Maysie's Messages - Fresh from the Field

CSA Home | Farm Calendar | Maysie's Farm Conservation Center | How Membership Works | Join the CSA | Crop Schedule & Availability | Contact Us

Vol. 4, No. 1 Maysie's Farm Conservation Center, Glenmoore, PA May 2003
Community Supported Agriculture
Previous Issues

Many Gardens Yet to Grow
By Dawn Lawless

What do Lionville Elementary School and Reeceville Elementary School have in common? Both schools are starting new organic vegetable gardens for the Chester County Gleaning Program. Last summer Maysie's Farm Conservation Center twice offered a two-day workshop for teachers. One of the many goals of the workshop was to prepare teachers to teach the new Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Environment and Ecology in the specific areas of Agriculture and Integrated Pest Management. Another goal was to promote school gardens and interactional teaching techniques.

Teachers Stephanie Shockites, Mary Ann Wittle, and Susan Yoder not only took the course, but immediately implemented plans to start gardens at their respective schools. Stephanie and Susan teamed up at Reeceville Elementary, in the Coatesville Area School District, to convert neglected, weedy flowerbeds into a gleaning garden in which students will grow a wide variety of organic produce. As a part of a Learn and Serve America grant entitled "Growing Gardens, Growing Communities," students will be donating the food to the Family Center of Coatesville (Community Youth and Women's Alliance). Maysie's Farm Conservation Center and King's Highway Elementary School are mentoring them through the transition. Students are researching homelessness, healthy eating techniques, and organic gardening techniques. They are learning the importance of growing healthy soil. A portion of one day out of a six-day cycle has been devoted to the garden. Students have been researching, conducting small experiments, adding to the compost bin and reflecting in their journals.

Just a few minutes down the Rt. 30 bypass, in the neighboring Downingtown School District, teacher Mary Ann Wittle has accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short period of time. Lionville Elementary can now enjoy 15 raised beds, each 12 feet by 3 feet. She is to be commended for having almost 600 students in the school help build the beds and fill them with a soil mixture. Wittle had help from the Director of Chester County Community Gardens, Susan Goldsworthy. This particular garden was the 50th that she helped establish, and one of the largest. Wittle plans on having the students grow vegetables, fruits and herbs. They have just been awarded the National Gardening Association grant which will provide them with several hundreds of dollars worth of handtools, plants, seeds and other gardening supplies.

Wittle, who grew up on a dairy farm in Lancaster County and gardened all her life, did a lot of creative fundraising. In only a few months she managed to get the NGA grant, $500 from a school grant, bulbs from Waterloo Gardens, and $500 because of a chicken! She intrigued a business owner with her stories of raising chicks in the classroom (he was very inquisitive of the fully grown chicken in her backyard that she inherited as a result of the class project) and wanting to start a vegetable garden. He kindly offered a check to support her endeavors. A colleague was so impressed with the garden that she initiated a plan to help fund the garden by doing a poinsettia sale at the school. The school managed to raise an impressive $800 to buy a GrowLab so students can plant seeds early indoors and get an early jump on the growing season. The Home and School Association will also support the program when needed.

Lionville's produce will be picked up by Elmer Duckinfield, the heart and soul behind Chester County Gleaning, and taken to the Lord's Pantry. Any excess will likely end up at a shelter, such as Safe Harbor. The 600 students will have the opportunity to sign up and help in the garden as needed in the summer. Lionville is fortunate to have several enthusiastic parents who are Master Gardeners or Master Composters.

Wittle plans on having a garden bulletin board featuring "This week in the garden..." and live television broadcasts that start each school day will be used to educate the whole school about many aspects of gardening. She hopes to be able to weigh the produce so a rough total can be added up at the end of the growing season. She looks forward to having the students grow some traditional crops and some interesting ones such as cotton, peanuts, kohlrabi and alpine strawberries. Wittle thoroughly enjoyed working with the parents and students to build the beds. The garden has brought so many positive comments. One child stated with delight while fingering through the soil, "This is pure heaven! I've never planted anything before." It's obvious that these three teachers were inspired by Maysie's Farm and are inspiring their students.

Maysie's Farm Conservation Center will again be offering this two-day workshop for teachers. The first workshop will be held on Tuesday and Thursday, July 15 and 17, 2003; the second one on July 29 and 31, 2003. The hours for all days are 8:30am - 3:00pm. Continuing education credits are available. Pass the word on to any teachers you know who may be interested! Click here for more information.

Delicious Spinach Dip
From Better Homes and Gardens, July 2001
  • 5 cups torn spinach
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, with about 2 tablespoons of the liquid from the can
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool. Blend until smooth. Serve with chips or crackers.

Welcome to Another CSA Season!
by Colleen Cranney

Ah, spring!! After the cold and snowy winter we had, we heartily welcome the warmer, longer days and all the signs of nature waking up! The grass is greening, the trees are budding, the flowers are blooming...and Maysie's vegetables are growing!! With our new farm manager, Sharat, and four interns already working hard at the farm, this season is shaping up to be an exciting and DELICIOUS one!

Please mark your calendars for these important dates:

On Saturday, May 10, starting at 10:00am, there will be a Volunteer Workday at the farm. There's sure to be lots of jobs for us this time of year. No experience necessary; just wear old clothes and pretend you're a farmer for a few hours! If you plan on coming, it would be helpful if you let Sharat know by calling him at 610 469-1073 or e-mailing him at

The New Member Orientation will take place on Wednesday, May 21 at 7:00pm at the farm. Sam will explain the vegetable pick-up process, answer any questions you might have and, after refreshment, give a tour of the gardens and a description of the organic production techniques used at the farm. This is an informative evening that new members won't want to miss. If the weather cooperates between now and then we might even have a few samples of produce for you to take home.

The first pick up dates for the CSA are Wednesday, May 28 (2:00pm - 7:00pm), Friday, May 30 (12:00pm 5:00pm), and Monday, June 2 (2:00pm - 7:00pm). Here are some things to keep in mind when you come to pick up each week:

  • It's important that you SIGN IN on the bulletin board each week.
  • If you must change your pick-up day for any reason, make note of the intended change in the "comments" section of the pick-up sheet the week before the change, or, if shorter term notice is unavoidable, NOTIFY SAM (610 458-8129) at least a day before the change takes effect. This is important so the right amount of food can be harvested.
  • Bring your own bags each time you come or when you have a large collection to be recycled. Please bring only usable grocery store bags, paper or plastic. We are not a recycling center; we don't have time to sort through trash.
  • Children are especially welcome at the farm but they must be supervised at all times.
  • There should be a Distribution Manager in the barn to answer any questions you may have. You can also talk to the interns, Sharat, Sam, Maysie, other members — we're all nice people!

Our social season kicks off on Saturday, June 14 at 6:00pm with a Full Moon Potluck Dinner. Held at the farm, these are fun, informal, and delicious evenings. Come out and get to know other CSA members!

Our Down to Earth Gardening Workshops will be offered on Tuesday, July 22 for six to ten year olds and on Thursday, July 24 for kids eleven and above. The workshops, 8:30 3:00, are a fun way for kids to learn a little bit about agriculture and "where their food comes from." And they even learn that hard work can be fun!

Wish List

Looking to get rid of any of the following items? Maysie's Farm will put them to good use!
  • Garden hoses
  • Straw bale chopper
  • Picnic table
  • Manure spreader, or information leading to the acquisition of one!
  • Cordless, electric lawn mower
  • Rechargeable AAA batteries
  • Solar-powered walkway lights to provide light from the parking area to the barn
  • Tractor
  • Working mowers (especially electric ones)
  • Large outdoor canopy

Please contact Sam at (610) 458-8129 or if you can donate any of these items.

Next page of Newsletter