Friday, February 15, 2008

Laptop Butchershop and other Announcements

Just in case you're not on all the same e-mail lists I am, I just wanted to share some information in case you need it.

First of all, Laptop Butchershop. If you don't know what this is, and you are fond of your laptop, the name might frighten you a bit. No worries about the computers. It is the animals that are butchered. However, they are local animals that are raised in sustainable ways. No CAFOs here.

Instead, you may order from individual, local producers and pick up your orders at a church in Highland Park. Here is the e-mail including some updated dates.

Slow Food Pittsburgh Offers Laptop Butcher Shop/Winter Market March 8

CELEBRATE: Slow Food Pittsburgh's fifth year of the popular Laptop Butcher Shop--connecting Pittsburgh with organic and/or carefully-raised local meats and poultry. The animals are pastured, meaning they are raised outdoors on grass, the way nature intended. Some animals are fed grains, also carefully raised. The meat is exceptionally delicious and heart-healthy, rich in correctly balanced CLA’s/nutrients. These products contain no additives (except nitrites in smoked bacon/ham), no prophylactic antibiotics and no hormones. Many vendors allow you to pick the cuts and quantity you want—just like a real butcher shop. Please understand: our producers work on a very small scale—this is why we love them! But, they must sell the whole animal, not just steaks, loins and chops so try roasts, stew meat, ground meat.

WHAT: Place your e-mail meat and fish pre-orders now. See individual vendor order cutoff dates below.

PICK-UP: Pay when you pick up on Saturday, March 8 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Bring your coolers.WHERE: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 5801 Hampton St, Highland Park (directions at end).Also available at Winter Market on 3/8 from Farmers@Firehouse vendors: Pam Bryan’s hand-spun, hand-dyed yarns; Najat’s Cuisine—small-batch Lebanese prepared foods; J&B Apiary Polish Hill honey, soaps and lip balm; Colonial Classics aged cheddar cheese. Terry Seltzer’s yarns/fibers, felt items, comfrey salve, goat milk soap, vinegar.

Laptop Suppliers: (Rose Ridge, Misera Farm, West Liberty Farm—sold out, will return later in season)
WIL-DEN FAMILY FARM, Mercer County – Denise and Bill Brownlee, ownersSlow Food Pittsburgh and friends have become addicted to this lean, flavor-fabulous pastured pork. Due to changes in processors, Wil-Den is offering three ordering options this year:
1. NEW, economical “Pig in Bulk”—whole, half or quarter pigs. This option includes bacon and ham (smoked products are not otherwise available at this time). Call Denise to discuss the processing of wholes and halves. Quarters include chops, bacon, shoulder roast, ribs, half ham, 2 ham slices, ground pork, breakfast sausage. Vacuum-sealing is not available; meat will be wrapped in butcher paper. ORDER CUTOFF: Sat., 2/16.
Note: smoked products contain nitrates but no MSG.
2. Sausage Sampler with option to buy from “a la carte” – products will be vacuum-sealed as always. ORDER CUTOFF: Sat., 2/23
3. 10-lb minimum order from “a la carte” list – products will be vacuum-sealed as always. ORDER CUTOFF: Sat., 2/23. NOTE: “A la carte” list includes no smoked products at this time. Try “fresh side”—natural, nitrate-free bacon--generously salt and pepper both sides, bake at 350 degrees until crisp.

PUCKER BRUSH FARM, Indiana County – Pam Bryan, owner
Pam’s succulent, pastured lamb has been a hit at many SFP events. Limited ground lamb and very limited racks. First come, first served.

SONSHINE FARM, Mercer County – Terry Seltzer, ownerTerry is a new producer to Laptop and is offering our first goat and veal—humanely raised, plus lamb, skinless poultry and eggs, all raised on her organically managed farm. If the weather cooperates she’ll have goose, duck and chicken eggs. Limited quantities of all--first come, first served.

WILD ALASKAN SALMON COMPANY – Sara Pozonsky and Trish Kopp, ownersAlaskan native Sara Pozonsky has been bringing her family’s premium wild-caught seafood to Farmers@Firehouse market for several seasons now. Sara will be flying in all pre-ordered fish especially for Laptop Butcher Shop and she’s waiving the normal shipping charges—what a bonus for us!

To Order:
--Wil-Den Pork – complete and return the attached Wil-Den spreadsheet via e-mail to Denise Brownlee at . Call or e-mail Denise with any questions, especially regarding your “Pig in Bulk” choice. “PIG IN BULK” ORDER CUTOFF: Saturday, 2/16. “A LA CARTE” and SAUSAGE SAMPLER ORDER CUTOFF – Saturday, 2/23.

--Pucker Brush Lamb – e-mail your order to Susan Barclay at
NOTE: Pam has extremely limited racks @$12/lb and ground meat @ $7.25/lb. First come, first served. ORDER CUTOFF: Saturday, 3/1.

--Sonshine Farm – see attached Word doc for product/price list. Send your order in an e-mail to Terry Seltzer at Limited quantities. First come, first served. Eggs may be plentiful or limited due to weather. ORDER CUTOFF: Saturday, 3/1.

--Wild Alaskan Salmon Co. -- check for current prices and product availability. Shipping charges will be waived. For best selection, email your order to Sara Pozonsky at by 3/1. She will be flying the pre-ordered fish from Alaska for the 3/8 Market pickup. She will accept orders from 3/1 - 7 but cannot guarantee availability after 3/1.
ORDER CUTOFF: Saturday, 3/1.

Complete orders as follows: Quantity – indicate number of items Contact Info – name, address, phone, e-mail in case the producers need to contact you.
Send your orders to the appropriate addresses by the specified cut-off dates.
Wait for CONFIRMATION email – this is your way to know a producer has received your order. If you don’t receive an email in 2-3 days, please email again or call. If you have questions, you may call or email the producers directly, call Susan Barclay at 412-247-4853 or e-mail her at .

--Pay for your orders when you pick up on Saturday, March, 8, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., at St. Andrew’s.

--Payment methods: cash or checks directly to vendors at pick-up.

St. Andrew’s Directions: 5801 Hampton Street, between North Highland and North Negley Avenues, one block south of Bryant Street, four blocks south of Highland Park.

The attachments aren't attached, but you may e-mail the individual vendors for more information or Susan Barclay at We ordered from Wil Den farm in the fall and I have to say that their pork is fantastic! We have loved the boneless cutlets, tenderloin, ground pork, sweet italian sausage, breakfast sausage, ham slices and sausage links. I still have a loin in the freezer I'm saving for when I figure out what to do with it (it is BIG). I would highly recommend their products.

Also, I have some more information on a cow share available. Here is an e-mail I received from Steve Hasley (

I have not forgotten about this project, in fact have a potential cow lined up. Still trying to get the details on how much of what cuts, and how much a share would cost, but I think we can bring this in for around $3 a pound. A dressed cow should be almost 800 lb, so a 1/20 share would probably be close to 40 lb, or around $120. We have 20 people who have contacted me to express interest.

Obviously if we cut up the whole cow -- with bones -- we would have more weight but less meat. If we made all hamburger, we would have much less weight, as the bones would be disgarded. (speaking of which -- let me know if you want bones for stock/soup/your dog, etc). So I hope to be back with you soon as to the details.

I assumed we could distribute the shares on a saturday morning (or Friday evening) at the EEFC parking lot. I also thought that there may be some trading of cuts between members, in that I thought from my end I would have 20 fairly evenly divided boxes, and everyone could trade amongst themselves if they wanted more this or less that.

My last thought is, lets try this once and see how it works. If it is a rousing success, then perhaps we should have a steering committee As for now, I'm happy to have feedback.

Please let me know if you are still interested.

I would e-mail him if this sounds interesting to you. I have not worked with him or his cow parts before, but I may be giving him/ them a try.

Last, someone I have worked with before and would highly recommend: Harvest Valley Farms. They are taking sign ups for their summer CSA. Here is the e-mail I received:

I hope that this fine winter day finds you all in good health and in a warm place. I want to thank all of you for being part of our CSA "family" this past year. It was a good year for us as the weather was mostly cooperative. I am just bursting at the seams with enthusiasm in anticipation of the upcoming season!

CSA 2008
After considerable discussion we have decided that we will maintain the Pittsburgh CSA at current the level for this year. The situation is this: We use a pickup truck with a high cap to make the CSA deliveries. The truck holds about 150 crates. The only other larger truck we have is in use at the Market Square Farmers Market that day. If we wanted to expand, the only other alternative would be to add another pickup day. We decided against this idea because of gas prices. We decided instead to increase our CSA at home where members come to the farm to pick up and our Cranberry CSA, because that truck is not full.

We have not had an increase in 7 years of doing CSA, so we are long overdue. The main reason we have a need for an increase is labor. The government mandate of a 34% increase in the minimum wage was quite a blow for us. Even though most of our help makes more than minimum wage, it still affected us accordingly. Also, our fertilizer costs have increased 30% in the last two years, and I don't need to mention the fuel increases. So, after careful consideration, we have decided to increase CSA membership by 17%. It works out to 480.00 for a regular membership (20.00 per week), and 540.00 for an advanced membership (22.50 per week). We have held the monthly payment amounts the same to make it easier.

What's up in the winter?
I can't tell you how many people ask me, "So what do you do in the winter"? It might be snowy and cold outside, but I am busy as a bee inside these days. Placing orders for supplies, repairing equipment, shopping for new equipment, and then there are those taxes. :( Just the USDA Census of Agriculture took me 5 hours the other day. It was 24 pages long! Of course we are constantly trying to improve our farming methods and sharing what ideas we have put in place too. Kathy and I were in Great Lakes, Michigan in December for a conference and then to Hershey, PA two weeks ago, then Dover, Delaware last week for more conferences. These conferences help us do a better job of growing fruits and vegetables and managing our farm to be successful. I will be speaking at the “Farm to Table” conference here in Pittsburgh and also at a Penn State conference in Beaver County next month.

Next month will be my annual pilgrimage to State College to speak to the Ag Ethics class there. David and I also taught the Environmental Science class one day last month at our local Mars High School.

Let us know
We would like to know that you will be returning for 2008. We will hold your spot until March 15th. After that, we will start signing members from our waiting list. If you will not be returning, please send us an email now, so that someone else can know if they can become a member. We do anticipate about 15 spots to be available through normal attrition. I have attached more information that you can print out if you like. You may send your deposit as soon as possible, or you may also pay online from our website (but I prefer a check, as it costs us 3.8% less).

Please know that you are all in our thoughts and we are looking forward to providing you and your family with healthy food again this coming season.

Here is their e-mail: That's all for now.

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