Archive for the ‘Insights’ Category

Warming “Jamu” Turmeric Tea

| March 21st, 2016



Turmeric is an ancient Indian yellow spice used for centuries that has an active ingredient called
curcumin. It has significant anti-inflammatory properties as well as a host of other health benefits.
Turmeric is also fantastic for digestion and cleansing the liver which is the “filter” for our body.

Whenever you feel pain in joints and muscles or just want to boost your immune system,
make some Jamu or Golden Milk tea just before bedtime. Drinking turmeric tea in the morning
and evenings may make all the difference in soothing joint pain. Make sure and add black pepper as it
enhances bio-availability of turmeric as well as makes the tea invigorating. The maple syrup sets off
the earthy-acridness of the spice enough that the tea is simply delicious. Udo’s oil added at the end is full of DHA that helps with inflammation.

I use coconut milk because it is full of healthy fats and is so good for you! Turmeric tends to stain anything it comes into contact with, so be careful!

                                                                                                 -To your good health, Lee Newlin

serves 2

• 2 cups unsweetened coconut, flax, almond, hemp, soy milk or filtered water
• ½ teaspoon fresh turmeric powder
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
• 2 slices of fresh ginger
• black pepper (just a pinch)
• 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
• 4 tsp. maple syrup or honey
• 1 tsp sesame oil or Udo oil (great for joints) (health food stores carries both)
1. Gently bring milk just to a simmer and whisk in all the ingredients, except the lemon,
sweetener and oil. Let sit for 5 minutes and then remove ginger slices.
2. Whisk in the lemon, oil and maple syrup just before serving hot.
3. For a frothy and creamy consistency use an immersion blender and blend for 10-15 seconds.
4. Top off with grated nutmeg and stir now and then as you drink so all the good stuff doesn’t settle to the bottom.



So what am I supposed to eat??

| January 8th, 2016

Eat Your Greens

Every five years the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture publish dietary guidelines, and those recommendations were released January 7, 2016. There are reports that an advisory committee had recommended that the guidelines advocate a primarily plant-based diet, but food lobbyists argued against it. Yet, even with the watered down recommendations if we would follow these guidelines — especially eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, avoiding saturated fats, and drastically curtailing sugar consumption, there would be a monumental improvement in our health and a dramatic reduction in disease and health care expenses.

At Peaceful River Farm we grow a wide range of nutrient-dense, disease fighting vegetables and berries. We teach healthy cooking classes on a regular basis and enlist colleagues to focus on particular health issues or introduce us to new recipes. Our farm dinners showcase our produce, and we have recruited talented and creative chefs who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about healthy cuisine.   They eagerly prepare plant based menus  that showcase our vegetables and fruits rather than smothering them with sauces and spices.

A friend gave Lee a recipe book by Rebecca Katz featuring 150 recipes using whole foods, big-flavor ingredients and attractive presentations. Her book, The Cancer Fighting Kitchen should be utilized by every group, friend, or relative of a cancer patient. It is equally important for folks seeking to keep cancer at bay and for those wanting to keep cancer from returning.

Katz has a reference section early in her book she calls the “Culinary Pharmacy”. The good news for you is that many of the healing foods she champions – herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables can be found at your local farmers market, food co-op, or grocery store. We grow many of the nutrient-dense, disease-fighting vegetables and berries included in her “Culinary Pharmacy”, and Lee’s recipes champion these superfoods. Here is just a few of the health benefits of the beautiful whole fruits, legumes and veggies Katz touts:

Beans are anti-inflammatory lowering breast cancer risk in women as well as lower colon cancer risk. They also help control blood sugar and carry toxins from the body.
Beets are powerful anti-inflammatory food that are high in beta-cyanin helping to fight colon cancer.
Bell Peppers are anti-inflammatory with lycopene (also found in tomatoes), vitamin C, and lots of fiber offering protection against colon, cervical, bladder, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
Broccoli is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, rich in sulforaphane which slows the growth of leukemia and melanoma. Eat broccoli and tomatoes together to to increase the potency of broccoli’s cancer fighting.  This is the combo that Lee first began to prepare when diagnosed with lymphoma.
Cabbage is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial and along with other cruciferous vegetables is high in anticancer phytochemicals.
Carrots are anti-inflammatory with studies showing that a carrot a day could cut lung cancer risk in half. They are high in Vitamin A and rich in beta-carotene helping to prevent lung, mouth, throat, stomach, intestinal, bladder, prostate, and breast cancers.
Garlic is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antibacterial. The pungent smell created by allicin in both garlic and onions accounts for its cancer-protective qualities, especially colon cancer.
Kale is anti-inflammatory and contains a lot of indole-3-carbinol which studies show changes the way estrogen metabolizes. This may prevent lesions from turning cancerous or keep cancer cells from proliferating.

We’ve gotten half way through the alphabet leaving out a lot of the foods that Katz touts in between A and K and a whole lot more from L to Z. These are foods that we grow, that we champion to our customers, and that Lee showcases in her classes and at our farm dinners. The ominous sounding book is actually a great read — often amusing, highly informative and inspirational. It is filled with delicious recipes that everyone will enjoy but especially those facing cancer. We know personally from Lee’s experience (she was diagnosed eleven years ago today with non-Hodgkins lymphoma) that good nutrition is critical when you are undergoing chemo, but your taste buds go haywire and your appetite plummets. Friends undergoing treatment, who have read the book at Lee’s suggestion and employ Katz’s recipes, have reported that it has been an amazing aid in their recovery and the recovery of their appetite and fighting spirit.

Read the book. Keep buying and growing and eating wonder foods. Discover delicious, disease-fighting recipes and share them with friends. Give this book to a friend in need of hope and a “culinary pharmacy”.                                                                -To your good health, Lee Newlin

Kale Secrets Revealed

| January 20th, 2015

One of the biggest obstacles people face when it comes to eating dark, leafy greens like the kale above is figuring out how to prepare them to make them taste delicious. Many older greens can taste bitter and tough when undercooked or mushy when overcooked. Knowing how to create tender, flavorful greens anytime of the year requires learning a few tricks like I’ve listed below. Once you’ve tried a few of these ideas you’ll be including these wonderfoods in many meals to come.                                           -To your good health, Lee Newlin

• Keep greens chilled in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for 5 days if in the proper storage bags ( I recommend “green bags” which remove ethylene gas from produce and are reusable) Use them as soon as possible to reap the health benefits fully. Do not wash kale before storing in the refrigerator as exposure to water encourages spoilage.
• Remove any thick stems (just hold the kale upside down by the stems and strip the leaves off with your hand), then stack large greens on top of one another, roll them into tight bundles and slice into thin ribbons. Don’t compost the stems!  They are loaded with nutrition and if finely chopped, can be sautéed along with onion. To get the most health benefits from kale, let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice while allowing the kale to rest prior to heat  can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration.
• Blanching reduces bitterness and softens the tougher greens of winter, which is useful if you want to follow up with a quick stir fry or to freeze them for later use. To blanch kale, stir stripped leaves into boiling water for a minute or two, drain, then immediately plunge into a bowl of cold water. Proceed with your recipe.
• Braising tenderizes and adds a deeper flavor. To braise, slow cook 1 pound of greens in 1/2 cup of salted cooking liquid (stock or wine or water) for about 20 minutes or until greens are tender and ready to eat. You could add other flavor enhancements like minced garlic, ginger at the beginning. We like tamari (soy sauce), mirin, just a tad of toasted sesame oil, a dash or two of hot pepper sauce and plum vinegar but do taste as you add to make it your own recipe.  Another favorite combination is simply minced garlic and ginger, diced onion and vegetable stock.   Braise until tender, usually 15 minutes.  Yum!
Use in Salads:
• While kale is a go-to green for soups and braising, it also works surprisingly well uncooked in salads. The key to turning these leaves tender enough to eat raw is to use your hands to massage the sliced thinly leaves with an acid like lemon, a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper
• To prepare the kale for a massaged salad, strip the stems and cut into thin ribbons. Then add dressing ingredients and using your hands, massage them into the greens thoroughly, which “collapses” or softens the leaves. You can let the kale marinate for a bit before serving.
• Using avocado instead of the olive oil is delicious! Just rub the juice of one lemon and one chopped fully ripe avocado into a cleaned, stemmed and shredded bunch of kale, then season to taste.  Mix in a cup of diced tomatoes and you will put this recipe on your “Foolproof” and “go to” list for sure.

For Breakfast, really?:  Try adding fresh arugula on top of toast with hummus.  We cannot eat it  without these amazing and delicious greens.

Foods to Fight Aches and Pains

| January 4th, 2014

Include these to prevent or lessen inflammation

Some of the best remedies to overcome inflammation also taste fabulous in recipes highlighted in our classes (I can’t say that about any prescription medications). Plus, these foods won’t cause nasty side effects that some pain medications do.

1. Place high antioxidant foods at the top of your shopping list.  Fresh fruits (berries of all kinds) and vegetables, including the dark green leafy ones like the kale above are great sources.  They may help reduce tissue damage from inflammation as well.

2. Include ginger and turmeric in your recipes.  They are natural anti-inflammatory spices and make dishes so delicious.

3. Get enough omega-3s. The omega-3 fatty acids provided in walnuts have protective fats that may help in reducing inflammation.  Walnuts have the highest concentration and most potent polyphenols (that’s a good thing!) of all nuts.  Oily fish (such as wild Alaskan salmon) as well as freshly ground flax seed may help in lessening arthritis.

4. Cut back on refined sugar and flours as well as simple carbohydrates.

5. Seek the colorful super foods that deliver the nutrition your body is telling you it needs!

Stay warm and pain free this winter,     Lee

Good Habits

| January 23rd, 2013

Take time to enjoy your life!

How do you keep yourself healthy and keep disease at bay?  This is a question I get asked a lot.  It is something I don’t obsess about.  After almost 10 years of figuring out a routine that works, it has now become like breathing in and out–you just do it automatically.  Keeping cancer at bay has been a mission.   Here are some of the habits I’ve formed along the way that may interest you.

1.  Upon waking in the morning,  I drink a fresh glass of water with 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar with the mother.  It gets my digestion going, has many health benefits and rehydrates me after a long period of sleep. After breakfast I quickly figure out what we will have for lunch as well as dinner, so I won’t have to think about it again. This means checking out what’s in the fridge, pack house or freezer well before meal time. By devoting a few minutes to more nutritious eating, you invest in your own health and that of your family. And when I say a  few minutes, I mean it: Studies from UCLA suggest that a wholesome, home-cooked dinner takes only about ten minutes longer to prepare, on average, than serving processed or ready-made food. If you make enough for leftovers, you’ll save more time and money in the long run. And don’t forget: obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease all lead to doctor and hospital visits—which make not only for tremendous expense in dollars, but also in precious time.  Besides, it’s not much fun either.


2.  Each day, I try to make fresh organic fruit a part of our breakfast by having either a cup serving or by making a smoothie (recipe on right of this page under “Breakfast”). While I avoid boxed cereals, I do occasionally enjoy steel cut oatmeal that has been soaked overnight then cooked for 5 minutes the next morning.  I include walnuts, blueberries and a very ripe banana to sweeten it.  You want to go after that fiber and this combination has it.  Sometimes I will have 1/2 cup of organic cottage cheese mixed with 1 tablespoon of ground fresh flax seed and a small handful of raw walnuts or sunflower seeds. Most days we usually have an omelet from the eggs our wonderful chickens lay each day served with a slice of gluten free toast. These eggs are loaded with omega 3’s and are a perfect protein.  Don’t fall for the false idea that eggs aren’t healthy.  Just make sure to buy locally from a farmer you trust.   Sometimes I will warm up what we had for dinner the night before if it strikes our fancy.  After breakfast is the time to take morning supplements.   Around 10 am, or whenever hunger hits, I have a healthy snack like nuts or fruit.  Important.  Try to eat small meals all through the day so you won’t feel starved.


3.  Every day, rain, snow, heat or humidity, try to walk, stretch, swim or do yoga.  To avoid stiffness and painful joints start by moving in a gentle way. Don’t sit all day in front of a computer without getting up every 20 minutes and stretching.  Several days a week, lift 5 pound hand weights for resistance training.  To stave off osteoarthritis,  try gentle yoga.  Sign up for a class and don’t think you have to bend like a pretzel.  You will be astonished how much better your joints and muscles feel just after one class and how much better you can move.  (Of course, before beginning any new exercise program, consult your physician.)


4.  Lunch and dinner usually revolves around good protein and vegetables, soup, salad or last night’s leftovers—served on a 7″ plate to remind us to eat less.  Quinoa, brown rice, avocado, lentils, chick peas, greens or salad, grilled or broiled wild salmon are just a few of some wonderful choices- remembering that each animal protein portion should be the size of a deck of cards.  Salads are sprinkled with chia seeds, nuts, veggies and homemade salad dressing. We don’t use store bought dressing, as homemade is far healthier and too easy to make.  Just blend in 1 part fresh lemon juice or good vinegar like balsamic with 3 parts extra virgin olive oil.  I  add crushed garlic and a touch of Dijon mustard as well.  You’ll find not only that it tastes better and is healthier, but the costs are vastly reduced.


5.  Around 3 pm, I start looking for a snack to take the edge off until dinner.   In planning ahead that morning I decide what the snack is and try to stick to it.  Usually it is a handful of almonds or walnuts, 1 small piece of dark chocolate, 1/2 cup of berries or a small slice of Swiss cheese.  Just pick a food that is nutritious.  However, try to eat the dark chocolate before 2 pm to avoid caffeine highs later in the day.


6.  Just before dinner my husband Larry usually pours us both a small glass of organic red wine.  While this is a personal choice, it is a treat and can be very beneficial for good health.  Just stick to one 5 oz glass. If you don’t drink wine then pour unsweetened tart cherry juice in a wine glass so you feel it’s special.  Great for arthritis by the way!


7.  Our meal time is usually reserved and expected.  We cook dinner together.  Preparing a meal is when I feel most creative and happy.  It is an established routine that keeps both of us focused on creating a beautiful and colorful meal.    Eating together as a family makes it less likely that you’ll choose to eat fast food or products that have little nutrition and more likely that you won’t overeat.  Family life is so satisfying when you prepare food and eat together at the table.  There are numerous studies to prove it.


8. At dinner, we make sure our plate consists of at least 50-75 percent vegetables.  It could be salad, broccoli, sweet potato, asparagus, cauliflower, kale, swiss chard, tatsoi, beets or whatever colorful veggies you choose. Just have variety.   This ensures that we get enough nutrients and automatically reduces the amount of fat and calories we consume.


9.  We try to drink water with every meal.  If we slow down and savor each bite , express our gratitude for this marvelous food and talk about how delicious and beautiful it is we tend to experience “mindful eating”.   Studies indicate that simply by eating at a leisurely pace, you could drop several pounds a year.


10. Retrain your palate.  I found this to be far easier than I thought it would be but then I was extremely motivated after having had cancer.  Our taste buds can be taught to appreciate new and subtler flavors. When you eliminate processed, high-fat  and over sweetened food for healthier fare, it can take one to two weeks before your taste buds acclimate. Don’t expect to love new flavors right away. Just keep serving the new dishes, and soon neither you nor your palate will recall what all the fuss was about.


The Last Word….You really are what you eat.
Most of us want radiant skin, shiny hair, more intimacy, more flexibility as well as great health as we age. Consider that all of this and more depends on the flow of blood for nutrients and oxygen—which, in turn, requires healthy blood vessels and a steady supply of red blood cells.  The best way to keep your body humming is to eat a well-rounded, nutritious diet and MOVE.  You can do this… It is how I strive for good health.—–Lee Newlin



| September 11th, 2012

We are growing an increasing number of Asian Greens this fall – they tend to germinate quickly from seed; reach early maturity and can also be harvested at a tender, baby stage; have good market acceptance; are pretty in the field and on the table in a wide array of sizes and textures. They are power-packed with nutrition but very few calories — rich in antioxidants (in particular of vitamin C), iron, calcium, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, and folates, Oh, and also they are DELICIOUS! Most are in the brassica family (kale, broccoli, cabbage, mustard) and have a mild mustard flavor. Others are mild with juicy stalks akin to celery.

Plant Asian Greens through early October – stagger plantings, if you begin now, to extend the harvest. Do not plant where you have grown brassicas in the past three years. Add a liberal amount of organic matter to the soil in preparing and feed with a complete organic fertilizer preferably including boron (a little dab will do you). Keep well-watered during the germination phase and through the growing period. Below is a lineup of some of the standouts in our fall garden – you may find most of these on seed racks at your garden center or niche grocery store, or you can order from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, High Mowing, Sow True, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Fedco, and/or Seeds of Change.

Komatsuna – Also called spinach mustard, Komatsuna has dark green leaves that are rich in calcium and often quite glossy. They can be harvested at any stage and prepared like spinach in the early stages. This versatile green can be stir-fried, pickled, boiled and added to soups or used fresh in salads.

Yukina Savoy – Large, crinkled, savoyed leaves. Plant habit is similar to Tatsoi, but more upright and vigorous for improved baby leaf yields. At full size the thick, savoyed leaves are held upright on pale green petioles. Delicious steamed or stir-fried.

Hon Tsai Tai – A Chinese specialty also known as Kailaan. The young plants soon branch and produce quantities of long, pencil-thin, red-purple, budded flower stems. Pleasing, mild mustard taste for use raw in salads or lightly cooked in stir-fries or soups.

Mibuna – Easy-to-grow Japanese green similar to Mizuna but with long, rounded leaves instead of serrated. Long white stems are born in rosettes reaching 12” tall. Perfect lightly cooked and seasoned, steamed, or stir fried. Mild enough to be added to any salad with health benefits akin to Mizuna.

Mizuna – A mild, slightly sweet Japanese green with slender white stems and bright green, deeply serrated leaves. Mild in flavor, it is good for stir-fries, salads, sandwiches and soup. It means “water vegetable” in Japanese with its juicy stalks. Low in calories, high in folic acid, high in vitamin A and carotenoids, high in vitamin C, and contains glucosinolates which are antioxidants that help prevent certain cancers.

Purple Mizuna – Purple veined leaves are sharply serrated and slow bolting. Color is most pronounced in late summer harvests. Mild in flavor and adds a distinctive look to salad mixes.

Tatsoi – Fast growing green, most popular as a baby leaf for salad and braising mixes or bunch at full size. Spoon shaped leaves are dark green and glossy with thin white stems. We had a dynamite casserole last year at the Carolina Farm Stewardship banquet – tatsoi and spinach, where the chefs used our tatsoi.

Bok Choy (aka Pak Choi) – We grow three varieties: Prize Choy which has great taste, color, and crunch; Shanghai which is smaller in stature and can be harvested in the baby stage for stir-frying, soups, or salads; and White-Stemmed which has little retail inspiration with its gangly, floppy growth habit but has a rich buttery taste – we’re going to harvest it in the baby stage this fall. Both the leaves and stems are edible and can be used in stir frying with garlic, olive oil, and a hint of soy sauce; braising, grilled, or simmering in soups.

Chinese Cabbage is also known as Napa Cabbage (having nothing to do with the California wine region). It is barrel-shaped with tightly-arranged crinkly, light green leaves and tastes mild, and crunchy. It is loaded with nutrients and extremely low in calories and high in fiber. There is an array of antioxidant compounds that protect against various cancers and bad cholesterol, an excellent source of folates, Vitamin C and K, as well as many essential vitamins.

Have a healthy and happy fall!

Larry Newlin, farmer Peaceful River Farm, Chapel Hill, NC

The Face of Sustainable Agriculture by Larry Newlin

| March 5th, 2012

We recently returned from the Southern small farmer reunion, the annual conference of the Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group (SSAWG). All 1,250 of us met in Little Rock for dawn to dusk workshops. It was one of the most diverse group of people you can imagine – indeed, some fit the stereotype of young and crunchy; but there were just as likely middle age and older African American and Latino farmers, conventional farmers (and conventionally looking) converting to organics, and older Baby Boomers like us following a passion.

One of the speakers, Herbie Cottle, hails from Rose Hill, NC in one of the poorest counties in the South, Duplin, where Larry’s Mom was raised. It is hot and humid in the coastal plains, but the soil is sandy in which the addition of organic matter through cover crops, compost, and manure grows wonderful vegetables. Herbie stumbled onto organic farming as he was advised to cover crop a “dead” field with a high nitrogen-fixing, high biomass cover crop, hairy vetch. After mowing it for three years, he plowed it in and planted vegetables. The ladybugs appeared on the farm for the first time in years as did honeybees. The harvest was the best he had ever had on what once was the poorest three acres. What is it like to convert from conventional to organic farming? Herbie, the former tobacco farmer says, “It’s like changing your religion – it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Hard, yes – but profitable. Instead of being left to the pricing of “cut-throat” wholesalers, he is now a farmer owner in a farm co-op, Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO) based in Pittsboro, NC. ECO sells to high-end restaurants; niche grocers such as Whole Foods, Saxapahaw General Store, and Weaver Street Market; and institutions such as Duke University’s food service. (Our Peaceful River Farm also sells through ECO and harvests in-season on most Mondays and Wednesdays.) What you harvest is pre-sold, and you don’t have to expend precious time selling door to door to restaurants and grocers or manning a booth at the farmers market. Herbie now has 90 acres in organic production and is one of ECO’s top producers, accounting for 70% of his sales. ECO, in turn, has doubled its sales in the past two years and is now moving to a larger warehouse this spring in Durham’s old tobacco district. Organic has become the ticket to success for many farmers.

However you picture an organic farmer, we bet Herbie doesn’t fit any stereotype you had in mind. His farm has come back to life; he employs 25 workers seasonally and eight full-time including an older African American woman who is his best bean picker and who Herbie calls his “grandmother”. “She can out-pick any of the younger guys, and when I ask her to get out of the heat of the sun to take a rest, she admonishes – “Who do you think is going to pick this row in time to put on the truck to ECO!”” Another worker in the summer is a local UNC-CH student – cute and vivacious; Herbie tells us she is one of his best. When he tells the crew that today they are going to dig potatoes, she bubbles, “I’ve been wanting to dig potatoes!” Herbie slyly whispers to a standing room only crowd , “She out-harvested all the guys.”

“I believe organically grown food is healthier and tastes better. It’s what I want to feed my kids and my customers. Growing organically has kept my multi-generational farm in farming,” Herbie concludes. Meet Herbie and other ECO growers through videos at their respective farms on the ECO website,

NC leads the nation in the loss of farmland — an inauspicious claim. Nonetheless, our bustling, sustainable ag region in the Research Triangle is seeing an increase in the number of new farmers (though not total farmland). Statewide in North Carolina we spend about $3.5 billion a year on food with about 98% of that food coming from faraway places like California, Arizona, and Florida. If just 10% of North Carolinians’ food budget ($1.05 a day) was locally focused, we’d be pumping $3.5 billion into our state economy. That would mean fresher and more nutritious food, less childhood obesity, a much smaller carbon footprint, lower health expenditures, and a whopping 90,000 +/- additional jobs in a state that desperately needs new jobs! We now have 440,000 unemployed (9.9% — one of the worst records in the nation). A focus on buying locally produced food would reduce that number to 350,000, or something in the neighborhood of 7.5% unemployment making us one of the best in the nation.

What does California have that NC doesn’t? We have a more sustainable supply of water, but California generally has richer soil. Soil can be improved by adding organic matter and cover cropping, but Califonia’s persistent droughts are curtailing some agricultural activity – so there! California is three times larger with three times more people, but if you turn North Carolina upside down, our climate zones are essentially the same – Northern California is in Zone 6 like our western mountains, the fertile Central Valley is Zone 7 like our fertile crescent from the northeast to below Charlotte, and Southern California is in subtropical Zone 8 like our Wilmington area. Oh yeah, and California is 3,000 miles away, and its large farms have had their share of food-related scares and recalls. So, tell us again why we are importing over 90 percent of our produce and fruit from the West Coast when we can grow almost everything California produces.

One of the exciting aspects for us in jumping headlong into the sustainable food tidal wave is meeting the local heroes of the land like Cathy Jones and Mike Perry of Perriwinkle Farm (Cathy has mentored us at the Fearrington Farmers Market); Bill Dow of Ayrshire Farm (NC’s first organically certified farmer and a fellow worshipper at Spring Friends Meeting); the Hitts of Perregrine Farm, who first pointed us to the available land that is now Peaceful River Farm; Ben and Noah of Fickle Creek Farm in Efland; Doug Jones of Piedmont Biofarm in Pittsboro, where Larry has taken workshops; and Suzanne of Cozi Farms in Saxapahaw, who welcomed us to her farm following torrential rains last spring on the CFSA farm tour and later sold us her first chicken tractor. We’ve met dozens — there are thousands more. The average age of today’s family farmer is 57, but there are loads and loads of young people wanting to take their place.

The obstacles to entering farming are enormous – high land prices, lack of capital and collateral, lack of a profitable track record, etc. And yet there is this dogged determination to become one of the 20 million sustainable farmers that Author Michael Pollan predicts we will need to develop a sustainable farm economy. At a showing of “Greenhorns” last fall at the Silk Hope Heritage Farm Center (a documentary about new farmers across America) there was standing room only in a hall packed with passionate wannabe farmers. Larry’s Sustainable Ag classmates at Central Carolina Community College are young, bright, and motivated – many earned a college degree already and are looking to make a difference in the world – the program has increased nearly twofold in a short period.

Our friend, Joanna Lelekaks of Dancing Pines Farm in Efland, heads up a statewide initiative, Bringing New Farmers to the Table. There is also a new effort to fund start-up farmers and food enterprises, Slow Money, with low-interest loans from interested individuals

We bumped into Larry’s cousin, Charles Newlin, at a showing of “American Meat” at the Saxapahaw Ball Room Charles used to be a conventional dairy farmer with his late father, Larry’s Uncle, David, but Charles had to lay that business down due to the flooding of cheap dairy products from the Midwest and West. Inspired by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia (Joel is profiled in the American Meat film and has spoken to packed audiences in the Triangle plus has written a number of books including Salad Bar Beef, Larry’s cousin is taking steps to begin farming again with grass-fed cattle. There are thousands of farmers like Charles, who have been challenged by the tides of industrial agriculture’s commodity pricing, and who are now looking for a more profitable (one of the key ingredients to sustainable farming – profitability) entry back into family farming.

Sustainable agriculture equates to stronger communities. Our arugula, tatsoi, and lettuce were served to 800 farmers and foodies at the annual Carolina Farm Stewardship Association conference in Durham this past November. Eating and conversing, whether with 8 or 800, is a powerful glue that binds us in community. The Eddy Pub in Saxapahaw is taking that notion to the next level with biweekly community dinners. Featured farmers provide most of the food for the evening dinner and tell their story afterward. We are on tap to tell the Peaceful River Farm story on Thursday, March 22nd

We are selling our produce to the Eddy’s sister business, Saxapahaw General Store, where we took our daughter, Kathryn and son-in-law, Steve, on a recent Sunday for lunch. Every table was filled, and there was a line of 15 people at the register placing their order (we cheated and ordered by phone). Little mill town, Saxapahaw — where Larry’s great, great, great uncle, “Dear Me” John Newlin, built a mill on the Haw River in the early 1800’s – this little village is amazing and the happening place of the Triangle. It is Foodie Central where bluegrass music fills the air at the summer music series ands hosts vendors at the farmers market providing fresh and prepared food.

At dawn this morning there was a hawk perched on the phone pole, screeching out a warning that a stranger (Larry checking on his transplants) was approaching. He/she flew off to perch on a pine tree at a safer distance. A herd of teenage deer in the meadow near the retreat center were startled by this same stranger’s footsteps and hopped and pranced to safety. Up above in the market gardens, there are bluebirds seemingly on every post of the deer fence, and goldfinch are flitting about in anticipation of more spring blooms and seedheads to come. The robins bob for worms after a rain. Further down the slope we gaze up at the small V of geese overhead with an errant threesome flapping hard to catch up. When they fly over the axis of the Haw River, they make a perfect angled line that would make any geometry professor or Blue Angel pilot proud. A moment later a majestic blue heron parallels their path down the Haw, but at a lower altitude, scouting for food from the river and making our morning magical.

After an abundant day of tasks, accomplishments, and a growing list of things yet to do, we pause to gaze at the star-filled sky. It is a moment of awe and reverence – unspeakably beautiful with sparkles that we should be able to pick out of the sky. All this is sustainable farming. It is magical, mystical, hard work, rewarding, important, even essential, and restorative – and hopefully profitable one day. We, too, are the face of sustainable agriculture and loving every minute.
-Larry Newlin March, 2012

Beating Inflammation

| January 25th, 2012

These foods are going to make you feel great!

You can reduce inflammation by focusing on foods that decrease the body’s production of inflammatory compounds, fight harmful free radicals, and boost the immune system.

In general, focus on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables; healthful fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats in olive oil; and include pungent foods and spices that have inflammation-fighting effects like turmeric. Some to try are:

1. Wild salmon, flaxseed – an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids which are known to successfully combat inflammation in the body.

2. Berries – fight inflammation through phytonutrients – natural agents which confer a high degree of protection. Blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries

3. Turmeric, ginger – have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Extra virgin olive oil- is the longevity secret of Mediterranean peoples. Rich in polyphenols and monounsaturated fats, olive oil protects us from the effects of inflammation and many diseases. Never cook extra virgin olive oil over high heat. It will destroy the antioxidants and turn a lovely fat into a bad one.

5. Green tea – is rich in catechins, antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation. Purchase high-quality tea and learn how to correctly brew it (never boil the water) for maximum health benefits.

For great dishes that boost immunity and tackle inflammation check out my recipes!

December Sweet Collards

| December 12th, 2011

Cold weather makes collards get sweeter. Our meal was straight from Peaceful River Farm: braised collards, beet salad over arugula, bok choy with black sesame seed crusted tofu over soba noodles and for dessert-apple crunch made with Century Farms Apples from Reidsville, NC.

Body says to owner…..thank you.

| September 19th, 2010

Eat Your Greens

What a great class we had focusing on herbs. Lots of enthusiastic participants with great questions. We worked on 4 recipes– Lemon Balm Tisane, for our beverage, Ravello Basil Stack, our appetizer, Italian Ceci Salad, main course and Rose Scented Geranium Strawberry ice cream. Lots of fun and lots of good food to experience. Hope to hear from these folks when they prepare these dishes at home. Great students with great ideas!