Friday
Aug222014

THEIR FIELDS TO WORK 

THEIR FIELDS TO WORK
 
 LEIGH HORNBECK    

 PUBLICATION: Times Union, The (Albany, NY)

SECTION: Unwind
DATE: August 17, 2014

EDITION: Final Edition
Marshmeadow Farm started as a man's dream. The founder was a Long Island son looking for more space. Three generations later, the farm has been taken over by women in the family.

Elfreda Meacher and her daughters, Lauren Coon and Dorothy Meacher, raise goats for meat in Germantown, Columbia County. The women are members of a small but growing minority of women farmers in New York state. There are thousands of women in farming, typically wives and daughters who might be indispensable to the operation but rarely in charge. The number of women considered the main operators of farms in New York rose from 15 percent in 2002 to 18 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

Farming is male-dominated, in part because of tradition, in part because of the labor involved. But as direct marketing and social media have evolved as important business tools, women became the ones updating the farm's Facebook page and acting as the face of the farm at farmers markets.

Carol Clement, the owner of Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow in Albany County, said in a general sense, women are more comfortable putting themselves out there.

"More and more, I see women doing it all, the marketing piece and the labor," Clement said.

There are more formal programs meant to draw women into farming. The USDA, together with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, funds a Beginning Women Farmer Program, now in its sixth year. The participants meet in 10 sessions and cover topics that include financial planning, marketing, soil health and grazing. It's an empowerment program, says coordinator Sarah Williford. More than 300 women -- many of whom tend to produce more diverse crops on less-mechanized farms -- have completed the course, which will be held this winter in the Oneonta area.

The New York State Farm Bureau was one of the first to do away with what was called the "women's committee" in an effort to be more gender-neutral, said spokesman Steve Ammerman. About a fifth of the county farm bureau presidents are women, and two women serve on the 15-member state board of directors. Many more are voting delegates at the annual state meeting to set public policy.

The Meacher women do everything by hand, everything themselves. Elfreda Meacher, 58, is a widow, but even when her husband was alive, the goats were always her thing. She grew up on the dairy farm founded in 1954 by her grandfather, Emil Ericson, and operated by her father. When she grew up, she became a nurse and settled nearby with her husband, a lab technician. She didn't choose the farming life, but she missed it. When she was seven months pregnant with Lauren, her third child, Meacher brought home her first two goats. Over time, she assembled a herd of Alpine goats and made milk and cheese.

"I loved being able to see them from the windows of my house. I would open a drawer in the kitchen and they would call for me," she said.

Lauren and Dorothy were raised to be as comfortable inside the goat pen as they were out of it. Now, Coon's children, 8-year-old Noah and 2-year-old Kody, are the same way.

The women don't make a big deal out of being part of a woman-owned and operated farm. It is simply the way they have always done it. Dorothy Meacher, 28, is single. Coon, 30, left home after high school and joined the National Guard. She said her ex-husband never understood her connection with farming, and it put a strain on their marriage.

Clement, who started farming more than 30 years ago, said the perception of women has changed over the decades.

"Back then, the other farmers (all men) were amused by this girl from out of town who wanted to farm," she said. At the beginning, Clement raised one litter of pigs each year, and unlike the other farmers, she kept them in a large enclosure so the animals could move around. But unlike the men, she didn't have the muscle to push the pigs back when they crowded her. Instead, she trained them to lie down when she tapped them on the back. Pigs are smart and highly trainable, she said; when they learned they would get a belly scratch if they laid down, they were happy to stay on the ground while Clement did what she needed to do in the pen.

"The men thought this was hysterical," Clement said.

Clement's husband, John Harrison, works the farm, too, but Clement is in charge. She's noticed it makes some people nervous. The guys who cut her fields would much rather deal with her husband, she said. Some of the sexism is more subtle -- Clement noticed the spelling of her name on the farming magazines that come to the house is sometimes changed to "Carroll," the masculine spelling of her name.

State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, the only working farmer in the state Senate, said all small farmers face the same obstacles -- access to money to build their business and access to affordable land to grow crops and graze animals. But women are confronted with an extra hurdle.

"For women it's more difficult, because they're not seen as farmers," Tkaczyk said. "A banker thinks of a farmer as a man in his 30s or 40s."

Necessity also keeps women out of the leadership role on the farm. In the case of a husband-and-wife operation, it's often the wife who works off the farm to gain access to health insurance. Coon now manages the office at a construction company. Dorothy Meacher has a landscaping job. They women dream of a day when they can build a house near the barn and continue to expand their operation. Already, it is the focus of their lives.

lhornbeck@timesunion.com - 518-454-5352 - @leighhornbeck

 

    
 


Thursday
Aug142014

Meet Koen van der Meer - Philmont Farmers' Market - 8/17/14 10am - 2pm 116 Main Street, Philmont, NY

 

Introduction Malt Leaven Bread

Modern farming techniques, including chemical fertilizer, that have been used for more than a hundred years, have led to a severe degeneration of our food crops, which has been noticed as early as the 1920's:

Crops would not grow in the same fields where they had been growing for generations, nutritional value was lost, crops became susceptible to disease, and they just did not show the vitality they used to have.  (more - download) 

Thursday
Jul242014

DOG TREATS you can make! 

Leftovers Trail Mix
From Cesar's Way website, Recipe Ideas for Quick and Healthy Homemade Dog Treats
By Nicole Pajer
Combine any of the following leftovers from your refrigerator to create a flavorful trail mix, which you can pack for a hike or after dog park snack
Ingredients
Pieces of meat (if seasoned, make sure to rinse off any flavoring)
Potatoes
Vegetables (no onions)
Fruit (no grapes or raisins)
Directions
Cut ingredients into ½ inch thick pieces
Spray lightly with cooking spray
Place in a food dehydrator or into a 200 degree preheated oven until dried
From Rodale news website:
Vegetarian Treats
Substitute just about any fruit or vegetable in this great vegetarian dog-treat recipe to add variety. This recipe uses an egg as a binding agent, but if you want to make these treats vegan, just mix the dough longer and omit the egg.
Ingredients:
2½ cups flour
¾ cup dry milk powder
½ cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 vegetable bouillon cubes, dissolved in ¾ cup boiling water
½ cup carrots, green beans, apples, or blueberries
1 egg (optional)
Directions:
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients and form into a ball. On a flour-dusted cutting board, roll out the dough to about ¼-inch thick.
Cut with bone-shaped cookie cutter or any cutter shape your pet will like.
Dehydrate at the highest setting—145 to 155 degrees—until done, approximately 6 to 8 hours.
These treats should be very dry, so add time as necessary.
Sunflower Treats
A popular treat for horses, your dog and cat can enjoy these, too!
Ingredients:
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 cups flour
½ cup chopped apples
¼ cup carrots, peas, or other vegetables
¼ cup oats, ground to a powder
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup molasses
Directions:
Combine all ingredients but molasses in a large bowl; add molasses and work in until dough is stiff. Additional oats may be added to make the dough stiff.
Roll out dough and cut into shapes or squares
Dehydrate at the highest setting—145 to 155 degrees—until done, for approximately 4 hours.
These treats should be very dry, so add time as necessary.
Sweet Potato Dog Chews
This super-simple chewy dog treat is packed full of vitamins!
Ingredients:
2 to 3 organic sweet potatoes
Directions:
Thoroughly wash and peel sweet potatoes. Slice the sweet potato into ¼-inch slices. You can also cut down the middle lengthwise and slice into ¼-inch strips.
Dehydrate at the highest setting—145 to 155 degrees—until done, about 6 to 8 hours for a chewy texture.
For crunchier treats, dehydrate longer until they have the consistency you like.

 

Thursday
Jul032014

Goat Chili

A recipe from Elfreda at Marshmeadow Farm for their wonderful goat meat. 

1 lb. gorund or stew meat

I can tomatoes or tomato soup

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp chili powder

1 cup onion, minced

1 Tbsp vinegar

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 cloves garlic, diced

 

Brown meat with onion, then add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer 1/2 hour. Serve over rice or toast 

 

Please blog us your recipes or stories for cooking with goat meat too!  

Wednesday
Jun182014

Goats meat recipe / Sunday Farmers' Market

A loyal shopper at the market cooked this dish last week and was nice enough to share it with us! Thank you Cathy!  Delicious and affordable.  A serving for six - $15.00 presuming you have a kitchen stocked with the basic staples like broth, spices, and herbs and you love to slow cook.  I do, so this recipe is a sure winner for exceptional taste, nutrition, and fresh food well-being. 

Goat is a lovely, lean meat and when slow-cooked, produces a wonderful rich, flavourful dish. Goat is available from Marshmeadow Farm at the Sunday Philmont Farmers' Market - cost $10 llb. 

This Moroccan Spiced Goat Stew Recipe gives a wonderful, warm spicy flavour to the tender chunks of meat, and when served with flat breads or simple plain, boiled rice makes a wonderful supper dish. 

Do not be deterred by the large number of ingredients in the recipe; it is actually quite easy to make but requires a little planing for the marinading and long slow cooking, so perhaps best to start the day before. 

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Marinade (or overnight): 3 hours
Total Time: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb goat stew meat, cut into large chunks
  • For the marinade:
  • 1 small pot natural yoghurt
  • Small handful fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • For the spicing:
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel
  • 4 cloves
  • ½ tbsp cardamom seeds (the tiny black seeds inside the shell)
  • 3 tbsp Ras al Hanout spice mix (or make your own)
  • For the stew:
  • 55g / 2 oz butter
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tbsp roasted spice mix
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 750 ml / 3 cups beef stock
  • Handful fresh coriander / cilantro

Preparation:

    Dry the stew meat chunks with a little kitchen paper, place into a bowl, add the yoghurt, mint, garlic and stir well. Cover with a tea towel, place in the fridge and leave to marinade for a minimum of three hours, even better, overnight.
  • Mix all the spices together in a small bowl. Heat a large frying pan, sprinkle the spice mix in and cook for one minute, shaking the pan constantly and taking care not to burn. Once cooked tip the spice mix into a screw-top jar and put to one side.
  • Heat the butter and 4 tbsp of the oil in a heat proof casserole dish, add the onions and cook gently for 5 mins until soft. Add the ginger, spice mix and stir, add the tomato paste and stir again. Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the sauce into a food processor and blend thoroughly. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a jug and keep to one side. Preheat the oven to 160 °C/ 325°F/gas 3
  • Remove the meat from the marinade onto a plate. Reheat the casserole dish on the stove, add the remaining oil and once hot, add the shoulder meat and fry for several minutes until the meat is lightly browned.
  • Pour the sauce over the meat, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Cover the casserole with a lid and place in the middle of the preheated oven. Cook for 4 hours, stirring occasionally and making sure the meat is always covered with the sauce. If the sauce is drying up, add a little boiling water and lower the heat.
  • After the 4 hours, remove from the oven, the meat should be soft and tender and just starting to fall apart (if not, return to the oven for a little longer). Check the seasoning and leave to stand for ten minutes. Just before serving finally chop the coriander and add to the stew. Serve the stew with grilled Moroccan flatbreads and or/ plain boiled rice to soak up the lovely sauce.

Enjoy!, and shop the Sunday farmers' market at Marshmeadow Farm for the goats meat!