Talkin’ Turkey

~ erin molnar, assistant markets manager


Heritage breed turkeys at Tea Hills Farms. Photo by Cara Tipton


Last year I had the opportunity to take part in almost every phase of the Thanksgiving turkey process – from meeting them when they were only a day old, to feeding them, to moving their shelter so they had fresh forage, to chatting with them while harvesting, to the eventual slaughter and processing, and finally the cooking and eating. This level of involvement was a first for me, as was a local turkey in general. (NOTE: I had not previously been responsible for T-Day turkey acquisition.) So, I obviously felt more of a connection and level of appreciation for my meal last Thanksgiving, both leading up to it and when it was time for the eating. My family, on the other hand, thought it was great and all that I knew the turkey and was somewhat doubtful that I was actually involved in the killing and cleaning part. BUT all of their ambivalence faded away when they tasted that bird. RAVE REVIEWS!!! BEST TURKEY EVER!!! They thought I was the turkey-cooking-whisperer. (First turkey cooking experience as well…) I am not a slouch in the kitchen, but I am also not the TCW – the tastiness of the turkey was all due to how it was raised, how fresh it was and that lack of post-processing chemicals. (Commercial poultry is often sanitized post-processing via a chlorine bath, or another type of disinfecting solution.)

That was my long-winded way of saying – if you want to serve the best Thanksgiving meal, a local turkey (preferably purchased directly from the source) is the way to go. Here are some options to procure your very own Turkey-Cooking-Whisperer title.

Brunty Farms

“A bird from Brunty Farms is sure to be the highlight of your holiday meal. They receive a lot of love and we take great pride in the animals we raise. Feel free to drive by the farm and see the turkeys roaming out in the fields! From day old until processing time, the turkeys are under our care.”

Breed: Broad Breasted White

Husbandry: All of the turkeys are raised on pasture consuming roughly 30% of their diet by foraging clover, grasses, weed seeds and insects. They also like to consume any other treat they can find – crab apples and garden scraps, especially tomatoes! The remainder of their diet is made up of all non-GMO whole grains from local farmers.

Slaughter and processing: All poultry is processed directly at Brunty Farms right before the holiday. This ensures a stress free animal and gives 100% quality control with the final product.

Ordering: Orders can be places via the website, directly at the farm, or at the Countryside Conservancy Farmers’ Market.  Contact Melanie at or 330.594.7315 with any questions.

Note: Select turkey cuts (breast, tenders, drumsticks and wings) are available now in the farm store (open Tues-Sat 9am-8pm) or at the Countryside Conservancy Farmers’ Market. Fresh chickens will also be available for 4-5 more weeks.

Schmidt Family Farms

Offering turkeys and duck.

Husbandry: Feed and pasture certified organic.

Slaughter and processing: Onsite, the week before Thanksgiving.

Ordering: For turkeys, contact Shawn Toth at 216.536.1227. For duck, contact Susan Schmidt at 330.239.2325.

Note: Frozen broiler chickens also available. Ducks not sold fresh for Thanksgiving will be available frozen for Christmas.

Halko’s Spring Hill Farm

Breed: Broad Breasted White

Husbandry: Pasture raised, with supplemental feed containing no animal by-products.

Slaughter and processing: Onsite, the week before Thanksgiving.

Ordering: Contact Alan Halko at 330.523.0590 or see him at the Countryside Conservancy Farmers’ Market.

Pick-up: Tuesday, November 26th at 9570 Riverview Rd., Brecksville.

Tea Hills Farms

Breeds: Broad Breasted White, Broad Breasted Bronze, Bourbon Red, Blue Slate, Heritage Bronze

Husbandry: Turkeys graze certified organic pastures and exploring wooded areas. They are fed an all natural diet free of antibiotics and genetically modified feed.

Ordering: At the Countryside Conservancy Farmers’ Market or the Tea Hills Farms website.

Pick-up: Available the week before Thanksgiving at the Countryside Conservancy Farmers’ Market at Old Trail School or at any of several convenient locations listed on the website







Fresh Farmers’ Market Recipes from Lisa Abraham

Lisa Abraham, food writer for the Akron Beacon Journal, joined us as our demonstration chef last Saturday. She prepared some SCRUMPTIOUS dishes to highlight the local and seasonal foods available at the market. They are super easy too – that means no excuses to not give them a go yourself!

Apple Harvest Salad

Serves 6 to 8


  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • 12 cups mixed salad greens
  • 2 apples, Granny Smith or other tart variety – cored, seeded and cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, broken into pieces
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 to 6 ozs crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese
  • 2 Tbsp chopped red onion

Prepare the  dressing by whisking together all of the dressing ingredients except oil and pepper. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Season with pepper to taste.

Soak cranberries in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes to soften and plump. Drain well.

Toast pecans by placing in a dry skillet or saute pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until nuts are warm and toasted.

Toss mixed greens with dressing. Arrange remaining salad ingredients on top of dressed greens and toss lightly.

White Bean Puree with Sauteed Spinach on Artisan Bread Crostini

Makes about 2 dozen appetizer-size crostini

  • 2 cans cannellini beans, 15.5 ozs each
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 to 2 lbs fresh spinach, kale or other green – washed and dried, with stems removed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Artisan bread, such as ciabatta or French baguette, cut into small circles or slices
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes (when in season)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Balsamic vinegar or glaze or olive oil to garnish

Bring beans to boil in their liquid. Remove from heat, drain completely and cool.

Brush bread slices with olive oil and toast in the broiler, on a griddle or grill; set aside.

In a food processor, pulse cooled beans and one or two cloves of garlic. Mixture will be stiff and thick. Add olive oil in a steady stream until mixture begins to loosen and becomes the consistency of a spread, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add one clove of minced garlic and spinach, watching carefully so that garlic does not burn. Season spinach with salt and pepper. Spinach will wilt quickly.

Spread bean mixture on toasts. Top with a spoonful of sauteed spinach. Top with chopped tomatoes and grated cheese and an extra drizzle of olive oil or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or glaze, if you like.

THANK YOU again Lisa, for hanging out with us on Saturday and sharing these delicious dishes with us!!

Vibrant Veggies over Pasta – Farmers’ Market Recipe

~ erin molnar, assistant market manager

Darlene Kelbach was our impromptu demo chef on Saturday. On the spur of the moment, Darlene came up with and sourced this wonderful dish – a testament to how easy it is! The reaction of customers who sampled is a testament to how delicious it is.

Vibrant Veggies over Pasta

1/2 red onion
1/2 red, yellow and green pepper
1/2 eggplant peeled
1/2 small zucchini
1/2 small yellow squash
1 clove garlic
1 small tomato
Handful fresh parsley and basil

Cook whole wheat angel hair pasta per directions.

At same time, sautee onions and garlic in olive oil in skillet.  Once translucent add peppers to start to soften.  Then add eggplant and 1/4 cup water to help steam eggplant.  Now add zucchini and yellow squash.  Stir and add more water or oil as needed to keep moist and not sticking to pan. Cover with lid until veggies soften.  At end add chopped tomato and herbs.  Salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix in.  Toss over pasta and serve!

** To make this vegan and gluten-free, skip the pasta and substitute your favorite grain!


Squash Recipes Galore!

-erin molnar, assistant markets manager

Two weeks ago, we had our annual squash sampling at Howe Meadow. In what has become a tradition, we had the delight of hosting Larkin Rogers of the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center as our demo chef. As usual, Larkin’s recipes have been in high demand since. Wait no longer! Here they are!


Butternut Squash Pizza

  • First, make your pizza dough. I used a dough mixing whole wheat and white flours. Let the dough rise. While it is rising, you can organize all other ingredients.
  • Butternut squash, 1, peeled, sliced thinly, and tossed in a little bit of olive oil, perhaps a tablespoonful, just to coat lightly
  • Red onion, 1, peeled and sliced thinly
  • Mushrooms, 1 cup or more if desired, washed and coarsely chopped (I used shiitakes)
  • Tomatoes, 2 large, chopped coarsely
  • Cheese, grated, Mozzarella, Provolone, Fontina, Gruyere, or crumbled goats’ cheese—I like a lot of cheese so you use as much or as little as you prefer, at least 1 cup!
  • Parsley pesto topping

Roast the oil-coated squash slices in the oven just until tender. Set aside to cool.

Saute the onion slices (you may dice the onion if you prefer) in butter or olive oil—I use butter because it caramelizes better; allow onions to caramelize slightly—this is NOT the same as letting them burn! Usually you need to add a little water to the sauté pan after the onions have started to color slightly; stir them so they don’t burn but allow them to get browned and limp.

Remove the onions from the sauté pan and set aside. Add the mushrooms and more oil or butter (just a tiny amount of either) to the pan; sauté the mushrooms and remove from heat.

Set aside.

If you want the final baking to go very quickly, pre-bake the pizza crust just let it start to brown very slightly. Otherwise, simply roll out the dough and shape it to fit the pan before building your pizza. Put the toppings on as you wish. I put the roasted squash slices on the crust for the first layer, then mushrooms, then onions, then tomatoes, then cheese; you may wish to mix them up or change the order—it’s your pizza!

Bake in a hot (400F) oven until the cheese has melted and browned a bit. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before topping with parsley pesto.

Parsley Pesto

  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup toasted pinenuts (optional)
  • Olive oil, enough to make a paste, ½-1 cup? (depends on the size of your parsely bunch)
  • Parmesan cheese, optional—I did not use it—because I didn’t have any, 2-3 Tbsp.

In a food processor, grind the garlic and pinenuts with a little oil, just to make a slightly lumpy paste; add the parsley and pulse in food processor until nicely chopped up, adding oil as you process to keep the mixture loose. Add Parmesan cheese if using. Season with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate until using.

Pumpkin-black bean chili

  • Neutral oil (canola, for example), for sautéing onions, about 3 Tbsp.
  • Onion, 1 large red or yellow, peeled, diced
  • Garlic, 3 cloves, minced
  • Ground cumin, about ½ tsp., adding more to taste
  • Crushed chili peppers or chipotle flakes, approx. 1-2 tsp.
  • Tomatoes, 6 whole, cut into medium dice (or 1 can crushed tomatoes)
  • Black beans, 1 can (15 oz.)
  • Pumpkin, 1 small, peeled and seeded, cut into 1” cubes
  • Corn, 3 ears, shucked, kernels removed
  • Chopped thyme, oregano, cilantro, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cheese, grated pepper jack, crumbled goats’ cheese, sharp cheddar; plenty

Heat the oil in a large pot and then add diced onions. Saute until lightly colored, then add garlic and sauté only until fragrant. Add cumin and crushed pepper and sauté briefly, just until spices are fragrant. Add tomato—if using raw diced, cook until they wilt, and throw their juices before adding black beans (and their liquid); if using canned, bring to a boil before adding black beans (with liquid) and pumpkin.

Once pumpkin is knife-tender, add corn and continue cooking. Season with chopped herbs—if fresh herbs are unavailable, use good dried herbs, herbes de Provence or Italian mix, to taste.

Salt and pepper to taste. Add more chipotle pepper if you like it hotter. Simmer until reduced and thickened slightly. Serve or cool if not using immediately. To serve, sprinkle generously with cheese and chopped fresh herbs (if using). Can top with sour cream, whatever normal chili toppings you like. Serve with or without rice or tortilla chips, as you wish.

Feel free to mess around with the heat, the spiciness, the ingredients and their quantities, as you wish.


As if that weren’t enough… Last week, Shannon Lees – the juried winner of the local Vegan Iron Chef competition – through her squash hat into the ring.

Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese with Broccoli


  • 3 cups roasted butternut squash
  • 1 lb pasta
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 3-6 hours
  • 1 cup veg broth
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • a few shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • small bunches sage, thyme, rosemary
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • handful shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Chop and roast butternut squash @ 400 degrees for an hour.

Drain cashews. Prepare pasta.

In pan, saute shallots, mushrooms, rosemary, sage, thyme and broccoli. Add white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer.

In blender, blend squash, cashews, veg broth and vegan cream cheese.

Drain pasta water. Combine blended and sauteed ingredients with pasta.

Serve immediately or bake uncovered @ 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

BIG BIG THANKS to Larkin and Shannon!!! Enjoy!

Volunteering at the Market – The Parking Lot Is the Place to Be!

Erin Molnar, Assistant Markets Manager

One of the things that I love about the markets is the people. The farmers and food artisans, and the customers are the two groups that come to mind first. And both are awesome. But they are just doing what they do – the farmers grow their amazing produce, the food artisans craft their delicious goods, the customers show up and shop with enthusiasm and joy. There is another group – often overlooked – that help the markets function the best they can: volunteers. They help us set-up: they show up at the Meadow before it’s light and help us unload the truck and set up our tents. They stay with us in the information booth and watch the entrance to count customers, displaying a focus of which I am simply incapable. They are musicians and chefs/home cooks, sharing their passion and talents. They also stand in the hot sun or the rain, waving flags, to forestall the chaos of the parking area. I have no doubt that without them, there would be a lot of honking and my job would require spending a lot more time responding to complaints about the situation down the little hill. It’s not a glamorous job, or necessarily a fun job, but it makes a huge difference to the customer experience – it’s their first impression and their last of the market. We have had a bit of a struggle this year finding willing people to help us in this way. Bob, a dedicated parking volunteer (and I do mean dedicated – I think he has been to more markets than I have this year!), has a few words.

Special Contribution by Market Volunteer, Bob Sisson

A parking volunteer for the last five years… this guy must be crazy. Not really, although others may disagree. Especially when the rain is pouring down and I break out the florescent orange rain suit.

My weekday job finds me mostly indoors. So I enjoy spending my Saturday mornings outside at Howe Meadow, breathing in the fresh air, getting some exercise, visiting with customers, while at the same time, reigning in the chaos of the parking area.

We need your help! If you are a regular market patron (or not), please consider volunteering for a couple hours during the Saturday market. Even if only once a month, or once every other month, come and join us. Bring along a spouse, parent or teenager – you’re all welcome!

As a volunteer, you can shop at the market prior to the opening bell, and you get to wear a very cool orange reflective vest and be creative with flag waving techniques in directing customers where to park.

Please consider sharing a little of your Saturday morning with us. If you are interested, or have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at

Rumination Is a Good Thing

by Darwin Kelsey, Executive Director

Back in April, my post (“Homo Sapiens Are Supposed to Eat What?”) was about what kind of animal homo sapiens are – eating-wise. Actually, that was a reprint of an article I wrote in 1999 for the Lake Farmpark Almanac – on homo sapiens as an omnivore. This current blog reprints a related article called “Rumination Is A Good Thing” which I wrote for the Lake Farmpark Almanac (Winter 1998), Vol. 4, No. 1 comparing humans and other animals according to their digestive tracts (gut types) – which helps determine what we want to (can) eat.

What’s a metaphor? A wag I know says it’s a place for cows to graze. Right. Speaking of cows grazing and metaphors brings to mind the important matter of rumination. According to Webster, the primary meaning of ruminate is to “chew again” or “chew the cud.” Cows and other ruminants swallow large amounts of poorly chewed vegetation while feeding. Later they regurgitate the vegetation (their cud) and masticate it some more.

A secondary, metaphorical meaning of ruminate is to “bring up” an idea of topic again, in order to “chew on it”, mull it over, reflect, ponder, meditate. Well, I’ve been ruminating of late (in the secondary sense, of course) on recent research explaining why animals eat what they eat – human animals and non-human (both wild and domesticated). It appears that American agricultural scientists and farmers can learn a lot about how livestock use feed by studying the management of wildlife on Africa’s vast game preserves. The reverse is true as well. And students of human nutrition will have their eyes and minds opened by comparing the human body’s digestive tract with the digestive tracts of other animals. Indeed, I think this new research will change the way many farmers farm. It will change the way we think about humans and other animals sharing our little planet’s finite resources. And so, ten years from now it will surely change what you see and hear at Farmpark. Read on – and ruminate.

You and I are not herbivores (eaters of plant matter only). My vegetarian friends would have me believe otherwise, but they can’t fool me. Their recently minted philosophical prescriptions  have not yet repealed physical anatomies, evolved over millions of years. I readily concede that that with great resolve and due diligence, vegetarians who eat little or no animal products can keep themselves more or less as healthy as the Eskimos of Greenland or the Masai of Kenya, who eat little food of plant origin. Vegetarians may even try to control their pet’s diets, too. But left to their own devices, their cats prefer squeaky mice and tweety birds – because cats are natural carnivores (flesh eaters almost exclusively)! Vegetarian dietary directives are better suited for cows. Animal nutritionist Peter Cheeke observes that cows do not find flesh palatable, do not have carnivore teeth, claws, speed, stealth, or other anatomical features, necessary to stalk and kill prey. But even if they did, they don’t have a digestive tract suited to the digestion of meat.

Cheeke is Distinguished Professor of Agriculture at Oregon State University. His book Impacts of Livestock Production on Society, Diet/Health and the Environment (1993) distills a fascinating array of research and practical experience derived from agricultural scientists, zoologists, botanists, nutritionists, farmers, zoo curators, and wildlife managers (among others). Cheeke explores fundamentally defining characteristics of animal life – among them, the manner in which animals interact with one another and their environment to obtain foodstuffs that meet their nutritional needs. Most of us, I think, would be surprised to learn that our nutritional needs (and those of other animals) depend very much on the structure of our digestive tracts.

Zoologists often refer to three broad categories of feeding strategies: carnivores (meat eaters), herbivores (plant eaters), and omnivores (eating both plant and animal matter). Humans, like pigs, chickens, and rats, are omnivores. We are attracted by and adapted to nutrient rich, low fiber foods such as seeds, nuts, meat, and fruit. We aren’t generally as fond of course hay, corn stalks, oat hulls, or bran, as are horses and cows. And we don’t much enjoy large quantities of high fiber material when it enters one end of our digestive tract or leaves at the other end. Our gut type isn’t well adapted to efficiently using such food.

Domesticated animals (including humans) – and a great many wild animals – can also be classified according to three kinds of digestive tracts (gut type): simple non-ruminants, ruminants, and non-ruminant herbivores. Simple non-ruminants include humans, pigs, chickens, dogs, and cats. We all have a simple, non-compartmentalized stomach and an intestinal tract. The stomach functions mainly to store ingested food, and then release it slowly to the small intestine where most of our digestion and nutrient absorption occurs. Our large intestine (hindgut) serves mainly to remove water and form feces.

Ruminants are animals with complex compartmentalized stomachs. While most ruminants have stomachs with four compartments, camels and other camelids have three compartments. Ruminant species range in size from the lesser mousedeer to the giraffe. A crucial characteristic of the ruminant stomach is that the largest compartment (the rumen) acts as a fermentation vat where bacteria, protozoa, and enzymes digest fibrous plant material that cannot be digested by simple non-ruminants. Wild ruminants – like domesticated cattle, sheep, and goats – vary greatly in their preferences for forage type and their abilities to digest it. Actually, such differences exist from breed to breed within domesticated species.

Non-ruminant herbivores have enlarged, large intestines (hindguts) which perform many of the same fermentation and digestion functions of the rumen in ruminants. But the chemistry of hindgut fermentation is significantly different and it enables these animal species to utilize much poorer quality roughage than ruminants can tolerate. Hindgut fermentors include equids (horses, donkeys, zebras), elephants, rhinoceroses, ostriches, and some monkeys and rodents. In the wild (or on a farm), these critters can carve out relatively non-competitive niches relative to food sources.

If this brief rumination on the nature of guts seems complicated, you have no idea how complicated this stuff really is. The biochemistry of what goes on inside us and other critters is staggeringly, mind-numbingly complex. But the good news is a few persistent, inquiring minds are now really focusing on the dazzling diversity of digestive processes, which critters use to fuel themselves. And that is crucial to understanding how we can conserve and even enhance natural ecosystems to feed humans. Intellectual rumination on how physical ruminants and non-ruminants can best share our planet’s resources is a good thing.


Fifteen years ago I said that the new research I was describing in the above article would “change the way we think about how humans and animals share our little planet’s resources.”  I haven’t seen much of that kind of thinking yet – mostly just increasing anguish and anger over how harmful, wasteful, and environmentally destructive industrial livestock production can be. But in the last couple of years some of the thinking I thought was going to happen, actually has begun. And, if implemented would probably mean that planet Earth, including homo sapiens, would be better off by raising certain kinds and numbers of animals in certain ways than by avoiding the raising of animals and eating meat. You know something good is starting to happen when high-profile environmental activists and vegans change their minds on animal agriculture. But changing the “system” is an excruciatingly slow process. Nevertheless, we’ll gaze into a newer, better crystal ball in a third blog a few months from now – I think there is a better version there for most of us, both omnivores and vegans.

Countryside Initiative Farm News

News from some of the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Initiative Farms…

For more information about all the farms or the Countryside Initiative program, visit our website at


Goatfeathers Point Farm

Fall breeding season is just around the corner! Check-out Goatfeathers

 Point Farm’s proven Tennessee Fainting bucks! Traditional black and

 white, white with blue tint, tri-color and brown. Registration

 information available for the Myotonic Goat Registry. View from the

 Valley Bridle Trail behind Goatfeathers Point Farm or call for an


 We are accepting reserves for pasture raised Broad Breasted Bronze and

 heritage – Bourbon Red and Blue Slate turkeys for Thanksgiving.

 Turkeys are also, available for viewing behind the farm.

 Goatfeathers Point Farm pasture raised hogs are enjoying themselves in

 the mud wallow and playing a game of kick the bucket! Their “buckets”

 will be kicked later this fall when they have reached their prime

 weight. Make a reserve for a half or whole hog by calling



The Trapp Family Farm

1019 West Streetsboro Road
Peninsula, Ohio 44264

Phone (330) 657-2844

Visit the Trapp Family Farm Tuesdays and Saturdays for farm fresh produce!

Stick around on Saturday to tour the farm, check out what Doc and Dan have been up to and talk to your farmers!


Greenfield Berry Farm

2485 Major Road

Peninsula, Ohio 44264
(330) 657-2924

Pick your own delicious berries in season

Farm Fresh CSA program
Tours and Classes

And there’s still time: Join Greenfield Berry Farm for the Dinner In the Valley Series next week.


The Spicy Lamb Farm

6560 Akron Peninsula Road (Off Boston Mills Road)

Peninsula, Ohio 44264