PLOVGH

Plovgh is a cooperative of farmers, growers, and ranchers that sell directly to their customers.

18 04/14

Plovgh for the People

imageWhy join Plovgh?

  1. Discover farms and crops in your local store. With Plovgh, you see what the farms are harvesting and where to find those crops in your neighborhood. Crops that are sourced on Plovgh give you visibility into the farmer’s agricultural practices and any unique characteristics of the crop itself.You’ll also be the first to know when a farm’s harvest comes in, so get in there and get it!

  2. Purchase more crops from farms. Plovgh farms and their products are moving beyond the farmers market or CSA to become part of your everyday life, rather than just a Sunday morning activity. With Plovgh, farmers still harvest immediately before their crops reach you and reveal their origin and unique characteristics, but you can find them in the shops and markets you already frequent.

  3. Put more money into farmers’ hands. By selling their crops directly into your local stores, farmers receive nearly twice as much as they would in a traditional supply chain. They also have more time to spend in the field producing the crops that you rely on. Farmers doing better is just the kind of change we want to see.

To get started as a member, go to Plovgh. And spread the word about Plovgh farms and their harvest! The more people who join in, the more we can do for the farmers who are reinventing food and agriculture in this country.

If you’d like to recruit local farms, businesses, and neighbors to increase direct trade crops available in your area, please drop us a line!

25 11/13

Plovgh for Farmers

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Why join Plovgh?

  1. Manage all your sales in one place. If you’re tired of taking 17 phone calls and figuring out which customer wants what, when, and where, then Plovgh’s streamlined order management process can get you back in the field. Plovgh lets you send product availability alerts, track orders in live sales, plan harvest, and coordinate delivery for all your customers.

  2. Benefit from a deep network of customers. It’s risky to depend on one or two key buyer relationships. Plovgh’s network puts your existing buyers alongside a whole new set of people who want to do direct trade with you, the farmer. If one guy can’t take your crop this week, we’re pretty sure someone else within Plovgh can.

  3. Tell the story of your farm and your product all the way to the consumer. Plovgh tracks your product from farm to destination, and gives everyone along the way insight into you and your product. That lets consumers vote with their dollar as they gain access to information that helps them purchase direct traded goods.

  4. Get paid quickly and consistently. Plovgh handles invoicing and ensures you get paid within three business days if you’re a premium farm member, and within 15 business days if you’re a basic farm member. See more on pricing here.

  5. Plan for current and future seasons. You want to produce what your customers want to purchase. With Plovgh, you can gauge demand in advance of purchasing seeds, hiring labor, and harvesting. We’re currently working on production and purchasing plans for 2014, so if you’d like to start lining up your relationships please get started here!


We hope you’ll join over 100 other farms selling directly to their customers within the Plovgh network. If you’re ready to get started, head to Plovgh.com or get in touch with us directly!

21 11/13

Now Harvesting: Apples [Part 2, late-season]

Samascott Orchards - Kinderhook, NY
Harvesting date: October - November 2013

Learn
There are more than 7,000 varieties of apples that come to harvest at different times over the course of a season.

Cultivate
Apples can be categorized by their harvest schedule which include an early-season crop (mid- to late summer), a mid-season crop (mid-summer to early autumn), and a late-season crop (early to late autumn, and sometimes running into winter). Harvest times may vary a week or more from year to year, depending on when the tree is in bloom and the climate conditions during the growing season. Cloudy, cool conditions or drought conditions also tend to delay fruit maturity.

Varieties
Late season or winter apples are great for cooking and are also the best keepers. Here are some of the varieties you can find growing at Samascott Orchards this season.


Northern Spy
A very old-fashioned American variety that is well known for its winter-hardiness. Good for baking pies, these apples are crunchy and have a thin skin. They’re juicy, crisp and mildly sweet with a rich, aromatic tart flavor.


Snowsweet
First introduced in 2006, this variety is savory and sweet, with a slight tartness and rich overtones. When it’s cut it takes a longer than usual time to turn brown which makes them ideal for eating fresh with cheese plates or salads.


Sonata
Also known as Pinova or Piñata, Sonata apples are a cross between a Golden Delicious, Cox’s Orange Pippin and a Duchess of Oldenburg. It has a crisp taste that is both sweet and tart.


Spartan
A small, sweet variety that is similar to a McIntosh. It has bright crimson skin and white flesh. When picked right off the tree, Spartans are very crisp and juicy, but they tend to soften a bit within a week or so of picking. They are a great variety for juicing.


Spigold
A cross between Northern Spy and Golden Delicious, these apples are tender and have a fine-grained, firm, crisp flesh. Similar to the Northern Spy variety, these apples hold their shape well when cooked making them a good choice for baking.

Storage
Apples are still living even after they are picked which means they are using stored nutrients as opposed to those received from the tree prior to harvesting. During storage, they gradually use up their nutrients causing the sugar, starch, and acid content of the apple to change. This is why some apples become mealy. Storage varies depending on the cultivar, but most apples store well at low temperatures (as this slows the respiration rate and preserves good quality) and at high humidity (to keep them from dehydrating & shriveling up). You can find more detailed storage tips here.

Prepare
Whether you’re baking or making cider, finding the right apple cultivar for the right dish can be a science. Or you could just take the easy route, and check out this list.
When baking…(Some Kitchen Stories)
When grilling…(Serious Eats)
When poaching…(The Hungry Giant)
When sautéing…(Oh My Veggies)

31 10/13

Meet the producers

21 05/13

Talkin’ Turkey

"With Thanksgiving fast approaching and stomachs growling for some homecookin’, we made a special trip upstate to talk turkey with Farmer Ryan of Fitzgerald Farms who provided Plovgh members with fresh birds this holiday season. 

After the two-and-a-half hour drive, we arrived at High Falls Co-Op where Ryan works four days a week when not tending to his poultry. He greeted us downstairs among the spices and shelves, and brought us out to his truck where the turkeys were kept cool.

“Turkeys are a big investment,” he told us as he loaded the plump birds into our car. While chickens typically need eight weeks to mature, turkeys require five and a half months. This holiday has been a long time coming for Ryan and his fellow farmers, and lucky for him, he sold over 500 turkeys this year.

Ryan grew up around chickens and is vehemently a poultry-over-produce kind of guy. “After seeing the work that went into growing vegetables, I thought it was too hard,” he confessed. Well, that’s alright with us – his fresh eggs and birds convince us that he made the right choice.

Once the coolers were filled to brim with turkeys, he wished us a “Happy Thanksgiving” and we were off for the city; Over the river and through the woods to bring you a fresh alternative this turkey day.”

21 11/12

What’s in a label?

Farm assurance can come in different forms with varying guidelines and fundamentals. What seems to remain constant among farms applying for certification is that they often do so because it indicates that the crops, livestock and other agricultural products they grow, raise or produce are done so in a manner that adheres to standards which imply a level of quality. In addition to quality management, certifications can also highlight principles of traceability, distribution, production and manufacturing methods, hygienic practices and the use of inputs.

Certification schemes can be based on trademarks or governmentally regulated standards, as well as provided through third party, independent agencies and organizations. Among the many recognized programs, the behemoth being the USDA governed National Organic Program, there are more than a dozen state departments of agriculture and over fifty private organizations that are accredited as organic certifiers. In addition there are non-profit and more product oriented programs such as Sustainable Seafood CertificationProtected HarvestRainforest AllianceThe Non-GMO Project, and many others.

National Organic Program 

The National Organic Program is a regulatory program conducted by the USDA and is one of the more publicly recognized labeling programs among the agricultural industry. The standards and guidelines presented by the NOP indicate that crops, livestock or other agricultural products have been approved under a verifying system that takes into account production and management processes “that promote the existing ecosystem and conserve biodiversity”. The NOP regulations adhere to standards relative to production and handling, labeling, certification and accreditation.  The program audits the use of inputs at the farm level and complies to guidelines that discredit production methods that involve synthetic fertilizers, irradiation and genetic engineering. The USDA accounts for the authorization of nearly 100 state appointed certifying agencies and the USDA Marketing Service maintains an open database of certifying agents and the operations they verify. Many third party, independent certifiers employ the NOP standards as a basic guideline to organic production, but there are many pundits who believe the USDA Organic label and the philosophies it represents have gone astray.

Certified Naturally Grown

CNG or Certified Naturally Grown is a recognized grassroots certification model that uses an approach to agriculture known as a Participatory Guarantee System. While other programs can require an exceeding amount of paperwork and certifying fees, this system is structured to minimize the barrier of entry by offering a peer-inspection process. CNG is organized around local networks of producers who use natural production methods (no synthetic inputs) and follow traditional organic practices. What sets CNG apart from the USDA organic process is that it is made up of and facilitated by the farmers who participate. The function of peer inspections can also help build a stronger community by creating opportunities for farmers to learn from each other, share techniques and develop support networks. You can find more information about their standards and a map of participating producers on their site.

Food Alliance

Food Alliance is a national non-profit that provides third party certification of sustainable farming and food processing operations. The organization aligns itself with standards that ensure “safe and fair working conditions, humane treatment of animals, and careful stewardship of ecosystems”. This voluntary certification program works with farmers, ranchers and food processers - most are mid-sized or smaller family owned enterprises - and today it has certified over 330 farms and ranches in Canada, Mexico and the United States. What distinguishes Food Alliance from the national organic program is that it looks at sustainable agriculture from a more comprehensive perspective and believes that to ensure a sustainable food system the industry must account for social and environmental strategies not simply the substitution of inputs. You can read more about their certification guidelines here.

NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC

NOFA-NY Certified Organic is an example of one of the many state level programs that provides organic certification for producers. Authorized by the USDA National Organic Program, this locally organized NOFA branch facilitates farm and processing inspections by trained verifiers. State run programs such as this are unique in that they work with more mid to small size farms and the staff is equipped with better regional knowledge.

Farmer’s Pledge

The Farmer’s Pledge is an alternative approach to certification that arose from an expressed need among producers to regain control of the term “organic” and what it stands for. Unlike traditional certification, the Pledge is a commitment made to customers and neighbors by certified or uncertified organic farmers that extends beyond the standards of the National Organic Program to include labor issues, community values and marketing approaches. First introduced in 2003, the pledge believes that “the heart of sustainable agriculture is in the integrity of the farmer.” The Farmer’s Pledge while not a substitution for organic certification is an effort by NOFA-NY to help people identify what farms they want to support and offer producers a way to communicate their practices with consumers.

Animal Welfare Approved

Animal Welfare Approved works only with family owned operations that raise their animals outdoors on pasture or range under humane conditions. Producers receive annual audits from AWA certifiers who oversee the animals’ lifecycle from birth to slaughter to ensure that the methods comply to stringent standards of good husbandry. Founded as a market-based solution to the growing interest in where our food is grown, raised and processed, the AWA program strives to offer transparency for consumers and a distinct way to identify the producers that raise their animals according to the highest welfare standards.

Slow Food

Slow Food is an internationally recognized grassroots movement that is made up of a huge network of supporters, members and localized chapters. Slow Food promotes the resurgence of regional food traditions and encourages people to seek out more information about the food they eat and its source. Supported by global and national advocacy as well as local projects and initiatives, the organization provides consumers with insight into real food access and raises public awareness about the importance of social, economic and environmental impacts on achieving a more sustainable food system. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity promotes products that follow organic certification standards and that are also ‘good, clean and fair.’

Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute is a Wisconsin based non-profit that is devoted to increasing the awareness of the “family-scale” farming community and was established to offer greater transparency of organic standards and regulations. Through education, research and outreach the mission of the Cornucopia Institute is to provide consumers, farmers and the media with insight into organic policy and to protect “the integrity and meaning of the organic label”. As an alternative to the USDA’s organic accreditation program, the Cornucopia Institute developed a comprehensive rating system that provides scorecard ratings for products that carry a certified organic label.

25 09/12

Where we went. What we saw. Crops we marveled at.

For more updates follow @plovgh on Instagram

16 09/12

Farm level: NOFA-NY update on late blight in region

In a recent announcement from NOFA, there has been an increase in new locations reporting late blight in the Northeast this season.

In the past week there have been eight new reports of late blight in NY and the New England States, several in counties where late blight had not yet been reported this season. A common theme in these reports is that plants looked fine one day and were heavily infected 2-3 days later. This could mean that the early stages of infection were missed, or that there were a large number of spores in the air that were deposited on leaves while they were wet from rain or dew.

Late blight is a plant disease that mainly attacks potatoes and tomatoes, although it can sometimes be found on other crops. It is caused by an oomycete pathogen that survives from one season to the next in infected tubers and when in the presence of wet weather conditions the organism produces spores that infect plants. The disease can be introduced early in the season by infected seed potatoes, plants that grew from diseased potatoes and were not harvest last season, compost piles, or infected tomato transplants. The spores can be carried through air and in rainy, wet conditions can penetrate the soil.

For farmers, NOFA recommends that they “scout tomatoes and potatoes regularly and thoroughly, focusing on parts of the field that are shaded or poorly drained.” It has been found that the most effective form of prevention for farmers adhering to certified organic production is the use of copper fungicides.

NOFA has multiple resources for growers that offer information on preventive measures that impede the late blight pathogen from over wintering on the farm. There are also additional materials available that outline prevention techniques and identifiable symptoms of late blight from other organizations such as the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

If you are shopping at your local farmers market or receive a weekly CSA share there are some simple things to take note of:

-Unaffected parts of blighted tomatoes and potatoes are safe to eat. The pathogen does not produce a toxin that can make people sick.

-Deterioration of produce can occur quickly after infection; therefore, affected tomatoes and potatoes should be consumed right away. This also implies that shelf life of these crops may be shortened.

-Consumers and growers alike, are instructed to put affected produce into the trash rather than the compost to prevent the spread of the pathogen.

To learn more about late blight you can find resources from your local agricultural association or extension agent, or next time you’re at your neighborhood farmers market ask your farmer.

Infographic source: Visual.ly

Late Blight resource from The University of Vermont

14 09/12