sustainability

Reframing “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” for Meals

Reduce, reuse, recycle. It seems simple enough and we have been repeated it for nearly 50 years. How do we reframe the 3 R’s  in terms of things we do every day?

How can you reduce, reuse, and recycle during your evening meal?  

Reduce (Your Energy Usage)

That saves money and our natural resources – win-win! Not all cooking devices use the same amount of energy. If you just can’t bear the thought of turning on the oven or burners during these dog days of summer, don’t worry! Your microwave, slow cooker, and toaster oven are actually 2-3 times more energy efficient.

Pro-tip: consider grilling outdoors so your A/C isn’t working overtime during dinnertime!

Reuse (Your Leftovers)
For those hot days, nothing beats having a nice dinner already prepped from the evening before. “Reusing” leftovers will cut down on your food waste and your grocery bill!

Pro-tip: Try reusable, washable beeswax paper instead of cling wrap to cover your leftovers.

Recycle (Your Storage Containers)

If takeaway is your best friend, you can still do your part. Once those delicious leftovers have been devoured, the container you brought it home in can move on to its next life. Find out if the following are recyclable in your area:

How else can you apply the reduce-reuse-recycle mentality to other areas of your life? Share this information with your friends to keep the conversation going! Check out The Next Level Recycler Team for more info!

Happy Recycling.

Six Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

Its Earth Day and we wanted to think about ways to be kind to our grand blue marble, Earth.

Here are 6 simple things you can do to drastically reduce your plastic waste.

With all the plastic being dumped into landfill and floating in our oceans, the time has come for all of us to behave more responsibly.

And that’s actually pretty easy.

You don’t have to be perfect, or completely change your way of living. Just follow these simple steps and you will cut down a lot of unnecessary waste.

Change your mindset

It all starts with changing the mindset.

Once you start to actively reduce your waste, you will realize just how much waste there is everywhere. And then, you’ll be able to make conscious decisions about what you buy.

You will be better prepared and will be likely to buy less “stuff” – as you’ll only buy what you need. That, in turn, can help you save money!

2. Say no to plastic bags

The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year. So if you choose to stop using just one type of plastic – the plastic bag is a great place to start.

Stock up with a few reusable bags and you’ll never have to contribute to this waste again.

For example, reuseable produce bags are great to use to pack your fruit and veggies at markets. Pop your produce straight in the bags, and when you get home – wash them inside the bag, and pop them straight in the fridge.

They are also handy to use while shopping in a grocery store, or for general organization too.

3. Swap your plastic toothbrush for bamboo

It’s recommended that we change our toothbrush every 3-4 months. If these toothbrushes are plastic toothbrushes, that’s a huge amount of plastic waste that is being discarded every single year.

In fact, over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year in America alone.

Imagine if 50% of the American population swapped their plastic brush for a biodegradable bamboo brush. That would prevent 500 million pieces of plastic entering our environment every year, and 5 billion every decade!

Check out these bamboo toothbrushes – they work super well, have been recommended by multiple hygienists, come in cute colors, and work out to cost under $1.49 per brush (often cheaper than plastic ones.)

Swapping your plastic for bamboo toothbrush is another small change you can make, and save money while helping the environment, too.

4. Rethink the straw

Plastic straws are a one and done event. They are too small to be recycled, so their only destiny is either landfill or floating in our ocean.

Ask yourself: Do you really need the straw? Maybe it’s an added luxury…and you could get used to drinking without one?

Alternatively, you can keep a small pack of reusable straws in your bag at all times…and whip out in times of need. They are easy to clean and kind to our wildlife. Whether you prefer stainless steel drinking straws or bamboo straws, you’ll never have to drink with a plastic straw again.

5. Buy locally

At Cherry Grove Farm, we’re all about sustainable farming and treading lightly on the land.

When you buy from local markets, you can cut down your consumption of plastic packaging and will end up throwing less away.  We have a small “Sustainable Re-useables” section in the farm store that makes cutting back on waste a bit easier. Try our re-useable tea bags and coffee filters, or reusable beeswax wraps to keep food fresh without using plastic wrap.

6. Make more at home

There’s nothing wrong with getting take-out; the problem is the packaging that the take out often comes in.

Plastic lids, cutlery, wrap, styrofoam, polystyrene… None of it biodegrades which means that even though your meal only lasted once, the packaging will last forever.

We know it can be difficult to find the time for home cooking, but cooking meals in bulk can cut down a huge amount of time. And make enough to last two or three meals and it can be just as convenient as a take out – but with all the added benefits of being home-made, chemical-free, and plastic-free.

But if you must have those pot stickers or tacos al pastor, why not have a handy reuseable bamboo cutlery pack in the car and just say no to the plastic utensils? Reduce waste in your life.

***

Earth Day is a good day to think about what we can do to reduce waste and single use disposables. Hopefully these 6 simple steps have given you a little inspiration to reduce your waste today. And remember – it doesn’t all have to be implemented at once. Just one small change can make a big difference.

We are considering expanding our “Sustainables” section in the store to include bamboo reuseables. Tell us if this would help you reduce waste in your life!

The Cost of the Journey

Earlier this month, we send a survey to our customers asking for their thoughts and feedback about our store, the products we offer, and. what we could do differently to better serve the people who love and support the farm.

There was a lot of positive feedback about how we farm, the variety of products (from our farm and other local makers) that we offer. Many customers expressed a deep commitment to local food and farms. We asked for suggestions about products we could bring in to round out what we already offer, basically what would serve the folks who support the store.

In all that feedback, a few people mentioned prices, and suggested that lowering the prices of the meats, cheeses and items for resale would be welcomed. We thought that was an issue worth talking about because we understand that is where the rubber meets the road.

Our prices are indeed more than what you pay in a standard grocery store. The US has been blessed with very low food costs. Much of that is due to large-scale subsidized commercial agriculture. A small farm (like ours) reaps neither the benefits of subsidies, nor the economies of scale you find on large commercial farms. What the consumer sees in our store is real cost of production.

moving hay bales

Moving hay bales.

It might seem like raising animals on grass would be cheap. After all, you just let them out in the field and the grass keeps growing, right? Choosing to raise animals on grass is a quality-based decision, rather than cost-based. Cherry Grove Farm practices intensive rotational grazing. Our animals do not free range the large pastures, browsing at will, rather they are cordoned off in smaller sections of pasture so they graze more efficiently. Cows are moved sometimes multiple times in a day, to make sure the grass is grazed evenly and given time to rest and rejuvenate. This rotation also means that 1000 lb cows aren’t standing in the same place-for a long time, compacting the soils, crushing plant roots, and piling up manure (each of which are hard on plants and soils.) Kept moving, cows spread their manure, and graze, more evenly. Our cows become part time farmhands, doing some of our farm labor. But lacking opposable thumbs, they are not a help with much more than mowing and manure spreading. Moving a herd 1-2 times a day takes hands to move and set up mobile fences, reset water lines, bring out the hay in winter.

We also don’t have one large herd of cows. Effectively, we have three herds, as not all the cows are milked at once, or kept together. Unlike a conventional dairy where cows are kept pregnant and milking almost constantly, our cows get rest periods in between pregnancies (that is the “dry herd”). We have the milkers, the dry herd, and the cows that are too young, or not able to milk, both heifers and young bull calves. That is three herds to be moved daily, all to keep the land healthy and productive. Healthy land produces healthy forage, which in turn makes for healthy cows. The quality of milk (or meat) you get from a healthy grass-fed herd is significantly different from conventional herds and we rely on great milk to make our cheeses.

Hooping curds.

Hooping curds.

So, we begin with higher labor costs than a conventional farm, add on labor to make hay all season, minerals and animal health supplies, additional processing costs around cheese making and meat processing/packaging, and then set a price with a reasonable margin for profit, because without profit we cannot sustain the business.

Much the same goes for our resale products, made locally by small-batch producers. None of the makers who are sold through our farm are large scale producers. All struggle with the cost of quality ingredients and valuing their time to make an outstanding, healthy product.  They set wholesale prices to cover their costs and labor (plus a little profit) and we mark up on that. We could buy a more mass produced product for less per unit cost, but that would fly in the face of what we believe and what we profess to you, our customer. We support local makers to ensure they are still making clean healthy foods for all of us in the months and years to come.

It seems upside down that a small farm down the road would have to charge so much more than a huge faceless company that ships foods in from everywhere. But our national food system evolved in this way, with the deck stacked for large agribusiness. In order to raise and offer a superior product, and to stay in business, we have to cover our costs with enough profit to pay our staff and keep investing in the business… so that we can be here offering you clean healthy foods in the months and years to come.

It’s a journey and we are glad to have you with us.

Can Grazing Save Us?

According to Allan Savory, it can. And Savory has dedicated his life to promoting and educating people about the importance of the restoration of our grasslands through holistic management.

The Savory Institute teaches that sustainable land management involves a series of interconnected system; that a symbiosis exists between the soil, the plants, the grazers, the predators, and us. Seems commonsensical. doesn’t it?  There is a natural balance to our earth’s systems that, sometimes, in our zeal to make things stronger/better/faster, we tip. A balanced approach to healthy land management addresses the systems as a whole, enhancing ecosystem resilience, sequestering carbon, and building biodiversity.

By our nature, we seem more tuned to attacking individual symptoms without addressing the entirety of the system. Treating the land and our food systems holistically creates a sustainable process.

The Savory Institute puts it this way…

Nature functions in wholes

You can’t control or change one thing in one area without having an impact on something else in another area.

All environments are different

It is crucial to acknowledge nature’s complexity and that an action can produce completely different results in different environments.

Properly managed livestock can improve land health

When domestic livestock is properly managed to mimic the behavior of wild herbivores interacting with grasslands, they can reverse desertification.

Time is more important than numbers

Overgrazing of plants is directly related to the amount of time the plants are exposed to the grazing animals and the amount of time that lapses between consecutive grazing events.

We believe that the Savory Institute has something to teach us all. The cliff notes version of this complex, consuming subject is that all of life, a healthy sustainable world, is a balance… from the water systems under our feet to our food systems, from the plant and animals around us (domestic and wild) to our own physical health. Resolving our water troubles, our land use issues, our air and food quality troubles, should be from the whole systems, big picture approach.

We farm our land in a holistic manner, understanding that the soil beneath our feet is the foundation for the health of everything that lives on the farm. We are mindful that the Shippetaukin Creek runs through the property, and that how we treat the land affects the creek and folks downstream. Our animals are raised on pasture to allow them to do what comes naturally – forage, root, graze, and interact with one another – which helps keep them safe, healthy, and happy. For us, farming is a big picture, whole system process with many moving parts. And we are committed to managing all of those parts.

Small farms that manage their land in this way are helping to restore some of the balance we have lost to each region where they farm. In supporting these farms, we help heal the land, and since we are a part of the big picture, ourselves.

For more information about the Savory Institute, visit their website.


1902 - Family purchased farm

1910 - Leased land to dairy farmer

1987 - Hamill Brothers inherit farm

2002 - Started as a family business

2003 - Started a beef herd, laying hens, and pigs

2004 - Added sheep and attained organic certification of pasture land

2005 - Added dairy herd and began making fresh cheeses like mozzarella

2006 - Built aging caves and began making aged cheeses

2012 - Grid Magazine’s Cheese of the Month (Nov – Full Nettle Jack); Finalist at the Good Food Awards (Toma)

2013 - Won 2 blue ribbons from the American Cheese Society(for Buttercup Brie and Lawrenceville Jack Reserve); Added second cheesemaker

2014 - Broke ground on additional aging space and began process of getting AWA certification for our chickens
MENU