News and Blog
Friends of Food,
A challenging day. No matter what the weather brings, Friday is harvest day and we must soldier on. A big thank you to the crew today for braving the cold and wet conditions. Lots of breaks with hot coffee and cocoa. Patrick was in the Strawberry patch at 6:00 this morning. Jeremy and Anna were here at 8:00 after working till midnight at Jack Fry's where they both work as chefs. Beth is now out of school and in spite of a bad cough, she was in mix too. Some of our other regular help was not able to make it today but we appreciate them too and look forward to having them back next week.
I am going to let the Kale and Collards have a week off. They need to recover from lack of water and pest pressure. One of our helpers knocked over a water hydrant with a tractor two weeks ago and I just got it fixed this week. Of course we now have gotten two and half inches of rain so that should help. Also have some pest pressure. Bugs take advantage of plants that are stressed and the Kale and Collards were stressed. (Me too.)
New this week will be June Apples. These are great for cooking but perhaps a little too tart for raw eating. Depends on your taste buds. You will also get spring onions, Ovation Mix salad (similar to a Mesclun Mix), Radishes, one pint of Strawberries, Mint and Garlic Scapes. The Scapes are perhaps the item you are least familiar with but they can be cut up like scallions and added to anything. They have a great garlic flavor and are especially good in stir-fry.
Our lettuce is suffering because of all the heat we have had this spring. The ninety degree heat last week pretty much did in the Black Seeded Simpson but we have great hope for some Gourmet Mix that should be ready in a week or two.
Sometimes we have items for sale that are not a part of the CSA. We only do this if we don't have enough for everyone in the CSA to get that item. If you ever want to buy something in addition to your share, we will give you a discount.
Look forward to seeing you tomorrow on what should be a much more pleasant day that last week's. Enjoy the cooler weather for I'm sure it won't last long.
As always, thank you for supporting local, organic food.
Welcome to the 2012 Organic CSA provided by Harmony Fields Farm. We are very excited to share with you the produce we will be growing this year. It all starts this weekend.
Farm pickups will be available after 5:00 here at the farm, 5686 Finchville Rd., Shelbyville, on Friday, May 11.
Those who are picking up in Louisville will need to come to the St. Matthew's Farmer's Market on Shelbyville Rd. (parking lot of Beargrass Christian Church at the corner of Shelbyville and Browns Lane) between 8:00-12:00, Saturday, May 12. I encourage you to come early as your produce will be fresher then. We have no refrigeration available at the market and as the day goes on things can heat up.
I will be sending out another email on Friday evening describing what you will be getting. I prefer to wait until Friday so I am sure about what we have harvested. I do know that we expect to be able to share asparagus, lettuce, kale, cilantro and mint. Work share members can start this Friday from 8:00-12:00 and help us harvest your food. We are always looking for willing workers so let us know if you can recommend anyone.
Thank you for your support of our Certified Organic Farm. We will work hard for you this year and look forward to the partnership that we will have in making the world a better place.
So another season comes to a close. Our gratitude and appreciation for you and your commitment to us cannot be fully expressed through the limitations of words. It is something that is held deeply within our being and shared with you, our friends, out of a labor of love, conviction and belief.
Farming is a risky business. Organic farming is even riskier. However, if we never take risks, we know that we will never achieve our dreams and realize our full potential as human beings. Our dream is for a world where agriculture is a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. And we believe that sustainable farming will help us truly understand what it means to be fully human.
As with most years in farming there have been disappointments and there have been serendipities. The weather really challenged us this year and compromised some of our crops. That same crazy weather gave us a cool, wet September that enabled us to have lettuce and Chinese greens for you the last two weeks. We also had our first real success with sweet potatoes. So, we lament our failures and celebrate our successes. Seems a lot like life.
Thank you for believing in us. Thank you for believing in local, organic farming. And, thank you for being a risk taker.
See ya tomorrow at the market.
Larry and Beth
Sure felt like fall today. Long day. Hard day. Thank goodness Beth was off today.
More sweet potatoes. Let them cure for a week or two since they were just dug today.
As I have been telling you, this crazy weather has been really good for our fall lettuce. Probably could use another week but we went ahead and cut some today and everyone will get a bag. Also, you will get a bag of Tat Soi, a Chinese green. It is great in stir fry.
This will be a short note. Just basic information. Need to get some rest as 4:15 will be here shortly.
Look forward to seeing all tomorrow.
We will have another bag of sweet potatoes for you this week. They have cured for a week -- the minimum I think for getting good flavor. The longer they cure, the sweeter they get. Curing is actually the process of allowing the water to evaporate and the skins to become less fragile. As the water evaporates, the sugars become more concentrated which gives a sweeter taste. We will be digging more over the next two weeks so there should be plenty.
Usually September is a relatively dry month. We average a little over two inches. So far this monty we have gotten close to five inches. We had hoped to dig more potatoes (the regular kind) this week but it has just been too wet. We will share a quart of Yukons with you but they were dug earlier in the season.
Everyone will get some Winter Squash. I wish we had more but the squash bugs were relentless this year. Hopefully the cover crop we plant this fall will help disturb their habitat.
The wet, cool weather has pretty much done in the summer crops (except the peppers?) but it has been great for the lettuce we planted in August. It is growing well and we hope that we will have it for you before the end of the season.
It is beginning to feel like fall and our thoughts will be turning to preparing for next year. Starting next week we will be removing crops that are no longer producing and if it dries out enough I will begin tilling them under. Then we will go in and plant a fall cover crop of Rye, Hairy Vetch, Clover and Austrian Peas. Next spring I will till in the cover crop and it will provide fertility and organic matter for next year's crops. However, we need some dry weather. I need to get the cover crops in by October 15. This year the costs for our cover crop seed are being funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service through a program for organic farmers. Thank you Washington for finally doing something for organic farmers.
We look forward to seeing everyone this week. We have a GREAT group of people in our CSA. I wish we had the opportunity for everyone to get together and meet. You would like each other. Because of your convictions about local, organic food, we are inspired to continue to meet your needs and make the world a better place.
Hard to believe that it was 101 degrees a week ago. We set records for heat on three consecutive days in September followed by a week of record "low" highs. Your plants are really confused. As you know, weather is a huge challenge for farmers. The flooding up the east coast has been devastating for farmers. Entire crops have been wiped out. The drought and fires in Texas will have an effect on beef prices as ranchers are having to sell their entire herds. This will flood the market with cheap hamburger (most of these are old cows suitable only for ground meat) followed by higher prices in a couple of years as the calf crop will be much smaller -- no mommas left to have babies.
Locally, our weather this past week has slowed down production dramatically. Most of the things growing right now do not like these cool temperatures. Last week we harvested enough cherry tomatoes for thirty pints. Today we had four. We got one peck basket of larger heirloom tomatoes. Same story applies to everything else. The weather challenges we seem to be facing more and more are extreme shifts in temperature and precipitation. Before the rain of last week we were officially slipping into drought condiyions. However, our precipitation for the year is about fifteen inches above normal! Weird.
The bottom line for us is that yield is down considerably this week resulting in the smallest CSA distribution in five years and the smallest amount of produce to sell at the market. In fact, if it wasn't for delivering to you, I doubt we would even do the market tomorrow.
However, you will still be getting potatoes, peppers, okra and beans. And they will still be local and organic and delicious. And, for this week, this is "seasonal." I hope temperatures go up next week and that things will recover and bounce back to normal production. One good note -- the lettuce we planted two weeks ago (when the soil temperature was too warm for it to germinate) is now up, and hopefully by the end of the season we will have some lettuce for you.
Thank you supporting local organic food. Thank you for joining with us in this risky business. The reward is worth the risk.
It is hard to believe that we are now past the halfway mark for this year's season. I enjoy keeping you up to date on our farm activities but the last two weeks have been so challenging that I have run out of steam by the end of the week and haven't had the energy to write anything.
Our biggest challenge right now is labor. We have essentially lost all of our labor and it is down to just me and Beth. And Beth starts back to school next Friday. Over the past several years we have been very fortunate to have had some wonderful people work for us here at Harmony Fields. We thought we had a couple of young men who would join the ranks of enlightened farm alumni but it just didn't work out. Organic vegetable farming is more labor intensive than most any other kind of farming. Although many young people are excited about organic farming, when faced with the reality of hard physical labor in the oppressive heat and humidity of our Kentucky summers, that enthusiasm might find other venues for expression.
Last week Mary Berry Smith (Wendell Berry's daughter and owner of Smith-Berry Winery) and I spoke for about thirty minutes to the Louisville Food Policy Advisory Council about what it's like out on the farm. We were both appointed to this council by Mayor Fischer and it was becoming apparent that somehow those of us who actually provide food to the Louisville area were being ignored. Mary agreed with me that organic vegetable farming is the hardest of all. They no longer do any vegetable farming and some days I wonder why in the world we are doing this.
Last week we had a new customer at the market who bought several things. He enquired as to where the other organic farmers were. We have one other organic farmer at St. Matthew's and I believe that we may be the only two at any market in Louisville. This customer was shocked. He had just moved here from Madison, Wisconsin where there are hundreds of certified organic farms and he could not understand why there weren't more.
Well, that is one of the reasons we do this. Who else is going to do it? So, we will continue to struggle against the odds and somehow I will come up with a solution for our labor problem.
Finally we are beginning to get some of our small-medium size heirloom tomatoes. You will get a quart of these this week. Hopefully the larger ones will come on in the next few weeks. The weather has "done in" the beans. We feel fortunate that we were able to get as many beans as we did this year but again the weather has just turned too hot for them to continue producing. We also dug a row of Red Norlund potatoes this morning and they do look scrumptious. Thanks for putting up with several weeks of "green" potatoes.
This Monday night, August 8, we will again be the featured farm for the evening meal at The Mayan Cafe. We really appreciate the support they give local farms and feel honored to be one of the featured farms this summer.
Spread the word among your network of friends and associates. Yes, the word that we need help. You never know when our mission here at Harmony Fields may resonate with someone who would like the hands on experience of working on an organic farm. Fridays are the days when we need the most help. This is harvest day (so everything will be as fresh as possible) and the tasks are overwhelming for two people. With many at work, it actually can be fun. And definitely rewarding.
Squash, as I have shared with you before, is very hard to grow organically. It is also challenging to keep harvested as it seems to grow incredibly fast. This week we will be sharing some Patty Pan Squash with you that seemed to jump from small to large overnight. Most people prefer their squash to be like their car payment. As small as possible. But fear not, their are some culinary uses for the larger species. One way is to cut them into cubes and incorporate into a dish. Another way is to stuff them. I searched online for "cooking large patty pan squash" and found several enticing recipes. So, I encourage you to be adventurous and please be sure to let us know how your adventure turns out.
We are so happy to be able to share the first harvest of green beans with you. Last year's extreme temperatures burned most of the blossoms off which resulted in a pitiful yield. A 250 ft. row was giving us 5-10 pounds. Well, this year they are doing well. Each of you will get a bag of Provider Green Beans this week and we are hoping that the Royal Burgundy and Italian Wax Beans won't be far behind.
We were able to get a four pints of cherry tomatoes this week. Not enough for the CSA but it looks encouraging for yield to increase substantially over the next couple of weeks. We were later getting things planted this year than ever before. The wet weather in April and May prevented us from preparing the ground properly but now things are beginning to pick up. There used to be a TV ad that said you "can't fool Mother Nature," but you also can't rush Mother Nature. However, some of our growing techniques do seem to allow to push the envelope a little and so we are hopeful. Of course, we could really push the envelope if we used chemical fertilizers and poisonous pesticides and herbicides. But we don't and it just goes to show you that although it may take a little longer, organic is still the better way to go.
There continues to be a lot of discussion as to whether organic farming can feed the world. Not only do I think it can feed the world, but I also think it can save the world. Apparently there are others who think this also. Next week we will be hosting scholars and dignitaries from fourteen African countries who are here as guests of the U.S. State Department. They are people who are with Ministries of Agriculture and Offices of Sustainability in their respective countries. The World Affairs Council called and asked if they could come take a look at a small organic farm. I guess this is the advantage of being the only small organic vegetable farm in "these here parts." Of course Beth is worried that our place doesn't look like Martha Stewart's farm but I doubt that our guests are up on the latest Martha fad. They will see what reality is like for those of us who are real people trying to do the right thing while juggling life in all of its complexity. Last year we hosted a training session for international organic inspectors so I guess we are becoming the "go-to place."
I am always impressed with the fine people who have committed to being a part of our CSA. You are really neat folks. We enjoy visiting with you and sharing the bounty of our harvest with you. We have a long way yet to go in getting our message out, but, we have come a long way and every little step counts. Thank you for walking with us, even though the pace may seem slow and the footprints small.
Well, after taking some time off last week, today hit us really hard. Hard rain that is. It rained all day while we were harvesting, but the show goes on rain or shine.
We dug the last of the new potatoes in thick sticky mud and it took longer to wash them than it did to dig them. These are the potatoes that the Colorado Potato Beetles made a feast of and it amazes me how much yield we got from them. Unfortunately, about half the yield has some green showing. As I told you earlier, the heavy rains in the spring washed too much soil off of them and exposed them to the sun. However, all you have to do it cut off the green skin and they are fine. You will get a quart of "unblemished" Yukons this weekend but we are also going to let you pick from the green ones and take an additional quart.
Our large planting of potatoes is doing really well. They really enjoyed the two inches of rain we got this week. So far we have not any significant Potato Beetle damage. I think we have a symbiotic relationship with the Wild Turkey we have here on the farm. No, not the kind that comes in a bottle. Many times when I have gone out in the big field where the potatoes are growing I have come upon several turkeys quickly trotting away from the potato patch. I believe they are going over there to eat the beetles. Some people turn chickens out in their vegetable patch for them eat bugs but I guess we are doing it "In tune with nature" as our slogan says.
We are in a kind of a transition right now between spring and summer crops. Some of the spring things were effected by the rain and hot weather. The summer crops are a couple of weeks behind since we couldn't get them planted due to the wet ground. They are catching up though and it won't be long before they are in full production
We have lost quite a bit of our Crooked-Neck Squash and three fourths of our Zucchini to the dreaded Squash Bug. We had very little bug pressure on the squash last year so this came as quite a surprise to us. We have put in succession plantings of each of these and they will do better the next round as we know now what to expect and can deal with it before it gets out of hand.
Growing organically is very challenging. If you visit several Farmer's Markets in Louisville you will find that we are the only Certified Organic vegetable farm in this local area of Kentucky. There are many who say they grow "organically" or everything is "natural" but you have to take their word for it. Actually, a farmer is not allowed to use the word Organic unless they are certified. Why? To protect you -- the consumer. And in order to become certified your farm has to become totally transparent. Not only do we have all the record keeping and paper work that is so time consuming, but we also are inspected at least once a year. The inspection is very thorough and includes taking plant samples to test for chemical residue. Not everyone who says they grow "organically" can stand up to this type of scrutiny.
As they say, "If it was easy, everyone would do it." It is not easy and we are one of the few farms that have made the choice to do it the hard way. It would not be possible for us to do this if it wasn't for you and your commitment to the same ideals and principles that we believe in. Or, to put it more simply, a better way of living. Living better not only for ourselves, but for the world and our neighbors.
Thanks neighbor. We love you.
Hope that you enjoyed the cooler weather we had last week. I know we did. Sorry that I didn't get anything out to you the past two weeks. I don't write this until we have finished harvesting and preparing everything on Friday and sometimes it is just so late that I have run out of energy. Plus, two weeks ago I had pneumonia and was slowed down considerably.
The hot weather is back. Our lettuce has finally said "I surrender." It was a shorter lettuce season this year due to the unseasonably hot weather. Strawberries have also given up and the snow peas are longing for snow! We hope to get some snow and snap peas in later this summer for a fall harvest.
The Basil is producing well now and I hope that you will enjoy it. It makes wonderful Basil Pesto -- just ask Beth and she can tell you how to make it. We dug some potatoes today. These are usually called New Potatoes but some of them are pretty big. We weren't planning to dig them yet but the Colorado Potato Beetles have decimated several rows. There are literally no leaves left on them at all. When I pulled one of the plants I was shocked to see how well they had produced. A few of them have some green showing on the skin. Just peel this part off and they will be fine. The green is caused by exposure to sun. These potatoes were planting early and then we got all of that rain which washed the dirt off of them. We couldn't cover them back up with soil because all we had was mud. We did mulch them with organic hay we grow here on the farm, yet some rays of sunshine did manage to reach the exposed potatoes. Again, nothing wrong with a little green as long as your trim that part away.
Also you will get a bag of Napa Cabbage this week as well as Kale and Spring Onions. We now have everything planted (seeds or transplants) and will just sit back and let nature do her thing. I did have to replant sweet corn today. It had been planted three weeks ago but we had not gotten enough rain (none, to be exact) for it to germinate so I just tilled it up and started over. As soon as we finished, around 6:00 this evening, we got a nice storm that dumped about half an inch. We had gotten another half on Wednesday so now we have received the ideal amount of one inch per week.
We look forward to seeing everyone each week, either here on the farm or at St. Matthew's. We do appreciate your support and encouragement.