Little Peace Farm Blog
Hey folks. I wanted to share this photo with you. Chef Jon Fegley from the Pottsville Club made this Salmon Cake dish withour micro greens.
Hey good folks. Well, last week we all enjoyed a warm snap that reminded us that there IS a different season and it is not too far off. I have been wringing my hands for not being able to build my new greenhouse. The ground needed to be leveled and the snow was too deep to drive my 6' ground stakes into the earth. Because of the super-muddy conditions I was unable to get any equipment in to do the excavating so what does Mike do??? He excavates with a pic-ax and a shovel. Not fun but once the snow was gone I got it done and I did it while wearing a tee shirt! It felt great to be outside not bundled up. The hoophouse was well into the 80's with spinach taking off and the kale and chard making a come back after lots of frozen nights.
I was sweating pretty hard this Saturday as well as we had sustained some wind damage to the hoophouse (by the way, when I refer to a hoophouse or high tunnel it means a greenhouse that is unheated other than passive solar heating where I grow plants directly in the ground; greenhouse or nursery is heated with fuel and is where I grow my seedlings for transplanting out into the field). I watched out the window while a heavy gust waltzed our children's large trampoline across the field and slammed up against the new greenhouse frame I built days before. When I checked the hoophouse for the millionth time I found that the entire south side tore from it's framing and was blowing out of control. We managed to temporarily fasten the side down but did some damage in the process. That wind was amazing and frustrated me while I watched things begin to fall apart, practically helpless. Luckily that was the only damage we suffered so I think we did alright.
I am hoping to have the new greenhouse on line by the end of this week. I already have flats of leeks and onions started under grow lights until I can get them out to the greenhouse and am seeding more flats each week. DO NOT DESPAIR, A NEW SEASON IS UPON US!!!!!
We are dismantling the corn crib and are looking for some volunteers to help. It will require some difficult work like removing the existing shingle roof, recycling all the remaining scrap metal (I already removed the tin roof and recycled it locally), and burning the timbers and wood that we don't want to salvage. I'll throw a request for help out there once we get a little closer to warmer weather.
So we hope all are well and are looking forward to the season. We have so many plans in the works it makes our heads spin but it is truly ALL GOOD. Thank you for your support! Stay tuned.
Little Peace Farm
Hey good folks. Most of you know our oldest daughter, Ariana. Dependable, competent, organized, shy but friendly??? For the second year in a row she has surprised us with competing in the Schuylkill Jr. Idol contest. The surprise is that it is unlike her to stand in front of any group of people to perform. Well her beautiful voice could be contained no longer and sang out last Tuesday night. She sang the traditional bluegrass/gospel hymn "I'll Fly Away" Alyson Krauss style. Her performance was awesome and she placed to compete in the quarter finals this Tuesday night (2/15) at the Frackville Mall. She competes with 12 other contestants from the original 36. I'll be playing quitar for her two songs. If you'd like to see her perform, come on up to the Frackville Mall and enter at the K-mart entrance this Tuesday. It will be held at Center Court, and the singing starts at 6 but we don't know in what order the contestants sing, as it is randomly assigned. Hope to see some of you in Frackville to enjoy the music!!
Now don't get your dander-up. I get excited about little things. I came home late evening from an errand and began to cook a rag-tag meal for myself and stumbled upon a cache of ball jars full of what appeared to be olive oil with a few garlic cloves sunk to the bottom. I thought it would give my potato/acorn squash/shallot stir fry a nice garlic tone. When I gave it a whiff, BOOOOOM, BASIL! I forgot and Emily reminded me that we took the last of our basil from the hoophouse in the end of October and warmed it in olive oil on the stove and strained it out. What's left???? A mid-winter (9 degrees tonight??) taste and smell that should be only smelt and tasted in July. Lesson for all of us: #1 know what you have in the pantry or don't and stumble across some surprises; #2 preserve everything you can and if you don't know how, let's learn. Gotta run, dinner's almost done! Peace.
Hey good folks. Sick of snow yet? I'm actually enjoying it but am ready for some sunny clear days to melt some snow. I'm itching to get to some projects that require snow to melt and at least a bit of ground thaw.
This week I attended two farm related events, the first of which was a CSA master's class sponsored by PASA in Lancaster County. There were about 25 growers at the meeting representing CSA farms of all sizes, shapes, and years in farming. One thing that was very apparent from the meeting is that we all share, no matter what size or how long we've been in business, the same or similar challenges which include but are not limited to the following; growing the size of a CSA, finding shareholders/members, marketing your product, finding land or start-up capital to enter farming, pricing for your product..... The list of challenges seems almost endless but after this meeting I wasn't bogged down by the challenges but inspired and encouraged about what we are doing. The meeting was very educational and a great way to meet other growers.
The other event was titled Upper Bern Township Celebration of Local Agriculture and took place last night. I was one of three presenters who spoke on CSA, sustainable agriculture, and potential markets for local foods. Being only over the mountain and about 15 minutes away, we consider them part of our community and our neighbors. The conversation was fascinating regarding how much fresh market produce our counties (Schuylkill and Berks) provide for our communities.
In a very real way, we are sharing our challenges with our customers and CSA members each season. That might mean that you listen to me rant about a broken implement, the weather, or pests/disease. It might mean that a disease killed all of our tomatoes and neither you nor I get to eat one in September! It might mean the hail storm peppered our heads of lettuce and we have Swiss-cheese-looking greens! This is truly a part of the concept of CSA that I think has slowly faded, sharing the risks of the growing season with the farmer. CSA has changed so much since it first hit our shores in the early 1980's and sharing the risk with a farmer is only part of that original model.
As each season comes Emily and I become more and more aware of how deeply Community is a part of how we farm and we like it this way! We want to provide a healthy product directly to OUR community and keep it as local as possible and so far I think we're doing a pretty good job at that. We are already planning for more on-farm opportunities this season for our members and hope to be a place where community can gather. We'll keep you posted on these and other long term projects.
In other news, I'm just about to make my seed orders for the coming seasons and always consider this the beginning of my growing season. Check out some of these varieties that I am growing this year:
These are a few examples of what we're planning on growing so expect a great variety this season including many heirloom and specialty vegetables. Spread the word about our CSA as we have shares available still. And as always thank you for your support and participationon local, sustainable farming. Peace.
Hey good folks! Welp, I am finally able to reconnect...As most of you know we are banished to the land of dial-up interenet so doing any work on-line has been excrutiatingly frustrating. We recently found a solution and have high speed and will hopefully be able to connect better. Check out our updated website and enjoy the recent winter photos! I can't make any promises between April and November, but during the slower months we should have the time to update and communicate.
We are working on many projects now after PLENTY of down time during the Christmas holiday. A friend brought over his chain saw and we cut, chopped and burned some of the winter blues away.
I purchased a new heated greenhouse where I will start all of my transplants for the field and will grow micro-greens. I have to build it completely from the ground up and am excited to get started. I was extremely cramped in the converted greenhouse I built last winter so this will be a welcome addition to our farm.
I just got word today that my grant application was accepted for the construction of a new unheated hoophouse. This one will be about 100' long and 21' wide and will enable us to offer winter roots and greens to more of you! Our current hoophouse is great but we have the capacity and market to grow more. This will also enable us to get a jump-start on some early tomatoes, peppers, and basil too. I have to wait on final approval but I hope to have this built before the season really takes off.
With the generous time and equipment of a CSA member, we are dismantling and removing the fallen corn crib near the barn...you've seen it...the pile of wood and metal that has been junking up the place since last January! This will take some effort but that is a project I'm looking forward to completing!
I am currently getting my seed order together and am excited to grow some new and old (heirloom) varieties. We are looking to once again expand our selection of cut flowers and I am experimenting with hoophouse grown tulips and larkspur for early cut flowers. I'll keep you posted. We will be offering leeks and shallots this year in addition to scallions, bunching onions, storage onions and garlic. We are growing a wider selection of beans this year which leads me to the following question: SHOULD I GROW FAVA BEANS AGAIN THIS SEASON? They are delicious but I can't say they produce prolifically and are ugly as sin. Post your comments on the website.
We are also considering another market this season. Our markets thus far have been lack-luster and in order to succeed, we need to increase our sales. There are a few out-of-town opportunities opeing up so we'll keep you posted.
So we hope you are well and warm. Stay tuned for more from us and enjoy our updated website. Peace, Love and Happiness!!!!!
Little Peace Farm
Michael, Emily, Ari, Grace, Justice, Leah, Jude, Lucy, and Hope
Below is what we have available this week for farm pick-up on Tuesday evening from 4-6. Please get your orders in as soon as possible (tomorrow evening at the latest) so we can have enough time for harvest.
Also, deposits ($50) or full payments for 2011 shares are due this week for returning CSA members! Then we begin to solicit the general public to fill the remaining shares. Please let us know even if you are NOT interested in purchasing a share for next season so we don't have to bug you(hehehehehe). Thank you all who have gotten back to us. We are excited to have a rest but also are planning for next season with some new varieties, colors and flavors.
-red lettuce salad -$3.50/bag
-mesculin mix (tatsoi, arugula, mustard, cress,....)-$3.50/bag
-turnips with greens-$2.00/bunch
-napa cabbage-$3.00/humongous head!
-parsley (flat lear for curly)-$1.50/bunch
My apologies for those receiving this e-mail multiple times! Hope all are warm and well. Peace.
Below is what we have available for pick-up this week. Pick-up is Tuesday between 4 and 6 and your orders are due by this evening (tomorrow morning at the latest!). We are able to provide for a few more weeks and the hoophouse should give us greens for the winter.
Also, a reminder that your 2011 CSA deposits or payments AND MEMBER AGREEMENTS are due by November 15th. If you only make a or a $50 deposit, the balance is due January 15th. The half share (6 items/week, 20 weeks) costs $328 and the full share (10 items/week, 20 weeks) costs $578. Our charge has not increased, we've just added an additional two weeks to the CSA season. As always, if you have difficulty making the payments PLEASE LET US KNOW and we'll make arrangements. Remember that we also offer work-shares (call or visit website for details).
pink beauty radish $1.50/bunch
Napa $3/head (these are huge)
red cabbage $2/head
savoy cabbage $2/head (we're making kraut with these)
turnips with greens $2/bunch
red beets $2/bunch
red kale $2/bunch
acorn squash $2.50/each
fennel $1.75/ bunch
Thank you for your orders and we hope all are warm and well. Peace.
We wanted to remind our CSA members and friends that we will be at the Pottsville Farmer's Market again this Saturday from 8-12. We finished our season at the Plaza Grower's Market in Allentown this week but will continue restaurant deliveries in the Lehigh Valley for a few weeks to come. Below is a list of most of the items we will have in P-ville this weekend:
-pink beauty radish
-purple top turnips w/greens
-broccoli (we have a lot !)
-green and red salad mix
-baby bibb lettuce
-purple, savoy, and napa cabbages
We will continue to take orders for Tuesday farm pick up as long as we have produce!
We hope all are enjoying the fall weather and staying warm (we are not turning on our heat until at least Nov. 1st!!!). Thank you all for your continued support of our family and sustainably grown food! Peace.