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Posted 4/19/2018 10:58am by Cherry Valley Organics.

If you want to save some big bucks on your food budget, consider growing your own herbs. With the average grocery store price of fresh herbs consistently on the rise, it's no wonder many homeowners have started to grow their own backyard and container herb gardens. Most herbs are easy to grow, and those that are perennial, like chives, oregano, and thyme, return to the garden year after year. But, just like the other foods you feed your family, the herbs you grow and cook with should be free from synthetic chemical pesticides and fungicides. So, before you plant that herb garden, let Cherry Valley Organics Farm be your source for certified organic herb plants in Pittsburgh! Below you'll find details on why our plants are an excellent choice and how to purchase them. 

Looking for a source of organic herb plants in Pittsburgh? We're ready and waiting!

Why start with organic herb plants?  

You may wonder why you should buy and plant organic herb plants in your garden, instead of the conventionally grown plants found at your local garden center or big box store. Most herbs that you find in those types of retail outlets are grown in potting soil that includes fertilizers made from synthetic chemicals. Our herb plants, on the other hand, are grown in potting soil that contains only natural, organic sources of plant nutrients. Not only is this better for whoever eats the herbs, it's also better for the plants themselves. Healthy, vigorous herb plants are better able to fend off fungal pathogens and pest insects. Which brings us to the next reason why starting your garden with organic herb plants is the way to go.  

Info on buying organic herb plants in Pittsburgh

Conventionally grown herb transplants may also be treated with synthetic fungicides to control common greenhouse and garden pathogens, like basil downy mildew, botrytis, and powdery mildew. When plants are grown in big greenhouses, they're typically spaced very close together which can lead to an increased rate of fungal diseases that are often managed through the use of fungicides. Here at Cherry Valley Organics, we give our starter herb plants plenty of room to grow and our use of organic potting soil means the plants are off to a healthy start right out the gate.  

You also won't find any synthetic pesticide residues on our organic herb plants. Many garden centers and big box stores can't say the same. Some may even use systemic pesticides. These pesticides are absorbed through the roots and leaves and held inside plant tissues, making it impossible to wash these pesticides of your herbs prior to using them in the kitchen.  

Organic lavender plants for sale

Where to buy our organic herb plants in Pittsburgh  

If you'd like to start a new herb garden in your backyard or in a container, or add more plants to an existing herb garden, there are several ways you can purchase our certified organic herb plants.  

1. We'll have herb plants for sale at the Sewickley Farmer's Market every Saturday from 9am until 1pm. The market is in the parking lot of St. James Church on Broad Street in Sewickley.  

2.  City Grows in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh sells a selection of our organic herb plants via their retail store. Stop in and pick up what you need.  

Where to buy organic herb plants in Pittsburgh - Cherry Valley Organics Farm

3. You'll also find our organic vegetable and herb plants at our booth at the Annual Phipps May Market at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh on Friday, May 11th from 9:30am to 7:00pm and Saturday, May 12th from 9:30am to 5:00pm. This plant and garden sale is free and open to the public and is a great source for all kinds of terrific garden goodies.  

4. Cherry Valley Organics will also have a sales booth at the Garden Marketplace at the Master Gardener Garden and Landscape Symposium on Saturday, April 28th from 8:00am until 4:00pm at the Shady Side Academy Senior School in the Fox Chapel community of Pittsburgh. The Marketplace is free and open to the public. We'll have plenty of herb and vegetable transplants along with other farm items.  

5. Our Farm Share subscribers can also purchase our organic herb plants via their weekly deliveries. We offer our herb transplants as weekly add-ons that you can purchase and have delivered right along with your box of fresh, organic produce. If you're not a member of our Farm Share subscription program yet, here's more info and details on how to sign up.  

6. We also have our organic herb plants for sale right here at our farm in Burgettstown, only 20 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. Just shoot us an email to set up a time to stop buy and pick some up. You can always get in touch at info@cherryvalleyorganics.com.  

Varieties of organic herb plants grown on our farm  

We grow the following herbs in 3.5" pots. Our retail price is $4.50 per pot or 3 pots for $12.00 -- a great deal for great plants!  

Herb starter plants, including borage, are available at our Pittsburgh farm

  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Borage
  • Chervil
  • Bronze and Green Fennel 
  • Saltwort
  • Chives 
  • Garlic Chives
  • Lemongrass
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cat Grass
  • Lovage
  • Lemon Balm
  • Chocolate Mint
  • Apple Mint
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Pineapple Mint
  • Salad Burnett
  • Summer Savory
  • Winter Savory
  • Stevia
  • Mrs. Howard's Rosemary
  • Purple Sage
  • Golden variegated Sage  
  • Sweet Basil (Nufar) Specialty basils (Lime, Sweet Dani, Tulsi, Cinnamon, Rosie, Greek, Thai, Spicy Globe, Purple Ruffles, Red Rubin)
  • Winter Thyme
  • Orange Thyme
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Creeping Thyme
  • Summer Thyme
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Transparent Yellow Thyme
  • Zaatar 
  • Greek oregano 
  • Golden Oregano
  • Creeping thyme 
  • Cutting celery 
  • Common Sage 
  • Broadleaf Sage
  • Tricolor Sage
  • Italian flat leaf parsley
  • Moss Curled parsley
  • Monarda didyma - Panorama red shades 
  • African blue basil
  • Pineapple sage
  • Stevia 
  • French Tarragon
  • Mexican Tarragon
  • Sweet Bay
  • Lavender (Grappenhall, Hidcote, Giant Hidcote, Munstead)  

 

For more info on our farm's products, check out the following articles: 

 

From, The Cherry Valley Organics Farm Family

Why should you plant organic herbs in your garden?

Posted 4/5/2018 9:10am by Cherry Valley Organics.

Conventionally grown strawberries consistently top the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticide residue. One sample of strawberries was found to contain 20 different pesticide residues! Organic strawberries, however, are a whole different ballgame. They're nutrient dense, antioxidant rich, and free of the synthetic chemical residues found on non-organic berries.

What is the "Dirty Dozen" list?  

The "Dirty Dozen" list is created annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization of policymakers, scientists, and researchers who analyze data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and rank foods based on how much residue remains after the produce is washed. Also included in this year's list are spinach, celery, pears, and sweet bell peppers, among others.  

Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables

To limit your exposure to and consumption of the pesticide residues found on the "Dirty Dozen" crops, the EWG suggests consumers always buy organic. Our organic strawberries are grown without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides and will help limit your family's exposure to these products.  

Why Our Organic Strawberries are Better for You and the Environment  

Strawberries are susceptible to several different fungal pathogens, some of which reside in the soil. To combat these pathogens, conventional farmers often use chemicals to fumigate the soil to kill the spores prior to planting, but the process also harms beneficial soil microbes and soil-dwelling insects. It "sanitizes" soil in a very destructive way. One of the chemicals used to fumigate strawberry fields for decades is so dangerous to human health and the environment that it's been banned by the EPA, while others remain in active use. In addition to soil fumigants, conventionally grown strawberries are also treated with various fungicidal sprays, pesticides, and herbicides to limit pest and weed competition throughout their growth cycle, making it easy to see why strawberries find their way onto the "Dirty Dozen" list.  

Organic strawberries like ours, however, rely on a mixture of cultural practices to manage disease, pest, and weed issues. We take growing organic strawberries very seriously, and to our knowledge, we're the only USDA Certified Organic producer of strawberries in western Pennsylvania. We're very proud of that!  

Why should you eat organic strawberries?

How We Grow Organic Strawberries  

We start growing our organic strawberries just like we grow all the crops here on our farm: from the ground up. We use organic composts and other amendments to naturally build the health of our soil and suppress disease. Healthy plants show improved disease resistance, and healthy plants grow from healthy soil.  

Next, we carefully choose each of the strawberry varieties we grow. We select varieties known for their vigor, production, hardiness, and flavor. We don't settle for the cheapest starter plants we can find; instead, we choose the best starter plants we can find. Right now, our strawberry field is full of June-bearing varieties hand-selected and planted by Farmer Tim, and we expect to have berries ready for harvest from June through mid-July, depending on weather conditions.  

Pennsylvania organic strawberries

After carefully choosing the right varieties, we pay close attention to the planting process, being sure to give each plant plenty of room to grow. Because fungal diseases thrive in areas where air circulation is poor, properly spacing strawberry plants is key to suppressing disease. We don't cram the plants in too tightly in hopes of maximizing our yield like some conventional farms do; instead we give each plant all the room it needs.  

Next, our patch of organic strawberries is well mulched with straw. The straw not only serves to hold in soil moisture, limit weed growth, and stabilize the soil temperature throughout the growing season, it also forms a protective barrier over the soil. This barrier restricts disease spores from moving out of the soil and splashing up onto the fruits during rainy weather. Plus, it keeps the ripening fruit off the ground where slugs and other pests can easily access it.  

The Power of Pollinators in Organic Strawberry Production  

Another negative impact of conventional strawberry farming is the effects of all of those synthetic chemicals on pollinators. Bees are the primary pollinators of strawberries, and big conventional strawberry farms sometimes don't have enough bees around to pollinate their strawberry crop. So instead of relying on a healthy population of indigenous bees, they truck in European honeybee hives and put them in the fields temporarily in order to pollinate their strawberry crops.  

Here at Cherry Valley Organics, we have an incredible diversity of pollinators on the farm. Because we don't use any of the synthetic chemical pesticides that can sometimes affect pollinator health, our bees are more than happy to beautifully pollinate our strawberries. All the annual and perennial flowers we have around for our cut flower bouquets help boost pollinator numbers, too!  

Organic strawberries pollination

How Can You Get Our Organic Strawberries?  

If you want to enjoy part of our organic strawberry crop this year, be sure to sign up for our Pittsburgh CSA Farm Share Program where they'll be one of the seasonal items offered to our subscribers. For $25.00 per week, you'll get a box of organic produce grown right here on our farm and hand-selected just for your family. We have pick up sites all over the Pittsburgh region.  

We'll also be selling limited quantities of our organic strawberries to customers at the Sewickley Farmers Market when they're in season. Come see Allie on Saturdays from 9-1 in the parking lot at St. James Church. She'd love to tell you more about or organic growing practices!  

Eat Healthy, Eat Local, Eat Organic!  

Want to learn more about the organic produce we grow? Check out these related articles: 

From, The Cherry Valley Organics Farm Family

Why organic strawberries are a better choice for your family

Posted 3/22/2018 10:17am by Cherry Valley Organics.

According to the New York Times, roughly three-quarters of the cut flowers sold in the U.S. are grown far outside of our country's borders. Most cut flowers travel thousands of miles from South or Central America before finding their way to our dining room tables. That's a lot of precious energy spent just to move a bunch of blooms. Plus, most imported cut flower bouquets are covered with a broad diversity of synthetic pesticides and fungicides. It's certainly the dark side of the high-input, energy-gobbling cut flower industry.  

But, it doesn't have to be that way. There's a bright side to the story, too! Thanks to people like Allie Logue, our Grower for Herbs and Flowers, you can enjoy a bouquet of fresh cut flowers in your home completely free from guilt! By supporting small, local, organic cut flower farms like Cherry Valley Organics, you can feel good about those flowers on your dining room table, knowing that their organically grown blooms travelled just a few miles, instead of halfway around the world.  

Grower Profile: Allie Logue of Cherry Valley Organics  

Allie Logue of Cherry Valley Organics

Today, we'd like to tell you more about Allie Logue and her role here at the farm. Allie is our Grower for Herbs and Flowers and our Retail Sales Event Coordinator. Which means that not only does Allie grow our herbs and flowers, she's also the friendly, beautiful smile that greets you at our farmer's market table. Allie also drives our "flower truck" and delivers big buckets of our cut flowers to many local Pittsburgh flower shops.  

As you're about to learn, Allie's life revolves around a passion for local food and culture. She loves seeing the connection between food and human customs, history, and sociology in action, and her enthusiasm for the local food movement runs deep. This, coupled with her super-friendly personality, make Allie the perfect person to seek out for all your questions about the importance of buying local and supporting small farmers.  

Childhood Roots: Allie first learned about growing plants from her mom who tended herbs, flowers, and a few veggies around their home. Growing up in a small, rural Pennsylvania community where many of the houses had gardens to help feed the families living there, Allie spent summers in high school doing lawn care. She credits that job -- and her mom and dad! -- for teaching her the benefits of hard work.  

Cherry Valley Organics herb grower, Allie Logue

College Days: A career as a farmer, however, wasn't necessarily what Allie saw for herself, even just a few years ago. Allie has a B.A. in Social Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and when she joined the Masters Program in Food Studies at Chatham University a short time later, she thought she'd be spending her days examining the sociological and cultural aspects of food, not growing it.  

"Food is involved in every aspect of our lives, all around the world; it's an interesting lens to look at sociology through," she says. "Going from a small town to a city really opened my eyes to other people and other cultures. It was so amazing to me that someone could make a living studying other cultures and human interactions."  

While going to school, Allie and her partner Brian got a community garden plot in their home neighborhood of Polish Hill. "At the time, I was getting into eating healthier and understanding the food/body connection. We built a big garden at Brian's parents' house, and I started to get more and more interested in growing food. Plus, Pittsburgh's local food scene was really starting to take off and I had a really deep appreciation for that."  

When she heard about a job opening here at Cherry Valley Organics, she knew it would be a good fit. A passion for local food partnered with her favorite hobby turned Allie into a farmer.  

Allie Logue, Cherry Valley Organics farm

Joining the Cherry Valley Organics Family: If you ask Allie what surprises her the most about her days on the farm, she'll tell you that "Farming in general is surprising! It's a rural thing. But, I live in the city, and when I tell people I'm a farmer, they're surprised. I never thought something that I always saw as a hobby could be a career. But I'm so happy that I didn't stay in the box and took a different direction. I don't have to go to an office everyday, and I'm doing something that I genuinely care about and love."  

Allie's favorite part of her job as our Grower of Herbs and Flowers is the customer interaction. She loves conversing with our customers about "hot button topics," like GMOs, veganism, co-ops, no-till farming, and such. "I have so much background and education on these subjects, and it's cool to be able to talk with people who are interested in the same things. You pack up your truck and sell your stuff, but talking with people about how important small farms and businesses are to communities is really fulfilling."  

The Downside of Organic Farming: "If there's a downside to what I do," says Allie, "it's probably the pre-conceived notions people have about organic farmers. People think I'm judgy just because I work on a certified organic farm. But hey, sometimes I drink Mountain Dew just like you do! The stigma of organic farms and organic farmers being somehow 'perfect' is tough sometimes. You don't have to be all-in with organics; you do what you can. That one choice you're making to buy even just a single local product is a step in the right direction. You don't have to do it all. People sometimes think organics isn't for them because they have some image of pretention with organics, but it's not like that at all. It's a personal goal of mine to send that message to our customers. We're accessible. We all struggle to make better choices. Myself included."  

Farmers market Cherry Valley Organics

Allie's Thoughts on Being a Farmer: Allie is beyond proud to bring our customers high-quality, organic herbs, flowers, and vegetables and values the role small farms play in the local food system. As the face of Cherry Valley Organics at the farmer's market, Allie loves getting to know our customers and learning about their lives.  

"Interacting with people and getting feedback from them is what makes my job so great. I think about our customers and our CSA community a lot. It's more than just providing them with healthy foods. It's a livelihood for us and a bigger picture of sustainable farming in general. It's an important choice. Yes, you might be spending a dollar more on something when you buy from a small farmer, but you're spending it wisely because it stays in the community and it supports real people, not some big corporation."  

But it's also important for Allie to keep it real, too. Farming is hard work, but she's not afraid of it. "I don't wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every morning, that's for sure. But I know what I do makes an impact and means something. Not just to me and my fellow growers, but also to our customers and the greater community. I'm growing and selling something I believe in. I'm doing a job I believe in and I feel really good about everything we sell to people. I'm not selling junk food, I'm selling wellness."  

Allie and Brian Cherry Valley Organics

In her spare time, Allie enjoys traveling with her partner Brian, hiking, cooking, and scoring great finds at thrift stores. 

We hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into Farmer Allie's background and motivations. If you'd like to have a bouquet of Cherry Valley Organics' flowers on your dining room table every week, subscribe to our Bouquet Subscription Service for the coming season by clicking here. Or, if you'd like to chat about your own passion for food, stop by and see Allie every Saturday morning at the Sewickley Farmer's Market from May through November.      

Posted 3/8/2018 12:05pm by Cherry Valley Organics.

Do you know who grows the food you eat? If you shop at a big grocery chain, the face behind that cucumber in your salad is a complete mystery. But, if you support a small, local farm like Cherry Valley Organics, there's no mystery as to whose hands (and heart!) grew the food you put into your body.  

Today, we'd like to tell you more about Tim Gebhart, our Crop Manager for Produce, Fruit, and Mushrooms here at Cherry Valley Organics. Tim's passion and prowess for organic farming runs deep, and as you're about to learn, Tim is incredibly proud to know he's supplying hundreds of Pittsbugh-area families with healthy, nutrient dense, organic fruits and vegetables.  

Tim Gebhart Cherry Valley Organics

If you want Tim to grow food for your family, too, sign up for our 2018 CSA Farm Share program here for just $25.00 per week.  

Grower Profile: Tim Gebhart of Cherry Valley Organics  

Childhood Roots: Plants have always been a part of Tim's life. Growing up in western Pennsylvania, Tim worked for his father's landscaping company through high school and college. At their family home, they also tended acres of ornamental plants, a big vegetable garden, chickens, pigs, and cows.

One of Tim's proudest childhood moments was when his busy dad put him in charge of planting and tending the family's vegetable garden for an entire growing season. "I was about 13 years old, and he basically handed me the reins on everything. He gave me full responsibility and trusted me to do my thing. I did it, and it was 'my garden' for that year and I was really proud of that," Tim recalls.  

College Days: Tim went on to earn a B.S. in horticulture at Penn State University, with a focus on growing ornamentals. He planned to build his career around the ornamental aspects of plants; it wasn't until after he graduated that Tim discovered his love of plants extended far beyond their beauty.

One of our favorite stories from Tim involves how he came to realize that growing organic food was his true calling. After college, Tim was working full-time as a campus minister and volunteering one day a week at an education center for sustainable gardening. "I quickly realized that that one day was the high point of my week. I loved it. When they said I could stop coming in the winter, I was so disappointed! They had livestock and a garden there, and it made me realize that I wanted my life to be about growing food. When we relocated and my wife started going to graduate school, I could have transferred to become a campus minister at another school, but I made the decision to switch to organic agriculture instead, and I have not regretted that choice for a single moment."

Tim Gebhart, grower at Cherry Valley Organics

Before Cherry Valley Organics: Before Tim joined us here at Cherry Valley, he worked at Shenot's Orchard in Wexford, PA as a farmhand. He spent his days planting, weeding, and harvesting vegetables and apples. Tim learned a lot from the growing system they use at Shenot's.

"They have a great system there, and they really know how to step back and let the process happen. I learned how growing food on a large scale works, and how important it is to focus on growing a few things really well. But I also saw how maybe I would change a few things up, too. I also became more interested in organic agriculture instead of conventional, and that led me to my next job at Kretchmann's." For the following five years, Tim worked at the Kretchmann Family Organic Farm near Zelienople, PA, where he continued to learn more about organic farming techniques.  

Joining the Cherry Valley Organics Family: Tim joined our farm family in early 2017 as our head grower. At Cherry Valley, Tim's focus is on building our soil through the addition of high-quality composts and cultivating robust plants without relying on chemical fertilizers and pesticides (even organic ones).

"Farming, to me, is like a puzzle," he says. "It's multifaceted and a never-ending challenge. You know what you want to do, and you have to figure out the best way to do it. An organic farmer has to understand how everything is connected and how what you do this year affects what happens next year. It's a balancing act that involves timing and adapting and a whole lot of learning. You can get instructions on how to grow something, but it isn't a cut and dry science because there are so many variables. Sometimes it can be infuriating, but that also keeps it real and makes it interesting!"  

Tim Gebhart farmer Cherry Valley Organics Farm

Tim's Thoughts on Being a Farmer: "I love making people healthier through the foods that they eat. When I switched from ministry to farming, I was looking for a common thread between them both. Farming is still tending to people in a way, both spiritually and physically. The two are interconnected, really. On hard days, when I'm out in the field, it's a good thing for me to remember. Ultimately, the food we grow here at the farm is making a difference in the lives of our customers. You don't have to study a label or write to a manufacturer to find out about what's inside a package of food. We can tell you everything that went into growing the fruits and vegetables we sell to our customers, and that means a lot."  

Tim Gebhart Family Cherry Valley Organics

Tim's Family: In addition to being a farmer, Tim is also a husband and a dad. His young children, Charlotte and Jacob, keep him busy at home, too. A diagnosis of Crohn's disease a few years ago acts as further motivation for Tim to embrace his organic principals.

"I've been able to control my Crohn's primarily through diet, and it's allowed me to live pain-free without medication. I really believe that both people and plants thrive when well-nourished. Each and every time I hear positive feedback from a customer, it makes me proud to be an organic farmer."  

We hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into Farmer Tim's background and motivations. And, if you want to enjoy the fruits of his efforts here at the farm, hop onboard our CSA Farm Share program for the coming season. Sign ups are now open and we'd love to feed you and your family, too!

Posted 2/22/2018 11:22am by Cherry Valley Organics Farm.

Here at the Cherry Valley Organics farm we take our lettuce very seriously. It's a staple in our Pittsburgh CSA Farm Share boxes all summer long. Yep, that's right. We provide fresh, organic lettuce to our customers for months, not just for a few weeks in the spring and fall when the weather is cool. We carefully select each of the gourmet lettuce varieties we grow here at the farm so that the salad bowl stays full even when the weather is hot. And this year, we're growing an even greater selection of gourmet lettuce varieties than ever before.  

Gourmet lettuce varieties for your garden

What makes certain gourmet lettuce varieties truly exceptional?  

There are three traits we look for when selecting the best lettuce varieties to grow.

1. Heat resistance.

2. Flavor

3. Storage life

Let's talk about each of these traits in turn.  

Heat resistance: Lettuce is a cool-weather crop that's notorious for turning bitter and going to flower as soon as the days lengthen and summer's heat arrives. Thankfully, for both home gardeners and farmers like us, plant breeders have worked hard to develop heat-resistant lettuce varieties that keep producing delicious greens, even during warm weather. Bolting, or flower production, in these summer lettuce varieties is delayed and the flavor stays crisp and bright far longer.  

Summer lettuce varieties

Flavor: In addition to having improved heat resistance, it's important that the gourmet lettuce varieties we grow here at our certified organic farm are flavorful. One of last season's farmers market customers said, "I love your lettuce because it has flavor. Most lettuce just tastes like water." Nothing makes us happier than hearing words like this from the people who feed their families what we grow! No lettuce is worth growing if it doesn't have superior flavor.  

Storage life: The final trait we use when deciding which gourmet lettuce varieties to grow on our farm is storage life. What's the use of having a bag of organic, locally grown lettuce if it's going to spoil in the fridge before you eat it? Not only do our individual lettuce varieties store well under refrigeration, but the baby leaf lettuce varieties we use in our salad mixes are long-lasting, too. We got an email last season from a customer who said they love that our lettuce is still good after more than a week. You won't find any brown edges or slimy dark spots in our bags of fresh-picked lettuce because of the gourmet lettuce varieties we choose to grow.  

heat resistant lettuce types

Farmer Tim's favorite gourmet lettuce varieties  

Our head grower, Tim Gebhart, is extra excited about this year's lettuce crop. Here are some of the lettuces he's selected for the farm:  

'Bergam's Green': This frilly green lettuce produces dense heads that hold up great under summer's heat and stay super crunchy. 'Muir' is another excellent green lettuce variety we're growing this season.  

'Vulcan': This gourmet lettuce variety would likely take the prize for the prettiest selection we grow. The mild-flavored leaves are frilly and edged in a deep red, and its shelf life after harvest is downright amazing. We're also growing another great red-leaved variety called 'New Red Fire'.  

'Sylvestra': A Boston bibb lettuce, the thick, succulent leaves of 'Sylvestra' are a beautiful medium green. We think it has knock-out flavor, and the uniform size of the heads makes it easy for us to harvest. Other bibb-type gourmet lettuce varieties you'll find on the Cherry Valley Organics farm include a stunning red-leaved variety called 'Alkindus' and a loose-headed choice called 'Mirlo'.  

'Green Forest': When gourmet lettuce varieties are being discussed, it's important not to forget about the Romaines! This upright, dark green Romaine lettuce is slow to bolt with an exceedingly crisp texture. It also stores really well. Other Romaine-type lettuces we grow are 'Jericho', 'Ridgeline', and 'Holon' (which is an excellent summer lettuce variety!).  

Warm weather lettuce varieties for the garden

Gourmet lettuce varieties for baby greens  

In addition to growing full-sized lettuce heads here at the farm, we also grow a ton of baby lettuce greens for our salad mixes. Tim is thrilled to be able to introduce three new lettuce varieties for our mixes this year. "These three varieties are going to change the way we grow salad mix. Our new mix for 2018 will have even more flavor and crunch than ever before."

1. 'Ezrilla' is a gorgeous medium green lettuce with intensely frilled foliage. It's slow to bolt, too.

2. 'Buckley' has wine-colored, oakleaf-shaped leaves. It's a real stunner in a salad mix!

3. 'Hampton' is prized for its glossy and ruffled leaves. The heat-tolerance of this variety means a longer harvest of gourmet baby lettuce greens.  

baby leaf lettuce varieties for farm and garden

As you can see, we pride ourselves on choosing the best lettuce varieties for our Pennsylvania farm so our customers can enjoy a steady supply gourmet lettuces from early spring through late fall.  

To enjoy our lettuce and salad mixes, Pittsburgh residents can stop by our in-season, Saturday morning farmers market stand in Sewickley, PA. Or, subscribe to our unique Farm Share program where we bring our organic produce to your family every week! Learn more here.  

Related posts:

What is Swiss chard: Growing, harvesting, and cooking this delicious green

Broccoli leaves: A surprisingly delicious super food 

What are Ground Cherries? A delicious fruit to tempt your taste buds

Gourmet Lettuce Varieties for Farm and Garden: Our Top Picks

Posted 2/8/2018 12:30pm by Cherry Valley Organics.

What is Swiss chard?

Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) is a close relative of the garden beet. Chard and beets are so close, in fact, that they're actually the same species of plant that's been selected and bred for specific traits over many years. While beets have been bred for their plump, edible roots, Swiss chard has been bred for its crunchy, delicious leaves.  

Rich in antioxidants, vitamins K, C, and A, and an excellent source of dietary fiber, Swiss chard is a real garden -- and kitchen! -- champ. The thick, succulent texture of the leaves make them excellent additions to a diversity of dishes, including the recipes you'll find below. As an added bonus, Swiss chard varieties can have many different colored stems, including red, pink, orange, yellow, white, or even striped. The plants are truly beautiful!  

What is Swiss chard? It's a delicious and beautiful garden green.

How to grow Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a surprisingly easy crop to grow; even beginner gardeners will have success. Unlike lettuce and many other garden greens, Swiss chard is both heat and cold tolerant, making it easy to grow a prolific crop that produces from spring straight through autumn here on our Pennsylvania organic farm (its long growing season is also why Swiss chard is sometimes called 'perpetual spinach'). Seeds can be sown directly into the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in early spring. As long as the seeds and plants receive ample moisture, it takes about 30 days for baby greens to be ready for harvest and 55-60 for the plants to reach full size.

 Learn how to grow Swiss chard and use it in the kitchen.

When harvesting Swiss chard, it's best to cut off individual outer leaves and let the growing point remain intact. This allows for multiple harvests from the same plant. Just head out to the garden whenever you need some chard greens for a recipe, and trim off as many leaves as you need, using a sharp, clean knife and cutting each stem off at its base. Wash and pat the leaves dry before use.  

What does Swiss chard taste like?

Just because it shares a species name with beets, don't assume that Swiss chard has the same sweet, earthy flavor as beets. Cooked Swiss chard tastes much like a mixture between spinach and collard greens. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads and on sandwiches, where they impart a slightly sweet, lettuce-like flavor but with a far meatier texture.  

While the leaves of Swiss Chard are the part most cooks focus on, the thick, crunchy stems of Swiss chard are delicious, too. They take a bit longer to cook than the leaves do, so remove the midrib and stem from the leaves and allow them to cook a few minutes longer than the leaves. Another great way to use the stems is to sauté them in a bit of olive oil or steam them briefly until they're slightly soft but not limp, then serve them as part of a crudités platter with hummus or ranch dressing.  

How to freeze Swiss chard and cook with it.

How to freeze Swiss chard

In addition to enjoying Swiss chard in the recipes we've listed below, you can also easily freeze this yummy green for later use. To freeze Swiss chard, wash the leaves, then cut off the midribs and stems, setting them aside to prepare separately. Roughly chop the leaves into pieces, then put them into a large pot of boiling water for two minutes only. When two minutes pass, scoop the chard leaves out of the boiling water and put them immediately into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Let the chard sit in the ice water until it's fully cooled, about three minutes. Remove it from the ice water and put the blanched greens into a salad spinner to remove excess water. Pack the greens into zipper-top freezer bags, label the bags, and put them into the freezer. Now you'll have plenty of Swiss chard on hand for use whenever you need it.  

Freeze the stems in a similar fashion, but allow them to remain in the boiling water for an additional minute.  

Swiss chard recipes

While you can use Swiss chard in just about any recipe that calls for spinach, including vegetable lasagnas, quiches, stir-fries, and sautés, here are a few of our favorite easy-to-make Swiss chard recipes.  

Creamed Swiss chard

Sautéed chard with onions

Chickpeas and chard

Mini frittatas with chard

Swiss chard and herb fritters  

Participants in our Pittsburgh Farm Share Program can expect to find our delicious Swiss chard in their weekly delivery boxes. Not part of our Farm Share program yet? Sign up here  

Click these links to discover: 

How to grow and eat broccoli leaves

What are ground cherries?

More about our herbal teas

From The Cherry Valley Organics Farm Family

What is Swiss chard? How to grow, harvest, and cook this delicious green.

Posted 1/25/2018 11:21am by Cherry Valley Organics.

If you don't want to give your sweetheart expensive, pesticide-laden roses that were grown thousands of miles away from home for Valentine's Day, give him or her the gift of organic luxury instead! Handmade body care products make exceptional organic Valentine's Day gifts for the one you love.  

What Makes Our Organic Valentine's Day Gifts So Special  

Organic Valentine's Day Gifts for Your Sweetheart

Here at Cherry Valley Organics, we take our body care products very seriously, crafting each one by hand right here on the farm. Our USDA Certified Organic status means we use only the best ingredients to create each and every batch. Our selection of organic Valentine's Day gifts contains no synthetic chemicals, petroleum-based ingredients, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. For example, our organic lip balms are made with all-natural, food-grade ingredients, making them safe enough to eat (and very kissable!). And our healing skin salves are created by combining olive oil and beeswax with essential oils and a selection of herbs grown here on our Pennsylvania farm.    

Our Guide to Organic Valentine's Day Gifts  

Our entire line of organic body care products is filled to the brim with scents and flavors that will make your Valentine's Day extra special. But, you can really show your sweetheart how much you care by selecting something from this list of Our Top 10 Organic Body Care Products. Let it be your guide to a sensational, organic Valentine's Day!  

1. Lavender Bath Salts: Let your sweetheart soak up your love as they soak in our blend of Breton™ Grey Sea Salt, organic lavender essential oil, and dried lavender flowers. A good soak is both stress relieving and oh so therapeutic! You'll find our full line of bath salts and bath bags here.    

2. Vanilla Fragrance Spray: No synthetic chemical fragrances here! Instead, our organic fragrance sprays are enhanced with pure essential oils and herbs from our farm. They're perfect for freshening up bed sheets, linen closets, rooms, and even the car before you head out on your Valentine's Day date. Discover our full line of organic fragrances here.    

3. Patchouli Massage Oil: Nothing says Happy Valentine's Day more than our organic massage oil! ;) Patchouli essential oil and various herbal extracts are blended in a base of organic olive and jojoba oils to create one of our best-selling organic Valentine's Day gifts. It also helps heal chapped skin. See our full line of scented massage oils here.   

4. Peppermint and Tea Tree Wake-up Soap: One of our top-selling soaps, the amazing and energizing fragrance of this soap is the perfect way to get ready for your big Valentine's Day celebration. We use coconut, olive, and palm oils in our soap, instead of the animal fats used in most major soap brands. We combine these oils with essential fragrances and plant extracts for an awesome clean! Check out our other organic soap scents here.   

5. Happy Blend Herbal Tea: If your sweetheart's idea of a good day includes a cup of tea, our Happy Blend will make their day. All of our herbal teas are caffeine free and made from organic herbs picked at their peak of flavor. Combine a few of our tea flavors together for one of the best organic Valentine's Day gifts you can give.    

6. Fresh Flowers Every Week: What says love more than fresh cut flowers -- but only when they're locally grown and 100% organic! For Pittsburgh residents, signing your sweetheart up for our Flower Bouquet Subscription Service means they'll get a weekly, biweekly, or monthly bouquet delivered to a pick up site in their neighborhood. If you don't live within our delivery range, find an organic farm closer to home and ask if they have a bouquet subscription service. Sign up for ours here.    

7. Sweet Orange Lip Balm: They may come in tiny tubes, but our lip balms sure do make mighty organic Valentine's Day gifts. Sweet Orange is one of our most popular flavors, but our beeswax and olive oil-based lip balms come in lots of different flavors. See them all here.  

8. Body Care Gift Baskets: Our gift baskets combine the best of our body care products together in a fair-trade basket and wrap them up neatly with a raffia bow. With themes like Lavender, Mint, and Floral Blend, you can't go wrong with our organic gift baskets for your sweet heart.    

9. Themed Herbal Gift Crates: Can't decide which of our organic Valentine's Day gifts to get? Select one of our themed gift crates and let us handpick a selection of our top-rated items for you! Combining products like our soaps, teas, fragrance sprays, and lip balms together in a reusable wooden crate, you can't go wrong with these themed packages. See our full line of gift crates here.    

10. Cherry Valley Organics Gift Card: Want to let your sweetheart select their own organic Valentine's Day gifts? They can do just that with a Cherry Valley Organics gift card. Available in various amounts, our gift cards allow recipients to choose whatever they'd like from our full line of products. Pick up a gift card here and we'll mail it to you or directly to the recipient.  

Organic Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Our Promise to You: We always list every ingredient on our product labels so you know exactly what's inside the package, and if you have questions about any of the items on our list of organic Valentine's Day gifts, we're here for you! Contact us via our website and ask away. We'd love to talk organic body care with you!  

Happy Valentine's Day from the Cherry Valley Organics Family

The Best Organic Valentine's Day Gifts for Your Sweetheart

Posted 1/11/2018 8:21am by Cherry Valley Organics.

Sign-ups for our CSA Pittsburgh Farm Share Program are now open! We're excited to be able to provide your family with a wide selection of delicious, organic fruits and vegetables each and every week throughout the growing season. Cherry Valley Organics is one of only a few USDA Certified Organic farms in Western Pennsylvania, and our Farm Share program is among the most unique CSAs in Pittsburgh.  

For the equivalent of $25.00 per week, you get to enjoy oodles of locally-grown, farm-fresh goodness! You can sign up for our Pittsburgh CSA here or keep reading for more details about our customizable farm share program.

The Cherry Valley Organics CSA Pittsburgh Farm Share Program

What is a CSA?  

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are a powerful tool for small farmers like us. They enable customers to invest in a local farm in exchange for a weekly or bi-weekly "share" of fresh seasonal produce. You provide early-season financial support to a small farm like ours by paying for part of your "share" at the start of the growing season, then we pay you back by delivering a box of delicious organic fruits and veggies weekly or biweekly from early May through mid December. This cooperative is a win-win for both our small farm and our customers! We're able to purchase the seeds and supplies we need to grow our crops, and you're able to fill your kitchen with locally grown goodness for 32 entire weeks! Keep reading to learn what makes our CSA program so special. 

A sample of what our Pittsburgh CSA Farm Share boxes might include.

What makes Cherry Valley Organics CSA Pittsburgh so special?  

In most Pittsburgh CSA programs, the customer has no control over what's in their weekly box of produce; the farmer makes that decision for them. But our Cherry Valley Organics Farm Share Program is far more flexible. We customize each and every Pittsburgh CSA box we deliver by filling it with the fruits and veggies each customer selects as their favorites. Don't like kale? We won't include any. Love heirloom tomatoes? We'll send extra! We put together every single farm share box with great care, and then deliver it to a neighborhood drop-off site where you pick it up at your convenience on a designated day.

This year, we have an extensive list of drop-off sites available for customers of the Cherry Valley Organics CSA Pittsburgh program. You choose your preferred neighborhood drop-off site when you sign up, and you'll find your box of farm-fresh, organic goodies ready and waiting for you.  

Cherry Valley Organics CSA Pittsburgh Pick-up Locations: Lawrenceville • Mt. Lebanon • Squirrel Hill • Upper St. Clair • Sewickley • Burgettstown • Cannonsburg • Crafton Heights • Southpointe • Oakdale • New Brighton • Columbiana (OH)  

Cherry Valley Organics: Farm Share Pittsburgh sample box

A little something extra in your CSA box  

As an added bonus, you also have the option of finding a lot more than organic fruits and veggies in your farm share box. Our Pittsburgh CSA also offers specialty items for an additional fee. We can include a bouquet of our gorgeous specialty cut flowers, a canister of our delicious herbal teas, or a selection of our luxurious organic body care products. All of our CSA Pittsburgh customers will get a weekly email describing any add-on products available to them for that particular week.  

You'll also find recipes and notes from our growing team in your Cherry Valley Organics Pittsburgh CSA farm share deliveries. We love telling our customers about some of the more unique fruits and veggies we grow and how to prepare and enjoy them!  

Because our CSA Pittsburgh program is so unique, we have a limited number of spots available each season. Sign up today by clicking here!

To see a list of what fruits and veggies you're likely to find in your CSA box, click here.

If you have questions about our Farm Share Program, feel free to email us at info@cherryvalleyorganics.com

From,

The Cherry Valley Organics Family

The Cherry Valley Organics CSA Pittsburgh Farm Share Program fills your Pittsburgh kitchen with locally grown, organic fruits and veggies every week!

Posted 12/14/2017 12:21pm by Cherry Valley Organics.
Don't forget to take advantage of our last online sale of the season!
Plus, everything ordered before December 19th will arrive in time for Christmas!
 
 
 
That's right, this sale includes all of our bath and body products like Bath Bags & SaltsFragrances, Salves, Massage Oils, Lip Balms & Glosses, Soaps, & more!
 
 
We even have stocking stuffers for kitties! They love our organic catnip because it's been harvested and dried at its peak. 
 
 
Rather shop in person? Check out our Holiday Event Schedule for your LAST CHANCE to catch us in person this year! 
 
Thanks for keeping in touch! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest! 
 
Posted 12/14/2017 12:06pm by Cherry Valley Organics.

Buy Organic Herbal Tea Online: Why our natural herbal tea recipes are the best 

Here are Cherry Valley Organics we take our tea very seriously. Made from a blend of certified organic herbs, spices, and dried fruits, our organic herbal teas are prepared in small batches and hand-packed into biodegradable tea bags. Every herb we use in our natural herbal tea is grown right here on our small Pennsylvania farm, and we carefully select each ingredient to create our seven incredible herbal tea recipes. Whether you buy our tea blends direct from our farmers market stand or you want to buy organic herbal tea online, we have a great selection of flavors you'll love.  

Herbal teas aren't made from tea leaves, but rather a blend of herbs, spices, and other ingredients.

What is herbal tea?  

It's a surprisingly common question and one that we're more than happy to answer. True tea plants (Camellia sinensis) are a species of evergreen grown in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. This is the plant used to make true teas, including oolong, green, black, and white teas. There are several varieties of C. sinensis, each of which makes a different tea. True tea leaves contain caffeine and are sometimes blended with other ingredients for added flavor. But, since most true tea comes to the U.S. from halfway around the world and it's often grown with synthetic chemicals, the environmental footprint of this tea is huge.  

However, herbal tea recipes like ours are not actually made from true tea leaves. Instead, they're made from various herbs and spices mixed together to make a delightfully flavorful cup of tea. Herbal teas are naturally caffeine free, and if you buy organic herbal tea online from a U.S. grower like us, not only are you supporting a small business, but you're also supporting an environmentally friendly product.  

Natural herbal tea recipes include many different herbs and spices and are naturally caffeine free.

What's in our natural herbal tea recipes?  

Without divulging our secret recipe blends, we can tell you that all seven of our organic herbal tea flavors have been formulated with great care. We work hard to blend the perfect combinations of herbs, each harvested at the peak of flavor and then flash dried in our commercial dehydrator to capture the most intense flavor possible.  

We offer seven herbal tea recipes to our customers. Click on the flavor to learn more or to buy our organic herbal tea online.

  • Tulsi - Known as "the elixir of life," our tulsi tea has an earthy flavor that's both sweet and spicy.
  • Lemon - We combine lemon verbena with lemon balm, lemon basil, and other lemon-flavored herbs to make this citrusy herbal tea. 
  • Cinnamon Apple - Created from a mix of cinnamon basil, apple mint, and wild crabapples, you can't go wrong with this organic herbal tea. 
  • Happy Blend - Designed with happiness in mind, this herbal tea recipe uses mint, lemon balm, and other strong-flavored herbs to brighten your spirits without caffeine.
  • Rose Orange - The sweet, flowery flavor of rose geranium partners beautifully with dried orange peel for a simple, fruity organic herbal tea.

 

The best way to buy organic herbal tea online is from a small company like Cherry Valley Organics. 

  • Pineapple Sage and Rosemary - A delightful blend of herbs whose flavor is both citrusy and fragrant. 
  • Licorice - Our licorice herbal tea aids in digestion and calms the stomach. A blend of anise-flavored herbs, this natural herbal tea recipe is a customer favorite.   

 

Buy organic herbal tea online from a reliable source such as Cherry Valley Organics.

How do we package our natural herbal teas?  

After blending the ingredients, our herbal teas are carefully hand-packed into biodegradable paper tea bags. The bags are then placed into tubes made from 100% recycled paper. That means everything that goes into making our herbal teas is compostable, which means zero waste!  

Buy organic herbal tea online from Cherry Valley Organics  

When you want to buy organic herbal tea online, look no further than our farm. We ship our small-batch, organic herbal teas right to your door, year-round, anywhere in the U.S.  

Buy all of our organic herbal teas by clicking here

From The Cherry Valley Organics Team

Organic herbal tea recipes that are sure to please.