LocalHarvest Newsletter, July 29, 2010

Photo by: Hillsboro Meats

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

"You're doing what?" my sister asked, not even trying to keep the horror out of her voice as I told her our weekend plans.

"We're going to learn how to butcher chickens," I said.

"Auggh. WHY?"

That is the question, and one I'm still answering a week after the experience. Because a farm near us was offering a class. Because it seems like a skill worth having. Because we eat meat.

This month I write about my afternoon at the chicken processing class, why farms are beginning to offer this kind of event, and why people like me are signing up. Also in this issue, we unveil the CSA management software Guillermo has spent approximately 7,492 hours perfecting. And finally, in honor of the long awaited blueberry season, we submit "Ellen's Blueberry Concoction" for your consideration.

As always, take good care and eat well,

Erin Barnett

Processing Your Own

Driving the half hour to the farm where we planned to learn how to process chickens, my husband Ed and I were nervous. We had to talk a lot about why we were seeking this particular experience. A number of reasons sounded good, but the closer we got to the farm, the more our conversation turned toward our discomfort about taking another creature’s life. Neither of us grew up on a farm, nor have we spent time around hunters. Killing our own meat is new. Could we do it? Would it be horrible? How could we justify it?

Read more.

From the LocalHarvest Store:

Mushroom lovers, take note: chanterelle mushrooms are now pushing through the forest floor in Southern Indiana, and Cathy Crosson, from Red Rosa Farm, is busy collecting them for you. Last year Cathy told us it was her best year for chanterelles ever. When I called her this morning, she was just coming in from the woods and said this year is going to be at least twice as good as last. Amazing!

The lavender harvest is in full swing, so now is the perfect time to order this year's crop. One of the most popular of all herbs, lavender is known for its calming, relaxing, and antiseptic properties. We love having it around the house just for its heady fragrance. Get yours today.

Speaking of herbs, LocalHarvest also offers a dazzling array of herbal products, everything from tinctures and teas to salves and supplements. We are fortunate to work with several great herbalists who grow and wildcraft their own herbs, and then make their own formulas. If you haven't browsed through our herbal department, you should take a few minutes and see what's there.

Announcing CSAware!

Over the last two years, our founder and head engineer, Guillermo Payet, has been hard at work with our team building a robust online CSA management system. We call it CSAware and -- drum roll, please -- it's finally ready! We are thrilled to be officially releasing it to the CSA farmers community.

Knowing that each CSA is as unique as the farm that runs it, we have worked hard to make the software extremely flexible. Need weekly data exports, harvest lists, bulk email capability, box customization, add-ons, weekly billing, bi-weekly deliveries, support for drop points and/or home delivery, and online account management for your members? CSAware has all that and much more. And, having dug deep and broad foundations with maximum flexibility in mind, we are able to further customize many parts of the software to fit each farm's practices.

The CSAs that have already signed up are more than pleased with the service. Here's what Thomas Nelson of Capay Valley Farm Shop says,

"Since launching the easy-to-use system, our members now self-manage their account, renew automatically, and place add-on orders. On the administrative side, streamlined management means we can focus even more on quality, service, and growing membership. To boot, the LocalHarvest team has proven to be exceptionally responsive and creative in adapting Internet technology to improve the CSA experience."

Like an online tour of the software? Give us a shout. We'd be happy to show you around.

Food from the Farm: Ellen's Blueberry Concoction

It's blueberry season! We love all kinds of blueberry desserts, especially pie, but we were delighted when Debbie Aldridge of Hatch Knoll Farm in Jonesboro, ME, sent us this recipe because much quicker and simpler to make. Debbie recommends using organic wild Maine blueberries, but any fresh or frozen blueberries will work well.

Debbie writes, "My good friend, Ellen Farnsworth, gave us this simple recipe that's great using either fresh or frozen blueberries. It's always popular wherever I take it." This is especially delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!