Week 7- May 24th/25th

Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance- Agriculture Co-op 101

In the beginning.

We get lots of questions from our CSA members and restaurant customers about Penn’s Corner.  This blog seems like a great opportunity to tell the co-op’s story and put the organization in context for our members.  I am, by no means an expert on the history of Penn’s Corner, as I have only been with the co-op for 2 years but I will do my best to put the pieces together for you.

The story goes something like this…  there were a handful of farmers in southwestern PA that were selling their products to chefs at some of the higher end Pittsburgh restaurants. Some of those chefs suggested that the farms pull their resources and work together to market and distribute their products.  Our founding members loved the idea and formed the Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance in 1999.   Founding member farms that are still a part of Penn’s Corner are Pucker Brush Farm, Goose Creek Gardens and Matthews Farm.

Pam Bryan of Pucker Brush tells me that, “Bill Fuller was instrumental in getting Penn’s Corner started”.   The first delivery was in June of 1999 and Soba and Casbash were among our very first customers.  It is worth noting that Soba and Casbah are still weekly customers of Penn’s Corner!  At the close of 1999 Penn’s Corner did $16,000 in sales.

For about 8 years the farmers themselves took turns running the business end of Penn’s Corner and even tried out a few different managers with limited success.  In 2007 they hired Neil Stauffer to manage the day to day business of the co-op.  Neil was a one man show for about 2 years, working out of his home office in Garfield. He managed restaurant sales and relationships, significantly grew the CSA, and did deliveries when necessary.  Two years into his employ Neil needed an assistant and hired little ol’ me, Karlin to give him a hand with this and that.  After a year’s time, Neil handed the CSA over to me, we hired Clint Bergeson as a driver and all around, super-useful person, and a Farm Stand Coordinator (the lovely Lydia Vanderhill) and here we are in 2011.  It’s safe to say that Penn’s Corner sales in 2010 landed somewhere significantly over $16,000.



Be sure to contact Karlin before we are sold out.

             THIS WEEK’S HARVEST


~ green butterhead lettuce, Clarion River Organics, OG

~ 2# blue potatoes, Clarion River Organics, OG

~ apple cider, Kistaco Farm

~ Kentucky Colonel mint, Reeger’s Farm

~ 1/4# salad mix or braising mix, Pucker Brush Farm, CNG and

Golden Harvest Farm, CF

~ green garlic, Clubhouse Gardens, CF

~ 4 oz. chevre cheese, River View Dairy, OG

~ hydroponic tomatoes, VL Greenhouse


~ green butterhead or Romaine lettuce, Clarion River Organics, OG

~ 3# Russet potatoes, Clarion River Organics, OG

~ apple cider, Kistaco Farm

~ spring onions, Pucker Brush Farm, CNG

~ 1# fresh cut pasta, Fontana Pasta

~ 4 oz. chevre cheese, River View Dairy, OG

~ hydroponic tomatoes, VL Greenhouse

~ 1# rhubarb, Nu Way Farm, CF

~ 1/2 dozen eggs, Nu Way Farm, CF

 OG- Certified Organic                                      CNG- Certified Natural Grown                                          CF- Chemical Free
One of the Byler's goats marveling at the fruit of her labor.

River View Dairy

River View Dairy goats and sunny skies.

In this sea of food labeling that we all grow weary of I often find situations when I feel like further explanation of labeling is necessary. This week I thought that the cheese deserves further explanation.

River View Farm is a Certified Organic (OG) farm run by Sam and Susie Byler and their family.  If you frequent farmer’s markets you might have met either of them.  River View Farm is a member of Clarion River Organics (CRO).  CRO is a co-op of Amish farms that operate on their own at many area markets and within the Penn’s Corner co-op.

This is a unique case when the farm is OG but the product isn’t.  River View Farm grows OG produce and the pasture that their goats (and some occasional pigs) graze on is OG.  However, any supplemental feed these animals are given is not OG and as a result, the cheese is not OG. But I think that you will agree that it is certified delicious.


Mint Julep

this makes 1 serving
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon water
5 or 6 Large fresh mint leaves
crushed ice
2 ounces of Kentucky bourbon
fresh mint sprig

Put the sugar, water and mint leaves in the bottom of a glass. Mash with a spoon until the sugar is dissolved and the essence of mint is extracted. Fill the glass with ice. When frost forms on the outside, slowly pour in the bourbon, letting it trickle through the ice, then stir. Garnish with a sprig of mint (very important for the fragrance influences the palate).


Rhubarb Sponge Pudding 

from eatmakeread.com

makes about 8 servings

* a CSA member shared this with me last year.  It is quite delicious and just perfect for a spring evening!

1 1/3 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1-inch lengths (about 5 cups)
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons water

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
6 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
Preheat oven to 375°F and butter 9x9x2-inch baking dish.

Place rhubarb pieces in baking dish in even layer.  Scatter brown sugar and seeds from half a vanilla bean over the rhubarb pieces and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons water.

Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Fold in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, mixing just to blend after each addition.

Spoon batter over rhubarb, smoothing top to cover. Bake dessert until top is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.

Cool at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Serve warm with softly whipped cream.


PASA Passport

The PASA Passport invites everyone to “Take a local foods journey” in June.

Purchase a PASA Passport for just $20 and redeem your Passport for exclusive offers at exceptional Buy Fresh Buy Local Partner restaurants featuring locally-grown foods. All proceeds from the sale of the PASA Passport supports PASA’s work to develop the local food system from Farm to Fork.

Redeem your PASA Passport during the month of June for:

  • Six Months of access to the Good Food Neighborhood On-line Community
  • $10 off PASA Consumer Membership
*** PASA is giving Penn’s Corner customers a special opportunity.  Every $50 Farm Stand order placed can purchase a passport for $10 (that’s 50% off).  $75 orders will get a passport free!  This offer is good through the end of June but the restaurant deals only apply through June so get yours soon!***


One comment

  1. Chevre Truffles Recipe

    1 4oz. pckg Chevre Cheese
    1 green onions, finely chopped
    1/8 teaspoon Espelette pepper
    1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs (your choice of thyme, basil, parsley, oregano…)
    2 tablespoons roasted almonds, finely chopped
    1 teaspoon paprika

    In a bowl, using a fork, mix the chevre, green onions, pepper and half of the chopped herbs (2 tablespoons) until the mixture is smooth. Using two spoons, portion cheese mixture into 10 mL (2 tablespoon) balls, rolling them in the palm of your hands. Roll 8 balls in the chopped nuts and place on a service platter. Using a small sifter, sprinkle paprika on 8 other cheese balls. Serve the remaining cheese truffles as they are or roll them in the remaining chopped herbs. Serve as an appetizer on tooth picks.

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