Back in May I watched Food Inc and then started reading Fast Food Nation. I was shocked at what I was learning about how our food is made. Shocked. Mistreatment of animals, mistreatment of humans, processing food so much that it has to be artificially flavored it with the flavors that it had to start with, and more… I wanted to make some changes in what I ate and joining the CSA was the first step and it has brought on some other changes…
I decided I wanted to know where my food was coming from. I thought about hitting the farmers market but I always have a hard time deciding what to get and end up buying too many odd things. Also, there’s not one near me that’s convenient to my schedule. I started looking into CSA’s and I hit gold!
My simple google search lead me to Bull Run Mountain Farm! It looked great and they had a pick up at the Manassas Train Station on Friday evenings at 5:30. This was perfect since the train station was on my way home and I usually cook over the weekend so I could get my CSA veggies and then plan meals! I emailed them and the farmer got right back to me, inviting me to join for the remainder of the season! I was even able to get a fruit share so I was getting a whole bunch of peaches at first and then a whole bunch of apples!
I got CSA veggies for about 10 weeks and it was great! I got new veggies that I’d never eaten before and started cooking a lot more! Veggie Corn Chowder, Parmesan Potatoes, Butternut Squash Soup, Apple Cake, Chili, Zucchini Bread, applesauce, homemade hot pepper jelly and more! Every Sun I was spending most of the day cooking up all the yumminess I’d gotten on Fri. I only had a few failures and so far I haven’t drawn blood or burned myself either! I can’t say I’ve used every bit of ever veggie I’ve gotten, but I have been able to use most and sometimes things I don’t use stay fresh enough to use the next week.
Of course, all good things must come to an end and last Fri was our last week of veggie pick up. However, it wasn’t entirely the end of the CSA road – yesterday all the shareholders were invited out to the farm to glean the fields! It was all you could pick! I got some great stuff that I hadn’t gotten in previous weeks. Not only that but I got to see “my” farm and where my food was coming from! I’ve already signed up for next year and I’m anxiously awaiting June when we start getting vegetables again!
The farm is located in The Plains, VA which is in Fauquier County out 66. I double checked my google maps directions and matched them to the directions on the farm’s website – google maps had the farm in the same place as on the farm website so I decided I was good to go and didn’t read the directions on the farm website.
The gleaning was scheduled to begin at 10:30 and I wanted to be on time – didn’t want everyone else getting the good stuff! Leah and I set out about 9:30 and quickly made our way to the farm. We turned off 66 onto a nice 2 lane road with a double yellow line, then we turned on to another 2 lane road, this one with no double yellow line – the roads were getting smaller as we got further and further out. We quickly came to the road the farm was on. It was a very narrow dirt road with a large sign indicating that it was a Private Road. There was no sign about the farm or anything. The farm’s address was on this road so I figured it was right so proceeded down the road. As we bounced along there was no indication at all that there was farm back up in there and not even any houses! It was beautiful with the the fall colors and all, but it was feeling a bit “Deliverance-y”.
I did pass a driveway with 2 very large (8-10 feet high!) rock cairns on either side, but there was no address or sign so I kept going. Soon I came to a driveway with an address – it was 44___ and we were looking for 43__ but I didn’t know if the numbers were going up or down. Of course the phone had no service here. We kept going down the road until the road ended in 2 driveways, neither of which were my farm. There were signs on the trees that said “organic farm, do not spray” My farm is not “organic” because it’s a total pain to get qualified through the government, but they don’t use pesticides and stuff, so I figured these signs were a good indicator that I was getting close! I ended up turning around in someone’s yard which was tricky because there was very little room! On the way back I decided to explore the where the road marked by the rock cairns, that was right about where the “organic farm” signs started too, and sure enough it was the road to my farm! :-) There’s something kinda cool about it being a secret place that only those in the know can find! Turns out the exact directions, including turn at the rock cairns, was outlined in the written directions on the website. Silly me for not reading!
Our first stop, after putting on our boots since the fields were very muddy, was the large map they had written on a big piece of cardboard and had leaning against a tractor.
It’s hard to made out the actual map! I had to study the map a few times to fully get my bearings and know which veggies were where. Turns out Leah and I were among the first shareholders to make it out to the farm so there weren’t many people there yet!
Our first stop was the string beans! They are purple! When you cook them they turn green. We’d gotten some a few weeks ago, but these were much bigger and there were TONS. Leah and I got a little overzealous picking them and I have a lot! Good thing I LOVE string beans (can’t really call ‘em green beans!)
Next we moved on the lettuce! We ended up with 3 different types of lettuce! They had mild mustard lettuce, strong mustard lettuce and “oak leaf” lettuce (basic lettuce). We’ve only gotten a little bit of lettuce so far so this was exciting as well!
Next up we treked back down the road a bit to the hoop houses. In the process we passed the chicken house! They raise chickens for fertilizer and provide 6 eggs a week for shareholders who purchase an egg share. Next year I’m getting an egg share, so these guys will be producing my eggs! You can’t really see ‘em, but we could hear ‘em!
In the hoop houses we picked peppers (which I thought were spicy so I didn’t get many – turns out they were bell peppers and very yummy!) and cucumbers! Most of the tomatoes were either very green or squished.
Had a hard time pulling Leah away from the tomatoes!
In the middle of the hoop house area there’s a graveyard! I have no idea who is buried there, I need to ask Leigh. This might make some people saw “ewww” having my veggies growing right next to a cemetery, but I think it just adds to the experience! It’s kinda cool I think!
Also by the hoop houses are the bee hives! We all got about a pound of honey from these bees! I’ve never eaten a lot of honey, but lately I’ve been putting it on everything! It’s very yummy!
The hives have electric fencing around them to keep the bears out. I’m not even kidding. Just last week Leigh was woken up at 3am by the dogs (2 Great Pyrenees) barking like crazy and when he investigated he found a large black bear enjoying the honey!
Our next stop was the pond by the eggplant field: Finally we moved on to the eggplant and hot pepper field. Leah was very excited about picking eggplant and I have WAY more than I ever thought I needed, not even sure they are ripe! We didn’t pick any pepper, I’m pretty sure these were the hot ones and I didn’t want Leah handling them – just touching them get the oils on your hands which make rubbing your eyes or your nose painful!
There were geese right by the eggplant fields! Leah walked up and said “How you doing?” to the geese!
Our last stop was another lettuce field. This one had a lot of weeds in it! It was easy to see the difference between the weeds and the lettuce, but I got a few weeds anyway. I hope they are edible because I may have accidently eaten some along with my lettuce. Leah decided it would be fun to jump over the rows of lettuce! It was cute, but she was tramping on the lettuce so I knew it was time to go!