Tag Archives: Earth Day

Blue Bee Cider

16 Dec

Blue Bee Cider

The Farm Table had the opportunity last year to meet Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider, at the 2012 Richmond Earth Day Festival. We’ve enjoyed following the progress of this local business ever since.

Courtney, author of the Cider Apprentice Blog, started blogging about her experiences as an apprentice cidermaker at Albemarle CiderWorks in 2011. Since then, she has started her own urban cidery housed in Richmond’s Old Manchester District.

Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider

This Brite Tank was made in Oregon and shipped to RVA

The Brite Tank was built in Oregon and shipped to RVA

Expelling the juice from the apples

Pressing the apples

I had the pleasure of joining Courtney and her in December during a pressing, and came away from the visit appreciating the making of Blue Bee Cider even more. Courtney’s father, Mel, a sweet and gracious man, who is clearly committed to the success of Blue Bee Cider, gave me a tour and run down on the process of making cider

Blue Bee Cider

Apples just waiting for the magic to happen

Apples just waiting for the magic to happen

Courtney, who was in constant motion during my visit, displayed an impressive combination of dedicated work ethic, good humor, and expertise. Her staff were at ease, and fully engaged in the process of making cider — they all seemed to be having fun, despite a few setbacks when the equipment jammed, or hoses came lose. Courtney, who kept her cool, got everything back on track with a quick sleight of hand.

Courtney Mailey Blue Bee Cider

I lingered a little longer than I intended to — it was satisfying to watch someone in the process of their craft, and Courtney, a true artisan, practices her craft with a relaxed confidence that is exciting to watch.

Courtney, in the process of training staff on identifying the parts of the apple that should be cut out, was giving a tutorial on "stink bugs" and the markings they leave on apples.

Courtney, in the process of training staff on identifying the parts of the apple that should be cut out, was giving a tutorial on the markings left by “stink bugs”.

Courtney with her father, Mel, and staff, tightening a hose that transfers expressed juice into a highly sterile and sealed off bag that is "boxed" for a few weeks before filtering it.

Courtney with her father, Mel, and staff, tightening a hose that pumps extracted juice into a highly sterile and impermeable plastic bag where the juice is “boxed” prior to fermenting it.

Blue Bee Cider

Every part of the apple is used. What's left of the apple goes back to the farmer to feed the goats.

Blue Bee puts every part of the apple to good use. Russell Bell of Ringer Farms shovels what’s left of the apple into a trailer, which goes back to the farm to feed the goats.

The name, Blue Bee Cider came from Courtney’s appreciation for the Blue Orchard Bee, native to Virginia. Blue Orchard Bees are not very social, and do not make honey, but are extremely efficient pollinators of apple blossoms.  Courtney, who noted how hardworking and solitary this type of bee was, decided to brand her budding business after them.

Courtney, whose work is not solitary, but certainly determined, is bottling up her sense of good humor, and the delicious bounty of Virginia for the rest of us to enjoy.

We can certainly raise a glass to that!

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Courtney and her staff  have planted an urban orchard outside her urban cidery, with hopes that it may produce fruit for a future batch of cider.

You can follow Blue Bee Cider on Facebook and Twitter, where Courtney has chronicled the process of opening her cidery. She and her staff have started pressing, and selling the raw juice at her tasting room at 212 W. 6th Street, behind Scoot Richmond. The first two hard ciders will be available in the Spring of 2013, and a third in the Fall of 2013.

We hope to see you there this spring when Blue Bee Cider opens for hard cider tastings and tours.

Dinner Time Woes? 14 Free Printables For Your Kids

9 Oct

You’ve received your weekly Farm Table box.

You’ve written your weekly meal plan.

You’ve washed, sorted, and properly stored your produce . 

Now it’s time to actually prepare dinner and you find that adults and kids alike are running on empty. Everyone is a tad cranky, the kids are bouncing off of the walls, and you are gritting your teeth trying to get something that resembles a meal on the table for your family to enjoy and not lose your mind.

We think getting children involved in the meal and table preparation is a great way to teach them new skills, foster independence and confidence, and create lasting memories for everyone. We also know that sometimes that task is unrealistic, especially with more complicated meals, and those nights when you are short on patience and time.

Check out these 14 fun printables that you can print now, prep, and pull out when you need the extra help — that’s 2 weeks worth of extra help! They are fun, seasonal, and educational. You’re welcome!

We still think they should help set the table though!

You can make an appetizer plate to stave off hunger with sliced fruit, veggies, and dip. Don’t worry about it spoiling dinner. Who cares as long as you are eating fruits and vegetables!

What dinner time tricks do you have up your sleeve?

Happy Earth Day!

22 Apr

The rain must know that today is Earth Day, and that the earth desperately needs a good watering!

The Farm Table attended the Earth Day Festival in the Manchester District yesterday.

Area Manager, Heather Jeffrey brought field corn for the kids to play in — a popular and fabulous idea!

Speaking of Earth Day — many of you have asked about the best way to keep your produce fresh so that Mother Nature’s bounty will not spoil.

Here is a link for easy tips on produce storage. Be sure to wash all produce before you use it (but not necessarily before you store it, as this may speed up spoilage). Remember that your produce was picked not long before it we delivered it to your door, and may have traces of dirt and sand.

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What are you doing on this rainy Earth Day?