chilly night.  Here in northwest PA, the general wisdom is that it is safe to garden after Memorial Day, so here's hoping that it will be great gardening weather from here on out.  We're planning on putting in some of our least frost tolerant seeds later today as well as planting beans and lettuce again so we can continue harvesting them throughout the season.  The peas are blooming, so they will be ripening quickly, and I know we'll be overrun with zucchini before long.  We've got more rhubarb than I can even describe right now, so I'm going to try and come up with something fun to can this week, so who knows what will be new for sale by next Saturday!

We hope you have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend, and we hope you'll be able to visit us on Saturdays! 

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