Crop Talk
The Newsletter of Great Country Farms
February 24, 2015: Offering Fine Cheese
February 2015
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In This Issue
The Cheese Maker's Art

   Those luscious creamy-looking things are rounds of Picnic Woods, which Molly Kroiz, their maker, describes as "a semi-soft, bloomy rind cheese named for a road near the farm." The farm is Georges Mill Farm, where Molly and her husband, Sam, tend a small herd of Alpine goats and make delicious cheeses from their milk. This year Great Country Farms is partnering with Georges Mill Farm to offer our CSA members a cheese add-on.

   Offerings will include cheeses like Catoctin, "a pungent cheese with a creamy paste ... whose character is shaped by the white Penicillium candidum mold allowed to grow on its surface," Kroiz explains on the farm's website, and Calvary Camp Ash, which is "named for the 6th NY Cavalry which spent the winter of 1864-65 camped on our property." That property has been in the Kroiz family for nine generations, ever since the days of Lord Fairfax.

   "The wheels [of Calvary Camp Ash] begin the same way as their cousin Catoctin," Kroiz writes, "but a thin layer of vegetable ash is sprinkled on the surface of the young cheese. This addition changes the rind growth and flavor of the cheese, giving this wheel slightly earthier notes and a striking black and white appearance." Cheese that sounds as rich and complex as a Bluemont Vineyard wine!

   To read more about the goats at Georges Mill Farm, see our recent post on Barn Talk. To learn more about the cheese CSA add-on, call Mark at 540-554-2073.
Sweet Winter Greens?
In the last issue of Crop Talk, I mentioned the nearly miraculous resilience of our spinach in the face of sub-freezing temperatures night after night. Since then it's gotten colder on the Blue Ridge -- colder than it's been in 20 years, according to people who watch weather for a living. We managed to harvest ten or fifteen pounds of the extraordinary leaves for the Loudoun Grown Expo on February 14, where people first struggled to believe that the plants had grown uncovered out-of-doors and then struggled to stop stuffing the leaves into their mouths. 
Kate shares the spinach miracle at Loudoun Expo.
But that was before the temperature dropped to one degree -- a couple of times. 
   Can any spinach live through nights that cold? Even under a blanket of snow? We don't know yet, but once the day-time highs start bouncing back into the forties, we'll brush the snow away and search for survivors. Watch Barn Talk for updates on that search. We might still be picking winter spinach when the first spring greens come in.
Vote Bluemont Vineyard!



Every year Northern Virginia Magazine compiles a 'Best of the Region' list based on feedback from readers. The list doesn't have a category for farms or CSAs, but it does include favorite wineries and favorite wedding venues, so if you've ever enjoyed an event or an afternoon at Bluemont Vineyard, our sister property, please give us a boost by casting your vote. Polling closes February 28.


This Just In...

   Chuck Izzo, owner of a new store in Purcellville that specializes in helping people prepare for life in the open, has offered his shop as our newest public group site. If you'd like to browse outdoor gear and chat about wild places when you pick up your share every week, consider joining Chuck's new group. Watch Barn Talk next week for a profile of Chuck and Cindy.

This Paper Keeps it Fresh

   In 2010, Kavita Shukla invented FreshPaper, an organic sheet of paper infused with a mixture of spices said to ward off bacteria and keep produce fresh up to four times longer. "Basically, it's a dryer sheet for produce," says Shukla, who found an audience for FreshPaper at local farmers markets.

   Today, Shukla's company, Fenugreen, ships FreshPaper to 35 countries and sells it online and in stores like Whole Foods. With every sale of FreshPaper, Fenugreen donates another box to a local food bank and matches profits with donations to farmers in the developing world.

Can a Simple Piece of Paper Change the Way We Eat? Kavita Shukla at TEDxManhattan
Can a Simple Piece of Paper Change the Way We Eat? Kavita Shukla at TEDxManhattan


Read more here

A New Kind of Crop Insurance?


By Fred Hoefner and Bruce Knight


   Is it possible to grow more food, increase profits for farmers, and improve the environment along the way - just by changing the way we insure crop loss? Based on anecdotal evidence, this reality may be well within reach; during the drought of 2012, Midwest producers who used conservation practices, such as cover crops, experienced lower yield losses. Given this and other similar emerging evidence that conservation practices lead to lower crop losses, could the federal crop insurance program recognize these practices as risk mitigation strategies? What if the Risk Management Agency (RMA) at USDA were able to quantifiably correlate improved soil health and water holding capacity with reduced crop losses during instances of extreme weather?

   With roughly 900,000 farmers participating in the federal crop insurance program, we believe that these and other related questions are worth asking. A conservation-grounded crop insurance program could help drive broader-scale adoption of practices that are good for both a producer's bottom line, the environment, and the taxpayer.


Read more here.

About Sustainable Agriculture

Proposed Bill Demands Mandatory GMO Labeling in R.I. 

From The Cornucopia Institute

by Alon Galor of The Brown Daily Herald

   Legislation introduced Jan. 15 would require genetically engineered

products in Rhode Island to be clearly labeled "produced with genetic engineering," and would also specify what the term "genetically engineered product" - which has multiple definitions - would mean in the state. Rep. Raymond Hull, D-Providence and Rep. Dennis Canario, D-Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton separately introduced legislation on genetically modified organisms, though the two will likely collaborate in the future, Hull said.


   Similar bills have been passed in Maine and Connecticut but will not take effect until comparable legislation is passed in other states, according to a General Assembly press release. For the bill proposed in Maine to take effect, five nearby states must pass similar legislation, while Connecticut's law is contingent on the passage of GMO bills in enough northeastern states so that their combined populations include 20 million residents, according to the press release.


Read more here.

Farm Market Feature
Come on in...
Upcoming Events
Bluemont Shamrock Run
March 21

Opening Day
March 28

Egg Hunt and Marshmallow Harvest
April 11 & 12

Try this with your cheese from Georges Mill:




"This has become a perennial at my house on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's just about perfect: very easy and quick to prepare, you can prep it well in advance, it looks and tastes like a high end, fancy recipe... and it tastes wonderful!."


Read more here.



And if you're already eager for collard greens:





"A dip that proves collards don't have to be stewed for hours to be delicious."