Monday, May 4, 2020

Who's the flower girl?



My name is Chelsea, daughter to Amy and Gary, sister to Michael, wife to Maher, granddaughter, cousin and niece to the many family members who pitched in to help after my parents started this business. This time of year you can find me in the greenhouse, starting the cut flowers for the bouquets sold in the market, and for the U-Pick customer cut flower garden. You can expect peony’s in the market mid to late May and the customer cut flower garden open by mid July. I started this part of the business at 12 and have enjoyed the curious process of failure and success, steadily expanding, doing custom orders for weddings, memorials, baby showers and gifts, and increasing my confidence throughout. My other role at the farm is primarily helping my father with hard cider production. Mostly, I wash a lot of tanks, but sometimes, the day begins with tasting! I have a growing appreciation for this gluten-free adult apple based beverage, the more I sip and the more I learn. My favorite part about the farm is getting to appreciate the results. When I sit down to dinner with family and friends and the array of colors, textures, ripeness, and flavor on our plates, speaks of good dirt and grace, it fosters something primal and delicious. Last year during pub nights I took heart in the community but also opportunity to walk around the farm with a glass of hard cider in hand, and appreciate, truly appreciate, the space outside of work. The work is necessary to appreciate the results, one cannot live without the other, but sometimes I still feel like a kid when I say that my favorite part is snack time. Nothing beats a peach where the juice drips down your arm.
      Thanks to the family, friends, and customers for your support! If you would like to contact me directly about placing a custom bouquet order, questions or resizing for the jewelry I make and sell, or related to Falafel Politiks the business my husband and I started to make great falafel and spread the message of cultural understanding and peace, my email is cdmanoff@gmail.com
   

Monday, April 27, 2020

Meet someone special to us...


I opened the truck door again, the plastic tunnel covers torn to small pieces organized, wrapped and tied with string strongly but easy to loosen. Exactly like a gift. I went on my way the distance two hours far two hours back to throw the plastic bags to the recycling place. Yes this is it Ihsan*.  You see it in the way of making the cider, the canned peaches, the hard cider, the jams, the fruit itself and the intention with which it was grown and made.  Where you find Ihsan in something it will increase the beauty of it, where something lacks Ihsan it will appear less beautiful like a land dried from her water. Like most people when someone mentions farm you think of mud, I saw the stereotype as messy, disorganized living. But this changed after three years of me working here.  The stereotype is not necessarily a wrong thing. Farms need a lot of effort and time to care for the trees and the fruit and beyond that. It’s hard to focus on the other things, secondary things and from this comes mess and disorder. But here at Manoff’s the secondary things have the same amount of care from putting the effort and the time, like a mother trying to put fairness between her kids. If she wasn’t fair today, she will be fair tomorrow. 
I planted a new row of peach trees with Uncle Gary after cutting the old trees from that line. He said, “The age of these trees, 15 years, after that we cut them off. Where are you going to be after 15 years?” “I don’t know,” I said, (where’s the life going to take me, even if I went with a plan?) “15 years it’s a long time?” “No it goes faster than you think” he said as if realizing the time that had passed since planting the peaches 15 years ago. Maybe tomorrow I will replant a new line of peach trees and ask the same question of who’s with me. I know I’m lucky to work here in a place that has this beauty and workmanship; to also have the space to think of myself, maybe that is a gift from the land for who takes care of it, or maybe because the land doesn’t ask questions.
-Maher Al Azzeh dearest Chelsea’s husband.

 *Is an Arabic term meaning “beautification”, “perfection” or “excellence”. It is a matter of taking one’s inner faith and showing it in both deed and action. Ihsan, meaning "to do beautiful things", is one of the three dimensions of the Islamic religion: islamiman and ihsan. In contrast to the emphases of islam (what one should do) and iman (why one should do), the concept of ihsan is primarily associated with intention.
Planting Apple Trees for hard Cider

Monday, March 30, 2020

Meet Debra who works on Saturdays starting again in Strawberry season...


Debra Freeman
I come by way of the bridge over the Delaware River for my sixth season this year!  Born and raised in Summit, NJ, our family then moved to Bridgewater, NJ in my mid-teens.  I excelled in school, softball and enjoyed playing on the field hockey and basketball teams.  Upon graduation, I attended Temple University and eventually earned my BA in Communications.
I had a daughter at the age of 26 and raised her as a single mother.  Her name is Brittany Rae and wildly enough is 26 herself now.  Where does the time go?  She now lives and thrives in California.
So, how did I get here?  Over six years ago I had a thought that I wanted to start a farm of my own.  Not working at the time I was in touch with career coach who lived in the Bucks county area.  She had some strawberries and asked me if I’d like one.  They looked amazing, so of course I said yes.  It was juicy, sweet and melted in my mouth!  I wanted more!  As we got to talking about my job search I told her about my farming aspirations.  That’s when she shared with me that Amy was looking for some help.  Once we were done with my appointment, I jumped in my car and made my way to Manoff Market Gardens to meet with Amy.  She took me on a walk to see the scope of the farm.  I remember that I was wearing a pair of sandals and could feel the energy of the farm surging into the soles of my feet.  Right then and there I knew I wanted to be a part of this magical place.  Oh, and about having a farm of my own, I’ve been cured of that notion.
I am constantly in awe of the love and care that the Manoff family puts into their diverse products and the cidery is no exception.  I feel so honored to have watched that dream come to fruition in such a successful way! Amy and Gary have made me feel like part of their family here on the farm where I am able to enjoy real fruits and vegetables!  I am so spoiled that I don’t buy the fruits at the grocery stores in the off-seasons.
I got married last May to my wonderful husband John! We met at a company we both worked for over 10 years ago and though we weren’t anything other than friends, a love blossomed between us that we were finally able to recognize.   Amy and Gary were kind enough to take time away from the farm to party with us! And for that I am truly grateful, because I know how important their work is on a daily basis to provide us all with a little something sweet, tart, and always tasty.
On the Saturdays that I’m not here, I can be found hiking in the mountains of Essex County, NJ.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Our favorite volunteer...


MEET MIRIAM!  One active lady!

Hi!  I’m Miriam Krantz.  

Working at Manoff Market and Cidery on Fridays is one of my happiest times.  Why? 
Because I get to see my favorite son, Gary, daughter-in-law, Amy, and two grandchildren, Michael & Chelsea, and Chelsea’s husband, Maher. 
Surrounded by the natural beauty, I’ve watched their business grow from taking vegetables to the Doylestown Farmers’ Market on Saturdays to a store filled with delicious fruits, vegetables, beautifully arranged flowers and flavorful hard cider.
I get to see the intricacies of running a small business which, a year ago, added an additional business.  Amy is in charge of many departments: Accounting, Advertising, Customer Service, Gift Baskets, Human Resources, Marketing, Payroll, Production, Purchasing, Quality Control, Sales, Shipping, Tech Support, etc. Gary is also in charge of many departments:  Buildings, Cider Production, Equipment Maintenance, Harvesting, Procurement, Planting, Product Quality Control, Pruning, Research, Staffing, Weather Monitoring, etc.
I am just in awe of their individual and combined strengths!!!

Now about me.  I was born in Buffalo NY and have lived in Bucks County since the early 1970s. First in Buckingham, then New Hope, then Warrington and, last year, I moved to Pine Run in Doylestown.  My first husband, Mike, was the father of my three children, Linda, Gary, and Michelle. I remarried to a wonderful man, Joe, who sadly died from Leukemia in 2006. I have been blessed with a wonderful family.  In addition to my children, I have two sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, five step children, nine grandchildren, five grandchildren-in law, four step grandchildren and ten great grandchildren. I have a BA degree in Mathematics from the University of Delaware and worked at Educational Testing Service in their IT department for 23 years.  I retired in 1999. I also volunteer at Doylestown Hospital, currently at the Outpatient MRI and formerly at the Gift Shop and also at the Outpatient Infusion Center. When I lived in Legacy Oaks, I was active in the community as a committee chair and board member. I am currently getting involved in some Pine Run activities.

Now back to the farm where I work on various projects which are assigned as needed. However my most important and rewarding job is providing excellent customer service.  I especially enjoy watching children with peach juice dripping down their faces as they go out to play on the swings. I enjoy sharing customers’ happy news of a marriage or new child and just listening when a customer wants to share one of life’s sadder moments.  Mostly, just being in a place surrounded by so much of nature’s beauty makes me happy.
.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Who's working on the farm? Let's get to know those people behind the counter....


Meet Patty… a local “lifer”, born and raised just a mile down the road. 
"I started my journey here in New Hope, married, moved, lived & worked in other countries with my husband, Brian and our 4 children; I’m now back in my ‘homeland’.   I grew up in a hardworking, middle class family, under the premise, ‘you don’t work… you don’t eat.’  Our family is accustomed to work with our hands.   At the age of 13 my parents helped me start my own pachysandra farm.  Taking what God already had given us, we learned how to multiply it and provide for my need of a college education and beyond.  That was 45 years ago and it’s still going.  When the need arose for me to work outside the home (once our last child was high school age) I looked around for part time work.  I wanted it to be meaningful, where I could interact with people, and yet be flexible.  At Manoff Market Gardens I found all three.   The beauty of the surroundings, the blessing of being with hardworking people, and the amazing quality food they grow and sell makes for that winning combination.  We were born into a world that needs tending, and I am thankful I can do my part in this corner of the world!  Stop on by and see what I mean!”


Meet Katie & Family

“Hi, my name is Katie and I have worked at Manoff’s for six years.  My hobbies include reading, baking, gardening and knitting.  I grew up in Titusville, went to school in Virginia, worked abroad and then landed in Bucks County.  A decade ago when I was working at Farley’s Bookshop I met my future husband Buffy.  He is the baker behind Freedom Creek Bread which you can find at the farm freshly baked in a wood-fired brick oven.  We interned together at an organic CSA where we began our journey into farming and agriculture.  Then I worked at Milk House Farm Market where I gained experience in the market and customer service aspect of farming.  After bouncing around a little bit more I found a home at Manoff’s where I am lucky to eat the best fruit I have ever tasted.  My daughter Paige has also been working with me at the farm since she was a baby.  She is in charge of quality control so you can find her tasting all the fruits.  Amy and Gary are talented, knowledgeable, generous and flexible.  I am grateful to work at such a wonderful place where I am constantly learning, interacting with good people and surrounded by nature’s beauty and bounty.  What’s not to love?

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Ancient brew

Having established the Hard Cidery, a monumental effort in paperwork, new processes and products, the desire to hibernate is tempting. We all feel it, regardless of our work schedule, the days that don’t end though dark arrives, and the temperamental grinding through until we feel awoken to the first streaks of spring. The time to reflect on this past year is upon us; and to project our intentions and goals upon this impressionable New Year. In the beginning we capitalize New Year, something special, The New Year! A personal noun embodied in hopeful form, that melts in importance as the summer sun tilts in our favor again. 
The store and cidery remain open. There are still barrels of hard cider to bottle, fresh cider to press, paperwork to log and organize and file, fruit tree pruning, and plans to be made for this coming years logistics and crops. The annual tea party and winter pruning classes are some events customers can expect to look forward to. Purely for educational purposes, my parents, have taken tender leave of absence as they fly to California for CiderCon, a plethora of knowledgeable agribusinesses, hobbyists, and educators in their field fermenting together in ripe confluence.

My husband and I attended the local Fruit Wine Production workshop hosted by the PA Ag Extension. The speaker was a fruit wine consultant who does huge trading with asian countries and has worked all over the world. He joked that here in the U.S. people have a problem with sulfites, when really sulfites have been used in wine making since Roman times, and their headaches probably have more to do with the alcohol than anything else. A tasty tidbit, amylase is an enzyme he mentioned, processed and sold by labs for the purpose of making fruit cider. We don't use it, but it caught my attention because this is an ancient process. Amylase is an enzyme found in human saliva, some tribes of ancient South America would chew corn to make chicha an alcoholic beverage and spit it back out to help with the fermentation process! Sometimes modern science pulls from indigenous knowledge and I have to tip my hat off. When it came to the tasting portion of the seminar there were 8 fruit wines to sample. Unfortunately, they were all horrific. Overly sweet and I suspect contained some of the additives he had been talking about such as arabic gum or casein to give them a ‘better bodied mouth feel’ the latter of which I am allergic to. I had a rough car ride home having only sipped a few, nauseous with a horrible headache. The message from this experience? I am sticking with the principle make what you like to drink! There is a huge market for these ‘dessert’ wines but more importantly for us, is the pride in making something that we enjoy drinking. You will not satisfy your sweet tooth in our hard cider. You will find a variety of dry balanced ones, and some blended semi-sweet that carry the nose of our infused berries. We are drawing from the traditions of Basque, English, and French, and American ciders. Johnny Appleseed wasn’t spreading seed, he was grafting hard cider varieties to claim territory for colonial homesteaders at a time when hard cider was a form of payment for the average laborer. By both being a part of the process of making our cider and selling it I get to see how customers respond directly. What I’ve found is that most people don’t really know what it is we are crafting. 

Some top questions asked in the cidery are:

“What is hard cider?” Take fresh cider, ferment it by adding a desired yeast strain or allowing to naturally ferment with wild yeast. We take this process a step further by adding an aging process in oak and other types of barrels to lend more character to the cider. And fermentation is when the yeast eat the natural sugars in the juice and produce alcohol as a byproduct. Yes our enjoyment takes a host of microfauna.  
“What apples do you use?” Right now we are using apples we already grow for the market. Mostly the baking varieties such as Goldrush, Winesap, Stayman, but we use a blend of apples as a base for our berry infused hard ciders as well as our go-to Comfort. We have hard cider specific varieties planted but we are waiting for the trees to grow and produce enough for production. New Hard Cider Orchard below.



How long does the cider process take?” Up to 1 year. Pressing begins with the apple harvest. Depending upon which variety or blend we are making, the harvest occurs between September and November, but many varieties keep in the cooler so we have the option to press throughout the winter. After pressing, comes fermenting; this can take 4-6 months, followed by our aging process usually 4-6 months. 
What foods pair well with hard cider? Cheese! No surprise there. We offer a cheese and apple tray at the cidery which is a classic pairing. Cider can bring a freshness, a light touch to a meal, with a lower alcohol content than wine, moving from cider to wine before and during a meal allows versatility. I would recommend Winesap or Comfort for pairings with fish or chicken, Comfort with a Twist, and our 2-year aged Twisted Comfort are strong enough to pair with meat and would add a caramel richness to any dinner or dessert. But really, your preference is important, go with what you like! One of the benefits to this being a new industry is that some of the snobbery, I mean knowledge and tradition of wine making hasn’t made its way into hard cider yet. It really feels like the wild west in the sense that the possibilities are open. We started with hard cider that we like to drink, but in expanding to semi-sweet and infusing our berries we stumbled upon some ciders blackberry, blueberry, sour cherry, we would like to keep in the mix. Hard cider doesn’t please everyone’s palate, but for most it’s a nice option to have in rotation or if you’re like us, it becomes part of the ritual of sharing a meal around the table with family and friends.
The Cidery below, a new spot to gather and share a drink during open hours. 

Honestly I’ve never been asked this, but what makes our hard cider special? 
My husband recently came up with our slogan if we ever have one for the cidery...he was musing over this bottle of Hopped Goldrush and said, “You know, when I drink this, I’m not just drinking cider, I’m drinking a bit of your parents, it’s like their effort and energy shine through in the cider.” Crafting something that we like to drink from ingredients that we’ve grown; this is the future, a new year to savor and a new year to drink to. Cheers!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Where are the bananas at?



          As customers run home to bake their first quart of peaches and end up dismayed as the pulp squishes and every twist of the wrist to separate the pit brings them farther from a beautifully textured slice; it’s no surprise to us. Education is actually a big part of the retail experience at a farmers market. Every crop, even certain varieties have their schpiel and this too varies. We throw a lot of information at people and it’s certainly hard to keep track of it all. Currently, these early July peaches stick to the pit. These newer varieties have been cultivated to bear fruit earlier and in our opinion, they’re only use is for eating over the kitchen sink! Delicious, small, a sneak-peak taste of summer yet to come. We recommend waiting to bake, can, jam peaches until Late August/Early September. YES, those late varieties are the best for these purposes.

         The convenience of a grocery store and ability to sample produce from all over the world means that I’m no hater when it comes to supplementing for what’s in season. There are arguments for and against grocery store produce; what is more relevant to keep on our radar, is the knowledge of seasonality. There’s certainly a trend where people are starting to ask more about seasonality, when crops grow in our climate and at what time of the year, but the cultural relevance fades as we become more reliant upon grocery store chains. And yet, aren’t we the lucky ones, to have that choice?

          I still remember, we had a group of inner-city school kids come to the farm for a school trip and one boy asked where were the bananas? Our educational system and the inequalities of funding is something we don’t see and experience in the suburbs on the level that inner-city schools face every day. I was able to take a course for my masters on sustainable food systems at Temple University in which the curriculum focused on food justice for inner-city neighborhoods. Historically, crowded living conditions have always been a problem, but when there were jobs and an influx of new immigrants, they created local markets where fresh food and homemade products were bought and sold. A living reminder of this is the small square block on 9th street in Philadelphia home to a few generational Italian markets. The switch to industrialization in our food system began the systematized inequality surrounding food because grocery stores only opened in areas with wealth, or the space to build. In the city, locals in poorer neighborhoods are left with gas stations or bodegas (small stores that carry food items like a wawa, but charge more for the convenience). Why not drive? Well, if you don’t have a car, which in the city is a luxury, then you have to take a bus. If you work full time, and have kids, the extra time, effort, and expense of catching a bus to grocery and back with all your bags may take its toll. Many parents are going to go with McDonalds or some other fast food chain more often, if it’s easier, and seen as tastier than the food they can buy locally. Lack of access, leads to poor nutrition that contributes to health concerns like diabetes and high blood pressure, both preventable diseases.

           Some solutions for this range from top down approaches that have politicians raising taxes on soda (hopefully being redirected towards the following), and initiatives in public schools to increase the food options and exercise available at school. One local business Zone 7 is part of this initiative by contracting with schools to truck in fresh produce from farmers in the country. However, I see more bottom-up approaches changing the landscape of inner-city food deserts. Guerilla gardens are illegal because many city ordinances maintain strict non-agricultural activities in their zone planning. This is not always the case, some cities like Denver, Colorado are actively changing their zoning ordinances to promote sustainable urban farming and local businesses (cottage food act)(Denver policy ). In Philly, and other cities like Trenton, NJ there are communities taking over abandoned spaces and creating raised beds for produce despite the illegality. Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) that are not-for profit, are legally fighting for these endeavors, and funding spaces for communities to develop urban farms. Young entrepreneurs see an opportunity as well, to make a profit but also make a difference, by providing locals and restaurants with fresh produce. Urban farming is taking root and innovative technologies like utilizing roof spaces, hydroponic systems, and solar are growing in popularity. For that young boy who asked about bananas, he got an introduction to agriculture at our farm, we were a diversion; the hard work of helping him and kids like him needs to start in his neighborhood (Trenton story). For kids as well as adults, education but more importantly, access, is the key to believing in the power of sustainability, good nutrition and the pleasure of eating seasonal food (Fortune magazine).

              An introduction, a diversion, is not enough to change the food landscape. Kids everywhere should have an education about agricultural activities and the science of farming, but unless they get a chance to participate in growing something, or in helping their parents prepare fresh food, they’re not going to believe that this something they can participate in. How do we help the next generation connect to their food sources? How can they be predisposed to sustainability by understanding the building blocks of local versus global? Education, accessibility and participation by growing and tasting fresh food, has the power to regenerate a one sided food system and create politically minded individuals who will choose better options for themselves and their families.

              Here at the farm our brochure and website gives an outline of our seasonal fruit:

Late May/Early June: Strawberries
              We always have berries in the market before pick your own starts in the field. Varieties include, Chandler, Early-Glow, Late Glow, Rutgers, AC Valley, Cabot

Late June-July: Blueberries
              Several varieties allow for extended an extended season, both pick your own and in-market availability

Early July-Mid September: Peaches
              Early varieties include Rich May, Early Scarlet; mid season varieties include Glen Glo, Mountain Rose; Late Season varieties White Hale, J.H. Hale, Sentry, Lady Nancy and many more varieties in between! Nectarines are not always available because they are more sensitive lacking that peach fuzz protection and sustain greater damage from wasps, so call beforehand if that is on your list.

August: Blackberries
             Mainly a pick your own crop

*Many people have noticed by now that we are phasing out raspberries; weather variability and reduced tunnel space have made this crop a liability. Hopefully, in the future we will be able to reintroduce this fruit into our market.

Late August-November: Apples
              But did you know? Late season varieties, Pink Lady, Goldrush, Stayman, Winesap, Granny Smith, Fuji will remain in our store through March? These late season apples store well in our coolers once harvested; they remain fresh for this long because that is the property of these late season apples. Fall crops by nature and human selection, have storage capabilities, for example, potatoes, fall squash, onions, and apples. Our coolers that remain at 35 degrees F. are simply an updated version of a cellar, where root veggies and apples were traditionally kept through the winter months. Enjoy :)

For more information or to get involved with sustainable food systems in this area: Bucks County

FoodShed Alliance: http://www.bucksfoodshed.org/

Carversville Farm Foundation: https://www.carversvillefarm.org/

Fisherman’s Mark: https://fishermansmark.org/programs/food-pantry/
           They operate as a food pantry, educational center, and much more Penn State Agricultural

Extension: https://extension.psu.edu/bucks-county
           They have an office center in Doylestown/Warminster area that has educational summer classes for kids. Not to mention a great resource if you are a home gardener.

Weavers Way http://www.weaversway.coop/pages/weavers-way-ambler
          A co-op with several farms near Philadelphia that work with students to actively participate and learn farming skills. Also providing fresh produce to those neighborhoods.

There are many green and food justice initiatives, to find one nearby just search online to volunteer, share your skills, or come to learn. You can also make a difference by supporting for-profit farms in your area, the options are bountiful.