I got this phone call the other day from our local PBS station show producer for the “Volunteer Gardener” wanting to come out to the farm next week and film a couple of segments for their show here on the farm. It’s funny because I have always loved that show even though I think it needs to liven up a bit..a little too botanical for me in terms of gardening in the real world. But they do have Jeff Poppen aka The Bare Foot Farmer as a regular which I love and I am such an admire of. This guy is about as back to nature as you can get including the cash crop he must have growing somewhere in the back forty if you know what I mean….and even though I don’t partake in such…got to love him:) I read his book ten times when I first started the farm. He is wonderful and I learn so dang much from him every-time I watch his segments on Volunteer Gardener and from his book.. Jeff also runs the oldest and one of the largest CSA programs in Tennessee as a matter of fact he should be considered the fore-father of CSA programs in this state…vote for Jeff! Anyway….so although I was excited about the prospect of the show being filmed here on the farm it kept running through my mind…What took ya’ll so long?…and couldn’t you have picked a year when we didn’t have like a biblical type flood in which we are still cleaning up and recovering from. Yea..yea…I know the first statement sounds a bit arrogant…the what took ya so long…but Martha Stewart found us, Southern Living found us…you are like right up the street…right…Tennessee, Nashville…hello neighbor..that sort of thing. And it is true I don’t do much reaching out to media for marketing the farm…instead I am farming…I know I should, I do want too and in fact it was one of my goals this year to be a better marketer…but…well I am a procrastinator…to a fault. I’ve been meaning to work on that….tomorrow maybe…ha ha.. So I hang up the phone from the show’s producer and proceed to tell Mark my husband …”Volunteer Gardener wants to come out next week and film something with the flowers on the farm…Mark said…next week…ah, Peggy there aren’t a whole lot of flowers out in the field blooming right now…after years of growing thousands of flowers here on the farm the last couple of years we are running about 30/70 in flowers and vegetables. Then in the late summer and fall we run about 40/60 in flowers and vegetables. We stop doing farmers markets about 2 years ago opting more toward staying on farm with our CSA program and on-farm weekend market. It makes more sense to us sustainably which is what our goal is…a sustainable family farm. We also cut out a bunch of our wholesale markets for our flowers, vegetable and herbs making more room for CSA shareholders. So I cut back on planting tons of flowers that I would need to transport to Florists and do a couple of farmers market booths a week in which to sell all these delicate blooms. I do admit I miss the farmers markets though getting to visit with fellow farmers and customers. I did it for 8 years Delvin farms and I started the East Nashville market two years ago and I served as a board member and board president for the Franklin Farmers Market for 7 years. I like to have worked my self to death…I mean it…16 hour days farming, touring, making music and raising a son…I was burnt out and found that I was not enjoying the life I had carved out any longer. Mark also was having a really hard time with my time restraints and near constant bitching about farm market politics and nagging. Believe me when I tell you there is far more ruthlessness in farmers markets than the music industry…at least in the music business the bottom line is much better and there is somewhat of a kind of integrity in the rules of engagement, at the farmers market it is just doggy doggy fighting in the tranches for a nickel. Back stabbing, and petty stuff that would just blow my mind and take up way too much time and energy. So flowers…I mean I do have flowers blooming there is zinnia and cosmos some sunflowers although they might or might not bloom on cue…there are some flowers..That is the thing with this sort of stuff…When someone wants to come to the farm for tv or magazines I start feeling like it’s not enough…the farm’s not good enough or I am not good enough…such crap I know…silly but it creeps in there. I end up spending so much money and time trying to pretty up the place for a 3 minute segment of tv time…ha ha…it will take me 2 years of flower sells to make that money back…vanity is so costly.
I was working out in the field early yesterday morning weeding and planting when I noticed I was beginning to feel the heat start to affect me. It was around 9am but out temps were already hitting close to 100. This a been two weeks of this hot sticky weather with those dangerously high temperatures beating down here on the farm. A lady from the golf course community stopped by this morning to volunteer with helping us stake and weed our pepper patches in the garden. She got here around 7am as I was walking out the farmhouse door to begin watering the plants in the market pavilion. She was dressed for the job except for wearing open toed shoes which is a no-no out in the field. There are too many weeds with stickers that love bare toes and they hurt… But here we are and she is ready to help out…and we need all the help we can get help… so I asked her to start watering the plants while I made up a batch of our fertilizer that will need to sit for while to allow the chlorine to evaporate from the water before I add the worm tea and Kelp to the 5 gal pail. Perrin had arrived followed by Mika around 8am. Mika and Perrin work out here on the farm a couple of days week helping me as my crew. Perrin though started her new job at Bell’s Bend nature center so she only makes to the farm every couple of weeks for a few hours. Mika helps out getting CSA baskets packed and ready on Saturdays and one day or two days a week here on the farm helping me plant, weed ect… This morning I wanted to focus on the peppers…They are just beginning to set fruit and need some attention and a good dose of nutrients to get them ready for long and what looks like hot season. You have to be careful with peppers especially when they are stressed and with the heat we’ve been having and no rain in two weeks plus these peppers are setting fruit so they are working hard. Peppers can easily wilt and they are susceptible to many different viruses that can kill them from soil born to bug carrying diseases. When they are stressed they are even more susceptible. This morning I want to get them staked to keep them from leaning weighted down by their fruit. This will help control soil borne pathogens from getting on the leafs. Also staking them allows rain water to roll straight down their stems right to the roots where they need the water. After gathering the girls around the pepper plants demonstrating what and how I wanted to peppers tied up to their stakes and the soil around them cleared and lightly fluffed they set to work. I turned my attention to weeding the planting beds right next to them.
Around 9:oo am. our volunteer had about all the steam bath she could stand and by 9:30 we all felt a little over heated and called it a morning. The sun radiates out in the field off the soil and dewy grass. It acts like a steam room and can easily be ten degrees or more hotter than say on the patio. I have known several farmers having heat strokes out in the field…including myself. We have had a bit of a wild ride so far this season weather wise…but believe me when I say….Every year as a farmer is a wild weather ride. Ah but…ya..hooo.. Beats the office any day:)
last weekend we harvested our first crop of squash, cucumbers and beans of the season. We didn’t have enough for all of CSA’s and
dibbied it up on a first come bases. I don’t like to do that for I want every shareholder to get most of the same things.
But like you will hear me tell you over and over…it’s farming not shopping and with that you only get what mother earth gives ya…In the next couple of weeks most of the post flooded bed will start producing so everyone will be seeing lots of squash and beans over the next few weeks.
We are still kinda limping along produce wise after the flood washed away 2/3rds of our planting beds…the good news is they were all replanted so it’s just a matter of time before these beds start producing. For now we are thankful for some fellow farmers to help out when we run low…and they are in the plenty for it runs vice versa.
CSA News & Updates
This weekend our Bi-weekly shareholders will have a pickup here on the farm….remember Bi-weekly only this weekend. With is hot weather I am again asking that our CSA shareholders please pickup Saturday early….meaning well before noon if at all possible. They are forecasting 98 degrees for Saturday which translates into 115 in the field if this humidity stays in place and we will stop harvesting at noon….safety first. Again this weekend I am closing the farm on Sunday at 12pm. due to the heat. So if any of you bi-weekly shareholders need to pickup Sunday rather the Saturday please drop me an email so we can put your basket in the cooler Saturday.
Beets and fennel are the stars of your basket this weekend and we have included recipes in your share roasted beets with fennel by the way is fabulous! Be sure and remember flowers come with your share so please go harvest them…bring those cutters the sunflowers are blooming as well as rubeckia, zinnia’s and cosmos.
I wanted to also add to our shareholders that due to this hot weather some of the greens such as kale have what we call sun scalding spots on the leaves. These are brown patches where the dew from early morning forms a droplet that when the sun comes our and heats up acts like a magnifying glass on the leaf and burn or scalds the leaf. It is still fine to eat…nothing wrong with the green at all. Just overheated like its farmer:)
I will be on tour this weekend so I have asked Cheryl to bring some of her delicious baked goods to the Saturday market.
With all these fresh cucumbers…what’s a girl to do?….make dill pickles I say! That is what will be at the market this weekend…get em’ while they last!
See ya at the farm!
Every year there is a sure sign of summer for me here on the farm and this towering sunflower is it. She is my calendar, my signal that from here on out things are going to get pretty warm around here. Lovely isn’t she? I never plant this sunflower here it re-seeds itself each year in spite of being flooded, dug around and ignored she reaches for the sky and opens that bright gorgeous smiling face of hers. Yep it’s summer time…let the fun begin!
News From the farm;
The past week or so we have been in the middle of some hot, humid days here on the farm. For me that means early morning and evenings in the field only. We southern girls don’t do afternoon in the sun….bless her heart and all that…I love my mornings and evenings here on farm. It’s peaceful and beautiful and I get to hang out and talk to my tomatoes…and curse the Bermuda grass. Mark and his crew have planted water melons most of last week…yum..can’t wait. And I have been planting more squash, soybeans, heirloom pole beans and red and green okra to list a few things. The flowers are beginning to bloom and we should start seeing some bouquets coming off the farm in the next week or two. There are a couple of things…First we have a heat advisory for this coming weekend…we farmers live by the weather…anyway…because of that I want to make some changes in our market and CSA pickup schedule. We need to get our CSA picked up well before noon on Saturday we will stop harvesting after 12pm its just too hot for us and our farm crew to be running out into the field harvesting we’ll melt but more than that your fresh produce will wilt before you we make it back to the market…that is not a good thing. Second, We will be closing the farm early on Sunday 12pm. which is when they are forecasting temperatures that are dangerously high with the heat index…that means temps in the high 90’s but for us out in the field where the heat radiates off the soil it could reach well over 100. If you want to pickup a CSA on Sunday let me know via email and I will put your basket in the cooler at the market for you to pickup.
As for the market…we have a new batch of honey and freshly made Jam and baked goodies as well as farm eggs and hand-churned sweet cream butter. This weekend’s market specials are: Roasted red pepper & pesto focaccia, FarmHouse garden slaw…which is one of my summer time favorites…Our three bean salad and apple pocket pies, buttermilk bread and Blueberry muffins.
CSA shareholder….Weekly and Bi weekly We are going to host a “What’s in the basket” workshop Saturday June 12th. 10:30 am. All our shareholders are welcome to join us as we take a look at week’s CSA share. How to make the most out of your CSA share, How to care for your produce plus tip, tricks and ideas on everything from exploring the farm, expanding your basket contents and persevering your produce.
We will be serving , Coffee, Tea and Lemongrass spritzers
I want to encourage our CSA shareholder to attend this workshop so you will be able to make the most out of being a CSA shareholder this season.
Tentative CSA Pickups schedule for June:
June 5th. No CSA Pickup
June 12th. Weekly CSA pickup only….No Bi-Weekly shareholder pickups….
June 19th. Bi-Weekly Pickup only….No Weekly shareholder pickups
June 26th. Weekly & Bi-weekly pickups
Hope to see ya’ll here on the farm!
Perrin was out in the field the other day getting ready to plant some more snap beans in a newly turned over bed here on the farm. She has been working here on the farm as part of our crew a couple of days a week this spring so working with the plants, soil and seeds aren’t anything she is now unfamiliar with. Young and idealist as are most of the people that tend to want to work on an organic farm trying it seems to connect to a world that lends itself to be so disconnected from real life. She is on a journey, spiritual, mental and a physical journey seeking a good life for herself and trying to experience meaningful things. Dressed in her coveralls looking very much like a farmer indeed she donned her work gloves a requirement for working in the soil here. I pulled up close beside her as we were both hunched over the dark dirt looking into its mass teaming with earthworms tiring to squirm back into its depths and out of the light. It is late spring and very hot right now here in Middle Tennessee as a heat wave and afternoon thunder storms have been the weather pattern for the past couple of weeks after the massive flood. The air is thick with humidity and the sun hangs high and hot beaming down on our skin. It is early in the morning so the dew is fresh and wet on the grass seeping through my pant knee as I bent over to take hold of a container of seeds in which we are getting ready to plant. But before I turn Perrin loose planting alone I want to talk to her and center her on the task she is entrusted with this morning. We have a lot to do today and more than one bed needs to be planted so I have to allow the farm crew to help in that department. More than not I myself like to do all the planting on the farm. There are some things I will let the crew sow and we are running behind with the flood taking out our early summer crops in the lower beds and I need to replant these beds asasp or we could be in trouble come late June with our market and CSA offerings. On a small farm like this one every dime counts and to lose a few weeks with no harvest can mean the farm going broke and quick. So today’s planting is probably the most important of the season and a lot is riding on making sure things get planted correctly and with love. Now you might be saying to yourself…with love? What does emotion have to do with planting a row of beans…well I will tell you.
Forget about the proverbial green thumb…there isn’t one…or not one that I’ve seen anyway. Everything to do with growing anything has to do with know-how and want to. In other words you have know how to plant something and you have to want it to grow. Lovingly, wantingly and motherly attentiveness is required to have a good garden. Anyone can do it…but in my experience several that try and skip any part of what I described above will find a less than stellar outcome. So, Perrin I said…do you want to know the secret to growing great snap beans? She looked at me very focused as if I was going to share the secrets of the universe with her. yes..she said…I held out a couple of small pale bean seeds in my palm passing them to her hands…and said you have to want them to grow… A few minutes later I walked by Perrin planting the bed of beans…I could hear her talking as she was planting one by one down the long 40ft bed…she was whispering kinda singsong…grow little beans grow…:) I am happy to report Perrin’s bed of beans are now 6″ tall and growing very nicely indeed.
As the days get hotter here on the farm the weeds get taller and we begin to see our nemesis “Bermuda grass”. Oh how Mark and I hate dealing with this aggressive, evasive bloody mass of green that will take over a bed and a garden if left unchecked over night. This is where we spend a great deal of money, time and effort trying to keep this grass from choking out our crops. It loves this hot weather and will grow like a wild fire. Nothing can stop it but plain old digging it out. You can’t pull it…you can’t mulch it…you can even kill it with Roundup…it will come right back….and stronger. We lose a couple of farm crew every year about mid summer…they just can’t handle weeding out the Bermuda grass anymore. Well that and having to work the weedeaters…nobody likes that either. I offend wonder if people really think working on a farm is going to be easy work…not hot, sweaty, weedy…mud on your boots and under your nails kind of work. I think all those magazines about Urban farming and backyard gardening with their weedless gardens and dewy looking perfect produce are about as realistic in real life as vogue is in representing what real women look like. By the way….this is what a real female farmer looks like with no makeup:)Lovin that CoOp cap and muck boots:)
My daughter Jasy came to visit us this week from South Carolina. It is the first time I have got to wrap my arms around that child in 7 months. I miss her and that pretty face. I feel like I am turning into my Grandma Lynn though for I remember when my sister Patsy and I would go to Kentucky for a visit she would be crying when we pulled up into the holler and crying when we pull away heading for home. I do that now with my daughter. I cry when I see her and cry when she’s leaving. Mark just shakes his head at the whole matter. It seems we never get enough time to just be together when she is here. There is always something else…either Lucca, or the farm or even just the dance mothers and daughters do with one another…I want to treat her like she is still a baby and she wants to show me how grown up she has become. I like my daughter..I really do like her…. I think she is funny, sensitive, smart and talented. She is so striking beautiful with her long blonde hair and those endless blue eyes of hers that has melted my heart and resolve so many times. She wants to follow in her grandmother’s and mom’s footsteps and pursue a music career….and she has the talent to do so, and I’m not being a stage mom….she can sing, she writes and she is a born people person. Jasy can turn on a big bright smile and light up the room. I have never met anyone that doesn’t comment on her personality…yes and always on her looks. She wants to sing rock music and coming from a family that is ingrained in country music it might be a mountain she’ll have to climb to win people over. She is talking about trying out for American Idol….I think it is a great idea. I think she could get so much experience from just experiencing that process. She feels so isolated from musical people being in South Carolina although I think its more to do with her not feeling confident enough yet to start peering up with others like herself in that area. Music is everywhere and musicians and artists tend to cling together it is just a matter of finding those groups. As young mother herself, I think she doesn’t feel like she has the time nor energy to seek them out. We were playing around yesterday here on the farm with guitars just her and I…she was singing a couple of new songs for me and of course I was gifting her with all my wisdom about what she may think of changing…ha ha…that is the mother/daughter dance. although she seems like she is far more open to listening to someone who has traveled the road she wants to take. I was happy to see that. It’s funny because I feel as if there is so much unsaid between Jasy and I…It’s not that we don’t say I love you…and all that…but I want her to know how much she means to me and I think sometimes she doesn’t. If I could just take her inside my head for five minutes she would understand she is my light, my world. I believe in that girl…I believe she can do anything. I am so proud of her and the life she has made for herself…it wasn’t easy coming from a divorced family that fought for years over her. It wasn’t easy having her mommy always traveling while she stayed with her grandparents. It wasn’t easy for her when she was just turning into a teenager having a new step dad and step sister not to mention a baby brother when she didn’t get enough of me to herself as a child. I wished that I could show her she’s so adored and never a day goes by I don’t wish to hold her in my arms.
Holy Cow! May is almost over….I can’t believe it. The older I get the faster time fly’s. The farm has pretty much been a soggy place to be the last few weeks. The field has yet to dry out enough for Mark to clear anymore beds for us to plant. We did get a few new crops put last week and replanted a little of what we lost in the flood. But we need a few days of dry weather to be able to get all those lost beds fully replanted as well as have new beds amended for us to plant. I spent this evening in the field planting eggplant, more pepper plants and some flowers. I am hoping I can at least have a couple of hours in the morning to plant a bit more before the rains come in the day.
Just a little update on my chicken post a few days ago….the hens after spending the past several days free to range the farm again are laying…I got a little shy of a dozen eggs today from the nest…ha.. ha.. yep…I am the chicken whisper:)
CSA News & Updates
Weekly & Bi-weekly pickup this weekend. Which mean if you are a weekly shareholder you have a pickup this weekend. If you are a biweekly shareholder and didn’t pickup last weekend you have a pickup this weekend.
There are two items that I strongly recommend to help with your CSA items.
1. Debby Myer’s Green bags.
These are bags that you store your washed vegetables in that help them to stay fresh longer. I have used these bags for years now and they work. They help to add a week or more in some cases to you vegetables. The bags are reusable just a rinse and air dry and they are ready for your next pickup. The green bags have an enzyme that helps to eliminate Ethylene a gas that is produced by fruits and vegetables that regulates how quickly fruits or vegetables ripen. You can find green bags at Publix’s, target and places like that.
2. Salad Spinner
This is a tool in my kitchen I use almost daily. What did I do before my salad spinner? I have no idea. But I will tell you with as many leafy greens as you’ve got in your CSA share a salad spinner is a must have item. You can find them at any Target, Walmart…ect..
Over the course of the next couple of pickups you are going to notice your basket’s contents will be changing as our spring crops will be coming to an end and warmer season crops start to produce. Several of these early warm season crops were damaged by the flood. These are the crops we are in the mist of replanting now. We still have some beds that are producing though. I will keep you informed as how we plan to go ahead over the next few weeks dealing with our CSA in terms of holding off any pickup for a couple of weekends…I am just giving everybody a heads up on what we are thinking. We are fine for the rest of May…no worries there.
Jam Making Workshop
This Saturday morning we will be holding our Jam Making workshop here on the farm. If you want to learn the process of making your own home-made jams…come on…join us!
Saturday May 22 nd. 10:30am
Location: The FarmHouse Kitchen
Admission: $8.00 (you will be taking home your jam)
See y’all here on the farm,
Where are my eggs? That is the burning question I have addressed to my flock of laying hens for the past week. Every morning I go to the new chicken coop and every morning I leave with 2 maybe 4 eggs that is it….where are the rest of the eggs? We are used to getting at least a dozen or more fresh eggs a day from our young hens. We went through this before about a month or so ago when we first built the new chicken coop and for the first time our chickens were contained. Why? They were digging up everything we were planting this spring…that won’t work when you have a good size CSA program and a weekend farm market that needs..wants and dang it deserves to showcase our hard-earned crops. So Mark and I decided we would coop the hens through the growing season and than allow them back to their free ranging ways late summer though winter. Of course the hens were mad…they want to free range the farm free eating bug, roots and their favorite tomatoes…yes they will destroy your tomato crop in a day given a chance. So we counted on a big drop in egg production which happened for a while. Once the hen got used to the coop (kinda) they settled in and began to lay once more. Then we traumatized them again by adding Ruddie to flock…he is such a handsome roster and since our roster was lost to the fox late last winter I thought the girls would thank me…but noooo…they like him okay…but nothing in the way of egg laying..gratitude. The flood might have freaked them out a little it did get very muddy in their coop and they were stuck inside for a couple of days. Other then that nothing…I can think of nothing that would almost totally stop them from laying.
This morning I went out to feed the hens and they were looking at me through the chicken coop wire…I couldn’t stand it anymore, they looked so depressed…so while Mark was in Nashville I let the girls be free range again…I bet there be some eggs tomorrow:)