News and blog
Cranberry Creek Farm Newsletter
Morning chores are done and I get to kick off my boots, sit by the fire and write to you for awhile to let you know what is going on here at Cranberry Creek Farm. The first exciting thing I would like to let all of you know is that we have a baby on the way. Its a boy and he is due to come into our lives in just a few weeks! We are overjoyed and can't wait to meet him. Mary-Jean has been busy making a wonderful nursery for him and has made a very impressive stack of cloth diapers to use. We received many great gifts at the baby shower and we think we have everything that we could possibly need.
We have another new addition to the farm this year. His name is Paul Lawler and he is our full time cheesemaker extroardinaire. He has been here the past couple days cleaning, taking inventory, helping with this year's first batch, and moving his things into the farmhouse. He plans on continuing and perfecting our tomme, gouda, and chevre cheeses as well as developing some new cheeses like a washed rind tallegio, and a leaf wrapped bloomy rind cheese. We have also been planning a project involving a special bleu cheese to be aged in a spring house here on the farm. Paul has been working with cheese as a cheesemonger in retail cheese shops as well as completing a cheesemaking apprenticeship with Keswick Creamery, and most recently working as a cheesemaker at Cricket Creek Farm in Massachusetts. We can't wait to see what he brings out of the cheese cave here at Cranberry Creek!
We are now planning on dropping the organic certification. We feel that we can produce a better product without it because it is much easier to find higher quality feed stuffs that are not certified organic. It was also cost prohibitive being that all organic hay and grains are typically twice the price of conventional feeds, and we use a lot of feed. We can now buy our feeds locally as much as possible. We are still committed to buying only non-gmo feeds. Genetically modified organisms are crops that have been genetically altered to develop certain traits that can be beneficial in industrial farming models like being able to withstand high doses of herbicides and pesticides. We do not agree with that because that type of farming is not good for the land, and the food produced by it is not good for us. We still plan on never using antibiotics, and everything that we grow here on the farm is always organically managed.
Our farm store will be open soon and we plan on stocking it full of wonderful things this year. Some of the things we are planning on having available for purchase (besides our products) are some other local cheeses from Calkins Creamery, some lacto-fermented products like kim chee and sauerkraut, fire cider, apples, meats, cheesemaking kits, heirloom garden seeds, non-gmo chicken feed and bulk goat manure compost to name a few. Please spread the word and stop by whenever you can to see what is new here at Cranberry Creek!
Jeffrey & Mary-Jean
Cranberry Creek Farm
112 Henry's Crossing Rd
Cresco, PA 18326
Dear Friends of Cranberry Creek Farm,
It is a beautiful snowy morning here at the farm. The goats are nice and cozy on their bed pack which is already 2 feet deep. The chicks are in the greenhouse where it is always warm. The pigs are nestled in their steamy nest. Our 2 highland calves are still in the field grazing through the snow to get to the green grass underneath. The calves refuse to go back inside and would rather be outside no matter what the weather is like. These Highland cows have been bred over centuries to be hardy and adaptable to some of the most rugged conditions. Well we felt like we have a little bit of that rugged kind of terrain here and decided to give it a try. We could not live without cows (and beef) anymore. The calves have been easy and enjoyable to watch so far...
Our cheese barn is closed for the season. The goats have been dried up now for about a month and they seem to be enjoying a break from milking. They will be having kids starting in mid February when we are expecting about 120 kids! We are planning on saving all of the doe kids for milkers, and we will raise all of the buck kids for chevon and cabrito. We are hiring right now for a cheesemaking position so if you know of any aspiring fromagers please let us know. It has come to the point where it is beyond myself and Mary-Jean to do everything in the barn ourselves. We still like to be farmers and not just cheesemakers, and marketing takes up a lot of time that should be spent taking care of the cheese.
We are in the beginning stage of planning another Community Supported Agriculture program here at the farm. This time it would be a year round csa with vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, pork, beef, goat, flour, and maple syrup. Please let us know if you would be interested in that and if you would like to help in the planning and organizing of such an endeavor. It might still be a couple years off but it is never too early to start planning!
We have 6 hogs going to Zeiler Caruth Meats tomorrow. We still have shares available in 1/4, 1/2 or whole. You can specify what cuts and sausages you would like if you get back to us before tomorrow. If not we will still have shares available which will include bacon, ham, chops, sausage, roasts, hocks, organ meats, fresh jowl, and ribs. Sausage includes breakfast, hot italian and sweet italian. Don't miss out on this great opportunity to stock up on whey fed forest raised pork!
Your neighborhood organic farmers,
Jeff & Mary-Jean
Good Morning Friends,
This week we brought home lots of great stuff for the farm store! There is lots of great looking kale, swiss chard, collards, salad mix, rhubarb, shelled peas, scapes, beets, fennel, turnips, arugula, squash, green beans, celery, cherries, blueberries, and raspberries. The fruits and berries this week are from Beechwood Orchard, and the veggies are from a few farms including Down to Earth, Tom Culton Rare Varietals, Weavers Way, and Blooming Glen. We also have delicious canned sockeye salmon from Otolith Sustainable Seafood. Over the weekend we had fresh snap peas from our own garden in the store. We hope some of you were able to try them as they were delicious! There will probably be another harvest of peas in the store for next weekend.
We hope you are enjoying this bounty of great food as much as we are! Despite the distance from which this produce has come, we still feel that it is to be considered somewhat sustainable. The reason for this is that it has not travelled any extra miles just to get here. The farms where the food is from are going to the markets either way, and we are going to the markets no matter what because that is how we make a living. So if we bring produce from Philly to the Poconos as a result of this, we haven't wasted any extra energy getting it here. So eat this food knowing that you are contributing to a more sustainable planet! And I hope you were able to follow me through this explanation!
Your Neighborhood Farmers,
Jeffrey & Mary-Jean
PS. Please welcome back Pete to the farm! He is working with us for the summer learning to make cheese and take care of the goats. For those of you who do not know Pete he is our great friend who has spent much time here working as a vegetable grower and now as a herdsperson and cheese affineur.
Dear Friends of Cranberry Creek Farm,
We have our weekly harvest in the store! This week we have head lettuce and beets from Down to Earth Harvest, garlic from Savoie Organic Farm, and beets, radish, and spring onions from Blooming Glen! All are wonderful farms who grow great produce. We also have our very own Caramel sauce made with goat milk and organic sugar along with our eggs, cheese, and milk. Stop by and take a look! Please give me a call if you have any questions at 609-923-0308.
Jeffrey & Mary-Jean
Dear Friends of Cranberry Creek,
Much has changed here at Cranberry Creek Farm since our market gardening days. We have a fairly large dairy goat herd, a cheese processing facility, and little to no time to be in the gardens like we used to. We have planted a modest 3/4 acre plot and plan on having a few organic vegetable items throughout the season, but nothing like we had in years past in terms of produce. That being said we have now and will continue to have wonderful organic produce in our farm store from some of the better Philadelphia area farms that we are so lucky to have at the Headhouse Farmers Market. Those farms will include Weavers Way Farms and Blooming Glen Farm. Please look them up and read about them because they are both wonderful farms that grow great organic produce. The Headhouse Farmers Market that we do is on Sundays, so our store will be stocked with produce and ready for business on Mondays. This week we have swiss chard, beets, kohlrabi, gr. onions, kale, head lettuce, turnips, bagged baby kale, arugula, salad mix, and spicy salad mix. Our store is on the honor system, everything is priced, and there is change in the jar. There is also the usual milk, cheese, and eggs in the fridge. If there is any questions please call me on my cell phone @609-923-0308. We will be in the barn making cheese if you need us!
Your neighborhood Farmers,
Jeffrey & Mary-Jean
Goat's milk is less allergic - It does not contain the complex protein that stimulate allergic reactions to cow's milk.)
Goat's milk does not suppress the immune system.
Goat's milk is easier to digest than cow's milk (An old statistic showed that goat's milk will digest in a baby's stomach in twenty minutes, whereas pasturized cow's milk takes eight hours. The difference is in the structure of the milk.)
Goat's milk has more buffering capacity than over the counter antacids. (The USDA and Prairie View A&M University in Texas have confirmed that goat's milk has more acid-buffering capacity than cow's milk, soy infant formula, and nonprescription antacid drugs.)
Goat's milk alkalinizes the digestive system. It actually contains an alkaline ash, and it does not produce acid in the intestinal system. Goat's milk helps to increase the pH of the blood stream because it is the dairy product highest in the amino acid L-glutamine. L-glutamine is an alkalinizing amino acid, often recommended by nutritionists.
Goat's milk contains twice the healthful medium-chain fatty acids, such as capric and caprylic acids, which are highly antimicrobial. (They actually killed the bacteria used to test for the presence of antibiotics in cow's milk!)
Goat's milk does not product mucus; it does not stimulate a defense response from the human immune system.
Goat's milk is a rich source of the trace mineral selenium, a necessary nutrient, however, for its immune modulation and antioxidant properties.
- Easier digestion allows the lactose to pass through the intestines more rapidly, not giving it time to ferment or cause an osmotic imbalance.
- Goat's milk also contains 7% less lactose than cow milk.
- Additionally, most lactose intolerant people have found that they can tolerate goat's milk and goat milk products.
- Goat's milk has long been used and recommended as an aid in the treatment of ulcers due to its more effective acid buffering capacity.
- Children on goat's milk have been observed to sleep through the night and remain more satisfied between meals.
- Natural milk contains many bioactive components, which serve to retard the growth of harmful organisms, and to protect the health of the person consuming them. Goat's milk contains the same important bioactive components as mother's milk.
- 72% of the world drinks goats milk, the rest drink sheep, cow, horse, llama, yak, water buffalo, etc.
We also have a few vegetable items that will be available in our farm store including garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, and beans. We also have a very happy looking apple harvest coming up, and we are considering investing in a cider press to take advantage of all the apples that we will have.
Please stop by the farm store anytime. It is open dawn til dusk, seven days a week. Just help yourself and get your change from the coffee can in the fridge. In the store now are eggs, pork, fresh goat cheese, garlic, and raw goat milk.
We hope everyone is enjoying their summer. We miss having farm club pick up days, but unfortunately we haven't had enough time to grow enough produce to make it worthwhile for you to come out. We will however have some really amazing tomatoes, potatoes, beans and garlic to go along with our goat products that will always be available in the store.
Spring has sprung, and we are well on our way to being knee deep in all the freshest local foods you could wish to imagine. Here at the farm we have a few things planted, not as much as years past but a sizeable amount none the least. We planted quite a few taters, 4 different varieties in colors from purple to red, to pink and gold. We planted them in Grandads old potato patch, where they are said to grow big as softballs if you get em in the ground at the right time. We have a decent lettuce patch coming up, we came up short on lettuce last year so we planted extra this year in just the right spot. We should have plenty of good summer salads in the weeks to come. We have about 6 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes planted in the greenhouse. We will be transplanting them out to the field soon. A different crop that we are trying this year is dry beans, in a few different varieties. Beans are a staple in diets all over the world, why not here? We can't dismiss the deliciousness of a good bean, so we are dedicating a good 1/2 acre patch to just beans. In the name of all this good real food that is soon to come I want to share with you a poem I just found in an old Small Farmers Journal:
Ain't Science Wonderful
By E.J. Kirchoff
Old Bill said "Gosh-a-might.
Whats this world comin' to
with all the artificial stuff
That science now can do?
They make artificial bacon
Now and artificial fur.
And artificial wool in clothes
Thats made for him and her.
And artificial lumber now
From plastics so I've heard.
And artificial ham is made
Now from the turkey bird.
There's artificial flavor
In most everything you eat.
And to take the place of sugar
Its artificial sweet.
There's artificial chocolate
And there's artificial cheese.
And artificial flavor in
The catsup that you squeeze.
Plumb free of alcohol they
Have an artificial beer.
Don't taste just like the real thing
But it does come purty near.
There's artificial leather.
Artificial rubber, too.
There seems to be no limit
What with science they can do.
I'm plumb again it, tho' they claim
It's progress comin' now-
That drug to artificial
Boost production of the cow.
But the latest thing I've heard of,
And is stupid seems to me,
Is turnin out some carrots
By the grinding up of a tree.
They'll take the pulp and mold it,
Artificial color too.
Add artificial vitamins
For a tasty wooden chew.
I wonder if we'll end up
Like a deal a feller tried.
Cows was almost on straight sawdust
When the buggers up and died."
Lets not end up like that! Eat all the freshest most organic local delicious foods you can this season, and nourish yourselves to the bone.
Your Local Farmers,
Jeffrey & Mary-Jean
A taste of Paradise Valley now in B.P.C.
BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer
It takes two to three hours each way to get from Paradise Valley to Battery Park City,
depending on traffic. Jeff Henry and Mary-Jean Bendorf of Cranberry Creek Farm in the
Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania have been making the trip every Thursday since the
World Financial Center Greenmarket opened for the season on April 7.
“Is it really paradise in Paradise Valley?” a customer asked them. “Yes,” Bendorf said.
Cranberry Creek Farm is on land that has been in Henry’s family for generations. An
ancestor, Eugene Henry, who emigrated from Ireland in the 1700’s, acquired 5,000 acres in
what is now Monroe County from William Penn’s sons. Eugene Henry started a farm and
had a gristmill on the property. For years, the land remained a farm, but Jeff Henry’s great-
grandfather, Sanford, was the last to farm the land and keep livestock. His son, Wesley,
started a trout hatchery, and Wesley’s son, William (Jeff’s dad), joined the Navy and went to
Nevertheless, Jeff wanted to be a farmer. On Cranberry Creek Farm’s Facebook page, he
lists his employer as “Earth” and describes himself as the “caretaker” of Paradise Valley.
Jeff, 29, and Mary-Jean, 30, met five years ago, and according to Bendorf, immediately fell
in love. Bendorf, who comes from Willow Grove in suburban Philadelphia, describes herself
as a “farmerette” at Cranberry Creek Farm. (It’s named for the creek that flows through the
Bendorf and Henry now have 16 goats for milking and 27 kids that were born this year. Once
a week, they make small batches of goat cheese that they bring to the Battery Park City
market. They spend five to six hours in their cheese room, flipping and draining the cheese,
and then age it for two to three months in an underground cheese cave that they built, where
the temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They started their cheese-making three
years ago but only started “getting serious about it,” according to Bendorf, in the last year.
Now they make a soft, spreadable goat cheese and a harder cheese that they call “Eugene.”
Soon they will also be making gouda.
In addition to their goats, they have around 160 chickens whose eggs they bring to the
market, and a vegetable garden that will yield garlic, heirloom tomatoes, heirloom salad mix,
carrots and several kinds of potatoes later in the season.
They also have a few sheep. Bendorf dyes their wool with natural pokeberry dye and
crochets slippers that she sells for $140 a pair. (She will make them to order.)
Though many landmarks in and near Paradise Valley bear the Henry name (Henry’s Crossing
Road, the village of Henryville — population, 1,974 — and the Henryville Inn), Jeff Henry’s
parents now own just 100 acres of the original land grant and Jeff and Mary-Jean are farming
five of those acres. But their goats have the run of the whole property.
“The goats do better browsing than on pasture,” Henry says.
On market day, Henry and Bendorf get up before 4 a.m. to make the trip into the city. A
family living in a rented house on the property does the chores that day, which include
milking, feeding chickens, pigs and goats and loading the wood furnace that heats the
greenhouse, the floors in the goat barn, the vat for cheese making and the drinking water.
Henry and Bendorf get back around 10 at night, with Henry driving their ancient Toyota
truck, which has 180,000 miles on it. Bendorf says she falls asleep as soon as they get on the
It’s a physically demanding life, but purposeful. “In my day-to-day activities, I try to
envision how I can meet the goal of becoming a self-sustaining, bio-diverse farming
operation,” Henry says. “By sustainable, I mean producing food on the farm without any
outside inputs like fertilizer and feed.” He says that’s difficult because the land is rocky and
not very fertile. But he says, he sees his farm as part of a larger eco-system and his goal is
“to keep the health and productivity of the agricultural land as well as the forested, wild
lands as they were — or better than they were when I arrived.”
For more information about Cranberry Creek Farm, go to www.CranberryCreekFarm.com.
Bendorf and Henry are in the World Financial Center Greenmarket at Liberty Street and
South End Avenue on Thursdays. The market will be open through Dec. 22.
I do not have horses, mules or oxen. I do not proclaim to be an expert on draft animal power, nor do I really know how much work it really takes to take care of such powerful long lived giant beasts. But I do know that, like many other poor sod harrowing souls out there know, draft animals are much better than tractors for a multitude of reasons. One Amish farmer put it this way "The farm just works better (with draft animals)." Why, you might ask, are draft animals better than tractors? Tractors are easy, they don't need to be fed or exercised every day, you can just sit on them and drive, they have more power, you can do more things. These are all very valid reasons why one might think that tractors are better than draft animals. Why then, are draft animals so much better? Because they are, as Wes Jackson would so poignantly say, "contemporary sunlight used to leverage extraction of anciently stored energy". The sunlight makes the grass that the animals need for fuel, and the anciently stored energy is the soil that they can plow, harrow, and cultivate for us to grow our crops. They can survive on grass! They don't need a dirty black substance pumped out of the ground from somewhere thousands of miles away. And this grass that they eat for fuel gets turned into fertilizer for the farm! Another reason why draft animals are better than tractors is that you will never ever find a little baby tractor in the barn. Tractors don't breed, they have to be made out of metal and bought by you, most of the time at a rediculously high price that you probably can't afford if you are a farmer. Over the past few years of farming I have seen a marked decline in soil tilth and fertility on some fields on my farm. The only thing that I can see that would have created this loss is the tractor. Increased soil compaction, plowing too deep, and over tillage are the main culprits which could all be avoided with the use of draft animals. So my friends, don't be surprised when you see me plowing pig pen hill behind a team of percherons or milking devons. Its only natural, and its the best way to farm in my book.
Over the past few years more and more young people have decided to start small organic or ecologically minded farms. Why not? There is plenty of support nowadays, plenty of workshops, college degree programs, apprenticeships, access to farm land, and tons of farmers markets, restaurants, and other ways to market your products, depending on where your farm happens to be. Starting a small farm is very romantic, as it always has been. It is very exciting to start fresh, with endless possibilities and directions of where your farm could go. Many of these new farmers are very successful with what they do because of the newly arisen interest in healthy, sustainable, and locally grown foods. They are able to command a high price for their goods, and they have to most of the time just to stay afloat. And it is worth the extra couple bucks that you have to spend on a dozen eggs, or a bag of salad knowing that the food you bought was grown with love by someone you know or have just met, and that they did not soak the salad in bleach water or keep there chickens in a cage no bigger than the chicken itself. I would tend to dissagree with the thought that this return to real food is a fad. I would rather like to say that it is a new discovery of what has always been. Real food is as real as it gets, no matter how small the farm is, or how young the person is that is growing it. I think that as this movement progresses in the years to come we will see that rising fuel prices and higher disease rates will make the processed, foreign, chemically laden foods drop by the wayside as more and more people realize all the things that they were eating are unsustainable nothings with little to no real nutritional value. So keep on keeping on all you new sustainable farmers and local food eaters. This is not a fad, but a reality that can only grow as we cultivate it.