News and Blog
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
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
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.
Larry and Beth
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
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
It has taken us a while but I think we have figured out how to keep lettuce growing during really hot spells. In the spring you can count on direct seeding in the soil and as it gradually warms up over several weeks the lettuce grows well until the temperatures get too hot and it bolts (that's when the plant stops putting energy into developing the leaves and instead puts energy into developing seeds -- thus, going to seed) but direct seeding doesn't work in hot weather as all the plant wants to do is make seed.
We have found that if we grow transplants inside, in a cooler environment, it allows the plant to develop as we would like it to develop. When the transplant is large enough we then set it out in the field and give it plenty of water. It works and today we will have a lot of lettuce to choose from including the ever popular Buttercrunch.
Also this week we are having a Steak Sale!! Ribeyes and Strips (normally $16.50/pound) will be priced at $13.50/pound. We really need to get this wonderful grassfed/grassfinished beef out to more people. Hopefully this sale will help get good healthy beef on more people's plates.
If these hot days have you spending more time inside, then why not brighten your day and your room(s) with a beautiful fresh cut organic flower bouquet. Beth has several available today and at $10 they are a steal. They also last much longer than commercial flowers.
We have worked hard this week on planting and harvesting and getting ground ready for some of our succession plantings. We are also now thinking about getting stuff in the ground for fall production. Last year was our first at growing into the fall/winter and we found it to be very rewarding. Less weeds and pest made it a great match for those of us who are organic. I think we now have knowledge and experience that will allow us to aggressively market a Fall/Winter 2018 CSA. More on this later.
I would suggest coming as early as you can this morning. It's going to get hot. We look forward to seeing you this morning.
Thank you for supporting local, organic farming.
Larry and Beth
A beautiful morning to come out to the market this morning. Last week's heat and humidity was oppressive to all things farm -- plants, animal, humans and I think I even saw a rock starting to sweat.
We spent a lot of time last week planting and mowing The frequent pop up showers always seem to get the ground just wet enough to prevent us from using any kind of cultivation. This has been great weather for weeds to prosper. And they have. I just recently got my old Allis Chalmer's G (made in 1948) tractor set up with cultivators that work for our row and plant spacing. The idea is to use this for shallow cultivation to control weeks before they get too tall. Unfortunately the ground has not been dry enough to do this and therefore the weeks have just grown like crazy. But, it looks like some dry weather next week might help us out.
We have been doing a lot of succession planting of lettuce this year. It seems to be how we can continue to grow lettuce during the hot part of the summer and I'm glad to say that we will have lettuce again today.
Many of you have been inquiring about the Fairy Tale Eggplant we grew last year. We are just now beginning to get some of these off the plants, not many yet, but maybe a little bit to sell today. Will be more over the next several weeks and I will keep you informed.
Hope you are able to enjoy today's weather and that part of your enjoyment will be spending some time with us at the market.
See ya there!
Larry and Beth
As I picked up a large box of herbs to unload this morning some of them brushed up against my face and I was overwhelmed by a fragrant and fresh odor that awakened more than just my sense of smell. I was reminded that we can chose those things which awaken something deep inside us and thanks to Rosemary, Thyme, Dill and Basil, I was able to be transported from the stifling humidity and heat into my own little world beauty and wonder, if only for a few seconds of time. That's what fresh, local produce, herbs, etc. can do.
When you buy from farmers you know, and you know how these farmers grow, you are then helping to close the circle. A circle that began when that seed catalog came in the mail and we decided to order that variety. A circle that began last year as we put the "beds" to bed for the winter with compost and cover crop so that the soil would be nourished as it rested in anticipation of those new seeds finding a home and a place to grow. When you take your organic produce home and prepare it, continues to nourish and find symbiosis with a new "home."
So, venture out this morning (I know it is hot and humid) not just to shop but also to experience something that can have a deep impact on you and the world.
Often the market has a special emphasis and today it is a celebration of the Fourth of July!! That event won't happen until Wednesday but you can prepare today by picking up some wonderful grass-fed/grass-finished beef for your cookout. We have steaks and burgers that will meet your needs as well as some delicious produce to round things out.
I have been asked to lead a sing along of patriotic songs at 10:00 so I will be slipping away to lead this impressive endeavor as all of us join our voices together in some of our favorites patriotic songs. As a farmer I really enjoy singing about the "amber waves of grain" and "Above the fruited plain." This imagery speaks to me as to how rooted our country is in farming. Woody Guthrie's "This Land is your Land" is another one that speaks to the importance of the land -- New York Island, Redwood Forest, Gulf Stream waters. This land was made for you and me. That's one of the main reasons we do what we do at Harmony Fields Farm. We know that this land was made for you and me and we all must share together in taking care of it.
Lot's going on today. Come and experience this miraculous community that springs up each week. Please come shop. But, be open to more that just that -- be ready to have an experience that can touch you even deeper.
Larr and Beth
We will be back in our same old spot today after taking last week off for our son's wedding. Outdoor weddings seem to be very popular these days and they chose the Oxmoor Estate, right down the road from our market, to tie the knot last Saturday at 5:30. The time is important because I believe it was about 95 degrees with 150% humidity. And I'm in a suit. It was a beautiful setting and a beautiful wedding with local flowers (some from our farm) and local food served. My father-in-law, Bill Newman, made a beautiful arbor from cedar off his farm (the one Beth grew up on) and Matthew and Claire stood in front of it as they exchanged vows. The only negative about last Saturday was that we did not get to see you all at the market. But hopefully we can make up for that today.
Squash is coming in now and it won't be long before other summer crops will be ready. Today will probably be the last day for snow peas. Kale, Swiss Chard, Beets and Onions are also available.
At last weeks rehearsal dinner for the wedding we provided all the beef (steak and ground beef) which the caterer used to make some incredible Mexican food. You too can do this at home using our grass-fed/grass-finished beef. It will be available today.
We were eating at a well-known restaurant this week which claims to serve local grass fed beef. It is true and I know the farm where they source this beef. The challenge is that it is grass-fed but they also finish on corn for the last thirty days. If you do this you actually lose the advantage of the healthy fats that come from a total grass diet. So, if you are eating grass-fed as part of a balanced healthy diet, please be sure that the animals are only fed grass. Period. Any beef you buy from us has only been fed grass.
Maybe today you would like to consider one of the wood products we offer. As I mentioned earlier, Beth's father made the arbor for the wedding (outdoor wedding, 95 degrees -- not that it bothered me) out of cedar off the farm. For the last few years we have been repurposing wood from the farm to make herb boxes, compost boxes and birdhouses. Actually, it's Beth's 86 year old father who does this. He is now retired, no more farming. (He was still raising crops and cattle last year) Several years ago he converted an old hog house into a shop and has been turning out pieces that are truly works of art. Especially the birdhouses. They are more folk art than birdhouse, but actually can function for a bird abode.
So, come see us today. Weather is supposed to be nicer. This miraculous little community (St. Matthew's Farmer's Market) is rapidly going up right now. What was a vacant parking lot is being transformed into a vibrant community of people dedicated to meeting the needs of this community. Come today and be a part of this amazing place.
Larry and Beth
Hope you will brave the heat and humidity tomorrow and come out to the market. We will have the most incredibly tasting Red Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Pak Choy, Spring Onions, Beets, Kale and Cilantro.
Everything is local and organic. Everything is picked fresh and packed for maximum flavor. I really don't have enough descriptive adjectives to describe how wonderful this produce tastes. And, it is good for you.
Also, please don't forget that we have some of this finest grass fed/grass finished beef you have ever tasted. And, because it is grass fed and finished it has the health benefits that all of us are seeking. Check it out tomorrow. You won't be sorry.
We also carry some wood products that we produce using wood from our farm that we repurpose. Beth's father, Bill Newman, hand crafts some beautiful birds houses that can actually be used as bird houses or can sit inside as an example of wonderful Kentucky folk art. If you are considering one of these for a father's day present, please come pick it out tomorrow as we will not be here on June 16, the Saturday before Father's Day (Our son Matthew is getting married that day -- Yeah!!!) so you will need to come tomorrow, June 9 if you want one of these as a present.
Thank you for supporting local. organic food. Without you we would not exist. Hope to see everyone tomorrow.
Larry and Beth