Welcome Day and CSA Orientation.

Today was Welcome Day in Newtown! It’s basically an opportunity for everyone in the community to get together and check out the different businesses and promotions. Going into it, I thought it would be a block or two of local business stands, and maybe some music- nothing too outrageous. Newtown is, relatively speaking, a quiet little town, but it’s our town and it’s fun to get together and celebrate it!

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My Mum joined us- look at her adorable floral pants! 😀

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The street was packed, and the tents went on for three or four (long) blocks! I couldn’t believe it- I honestly didn’t expect it to be so busy, and it only got busier as the day went on. We left around 1, and by the time we got out of there all of the parking spots within a three-block radius were filled. Crazy!

There were some really neat vendors- lots of handmade items like magnets, children’s accessories, and wind chimes made from hammered silverware.

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The weather was so perfect, it was a great day to walk around with the kids. They were waaaay overstimulated- there was so much to see and hear! Most of the businesses were giving away free toys and trinkets, so the kids both scored some gear:

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For whatever reason, Jack was really into the different mascots, and made a point of hugging every single one.

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Lovebug 🙂 Carolyn wouldn’t go near any of them, but when Jack was her age he had a similar attitude toward people in costumes, so it was expected.

There wasn’t much in the way of food, at least not for us, but we did manage to locate a stand with sub-par, overpriced friend plantains…

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Thank god for the roasted corn stand next to them, or I would have felt totally let down.

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We ended up refueling at Greenstraw, which was my intention all along ;D

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Extra fun because we got to see Jessie and finalize plans to see Gatsby on Friday- woohoo!

While Cal and I got the smoothies, Grammy took Jack to the bounce house maze they had set up for kids!

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My Mum said that after he had gone through a few times she told him the next time would be the last, and they had to go find Mommy. He went through again, and afterward she called him over and said it was time to go, and he hopped right down and took her hand and left without a fuss. What a doll 🙂

It felt good to get out and move, but not be running, and not have to leave the kids at home. Walking is tragically underestimated, and something everyone should strive to do more of! It allows you to relax and take in your environment more completely 🙂

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After Welcome Day, we went home to drop the kids off for changes and naps while I went over to our new CSA for a new-members orientation. Last year I was part of a different CSA, but it was a really far drive and I never knew what I would be getting each week, which made it difficult to come up with a weekly meal plan before Sunday night. Our new CSA sends out a weekly newsletter laying out the different crops and suggestions for use. They’re also ten minutes from our house. Win!

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Man, this place is so neat! It’s a huge, sprawling farm with gorgeous old barns and stone houses, and tons of farm equipment all over the property. They are really community-based, and host potlucks for all of the members each month. Our first one is on June 22nd, and I am really looking forward to it- it’s the tenth year of Anchor Run CSA, and they’re having a huge celebration with lots of delicious fresh food and plenty of activities for the kids. They also do lots of demonstrations throughout the season to help people with preparing some of the less familiar produce. The orientation was just a basic tour of the farm and a review of the CSA system, and I really enjoyed meeting Dana and Derek and seeing where my food was really coming from! First stop: the barn, where the bulk of our share is picked up. Dana reviewed the pickup procedures and explained what was expected of members, and also showed us around the barn.

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A (not to scale) map of the farm.

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The U-Pick station! Every week members are offered between one and five items to pick themselves, along with the designated quantity. Flowers are U-pick every week, as well as seasonal herbs. U-pick is great because you can do it any time. Our share pickup time is Thursday between 1 and 8, but the farm is open every day from 8 to 8, and we are welcome to go and pick our U-pick share any day we want! They let us know that strawberries will definitely be in the first few weeks of the U-pick, so that’s something to look forward to! 😀

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Also in addition to our regular weekly share, you have the option of taking two items from the “choice” table- there are four different items, and you pick two out of the four. This is usually for veggies that aren’t as widely recognized, or that they may be running low on but don’t have enough to give to every member.

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Plenty of adorable signs to explain each item!

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My personal favorite is the “take it or leave it” bin. The idea is that members can leave items that they don’t want or feel they won’t use, and can pick from the bin something else that someone may have also left. It gives you the opportunity to get extra of the things you really want and leave the things you don’t without feeling like you aren’t getting the best value or being wasteful. It’s also a small but great way of reinforcing a sense of community and sharing!

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They have TONS of farm-themed trinkets all around. It’s so homey 🙂

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Veggies!

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The whole barn smelled amazing, and this was why- mason jars filled with lilac!

After touring the barn with Dana, Derek took us on a walk through the fields where they grow the veggies.

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He explained all of the different farming practices they utilize, from their irrigation system to how they handle pest-control and still maintain organic practices.

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They try very hard not to irrigate too much, but it was a dry spring, so they’ve been keeping the lettuce happy with a little bit of help from the well. They use a 300-ft deep well to provide water to the farm, and before this year they didn’t have any underground lines, so everything had to be run above ground. I can’t even imagine how much extra work that must have been. These guys work very, very hard.IMG_1829

I surprised myself by being most interested in this thing called a cover crop. I had heard the term before, and could give a loose definition, but I couldn’t have told you the specifics. Now I can! A cover crop, for those who don’t know, is a nutrient-rich crop like crimson clover or rye that the farmer plants over the winter. The crop grows through the early spring, and is then mowed down and incorporated into the soil, increasing the soil’s nutrition. So cool!IMG_1828

Baby peas! Can’t wait to see these guys in a few weeks!

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Another cover crop- crimson clover. Derek also explained to us that they do not use a rotary tiller to till the soil, because although it cuts down on the work for the farmer, it also beats up the soil a great deal.

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This is allllll GARLIC! Not only will we get a portion of the yumminess, but in a few weeks these will flower and grow scapes, which will also come to us through our shares. Awesome!

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Hay bales everywhere. I love it.

 

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It was just the coolest thing to walk around and see all the different fruits and veggies thriving on this gorgeous farm. It’s a whole new level of connectivity to my food, and I’m loving it.

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On the way out, we were asked to take free seedlings. Well, if I have to!

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This is my second round of free seedlings this week!

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A few different tomato varieties, including two cherries, okra, cabbage, and eggplant! I have enough flowerpots, so tomorrow’s task is hunting down organic vegetable potting soil. I’ve heard it’s a tough one to find.

I feel so fortunate to have found such a wonderful community of farm-lovers. Anchor Run is a really successful farm- their CSA boasts over 300 members, and the farmers that run it are incredibly dedicated to their members and their work. The closer I get to my food source, the better I feel, so I am totally looking forward to an entire summer of this. Anchor Run also requires work hours from its members- 8 per season for a full share, and 4 for a half. I’m actually really excited about that, I’m finding myself more and more interested in the farming practices, and I’m eager to learn more about growing food and what it takes to run something as large as a CSA. I think it will also be a great resource for me as I venture into my own gardening adventures over the summer and through the fall. Starting with…

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Chris got me these when I gave the Stan Heim reading, and I’m trying my best to keep them alive until I can plant them in the ground. They’re so pretty and delicately scented!

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Mum and I have also been talking about planting berry bushes in the back garden this fall. The people who owned this house before us had blueberries, and the fenced-in patch is still back there, though the blueberries are not.

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We are looking to revive the back garden, and it seems like we timed it perfectly. We’re planning on composting all through the summer, and then using that for the berry bushes, since berries thrive in nutrient-dense compost.

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By the way, the day was totally completed when I came home to this:

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Ridiculous. By now, it’s Monday night, and I’m posting this with my Nikes on, ready to literally run out the door before heading to Owowcow for a giant five-scoop Mocha Java Chip and Rosewater Cardamom sundae with lots of fudge and dark chocolate shavings on top. That is not an exaggeration.

Huzzah!

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Grounds For Sculpture!

It’s May! Hurray! Also, it’s my Dad’s birthday- Happy Birthday, Dad! I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m flying out to visit him in June. Highlight of my year! I haven’t seen my Dad since the Christmas before last. I hadn’t been up to traveling so far with the kids, and then he had a health complication that has prevented him from flying, so we are long overdue for a visit. I am counting the days!

Fun fact: I actually used to dislike springtime- I’m a fall girl, and the spring always seemed to be the opposite of everything I love about fall. However, as the years go on I find myself enjoying the spring. This year is especially exciting- there’s just so much to look forward to! Tomorrow is the first official day of the Wrightstown Farmers Market season, which is one of my favorite parts of spring/summer. Last summer was such a blast, with the markets and the CSA and all of the activities with the kids, and I found myself really missing all of that over the winter. I’ve been looking forward to the warmer weather and everything that comes with it! The kids and I have been taking full advantage of the gorgeous weather. The sandbox has been seeing a LOT of action…

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teehee- Carolyn’s hair 🙂

True story: we found that sandbox on the side of the road. Someone a street over was giving it away last year, and my Mum spotted it and called me. I swung by and picked it up, hosed it off, and we filled it with sand. It’s in perfect condition! I guess their children had outgrown it- lucky us! It’s a godsend when I’m trying to get laundry hung out, or when I feel like crashing in a chair and reading for a few minutes. Carolyn hasn’t quite mastered the art of keeping the sand in the sandbox yet, so we had to go out and grab a few extra bags yesterday. $4 for a 50 lb. bag! What a bargain.

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Lawnmowers at Home Depot- Jack’s other favorite thing!

I had the pleasure of meeting with my writer friends last night (for 5 1/2 hours- we’re absurd). I call them that, I guess because we all met through a writing workshop, but we’ve really become good friends outside of our writing. I always leave feeling lucky to have met such remarkable people.

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bahahaha Greg’s face ;D

The kids and I were all feeling a little tired and itchy today. Jack is battling a cold, I think from the changing weather, and Carolyn’s been sporting a runny nose. I was exhausted from my late night (SO worth it, though), and so we decided to just have fun and not worry too much about getting things done. First stop: the Amish market! Asparagus, grapes, bananas, papaya, and carrots.

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Followed by Owowcow, and a walk around Carousel Gardens.

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When we left Owowcow, it became clear that the day was just too gorgeous to waste, so we stopped off at home for a diaper change and a quick lunch, and then we took off for the Grounds for Sculpture! I’ve been wanting to take the kids there for a while now, but I couldn’t seem to find the right time. Today seemed perfect 🙂

We took A LOT of pictures. I won’t narrate too much, because I think the pictures speak for themselves, but I will say that it was absolutely breathtaking, and definitely an activity we’ll plan on doing at least twice a month. Friends, plan on LOTS of invitations to join us!

The open space was great for the kids because they could run around and explore, but there were lots of hidden paths and tucked-away areas that gave them a feeling of adventure. Of course, the entire experience is made even better by all of the incredible art. I really want Jack and Carolyn to grow up with an appreciation for different forms of expression. I know that art can be tricky- people tend to have really strong reactions to different art forms, and while I don’t necessarily like everything I see, I always take the time to consider it. I want the same for J & C. I think it helps to keep the mind open to alternative possibilities.

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Mr. green shorts- I’m totally obsessed with them (and him IN them…)

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He tried so hard to lift this! It was so cute.

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I didn’t really know what to make of this, but Jack was into it.

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GAH, explosions of beauty!

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There were a number of areas where they had planted little bamboo forests, and then cut paths through them, with mysterious secluded clearings in which random sculptures hid. It was so, so neat.

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One of my favorites 🙂

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Jack was a total leader, and most of the time he was running ahead of me, looking back and calling, “Come, Mama!” because I was being slow and looking at everything. I was so excited to see that he and Carolyn were enjoying being there!

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Really strange sculpture- totally wild. I won’t lie, I totally shuffled Jack and Carolyn past this one. I thought it had too much potential to creep them out O.o

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Jack was really into posing with the sculptures, as you’ll see as we go along. He’s in almost every photo, and most of the time he’s interacting with the work. Carolyn spent most of her time in my arms (it was one of THOSE days).

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See? Hilarious.

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Those people are actually a sculpture 🙂

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Another one of my favorites, because Jack is adorable, and also because it’s one of my favorite paintings!

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The piece I was most looking forward to was the recreation of Manet’s Dejeuner Sur L’herbe. It’s so well-done, with the water and the boat and the woman in the background, but I wasn’t exactly sure where to find it- only that it was near water (of which there was a lot). It happened just as it should have- we stumbled upon it from behind, and I didn’t even know we were coming up on it until I saw the boat!

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Gah! So neat 😀

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There were so many different passages and paths to follow, a few times we ended up doubling back on ourselves because it was difficult to keep track of where we had already been, and where the paths were leading. I’m pretty sure that this is the perfect place to bring children.

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The boat is actually part of the piece, and was drifting over the water with the wind. Gorgeous!

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    Oh– poetry! 🙂

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We totally crashed on this swing for a while. It was a hit 🙂

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Jack wanted to get in on the hugs.

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There was a separate area called the Water Garden, which was, of course, a sculpture garden, but with, well, water- waterfalls, mist sprayers, and ponds. As you move through the space, you have to utilize stepping stones and pathways over the bodies of water. It was really neat!

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One of my favorite sculptures.

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Another favorite…

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…and another!

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More peacocks! They just wander around calling to each other and eating stuff off of the ground. They must have been really used to people, because you could almost touch them and they didn’t shy away!

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le sigh.

It was a remarkable experience, made even more wonderful because Jack and Carolyn enjoyed it so much. I am already planning a return trip, and hoping I can convince some of our friends and family to come along. I can think of at least ten of our friends who will be thrilled at the proposition.

I must admit, half of my intention in going to the Grounds for Sculpture was to take my mind off of my recent rejection from the New Yorker. I knew it was coming- come on, it’s the New Yorker for god’s sake- but it still got me way down. By the time we got home and started navigating dinner (BBQ tempeh, broccoli rabbe, farro, and whole roasted carrots), I found myself descending deeper and deeper into some kind of hellish despair over the whole thing. I think it may have more to do with leaving Bucks (read: leaving Chris) and that whole situation, but I was really despairing. I tried to find a friend to meet me for a drink and some kind words, but my friends are popular folk and all had prior engagements.

I was feeling really sorry for myself, and then something funny happened: I got a text from a friend- in the spirit of the soon-to-be-released movie about one of my favorite romantic billionaires, we’ll call him Jay. He told me he had left work early, and was going to meet me at the park for a five mile run- no arguments. We took it really easy, because he’s not really a runner (yet!), and completed a full run with no major hang-ups. He then joined me at Starbucks, where he’s currently reading me excerpts from Cat’s Cradle and quizzing me on Sol LeWitt works while I write. So, as it turns out, all is not lost, and I have a great many things to feel glad about 🙂

This weekend promises FUN from start to finish- tomorrow is the first day of the Farmers Market this season, followed by an afternoon at the Philly Art Museum. Mr. Gatsby and I have an engagement on Saturday night, which will likely end up being another long run or bike ride, because that’s our idea of a good time. Sunday I will be running in the morning and then hitting up Welcome Day in Newtown (yay!), followed by an orientation at the CSA where they’ll take us on a tour of the farm and introduce us to the staff. I’ve been looking forward to joining this CSA since last year, so I’m really excited about the orientation. This CSA is super hands-on and strongly encourages a high level of involvement from its members, which is what I’m all about. I’m going to do a full post on our CSA once the season begins later this month.

So that was our day! I’m hitting “publish” on this post in a completely different attitude than when I started typing, thanks to some kind and exact words of support…and the unmatched power of an endorphin rush 😉