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Sara...

  • ...is a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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Contact

  • E-mail me at:

    sara at saraarts dot com

    Make sure the subject line of your correspondence is clear and specific. I do not open e-mails from strangers unless I can tell in advance that I want to read them.

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Good reads, grownups only

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Comments

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Cathy

Ummmmm. I'm going right out to my kitchen and grab an apple (from an orchard:0) and I'm going to slice it and eat it with a chocolate candy bar.. Ummmmmm.

Ziggi

I couldn't agree more. I live in an apple growing region of New York state and have been chomping down the fresh picked delights all fall. My personal local favorite are the Empire apples. Sooooo good!

MissPrism

Mmm, they look so good! Makes me wish I were back in Virginia.

Phantom Scribbler

Delurking because I have a young Liberty apple tree in the backyard, and the apples always seem to go to mush before I get to them. Alas, because I love Liberty apples. Next year I'll have to stock up at Hutchins Farm -- thanks for the tip.

Keown Orchards in Sutton sells a lot of unusual apple varieties at farmers' markets in the Boston area. They're not organic, but still lots of fun for apple geeks like me.

Sara

So Cathy, what kind of apple was it? And did it come from your own orchard, or...?

Ziggi, we have Empire apples here, too, and they are very nice. In fact, the second to last day I was at Hutchins Farm, there was a family making a point of buying up sack after sack of them. "Oh, look, they still have some Empires. Those are our favorites,," said the mother, quite loudly and emphatically, as though to an audience larger than just her husband and little girl. I took it as friendly territorial marking and backed off, really quite happy with the Liberty and Melrose. heh heh

Miss Prism, I have heard that Virginia is getting lovelier all the time. But what are the apples like in England?

Phantom, the Liberty apples I bought from Hutchins went soft very quickly as well, hence the scramble to get them baked up into yummy things quickly. I think the Melrose would have stored better if I had not gobbled them all up so voraciously. One thing I appreciated but was too giddy to pay proper attention to was a lot of information the people who run Hutchins had posted on the walls about which varieties would last longer, how to expect each one to age, how to store them, etc. The Liberty apples are really wonderful for baking, though. The flavor and aroma hold up, even enhance in some ways, and the texture, even of apples already going soft, was quite toothsome in those muffins, not mush.

I'm not a stickler for organics because I think they taste better, because as I have noted elsewhere, they often don't, especially as baseline organic practices become more common to meet increased marketplace demand. Flavor really depends on the individual farm and its individual practices.

I'm a stickler because I very much care about the consequences that occur when persistent pesticides and chemical fertilizers are put into the environment. According to a friend of mine who is a licensed wild bird rehabilitator, pesticides cause a number of terrible genetic defects in birds, such as babies hatching with empty eye sockets. Pesticides are also thought to be the cause of many cancers, including mine, which developed on my leg where I picked at a mosquito bite the summer I was overexposed to chlordane, and including breast cancer which now affects something like 1 in 8 American women. Pesticides are largely (but not exclusively) responsible for the near extinction of wild honeybees in North America, and are also harmful to cultivated populations which had a rough time this year in the northeast because of heavy rains which prevented them from going outside to gather food so many days in a row that many local beekeepers' hives simply starved to death, and because of a couple of species of deadly mites which devour bees' bodies regardless of whether or not they are wild. All bees sip from the same flowers, wild and cultivated, and are poisoned by the same things.

This is why I insist on organics, period, when I shop for my household, and this is why I garden organically. It's fun to be an apple geek, but there will be no more apples without a healthy ecosystem.

Becoming a "certified" organic farm is a lengthy, expensive, and onerous process. I often buy produce that is simply grown using organic methods but is not necessarily "certified." We must do what we can to support small farmers, who have a rough life, and especially to support independent farmers who are trying to do the right thing. And meanwhile if there is a local farm you particularly love and visit often, you might want to have a chat with the owner or manager to encourage better practices. If they knew they could make the same amount of money, if not more, growing organically, something they might only find out if people make it known to them that they prefer to spend their money on organically grown produce, they might be very interested in beginning to convert their practices. On the other hand, you might find out that they already practice sustainably and just aren't certified organic, which, though I personally value the new organics laws very much, is still a nice thing to discover.

Phantom Scribbler

I think most of the farms that sell apples at farmers' markets around here use IPM techniques, Sara. But I can understand why you'd find that unacceptable.

Christina

Hello! found your blog by looking for the hutchins farm website. they are very famous! i studied them in school, they used to be the largest organic farm east of the mississippi- they are almost 35 years old and were on the forfront of the organic movement. Anyway, great blog and glad you are supporting them!

Sara

Hi, Christina! Thanks for telling me all that. I had no idea. I just like their products. Oh, and they're one of only about three organic farms in this immediate area. We have tons of local farms, but very, very few organic ones.

Ah, the things you learn blogging. Cheers! :)

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