Monday, June 18, 2018

The Farmer Feeds Us All!

Hello everyone, we hope that you’re well and enjoying your summer!  Congratulations go out to all our families, near and far, who are celebrating the close of another school year!
As families transition into their summer routines, we hope that you’ll stop by our weekly Pathfinder Produce market, open on Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m.  Keep a supply of delicious fruits and veggies on-hand to keep summer meals and snacks fresh, delicious and healthy!  We also have our convenient online ordering site, so you can place your order and pick it up at one of our delivery sites … it’s easy!

***
You may talk of all the nobles of the earth,
Of the kings who hold the nations in their thrall,
Yet in this we all agree, if we only look and see,
That the farmer is the (one) that feeds us all.

As I was working in my small garden plot this weekend a song in the “Little House” books came to mind.  The lyrics were written in 1874, by Knowles Shaw, an evangelist minister better known for his hymn, “Bringing in the Sheaves.”
The song caught on as farmers were facing some real issues: the financial Panic of 1873, saturated markets as more land came into production, and fee hikes by the railroads, which small farmers relied upon to get their harvests to market. At that time, farmers joined together in The Grange Movement to advance their collective interests: Learn more at this page from the University at Houston’s Digital History site and this lesson from the Gilder Lehrman Institute.
The more we learn about our agricultural past, the better we can model our food and farming future. This past week, I saw that local students remain interested in farming and farm-related careers; there were about two dozen students who received Future Farmers of America awards at our school during the recent end-of-year ceremonies. The students were recognized for achievements in diverse STEM fields: agriculture and the environment, agricultural mechanics, and animal husbandry. The FFA’s vision statement is forward-looking, “Students …will achieve academic and personal growth, strengthen American agriculture and provide leadership to build healthy local communities, a strong nation, and a sustainable world.” 
I was also encouraged in meeting several members of a local 4-H Club who presented Pathfinder Village with several pots of flowers for all of us to enjoy, part of their community service projects for the year.  4-H (head, heart, hands, and health) has been on the scene since the early 1900s, with its mission focused in helping “young people and their families gain the skills needed to be proactive forces in their communities and develop ideas for a more innovative economy.”  Again, the focus is on positive youth development, community-based learning, and working to solve societal challenges.
According to State Comptroller DiNapoli, “While New York ranks 26th in the country in terms of overall agricultural sales, there are several items—such as dairy, fruits, berries, wine, and some vegetables—in which New York ranks among the biggest producers in the nation.” I hope that schools, the Education Department, and communities can encourage more young people to look to agriculture as a career; that the Federal government better supports independent family farms in its policies; and that farmers are encouraged to diversify crops.  In general, we are too reliant on the monoculture model (about half of New York’s farms are highly focused in dairy; we’re the nation’s third-largest dairy producer). Crops that would appear to be promising for New York are hops, which were once extensively grown throughout the region and are now important to a resurging craft beer industry.  Hemp, which is slowly gaining a foothold and not hallucinogenic, can be transformed into food ingredients, paper (saving trees), bio-fuel, biodegradable plastics, clothing, building materials, and more. (Hemp crowds out weeds, so it needs few herbicide applications and can be grown on marginal land).
Until next time, thank a farmer!

Lori

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Sweet, Sweet Summer!

Hello!  This week we’ll begin celebrating lots of area school celebrations and high school graduations.  At Pathfinder Produce, we can assist you as your family gets ready to honor your student.  We have a wide variety of fruits and veggies for you to use on party platters, salads, and other tasty and colorful creations.

Stop by the Edmeston market at the Village Commons on Thursday, from
1 to 5 p.m., or place an online order to start the preparations for your party.  We look forward to serving you, and hearing about your student’s accomplishments!

In this week’s blog, our Senior Director of Education Maura Iorio shares her thoughts on summertime meals and graduation gatherings.  Good luck and well done to all our area grads!!!

***

For me, June is always a time of reflection. The school year is coming to an end and summer is just around the corner. Although I love every day at Pathfinder School, our Graduation and Moving Up Ceremony is hands-down always my favorite. Even though we are sad to say, “So long!” to our graduating students, it is an opportunity to let them shine with one last hoorah!

This year’s Moving Up Day theme is Candyland—and boy, are we having fun with it! From creating lollipop forests to gumdrop mountains, to ice cream lakes and even some dancing M&Ms, the school gymnasium will be transformed next week into a sweet and colorful celebration!


Our year-end ceremony will definitely be featuring some sweet treats, but looking ahead to the summer break, there are some healthier alternatives to indulge in, especially with all the great fresh items at our weekly Pathfinder Produce.  Here are a few favorites!

Perfect Summer Fruit Salad

Sometimes you just need a little bit of everything! This fruit salad has the perfect balance of sweet and tart, with some added citrus for some zing! Check out the recipe here!







Summer Fruit Salad with Arugula and Almonds

Tired of the same old garden salads? Add some bursts of texture and flavor to mix things up! Try adding grilled chicken or shrimp to make it a meal. You can read the full recipe here.



Watermelon Salad with Mint and Lime

Keep it simple and sophisticated with this refreshing snack or side dish! Check out the recipe here. Are you worried that you’ll pick the wrong watermelon? Make sure the watermelon feels heavy for its size, check it for a yellow spot—this indicates that the melon is ripe, and give it a tap! Watermelons that are perfectly ripe should sound hollow. Check out this article for more tips and tricks!


In closing, we offer our congratulations to members of the Class of 2018 at all our regional schools!  All are welcome to join us at our celebration at Pathfinder School on Wednesday, June 20th at 1:00pm in the Pathfinder Gymnasium.

Well done, Grads, and happy summer!

Maura (and Lori)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Rebuilding & Repurposing


Hello!  We hope you'll be able to come to our next delicious Pathfinder Produce fresh fruits and vegetable market at the Village Commons this Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. There are so many different items to try, and fresh items are so much more flavorful. Our friendly market staff will be looking for you!


Don't forget our convenient online ordering option … when you use this option and pay online, our market pros will select fresh items for your order, pack it all up, and have it ready when you come to the pick-up location in Edmeston or Morris.
Thanks go out to all our regular customers who support Pathfinder Produce … we're rooted in community! Fresh produce at a local market, with great prices, supporting area families... it's a winning combination.

***


Following in the footsteps of my practical farmer forbearers, I spent the past few weekends getting my small veggie garden ready. For years, our garden had included three raised beds, surrounded by wire fencing to keep out the critters. However, the beds were too closely spaced so we couldn't mow easily to keep things neat, and the weeds grew with a vengeance around the base of the fencing. Every time we tried to weed-whack around the fence it would waste a lot of line. AARRRGH!

So, this year, I decided it was time to change it up, especially as the wooden beds were in bad repair.  I tore down the fencing, which was not easy as plants had matted around the wire. Things immediately started to look better as I mowed back the offending weeds.


Next came the long task of tearing apart two beds … the third one I think will hold up for one more season as I transition to new beds.  Going this route helped me conserve the soil and also gives me time to think through a “garden master plan.”  As I come up with something more durable, Pinterest will be a great resource.

And thus, with my trusty old tennis racket-turned-sieve, a wheelbarrow, and an old army entrenching tool (found discarded many moons ago), I spent two days sifting dirt, removing grass stems and stones. Bed A, the keeper, got most of the dirt from Bed B (none of the original beds had been completely filled). Realizing I had more dirt than space, I cobbled together another bed with some decorative pavers and metal trim I had sitting around from an old greenhouse I'd picked up years ago but had never rebuilt. (Rebuilding the greenhouse will be Part B of the master plan!).


So the new bed was filled with the cleaned dirt from Bed C, but I still had more soil. So, engaging my “upcycling brain” I went into the top of our barn and found an old wooden toy box, unpainted on the inside. Just the thing … I drilled some drainage holes and soon that was filled too. And yet there was more dirt …

I've seen many online posts on container gardens, so I grabbed every pot in the garden shed. There was still leftover soil from Bed C, but it was the end of the first weekend, and I felt satisfied with my progress. 

Over the week, I was able to run to Watercress Greenhouse, a small family-run business, where I got some starter veggies. Soon, two summer squash plants were popped into the toy box, six tomato plants and two squash were in Bed A, lettuce seeds were in the new bed, and six pepper plants and a bunch of broccoli were in the pots, which were sitting on some other concrete pavers we'd had sitting around.

For a few days, I congratulated myself on my gardening gains. But this past Friday morning, as I looked out past the garden, there they were … insidiously lurking in the shadows … several rabbits and a woodchuck.  I knew I had to rethink the no-fencing idea – I’ve had woodchucks clear-out a garden in one night by deftly striping off leaves from every plant.


So, another trip to the attic for repurposing was in order … I used an old dog crate as the start of a fence for the new bed, paired with some homemade gates (made of unpainted wooden frames and reclaimed fencing; they are attached to supporting fence posts using loops of 12 gauge wire). To keep the critters out of Bed A, I built a tent of reclaimed fencing (tall stakes, some old plumbing elbows, and a piece of pine). I have some old corrugated plastic panels somewhere that I will use to block off the ends.

I also made another smaller bed for six broccoli from patio blocks, bent yard sign stakes, and more reclaimed fencing. The remaining container plants were moved by the house, a woodchuck would have to be very brazen to come that close; time will tell if the hooligan bunnies will make a night raid.

Until next time, upcycle and enjoy the outdoors!    

Lori




Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Powering through Puddles


Hello, everyone!  May has flown by and our summer months will be jam-packed with lots of activities.  Looking ahead, our Pathfinder calendar is filled with our Pathfinder Produce markets, end-of-the-year Pathfinder School celebrations and summer session, our 21st annual Summer Concert Series (free, live music on Saturdays in July and August at 7 p.m.), and getting ready for Camp Pathfinder, our adventure program for young adults with disabilities that helps them build confidence and independence. 

If your life is super busy too, then it’s important for you and your family to eat well.  Pathfinder Produce, open each Thursday afternoon from 1 to 5 p.m. at our Village Commons, is here to help.  Our market will start adding on fresh picked items grown at our hoop houses, so there will be an even greater selection of fresh items for you to try.  And don’t forget our convenient online ordering system … just place your order, make your secure payment, and we’ll deliver delicious pre-picked veggies and fruits to either the Edmeston or Morris pick-up location.

Below, my colleague Sally Trosset offers some training tips for those who are staying active this summer.

***
Powering through Puddles

It’s been a little over a week since the amazing fifth annual Splash Path 5k and Fun Walk.  I think I can say I am finally dry.  The two raincoats, the socks, both pairs of sneakers, and the two hats I wore are finally dry too!   Not only was there a lot of rain, but was it chilly too.  Nonetheless, we had a great turnout and it was a memorable day all the way around!

In remembering Splash Path, it’s a perfect time to review smart tips for a rainy run, especially for those who do 5ks and other events.  Running in the rain can be exhilarating, but if you’re not prepared, your run will become a miserable slosh.  There are so many things you CAN control when you are training -- your weekly regimen, diet/caloric intake, gear and footwear -- but you can’t control the weather on race day, so don’t let wet weather get you down!  (The 2018 Boston Marathon had horrible weather with heavy rain and wind gusts up to 25mph.  Many runners wore trash bags over their clothes…as if Heartbreak Hill wasn’t enough for a Boston Marathoner!)

Some advice to follow if Mother Nature throws you a puddle or two while you are splashing toward the finish line can be found at the website of Women’s Running.  (Rain doesn’t discriminate; these tips apply to both genders.)  I had no idea that spraying water repellent on shoes would help keep them dry (obvious, but something I wouldn’t think to do)!  Another informative article comes from Very Well Fit; they note, and I agree 100%, that the hardest part of running in the rain is just getting started.  Once you’re warmed up, you may find you actually enjoy it.  I find I run a little faster in the rain!

Before I sign off, just a shout out to all the runners and volunteers, donors and sponsors, and Pathfinder residents/students, families, staff and board members who took part in Splash Path ... the rain and cold did not get anyone down.  We even had 36 people sign up on race day!  Our fantastic race directors sprang into action to modify plans to move events inside, and our camera crew had plastic bags coming out of every pocket to cover their camera equipment. Nothing would stop the awesome pictures!
 
In the end, it’s all about community, and what a fantastic one we have at Pathfinder Village. Historically, Splash Path has raised funds that support community wellness and inclusion projects, and this year continues that tradition.  Proceeds will go towards a new Mobile Market for Pathfinder Produce so that we may expand our fresh fruit and produce market to serve a larger audience and help families and communities get greater access to affordable, healthy fruits and vegetables.  Celebrating our fifth year, we extend a huge thank you to all our sponsors, donors, participants and volunteers.  This year was definitely our splashiest, but Mother Nature’s wet, cold weather certainly did not deter anyone from coming out and having fun!

Until next time, happy trails, puddles and rain drop dodging!

Sally (and Lori)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Be Bold with Spring Flavors!


Hello everyone!  We hope you have a great week and are able to check in at our next delicious Pathfinder Produce market at the Village Commons, on Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m.  We’re starting to feature some freshly picked spring items, which are “Ooh, so good!”  (Who remembers Mr. Food segments on our regional television shows?)

We’re pleased to offer our tremendous customers the convenience of online ordering … just cruise over to our website at http://pathfindervillage.org/our-village/pathfinder-produce , and shop at our virtual markets.  The online markets are open from Friday mornings through Wednesdays at noon, with produce pick-up at either our Edmeston or Morris locations on the following Thursday (Edmeston pick-ups are from 1 to 5 p.m.; Morris pick-ups are from 3 to 6 p.m.). 

THANK YOU to all the participants, sponsors, and visitors to Saturday’s Splash Path … our splashiest Splash Path ever!  You can check out all the pictures (with more to come) at our Pathfinder Village Facebook page, and plan on coming to our 6th annual event which will be on Saturday, May 18, 2019 (click link to add to your Google Calendar). 

This year’s event proceeds will support a new Mobile Market for Pathfinder Produce.  Once this is up and running, we’ll be able to expand on our programs that help area families have greater access to fresh and healthy produce.  Stay tuned for more news on this as it happens right here!

Below, my colleague Martha Spiegel shares some new ways to prepare and combine those delicious spring produce items.  The fresh season is upon us, so be bold!

***
I love when the spring vegetables start arriving at markets! We had some delicious grilled asparagus last night; generally when preparing this favorite, I just toss it with a bit of olive oil and whatever seasoning sounds good, then throw it on the grill. That’s my go-to method for asparagus, but recently I’ve been thinking about more creative ways to use spring vegetables.  The following links are what I’ve discovered online.

This asparagus, egg and bacon salad from the blog Skinnytaste looks fairly easy to prep and pack for lunch or for a picnic. You could experiment with different dressings to vary the taste, too.

I’ve never done much with savory pancakes, but I was intrigued by this recipe from Bon Appetit for pea pancakes. It looks quick and simple to prepare, and features fresh peas, which have such wonderful flavor. If you’ve never had anything but frozen or canned peas, give the fresh ones a try while they are in season. There’s a world of difference! I think these pancakes would make a great change-of-pace side dish.

This next dish is from Food Network and Ina Garten. It contains asparagus, shallots, sugar snap peas, and broccolini, which is similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thin stalks. In addition to the bright flavors, this side contains so many valued vitamins and minerals: Vitamins C, A, E, and several of the Bs, plus iron, potassium, and calcium to name a few!

This Fennel Apple Slaw from a site called Chowhound would make an interesting alternative to a cabbage slaw for your next cookout. While typically a fall and winter vegetable, cabbages can be planted early for a spring crop as well. I discovered fennel a couple of years ago and tried a couple of ways to cook it, but I much prefer it raw. The taste is similar to black licorice, so it’s probably not for everyone, but I am a fan. I usually cut it up and eat it in sticks, but I think I’ll give this slaw a try next time I get a fennel.

I hope this gives you some ideas to use fresh, seasonal produce. You can find even more from Chowhound here. Then gather your recipes, make your list, and come to Pathfinder Produce!

Until next time, savor the flavors!

Martha (and Lori)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Splash Path and Animated Fruits & Veggies!


IT’S HERE!  OUR FIFTH ANNUAL SPLASH PATH IS THIS SATURDAY, and everyone at Pathfinder Village is so excited. 

We anticipate a full day of activities, and offer this link with an Event Day Agenda to guide you as you take part in this colorful celebration.  (Bring your old crayons along too for upcycling with the Great Crayon Project!

This year’s event is raising funds for a new Pathfinder Produce initiative … the Mobile Market.  Once this is up and running, we hope to expand our market into area communities via a refrigerated produce vehicle.  This way we can expand our hours and provide even more healthy fruits and veggies to our friends and neighbors.

Of course, we welcome everyone to this Thursday’s market at the Pathfinder Village Commons on Thursday, from 1 to 5 p.m.  Don’t forget about our convenient online ordering … go to our website’s produce page and click on the market where you’d like to pick up your delivery, place and pay for your order, and plan for a delicious week full of fresh fruits and veggies!

Have fun this week, and enjoy this fun look at produce through the lens of Disney films by our very own Director of Education Maura Iorio, a true-blue Disney fan from wayyy back!

***
This past weekend the kiddos and I had a Disney movie marathon—one of our favorite family pastimes!
Since then I’ve had Disney on the brain, so when I sat down to write this week’s veggie blog, the first thing that came to mind was: Fruits and Veggies Featured in Disney Movies!

Presented in no particular order, here are some of my favorite “Produce Market Approved” moments from Disney movies, along with some fun recipes to pair with them.

1. Coconuts in Moana

Consider the coconut ...         (the what?)
Consider its tree
We use each part of the coconut
That's all we need!

~ “Where You Are,” Moana


In Moana, the daughter of the Village Chief isn’t exactly impressed by the mundane day to day life of her island—but one thing that her village of Montunui got exactly right is an appreciation for the coconut! Next time you watch the movie, try these Healthy Coconut Bites to enjoy with it!


2. Apples in Snow White

Ok, so this apple doesn’t work out too well for Snow White, but usually apples are sweet and delicious! Forget the Evil Queen’s recipe and instead try these Poison Apples from Olivia’s Cuisine. They’re the perfect pairing for this Disney classic!


3. Broccoli in Inside Out

The main character in Inside Out, Riley, has some pretty strong feelings about broccoli—disgust! This nutrient-rich vegetable doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. Does the sight of broccoli make you feel like Riley? Maybe one of these 29 recipes from Bon Appetit can convert you!




4. Prickly Pears in The Jungle Book

Now when you pick a pawpaw
Or a prickly pear
And you prick a raw paw
Well, next time beware
Don't pick the prickly pear by the paw
When you pick a pear
Try to use the claw
But you don't need to use the claw
When you pick a pair of the big pawpaw
Have I given you a clue?

The bare necessities of life will come to you,
They'll come to you!

~ “The Bare Necessities,”
The Jungle Book







Prickly Pears aren’t easy to come across in Central New York, but if you’re lucky enough to snag some it’s important to know how to handle and prepare them!  Since you don’t have claws like Baloo, try these step by step directions from Simply Delicious instead.

We hope to see you at the Pathfinder Produce Market this Thursday and at Splash Path this Saturday!

Thanks for reading!

Maura (and Lori)

Monday, May 7, 2018

It's a Jungle Out There!

Hello!  We hope that everyone will come down to this Thursday's Pathfinder Produce from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Pathfinder Village Commons for the greatest variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in our area. The market’s friendly staff is eager to help you with your purchases, and there's always something new to try.

Speaking of something new … if you haven't been to our Splash Path 5k Run & Fun Walk yet, consider signing up for our 5th annual on Saturday, May 19.  Early registration fees have been extended through May 11 (afterward, there will be a modest increase; we work to keep our entrance fees low so families may have an enjoyable, fitness-focused day together).  To learn more, stop by the recently updated Pathfinder Village website; be sure to stop by our Vendors page to see the many fine organizations that are helping to make the 2018 Splash Path possible.
* * * *

It’s a Jungle Out There

Lately, our weekends have one big rush, going from one activity or right to the next.  It also means that our outdoor work at home needs to be done with all hands on deck.  This weekend we all worked to get our mowers going, changed the oil in the truck, cleaned up the firewood pile, and raked the stones out of the yard.  We also had to de-smellify Della, who got a little too close to a skunk on one of her nightly sojourns. 

To deal with the aroma of Mephitis mephitis, we used a combination of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and just a little dish soap and worked it into her coat for the first go-round (followed with a rinse); we followed it up with some high-quality apple cider and a good rinse.  (I’ve also used tomato paste on our older Springer many years ago; it worked better than tomato juice but it turned the dog pink).

Throughout the weekend, we followed up with some good brushings too, as her coat is now in full-shed mode.  It was a good chance to also check for ticks and other stowaways.  As anticipated, I found a few small critters hiding (but not embedded) in her ears.  Wearing disposable gloves, I was able to extract the offenders easily and then cleaned her ears with rubbing alcohol.  Luckily, I’d already dosed her a few weeks back with a prescription chew that kills ticks and fleas for three months. 

Yuck. I really dislike ticks.

Ticks are notorious for spreading Lyme disease, but they are also the vectors for spreading other serious illnesses too.  My Facebook feed has blown-up with stories on the uptick in red meat allergies caused by bites from the Lone Star tick:  Alpha-gal allergy symptoms include typical anaphylactic and hypersensitivity reactions soon after a person eats beef or other red meats.  Read more about these allergies here.

(Lone Star tick bites are estimated to be responsible for around 80 percent of Alpha-gal allergies.  As tick populations increase in northern areas (which is linked to warmer summer temperatures through climate change), there are more cases happening in New York and the New England states).

In closing, it’s always good to review the CDC’s guidelines on how to avoid ticks on people, on pets, and to try to reduce them in your yards.  If you have children who play outdoors, or seniors you care for who like to sit outside, be sure to check them frequently from head to toe, as they may not be aware of when they’ve been bitten.  The Mayo Clinic offers first aid steps if you have been bit, and readers are encouraged to report any noticeable rashes or other symptoms to their healthcare providers for follow-up treatment.

Until next time, be active and be well,

Lori