Apply to the Stonewall Farm School Today!

Stonewall Farm School 

Many rewards come out of farming. Some would like to change professions. Others do it out of love for the land or a commitment to linking farms and communities.

This is where the Stonewall Farm School can help. The Stonewall Farm School entails a year-long program in our organic dairy or garden, giving interested folks the practical farming skills and business background to explore a career in farming. We emphasize hard work, critical thinking, and  appropriate technology for small farms.

Students will operate our micro-pasteurizer, hydroponic fodder system, Cool-bot refrigeration, and maple sugaring equipment on our year-round farm.

Stonewall Farm School’s year-long program starts in the fall. Tuition includes housing, a food stipend, and the potential to be a paid intern in the summer season. Applications continue to be reviewed on a rolling basis.

To Apply: 

Feel free to download our Stonewall Farm School (SFS) Application Binder. If you prefer a hard copy or have other questions about the Farm School, you can e-mail Joshua Cline at jcline@stonewallfarm.org or call him at 603-357-7278 ext. 107.

2013 Stonewall Farm Hand Mali Jay!

2013 Stonewall Farm Hand Mali Jay!

Help Bootstrap the First Year of Our Milk CSA!

We are in the beginning stages of offering a year-round Milk CSA from our award-winning, certified organic dairy. Let us know if you are interested in local milk, right now, right here. When we reach our 150 member goal, we can make it happen. Please pass the word on to your family and  friends. We need your help to spread the word.

The simple link for referral is: http://www.stonewallfarm.org/csaform

Thanks you all for helping to make Stonewall Farm, Stonewall Strong!

Grazing

Wild Roots Nature School at Stonewall Farm Now Open!

Are you looking for a nature-based program which allows your child to follow the seasons and benefit the most through hands-on experiential education and farm activities during the school year?

The Wild Roots Nature School at Stonewall Farm is now open, welcoming children ages 3-5 and with its child care license now in hand. The schedule will be Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30 am-12:30 pm during the school year.
For more information, feel free to e-mail educator Liza Lowe at llowe@stonewallfarm.org; or call Stonewall Farm at 603-357-7278; or check out the Wild Roots Nature School Guide. You can also access key paperwork for Wild Roots Nature School via our Parent Handbook, Registration Form, Health Assessment Form, and Enrollment Contract links. We look forward to working with you soon!
Wild Roots Nature School

Wild Roots Nature School

Calling All Future Farmers to Stonewall Farm School!

Whether it be out of passion for making a fresh professional move, out of love for the land to manage soils and waters in an environmentally conscious way, or out of commitment to bridging our “foodscapes” with surrounding communities, many rewards come out of farming.

Of course, you also face the inevitable +12-hour work days, constant manure and soil on your clothes, and the long-term process of realizing the fruits of your labors. Yet, as recent U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics have revealed, with the median age of the American farmer being 57 years old, we need young farmers and we need them soon!

This is where we at Stonewall Farm can step in to lead the education of future farmers. We own over 120 acres of land and over 30 Holstein and Brown Swiss cattle in a certified organic dairy. We manage three acres of produce which drives a year-round CSA, as well as a maple stand which produces Grade A and B maple syrup. We have been an active farm landscape for over 250 years in our corner of southwestern New Hampshire. If anyone is in a position to launch a school centered around holistic and practical education on community-based agriculture, then Stonewall Farm School proves to be in the best position possible.

The Stonewall Farm School will be a year-long program in our organic dairy or garden, giving interested folks the practical farming skills and business background to explore a career in farming. We emphasize hard work, critical thinking, and  appropriate technology for small farms. Students will operate our micro-pasteurizer, hydroponic fodder system, Cool-bot refrigeration, and maple sugaring equipment on our year-round farm.

Stonewall Farm School’s year-long program starts in the fall. Tuition includes housing, a food stipend, and the potential to be a paid intern in the summer season. We are accepting registrations on a rolling basis through November 15th.

If you’ve ever given serious thought to a farming lifestyle, or just want to learn skills to make a difference in how your community, family, and friends eat, consider signing up for the Stonewall Farm School. You’ll get dirty, but you’ll also get fulfilled.

For more information on Stonewall Farm School, you can e-mail Joshua Cline at jcline@stonewallfarm.org or call him at 603-357-7278 ext. 107.

Stonewall Farmscape Stonewall Farmscape

Bike for Bovines Race & Expanding Community Partnerships at the Farm

This past Sunday (July 14th), we at Stonewall Farm hosted what feels like an ever-growing annual tradition with the Bike for Bovines Race & Ice Cream Day. With over 100 racers participating and dozens more of spectators, supporters, and other curious community members, we’re realizing how much stronger we are with diversifying our offerings. Not only in food with our ice cream and yogurt being made at times on a weekly basis, but also in people coming to us for original recreational experiences.

Where else can you bike miles across rolling cobbles and marshlands, and then grab a farm-made serving (or two) of maple ice cream?!

However, another lesson we continue to learn and to put into daily practice would be the crucial role of community partnerships. Largely thanks to collaborating with Root 66 Race Series were we able to make the Bike for Bovines Race as much of a mutualistic, excitingly driven event. Then, there is the New England Mountain Bike Association which helped chart and craft our 2013 Trail Map and Brochure which encompasses all of our landmarks and trails, but also informs visitors on the dynamism of our farm as a wedding venue, as a sustainable source for local, heirloom vegetables, and much more. Furthermore, we could not carry out the work performed on our Volunteer Days at the Farm or the local vendors which highlight our foodstuffs and in turn attract more visitors(!) They include but are certainly not limited to Liberty Mutual, Keene State College-Upward Bound, Monadnock Food Co-op, Walpole Mountain View Winery, and many more.

If you have experienced the taste of our ice cream or yogurt after a long summer day; or if your child cannot stop telling stories about their summer camp week here at Stonewall; or if you attended a wedding ceremony and/or reception on our grounds during a crisp fall evening; or if you have snowshoed or even taken a sleigh ride across our wintry landscapes; or sampled late spring strawberries from our CSA, then you know the value of Stonewall Farm to Keene and to local food in general.

As a nonprofit, we are constantly seeking financial support to maintain (if not grow) on our active teaching farm model and experiences we offer. Some of the most meaningful support we can receive comes from our annual memberships, wherein you can become a “Steward” at different membership rates and know that you’re helping make Stonewall Farm, Stonewall Strong. While there are more than a few incentives and related discounts for our foodstuffs, our maple syrup, and more, we are grateful just to know that you care enough about Stonewall and enter into your own partnership with us. For more information, you can visit our Support Stonewall Farm page.

Help us to keep on course and thank you!

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Photo Courtesy of Our Events Intern, Katie Copeland, July 14th, 2013

You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream That Supports Farm Education!

“If you feel stressed, give yourself a break. Eat some ice cream and other sweets…Why? Because ‘stressed’  spelled backwards is ‘desserts.'”

-Anonymous

When asked on our Facebook page two weeks ago about favorite things about the summer people liked most,we had more than a few replies return answering, “Ice Cream!”

 Granted, we have only been making ice cream for the last year, and perhaps people felt like shouting out favorite memories of their past summers. Yet, for some serious reflection and to pay sincere homage to something that truly makes “summer” summer, we should talk about the delicacy that is ice cream. It also might help to put in context the sheer demand of ice cream in our imagination and on our taste buds.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream were produced nationally in 2011 and in turn generating over $10 billion in sales the year before, according to analytics group, MarketLine. Interestingly, the three most in-demand flavors of ice cream in 2012 were vanilla, mint chocolate chip,  and cookies and cream, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. Historically, there are multiple takes on how what we now know as ice cream came to be. While ancient Greek and Roman texts suggest a blending of snow and ice flavored with honey and myriad fruit juices favored by royal elite families, what we now know as a cold, cream-based dessert (i.e. ice cream) likely originated in Italy and England simultaneously by the 16th century. Contemporary texts mention a “cream ice” served at the table of King Charles I of England in the 17th century, as well as a Sicilian Italian recipe made at a Parisian cafe that involved blending butter, milk, eggs, and cream. It wouldn’t be until 1744 when we have historical proof of ice cream served in what is now the United States in Maryland. Even first President George Washington made time and money for spending over $200 in ice cream purchases (i.e. Thousands of dollars modern equivalent) during the summer of 1790 and owning “two pewter ice cream pots” for special occasions. Until the 19th century, ice cream like many other sweets were downright luxuries, due to the sheer price per volume of cane sugar and intense energy costs to keep ice cream cool. However, when insulated ice houses were devised and spread in construction, ice cream morphed from royal richness to popular eats with the additional innovations of mechanical refrigeration, homogenizing, and related technologies throughout the 1800’s and into the early 20th century. Only then could the still-strong impression of ice cream sodas and soda fountains proliferate on many American Main Streets by the 1920’s-1930’s. Even as early as 1946 after World War II finished and many service members returned Stateside, the level of ice cream consumption surged 20 quarts per person on average(!)

So, you still might be wondering, “How does Stonewall Farm craft their ice cream?” Well, as any well-researched ice cream manual or textbook, including the one we use here most frequently Robert T. Marshall’s and crew’s Ice Cream (6th Edition), there is a mind-boggling balance of chemistry, physics, and tech savvy which shapes the whole “make to scale” process. To be cost-effective we utilize ice cream mix from Massachusetts-based HP Hood. Their mix contains cream, milk, emulsifiers (ingredients which disperse milkfat in ice cream,) stabilizers (ingredients which prevent the texture of getting too crystalline, chunky, or icy), and sugar. The mixes we receive come homogenized and pasteurized. Homogenizing ensures that milkfat is pulsed and shaken with enough force to reduce the particle sizes of milkfat in the cream. Meanwhile, pasteurizing ensures that harmful bacteria strains and other contagions are treated out of the cream and milk we use.

Also, for those who are more nutritionally minded, our HP Hood mix we use contains 14 percent fat. Federal minimum standards for ice cream production lie at 10 percent fat, which often is employed for “light” and “soft-serve” ice cream. On the other end of the spectrum, super premium ice cream (such as Walpole Creamery) contains 16 percent fat. Never that ice cream was intended to be the most nutritious dairy product, but it arguably ranks as the tastiest and here at Stonewall, we like to think ice cream plays a crucial role in the summer dairy trifecta of aged cheddar cheese, ice cream, and yogurt.

Speaking of the role of ice cream, Stonewall Farm is hosting its Annual Bike for Bovines Bike Race & Ice Cream Day this Sunday July 14th, from 9 am-3 pm! Whether you choose to take part in the two race courses or cheer and watch on, we can guarantee a generous supply of ice cream flavors with our chocolate, maple, vanilla, and newly-renamed version of our vanilla chocolate chip flavors. The new name for the former vanilla chocolate chip will be announced on Sunday as well, so you don’t want to miss which name we picked from the many creative names submitted at our past June Ice Cream Social!

Also, just for the sake of curiosity and trivia, we thought you might like to know that we as Americans consume on average 48 pints of ice cream per person per year, the most of any country!

Much thanks to the International Dairy Foods Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the New Hampshire Agricultural Market Bulletin, New Hampshire (NH) Agriculture in the Classroom, and especially our Farm Staff here at Stonewall for revealing the art and science behind ice cream goodness.

We look forward to seeing your summer ice cream photos on Facebook and hopefully see you at the Farm on Sunday for our Bike for Bovines Race & Ice Cream Day!

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Stonewall Farm Ice Cream Profiles, Photo Courtesy of Matthew Young

Yogurt: How & Why It Works

“How could this not have any fat? It’s too good!”

-George Costanza (actor Jason Alexander), Seinfeld 

          Well, George Costanza almost got it right about yogurt. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Standards, traditional and Greek yogurt have 0 grams of trans fats in a 6 ounce-serving. However, when one factors in other types of fats, beneficial and not so beneficial to human nutrition, there is 0.7 gram total fat to traditional and Greek yogurt.

              As I work now on an active farm, I’ve come to realize that there is so much more to yogurt and our food than grams of fat, calories per serving, or any other metric of nutrition.  Food becomes food sometimes beautifully, sometimes grossly as the end product of a process of transformation. Quarts of plain and vanilla yogurt at our Farm Store now started out as pasture grass, most likely a blend of timothy (Phelum pratense), perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), and tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) among other species. From those green, lush leaves and stems, our herd of +40 Holstein and Jersey dairy cattle (Bos primigenius) eat steadily. When I mean steadily, I mean upwards to a range of 130 pounds (59 kilograms) of grass per day!

Once ingested, those grasses and their parts break down through steady grinding wiith flat teeth in a process called rumination, which shapes stiffer grass fibers into softer grass mushAs the mush remains softer thanks to enzymes in the cows’ saliva, the mush begins a digestive trip through the four-chambered cow stomach. Yes, you heard right. A cow does not have four stomachs, but does have four highly specialized components that change the grass mush into what we recognize as milk.

In the first chamber, the rumen, stomach juices and hundreds of species of internal bacteria further break down the cud into a softer texture. From there in the second chamber, the reticulum, more digestive juices and bacteria break down the mush into finer material called cud. This cud moves temporarily up to the mouth for further chewing (about 1 minute), before moving quickly down into the third chamber, the omasum. In the omasum, any remaining water from the grass moves into the bloodstream and urinary system of the cow. Eventually, by the fourth, final chamber, the abomasum, complete digestion takes place. Remaining nutrients for the cow move onward to the small intestine, From here, some nutrients become transported to a cow’s mammary glands and undergo internal reactions to yield milk which can be gathered from a cow’s teats.

Note, for even some digested cud to even yield milk, a cow must have given birth to a calf, as all female mammals can only produce milk after their young are born. Thus, all cows are females and why farmers call their prized cattle “girls” or “ladies.”

Now, once milk is pumped from cows’ teats, it circulates in Stonewall’s Dairy Barn, undergoing what would be expensive pasteurization but thanks to generous farm donors, we can process our milk into raw material for cheese, ice cream, and yogurt! While our cheese is made off-site at Grafton Village Cheese Company in Vermont and our ice cream is supplemented by milk from other New Hampshire farms but made on-site, our yogurt comes from milk and processing entirely here on-site.

Now comes the yogurt. After the milk becomes pasteurized, 3-4 of our hard-working staff come together to mix the milk with 100% vanilla extract, organic cane sugar, and dried milk powder to make our yogurt in a cooling vessel. For the plain yogurt, only dried milk powder is added for texture. From there, we pipe it through plastic tubing into 6-ounce and 1-quart containers with the support of a generally helpful but sometimes stubborn, steel lazy susan to rotate up to 12 containers at a time. With a sealant that gets up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, we can then seal and cap off the containers.

So, when you and hundreds of our Farm lovers and supporters drop by the Farm Store here this weekend or see our yogurt in shelves at the Monadnock Food Co-Op in Keene, you now know of the relationships that made that Stonewall Farm Yogurt possible.

Here’s a nutritional snapshot of what happens when yogurt made with solid relationships in mind between the pasture grasses, the cows, and the farmers and staff here. On average, a single serving of traditional plain yogurt will meet 18 percent of daily calcium needs; 21 percent of Vitamin B12 needs; and 34 percent of daily protein needs, all with a 6 oz. serving(!)

 As long as you can sit back, reflect, and even thank the pasture grasses, the cows, the farmers, and the relationships that made such yogurt goodness possible, that would be more than likely thanks enough for all of us. Plus, unlike George Costanza, you’d be right on knowing what truly is in that yogurt.

Much thanks to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, Oregon State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Dairy Australia websites for helping enlighten me on yogurt relationships and making sense of one of the oldest, tastiest processed foods known to humankind (Homo sapiens). Feel free to write back on our Facebook page at “Stonewall Farm” with other questions, recipes, or thoughts on yogurt that come to mind for you.

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First Week on the Farm

“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”

-Wendell Berry, A Place on Earth

      Hello Everybody!

                To all those who know me, might not know me, or are starting to know me, my name is Matthew Young, but you can call me “Matt” or “Mateo” as well. Since this past Tuesday, I have been grateful to have started as Communication Manager here at Stonewall Farm. While I may be new to the farm, I’ve been in Keene since August 2011, just graduating from graduate school at Antioch University two weekends ago. Since then, and especially during this first week of mine at the farm, I have been learning and re-learning just what it means to put lessons from school into meaningful practice professionally, let alone on as extensive in operations of a farm such as Stonewall.

                On my first day on Tuesday alone, I did no less than to help Josh Cline (our Executive Director) design a summer ad for the local Peterborough Players’ theater playbill for their summer season; to haul and deliver compost with Josh to the Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene; and to package and seal vanilla yogurt crafted on-site with Alan Bettler (our Visitor Services Director) and Sarah Antel (our Education Director). It’s proven somewhat mellower since then, but the drive and stamina of work here reminds me of no dull moments ahead and of the sheer opportunity to give back to land that gives us food, recreation, and much more.

                Over the coming weeks and seasons, I will do my best to capture the ecological events, the  cycles of farm life, the relationships between people and this place, and hopefully the relationships between food, people, and the land. Such ideas include “sustainability” and comparable terms, but ideas which also challenge us to become more aware of how much in common we do have.

                 When we realize how grass-fed diets for dairy cattle enhance the nutritional offerings in cheeses, milk, and yogurt we consume, we can then realize why we need to conserve and protect our soil and water resources to maintain grassy, healthy pastures. When we realize how purchasing farm-grown basil, strawberries, and tomatoes at Stonewall returns local money, which in turn builds healthier and stronger farms which create stronger local and regional economies, we can then realize why we need to target our purchasing with place and price in mind.

                  These lessons and others through frequent posts alongside photos, videos, and audio will hopefully grow an online community of people more capable, passionate, and ready to support an all too real and unique place such as Stonewall Farm. Furthermore, as events such as the June 29th Ice Cream Social, the July 14th Bike for Bovine Race & National Ice Cream Day, and the August 17th Barnyard BBQ come together, a vibrant community will continue taking shape. As farmer and writer Wendell Berry once wrote:

                  “Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.”

                    My hope as part of the farm crew will be to help you and as  many people as are interested to discover for yourself the world of Stonewall Farm and its niche in Keene and Cheshire County, but also how the farm connects back to the rest of New Hampshire, the United States, and even the rest of the planet.

                    I hope you join us to see what awaits at Stonewall Farm, summer, fall, winter, and spring!

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Photo courtesy of Matthew Young

Babies, Babies Everywhere!

Over the past few weeks we have had five calves born at the dairy barn. New life is always refreshing in the dreariness of February and these downy calves are no exception.

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I took a moment to speak with Wendy French, our herdsperson here at Stonewall to get some background information on the calving process and thought I would share it with you. First off, here a few definitions for you to keep in mind as you read-on:

  • Cows – Females who have given birth to their first calf
  • Calves – Babies
  • Bull – Males
  • Heifers – Females, prior to giving birth to their first calf

On the most basic level, we breed our cows because the birthing process is what keeps cows lactating. Cows who have calves make milk, which is exactly what a dairy wants. We don’t keep bulls at Stonewall Farm so when it comes time to breed our cows, we utilize suppliers to provide the sperm for us to use. The suppliers work with our farmers to choose bulls that will keep certain traits in our herd (like high milk production) and will continue to increase genetic diversity. The gestation period for cows is the same as it is for humans; they give birth approximately nine months after conception. Cows are then given ninety days to recover and are bred again.

Once a calf is born, it is separated from its mother and is bottle fed their mother’s milk for three feedings, after which we can feed them milk from any cow. It is important for a newborn to consume its mother’s milk because it contains colostrum, milk produced by the mammary glands just prior to the birthing time. Colostrum is produced by all mammals – humans are no exception! Colostrum is like a health pack for a new baby. It contains antibodies to protect newborns against diseases and also contains a higher protein than ordinary milk for a little extra kick.

We separate calves from their mothers because bottle feeding gets a calf used to being handled by people and begins her socialization with other calves. We keep all of our heifers on the farm as they will become the milk producers after being bred. Males are sold. As the calves grow, we move them to small huts outside for them to experience the sunshine and socialize with one another. Once the heifers reach an age of approximately 15 months, they are bred and give birth to a new wave of calves nine months later.

Sarah, Communications Manager

A special thanks to Wendy for the photographs and help with this post!