Monday, November 2, 2009
Wow- we cannot believe November is already here! We have had a busy fall, with many plantings and subsequent flooding. We also added some chickens to the field, and have been making our deliveries to our vegetable subscribers. Although we lost many crops to the rain, we have still had a productive fall. Below are some more pictures of our farm from this season. The first set are from the first week of our CSA, with my mom helping us pack our hot peppers and herbs. Adam is the radish-buncher and I like to weigh out green beans. Also pictured are some of our acorn squash. My parents have been patient and kind enough to let us use their garage for a storage and packing space while our house is being finished (that's another story...).
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Here are some more flooding pictures, along with some other pictures around the farm. One of Adam with the new chickens in their rotating chicken tractor. This adds a vital element to our farm- fertlizer! We are now rotating the chickens through our expired summer crops where we will plant in the spring!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
We will be attending the Marietta Square Farmers' Market beginning this Saturday, Sept. 26th. Our local Dallas Farmers' Market has come to a close and we are still producing lots of vegetables. We hope you can come find us there on Saturday morning between 8am-12. This week we will have green beans, okra, crowder peas, radishes and more! Find out more about the Marietta Square Farmers' Market at their website:
We had a close call with the recent flash flooding that occurred in Georgia over the past week. While many others had it worse with 14 inches of rain in one downpour, we were worried about our new fall crops that are in the ground. Our entire field is surrounded on three sides by a creek that is always flowing. We saw it rise higher than ever before. Our entire 7-acre field was under 2-3 inches of water in a matter of minutes. Needless to say, Adam said that he felt nauseous during that experience. Thankfully, our losses were minor because the water was able to drain off in a timely matter. Below are some more farm pictures from before the rain. You can see our trellis for our summer field peas, and that's my niece holding a container of our french green beans. Most of these crops are coming to an end and we are transitioning into our fall crops.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Sometimes there are opportunities to stand up for something that you believe in. We recently had one such chance at one of our local farmers' markets. We thought that the Powder Springs Farmers' Market would be a good place to bring our vegetables and meet folks in our area including other farmers. Well, it was a good place for some of those things, but we soon realized that the market was not keeping their end of the bargain. The farmers' market is operated by a board and a market coordinator. They set their rules at the beginning of the season and all vendors signed an agreement to follow the rules. Among their rules is a restriction on selling produce that was not grown by the vendor- wholesale produce. It's the same stuff you would find in the grocery store- these vendors go down to the Atlanta Farmers' market where other wholesalers are selling commercially grown produce from around the country and the world for dirt cheap. The re-seller then takes this produce to a local farmers market, gussied up with bushel baskets and a thick southern accent- oh, and don't forget the boiled peanuts, and hocks his wares for cheap and makes a killing off of unsuspecting customers. "Oh yeah, I grew ALL this stuff- best watermelons you've ever tasted- just put them on the truck last night." You can hear the lies echoed through the farmers market parking lot. One customer recently found a "grown in the USA" sticker on this wholesaler's "homegrown" cantaloupe. Well, many farmers markets around Atlanta have wised up to ol' vegetable hockin' Joe and have created rules that prohibit this practice. The Powder Springs Farmers Market has some similar rules on their books- with a few exceptions, or loopholes as you might call them. You see, several board members for this market are from the local Merchants' Association, and they have one goal- to increase the downtown foot-traffic in order to increase patronage in their stores. They want as many vegetables as possible all season long, even when the vegetables are out of season- like tomatoes in May, or watermelons for the 4th of July. Vendors who resell are supposed to post a sign that the items is not grown by them, and the items must also be Georgia grown. But instead of enforcing these rules that would help keep the market fair, the board just looks the other way and allows the rules to be broken. The result? Rampant wholesaling, lying vendors, and the "real" farmers get undercut by the low prices of resold vegetables. Well, we brought our complaint about the lack of enforcement to a member of the farmers market board. He not only refused to enforce the rules, but threatened to call the police if we came to the market and caused a "disturbance." He didn't appreciate our point of view to say the least. Somehow, because he was in a "volunteer" position, he was not responsible for enforcing the rules they had laid out. It is our belief that in these types of situations, a long lost tool called "social accountability" must be resurrected. Somehow it is offensive to hold someone accountable- he even threatened legal action if we went public with this- well here ya go sir- no, I won't print your name, but it's pretty easy to figure out who's on the board that's not a farmer.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
As a part of our efforts to support ecological diversity on our two cultivated acres of vegetables, we have strategically planted buckwheat in rows between winter squash, around the second succession of summer squash, and anywhere in general with open ground. We use the buckwheat as a cover crop and it is useful for several reasons. The first is that it is fast growing, shading out other weeds. Second, it produces a nice head of small white flowers that attract THRONGS of bees and wasps which are beneficial insects- they help polinate plants and some of them will actually eat other bugs, like squash bugs, that like to eat our crops. THere is a serious vibration of bees going on early in the morning in the rows of buckwheat- I will post a picture of this soon. We are going to mow down the buckwheat before it goes to seed and leave it as a mulch for our winter squash to grow on.
We are still gearing up for our fall vegetable subscription. I will be sending out an email to all of the folks who have shown interest or signed our email list at the farmers' markets over the past month. We will start our subscription during the first week in October and it will run for 10 weeks until the first week of December. If you are interested in receiving a weekly box of organic vegetables this fall, please contact us as soon as possible to be considered. We only have room for about 25 shares, so space is limited. We will be serving our surounding area- including Dallas, Powder Springs, Rockmart and anywhere in between. We need to have a cluster of customers for each delivery location so tell your friends!! See the previous post for a list of the vegetables that we will be growing.
We hope that all of you continue to visit the farmers markets as the seasons change. There is no reason that most of the farmers markets should have to end anytime soon- we will continue to produce food for several more months!! Come say hello to us at the Dallas Farmers Market in the historic downtown every Saturday morning between 8am & 11:30. We are also regulars at the Powder Springs farmers market in historic downtown Powder Springs on Thursdays from 4-8. The farmers markets are alot of fun because they offer a variety of products in addition to vegetables, such as baked goods and honey. Both markets also have live music on some days. In Dallas we have enjoyed seeing the Llama's come visit (that's right- live llamas!) and the greyhound dogs! We also really enjoy talking to folks who come by and talking to the other farmers. We love seeing families come and it's a great way for kids to learn more about where food comes from.
Friday, July 24, 2009
As summer vegetables are in full swing, we are already looking to the fall production. We have decided to offer a 10-week subscription to a weekly box of seasonal fall and late summer vegetables. Some of you may not be very familiar with this new way of connecting with a farm to enjoy their seasonal harvest. The way it works is that a farm finds interested customers who want to enjoy their fresh produce regularly and support the local farm in the process. Farmers need to have an idea of how many people are going to buy their products before they spend all that time and money producing it, so the customers sign up to become members of a seasonal vegetable subscription. Many people now call this model "Community Supported Agriculture" or CSA for short because it is literally through the support of the local community that the farm is able to be successful. As you might have noticed, most of the produce you buy in the store, and even some that you buy at farmers' markets (see previous post), is shipped in from other states, namely Florida and California. Many times the produce is picked unripe and allowed to ripen in transit, compromising the taste, nutrition and overall quality of the food. With our farm, we pick the produce the day before we sell it, if not the same day! And, your money is able to stay in the community, benefiting other local businesses and helping to preserve surrounding farmland. So, that's some of the reasoning behind it, now here are some of the logistics: Our Fall CSA will begin during the week of September 21st and will run for 1o weeks. During that time, we will provide you and your family with a weekly box of fresh, naturally grown vegetables. Each box will contain 5-7 different vegetables. We are selling the boxes for $20 each, but the vegetables are often worth more than that. We ask that each member commit to the entire season through one of our payment methods. Please ask us about those options. Finally, once we know where our customers are located, we will arrange some drop-off sites where we can meet to deliver your vegetable boxes. Ideally, we would like to have several customers for each drop site, so tell your friends! Vegetables will include: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, radishes, lettuce, winter squash, sweet potatoes, collard greens, mustard greens, turnips, swiss chard, garlic and spinach. Some of our late summer crops will also be included, such as green beans, summer squash and anything else that is still producing. Please contact us for more information and to sign up. We will only have 20-25 slots available so space is limited. To learn more about CSA programs, click here. To sign up for ours, email us or call. Our contact information is on our blog and on our listing here.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Well things have been very busy over at Turtle Bend Farm this month. The top picture is Mecca and her niece, Alyssa, in the field of blooming buckwheat at sunset. The bottom picture are the freshly staked and tied heirloom tomato plants.
Even though we got a late start in our first season, everything looks good and we are fairly close to our first big harvest. We are planning to attend our first markets next week, possibly on July 4th. The heirloom tomatoes look good and are tied to tobacco sticks we picked up while visiting family in North Carolina. It was a time consuming task so hopefully it will support the weight of the tomatoes. We will have to figure out a better system for next year, when we anticipate doing twice as many tomatoes. Our bell pepper plants are heavy with green peppers and some are starting to turn their beautiful shades of yellow and orange. We will likely bring some green bell’s to sell next week while we let most of them ripen on the plant. We will also have a good first crop of green beans, squash and zucchini. Our black-eyed peas are looking extraordinary with their dark green leaves and yellow flowers. We aren’t sure if we will have the time to actually shell the peas for our customers or if they will just have to do that on their own. We have considered investing in a pea sheller but we have heard that they can damage the delicate peas.
In anticipation for our fall season we ordered plenty of winter squash like butternut, pumpkins, and spaghetti so they can be ready in October. Winter squash are planted in the summer and stay on the vine till it dries in the fall. They are called “winter” squash because they will keep through most of the winter. We have also been keeping up with our successions of green beans so that we can have tender, young green beans for our customers throughout the entirety of their season. We have also recently planted a crop of sorghum sugar cane, which will hopefully provide a small bit of molasses and a good seed crop for next year’s larger sorghum patch. If we have any extra molasses we will pass that on to our customers this year, and next year we plan to have a larger quantity.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Adam and I believe in following sustainable agricultural practices. Although what is considered "sustainable" may change over time, we are committed to constantly learning about new and existing ways to produce healthy food that help preserve our surrounding natural resources, promote ecological diversity on and around our farm, and protect the food we produce from any harmful substances. Although we are currently undecided on whether to become certified "organic" or certified "naturally grown" or not certified at all, our customers and neighbors can rest assured that our agricultural practices meet or exceed the requirements of these certification programs. Simply put, that means that we will employ natural methods for building soil fertility, such as cover crops and organic or natural soil amendments. We will never spray crops with harmful pesticides or other chemicals that have not been approved by organic or naturally grown certification programs. We will encourage biodiversity on our farm in order to promote natural processes of insect and disease control and we will rotate our crops to discourage disease. Although Adam and I have a lot to learn about agriculture, we are committed to providing our customers and our community with the cleanest, highest quality fruits and vegetables possible. We are also committed to transparency and we are happy to address any suggestions, questions or comments that you may have. We hope to bring high-quality, nutritious foods to your table this season.
Monday, May 18, 2009
The farming has officially begun!! Adam and I finally put some seeds and plants in the ground on Friday and Saturday as the rain held off until dark on Saturday night. Our tomato starts look wonderful- all 300 of them! We have a great assortment of heirloom varieties. We did buy about 45 organic tomato starts from Melanie Hernandez at Youngs Mill Plant Farm in Kingston, GA because we were unsure about how ours would do- but it turns out that our method of seeding in soil blocks (prescribed by Elliot Coleman) made beautiful, strong tomato starts. We will have the following varieties: Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, Yellow Brandywine, Arkansas Traveler, Roma, Aunt Ruby's German Cherry, Principe Borghese, Kellogg, and one more I can't think of at the moment. Get ready to have heirloom tomato sandwiches, salsas and more!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
One issue that we have had the most trouble figuring out has been irrigation. We decided early on that we were going to irrigate from the creek using a gas-powered pump because there is no well closeby and no electricity run to the field (yet). We contacted our local NRCS office about applying for a cost-share for irrigation and to learn about how to set up our irrigation. We got good news and bad news. The good news is that they have engineers who can design a system for us since we qualify as "small-scale" producers, but that wouldn't be ready for several months. The bad news is that we can't get any cost share until we clear $1,000 of farm income, and even then, our application wouldn't go through until next year. So, we were on our own. After scouring the internet and coming up short on technical information, we finally figured it out ourselves with a little help from random people who sold different pieces of our irrigation system. We bought two 250 gallon tanks from a guy who listed them on craigslist. Then we went to Tractor Supply and bought a gas-powered water pump, hoses and other fixtures. We finally got a good farm boy who knew something about moving water and he was a big help. The last piece was the drip lines. Because we are going to run a low-pressure system, the drip lines are our best bet. We are lucky to have the Holt Family Farm Supply in nearby Euharlee, GA. Charles Holt is a dripworks distributor and he is ordering our drip lines and other fixtures. We hope to get this system going this weekend and I will post some pictures of that as well. Whew! Water is important! One thing we have realized in trying to figure out everything from straight fencelines to pumping water is that there IS a use for that math we learned in high school! If only we could remember it!
So, last weekend we made some progress. Although it was still too wet to till and plant, we made some headway on our fence and will be able to finish it up this weekend. Unfortunately I forgot to bring the camera, so pictures will be up next week.