From cow bells to wedding bells: Liskeys transform an old barn into an event space

CM-MR-2-Cross-Keys-1by Karl H. Kazaks

HARRISONBURG, VA – On many farms there’s an old barn or building that’s no longer serving its original purpose. That is strikingly true at Tim and Karen Liskey’s dairy farm, where their 100-year-old bank barn was renovated into an event space known as Cross Keys Barn. “I love weddings,” said Karen Liskey, she will be facilitating plenty of them in the future. The first wedding to take place in the newly renovated barn was last year, their daughter, Rosemary’s wedding. The upper level, the old hay area, is now a 3,220 square foot room with a vaulted ceiling, perfect for receptions. The lower level of the barn is enclosed on one side, with exposed limestone, it’s now a pre-function area. [Read more…]

Good agricultural practices affecting produce sales

CEW-MR-3-GAPS1Aby Elizabeth A. Tomlin

October 2015 will mark the first time an FDA court mandated rule will affect producers of fresh produce in the marketplace.

“This is coming!” said Produce Safety Alliance Program Director Elizabeth A. Bihn, Ph.D. “Don’t panic, but do something now so it doesn’t hit you like a freight train when it happens!”

Bihn was speaking at a 2015 ENYCHP Good Agricultural Practices Farm Food Safety Training Program, where producers and farmers’ market managers drove for hours in inclement weather to attend the 2-day workshop. [Read more…]

Dehulling ancient grains

by Katie Navarra

Though ancient grains have the potential of being a value-added crop for farms, the dehulling process continues to be a roadblock in the production of grains like einkorn, emmer and spelt.

The eOrganic webinar, Dehulling Ancient Grains, explained the methods used to dehull grains and the components needed in a dehulling system. Guest speakers representing with extensive experience growing and processing grains shared feedback on the economics of dehulling and the options available to both large and small-scale growers. [Read more…]

4-Hers wow the judges…again!

CN-RP-1-4HERS WOWby Kristina Vaughan

It had been a long day at work, preparing for the 4-H Food Show and Public Speaking events. Before turning in for the night I took a few minutes to check my social media page. As I scrolled down through the posts I found myself laughing loudly when I read the discussion between two 4-H moms comparing notes about supper plans. Their plans were not uncommon for a Friday night; one was headed out to a restaurant with her husband, and the other had just returned home with take out. The humor came from their motives. One stated: “my children have taken over my kitchen to prep for Food Show”. The other wrote: “Mine just finished… time for takeout.” I couldn’t help but be amused that an event to showcase culinary skills could result in families needing to seek nourishment elsewhere.

As I drove to the event the next morning, I pondered how the 4-H kids were doing as they packed up their supplies for the show. From what I had read the night before, plans were in full swing, now I just wondered how well their nerves were holding up. [Read more…]

Cultivating forest land for non-timber products

CN-MR-3-Cultivating forest1by Tamara Scully

Forest plants, native to the eastern United States, are in demand both domestically and internationally. While often wild-harvested, these medicinal plants can be readily cultivated in their natural environment. Whether it’s black cohash, goldenseal, or American ginseng, the potential for increasing forest cultivation of these crops is enormous.

“We’re talking about crops that have very exacting locations where they will grow,” Eric Burkhart, Program Director, Plant Science, at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Penn State University, said. “The way to approach it is to get to know your forest land. Don’t fight it. Work with that ecosystem.” [Read more…]