Thursday, August 26, 2010

Copper Pot takes the show on the road!

Remember back when there was two feet of snow on the ground and we were all stuck in the house with just the internets to keep us entertained as we dreamed of warmer days and greener pastures???

Well, in addition to booking a vacation to the West Indies - can't beat dreams of sand and sun when you can't leave your house for the snow, tickets were also bought for a tour of Polyface farms.  But why did you wait so long to take the tour, you might ask, why not sign up foe an earlier date?  Because they were all sold out!  Yes, the do about 2 tours per month and you must get tickets months in advance.  Trust me - it is worth it!

While this started out as a Kane/Harriot Retreat to Grandpa's Cabin for Fun, and it was of course, it also turned into a great tour of local food and beer/wine.

If you can find it, there is a great Virginian Magazine focused on local VA food and wine - Flavor.  At Cowgirl Creamery where we were a few weeks ago to get cheese for that nights Copper Pot Dinner, we found a copy.  Think I found my first copy at Whole Foods.  Anyway, this edition basically covered all the places we had already decided we wanted to visit.

However there was a quick writeup on place on Rt. 29 that has just opened that we decided to visit on the way down:  The Moo Thru.  They make fresh local ice cream.  I'm not sure that I would make a special trip to the Moo Thru, but if you are driving by and have a hankering for some ice cream, it;s a good option.

Dinner was at a favorite of ours... Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, VA.  We had a delicious meal and great local beer.

If you like vegetables try the great veggie pizza with goat cheese.  Oh, we started with an amazing Sun-dried Tomato and Artichoke Dip.  We can also highly recomend the Blue Mountain Lager and the Full Nelson Pale Ale.

Don't forget to get some to go!

On Saturday we went to the Nellysford Farm Market.  A great local market with a large variety of vendors both food and crafts.

One of those vendors was Virginia Vinegar Works.  They use the traditional Orleans method of vinegar production which dates back to 1616 in France. This process takes approximately 2-3 months to convert the wine to vinegar with an additional 6 months for aging.  They produce a variety of varietal wine vinegars and the types we produce depend on what types of wine they are able to source from local wineries during the year. Wine vinegars made up to this point by  include: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Petit Mansang, & Viognier. They had a 3 for $20 special!  They hope to have tours of their factory soon - I see another CP field trip in our future!

 For lunch the Harriots provided a fab chilled corn soup with a side of toasted baguette from Basic Necessities (they are also an awesome place to eat) toped with loacal goat cheese from CaroMont Farms.

The rest of the day was spent at Lake Sherando where we say this guy...


On Sunday, after a creek walk

the ladies made the pilgrimage to Edible Landscapes!   While the service left something to be desired, they had an amazing array of yummy plants.

Then came Veritas Winery where we had a lovely tasting of some very nice wines. 

If you are getting married, do it here!

Finally on Monday we made our way over to Swoope, VA to out sold out tour of Polyface Farm.

We were lucky enough to be given the tour by the man himself, Farmer Joel!

It was a genuine hay wagon tours that stoped at all the different pastured animals, where the Joel sounded forth on everything from eartthworms to earth muffins.

This tour should be manditory for every person who eats.

The first stop was the Pastured Pork.  During the summer and fall, the pigs are in special savanna pastures rotated every few days with electric fence.  Here is the before:

 After the pigs do there pig thing:

It's all about a relatively quick disturbance and a long recovery time.  In a few months time the paddock above will look like the before photo again, and it will be time to let the pigs loose on it again.

Have ou ever seen a happier pig:


Next it was on to the Pastured Broilers.  They use  

10 ft. X 12 ft. X 2 ft. high floorless, portable field shelters housing about 75 birds each to grow 8-week meat birds.   Moved daily to a fresh pasture paddock, these birds receive fresh air, exercise, sunshine, and all the genetically modified organism-free (GMO-Free) local grain they want.  Integrating the cows to mow ahead of the shelters shortens the grass and encourages ingestion of tender, fresh sprouts.  At Polyface, we want every animal to eat as much salad (green material) as its full genetic potential will allow.

With this system one person can move 5,000 birds in one hour!

Next stop?   The Pigaerator Pork Barn

Polyface literally backed into the pig business many years ago as a way to build compost.  When we feed hay to the cows, they eat and lounge in a pole shed that we bed down with wood chips, sawdust, and old hay to absorb the excrement.  This bedding ferments in the anaerobic conditions created by the heavy cows walking on it.  Added corn ferments and offers a tasty salary for pigs to aerate the bedding--hence PIGAERATOR.  The oxygenation turns the entire deep bedding into a compost pile, which is the backbone of the farm's fertility program. 


Let's hear it for the cows! They were Mobbing, Mowing and Moving...

Polyface cows eat forage only, in a new pasture paddock roughly every day, and stay herded tightly with portable electric fencing.  This natural model heals the land, thickens the forage, reduces weeds, stimulates earthworms, reduces pathogens, and increases nutritional qualities in the meat.

After the tour we had a chance to but some of the products, so we cam away with an array of meats, we'll let you know how they are!  Can't wait to try them.

Joel was a passionate, dynamic and engaging speaker who obviously loves what he is doing and love educating people on it.  Best of all you don't need to ticked for the guided tour.  If you are in the area stop by!  Anyone is welcome to visit the farm anytime.  No trade secrets, no locked doors, every corner is camera-accessible.

Store Hours: 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Monday-Friday
9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturdays
By appointment Monday-Friday afternoons

All in all it was a great weekend with good friends and good food!

1 comment:

Metro DC Mom said...

Looks like an awesome weekend. I love Blue Mountain Brewery. We get grassfed beef from a farmer near Polyface, but that tour looks like a lot of run.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing that helpful tip about compost cab!