5 Reasons to Invest in a CSA Share from Riehm Farms

How would you like to have a bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy while also supporting a local business and farm?

I had never heard of CSA until I attended a health fair last October where I work. The Riehm Farms representatives were there and I was excited to learn about a Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, and what they offered. After learning about the local farm and benefits of participating in a CSA, took a pamphlet to to discuss the option with my husband. Since he grew up as a local farm boy, he loved the idea.

Here are 5 Reasons You Should Invest in a CSA

  1. Who is Growing Your Food?
    This is Riehm Farms’ motto, and wouldn’t it stand to reason that you might want to know who is growing your food since it’s providing nourishment to your family’s growing bodies and minds?
  2. No synthetic pesticides are used or artificial fertilizer; ground water pollution and toxic residues are avoided. Riehm Farms prefers to use organic farming practices. Not only are you avoiding many of the toxins on your foods from factory farms, but your product will be better tasting than that which is in a grocery store chain
  3.  Buy healthy local food.
    You spend money on food every week.  The best way to get the most value for your dollar is buying food that is healthy and nutritious from a local farm, instead of produce that is picked before it’s ready and shipped hundreds of miles.
  4. They seek to put extra quality care into the soil and daily procedures.
    This means they  test the mineral content of the produce you’ll receive to ensure the best quality produce.
  5. Not just produce, Riehm Farms not only sells vegetable shares, but also fruit, eggs, and beef.
    Imagine eggs that have bright yellow yolks that stand up when you crack them! Fruit picked at their peak of freshness because it doesn’t have as far to travel.  Local beef, raised in humane conditions at a family farm instead of a factory farm!

If you want more information about Riehm Farms, contact them: Riehm Farms, 7244 North State Route 53, Tiffin, Ohio 44883 or 419-992-4392.  Ask about signing up for a CSA and a tour of the farm!

7 Tips to Prevent Contaminated Runoff into Water Sources

Useful tips the average citizen can do to prevent contaminated water runoff from entering local drinking water sources.

clean-water
What is in your water?

 

Do you ever wonder how clean your drinking water is? And what you can do to prevent water runoff?

Here are seven tips you can do to prevent contaminated water runoff into drinking water sources from the NRDC.

  1. Don’t over- water your lawns and gardens. Over-watering lawns not only wastes water, but can also increase fertilizers leaching into groundwater.
  2. Grow plants and flowers that native to your area. Native plants need less water, are more tolerant of drought conditions, cost less to maintain and provide habitat for birds and butterflies.  The less water needed for plants, means the more drinking water you have for your community.
  3. Use natural fertilizers. If you only apply natural fertilizers, such as compost, peat, rotted manure, and bone meal to help stimulate plant growth and retain soil moisture, you’ll decrease the use of chemical fertilizers that pollute local water sources.
  4. Use a drive thru car wash instead of washing your car at home. If you take your cars to a professional car wash, they are required to drain the wastewater into sewer systems, where it is treated before being discharged. This prevents oil and other fluids from your car from running into a sewer unfiltered and contaminating water sources.
  5. Recycle and properly dispose of all trash. When you improperly dispose of trash, such as flushing diapers or baby wipes, you can damage the sewage treatment process. Without proper water treatment, you could incur more costs and unsafe water.
  6. Make sure you dispose of all pet waste properly. Pick up pet waste before it has an opportunity to enter storm drains and water supplies from rain runoff.
  7. Do not dispose chemicals down the drain. When you need to dispose of caustic chemicals that could find their way into drinking water sources. of drinking water, (examples here)  Contact your local sanitation, public works, or health department to find hazardous waste collection days and sites, and check Earth911.com for local recycling options.

These are a few steps you can take to protect our natural water resources in your communities.  Next article will provide tips how to protect drinking water if you live outside the city limits.

DIY Canning 101: How to Select Tomatoes for Canning

Selecting the best tomatoes to can is important for taste and quality. Where are the best places to find canner tomatoes? Find the answer here.

garden-tomatoes
Fresh garden-picked tomatoes.

It’s July and canning season for tomatoes will be upon us in 4-6 weeks. Now is the perfect time to prepare yourself to can summer’s harvest of tomatoes.

Before you sanitize your first jar, you’ll need to take into account the following:

1. Where you purchase the tomatoes. You can find the best tomatoes in several places, such as:

  • Your Own Garden
  • Farmer’s Markets
  • Roadside Stands
Local farm markets like this one in Alvada, Ohio are a great resource for fresh produce.

2. Price. It’s not worth it to can if you’re paying exorbitant prices. The least to the most expensive options are:

  • Your own garden – is always a good choice and the least expensive option.  You control the insecticides used so you know exactly what you’re eating.
  • Farmer’s Markets – patronize local farm markets use a limited amount of pesticides (hopefully, but always ask).  If you start checking every week in early  August, then you’ll know when canner tomatoes are available. They’re not as pretty as the tomatoes from the  beginning of the season, but they’re considerably cheaper and still taste wonderful.

If you want to save even more money, there is the option of purchasing “seconds.” These are the flawed tomatoes that aren’t as in good shape as the regular canning tomatoes. You’ll need to cut off some spots, but they are oftentimes much cheaper.

Remember to have a good rapport with the employees of these places. Sometimes it’s possible they will call you when the canner tomatoes are ready, or they can hold back regular or second canning tomatoes just for you.

  • Roadside stands – I would advise against this because these places sell  mostly tomatoes that look pretty but are higher priced.
canner-tomatoes
Tomatoes ready to be cooked and canned.

3. When are you planning to can the tomatoes? It’s best to can them within 24-48 hours to maximize your investment by making sure you are able to use the tomatoes before they spoil.

Next is how to can tomatoes for the beginner canner.

Pros and Cons of Living Off the Grid

land-for-sale-off-grid-living

Many people have romantic notions about what it means to live off of the power grid. Here are a few pros and cons for alternative living.

Living Off Of The Grid Pros

1. No building codes. Building codes are based on decision by a community’s government  protect the health and safety of people from the environment. However, problems  arise when the building codes interfere with the rights of individual citizens.

The government may not be as concerned about the effects of construction on the planet’s environment. If building codes aren’t an issue, a greener, more frugal, experimental housing plan
may be used. And no building codes mean you  are free to use your land to raise animals and to grow a garden.

2. No dependency on the power grid. If the power goes out in a city, the citizens are at the mercy of repair crews. However, living off of the grid (as in power grid) may use alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind energy, and often can be accomplished as a DIY project. Thus reducing your dependency on the frail power grid.

You may say, “Sign me up for that!” But what are you really agreeing to?

Living Off Of The Grid Cons

1. Sewage regulations. Even in areas without building codes, you’ll probably run into sewage regulations. Allowable off grid options include septic tanks with buried leach fields and open-­air lagoon pits. Composting toilets are acceptable in many regions. Personal septic systems require ongoing maintenance and inspections to keep them functioning correctly.

Going off­ grid can be an expensive proposition if you try to replace all the modern amenities (running water, flushable toilets, washer/dryer) and most people prefer their amenities.

2. Clean water source. A site with a reliable water supply is essential to off ­grid living, and prospective landowners. If you’re buying land, you’ll still need a reliable water source. Can a stipulation to include the use of potable water?

3. Property taxes. I don’t know of any vicinity that doesn’t collect property taxes, unless you rent the land from someone else. Make sure you know what the property taxes are and the permits necessary to build a home, if that is permissible.

Consider this, will you have the legal right to use any existing roads, paths or waterways to reach your land? If you do not have access to water or road ways, then consider another plot of land.

Is living off the grid for you? What could you live with or without? Could you sacrifice those
things you take for granted everyday such as running water, electricity for all your electronics,
electric lights?

We want to hear your comments below!

What is Living Off the Grid?

Living off the grid is defined as having a home that could conceivably survive in the event that our civilization collapses. This may sound a bit apocalyptic, but it’s not just conspiracy theorists who choose homesteading as a way of life.

homesteading-off-the-grid-living
Cam and Heather Mather live off the grid in Ontario, CA on Sunflower Farm. Courtesy of MotherEarthNews.com

Many people are interested in “living off the grid” or homesteading as a greener way of life. Homesteading is broadly defined as a lifestyle of self­-sufficiency.

It may include any of the following:

  • Hobby farming,

  • Home preservation of foodstuffs,

  • Small scale production of textiles or clothing, and

  • Craft work for household use or sale.

Living off the grid is defined as having a home that could conceivably survive in the event that our civilization collapses. This may sound a bit apocalyptic, but it’s not just conspiracy theorists who choose homesteading as a way of life.

Who would choose to live off the grid?

  • Environmentalists,

  • Farmers,

  • Those with an independent mindset and

  • Other people who want to have a simple lifestyle.

Living off the grid means having a home that does not rely on public utilities. This sounds like an attractive option to people who love to homestead or do not want to rely on the high cost of gas and electricity.  It is a choice to reduce energy consumption and live in a more natural setting.

Where could one live off the grid?

The most likely places to live off the grid are homes in the country due to fewer zoning laws and more space. A plot of land is needed that can conceivably allow for alternative wind and solar energy. You may need to purchase a home unless a home is inherited or you buy a more affordable and portable living space (mobile home or shipping container home).

People who are most likely to live well off the grid don’t mind hard work and sacrifice. Homesteading requires a spirit of independence.  Also, commitment to lifelong learning is essential.  One day you are fixing your power source, the next day the plumbing, another day might include tending to a sick animal. A willingness to learn as you go is needed unless money is no object.

Why would you want to live off the grid?

For many, living off the grid is a sustainable way of life. It is their own, personal commitment to a greener way of life.  When solar and wind energy are used, it decreases the dependence on fossil fuels and reduces your carbon footprint.

A lot of people love the idea of the challenges that living off the grid offers.  Every day there’s something new to learn:

  • How to grow a garden,

  • How to preserve food,

  • How to care for livestock,

  • How to generate and store energy, water, heat, etc.

Many people grow enough of their own food and rarely go to a grocery store.

For many people, homesteading is a good way to be friendly to the environment and it’s a relief not to rely on overworked utility companies to meet their needs.

But it’s not for everyone.

In the next article, I’ll explain the pros and cons of living off the grid.

Home Canning: Better Quality Food on a Budget

canning-food-diy

Home canning is experiencing a resurgence as an increasing amount of people want to know what’s in their food and want to be good stewards of the environment, but they are on a budget. If you are interested, there is an initial investment (to buy jars, lids, canner, etc) and time too, then home canning just might be for you.

Everything in home canning is reusable, except the food and the lids.  This helps the environment since there is less waste for landfills. The practical benefit is that after the initial investment, you’ll save more by spending less on canning supplies in the future.

What Canning Supplies Do I Need?

Jars: The jars you can get at little or no cost.  I found my canning jars from my mother-in-law who rarely uses them.  There may be someone close to you that would love to give you the canning jars from their basement, maybe even give you some tips.  Try buying jars at thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets for even less than retail.

Bands and Lids: In retail stores, the bands and lids are about $12 for a twelve pack (depending on the jar size). The lids themselves are around $6 for twelve.

Canner: The biggest investment is the canner, which is around $20 – ­$100 depending if you want a boiling water bath canner or a pressure canner.  If you just want to can high acid foods like tomatoes, jams, and jellies, then a boiling water bath canner is for you.  However, I would suggest the pressure canner because you can preserve both high and low acid foods as it doubles as a boiling water bath canner.  I know this is expensive; however, they are made to last several lifetimes and you can always buy it on layaway.

Miscellaneous: You will also need the Ball Blue Book or Putting Food By ($6­ – $14) and a basic canning utensil kit ($8­ – $12).  All of the mentioned canning paraphernalia will last quite a few years if you take care of them properly.

 

I’ll be writing more how-to’s of home canning as well as other homesteading articles! What are your experiences with canning food?