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Posted 8/6/2010 10:06pm by Larry Brandenburg.
I don't know where you were on Wednesday a little before 6:00 p.m. when the mercury hit 102, but I bet you can guess where we were.  That's right.  We were sitting in a nice air-conditioned theatre here in Shelbyville enjoying a summer blockbuster!  We never get to the movies during the summer but we made an exception this week.  It was just too hot.  

Most of our plants have been tolerating the heat much better than we have.  Except for the beans.  The only people I know who are having success with beans are some home gardeners who have them planted where they get some shade.  My father-in-law (who has been farming his entire 80 years of life) thinks that the hot weather in June was too hard on the blooms causing many of them to fall off.  I know that our yield this year is terrible. This week we picked 2.5 pounds of Royal Burgandy.  Normally we would have at least 50 pounds.  We are getting some production out of the Providers--only about 20-30 lbs./week-- but it is enough for us to give on an alternating basis.  Last week the Friday Farm Pick-Up Group got beans and this week the Saturday St. Matthew's Pick-Up Group will get beans.  We do have some more planted that are just beginning to bloom.  Let's hope for some more reasonable weather.

Last week everyone got a pint of cherry tomatoes and this week we are going to give TWO pints to everyone.  The other tomatoes are coming on but only the cherries have gotten the message that it's time to get with it.  Maybe the others will catch on.  Right now they are green with envy.  

Something that is not green are the cucumbers you will get this week.  They are a golden yellow and absolutely delicious.  I think you will enjoy them. Squash (both Yellow and Patty Pan) are still producing strong but the Zucchini is starting to play out.  Hopefully we will have some more Zucchini in a few weeks if our succession planting does well.

Potatoes will continue with a choice of four different varieties but we may not have Basil for much longer.  We are starting to see some watermelon but it is not yet ready. Won't be long.

I know that I sound like a broken record (or CD, or MP3) but we really enjoy growing food for you.  What gives us joy is knowing how much you appreciate and enjoy this partnership.  You have become part of a community that is bound together by a love for local, organic food.  For this we are indeed thankful.  Continue to spread the good word.

Larry

 
Posted 7/23/2010 7:25pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Hope you are enjoying the nice warm weather we have been having!  Remember these days when we are beset with snow and ice storms in January and February.  We had just gotten home last Saturday and unloaded the last of the market stuff when the clouds burst forth with an inch of rain in less than twenty minutes.  This was accompanied by seventy mph wind.  In fact, some places in Shelby County got ninety eight mph wind.  Needless to say, there has been a lot of damage here in our county.  Shelby and Pike counties were the only two in Kentucky declared disaster areas.  Many farmers here lost a large percentage of their crops to wind and hail damage.  Barns were destroyed and several houses lost their roofs when trees were uprooted and blew over on them.

Here at Harmony Fields Farm we spared most of the damage but we did have all of our corn blown down.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that we were able to salvage about forty percent of it.  So, this week all half-shares will get five ears of corn.  I had hoped to wait till later to pick it, but I feel really fortunate that we were able to harvest this much.  The raccoons would have loved getting it since it was down on their level.

Corn is very difficult to grow organically.  I think we are the only organic CSA in Kentucky that provides it for their members.  There are no cost efficient organic controls for the worms that inevitably get into the ears.  Be warned, you may find a worm or two.  They are usually at the top end and all you have to do is cut that part off.  The rest of the ear will be fine.  Also, some of the ears are smaller than I would like but they will be just fine.  We have two more succession plantings of corn, so hopefully you will get more next month and then again in September.

We started digging the Fingerlings today.  If this is your first experience with Fingerling Potatoes then you are in for a treat.  These are considered to be gourmet potatoes and they are best when roasted.  Have fun experimenting with different ways of cooking them.  You will get two quarts of potatoes this week and will be able to chose from two Fingerling varieties and either Yukon Golds or Red Norlunds.

Also this week we will have more Yellow Squash, Zucchini and Patty Pan Squash.  We are going to let you bag your own Basil (Genovese) this week.  This way you can choose your own amount. 

The tomatoes are looking good, they just aren't ready yet.  We did pick a few pints of cherry tomatoes but not enough yet to share with the CSA.  I do speak to them in a gentle, yet encouraging voice each day.  I don't think they are listening.  

We love getting to visit with each of you when you pick up.  Sometimes it can be a little hectic at the market when we have other customers trying to buy stuff, and it can even be hectic here on the farm as we are still finishing up harvesting.  However, it is the personal relationship that makes it all worthwhile.  A part of us goes home with you each week and the memories of your smiling faces keeps us going when it feels like 100 degrees out in the fields.

Next week I am going to start a four part series on local, organic food that will go out to our general mailing list. So, don't be surprised if you get two mailings from me next week.  

Thank you very much for being the kind of people you are.  You are different.  And because of this -- you are making a difference.

Larry 
Posted 7/16/2010 10:23pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Well, I guess that week 9 will have to be a retrospective since I ran out of time last week to get anything out.  So, I hope that you enjoyed the potatoes, onions and basil.  We really appreciate all the great comments we are getting.  We love it when you tell us "That was the best ______ I have ever tasted."  It is hard work growing vegetables organically.  Your words of encouragement help us get out of bed on hot, humid days and head to the fields.

I had an email this week from a good friend who is an organic grower just outside of Lexington.  She is having a terrible year with her squash and zucchini.  Cucumber Beetles and Squash Bugs have destroyed her crop.  She has even tried using some of the approved organic sprays but to no avail.  You can see why most farmers just get out the poisons and start spraying.  It is so discouraging  to see your beautiful crop wilt and drop over.  This is why there are so few organic growers in our state.  It is really hard work.

Speaking of things organic, I would like to make you aware of an organization known as OAK.  The Organic Association of Kentucky was formed last January at the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference with a goal of promoting organic agriculture and educating consumers about the advantages of organic food.  We are a young organization but I hope that you will want to become involved.  Check out the website at oak-ky.org.  Oh, and by the way, for some strange reason they elected me president.  Now you can go around and brag to your friends that your farmer is the president of OAK.  I know they will be impressed.  Ha!

I am very glad to inform you that we have not had any major problems with our squash or zucchini.  This week you will get Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Patty Pan Squash. As I have been telling you, we were late this year getting out our main crops due to weather and infrastructure needs.  However, it only took 28 days from the time we put the seed in the ground to gathering our first harvest.  Normally it takes about 45 days.  But, we have a few organic tricks up our sleeve that help us get there faster.  Beth and I went our tonight at 8:00 and picked an additional 45 pounds in 45 minutes. 

In addition to the above, you will also get five Onions, two bags of Thai Basil, and a quart each of Red Norlunds and Yukon Golds.  If for some reason you are ever challenged by what to do with your produce, just ask and we can make suggestions.  (We have a wonderful recipe for Thai Basil Ice Cream -- I love it, and I don't like ice cream!)

Tomorrow when you pick up you will be assisted by one of the young people who work for us.  Michael Lonneman is from Independence, KY and will be a senior at the U of L this fall majoring in Anthropology.  He came to us this spring as a work share CSA member (working four hours per week for a half share) and is now doing an internship with us through the U of L.  He is a great worker.  However, sometimes when he is digging potatoes he keeps digging trying to find an old skeleton or two.  You know how those Anthropologists are!

As always, thank you so much for your support of local, organic food.  Not only are you eating healthier and making the world a better place, but you are providing the opportunity for people like Michael to have a unique, perhaps life changing experience.

Larry 
Posted 7/2/2010 11:32pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Good Morning Everyone,

We just finished getting everything ready for tomorrow.  We will not be happy when the alarm goes off at 4:30.  However, the joy we get from providing food for you helps us forget how tired we are. 

Sorry that I have not been faithful in getting these emails out to you over the last few weeks.  We had some Internet connection challenges (goes with living in the wilderness) and our work days have just been non-stop.

We opened up some new ground this spring.  This helps us with our crop rotation and also allows us to let some of the old ground re-charge with cover crops.  The cover crops will be tilled in in the fall or next spring and will provide fertility and increase our organic matter for next year.  Organic farming involves a great deal of advanced planning.  We don't have the option of chemical sprays or fertilizers as the conventional farmers do.  "Rescue Chemistry" is what they call it.  We have to work "in tune with nature" and therefore we will not ever abuse or rush the precious soil we are building for future generations.

The new field has six "plots" and each will involve a three year rotation.  Most of the plots utilize black plastic mulch which is applied with a machine that makes a four inch raised bed and lays a drip tape under the plastic for irrigation.  By using drip irrigation we send the water directly to each plant and the black plastic keeps it from evaporating.  The plastic also heats up the soil which makes the plants really happy.  Of course the main reason we use it is to control weeds.

The challenge we had with this new field was getting water to it and it took a while to get 700 feet of water lines to four hydrants.  Therefore, we were much later getting the plants in the ground and this is where we are growing all of our tomatoes, squash, peppers, melons, beans, cucumbers, basil and okra.  But thanks to the advantages of the raised , warm, wet and weed free beds--things are doing very well.  You are already enjoying the Basil and it was planted on June 7. The other things are plugging right along but it will be a while longer.  It will be worth the wait.

This week we have seven items for your bag.   Red Norlund and Yukon Golds (potatoes) "Vidalia" onions (2), Beets, Basil, Green Onions, and your choice of one other item.

I will try to do better with these emails in the future.  May send out some random ramblings earlier in the week just to keep you posted on what happens on an organic farm.

As always, thank you for your support of local, organic food.  Together, we are making a difference in our world. 

Larry 
Posted 6/4/2010 8:29pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,
I apologize for the lateness of this update but it has been another crazy week here at HFF.  The hay I had hoped to get in last weekend got rained on and I to re-rake it and fluff it before I could finally bale it on Wednesday and Thursday.  The rain won't hurt the bales we use for mulching but it does leach out nutrients that would be beneficial as livestock forage.

The heat continues and with it more of our lettuces are starting to become very uncomfortable.  Their biological clocks are not in sync with the unnatural rhythms of the seasons we are experiencing.  However, I think we might be able to coax a couple more weeks out of them.  It's the nighttime temperatures that are the most unsettling.  We did get two showers today so maybe that will cool down the soil a little bit.

This week was also filled with the mundane tasks of building infrastructure and doing equipment repair.  All farmers spend way too much time under a piece of equipment.  I had to repair the PTO shaft on the John Deere and the tiller decided to take on a large rock which Cody (one of our fine young workers) finally had to chisel out.  We also were finally able to run the water lines out to the pasture where we have put in six new plots for growing vegetables.  Had to to fix a major water leak ($800 water bill is how we discovered it) and then run 600 feet of new lines to four new hydrants.  It looks really nice now and we have started getting our transplants into the ground.  We are probably 2-3 weeks behind on some things but hopefully we can catch up quickly.

This week we have a lot of stuff for you.  Half Shares will get 2 pints of Strawberries (double from last week) 2 pints of Snow Peas, 1 Cabbage (Chinese style Cabbage) 2 Turnips with wonderful greens, 1 Kale, 1 Swiss Chard and the choice of Spinach or Arugula.  We will also offer you the option of an extra Snow Pea if would like that rather than the 2 Turnips.  

I hope that you will appreciate the extra bounty as this abundance may need to balance out any impatience while waiting on some of the crops that we have just now been able to get in the ground. 

Several of you have expressed your delight in the food we are providing for you.  There is nothing quite like fresh, local, organic food.  Some of you have recommended recipes and we are trying to figure out how to get this info onto our website.  One hint -- fresh Strawberries should be eaten as soon as possible.  They do not save well!

Come and visit us.  Watch your food grow. Savor the taste of a leaf or a fruit popping straight in your mouth after a one second journey of inches.  Let all of your senses take in the breathtaking marvel of nature.  Break a sweat and get your hands really, really dirty digging in the soil.  By becoming a part of our CSA you are directly connected to the land.  But, if you desire even more of a connection -- come on out and we will find a way for you to experience the joy that comes from seeing the miracle of seed becoming plant, plant becoming food, and food becoming a part of us. It's a reciprocal agreement.  It sustains us and we sustain it.  At least that's how we do it here at Harmony Fields.

Thank you for your commitment to local, sustainable, organic agriculture.  People like you are making a difference in the world.  Making it a better place.

Larry 
Posted 5/27/2010 10:15pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,
Garrison Keilor always says, "It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon."  Well, it's been anything but quiet this week at Harmony Fields.  After a week of almost three inches of rain (including 1 1/4 inches in one hour on Friday night) we have been rejoicing over the dry conditions.  We have not been rejoicing over the temperatures (ten degrees above normal) but we will take that over the rain.

The hay we grow here is not only used to feed animals but also plays an important role in our vegetable production.  We use it as a mulch to control weeds between the plants and in the rows and it also helps hold moisture in the soil.  It also helps control the Colorado Potato Beetle as they don't like moving around on the hay.  So, this week has given us the chance to cut and rake our hay in preparation to bale it.  Also, it has dried out enough that we have been able to start planting the transplants that have been ready to go in the ground for the past two weeks.  We still have a lot to do but we are hoping that Monday will give us a chance to get most of them transplanted.

The snow peas are starting to come on and we may have some of them for you this week.  Start planning those stir fry dishes.  The Romaine Lettuce will be cut tomorrow and it looks beautiful.  Some of the lettuces are wanting to bolt (go to seed) as the hot weather is telling them that it is time to start thinking about their legacy.  But we should still have plenty.

All of our lettuce is "field washed" which means that we bring it in and wash it in cold water, spin it dry and bag it.  You may decide to give another wash and that is fine.  In fact, if it has been sitting in your refrig for several days, a good rinse will really perk it up.  I may not field wash the Romaine but cut it as a whole plant and put it in the bag.  

Hope to see all of you this week.  If for some reason you will be gone for the holiday weekend, please let us know if someone else will be picking it up for you or if you want us to donate it to the Food Bank.

We are looking forward to more stuff coming in next week.  We are also excited about getting all of our other stuff in the ground.  If for some reason you are sitting around bored some evening (or day) we would be happy for you to come out and get your hands dirty in the soil.  Or if you know of someone who like the experience of working on a sustainable organic farm, let me know.  We have been having some labor issues lately so help us out if you can.

Thankfully the rain passed us by tonight.  I have about 15 acres of hay laying on the ground waiting to be baled.  Probably won't finish it up till this weekend.  We bale the small square bales and they provide a wonderful workout for the whole body.  You will never sleep any better than after a day of putting up hay.  Just a suggestion for you health and well-being.

Again, thank you for your support of local, organic food grown on a small family farm in Shelby County.

Larry 
Posted 5/20/2010 7:35pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,

Finally our internet is up and running again. They put up a new antennae today that enables us to shoot through the trees on Jeptha Knobs eight miles away and get a good connection.  We've been down since last weekend.  Too much rain weighing down the leaves on the trees.  I am hoping to get your weekly updates out to you earlier in the week in the future.  Maybe the new technology will help.

Well, it's raining again.  The rain does help water the plants but there comes a point where too much moisture is harmful.  Fruits, such as the strawberries you will get this week, will not be as sweet since they are water logged.  Lettuces do not like this much precipitation and can become susceptible to disease.
We have thousands of plants we need to get in the ground but it is too wet.

One of the advantages of being a CSA Partner is that you will become more aware of the weather and how it is effecting your food.  Not a problem when you go to the grocery and buy stuff shipped in thousands of miles from temperate climates grown on factory farms.  Local food comes with risks and you will be much more sensitive to the issues facing small family farms here in Kentucky.

In spite of all of this, everything is growing well and we should have another bounty of lettuce, sugar snap peas, strawberries and mint.

If you are picking up at the farm, please try to come after 3:00.  Last week we got way behind schedule as we had not had enough time to harvest everything.  We are a small farm with a few workers and they can't do everything in the morning hours.  Tomorrow may be even more challenging as the forecast is for rain and thunderstorms.  We do harvest in the rain but there are conditions where I will not allow anyone to risk their well being.

Tomorrow is going to be extra busy as we will be hosting the training for all of the organic inspectors in the state.  I guess that this is an honor for us since they thought we would be a good example of how one should grow organically according to the standards of the National Organic Program.  I have had to tidy up a bit as the mowing had been pushed to the back burner.

We look forward to seeing all of you this weekend.  Thank you so much for your support of local, organic, sustainable farming.

Larry 
Posted 5/12/2010 10:20pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,

We are very excited about the beginning of the season and are looking forward to meeting all of our new CSA partners.  If you are picking up your CSA share at the farm, you may come anytime after noon.  Come to the back door of the house as we never expect anyone to come in the front door!  If you are picking up at the market, please come between 8:00 and 11:00 if possible.  It will be hectic at the first pick-up so please be patient with us as we try to learn our new friends and catch up with old friends.

As usual, it has been an interesting spring.  Dry and hot in April and wet and cold in May.  It was 36 degrees here last Sunday morning and yet we had days that were close to 90 in April.  I am starting to get use to the weird weather but it is not like it was when I was growing up.  

The lettuce is doing very well and and sugar snap peas should be ready by Friday.  We will probably give you some kale that I experimented with by growing through the winter (uncovered and exposed to all the elements) so I will be very interested in your feedback on my "experiment."

I know the Derby is over , but we have some very nice mint for you that I'm sure you will find some creative way to use.

Strawberries (an item we don't advertise or promise) are starting to come on.  If you don't get any this week then we will be sure that you do for the next week.  These are strawberries we planted last year and I wasn't sure how they would do given the weird weather of last spring.

We do look forward to seeing everyone this weekend.  If you were not able to be a CSA Partner this year, we encourage you to come visit us at the Market.  We meet the CSA requirements first and then sell whatever is left at the Market.  The quality is the same, we just want to make sure that our CSA has the top priority.

If you have any questions, please email me or you can call at 502-738-0510 or on my cell at 640-0042.

Larry

 
Posted 2/24/2008 1:23pm by Larry Brandenburg.

The last several weeks here in the Bluegrass have been quite challenging.  It began with straight line winds followed by snow, ice and freezing temperatures followed by tornadoes followed be more snow, ice and freezing temperatures.  We fluctuate weekly between the teens and sixties on the mercury.

People have not only been inconvenienced, but lives have been lost and Mother Earth has seen much of her life compromised.  We are in an age of climate change.  Even if we can't all agree on WHY we are experiencing this, we can all agree that things are really crazy.

There are many reasons to choose to farm according to organic/sustainable principles, but one of the best is that it truly is "in tune with nature."  Rather than releasing carbon to the air we are trying to keep it in the gound where it benefits a healthy planet.  Rather than spray chemical poisons, we nurture the earth and the plants so that they provide natural resistance to pests and disease.

Will the weather keep acting crazy?  Probably only as long as we keep acting crazy. 

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