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Posted 5/10/2011 7:03am by Jeffrey Henry.

Dear Friends of Cranberry Creek Farm,

Spring has sprung, and we are well on our way to being knee deep in all the freshest local foods you could wish to imagine. Here at the farm we have a few things planted, not as much as years past but a sizeable amount none the least. We planted quite a few taters, 4 different varieties in colors from purple to red, to pink and gold. We planted them in Grandads old potato patch, where they are said to grow big as softballs if you get em in the ground at the right time. We have a decent lettuce patch coming up, we came up short on lettuce last year so we planted extra this year in just the right spot. We should have plenty of good summer salads in the weeks to come. We have about 6 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes planted in the greenhouse. We will be transplanting them out to the field soon. A different crop that we are trying this year is dry beans, in a few different varieties. Beans are a staple in diets all over the world, why not here? We can't dismiss the deliciousness of a good bean, so we are dedicating a good 1/2 acre patch to just beans. In the name of all this good real food that is soon to come I want to share with you a poem I just found in an old Small Farmers Journal:

Ain't Science Wonderful 
By E.J. Kirchoff

Old Bill said "Gosh-a-might.
Whats this world comin' to
with all the artificial stuff
That science now can do? 
They make artificial bacon
Now and artificial fur.
And artificial wool in clothes
Thats made for him and her.
And artificial lumber now
From plastics so I've heard.
And artificial ham is made
Now from the turkey bird.
There's artificial flavor
In most everything you eat.
And to take the place of sugar
Its artificial sweet.
There's artificial chocolate
And there's artificial cheese.
And artificial flavor in
The catsup that you squeeze.
Plumb free of alcohol they
Have an artificial beer.
Don't taste just like the real thing
But it does come purty near.
There's artificial leather.
Artificial rubber, too.
There seems to be no limit
What with science they can do.
I'm plumb again it, tho' they claim
It's progress comin' now-
That drug to artificial
Boost production of the cow.
But the latest thing I've heard of,
And is stupid seems to me,
Is turnin out some carrots
By the grinding up of a tree.
They'll take the pulp and mold it,
Artificial color too.
Add artificial vitamins
For a tasty wooden chew.
I wonder if we'll end up
Like a deal a feller tried.
Cows was almost on straight sawdust
When the buggers up and died." 

Lets not end up like that! Eat all the freshest most organic local delicious foods you can this season, and nourish yourselves to the bone.

Your Local Farmers,
Jeffrey & Mary-Jean 

Posted 4/29/2011 6:22pm by jeffrey Henry.

A taste of Paradise Valley now in B.P.C. 

BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer 

It takes two to three hours each way to get from Paradise Valley to Battery Park City, 

depending on traffic. Jeff Henry and Mary-Jean Bendorf of Cranberry Creek Farm in the 

Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania have been making the trip every Thursday since the 

World Financial Center Greenmarket opened for the season on April 7. 

“Is it really paradise in Paradise Valley?” a customer asked them. “Yes,” Bendorf said. 

Cranberry Creek Farm is on land that has been in Henry’s family for generations. An 

ancestor, Eugene Henry, who emigrated from Ireland in the 1700’s, acquired 5,000 acres in 

what is now Monroe County from William Penn’s sons. Eugene Henry started a farm and 

had a gristmill on the property. For years, the land remained a farm, but Jeff Henry’s great- 

grandfather, Sanford, was the last to farm the land and keep livestock. His son, Wesley, 

started a trout hatchery, and Wesley’s son, William (Jeff’s dad), joined the Navy and went to 

engineering school. 

Nevertheless, Jeff wanted to be a farmer. On Cranberry Creek Farm’s Facebook page, he 

lists his employer as “Earth” and describes himself as the “caretaker” of Paradise Valley. 

Jeff, 29, and Mary-Jean, 30, met five years ago, and according to Bendorf, immediately fell 

in love. Bendorf, who comes from Willow Grove in suburban Philadelphia, describes herself 

as a “farmerette” at Cranberry Creek Farm. (It’s named for the creek that flows through the 

property.) 

Bendorf and Henry now have 16 goats for milking and 27 kids that were born this year. Once 

a week, they make small batches of goat cheese that they bring to the Battery Park City 

market. They spend five to six hours in their cheese room, flipping and draining the cheese, 

and then age it for two to three months in an underground cheese cave that they built, where 

the temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They started their cheese-making three 

years ago but only started “getting serious about it,” according to Bendorf, in the last year. 

Now they make a soft, spreadable goat cheese and a harder cheese that they call “Eugene.” 

Soon they will also be making gouda. 

In addition to their goats, they have around 160 chickens whose eggs they bring to the 

market, and a vegetable garden that will yield garlic, heirloom tomatoes, heirloom salad mix, 

carrots and several kinds of potatoes later in the season. 

They also have a few sheep. Bendorf dyes their wool with natural pokeberry dye and 

crochets slippers that she sells for $140 a pair. (She will make them to order.) 

Though many landmarks in and near Paradise Valley bear the Henry name (Henry’s Crossing 

Road, the village of Henryville — population, 1,974 — and the Henryville Inn), Jeff Henry’s 

parents now own just 100 acres of the original land grant and Jeff and Mary-Jean are farming 

five of those acres. But their goats have the run of the whole property. 

“The goats do better browsing than on pasture,” Henry says. 

On market day, Henry and Bendorf get up before 4 a.m. to make the trip into the city. A 

family living in a rented house on the property does the chores that day, which include 

milking, feeding chickens, pigs and goats and loading the wood furnace that heats the 

greenhouse, the floors in the goat barn, the vat for cheese making and the drinking water. 

Henry and Bendorf get back around 10 at night, with Henry driving their ancient Toyota 

truck, which has 180,000 miles on it. Bendorf says she falls asleep as soon as they get on the 

highway. 

It’s a physically demanding life, but purposeful. “In my day-to-day activities, I try to 

envision how I can meet the goal of becoming a self-sustaining, bio-diverse farming 

operation,” Henry says. “By sustainable, I mean producing food on the farm without any 

outside inputs like fertilizer and feed.” He says that’s difficult because the land is rocky and 

not very fertile. But he says, he sees his farm as part of a larger eco-system and his goal is 

“to keep the health and productivity of the agricultural land as well as the forested, wild 

lands as they were — or better than they were when I arrived.” 

For more information about Cranberry Creek Farm, go to www.CranberryCreekFarm.com. 

Bendorf and Henry are in the World Financial Center Greenmarket at Liberty Street and 

South End Avenue on Thursdays. The market will be open through Dec. 22. 

Greenmarket. 

 

 

Posted 3/25/2011 7:02am by jeffrey Henry.

I do not have horses, mules or oxen. I do not proclaim to be an expert on draft animal power, nor do I really know how much work it really takes to take care of such powerful, long-lived, giant beasts. But I do know that, like many other poor sod harrowing souls out there know, draft animals are much better than tractors for a multitude of reasons. One Amish farmer put it this way "The farm just works better (with draft animals)." Why, you might ask, are draft animals better than tractors? Tractors are easy, they don't need to be fed or exercised every day, you can just sit on them and drive, they have more power, you can do more things. These are all very valid reasons why one might think that tractors are better than draft animals. Why then, are draft animals so much better? Because they are, as Wes Jackson would so poignantly say, "contemporary sunlight used to leverage extraction of anciently stored energy". The sunlight makes the grass that the animals need for fuel, and the anciently stored energy is the soil that they can plow, harrow, and cultivate for us to grow our crops. They can survive on grass! They don't need a dirty black substance pumped out of the ground from somewhere thousands of miles away. And this grass that they eat for fuel gets turned into fertilizer for the farm! Another reason why draft animals are better than tractors is that you will never ever find a little baby tractor in the barn. Tractors don't breed, they have to be made out of metal and bought by you, most of the time at a rediculously high price that you probably can't afford if you are a farmer. Over the past few years of farming I have seen a marked decline in soil tilth and fertility on some fields on my farm. The only thing that I can see that would have created this loss is the tractor. Increased soil compaction, plowing too deep, and over tillage are the main culprits which could all be avoided with the use of draft animals. So my friends, don't be surprised when you see me plowing pig pen hill behind a team of percherons or milking devons. Its only natural, and its the best way to farm in my book. 

Posted 3/13/2011 8:27am by jeffrey Henry.

Over the past few years more and more young people have decided to start small organic or ecologically-minded farms. Why not? There is plenty of support nowadays, plenty of workshops, college degree programs, apprenticeships, access to farm land, and tons of farmers markets, restaurants, and other ways to market your products, depending on where your farm happens to be. Starting a small farm is very romantic, as it always has been. It is very exciting to start fresh, with endless possibilities and directions of where your farm could go. Many of these new farmers are very successful with what they do because of the newly arisen interest in healthy, sustainable, and locally grown foods. They are able to command a high price for their goods, and they have to most of the time just to stay afloat. And it is worth the extra couple bucks that you have to spend on a dozen eggs, or a bag of salad knowing that the food you bought was grown with love by someone you know or have just met, and that they did not soak the salad in bleach water or keep there chickens in a cage no bigger than the chicken itself. I would tend to dissagree with the thought that this return to real food is a fad. I would rather like to say that it is a new discovery of what has always been. Real food is as real as it gets, no matter how small the farm is, or how young the person is that is growing it. I think that as this movement progresses in the years to come we will see that rising fuel prices and higher disease rates will make the processed, foreign, chemically laden foods drop by the wayside as more and more people realize all the things that they were eating are unsustainable nothings with little to no real nutritional value. So keep on keeping on all you new sustainable farmers and local food eaters. This is not a fad, but a reality that can only grow as we cultivate it.

Posted 2/17/2011 6:53am by jeffrey Henry.

We are in the process of making our first batch of fresh chevre! We are also experimenting with a brie, and another soft ripened cheese of our own recipe. Who knew cheesemaking could be so fun? Each batch is an adventure in itself. There are so many variables to consider, like the milk itself. What stage of lactation is it from? What type of goat? How many milkings is this batch representing? And then making the cheese you have to think about questions like what is the temperature of the room? What is the humidity level? What is the pH supposed to be at this stage of the process? How long does it need to drain before removing from the molds? These are all questions that we get to consider, and then answer for ourselves as the process evolves. If all goes as planned then we will have our first cheese available in another few days. Give us a call if you would like to try it!

Posted 2/8/2011 5:28pm by jeffrey Henry.

Our nursery is in full swing with the arrival of 6 goat kids! We now have 4 does and 2 bucks with many more on the way. They are some of the cutest little buggers we have ever had here on the farm, and they can give a good back massage too! Just lay down in the midst of some playful goat kids and let them play king of the mountain on you. It feels great! We made a pen for them in the greenhouse where they can stay nice and cozy.

The speckled sussex chicks are a heritage breed of egg layers that lay delicious brown eggs. We get a different breed of chicken each year so that we can tell which ones are getting too old to lay eggs. Here is what sold us on them to be the breed for this year:

The Sussex have everything: they are great layers of tinted or light brown eggs--and they lay right through the coldest weather.  In England, they used to be THE standard table bird, before the modern Cornish Crosses came along. They forage well and are economical eaters that are friendly and easily handled. Their curious nature means they will often follow you around the yard if they think they can beg a treat from you. The "speckled" variety has plumage that gives them some camouflage from predators, too. Many tend to get more speckles after each successive molt, so they just get prettier with age. Seriously, what more could you ask for in a chicken?

Sounds great right? I can't wait to see what they look like as fully grown chickens!