20 September 2011

Homegrown Goodness

"My Farm" won best cider in the Mid Atlantic Region this year. I call it this because I grew up on the homegrown corn, peaches, apples and beans.  Indeed I can walk or ride my bike there and fill my basket full of fresh picked seasonal fare from May to November.

Shenot Farm  has practiced sustainable farming, with minimal use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, since 1854. Founded by Christopher Scheno when he arrived in America in 1854, the farm has passed from father-to-son for five generations now.  I know Mary Lou who runs the market and makes over 50 varieties of homemade fudge.  Ed operates the farm and has the magic recipe for the award-winning apple cider.  Rob, one of Mary Lou and Ed’s three children, assists with farming operations, greenhouse and irritations management.

The folks at the farm harvest strictly by hand and the careful soil management practices they follow are evident in the taste of their bounty.  During harvesting they treat the pick as though it were as delicate and fragile as eggs. When there at the farm stand pickers frequently enter with freshly selected fruits and veggies to replenish the hourly offering so that everything is always perfectly just picked.

There is a lot of confusion over the true meaning behind terms like terms like  “conventional”, “organic”, “biotechnology”, “IPM”, and “sustainable” when it comes to farming.  The Shenots look at farming with logic and love of the land. Sustainable farming is a common-sense approach that is neither organic nor conventional as neither method leads to the best long-term use of the land instead opting for a combination of sustainable farming practices.

Beginning  the last weekend in September and every weekend in October, plus Columbus Day, Shenot Farm hosts hayrides to the pumpkin patch and corn maze. What better way to spend an autumn day?  Take home  an acorn squash and try this recipe.

Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Toast 1/2 cup walnuts in peanut oil and salt generously in a skillet until lightly brown
  • Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds
  • Fill each half squash with a tbsp (more or less to taste) of brown sugar and the remaining cavity with toasted walnuts
  • Roast in oven for about an hour
Substitutions abound. Try switching out Pecans for the Walnuts and adding dried fruit such as cranberries to the stuffing. Make each time different and you will never get bored with this autumn treat.

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