Friday, September 30, 2011

New CSA Shares

We are pleased to announce that Ecotone Farm now offers Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares in three different agricultural areas, including meatsuperfoods, and bees.

Why your support is vital!
Our style of farming is considered "unbankable" within the current financial system.  In short, lenders are only comfortable with large-scale, industrial agriculture.  Ultimately this is a good thing. If small farms are going to be a radical alternative within the food system, then we need radical financing. The CSA model involves eaters as investors: at the beginning of the season, when the farm has the most expenses, CSA members purchase shares of the coming harvest. They invest up-front and reap the benefits of local, sustainable food throughout the season.

Raising the very best meat possible - ecologically appropriate, organically-fed, pasture-raised, and Animal Welfare Approved - makes our values unrecognizable to the conventional system.  We can continue to farm this way only with your support.

We have tried to structure our meat shares around the idea of eating meat responsibly.  (If you're interested in this question, we highly recommend Simon Fairlie's Meat: A Benign Extravagance, 2010.)  At approximately 4 ounces of meat per person per day, for example, we're able to offer shareholders a  "piece of the pasture" for only $1.54 per serving.  Full shares are set for a household of four, while half shares are estimated for a household of two. Annual shares cover a full calendar year, while seasonal shares last for six months. Eggs are delivered on a weekly basis, and all other meats are delivered monthly.

Traditionally, CSA shares are associated with vegetable farms, which need most of their capital funds up front to plant the season's crops. Livestock farming has slightly different cash flow needs, if only for the simple fact that such farmers often care for animals 365 days a year. In the attempt to meet the unique cash flow needs of livestock farming - as well as to make our CSA shares more affordable - we're offering several payment options, which includes an account with our farm and the ability to order a la carte from our online store.   Enrollment for CSA shares of Ecotone will be ongoing, as we intend to raise only as much as is ordered by shareholders.  For more on the Ecotone Farm CSA Shareholder Agreement, click here.

Here we go with Farmigo:
In response to your requests, you can now schedule and submit your payments online using our new website and CSA management software, which is provided by a company called Farmigo. Among other features, this software allows you to access your account online at any time, schedule vacation delivery options, and communicate with your farmers easily and centrally. 

To access this service, you will need to create an account with Ecotone through the Farmigo system.  This is very easy to do, and if you have any questions or problems please don't hesitate to contact us at  Importantly, if you currently have a positive balance with Ecotone (i.e., credit on your account for eggs), we will either need to continue under the old system until your balance runs out, or we can offer you a refund of the difference and you can sign up anew with Farmigo.  Just let us know what you'd like to do. 

We plan to continue our practice of home delivery.  The first official delivery of eggs through this new management system tools will be October 5th.  The first deliveries of our new meat CSA shares will be November 1.   All egg deliveries will continue as normal, and we will work with you to make the transition as easy as possible.  Because Farmigo is based around deliveries, all share prices are listed in those terms.  If you're already receiving eggs but do not see your neighborhood listed in a way you recognize, please just send us an email and we'll clarify.  If you don't see your neighborhood listed, then email us and we'll discuss setting up a new delivery route.  Generally, we like to have at least five houses for delivery on any given neighborhood route, but we're flexible.  Just ask.

In addition, soon we will be offering a weekly online market with two Nashville pick-up locations, one at Elmington Park off West End Ave. and another location at the FEAST Together parking lot in East Nashville. If you'd like to pick up your share at one of the weekly market sites, or get each part of the share all at once as it's available, simply choose a market location upon sign-up, or indicate your particular circumstances in the in the comments section of the online order form.  If you're not ready to commit to one of our CSA shares, you'll be able to order any of our extra foods through this online market.  Stay tuned for more details.

Membership Options:
"An Endless Egg Basket" - This is the Ecotone egg special formalized into an egg CSA share. Due to both the ever-increasing cost of grain, and the need to simplify our economic model for online payment, we are now setting the standard price for delivered eggs at $5 per dozen. To continue with eggs just as before, choose the frequency with which you'd like to receive them, and then the number of dozen you'd like each delivery.  With these two options we hope that all current Ecotone egg eaters are able to find a payment schedule that fits their needs, abilities, and values. If you're not able to do so, or have any questions whatsoever, please let us know and we'll be sure to work something out.
"A Piece of the Pasture" - This CSA covers the basics from Ecotone Farm, delivered over the course of a year. With beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and eggs, this share is intended to replace the meat you eat from elsewhere on an annual basis. Full shares include half a beef, a whole lamb, half a hog, 24 chickens, and weekly or biweekly eggs, delivered throughout the year. Half shares include a quarter of beef, a whole lamb, a quarter of pork, 12 chickens, and biweekly eggs.
"The Shepherd's Basket" - Just beef and lamb.  This share includes a year's worth of 100% grass-fed beef and lamb, delivered monthly. Our cattle and sheep are rotationally grazed, moved to fresh pastures frequently. Full shares consist of a half beef and a whole lamb; half shares include a quarter beef and a half lamb. Both are offered as monthly deliveries throughout the year.
"Green Eggs & Ham" - Just pork and eggs.  This share is full of the best heritage pork and eggs to be found in these here parts. Delivered over the course of six months, you'll get every piece of half of one of our acorn finished hogs - though some folks will have to share some things, of course. Included in full shares are half a hog and weekly eggs; half shares consist of a quarter hog and biweekly eggs. Assorted or all green egg options available; please note in order comments.
"The Cackle Pack" - Just chicken and eggs.  As a shareholder of this CSA, you'll cackle with delight as you receive six months of the best chicken and eggs in middle Tennessee! At Ecotone, we do not raise the industrial Cornish Cross broiler, choosing instead to raise a slower-growing broiler on pasture, with certified organic grain, in an Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) manner. This is not cheap to do, but the taste is well worth the effort. Over the course of the season, full shareholders will receive 12 whole broilers, weekly eggs, and 8 heritage stewing hens.
 "The Quack Pack" - Just ducks and duck eggs.  Similar to our share of chicken and eggs, this CSA includes six months of duck and duck eggs. For broilers, we're raising Muscovy ducks from JM Hatchery in Pennsylvania, which claims they finish out with less fat than traditional meat ducks. Full shares include 12 Muscovy broilers, offered either as whole or breasts and legs, and a dozen Khaki Campbell duck eggs a week; half shares include 6 duck broilers, and a biweekly dozen duck eggs.
"Holiday Highlights" - Unique to Ecotone Farm, this CSA share provides you and yours with only the best for the holidays!  In the spring, you'll receive Ecotone's only offering of a quarter lamb, including a full leg prepared to order. In time for the 4th of July, you'll get a quarter of beef, including a full or half rack of ribs for the grill. In the fall, you'll get a quarter of heritage pork, including a shoulder to smoke in the cooling air. As the year concludes, shareholders receive a turkey for Thanksgiving and a goose for Christmas.  In both the spring and fall, you'll receive 10 chicken broilers and 4 duck broilers. Medium coolers required. (Do note that we will not have turkeys or geese for this holiday season, and that the share begins with New Year's 2012.)
Superfoods Start-Up CSA - In true CSA fashion, we're looking to you to help start a one-of-a-kind share. Using the concept of "superfood" broadly, included in this share are vegetables such as garlic, asparagus, and artichoke, and seasonal fruits such as strawberries in the spring, blueberries and gogi berries in the summer, and raspberries in the fall.  With your support we'll also soon integrate already productive Shitake mushroom logs into this share, and host a weekend inoculation workshop to do as many as possible with wood from Ecotone. We also will begin experimenting with two other types of mushrooms, i.e.,Oysters and Wine Cap Stropharia, both of which are easy to cultivate and delicious. The final two elements of this share include honey from Ecotone and other local hives, as well as freshly-ground, local, organic corn meal, pastry flour, and barley flour. With some 30 blueberry bushes and asparagus plants already started, and two healthy hives of bees, this CSA share lacks only your support to really get going! We'll provide the labor, but feel free to come out and help!
Backyard Bee CSA - Unique to Ecotone Farm, we are proud to offer an novel CSA share called Backyard Bees. For a one-time shareholder fee, we install a fully-assembled hive of small cell bees in your backyard next spring. Intended to be participatory as well as educational, we'll make 3 to 4 maintenance visits per year and provide all the necessary protective gear and equipment. If all goes well, in the second year we'll harvest the honey, separate it at Ecotone, and return half the harvest for your household to enjoy or give as gifts. Join the network of Ecotone Backyard Bees and help the local bee populations thrive and pollinate the plants of local farms and gardens!

Other Local Farmers and Food:
We are also happy to announce cooperative agreements with several other local farms that allows us to "fill out the basket" you're able to receive from Ecotone.  From Noble Springs Dairy in Franklin there are four different varieties of fresh, local goat's cheese, including Plain, Garlic & Herb, Cherry Berry, and Pimento. 
From Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese in Kentucky, we'll begin by offering four standard varieties of their award-winning, aged raw cow's milk cheeses.
From Twin Forks Farm Artisan Bakery, there are several delicious loaves of bread, including Spelt and  Raisin, as well as three different types of granola. 
Finally, depending on the interest and availability, it is quite possible that we can begin offering a range of fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables from Delvin Farms in Franklin. Do let us know if this interests you. In the next week or so, all of these options should appear in the Ecotone Farm online market for a la carte ordering for your already scheduled delivery or at one of our pick-up locations. 

Pork Shank?  Flank Steak?
Don't know what to do with all those unfamiliar cuts?  Fear not!  Farmer-chef Philip Adams is here to help!  Beginning later this fall, Philip will be offering an evening of farm-to-fork in your own home to help you understand how the different cuts of beef, lamb, and pork are prepared by the abattoir.  Invite your friends and neighbors to an intimate dinner party with Ecotone farmers and food, and we'll give you all the details and more.  If you're interested in hosting the Ecotone Teaching Kitchen in your home, please let us know! 

Please note that all of Ecotone's meat CSA shares are calculated at actual pounds of meat delivered.  Some farmers charge a much smaller price per pound for "hanging weight," which is the dressed weight prior to cutting it into pieces you'd actually recognize; these farms then add a "processing fee" to the "hanging weight," and this price ends up being much higher than first presented.  To simplify this for everyone, we've gone ahead and integrated such costs into your prices.  There are, in other words, no hidden costs in our prices, and you'll receive the actual cuts of meat at our advertised price per pound.

Please follow the link below to our new CSA sign-up portal. While this online service is sleek, convenient, and (theoretically) more efficient, it’s bound to have a few minor glitches or confusing elements. We welcome your feedback and look forward to helping you navigate the new system.

From our point of view, the best payment option is either a full payment up front, or a recurring monthly bank-to-bank transfer. Of course, it remains entirely acceptable to just mail us an old-fashioned check.  If you'd like to purchase food from Ecotone strictly on an a la carte basis, stay tuned for more details on our online market.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Farm Field Day Fun

Thank you to all of those who came out for the first annual Ecotone Farm Field Day on Saturday, September 10th.  With over 100 folks coming by the farm that day, it was nothing short of a success!  Music was played, food was eaten, and - for a brief moment - children ruled the roost!
Many thanks to the Wingate bluegrass duo (and friends), as well as the Kansas Bible Company, for the fantastic entertainment.  Thanks also to Noble Springs Dairy, Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese, and Delvin Farms for helping us with the menu!  A good time was had by all.   
Here are some photos taken by the Cochran family, long-time members and supporters of Ecotone Farm.  For those of you who made it by that day, if you have any other photos or videos you'd like to share, please send them our way!

Monday, September 26, 2011

AWA Poultry MPU 2

The structural reconstruction of the MPU trailer is complete!  After several hours of welding, the Ecotone crew decided this was a job for experts.  Thanks to the fine welding skills of our good friend and neighbor Jeff, the angle irons are in and the expanded metal floor is firmly in place.  As you can see, he also found some used fenders, and reinforced the edges for additional support.  

All that remains is a good sand-blasting to remove the rust, and a thorough coat of surface protection.   The unit will be ready for rental immediately following this step, as all of the individual items are otherwise on the farm and in use.  For details or to schedule a rental email