Local food blogs – part two

It’s been over a year since I published Local food blogs – part one, sharing some of the interesting writing being done locally about food. It is a pleasure to read these blogs and websites. They give a view into the workings of our local foodshed in a way that is both informative and intimate. It also shows how much blogs have become a part of our written communication, filling a need many didn’t even know was there. When used well, blogs can contribute so much in the way of intimacy and sharing.

Today I’d like to introduce you to two local food blogs – one from the community-supported-agriculture (CSA) farm, Blooming Glen Farm, and the other from the popular Doylestown bakery, Crossroads Bake Shop.

Blooming Glen Farm, in addition to being one of the largest CSAs in Bucks County, also sells their vegetables at farmers’ markets in Wrightstown, Collegeville, and down in Philadelphia at the Headhouse Market. The farm began in 2006, on land leased from Henry and Charlotte Rosenberger of Tussock Sedge Farm in Blooming Glen (Perkasie). Tricia Borneman and Tom Murtha have farmed together for 11 years using sustainable farming practices, that is, without using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified crops.

The Blooming Glen Beet, a blog started by Tricia and employee Jana Smart, began this past February. It is filled with beautiful photography by Tricia of life on a farm and the products of the farmers’ labor. Jana contributes delicious, seasonal recipes. When I asked Tricia why she started the blog, she first said it was a natural progression from previous communication methods to the membership – from paper newsletters, to email newsletters, and then website newsletters.

I find that the format of the blog really agrees with my artistic sense of style … it enables me to take snapshots of the farm throughout the week, and visually keep our customers connected to the farm.

I really wanted to find a way to keep our CSA members and market customers engaged in what was happening on the farm… and also excited about the food. So many people just aren’t sure how to cook fresh veggies, or are always looking for fresh ideas and tips, and having Jana’s weekly recipes are a huge help. After all, if folks feel overwhelmed with what to do with their CSA share, we aren’t doing our job – we want to inspire them to have fun with the food, and to really understand the full connection to the farm.

So (with Jana’s) recipes combined with my posts about the nitty gritty of farming, what we are planting, and what’s growing, what the crew is doing every day and all that…I feel like we really have an intimate knowledge of the whole process, from farm to plate, and can share that with our farm community through the blog.

Take a look at some of Tricia’s documentation of life on the farm, like the post from early March when the seeds are just going in but you can still feel a bite in the air (It all begins with a seed). Or Spring Begins, showing the hard work to be done on the farm, birds hatching and tender green shoots pushing their way up in the greenhouse. Tricia’s photography is intimate, tactile and immediate. You can feel it.

Jana steps in with her timely, seasonal recipes and enticing photography, waiting for the coming harvest but making due in the meantime in Bread ‘n Butta. As she says in the post, “stretching out the first few trickles of farm edibles–namely herbs and radishes–the best way I know how: BUTTER.” Check out her wonderful recipes for Swiss Chard in One Bunch, Two Ways, which includes a recipe for Creamed Chard and Spring Onions, and Swiss Chard Stalk “Hummus.”

Intimacy and sharing the details of day-to-day work were also a driving force behind Marcia Durgin’s desire to start a blog for her Doylestown bakery, Crossroads Bake Shop. For over twenty years, Crossroads has been baking superior European and American bread, desserts and pastries, all made from high quality ingredients. Everyone seems to have their favorite there: cinnamon raisin bread, challah bread, rustic European breads, focaccia, scones and brioche. Of course, when I’m in the shop I head straight for the Ricotta-Polenta Pie. More on that later.

Marcia is writing the blog with photography by her, and her daughter, Addie. Why blog, and why now, I asked her.

I decided to start (the blog) in order to introduce a new way to communicate to our customers. We have a lot of information … (and) there is always more detail that we don’t have time to chit chat about when there is a line at the cash registers. The blog is meant to be a fun reference and data base for our customers and our staff. The information will be there as needed.

Another goal is to have the blog represent the more personal side of Crossroads…It is bit of the “behind the scenes” inside look at what Crossroads is REALLY, and who the owners and staff are. It has the ability to represent the ‘feeling’ of crossroads, that you only know well if you are a regular customer.

What I enjoy most about it is that I get to elaborate on things that I think are really cool and that many customers know nothing about. This might include items we make one day a year, but are really special. Or it might just be the ongoing discussion of how to make the best pizza ever at home. I enjoy posting the artists who show at the bakery too, as I feel the local art is an important element in our shop culture.

The blog includes recipes like the one for my favorite, Ricotta-Polenta Pie. (My thanks to the Crossroads’ customer who asked Gourmet magazine to get the recipe from the bakery for publication.) Or the post about what to do with leftover pizza – besides eating it cold over the sink – in Pizzawrap or Rizzo’s Revenge? (Did you know Marcia’s husband and co-owner Paul Rizzo is from the famous Rizzo’s in Glenside? Guess they know what to do with cold pizza.) The blog is just getting its legs, having really started this spring, but I’m looking forward to learning more about what happens at this wonderful bakery. Marcia puts it well when she says,

I am delighted to have a business that brings people together, either around their tables, or at the bakery itself. The blog is an extension of how we like talking about special food and the joy of just being together around it.”

 

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