posted on by Jackie Bebenroth

Are you in the weeds? Read this.

Each week, fifty Spice Acres farm share members receive an informative and inspirational email from our farm manager, Shawn Belt. Here’s an excerpt from Week five, including an important reminder for those of us who strive to live happy, weed-free lives.

Farm Update

July is officially the start of hardcore summer weeding and this year is definitely not disappointing on that front.  Currently we are freeing our tomatoes, basil, and peppers from their unwelcome bedmates.  As we have been weeding we have been finding countless green tomatoes, pepper blossoms, and beautiful basil.  It is exciting to see what will be available soon at the farm.  Weeding is kind of like opening presents because you find plants that you forgot you had planted there.  There is a peace to be found in weeding, in the uncluttering of your rows.  The removal of unwanted plants allows you to clearly see what you are growing and gives those plants room, needed sunlight and less competition for soil nutrients and moisture.  At Spice we leave our weeds in the pathways to break down and add their organic matter to the soil.  When people come to volunteer on the farm one of the main tasks we set them to is weeding.  Although it is looked down upon as basic and boring, weeding is one of the foundational tasks on the farm.  It takes a keen eye, persistence, tough hands, and a strong back to be able to weed.

A Spice Acres volunteer, weeding away the day.

A Spice Acres volunteer, weeding away the day.

It is the same in life.  To remove those things that are holding us back it takes a keen eye to look upon ourselves with honesty.  It takes persistence to stick with the removal of those activities, people, objects that hold us down.  Weeding our lives is an incredibly freeing activity that can rightfully be an ongoing, daily activity.  What are the crabgrass, purslane, and lamb’s quarters (all spice acres’ weeds) of your life?  Want to throw on some gloves and get down to pulling those weeds? Bertrand Russell opined “In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”  What are those things/ activities/people in your life that you can hang a question mark on in order to see if they belong?  If those things/activities/people can withstand that question mark then keep them around.  If they fall under the weight of that question mark, pull them up by the roots to free yourself from their constriction.

Week 5 Farm Share

  • Full-size bok choy-This will be perfect for sautéing/stir-fry
  • Patty Pan squash
  • Cucumber
  • Italian basil
  • Cilantro-You will receive a pot of cilantro that can be used for a long time by harvesting the oldest leaves and keeping the young leaves
  • Salad Mix
Shawn leads a tour through a freshly weeded hoop house.

Shawn leads a tour through a freshly weeded hoop house.

Read more about Spice Acres on the cover of Ohio Magazine this month!

Posted in: Spice Acres
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posted on by Jackie Bebenroth

Sharing the Love.

Announcing the 2015 Spice Acres Farm Share Program!

We’ve always been a big fan of community supported agriculture (CSA) programs and we’ve even written about them in the past, but this is the first year we’ll be offering our own! Hurray!

As a member of the Spice Acres Farm Share program, you’ll eat with the seasons, from crunchy peas and lettuces in the spring, to sweet tomatoes, peppers and melons in the summer, to multi-colored varieties of carrots and winter squashes in the fall.

And trust us: it will taste as amazing as it sounds.

Fresh produce, coming to you from this field!

Fresh produce, coming to you from this field!

Each week, you’ll receive between five to eight different items in your share. We’ll also include you on a special Spice Acres email list to keep you up to speed on farm news, inspiring recipe ideas, upcoming opportunities to engage with our chefs and farmers, and details on upcoming shares.

Here’s a list of what to expect in the weeks and seasons ahead:

  • Spring – carrots (3 varieties), beets (4 varieties), Japanese turnips, radishes (3 varieties), pac choi, peas (snow and snap), scallions, lettuce mix (6 lettuces in mix), Asian greens mix (6 greens in mix), baby kale, spinach.
  • Summer – beans (4 varieties), onions, eggplant (2 varieties), peppers (10 varieties), tomatoes (14 varieties), cucumbers, collards, kale, beets, carrots, lettuce mix, Asian greens mix, melons (4 varieties).
  • Autumn – Pumpkins (8 varieties), winter squash (8 varieties), leeks, parsnips, most of summer and spring offerings.

The specifics

  • Program Length: 24 Weeks – May 20th through October 28th
  • Cost (cash, check or credit card by phone):
    • Vegetable Share: $480 ($20/week x 24 weeks)
    • Egg Share: $144 ($6/week x 24 weeks)
  • Farm Share Pick-up Locations: Every Wednesday, 4pm – 7pm
Our hens are happy to produce for you!

Just laid eggs anyone?

How to register:

To sign up, PLEASE EMAIL Shawn at and indicate which share(s) you’re interested in. He’ll respond with the submission form to turn in with payment.

Shawn is standing by to take your order!

Shawn is standing by to take your order!

Oh, and in case you didn’t know:

Spice Acres is a 13-acre mixed vegetable and animal farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and is one of 11 Countryside Initiative farms managed by the Countryside Conservancy. We raise our vegetables and animals using organic methods in order to treat our land, our products and our customers with the care and respect they deserve. This includes feeding our animals with non-GMO feed, using only natural pest control methods, and sourcing our seeds from reputable seed companies.

Chef Ben Bebenroth believes that sustainable farming can change the world. Do you?

Chef Ben Bebenroth believes that sustainable farming can change the world. Do you?


Posted in: Spice Acres

posted on by Jennifer Abelson

Fresh and Local, Year round

Chances are, you’re sitting inside right now, curled up as you wait for another Cleveland winter to pass…dreaming of fresh fruits and veggies and waiting for spring. We can’t make the winter go by any faster (we do live in Cleveland, after all!). And unfortunately, kiwis and pineapples don’t grow in below-freezing temps. But there is a way to eat fresh, local, fantastic food during the winter: Enter Countryside Conservancy.

Winter Market 2 2010 - WOLFE

Photo credit: Scott Wolfe. Featured vendor: Breezy Hill Farm

Countryside Conservancy is a year-round farmers market that offers seasonal produce and local foods, even in the winter! In partnership with Cuyahoga National Park, the Conservancy’s overarching mission is to “connect people, food, and land by increasing public awareness of how food and farming impact personal, community, and environmental health, and by inspiring personal commitment to building a resilient, sustainable food culture.” In layman’s terms, Countryside Conservancy encourages good food, local farming, and sustainable practices.

Chef Ben is a fan and strong supporter. He’s been shopping at the Countryside Farmers’ Markets for years and has been selling prepared farmers’ market foods through the oh-so-popular Spice burrito and brunch stands.

Old Trail School Winter Produce Infinite

Photo credit: Countryside Conservancy. Featured vendor: Infinite Garden Farm

The farms and Countryside Conservancy do not shut down during these dreary, frigid winter months. Instead, they offer local and seasonal preserved and prepared foods during what can seem like an endless Cleveland winter! Here’s a small sampling of winter offerings:

  • 100% grass-fed milk cheeses
  • Hand-blended teas, kombucha, and apple cider
  • Meats, such as pasture-raised veal, lamb, beef, chicken, and turkey
  • Seasonal fruits, such as apples, pears, and figs
  • Seasonal vegetables, such as Bok choy, celery, arugula, spinach and winter squash
  • Locally prepared food, such as gnocchi, pierogies, scones, quiches, huevos rancheros, and homemade candy

There are only two winter markets left in the 2015 season – March 14th & 28th – but you can engage with the movement year round. Countryside also encourages Ohioans to get to know their food better in a variety of ways. Here’s how:

  • Classes ranging from bread making to farm management. These classes are open to the public and change seasonally–make sure to check out their class schedule as they do fill up!
  • Food Swap: a two-hour extravaganza with everyone bringing a homemade, local item to share via silent auction. Show off your homemade salsa and bring home someone else’s black bean burgers for dinner.
  • Countryside Chix events, ladies-only nights out with a local food focus. Their first event will be with Rising Star, the amazing artisan coffee roasters.
Spice of Life Menu 2010 - WOFLE

Photo credit: Scott Wolfe

But, perhaps one of the most family friendly activities during the winter at Countryside is their Saturday brunch. The Countryside Winter Farming Markets at Old Trail School is home to a tremendous concentration of local artisans. Spice offers a special brunch menu, so you can shop the amazing craft scene with your families and then enjoy some warming comfort foods that crossover between breakfast and lunch, like oatmeal, soups and brekkie quesadillas. Make a day out of it and, after stuffing your face with brunch, browse the numerous food stands. Purchase homemade spinach pie or handcrafted fresh soups to-go for an easy, local, delicious meal at home. Finish your locally prepared, zero-fuss dinner with a Bebenroth-family favorite: a fresh pastry from one of the stands.

Maize Valley  wCustomers GW

Photo credit: Gary Whipple. Featured vendor: Maize Valley Farm Market & Winery

In further support of their shared mission, Spice Acres is also a Countryside Conservancy farm, producing a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, botanicals, and heirlooms…even eggs from pasture-raised chickens. Among Chef Ben’s primary goals with Spice Acres is that “the produce from the farm will take prime real estate on the plate.” Not only will Spice diners eat local, they’ll be eating from a Spice farm. Talk about a true farm-to-table experience!

So, whether you’re dining at Spice, eating brunch at the Conservancy, or shopping at the stands after a cheese-making class, the goal of the Conservancy is to get you—yes, you! –involved with your eating and your lifestyle. So, instead of dreading the winter food scene, try eating local. Eat fresh. Eat with the Countryside Conservancy and brunch with Spice Kitchen.

If you’re hungry for more, check out this awesome write-up on the Countryside Conservancy and Spice Acres in National Geographic!

Posted in: Spice Acres, Spice Kitchen+Bar, Spice of Life Catering Co.
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