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Posted 9/29/2018 6:11am by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

Today is the last day for the St. Matthew's Farmer's Market 2018.  We appreciate Beargrass Christian Church for their commitment to providing a space for local food to be offered to this community.  This is the the twelfth year for this market and we have been here from the very beginning.  When this market opened in 2007, we had just received our Organic Certification.  Prior to this we had been selling at the Shelbyville Farmer's Market.  We started the three year transition to organic in 2004 and were so excited to be able to get into a Louisville market.  At that time there weren't many markets and it was very competitive with a long waiting list to get in.  Little did we know that the St. Matthew's market would become one of the largest and most successful in the state.

We have seen a lot of changes in the local, organic food "movement" through the years.  In 2007 we were one of two certified organic vendors at St. Matthew's.  Now there are seven.  Back then if you wanted organic food you had to come to a farmer's market, join a CSA or find a specialty grocery like Whole Foods. Now you can find organic at Kroger, Costco and other large groceries.  

This has caused some confusion for the consumer.  Why buy from a local farmer if i can pick up organic produce at my convenience and often at a lower price at the nearest grocery.  Well, the difference is that when you buy from a local organic farmer the produce will be fresher (produce in groceries has often been stored for long periods of time plus it spends several days being shipped from California or Mexico or wherever) and you will be supporting a local economy.  This is a major part of food security.  If we depend on produce from California, then what happens when a devastating wildfire destroys thousands of acres of crops?  Or a hurricane in North Carolina floods fields of produce and drowns thousands (maybe millions) of animals used for food production?

If we don't support local farmers then we don't have any real food security.  That extra effort it takes to seek out local organic food means that you and your family are will not be compromised when disaster strikes another part of the country that supplies our food.

We need more small farms.  This is how we spread out the risk.  If I have a crop failure (like we did this year for potatoes) then you can find another local farmer who did not.  A lot of growers were hit with blight on tomatoes this year.  We grew ours in our high tunnel and they were protected from water splashing up on the plants from too much rain.  This is how we achieve food security and economic security.  More small farms.

But, if we have more small farms then we must have more people that are willing to put in the effort to seek out local organic food.  Now I'm preaching to the choir 'cause all of you all do put in the effort.  The question is how do we continue to get the message out and involve more people?  I'm not going to take time this morning to get into all of that but I would encourage you, as a consumer, to become a member of the Organic Association of Kentucky (OAK) and get involved in this great organization to spread the good news. Check them out at oak-ky.org.

I hope you will come out on this beautiful fall morning and drink in the miracle of a small tent city that appears for a few hours each Saturday.  Feel the energy and community that transforms cold,hard asphalt into a bright and warm place for you to experience a living local economy. And the connections made between people.  Farmer to customer. Customer to customer. Farmer to farmer.  Connections that last.  Connections that aren't made by clicking the Prime button on Amazon.  

Some of us are going to try to continue these connections for a little while longer.  Next Saturday a few of us will be moving down the street to the Fresh Thyme grocery on Shelbyville Rd.  Less than a mile (east) of our St. Matthew's Market location.  We will be setting up in their parking lot from 9:00-12:00.  More on this next week.

Thank you for your support this year.  We don't exist without your support.  Nor do the other small farms.  Spread the word.

Larry and Beth

Posted 9/21/2018 9:04pm by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

Normally I send this email on Saturday morning but I'm afraid I won't have time tomorrow.  As I shared with you two weeks ago, I tripped and hurt myself.  I found out today (after an appointment with a specialist) that I have a tendon tear.  It has not gotten better over the last two weeks and now I am in an incredibly restrictive boot that is suppose to stabilize my tendon tear. In two weeks I will return and the Dr. will determine if I need surgery or not.  Needless to say, I have been sidelined  for the past two weeks and it will continue for a couple more.

However, we will continue to do what we can. When you are a self-employed farmer you don't have sick days. Or vacation days. Or any excuses for not doing what needs to be done.

So, we will see you tomorrow.  Would it be easier to stay home? Yes.  Is the weather going to be challenging tomorrow? Yes.  Are we committed to what we believe in? Yes.  Are we committed to you? Yes.

See ya tomorrow.

Larry and Beth

Posted 9/15/2018 6:25am by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

The hot weather has returned but we were able to cut a lot of fresh lettuce yesterday before it had a chance to bolt.  It is delicious.  It is fresh.  It is local. It is organic. It is just what you need on a hot weekend to make a wonderful salad or add tomato and bacon for a BLT!

Counting today there are only three more Saturdays for the St. Matthew's Market. Have you been thinking about how nice it would be to have some fresh cut herbs this fall and winter?  Something much better that those plastic cased herbs they carry at the grocery? Well, you have three more chances to buy one of our herb boxes. They only need water, sunlight and weekly use.  Can also go outdoors if the weather is nice.  Stop by today and let Beth tell you about all the available options and how you can have fresh herbs year round.

Thank you for your support and we hope to see you today.

Larry and Beth

Posted 9/8/2018 5:41am by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

Went through some light rain on the way in this morning but not raining here at St. Matthew' s Farmer's Market (at 6:15 am).  I hope the rain holds off till later in the afternoon and I hope that people will still come out and support their farmers.  I don't know any farmers who see the weather forecast and say, "guess I'll skip this week".  Vegetables are harvested weekly and in order to have the freshest quality that you expect then we must be here rain or shine.  Not really a choice.  Plus, if we stay home then I will also stay home Monday rather than making that nice journey to the bank to deposit the "fruits" of our labor.  For some farmers this market is a significant portion of their weekly income.  So, I encourage you to come out today and encourage you friends and family and even random strangers you may run into this morning while you are out walking the dog to join the festivities rain or shine.

I'm moving a little slow this morning.  Somehow I managed to clumsily trip over my own two feet while loading this morning.  I was able to catch myself against a wall and did not go down but I heard a loud snap when I tripped and I think I may have torn a ligament or tendon.  All I know is that it is incredibly painful and when you see me today I will probably be seated and may not rise to greet you. Beth thought maybe we shouldn't come, but like the weather, not really a choice.  

Beth has lots of flowers this week and she knows that you will need them to brighten up you day, and your tomorrow, with all the rain that's suppose to come later.  She was even able to harvest some sunflowers that I knocked down last week.  They continued to grow and bloom while laying down flat on the ground.  So, if  a sunflower can continue to bloom after being knocked down, I guess we can too.  Not going to let rain or personal injury stop us.  Come check out the blooming flowers and farmers today.

Gotta make this short this morning so I can get back to being what help I can to Beth.  Counting today there are only four more Saturday's for the market.  Wow. It's gone fast. 

Looking forward to see y'all today. 

Larry and Beth

Posted 9/1/2018 5:53am by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

It's Labor Day Weekend!  Time to fire up those grills!

It's the start of college football! Time to fire up those grills! 

You have the grill but something seems to be missing.  Something that will make this weekend super special.  Something you can only get today. From Harmony Fields Farm at the St. Matthew's Farmer's Market from 8:00-12:00 noon. 

Of course I'm talking about our Grass Fed/Finished Ground Beef.  And, to make it really easy for you, we are going to continue our sale for $6/lb. I have brought enough to meet everyone's needs.

We also continue to have certified organic vegetables and herbs.  And flowers.

Would have had more flowers if I hadn't run over some sunflowers yesterday.  The weeds and grass had gotten out of hand in the row next to the zinnias and Beth had asked me to mow so it would be easier to get in and cut flowers.  No problem except she also had a few sunflowers growing next to the zinnias that I assured her I would mow around.

I was careful and it seemed to work out well.  Beth gets home from school around 5:00 and immediately heads out to the field(s). I was up at the barn trying to unwind a coil of high tensile wire I had run over with the bushog and was a tangled mess when I heard her screaming.  Thought something bad had happened and ran up to the front house field.  Seems I mowed down a few sunflowers and she was not happy.  Really, really not happy. Not only did I profusely apologize while crawling around in the dirt on my knees, begging for forgiveness, but I was dumbfounded.  How did this happen.

All I can figure out is that I may have turned around to look at what the 6 ft. mower was doing and while doing this may have adjusted my straight path.  When I turned around I may have realized this and over compensated.  I never looked back again.

So, by not looking ahead I caused significant damage.  I've done this before when plowing or laying black plastic mulch or cultivating.  I was taught, and know, that the only way to keep a straight line is to look off in the distance and find a tree or fence post that can serve as a guide.  Keep your eyes looking forward and never look back.

So many lessons we learn on the farm are applicable to regular old daily living.  If we would just keep looking forward.  Keep our eye on something to guide us.  Keep going on toward the goal.  I have always told my children to learn from the past but never dwell there.  Move forward toward a positive future and embrace the present and all that it gives you.

I had forgotten what it was like to sleep on the couch in the living room but eventually Beth will forgive me.  If I can just keep her from looking back. Move forward and enjoy life and next year we will plant a lot more sunflowers.

Larry and Beth 

Posted 8/18/2018 6:15am by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

The Ky State Fair began a couple days ago.  Originally the State Fair was all about agriculture.  Livestock, produce and good eats were showcased for all the state to see.  Blue ribbons were in abundance for the best cake, best in show (livestock) and best hand of tobacco.  Back then tobacco leaves were stripped off the stalk and tied in "hands."  A tight hand with a perfect wrap was something to be proud of.  There was even a tractor driving contest!

I hope that if you go to the Fair you will spend some time in the Agriculture displays.  Just don't go today between 8:00-12:00 noon.  That's when we will be set up at the St. Matthew's Farmer's Market in the parking lot of Beargrass Christian Church.

Actually, each Saturday at the Market is like a mini State Fair.  You can find agricultural products grown here in Kentucky.  However, there won't be any blue ribbons passed out.

I watch with amazement each week as hundreds (maybe thousands) walk by, some at a fast pace, others lingering at each tent to see what may catch their eye.  Some come with a pad and pencil and you can tell they have a serious list of groceries to pick up for the week.  Others wander aimlessly allowing spontaneous unconnected thoughts drive them to try something they have never heard of.  Happens all the time for us with Fairy Tale Eggplant.  Some people come every week.  Some once a month and some for the first time. Some are confused by all the labels such as local, natural, GMO free, hormone free, chemical free and organic. Some are looking for a good deal, others want to pay more.

We have a gentleman who comes each week and buys two large, juicy and delicious heirloom tomatoes.  They are $3 apiece but each week he insists that I take seven dollars.  One dollar more.  May not seem like much but it may be that one dollar we need to break our sales record.  Or one dollar to keep us form setting a new low.

However, the real value in that dollar is not monetary.

There is no monetary remuneration with the blue ribbons at the Fair.  Just satisfaction in knowing you have done well.  For us that extra dollar is our blue ribbon.  That's a value that can't be expressed by dollar signs.  And we get lots of other blue ribbons when you stop and say a kind word or share a story or have a question about something you are growing. Sometimes it may be a smile when you walk by.  A smile that says, "I really like what your doing but I really don't need anything today." Lot's of blue ribbons handed out each week.

Come share in those values today as you choose from locally grown, freshly harvested certified organic produce.  Or perhaps some grassfed beef.  Or flowers. Or herbs.  Even if you don't need anything today, we appreciate that blue ribbon smile you send our way.

Larry and Beth 

 

Posted 8/11/2018 6:28am by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

We are set up at the St. Matthew's Farmer's Market this morning but our look is a little different.  We only have one tent set up which only gave us room for vegetables, herbs, flowers and beef.  No birdhouses this week.

I was driving into town this past week in my truck, sailing down the hill toward the bridge that crosses Guist Creek when I saw I needed to slow down for a garbage truck picking up trash.  As I gently pushed on the brake pedal it went all the way to the floor.  After a few hasty pumps of the pedal I was able to get enough pressure on the brake lines for them to work. Barely.  I turned around and headed back to the house to get my backup vehicle, a 2003 GMC Envoy.

My truck is quickly approaching 525,000 miles.  When I bought it (new) it had 12 miles on it.  I'm on my third engine, second transmission, and numerous other fixes.  It is held together by baling wire (the muffler) and prayer.  More prayer than anything -- as in , "Lord, please don't let anything else break today." 

I had it hauled into the shop and it seems that my brake lines have rusted through.  Not good.  When I went Friday afternoon to pick it up I learned that it would not be ready till next week. Really not good.  It was 5:00 and I didn't have a vehicle to pull our trailer.  You see, we have so much stuff to bring each week (we have a double space with two tents) and have such a variety of different things to sell that it takes 16 ft enclosed trailer to bring it all.  Through the years I have customized it to to make it very efficient for loading and hauling.  My search for another vehicle to borrow that would pull this trailer failed.  Really, really not good.

So, we loaded what we could in my old Envoy and Beth's Outback and headed up here.  It is still a work in progress trying to adapt everything to a smaller space but it seems to be working.

I'm glad to announce that do have some beautiful lettuce this week as well as those delicious tomatoes you all have been snatching up and more Fairy Tale Eggplant than last week as well as fresh cut basil, yellow wax beans and Dragon's Tongue beans (an heirloom with flat pods that are pale yellow with purple streaks), fresh cut flowers and potted herbs and herb boxes.

I should probably buy some flowers today.  Next Thursday Beth and I will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary.  I would say marriage can kind of be like that muffler on my truck.  Sometimes you hold it together with baling wire and prayer. More prayer than anything -- as in "Lord, please don't let me say something stupid today that will embarrass Beth."  

Actually, the prayers are more a tone of thankfulness, as in -- "Thanks for not letting me slam into that truck, thanks for awakening our creativity to solve this dilemma, thanks for a wife who is a true partner, and thanks for our wonderful community of supporters."  Or as Anne Dillard prays, "Help.Wow.Thanks."

Come check us out today.  We are truly thankful that we have the privilege to be stewards of the earth through organic farming and can share the bounty with you.

 

Larry and Beth

 

   

Posted 8/4/2018 6:05am by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

I heard on the news that the computer/tech company Apple is now valued at One Trillion dollars! They didn't mention Harmony Fields Farm.

I must admit that it would be nice to have little more money.  Upgrade some equipment.  Get some repairs done.  Finally implement some of the dreams we have for this farm that would take additional monetary resources.  But, I'm glad that our value is not determined by how big we are or how much money we make.  Our value is determined by what we can offer you, our community, by providing local organic food.  Our value is determined by how we strive to be responsible stewards of the land.  Our value is determined by those deep rooted convictions that local, organic food is good for our local economy.  And our value is determined by those we are surrounded by.  That would be you. 

Without people who share our convictions, we would not exist.  Part of sustainability is financial sustainability and you make it possible for to continue to continue to pursue this dream. 

The smart people who study this stuff say that there are three legs to the sustainability stool: 1)Environmental sustainability, 2)Economic sustainability, and 3)Social Justice sustainability.  These are the goals we pursue.  Organic farming is the most sustainable farming system. If we can't be profitable then we would not be able to meet the food needs of our community. And, we are fair and equitable in how we treat people, All people.  We pay our employees well above minimum wage (that is, when we are fortunate enough to find people to work!) and we try to do our part in sharing what we raise with those who can't afford to buy food.  

So, come out today and be a part of our sustainable community.  We have heirloom tomatoes that will awaken taste buds you didn't know you had.  We are still running our steak sale for $13.50/lb (normally $16.50) and also have ground beef that will produce a burger that with such depth of flavor that you will not have sufficient vocabulary to express the experience of that first bite.  And, many other cuts grass fed - grass finished beef.

Fairy Tale eggplant, fresh cut Basil, Yellow Squash, Beans and much more await you. Also, don't forget to pick up a fresh bouquet to take home.

When I go to the bank Monday morning to make our weekly deposit I doubt that the balance in the farm account is going to draw much attention from Wall Street.  However, because you do support us, it draws attention to who we are and what we are supposed to be doing.  And we value that.

Thank you!

Larry and Beth

Posted 7/28/2018 5:53am by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

Recently I saw a statistic revealing the average age of the American farmer to be around 59 yrs. old.  I guess it's been a few years since I could be considered average. I am now above average. You might say I am becoming an heirloom.  Something from the past that still has value in the present.

Tomatoes are often referred to as heirlooms if they are the old open pollenated varieties.  For years we only grew heirlooms but gradually moved away from them because they are very fragile and very non-uniform in appearance.  Modern consumers are very much influenced by the uniformity of supermarket tomatoes.  They all look alike and they all taste alike.  We found some nice organic hybrid varieties to grow that have good flavor and are easier to pick and bring to market.  

However, this year we decided to go back to some heirlooms and put some Cherokee Purple in the high tunnel.  They were doing well but have recently been hit with late blight.  Fortunately they are still producing and we have some available today for you at the market.  They aren't pretty but nothing matches the flavor they bring to your plate!

We are continuing our steak sale today.  All ribeyes and strips are only $13.50/lb. (regularly $16.50) and we also have ground beef, roasts and brisket.  All local grassfed and grassfinished.

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Squash and Basil are also available as well as lettuce.  We were very, very late getting things out this year so we are eagerly awaiting the rest of the bounty to come in soon.

Sometimes us heirlooms need a little extra care.  Beth and I don't have the flexibility that we once had.  We may even get tired a little sooner than we wish.  We may not look like we did when we were 25, but, like those heirloom tomatoes that are thin skinned and knobby, we too have a  richness of flavor on the inside that only being "above average" can bring.

So, come hang out with some above average folks and veggies today. Going to be a really nice day.

Larry and Beth

Posted 7/21/2018 5:52am by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,

I’m typing this on my phone this morning as there is no internet connection for the computer. Apparently the storms from yesterday and last night had knocked out some of the technology access in this area. 

So, this will be short and sweet or as Sgt. Friday would say, “Just the facts m’am.” 

The facts are:

We are here  We have lettuce, basil, squash and fairy tale eggplant. We also have grass fed/grass finished strip and ribeye steak, sirloin tip roasts, brisket, filet mignon, and ground beef.

We also have potted herbs and herb boxes, fresh cut flowers and the amazing handcrafted ( from wood on the farm) birdhouses.

i think the weather will be fine during market hours. Right now it is very pleasant  We did not have any storm damage but did get almost 3 inches of rain.

We hope to see you today.  Thanks for supporting local organic farming.

Larry and Beth

 

 

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