News and Blog
Sorry for the late delivery but I had some computer issues this morning.
What a beautiful morning. Last week it was hot and humid and this week we have cool temps and low humidity. We had about two and a half inches of rain this week. It's nice to not have to irrigate, I just wish we could have a couple days of dry in between. Some awful weather west of the Mississippi has brought destruction from tornadoes and floods to a lot of farmland. I have read that many farmer's will not be able to recover from the flood damage and that their crop insurance will not pay for their losses.
Organic farmers have not had access to crop insurance until recently. And, it is limited in what it will cover -- mainly commodity row crops like corn and soybean. Vegetable farmers are a much more challenging group to cover as we do so most of our sales by direct markets such as Farmers Markets and CSA. There is no standard price for each variety of vegetable as you have with commodity crops where the market determines the price. We determine our price based on how much it costs to produce, profitability and what local market prices may be. Sometimes I will even check local groceries.
It would be nice to have some insurance right now. The weather has kept us from getting in the field and we have lost some transplants because we couldn't get them set. It would be nice to have insurance to cover that month of sales of tomatoes that we won't have because they are still sitting in trays.
The Amish don't carry insurance. If there is a disaster, the whole community jumps in to help out. Barn burns down. Raise a new one with materials and labor from the community. I think they call this self-insurance.
I guess that's what we have too. It may not pay for a new barn or a lost crop but it expresses itself every Saturday when you come out to the market to "insure" that we will be able to still be in business. You are a part of our community and without you there is no us. You get to hear about the successes and challenges on the farm. You know our story. Many of you have been with us for years. Others are new to the community but have joined right in with enthusiastic support.
Come out today and check out the lettuce and asparagus. Or, how about some fresh herbs to bring some wow to that dish you will cook tonight?
Thanks for insuring that your local organic farmers will still be around bringing you all the healthy, wholesome goodness you deserve in you food.
Again, we are having unseasonably warm temperatures. Not everyone is getting the same rain though. We have had quite a bit this week but some of the other farmers I was visiting with this week haven't gotten any.
Weather variables like this are one of the reasons we need many small, diversified farms to meet our local food needs. This is referred to as Food Security. When I first heard this term I thought it meant safe food, and yes, food safety is very important and part of Food Security, but this really refers to how secure is our food supply. What if I have a spell of really hot and rainy weather and it effects my crops? And what if everyone in my community was depending on me? By having many other small farms, it mitigates the risk for our community. Pretty important. Should be at the top of the list for everyone. As Wendell Berry said, "If you eat, you're involved in agriculture."
So fellow eaters -- welcome to my world. And yours. Earlier this year there was a recall of Romaine lettuce . It got so bad that people were encouraged to avoid purchasing ANY Romaine lettuce. It seems that most of the Romaine produced in our country comes from farms in Arizona that raise thousands of acres of lettuce. They had major problems with salmonella or e coli (can't remember which) and it infected their entire crop. Therefore, it was assumed there was no safe lettuce in the entire universe since it all comes from one place. This is Food Insecurity. That's another reason for buying local, organic food.
We have Romaine lettuce today and it is amazing in quality and taste. Red lettuce is also in abundance and we have more asparagus, but in limited quantity. I had to mow down all the Asparagus this week in order to give it a new start as it was being smothered out by grass. Not weeds, just beautiful, tall fescue, orchard grass and bluegrass. Would have made wonderful hay and I almost hated mowing it. But, it was winning the competition and needed to be stopped.
I encourage you to come early today. It's going to be very hot and humid.
See ya soon.
Last week we were unloading the truck and trailer wearing our winter coats. This morning it's short sleeves and short pants. It's amazing how quickly things can change. We got a good shower on Thursday night. High temps yesterday and today means the weeds are rejoicing. They got a good drink and now it's on to Hot Yoga for them. They are stretching upward.
Last week was asparagus festival for us. This week's bounty of asparagus is not as bountiful but it will be balanced by a few more things: Lettuce, Swiss Chard and Spinach.
Beth will also have a few Peony/Dutch Iris bouquets.
Also, don't forget the potted herbs and assorted wood products made by Beth's 87 year old father, Bill Newman, from re-purposed wood from the farm.
This Tuesday the polls will be open for you to voice your choice for those who will run for office in the fall. I remember an old saying when I was growing up about voting in Kentucky. "Vote early, vote often." Well, hopefully we won't have any voter fraud but it will be safe for you to "Come early, come often" to market today. You won't be charged with market fraud.
Yeah for democracy!
A new season is upon us and a new opportunity to support local, organic food is yours to seize.
The St. Matthew's Famers Market will begin tomorrow, Saturday, May 11 from 8:00 - noon at Beargrass Christian Church on the corner of Shelbyville Rd and Browns Lane.
The primary crop we will be offering tomorrow is local, certified organic asparagus. If your only experience with asparagus is the stuff in the grocery store, you are in for a BIG surprise. A very pleasant BIG surprise!
Compared to last year, this spring has been very satisfying. We are still getting a lot of rain but we have had some nice dry spells that have allowed us to get some stuff in the ground. And it's looking good.
If you would like to explore your own green thumb, pick up some fresh organic herb plants we will have ready tomorrow for sale.
And, of course, you will want to check out the new folk craftsmanship from the hands of Beth's eighty seven year old father, Bill Newman, as he repurposes wood from the farm into incredible wooden creations. Just make a trip to Berea sometime and compare the price and craftsmanship of the offerings there with what you can get in your own back yard here in Louisville. Don't miss out on these. Seize this opportunity while you can.
Looks like it will be a nice day. Beth and I will be ready for you at 8:00.
Come see us. It's been along time and we have missed you.
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
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
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
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
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
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