News and Blog
Only two more chances. Today and next Saturday. We have absolutely beautiful heirloom tomatoes today. And we also have a lot of San Marzano tomatoes. They are a paste tomato that don't have as much juice and seeds but a lot of pulp that make them great for making sauces. I'm surprised how many people aren't familiar with this variety. Last week a young lady stopped in and became very excited and animated when she saw we had San Marzanos. She immediately took out her phone, took a picture and posted on Instagram! She knew the value of finding local, organic San Marzanos.
Only two more chances for you to be overcome with joy to the point that you have to share it with the whole world. Instagram is how a new generation shares their joys with others. A whole lot faster than work of mouth.
We get a lot of joy out of serving you. We too post things on Instagram (harmonyfieldsfarmky) but we also use the good old fashioned word of mouth. Most of that comes from the interaction we have with you at the market. Only two more chances for us to do this and then it will be back to communicating via technology. No more face to face. No more seeing a young child's face light up when they pop that cherry tomato in their mouth and realize it's almost as sweet as candy. And that parent's face that lights up when they realize their vegetable phobic child has discovered the joy of local, organic food. I can't capture that on Instagram. It's witnessed in real life in real time and it is priceless.
Come by today and help us make some more real life, real time experiences. Whether it's loading up on some great produce, (and we have a lot and a lot of variety), buying that beautiful bouquet for someone special, or finally deciding that you can't face going into the fall and winter without one of our herb boxes sitting on your kitchen counter with fresh herbs available whenever the recipe calls for it. Or, maybe it's time to think about one of Beth's fathers hand crafted bird houses. Christmas is almost here and they would make a great present.
Only two more chances.
Come see us. Instagram only goes so far.
The harvest moon was so bright this morning that you almost didn't need any other light to see. The harvest moon is called so because it provides extra light at this time of year for harvest. Now that we grow vegetables year round, I guess it's not as important as in the past when people only grew seasonally.
Our harvest has been plentiful this week. More Tomatoes than last week and more Lettuce. We have been concerned that the hot weather would effect the Lettuce, so we have been providing a cooling shower of overhead irrigation in the afternoon to make them feel comfortable in this heat and humidity. So far it's working. Please stop by and check the gorgeous Heirloom Tomatoes we have this week. We also have Summer and Winter Squash and Zucchini. Egg Plant and Swiss Chard also join the offerings for today.
Counting today, there are only three more Saturdays for this market. It is always sad when it ends. Of course many vendors, including us sometimes, move on to other markets so that we can continue providing quality local organic produce and flowers and herbs. But it's not the same. The St. Matthew's market is a small community that exists only for a few hours each Saturday from May through September. Then it's gone. It will return next year and much will be the same. Most of the vendors will return but some may not. Most of the customers will return but some will have moved on to other places. The rhythms of life and death will claim others.
So this small community is a microcosm of the larger community known as the world. Some things change and some things stay the same. I hope that we, Harmony Fields Farm, will have the wisdom and courage to know those things we need to keep the same, such as our commitment to sustainable, regenerative organic agriculture, and have the courage to face the challenges of our culture and be able to adapt to changing needs.
Although we are sad for this market to come to an end, we are already excited about the potential for next year!
Come see us today.
(And our Chef Jeremy will here again to answer all of your culinary questions such as, "What do I do with _____."
We have enjoyed the cooler weather of the past few days as we anticipate higher temperatures returning next week. Tomatoes like warm temperatures, although it can get too hot for them if it stays over 100 for a few days. Our tomatoes seem to like the recent temperatures. They are going wild and we have an abundance of them to share with you today including : Cherokee Purple, Garden Peach, Cherokee Green, Green Tiger, Pink Boar Striped, Caiman, Jaune Flamme, Striped German, Striped Hollow and several other varieties. We also have our wonderful cherry tomatoes available for $3/pint or two for $5.
Some beautiful eggplant, both Black Beauty and Purple Japanese, will bring some great flavors to your dinner table this week. They sure are pretty. And they taste even better than they look.
Lettuce is back. Took a while to get it going and just as it was looking good a few weeks ago the dear decided to take the family out to the salad bar for dinner one night. But, now that we have our cool (actually hot -- it's electric fence) deer fence, the lettuces are rejoicing that they can send their delectable edible leaves sunward so that you can be the recipient of the miracle of photosynthesis. What we actually do is harvest the sun. We just try to stay out of it's way so it can do it's thing.
We harvested a bunch of Butternut Squash and are bringing some to the market today. I couldn't wait to try it out so I roasted some last night and then Jeremy concocted a sauce with maple syrup, fish sauce and hot pepper flakes. Yep, fish sauce. Unbelievably delicious. Beth posted a picture on Instagram (harmonyfieldsfarmky) so check it out.
And, of course we still have some ghost peppers. They go great with everything!
It's very rewarding to see the fruits of your labors come to fruition. It's nice to know that even if you are stymied by the weather (our incredibly wet spring) you can still produce incredible food. Or, as I said above, get out of the way and let the sun and the plants do their thing. That's what organic farming is all about. Build the soil naturally, as nature intended, and get out of the way. Let the soil provide the nutrition. You don't need petroleum based fertilizers. You don't need to herbicides that not only kill weeds but also the soil bacteria. You don't need pesticides. Cover things that are susceptible with netting. Build the soil to produce strong, hardy plants that can resist pest pressure. It's a lot of extra work but it enables us to get out of the way.
Sun, water, great soil -- that's the formula. And this formula produces the results that ends up on your table and in your belly. So, get out of the way. You don't need processed foods. You don't need additives with names you can't pronounce or understand. Just good old organic food straight from the field to you.
Thanks for supporting us. Without you we wouldn't be able to do this. It actually takes more work to get out of the way. But it is truly worth it.
Just a quick note this morning to say we have lots of good stuff available today including wonderful tomatoes. I promised you that they would arrive in abundance and they have not disappointed. I am disappointed that the deer seem to have taken out all of the okra before we could get the deer fence up. But, thanks to Jeremy's help, we got the fence up and running. I think Jeremy is going to come help during the first hour of the market this morning, so if you have any culinary questions, please be sure to ask him. Not often do you get to get advice from a professional chef.
If you haven'e checked out harmonyfieldsfarmky on instagram, please do. There are new pictures posted weekly and it will give you a better feel for the work being done on the farm.
Have to run now as I have to head home to take care of some business before I return for the last couple hours of the market. We had beans to sell this week but I left them in the cooler at home. I'll try to remember to bring some back with me but will probably not be available until 10:00.
Thanks for your support and I hope you will have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.
Gonna be a beautiful day for the market and you will not want to miss! Lots of things coming in now and we will be bringing it to market. Also, Beth’s flowers are going to be amazing this week. Dramatic and gorgeous bouquets that bring a message of peace and deep meaning to your life. They really do turn a room into a sanctuary of beauty and peace.
We planted some yellow ghost peppers several weeks ago. Except, they aren’t yellow but a bright orange. Very hot and yet fruity at the same time. Also found what looks like a Carolina Reaper mixed in with them. What’s going on here?
Tomatoes are really coming on now. We get numerous comments each week about how much people (especially kids) enjoy them. Will be running a 2 for $5 special today. Or $3 for one.
Deer have been enjoying our produce just a little too much. We started putting up a “deer” fence on Thursday but ran into some challenges that prohibited completion. I have noticed that the deer don’t bother the Ghost Peppers. Neither do rabbits or raccoons. Maybe that’s the answer. We will only grow ghost peppers!! So instead of trying to market huge zucchini that got away from us by extolling the virtues of zucchini bread, we will come up with a hundred ways ghost peppers can change your life and make the world a better place. Ghost Pepper muffins are a great way to start your morning. And if you have frost on your windshield, just a couple of puffs of muffin breath should melt anything. We will have to put together a focus group to provide feedback and guidance.
In the meantime, we have a few of these peppers available today if you would like to try them out. You may not think they can change your life and the world, but by supporting your local organic farmer you can change lives and the world. One pepper at a time.
Thanks for your support.
This has been a productive but hard week. JCPS started this week which means Beth was at school everyday and Jeremy and Sydney took a week off for a short vacation to Colorado. Not as much labor available as normal but we seemed to get everything done. Oh, and today (Aug 16) Beth and I celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary. Well, not much of a celebration as Beth went straight to the field to cut flowers and is now (almost 10:00 Friday night) making bouquets. No special dinner out but I did make some braised chicken thighs with carrots and honey/ balsamic sauce. Also did arugula salad with a fig/honey/shallot/balsamic dressing topped off with toasted chopped walnuts and crispy thin country ham chips. Beth said it was better than anything would get out at a restaurant but she was probably just being nice!
Usually I do these emails early Saturday morning but I’m anticipating some extra responsibilities in the morning that may prevent me from doing it. I’m glad our tomatoes are starting to come in and we have some very nice basal to pair with it. Also the Zuchinni continues its prolific march toward exhaustion.
Do come see us tomorrow. Maybe we can share with you how we used cherry tomatoes, basil and sage (all three available at the booth) to make an amazing Italian meal. Even used more of the Kentucky prosciutto — aka, country ham.
May be warm tomorrow so leave sweaters and jackets at home and head on over to see us.
Social Media is part of the fabric and fiber of society today. It's used to share personal and family information and is a major part of marketing for businesses. It's kinda like Okra -- some love it and others despise it. But, like Okra, everyone should try it every now and then and find a way that makes it palatable, maybe even enjoyable.
As I shared a couple of weeks ago, Beth has embraced Instagram as a way to continue to share our farm story. She has never been a big fan of Okra (I mean social media) but now enjoys posting pictures of farm happenings. Our right hand man Jeremy has been the main mentor for this and he is often the subject of these posts. Check out yesterday's video and you will see him and his girlfriend Sydney making homemade pasta and sauce for an incredible Friday farm lunch. You will also see some flower bouquets that are stunning and will be available at the market today.
The tomatoes are starting to come on and we will have both cherries and heirlooms as well as squash and zucchini. It has taken time but everything is now coming on. It won't be long before Okra will be here and I hope that you will approach it as an opportunity for growth when it arrives.
This farming thing really is hard work. It's hard mentally and physically. Many of you also work really hard at your jobs. For some it is the mental exhaustion at the end of the day that makes coming home so sweet. For others it's the promise of sitting down and resting those aching bones that gives such satisfaction. I have experienced both and I will tell you that I enjoy physical exhaustion over the mental.
I remember when I was a graduate student in Texas in the summer of 1979. I had just started a part-time job on the grounds crew and was exposed to steady 100 degree heat daily. I lugged huge hoses all over campus and plugged them into water receptacles in the ground under mini-manholes, often occupied with Tarantula spiders, and trimmed and mowed acres of land. I would be struggling to drag those big hoses by the library when I would look in those large windows of that cool, air-conditioned environment and immediately wish I was a librarian. Ah, the promise of the greener grass on the other side of the fence.
When you are mentally exhausted it seems hard to shut down the mind and relax. Usually it is just a desire to sit down and put the day behind you. When you are physically exhausted all you want to do is sit down with a big glass of ice tea and soak in the comfort of a soft chair or bed.
Farming brings both kinds of exertion. Lots of mental stuff goes on, especially when you are confronted with challenges of weather, weeds, pests, disease, labor, marketing, etc. Lots of trying to figure out what to do next. Many hours researching in books and on the internet. Calls to colleagues and professionals for their opinion. All of these mental gymnastics will wear you out and then you have to implement the "hopeful" solution and that usually means getting dirty and sweaty and using muscles you had forgotten you have.
And, it's this physical that balances the mental and brings wholeness back into focus. That is really what we all want. We want to feel whole. That's why you make the sacrifice to buy local, organic food. That's why you put out the physical effort each week to fight the mental stress of driving in town and finding a parking space at the market and then stretching those legs and wandering booth to booth drinking in the atmosphere of wholeness.
Come see us today. Park a little farther away or walk from home. It's less humid this morning. Give your mind a break. This is a wholesome environment.
It has been another very productive week on the farm. When we moved our main production to a five acre field next to the house, we knew that we wold have to deal with watering issues since there were no water lines to that field. Our large production field in the back (which we have used for years) has multiple hydrants and water lines going everywhere. We will eventually put in water lines in the new area but we are still in the "experimental" stage with this field and I'm not sure where they might go. So, in the meantime, we have run a two inch main from a hydrant on the front of the house out to the field. After several 90 degree turns and almost 500 ft of two inch lay flat, we finally got, water to the different plots we are using this year.
However, we discovered that there wasn't enough pressure to spin the sprinklers we were hoping to use. It was back to the drawing board. I made diagrams and took pictures of the system and started sharing them with people in the know to see if they could help solve the problem. This included irrigation company representatives, hydrologists, UK's irrigation specialist and an Amish friend who knows everything there is to know about irrigation. No one could figure it out. The math and physics involved in system design says it should work but it wouldn't.
That's the end of the story. See you all at the market today.
No, that wouldn't be a very good ending. Thanks to the help of our trusted farm assistant Jeremy, I decided to completely redesign the system and try it from another angle. It took us all week and two long days of me driving great distances to get some new irrigation supplies for this to happen. Beth and I spent all day Thursday traveling around Central Kentucky gathering supplies and it took us (mostly Jeremy, like 99% Jeremy) to get everything installed yesterday. So far, it seems to be working really well.
I think sometimes people think of farming as days of boring repetition of the same tasks done each year. Planting and harvesting. Oh, and also weeding. Oh, and also watering. Oh, and also figuring fertility needs and how they should be met. Oh, and examining plants to insect or disease pressure and figuring an appropriate organic method to deal with. Oh, and dealing with -- you name it.
Some tasks can be incredibly boring. We often joke that if we send two people out to pick beans, they will know each other's life story by the end of the day. You gotta figure how to pass the time with a monotonous task like that. Never pick beans alone. It is dangerous. There are therapists who deal with bean picking trauma as their specialty.
So yes, some things are repetitive and can even be boring at times. But then you get opportunities like we had this week. A chance to find a solution when professional advice doesn't shed much light on the subject. We had a chance to be creative. To call upon all those skills, intellect, experience (individual and shared) to find a solution. It took Monday-Friday to finally succeed, and yes, the journey may have been more important than the destination, but in this case we needed the destination to be a place that worked!
As I have told you earlier, we are behind several weeks on much of our produce. But it is catching up and looking great. Squash and Zucchini are especially prolific right now so please come help yourself to it. Beth is excited that her flowers are starting to come in now and she will have several to share with you today. And, the herbs are looking beautiful and looking for a home at your place.
I am proud of the stuff we grow. It is tasty. It doesn't cost that much. It is healthy for you and your family. Oh, and it helps keep us going. Oh, and it inspires us to come up with creative solutions when we could just give up. Oh, and all of us working together are helping to make this world a better place.
And oh, there isn't an end to the story. Thanks to you it keeps going.
Been another good week on the farm. We are slowly getting into the swing of social media and Beth has become the Queen of Instagram! Well, at least she has learned how to post a picture or two. Now you can see some cool pictures of what's happening by checking into #harmonyfieldsfarmky on Instagram.
A couple of really good pictures at #harmonyfieldsfarmky are of Beth's father in his shop on the farm where Beth grew up in Breckenridge County. We enlisted his help several years ago to help make some wooden boxes from re-purposed wood from the farm. It had been a cold spring with a late frost that killed most of the stuff we had growing and it didn't look like we would have anything for the first market in May. Thanks to the internet, we located an Organic Greenhouse in Maryland that specializes in herbs and were able to purchase herbs from them and pot them up into containers that went into the wooden boxes. They have been very popular and much loved by those who have purchased them.
We had no idea that this simple idea would lead to even more wood products becoming part of our market. Next came a kitchen counter compost container that matches the herb boxes. With a removable metal container inside the wooden box, it provides a beautiful option for those who want something more than a can on the counter.
We never did imagine that he would start making intricate bird houses that are of artistic folk art quality. Or that people would be so impressed by theses that he would be commissioned to build replicas of their own homes or lake cabins.
My father-in-law is 87 years old and has farmed his entire life. He grew up in a time that was much different than now. He attended a one room school and actually had to ride a mule to school. When it came time for high school he had to move into a boarding house in town (the town was Cloverport -- still there, don't blink or you might miss it) in order to continue his education. There were no buses and cars were also in scarce supply. And I guess the mule didn't want to go that far. You know how mules can be!
Many young men at that time would not have made the sacrifice to continue their education. Most just stayed down home on the farm. Bill Newman (Beth's father's name) knew he wanted to continue learning. He graduated as class valedictorian and went on the college and eventually got a Master's degree in Shakespearean literature. He retired many years ago from after teaching high school English in Breckenridge County.
He really wanted to farm full time and did take a year off to try it but discovered it wasn't going to pay the bills. Thus, he went back to teaching and farmed a couple hundred acres on the side. It helped having the summers off.
Bill has helped us construct buildings on our farm but we never knew that those skills could be downsized to hand craft the beautiful bird houses, barns, cabins, etc. that he now spends hours on each week. He doesn't sit around and watch TV in his "retirement" but is engaged in doing something creative. Something that still engages his mind and challenges his hands to create.
Perhaps it was all the experiences that he had growing up that helped shape him for having the patience to sit for hours and hand craft wonderful works of art. And I'm sure that he never thought that he would be doing this at age 87 and that in the process he would be helping his daughter (and son-in-law) make a go of it on their farm. We never anticipated taking old dead trees from the farm and crafting something useful and beautiful.
But we have and the direct connection to the land continues. So, when you purchase one of these items you are not just getting something really nice to grow herbs or make compost or provide housing for birds or be inspired by a hand crafted building. You are continuing the connection to the land and hopefully pass these down to the next generation for the connection to continue.
And to think, it all started with a stubborn mule.
Got a little heat wave going on. Beth and I both look like we just climbed out of the pond after falling in. And that was at 5:00 this morning when we were setting up! I do encourage you to come early. We will finally have some squash this week and it is really delicious. As I shared earlier, we are about 4-6 weeks behind on all the "normal" summer crops but we have new plantings going in every week.
It may be a couple weeks till we have more lettuce. We have found that by setting out transplants of lettuce (we used to do everything by direct seeding) that the lettuce can put on enough growth before bolting that produces a really nice head of lettuce. However, it was just too hot this week to put it out so it will have to wait for cooler weather next week.
Hot peppers love heat. They produce more intense capsaicin (that's the stuff in the seeds and membranes that really brings the heat) as they attempt to ward off pests and disease. Usually hot weather will bring out all the bad guys that like to eat your produce. Peppers have a built in defense mechanism that really kicks in when the pressure is on.
We are growing some yellow ghost peppers this year. It will be a while before they are ready but they are already looking good. I can't wait to bite into one and set myself on fire!
So, it seems that there are parts of nature that can turn negative into a positive. That is if you think hot peppers really should be hot. And I do. But, what is pleasure for some is pain for others. That's why we have bell peppers and other types of sweet peppers. Everything balances out nicely.
We have struggled this week with the heat and humidity. Starting earlier really only gives you a couple of hours before it kicks in. Anything after 3:00 is truly miserable. This week I was wishing to be a hot pepper.
I will admit that's during times like this that I wonder why are we doing this. Then I think of our friend the hot pepper who has found a way to turn a challenge into a success. So we will keep going, hoping that our challenges will also turn into success because this work is really worth doing. Good for us and good for you.
May you find only pleasure in all the peppers of you life. But, if you bite into a hot pepper that brings pain, remember that it only last for a few minutes.