Author Archives: james58

Is Goat the New Beef?

Okay, full disclosure I’m doing my best to establish a sustainable meat-goat operation at home so I must admit this post reflects some bias.  Our farm hasn’t reached the point of sustainability and won’t anytime soon according to our enterprise budget so I don’t feel the ethical guilt of self-promotion by starting this thread.  The article below by Ally Bruschi, is one in a series of posts in this blog intended to bring attention to chevon or cabrito as a healthy food.  I don’t agree with all Ms Bruschi writes; for example, I disagree that goats are easier to raise than sheep and I’ll be polite with her comment about factory farming, but those statements are good for creating a discussion and that’s why we blog – right?

By Ally Bruschi, Writer

Is Goat the New Beef?

Jul 15, 2013 @ 11:16 AM

You surely have your favorite beef and chicken recipes in your arsenal, but have you ever considered adding goat meat to your rotation of beloved recipes?

Most Americans shy away from eating goat, believing the meat to have an undesirable, gamy flavor. Despite this hesitation, however, the number of meat goats on American farms has increased by nearly 500 percent in the last 25 years. The highest production rates coming from areas like Texas and New Jersey with higher Arab, Latino, and South Asian populations.

Hesitant consumers may change their opinions of goat meat when they consider that goats are easier to raise than sheep, are lower in cholesterol and fat than beef, pork, and lamb, and have higher protein and iron content. Restaurants around the country like Chicago’s Girl and the Goat are beginning to open to match the increase in demand for goat by finding creative ways to serve this healthier meat alternative to the greater public.

What’s more, goat meat is not yet popular enough to make factory-farming an efficient method of production, so you can be sure that the goat meat you are purchasing has avoided the tolls that mass production can take on animals, the environment, and your health. Farmers who raise goats encourage the increase in demand for their goat meat, but many wish to maintain the small-scale production that they’ve enjoyed for the last 25 years.

Adventurous home cooks should try this Jamaican Curry Goat Recipe at home as a healthy, alternative way to spice up their next dinner party. Be aware that, since goat meat is lower in fat than beef and lamb, you must cook it slowly and at lower temperatures in order to avoid dry, tough meat.

Is Goat the New Beef? Originally Posted

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Apprentice Opportunity: Shalom Farm Goochland County, Virginia

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.

The following paragraphs describe an opportunity to apprentice at Shalom Farm, a 5-acre nonprofit community farm project in rural  Goochland County, VA.   Send all inquiries to Claire Hitchins at:

The apprentice will assist the Manager in all farm operations at Shalom Farm – a 5-acre nonprofit community farm project in rural Goochland County, Virginia. The apprentice will also lead visitors and volunteers in farm tours and work. The scope of the apprenticeship may broaden to include engagement in urban gardening and food entrepreneurship programs in low-income neighborhoods of Richmond. The apprentice’s involvement in off-farm food access activities will be determined by his/her interest and the organization’s needs.

The apprentice must have a strong desire to learn and a willingness to work hard. Farming or gardening experience is preferred but not necessary. The apprentice must be prepared for strenuous labor under potentially extreme weather conditions.   We will work with the apprentice to develop a curriculum to further his/her education in sustainable agriculture, food security issues, and nutrition.  Educational opportunities on the farm include seed propagation, transplanting, tractor operation, composting, soil amending and care, harvesting, egg production and more.

The apprentice will be housed in a rustic, isolated cabin located on Camp Westview on the James, the same property that hosts the farm. The cabin has electricity, window unit A/C, refrigerator, microwave, and hot plate. A bathroom with hot water is located about 50 feet from the cabin.

A driver’s license and vehicle for occasional commuting to the city for programming and distributing produce is preferred.

Apprenticeship dates (flexible): available immediately through November
Hours per week: 40
Compensation: Modest living stipend, housing, and farm produce
Location: Goochland, Virginia, 23063, United States
Application deadline: open until filled

Apply by contacting Shalom Farms Programming and Volunteer Coordinator Claire Hitchins at:
Please provide a resume and brief statement of interest.

Shalom Farms is a nonprofit community farm project with the overarching goal of increasing food security in the Richmond region, particularly in low-income urban neighborhoods.

Our approach is two-fold – 1) we meet immediate need by making fresh produce available at low or no cost to people with limited food access, and 2) we work for long-term transformation of the food system by providing educational opportunities in diet, health, and agriculture.

We are currently growing produce on 5 acres in rural Goochland County (about 30 miles west of Richmond) on property owned by Camp Westview on the James, a Methodist camp and retreat center. Half of our produce is sent to the Central Virginia Food Bank, while the other half is used in after-school programs, cooking classes, food pantries, meal programs and youth-run farm stands at partner organizations in East End and South Side neighborhoods of Richmond.
We grow about twenty basic vegetable and fruit crops, all chosen for their widespread appeal and accessibility in the communities we serve. We also cultivate a half-acre blackberry and raspberry orchard and maintain a small- scale egg operation with 25 chickens.

While not certified organic, we use organic methods, emphasizing soil care through composting, mulching, cover cropping and other practices that enhance microbial life.  We do not use any synthetic fertilizers, fungicides, or pesticides. In addition to food production, the farm offers an outdoor learning experience for thousands of volunteers and visitors each year. Located on the grounds of Camp Westview on the James, Shalom Farm is frequented by campers who visit the farm throughout the summer to work and learn.

For a quick glance at Shalom Farm, visit us at or at

Posted in Farmer Opportunities | Leave a comment

Organic Production of Fingerling Potatoes – presented at two locations and times:

1. Flat Rock Farm 10109 Brown Moore Lane, Marshall, Virginia  – July 23rd 6 – 8 PM

The VSU Small Farm Outreach Program is proud to invite you to a small farm field day on the organic production of fingerling potatoes using a thick hay mulch “lazy bed”. This high market value crop has been grown by Deanna Child of Flat Rock Farm. The seed potatoes were simply laid on top of the freshly tilled soil and then covered with a thick layer of hay mulch. This method eliminates most of the weeding, has excellent moisture retention and does not require midseason hilling. Plus the mulch hay is incorporated into the soil after harvest to improve soil fertility for next years crop.

2.  Evergreen Acres,12801 Hazelwood Drive, Nokesville, Virginia  – July 25th 6 – 8 PM

The VSU Small Farm Outreach Program is proud to invite you to a small farm field day on the organic production of fingerling potatoes. Jim Gehlsen of Evergreen Acres in Nokesville, Virginia is the only certified organic farmer in Prince William Co. Working with the Small Farm Outreach Program he has cultivated fingerling potatoes using four different methods. This high value crop is in great demand among gourmet chef’s and upscale groceries. In addition to the potato field trials we will be discussing Mr. Gehlsen’s on going production of organic tomatoes, pie pumpkins and his wholesale marketing efforts of these crops. Evergreen Acres also grows and markets Christmas trees on site.

To attend either event, please RSVP at
Or call 804 892 4492
These events are free and open to the public

Posted in General | Leave a comment

A Summer’s Worth of Farm & Ag Related Activities

The Virginia Association for Biological Farming’s (VABF) Summer Newsletter points to a summer filled with Ag related activities.  See what events fit into your schedule by visiting the VABF Summer Newsletter site.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

2013 Ag Diversification Field Day presented by the Virginia State University Small Farm Outreach Program

Dear Friend of Virginia Agriculture,

Join us for the 2013 Ag Diversification Field Day presented by the Virginia State University Small Farm Outreach Program.  The program will begin at Chandler’s Gardens in Scottsburg, VA, and continue to James Brown’s farm in Clover.

Topics include:

Greenhouse ornamental production

Pond production

Mushroom production

Cut flowers

Value added processing

Organic vegetable production

Edamame production

Plastic laying and drip irrigation

Beef cattle, swine, and meat goats

Chickpea production

This will be a very full day!  The event begins at 9 AM on July 10 at:

Chandler’s Gardens:  1151 Dryburg Road Scottsburg, VA


This event is free and open to the public. No registration required.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Beginning Farmers: 25 Acre Farm in King William County

Lots of road frontage sitting right on Rt 30  between Aylett and West Point, not far from Richmond, Williamsburg, Tappahannock & Northern Neck or Fredricksburg.

The present owner has farmed it since they built in 1989 with various plantings.  She wholesales to  several Florists and farmers markets cut flowers.  They have done vegetables, wheat , hay, berries, etc.

View Listing.

Karen Jones

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Beginning Farmers: 25 Acre Farm in King William County

Lots of road frontage sitting right on Rt 30  between Aylett and West Point, not far from Richmond, Williamsburg, Tappahannock & Northern Neck or Fredricksburg.

The present owner has farmed it since they built in 1989 with various plantings.  She wholesales to  several Florists and farmers markets cut flowers.  They have done vegetables, wheat , hay, berries, etc.

View Listing.

Karen Jones
Twin Rivers Realty, Inc
P O Box 339
Aylett, VA 23009

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Tractor – check, Combine – check, Planter – check, . . . Drone???

Sen. Jerry Moran Advocates Drones for Agriculture

Original article by Miranda Green Jul 2, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

Some lawmakers and industry representatives say using drones on heartland farms will create jobs, while others say that’s just a prelude to increased domestic surveillance.

While many in the U.S. are split on how to view drones, some politicians are trying to change the perception of drones by highlighting their potential in an unlikely sector: agriculture.

Insitu Inceptor Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) in Flight. (PRNewsFoto/AP, file)

Republican Kansas Senator Jerry Moran will advocate for the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) on farms Tuesday at a demonstration of the systems on Kansas State University. “I think there’s a stereotype of UAS,” Moran told The Daily Beast. “What I’m hoping in a broad sense will happen from this demonstration is an understanding of non military, non intelligent application of these vehicles which I think is a different story than what is normally told.”

At the display, representatives from KSU as well as the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International will fly drones and allow the public to handle them while emphasizing the potential for UAS to be economy drivers, especially in the agriculture heavy state of Kansas.

“Our state is significantly impacted by agricultural production, by agricultural business and we are also an aviation state,” Moran said. “The agriculture application of UAS is the great combining of the great applications of the technology.”

A study released by AUVSI in March found that the unmanned aircraft industry could produce up to 100,000 new jobs and add $82 billion in economic activity between 2015 and 2025. The majority of the increased activity would be in agriculture and Kansas stands to be the seventh largest benefactor of the technology, according to the study.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas taking the Senate oath of office on Jan. 5, 2011. (Cliff Owen/AP)

“This has the ability to help you and to help the world,” AUVSI CEO Michael Toscano said. “In the sense of agriculture, we already know that by 2050 we’ll have 2 billion more people on the planet and the question is how will we feed them? This is where precision agriculture is one of the solutions to that. If a farmer can increase his yield with the same amount of food with less pesticides, that’s a good thing.”

Proponents of drones for agriculture say they will help farmers save money by letting them view their crops from the air and selectively determining what areas need more water and fertilizer instead of mass spraying.

Other political leaders are also vocal as to the benefits they expect to see from unmanned aircraft. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma supports bringing the technology to her state, which AUVSI predicts will generate 545 jobs by 2017. In June, she announced Oklahoma State University as a chosen site for the Department of Homeland Security’s Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety Program.

Although Oklahoma is also an agricultural community that could stand to benefit from drones, Fallin is looking to the technology largely for its search and rescue purposes, especially after the recent Tornado that hit the town of Moore killing 24 people.

But politicians eager to hone in on the use of unmanned aircraft may face large public opposition. Since Congress passed the bill that opens the airspace to drones by 2015, 42 states have already proposed legislation preemptively limiting their use.

Nick Mottern, coordinator for says that people should be wary of the language drone proponents use when pushing the technology domestically. He believes the life-saving elements of drones are used to open to door to drones for all purposes including unchecked police surveillance.

Since Congress passed the bill that opens the airspace to drones by 2015, 42 states have already proposed legislation preemptively limiting their use.

“My opinion is that the huge amount of money that will go to the airspace industry is for military and police use and the amounts of money coming from these other uses are relatively small,” he said. “These other benign interests are being used to pry open the door for all of these other uses.”

Michael Toscano thinks the negative public image surrounding drones stems from the word’s connotation, which is why he prefers to the call the vehicles “unmanned aircraft systems.”

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” he said. “Most people by even using the word ‘drone’ think military, think weaponry,” he said. “Once you can see it and touch it and hear about it through people you trust, it gives it more credibility.”

Regardless of whether unmanned aircraft are ultimately used for agricultural purposes or search and rescue, Sen. Moran thinks that the technology is a blessing that should not be cast aside because of fear.

“From my perspective, let’s demonstrate the value of UAS in a commercial setting and then set regulations based on common sense and science, and not any emotional fear,” he said. “I care a lot about privacy but there is a proper role for UAS to protect people and save lives and while we are looking at agriculture on Tuesday, there are other ways to use UAVs to help our lives.”


Posted in General | Leave a comment

Virginia farm seeking ways to preserve bees

By Tonia Moxley The Roanoke Times © June 23, 2013


The bee sounded angry.

But after a few moments, she gave up looking for someone to sting and flew away.

It had not been a good day to open the honey bee hives at Spikenard Farm Honey Bee Sanctuary, said Gunther Hauk, executive director of the organization.

There had been too many clouds and the possibility of rain. Even after the hives had been closed up, one bee remained disturbed.

Hauk, 71, is the farm’s lead beekeeper, and he said he doesn’t wear the characteristic bee-proof veil most other beekeepers employ. No gloves or bee-proof suits, either. Even a recent sting in the nostril couldn’t make him put a protective layer between him and his beloved honey bee colonies.

At Spikenard, they do beekeeping and farming their own way and work to pass it on to the about 300 students who come annually to Floyd County for courses in a kind of sustainable agriculture called biodynamic farming.

Hauk and wife Vivian Struve-Hauk came to Floyd from Illinois about three years ago, after appearing in two national documentaries, “Vanishing of the Bees” in 2009 and “Queen of the Sun” in 2010. In those films, the Hauks talked about a new way of beekeeping that focused not on agricultural production, but on attention to honey bee health.

The films explored both scientific and philosophical opinions about colony collapse disorder (CCD), a largely unexplained syndrome affecting primarily commercial beekeepers who transport colonies across the country each year to pollinate crops, such as almonds in California and wild blueberries in Maine.

At the same time, hives owned by commercial and hobby beekeepers alike have been beset by an infestation of the Asian Varroa destructor mite traced to the 1980s. The mites vector more than a dozen known viruses that can also cause healthy colonies to dwindle and die out.

A rise in annual losses experienced over the past winter and spring across the country has refocused attention on the plight of honey bees and people’s economic dependence on them.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about a third of the fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores are pollinated by honey bees provided by the commercial beekeepers who truck them across the country from crop to crop.

Declines in honey bees and other pollinators, such as native bees and butterflies, could cause crop failures and sharp increases in the prices of food, some experts say.

“People are not aware that we are going to hit a food crisis,” Hauk said. “But for me a crisis is a blessing.”

Crisis, like a circle, turns people around, he added. And a crisis might lead to a less industrialized food system.

“CCD is not only about one pesticide or two,” he said. “But is about how we farm and how we keep bees.”

Hauk, who established the nonprofit Spikenard Farm first in Illinois, saw that food system up close.

“We were surrounded by corn and soy; once in a great while you would see a wheat field,” Hauk said. “For hundreds of thousands of miles you have only one crop, and it’s dead.”

Not the crop, but the landscape was dead, Hauk said – eerily lacking in insects and animal life. Hauk said crop dusters sprayed chemicals right on the borders of the sanctuary, forcing him to leave a 600-acre property there and re-establish as a working farm, apiary and educational center on 25 acres in Floyd County. Today the sanctuary is surrounded by forests and organic farms.

Since “Vanishing of the Bees” was released in 2009, the Hauks have used their film appearances to promote an approach they practiced in Illinois, based on the teachings of early 20th century European philosopher and social reformer Rudolf Steiner, who believed that without a natural and spiritual focus in agriculture and education, Western civilization would destroy itself.

In that mold, Hauk said he eschews conventional methods and equipment used widely by commercial and hobby beekeepers for hand-made hives in which bees build the size and shape comb they choose. To fight mites, Hauk said he researched recipes for “biodynamic preparations” to help the bees fight them on their own.

Biodynamic farming relies in part on recipes for homeopathic remedies to enrich soil, boost honey bee health and contribute to overall agricultural fertility without artificial fertilizers or pesticides. Many of these same principles are used in modern organic farming, which is widely practiced in Floyd.

At Spikenard, much attention is also paid to the spiritual aspects of farming and of beekeeping. Hauk talks openly about encouraging “vitality” and “dynamic life force” in the hives. This approach encourages eye-rolling from some mainstream beekeepers, but their reaction doesn’t bother Hauk.

“Some crazy nut has to be out in front,” he said.

While his homeopathic approach turns off some, experts do cite some of the same of problems and solutions Hauk talks about.

Michigan-based Larry Connor is a former extension apicultural entomologist at The Ohio State University in Columbus, who also worked as a commercial bee breeder. Today he is an author, publisher, lecturer and educator for beekeepers.

Connor numbers the loss of pollinator habitat in the vast fields of corn and soy beans often termed “monoculture” as a top issue facing honey bees and beekeepers. The widespread use of herbicides with genetically modified crops has eliminated weeds that honey bees once used for food, Connor said.

Bees that forage in industrial fields of sweet corn can come in contact with pesticide residues that may cause behavior changes. Together with disease and weakness from Varroa mite infestation, these problems can cause significant colony losses, Connor said.

“But the Varroa mite is the overriding pressure,” he said.

Connor said fighting the mite relies not on miticides used for decades by beekeepers, but on mite-tolerant strains of bees developed by researchers to keep his colonies alive. Connor said he believes to stay afloat, other beekeepers will eventually have to do the same.

Meanwhile, Hauk said, he will continue to build up the grant-funded sanctuary and its programs, and help move it to greater self-sufficiency.

The farm’s board of directors purchased the property last year. And, earlier this month, the organization kicked off a capital campaign to raise $30,000 in 30 days to build an outdoor pavilion needed to establish an educational and retreat center.

For more information, visit

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Wanted:  Compact Tractor with Bush Hog

Compact tractor- up to 30HP; 4WD Diesel with front loader bucket and rear bush hog attachments. Reasonable hours of usage, $10,000 and below.

Rick Stafford
Last Resort Farm
(cell) 703-973-7687

Posted in General | Leave a comment