Chickweed and my Jewish Farming Retreat

Last weekend my family attended this amazing retreat in Baltimore, the Beit Midrash at the Pearlstone Center.  You can read my article about the retreat in the Jewish Daily Forward here. I absolutely love pluralistic Jewish events, especially when we get to talk about farming.  I have been thinking a lot more about the idea of shmitta, the once in every 7 year sabbatical from farming and I am sure I will be writing more about that soon. One very compelling piece of shmitta is the idea that if you had to feed your family without any farming, you would …

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Hoop Dreams

So, we seem to always be building or rebuilding a new hoophouse around here.  And with each one, we pin our new hopes for an amazing farm year.   I remember talking to one of the Mennonite farmers we work with one winter day when he was finishing a new hoophouse.  He said, “I had a dream that the house was filled with cucumbers strung all the way up to the roof, and I just walked through with the children picking and eating them.”  Sweet dream. One of our other houses has the plastic removed because it is time to replace …

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It is time to Comment on New Farm Safety Regs

A Guest Post by Michael Tabor, Maryland based farmer and activist.  Note from Tanya: Michael Tabor is  a great friend and one of my mentors in the farming world.  He runs a mixed vegetable farm and is always engaged in making the world a better place.  This piece responds to proposed regulations that could have far reaching impacts on all, sustainable and organic farms nationwide. Mike will be on a panel about this issue at the upcoming Maryland Food and Farmers Association Meeting. For those of us in the sustainable farm community, we are at the crossroads and the clock …

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It’s Tu B’Shevat – Happy New Year to the Trees

(Note: This piece originally ran on 1/24/13 in the Washington Jewish Week). Did you know Tu B’Shevat coincides with Shabbat this year and starts tonight?  A January Tu B’Shevat is one of the first signs that the Jewish holidays will come early this year. You may have heard that the first night of Hanukkah will fall on Thanksgiving this fall. We will have to stay on our toes and keep our Jewish calendars close at hand in 2013. It’s not just the Jewish calendar that seems to be coming fast this year. Spring is on its way to Washington early …

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The Fiscal Cliff and the Little Farmer

The following is a piece I wrote for my the Maryland Organic Food and Farming newsletter.(MOFFA).  If you live in DC or MD, come to our winter meeting (the 22nd annual!): details below. At the very end of the year, in the midst of fiscal cliff madness, Congress passed a controversial farm bill extension. Maybe you saw headlines like this one from the the Center for Food Safety, “Congress Passes Damaging Farm Bill Extension in “Fiscal Cliff” Package”. The extension of the farm bill contained many disappointments and has left the sustainable and organic agriculture community with lots of work …

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Deer Were Here – Winter Farm Walk

This is how deer eat turnips around here in the winter time.  First they browse off the greens and than they go after the turnips themselves while they are still in the ground.  They are sloppy and disorganized about it, like a toddler learning to eat an apple.  They manage to get at least one bite from each, usually more. The deer pressure is on the upswing around here.  They are abundant and hungry.  Signs of them are everywhere, deep hoof prints in the mud, spicy winter greens munched down to the nubs and now they are going after half …

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Babka Inspired Challah

I had been thinking about making a traditional babka based on this amazing looking recipe from the Smitten Kitchen which emphasizes the key to babka is the combination of cinnamon and chocolate (plus lots of butter).  I took that inspiration and tried a challah with plenty of cinnamon, chocolate chips, and extra sugar.  Otherwise I used my regular recipe and 100% whole wheat flour, so it was sweet and healthy too. I will definitely be making this again, and I recommend it to any other bakers out there.  You just might have to be careful of little hands reaching in …

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Back to School All Over Again

Who knew there would be a Monday in mid-December that would feel far scarier than the first day of school?  Today was the 74th day of Kindergarten, but it was also the first day of school since the horrible events unfolded in Newtown, since our whole world changed.  Even though my son attends elementary school hundreds of miles from CT, it was very hard to drop him off at school today and it will be hard again tomorrow. For my son who has no idea what happened last Friday, it was just another Monday morning. He wanted the weekend to …

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Hanukkah Goes to Public School

This week I went to my son’s kindergarten class to talk about Hanukkah.  My husband and I read a story, showed the children a manorah, introduced the Hebrew letters on the dreidel and the talked about olives and olive oil.   It was all over in a short and sweet 20 minutes! While preparing for our 20 minutes in the Kindergarten spotlight, I did some research and wrote a piece for the Washington Jewish Week.  Following are some resources and my article in case you are planning a similar presentation. My blogging friend, Joanna Brichetto, aka The Bible Belt Balabusta is …

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Hurricanes, Elections and Croup (oh my!)

I want so much to make this little blog shine but I seem to be stumbling and falling over dozens of distractions and writing hurdles, large and small.  I will have to develop new strategies to keep writing even when it gets hard.  No need to leap hurdles gracefully when there are ways to crawl underneath, sneak around, or knock them down. Here are 7 reasons my blog has been so quiet this fall: 1) We all had colds by many names: croup, regular colds, bronchitis, possible sinus infections. I lost lots and lots of sleep and spent what would …

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