Author Archives: Brooke Gammie

EAST MEETS WEST APPLESAUCE

apple_7237 (2) (800x692)BROOKE’S BULLETIN

October 2016

A seasonal recipe and narrative from our loyal and long-time (25-years) customer Brenda Glasure

“Thank you to all the people who keep spaces, converted pole barns and haywagon harvests. Thank you to the growers and risk-takers, rolling the dice with the wind, the hail, ice, water – or lack thereof. Putting in the work; believing in the work. You nourish us, body and soul. I feel a vast contentment, buying a bushel of apples that grew on trees I have met.”

East Meets West Applesauce, from the kitchen of Brenda Glasure

  • Peel, core and slice about 25 apples. I like to use one variety that completely breaks down with cooking and one variety that tends to keep it’s shape. Today, I used Fuji and Crimson Crisp.
  • Place the prepared apples in a large, heavy pot. I add about 1 cup of water or cider, if you have it. Cover and cook on low heat until the apples break down and become *saucy*. Cook down to your liking. We like our applesauce thick, so I cook for a little over an hour.
  • Add about ¼ teaspoon of salt, ½ cup of brown sugar (this is completely optional. I don’t generally sweeten our sauce, but it is a great addition if you like your sauce as a sweet dessert.)
  • Add ½ to 1 tablespoon Garam Masala to taste (recipe follows)

Garam Masala Mix:

1 tablespoon cumin

1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander

1 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom

1 ½ to 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoons ground cloves

½ teaspoons ground nutmeg

Mix all together.  You can purchase this mix already made from various companies. I like to make my own as I like it heavier on the black pepper and cinnamon.   ENJOY!

My grandparents had a dairy farm, a mighty Ohio spread, measuring nearly 180 acres in Champaign County. I spent quite a bit of time there while growing up. Farms are not easy. There was always work to be done. Besides the crops and the milking of the cows, there was often food to be harvested, canned, frozen; meals to be cooked. The lessons were simple, primal and deep; lessons of nourishing the people and animals who lived there. From seed to plant, from bloom to fruit, from fruit to harvest, to the kitchen, to the table. Buying fresh and direct from farmers is natural and right to me.

So it begins – the day after buying apples at Quarry Hill – the order of things – putting food by. After a good scrubbing, the apples are divided. Plenty of the bright, snappy fruit will be munched fresh from the fridge. But with a nod to the icy days to come, at least one big batch of apples (usually about 40-50) are peeled, sliced and cooked down with some spices. The homemade apple sauce is unbelievably delicious on cold winter nights, alongside a bowl of hot soup. It reminds us of sunny days and renews a reverence for the vitality the earth provides.

Applesauce – I cook in batches of about 25 apples. I will spice them with either cinnamon, ginger, mace or an Indian spice mix called Garam Masala, which includes black pepper and coriander with cinnamon and ginger and various other spices. Both variations are absolutely delicious. Freeze the sauce in Ziplocs or freezer containers to be meted out for holiday dinners and cold days when you just need a little sunshine.

— Brenda Glasure

The Orchard Is Sparse

apple_7237 (2) (800x692)BROOKE’S BULLETIN

September 2016

A look into orchard life through the lens of lady Farmer Brooke

We have a fraction of the apples as we did last year” were the first words out of Ben’s mouth yesterday morning at 6am.  I tried to extract the gravity and reason behind his statement over the clanking of breakfast making and lunch packing for our littles (kinder and pre-school).  As husband-wife business partners , AND expectant parents of our third child due in six weeks, small talk over morning coffee consists of snippets of orchard updates in the same breath of “don’t forget your OB appointment, it’s picture day, and you’re in charge of the Karate carpool!”  Here’s a shot of our preschooler (and 4th generation), Henry, out inspecting the Ginger Gold harvest: 

Henry Gammie

Mother nature has not been kind to us.”  I’ve heard that statement every season since uprooting my brood from the Arizona desert three years ago to take up this fruit growing thing.  16 hours later after a full day managing the farm, putting the littles to sleep, and un-packing the smelly karate clothes, Ben and I finally get a quiet moment to finish the conversation.  “It’s a combination of the spring frost we saw during Spring Bloom, lack of summer rains, and bi-annual bearing cycles.”  Ah-ha.  I knew the fruit was coming in small this year because of the dry summer, but did not even think the spring frost affected the apple yields in the same devastation as the stone fruits (homegrown Crest Haven peaches pictured below were the cream of the peach crop this summer). 

Crest Haven Peaches

My brain immediately goes to how this affects our business:  First thought is more small apples for our Farm to School program, which is a PRO.  Our customer base has grown in this segment from ~15 local (Erie County – Cuyahoga County) school districts to upwards of 26.  This ability to scale is a direct result of the resources that have stemmed from our partnership with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the USDA Farm to School Grant Project we are currently funded under.  This is a snapshot of the corner of our cooler the day before our Wholesale and Farm to School deliveries are scheduled:  

Farm to School

Second thought (not mine; credit goes to our pack-house manager, Becky):  reduced variety in our holiday apple gift box that typically includes 12 different apple varieties (with a corresponding stamped map and flavor profile, see photo below), and this season we’ll be lucky to have 5 or 6.  Good thing I’m having a baby this holiday season and the “sparse orchard” is not compromising a huge portion of revenue I’ve slated for Corporate Gifting (yes, we’ll still have gifts for sale!).

apple-map-picture-05

Varieties that were impacted?  I cringe just even thinking about it:  Honey Crisp, Crimson Crisp, Goldrush, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Suncrisp, and Cameo.  The more robust varieties that stood up to the weather are the Reds and Golden Delicious.  The “Red Riding Hood Red” colored apples pictured just beyond the humongous Spy Golds in the foreground are the Crimsons – my favorite!  If this table looks familiar, you are a loyal customer at the Saturday Shaker Square Farmers Market.

Not to worry:  we DO have an apple harvest, the apples ARE delicious, and we STILL have Pick-Your-Own.  The crews are out daily harvesting bins after bins of Blondee, Gala, Honeycrisp, Golden Supreme, McIntosh, Jonathan, and Cortland.  Our harvest dates are pretty much on schedule this year despite the “sparseness”.  Here is ONE morning’s work of harvesting the Honeycrisp from ONE of many Honeycrisp blocks in our 90-acre apple orchards (we don’t grow all the Honeycrisp in the same place – the tractor and the crews have to trek all over the farm to get these guys in the barn – one of many reasons for the high price tag):  

Honeycrisp HarvestWe still have PLENTY to harvest and PLENTY of apples” was the comforting conclusion to our late night discussion.  Our 2nd annual APPLE PEAK event happening on October 15th will be the best opportunity to taste the full variety of our harvest, including the Crimsons, Suncrisps, and unique varieties that are not as prolific this season.  Top 5 things to do at Apple Peak this year:  

  1. Pick-Your-Own Apples
  2. Go for a hike in Edison Woods
  3. Sip on some hot cider and soak up some local tunes by Cleveland’s own Brent Kirby
  4. Snack on some local apple-wood fired pizza from Cleveland’s Nelly Belley food truck
  5. Get your family photo taken for this season’s Christmas Card (here’s the Gammie card from last year):IMG_6901 - web large

House of Cards

apple_7237 (2) (800x692)Brooke’s Bulletin

A monthly update from farmer Brooke about apple happenings, tractor talk, and the everyday encounters of managing an apple orchard.  

USApple2015 (640x424)

The 2015 Class of Young Apple Leaders (Ben Gammie in the baby blue blazer and bow tie in the middle, Brooke Gammie to his left)

 

Thank goodness for Ben’s late night affair with episodes from  “House of Cards”, otherwise we wouldn’t have known our way around Capitol Hill last week.  I started collecting dollars for every time I heard someone say “House of Cards” during our visit and I’m pretty sure I picked up a bar tab by the end of  our trip.  The news release below gives a great overview of what the heck these two apple farmers were doing in blazers at our Nation’s Capitol.

USApple

Huron, Ohio – Ben and Brooke Gammie, ex-corporate Professional Engineers, now current third generation apple farmers from Quarry Hill Orchards (Erie County), were selected  by the U.S. Apple Association (USApple) for the 2015 Class of Young Apple Leaders to represent their state at the national level.        
 
The young leaders joined forces with apple leaders from coast-to-coast for USApple’s Capitol Hill Day, an annual event hosted by USApple. They brought a unified message to Capitol Hill; hot topics included: agricultural labor reform, full funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) to retain international trade, support of strong child nutrition re-authorization, improvement of procurement process to maintain the integrity of the fresh fruit & vegetable program, continuation of funding for USDA pesticide data program, and a “thank you” for passing the farm bill and support of Specialty Crop Research Initiatives (SCRI).  Gammies met with the offices of Senators Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R), as well as Representatives Jim Jordan (R-4th) and March Kaptur (D-9th).   
 
The apple industry is heavily dependent on migrant labor, H-2A, and H-2B workers to grow, harvest, pack and process apples and apple products. For a perishable crop like apples, a delay in the arrival of harvest workers can impact the quality and value of the apples. Growers also emphasized the economic impact they have on the local community and the jobs that harvest workers support. Securing a legal, stable and reliable workforce will continue to be USApple’s top legislative priority.
 
In its sixth year, USApple’s Young Apple Leaders Program mentors the next generation of American apple growers and leaders. The program provides orientation, understanding and encouragement on public policy issues affecting the apple business.  It is designed to foster fellowship and cooperative working relationships across U.S. apple growing regions through discussions about key apple industry issues, trends, research and other activities. “These young people will be the future decision-makers in their businesses, communities, and at USApple,” said USApple Chairman Mark Nicholson.
 
This year, 16 young growers were selected from across the country, representing seven states.  Ohio represents the smallest acreage in the community of growers across the country.  For example, the total amount of apple trees growing the state of Ohio is less than or equal to the apple trees within one township in Pennsylvania.  Ohio’s apple consumption is also greater than the amount of apples grown in-state.  So, make sure to reach for an Ohio apple while they’re still around.  

Welcome

apple_7237 (2) (800x692)BRooke’s bulletin

November 2014

A monthly update from farmer wife Brooke about apple happenings, tractor talk, and the everyday encounters of managing an apple orchard.

Thank you friends and customers for signing up to receive our monthly news, so a big “WELCOME” to my first edition!  With harvest wrapping up, we have all been able to catch our breath, and knock a few things off the to-do list…including getting this post up!  Thanks for your patience.    We would not be a business without the loyal support of our friends and customers, so thank you for being part of the Quarry Hill family.  The apple harvest has been bountiful and plentiful.  We are grateful.

Ben’s timesheet has been dwindling from 90 hours a week to 75.  It’s been absolutely wonderful for me to have him sit around our family dining table eating my food, and helping with the evening routine.  

The “seasonality” of a farming business is something that I am struggling with understanding.  After two seasons, I am testing my strengths and learning everyday.

I was fortunate to attend a workshop called “Running a Strong Family Business” at the COSE Small Business Conference – wow, amazing take-aways.  Did you know only 12% of family businesses make it through their 2nd generation?  We are in our 3rd generation and are faced daily with generational challenges.  We will rise to the occasion!

Ben and I will attend the Young Farmer’s Conference at Stone Barns this December, while also staying with my lifelong childhood friend, Stephie and her troop of 4 kiddos under the age of 5.  We are SO happy to be included and have so much to learn!Edible Ad

Launch an online e-commerce platform for selling and shipping our apples?  Check.  With friends and family across the United States (and Canada, Anne and Tom), we really wanted a way to share our harvest with everyone, local or not.  Thank you Mom, Suz, Ade, Bo, Dan, Jackie, and many others for your orders already!  We are still working out some kinks and logistics, but so far so good on the gift box front.  We’re having so much fun with this project I can hardly stand it!  Be looking for more products in this line very soon…up next?  An apple pie kit!