LocalHarvest Newsletter, October 30, 2014

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

Last week we heard news worth sharing about several LocalHarvest farmers. First, two of our farmers' heritage turkeys received high praise in the current issue of Cook's Illustrated. Those of you familiar with Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen will know what a big deal this is: these cooks pride themselves on their perfectionism in the kitchen. When they say a turkey is special, it is. Here's what they wrote about Elmwood Stock Farm's heritage turkey: "This turkey [has] white meat "so rich in flavor that it tastes like dark meat." The dark meat was even more tender and flavorful, prompting one taster to ask, "Is this dark turkey or pulled pork?" Taste testers for Heritage Turkey Farm's bird designated it as the "best buy", and gave it this praise for its flavor: "Fantastic," "perfectly juicy," and "full of turkey taste." The "lovely" dark meat was praised for being "packed with meaty flavor," "supple," and "richly flavored"."

We were so pleased to see this piece describing the differences of high quality poultry. (Spoiler alert: the Butterball turkey didn't get high marks in Cook's taste test.) Hopefully the article will prompt many people to seek out a good bird this Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, we are delighted that these two farmers are getting the recognition they deserve for their exceptional turkeys!

Six years ago, one of these farmers, Bob Both of Heritage Turkey Farm, was just beginning to sell his turkeys with LocalHarvest. He and I spoke on the phone many times that season. Bob was comfortable with raising the birds, but the idea of shipping them had him a little nervous, with good reason. Shipping a frozen bird across the country and having it arrive in perfect shape just in time to thaw before the big day is a big deal, and any missteps tend to have disastrous results. We all wanted everything to go well. Bob was careful to ask a lot of questions, and fortunately we had experienced poultry farmers willing to teach him a few tricks. He developed his own system, tested it, and quickly became one of our most reliable farmers for shipped birds. Now he's getting national attention for his turkeys.

Bob's success serves as a good reminder of all that goes into mastering a new skill or craft. There's the need to tolerate one's initial incompetence, commit to the learning curve, seek outside help, experiment and make mid-course corrections, all while maintaining a strong commitment to quality. When the skill being mastered is farming, one has to take significant financial risks as well.

The other farmers I wanted to tell you about this month are all seeking to expand their operations. Like Bob Both back in 2009, they have developed their initial skill set and are looking to move into new products, new markets, or into a new scale of production. All of these activities strengthen local food economies, which is work worth supporting. And we can offer our support, in tangible and significant ways.

Last May, I wrote about Kiva Zip, a new zero-interest micro-lending program for U.S. farmers. Getting involved in the capital needs of small farms is one way we who don't farm can support those who do. Since that article appeared, about 20 LocalHarvest farmers have initiated fundraising campaigns through Kiva Zip. A number of them are already fully funded and the farmers are using the loans to buy equipment, expand their herds, or strengthen their infrastructure. Several more are currently in the fundraising phase. I am hoping that many of you will read these farmers' profiles and consider making a small loan to their fundraising campaigns. (Individual loan amounts start at $25.) Becoming a micro-lender on Kiva Zip is easy and, for me, a satisfying new way to support small farms. By helping share the financial burden of growth, we can help a new group of farmers solidify their businesses and feed their communities.

Here are the LocalHarvest members currently raising funds through Kiva Zip.

Thank you for lending your support to these farmers and those in your own communities. Together, we can help family farmers thrive, and they, in turn, will feed us well -- at Thanksgiving and around the year.

Until next time, take good care and eat well,

Erin Barnett

CSAware: Looking Ahead to Next Year?

his time of year many CSA farmers are saying to themselves, "Next year we HAVE to get the office end of things under control!" If that sounds familiar, this fall might be a great time to take a look at our CSA management software, CSAware. If you would like to see how it works, and what it can offer your farm, let us know and we'll set you up for a tour.

From the LH Store

The fall nut harvest is also upon us, so fresh walnuts, pistachios, chestnuts, pecans, and almonds are all ready for holiday snacking.

Our Thanksgiving turkeys are already finding good homes with good food fans all across the country. LocalHarvest farmers raise heritage breeds, "regular" organic turkeys, and - for those who want both - organic, heritage birds. Ready to reserve yours? You can search for one locally, or have one shipped to you. Get yours now!

CSAs -- they aren't just for summers anymore! Many LocalHarvest farms offer winter CSA shares, some of whom sell these shares through our store. To see if there's one near you, click here and browse our directory.

Food from the Farm: Roasted Heritage Turkey

Here is our favorite recipe for roasting a heritage turkey. They tend to have more developed legs and smaller breasts, and thus need different preparation than grocery-store birds. You may also enjoy this video from Cook's Illustrated on how to cook a heritage turkey.