Good Afternoon

We've heard some positive reviews and feedback about the one-time shares + online shop availability for non-winter members, so we're doing it again this week!

This week is the "Breakfast Bag" to celebrate the beginning of maple syrup season. This week's bag features our very own Corn Flour Pancake mix, bacon breakfast patties, maple syrup, eggs & chicken thighs ("Chicken & Waffles" anyone!?). Full list of contents below. Read below to learn more about "Maple Sugaring."

We've also spent our "off-week" of deliveries updating inventory so the online shop is pretty full & up to date with a variety of milk, eggs, meats and a few bundles (more details below)

The order deadline for the Breakfast Bag and any other additional items from the online shop is Tuesday, February 22 at 11:59pm. Pick-up will be Wednesday through Saturday, February 23 - 26.

Finally, we just announced the Summer 2022 season! More details can be found HERE. Our network of farmers are anxious for the growing season...many of them have already started planning and will be starting seeds within the next month.

Enjoy the sunshine today and we hope to see you this week.
Trevor & the FFM Team
No Commitment Required This Week

Corn Flour Pancake Mix (1.5#)
Bacon Breakfast Patties (1#)
Chicken Thighs (~1.5#)
1 doz Eggs
Maple Syrup (pint)
Potatoes (3#)
Apples (Jonagold)
Frozen Sweet Corn
Wabash Erie Canal Gruyere Cheese
Product Features & Bundles
Early Bird Savings Bundle
In honor of the Summer 2022 announcement, we have created the "Early Bird" bundle. For years, we would advertise the start of the season with a chicken...because, ya know, "the early bird gets the worm". So this bundle had to feature a whole chicken. Plus a few other staple items for your freezer.

Whole Chicken (~4#)
Pork Sirloin Roast (~2.5#)
1 # Bacon
Cheddar Jalapeno Brat Burger Pack (4 patties, ~1#)
1 # Ground Beef
1 # Ground Pork
Feta Spinach Poultry Brats (4 links, ~1.2#)
NEW!! Country Style Sausage Patties

This has become a staple of breakfast at my house -- we call it the Fresh Fork "Mc" Muffin. These savory sausage patties (salt, pepper & sage) are perfect on toasted English Muffins with some scrambled eggs. Top if off with some Pepper Butter or our Farm Ketchup. 6 patties per 1# package ($7)
Winter Warmer Grilling Pack
For those who shovel their decks to grill out...because the beer stays cold in the snow. $40

Featuring cuts from our pasture raised animals.

1 package boneless pork chops (1.5#)
1 package boneless chicken breast (1.5#)
1 package cheddar jalapeno brat burgers (1#)
1 package Italian sausage links (1.25#)

Eggs - 2 for $7.50
The hardest part about being your own supply chain is balancing supply & demand. Our demand is strongest spring thru the holidays...then demand drops sharply.

Sadly, I can't get the hens to stop laying eggs, so we have to put them on sale from time to time to keep them moving.

Stock up or treat a neighbor to our delicious farm fresh eggs. $0.50 off.
During the summer thousands of pounds of tomatoes are harvested, and there are just not enough hours in the day to process them all - so we freeze literally tons of them. Then in the winter, we thaw them and make sauces and more.

This year I bought a new machine to help with removing the skins and seeds. It's called a "pulper." It's fairly old (60s) but works like a champ. It's essentially a giant foodmill with different sized screens. I figured out that if I run the tomatoes through two different sized screens, I can separate out the skins and seeds, then separate out the pulp from the juice. We use the pulp to make tomato sauce, and in the past we were boiling off the juice. This year I was able to reserve the juice and bottle it separately. It's great as a drink, used in veggie soup, as a marinade for beef, or for braising meat. At home, I've enjoyed having this versatile product in the kitchen.

-- TOMATO JUICE -- something I have honestly been itching to make for a long time now! Available by the quart.

-- TOMATO PULP -- think of this as somewhere in between juice and sauce -- smoother than sauce, not as thin as juice. It's a great starting point for a braise, soup or chili. Available by the pint.

-- KETCHUP -- a family favorite with our local twist on it and, of course, no high fructose corn syrup or any other questionable ingredients. Available in pints and half-pints (look for "Tomato Ketchup" in the store.

-- TOMATO SAUCE -- a classic, traditional tomato sauce recipe. Great for pizza and pasta.
Pork Sirloin Chops

The forgotten sibling of the pork chop, the sirloin chop is simply a boneless pork chop from the sirloin region of the hog. It's 3 unique muscles loosely held together in one large chop. A little more fat and flavor than a center cut pork chop, the sirloin chop is a staff favorite at OCP.

Simply cook like a pork chops and slice across the grain. Serve with warm kraut and mustard.

Packed 1 large chop per pack - great for sharing.


We've got a great line-up of cheeses available in the store. We are so lucky to have so many artisan cheesemakers in Ohio.

Check the shop for availability and descriptions of the cheeses.
Maple Sugaring
To the left is a photo of the conversion of sap - the sugar water - into syrup. It takes a lot of sap to make maple sugar.
I personally do not collect any maple sap. My property was logged shortly before I bought it and there aren't many maple trees left - just some young ones. But all of the neighbors have plenty and we work with them to collect it, boil it, and jug it.
What type of trees. Sycamore. All sycamore. No, just joking. Maple trees of course, but not all maples. There are two major categories of maple tree. There are the hard maples - like sugar maple and black maple - and the soft maples - like silver and red maple. It is also important that the tree be mature. Generally a tree 18 inches in diameter is the starting size.
All maples can be tapped, but with different tastes and characteristics. Generally the soft maples grow along fence rows and in wetter areas around here. They are smaller with a more smooth bark and many extensions growing out of the main trunk (kind of looks like a lot of trees started growing at the same place). The silver maple is easy to identify in the summer because the backside of the leaf is silver. The red maple has beautiful red foliage in the fall.
The sap from the soft maples is generally not as sweet and it takes more sap to make a gallon of syrup. Furthermore, the soft maples start to bud earlier. Once the plant starts to bud, the sap turns bitter. Think about kale or lettuce that is going to seed. At that point the tree has taken the sugars and used them to produce leaves that will collect energy from the sun.
The sugar maples tend to be larger and with deeper "furrows" in the bark. These large, mature trees can produce a lot of sap with good sugar. They also produce longer as they don't go to bud as early.
Collecting the Sap. 
Maple sugaring "technology" has certainly evolved from buckets hanging on trees. The buckets - while certainly more photogenic - have been replaced with vacuum systems and more sanitary plastic bags.
"Bucket" vs Vacuum 
The photo to the right shows a spout used to collect sap with buckets or bags. This is very uncommon today. The first photo at the top of this email shows a more modern vacuum system.

Most maple collection today is done on a vacuum system. There are several advantages:
1) Labor saving. No need to go collect buckets and possibly tear up your woods on a wet day
2) More sap. Read below.
3) Less "infection" to the tree. The tap is essentially an open wound. If using an open tap, there is a chance bacteria could get into the tree, causing the hole to scar over and requiring the operator to drill more holes.
The vacuum system does require that you have a stand of trees close together for collecting. If you have one tree in your lawn, a few around the road, etc, then the bags make more sense.
Around here, generally the guys on vacuum tap a maximum of about 300 trees per vacuum line. An 18 inch hard maple can support 2 taps on the same plane. A general rule of thumb is to look for a big root and go above that on each side of the tree. Those big roots are major arteries for the sap.
One neighbor recently wanted proof. He tapped a few remote trees with bags and the rest with a vacuum system. He collected an average of 11 gallons of sap per tap with the bags (bucket method). With the vacuum method, he averaged 28 gallons of sap. Both saps were considered equal in density and sugar content.
What weather conditions create sap? It's simple. Freezing nights and days above freezing, particularly sunny days. If the temperature stays above freezing for about 5 days, the season tends to end. Once the trees start to bud, the season is definitely over.
Which Trees to Tap and Where?
There is a difference in where the tree is located for how much sap it produces. A big maple out in the open with a big canopy will produce more maple sap than a tree in the forest. It can collect more sun.
Trees also on the north side of a hill will also tend to run longer. And if a tree is tapped on both the north and south side of the tree, the southern tap produces more sap early and the northern tap produces more sap later. It's logical. Early on, the southern tap has more exposure to sun. That side of the tree starts to run sooner and produces more sap than the northern tap. Later in the season, the southern side of the tree will have run its course before the northern side is done.
In terms of how many trees you can find in a good "sugarbush," generally 20 to 30 trees per acre is considered good. If you have 300 trees tapped, its usually a sugarbush of about 10 to 15 acres of woods. If we do a little math, 20 trees per acre, 28 gallons of sap per tree, and approximately a 50:1 conversion of sap to acre might produce 10 gallons of syrup with a wholesale value of $40 per gallon - so about $400 per acre.
Does this harm the tree? No, a maple tree will not die from being tapped for sap. The major concern about tapping is scars that it will leave in the wood if the tree is harvested for lumber. Lumber buyers want trees that have not been tapped as they don't want the scars in the wood grain.
What makes the sap dark vs light? Mother nature. Generally the earlier sap is lighter in color and the later sap darker. The darker sap has more maple flavor and is today more prized by consumers
Boiling the Sap 
After the sap is collected, it must be reduced to make syrup. This requires an evaporator table - essentially a large, flat pan that allows for increased surface area for the sap to evaporate.
While magazines prefer a wood-fired, open evaporator table for the rustic aesthetic, this isn't the real world.

Most maple evaporating today is a 2 step process:
Step 1: Use reverse osmosis to separate the sugar water from the clean water. Dispose of the "clean" water.
Step 2: Boil the sugar water to create sap.
Our syrup is produced a few miles from my farm at the "sugar shack" of Aden and Barbara Keim. Their evaporator is seen above. It runs off of a steam boiler. The steam is piped, at pressure, through perforated pipes inside the evaporator table. The steam rapidly heats the sap to a rolling boil. A flue collects the steam and vents it outside. You can see the steam rolling out of their sugar shack from a mile away!
As the density of the sap changes, it works its way through a series of channels in the table until it is ready to come out of the spigot. A simple boiler valve is installed at the end and the sap is poured into the jars and inverted for a sanitary seal.
Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese
This week we are excited to feature the Gruyere from Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese - called Wabash Erie Canal.

It's a raw-milk, natural rind hard cheese aged 6 months or more on the farm. It's firm with a rich golden hue, an earthy-nutty-mushroomy flavor and is named after a canal channel not farm from the farm Schlatter family's Canal Junction Farm in Defiance, Ohio.
This versatile cheese of course pairs well with wine, but also is a powerhouse in the kitchen. Try it in a gratin, a quiche,  or even to make a mornay sauce.

About Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese
Another important note about this cheese is that the style reflects the farming practices and genetics that Ralph and Sheila feature. They are a 100% grass-fed dairy, focusing on rich leguminous pasture grasses and rotational grazing. They have found over the years that genetics play an important part in this, so they worked with our own Chef Parker Bosley and a researcher from University of Wisconsin to start using Normande genetics in their herd.  
The Normande breed of cattle is a French breed known for being hardy and efficient on grass. It is a "dual purpose" breed, meaning they are good milkers for dairy production and also do well for meat production, which makes the breed perfect for a sustainable small farm operation like the Schlatter's fifth-generation family-managed farm. Ralph and Sheila keep their cows and heifers for milk production to use in their bottling operation and cheese-house, while their son Kyle grazes the steers (castrated males) for beef production.