News and Blog

This is the default description for this channel.
Posted 7/8/2011 9:44pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,
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. 

Larry 
Posted 6/17/2011 11:02pm by Larry Brandenburg.

Friends,
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.  

Larry

 

Posted 5/27/2011 9:53pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,
Sorry for the very late email.  We have no internet connection at home and I have just now had time to drive up to the McDonald's in Shelbyville to get free internet access.  

We have very long days on Fridays since we want all of your produce to be as fresh as possible.  A crew of four young men started at 8:00 this morning and finished at 6:30.  Beth and I finish up all the work that is left and usually get to bed around 1:00 a.m..  No, I'm not trying to play on your sympathy.  This is a choice that we make because we believe so strongly in providing food that is as fresh as possible. If we didn't believe this, we would just encourage everyone to go the grocery and buy stuff shipped in from thousands of miles away that was picked two weeks ago (before it was ripe) and ripened on the journey.

Everything is doing remarkably well this week despite the additional 2 1/2 inches of rain we got.  The cool temperatures today were wonderful.  We won't have any asparagus this week as we want it to grow out so we will have more next year.  It takes five years for asparagus to get to full production and we are only in year two.  You only do a light harvest the second year and then more the third until you get up to full production.  So, we sacrifice now for the future.  This is applicable to other aspects of our living also.  Nature teaches us a lot about how we should live if we will just be aware of the lessons to be learned.

I am sorry that I did not get to see everyone last week.  I went back to the farm to get the crew started planting.  We were able to get a lot in the ground but we still have a few thousand transplants sitting out waiting.  Looks like we may have some dry weather this week and hopefully we can finish up.  We will be a little behind but I think we should be OK.

I probably won't see you tomorrow either as I am going to explore the possibility of another market that we might want to participate in.  I should be around some but Beth will be there to take care of all of you.

We are so grateful that you are a part of our farm.  I hope that each of you will have the opportunity some time this summer to come out and see your food growing.  Your commitment to us and our choice to try to make in difference in the world through organic farming is encouraging and appreciated.
Larry 
Posted 5/19/2011 10:33pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,

We are excited about our first week of deliveries.  

This has been an extremely challenging spring.  The record breaking precipitation we have received has not been helpful.  We were able to get some field work done last weekend but the non-stop rain of the past week has made the fields too muddy to work.  We did get some tomatoes and sweet potatoes set as well as some seeds.  We hope to be able to harvest lettuce and radishes tomorrow as well as some kale, mint and perhaps some strawberries.  The strawberries are really slow this year and some are showing signs of distress.  Last year at this time they were yielding very well so I know it is all weather related.  The snow and sugar snap peas are not yet yielding.  The rain has really stunted their growth.  Let's hope for some extended dry weather so they can recover.

There are other CSA's who are delaying deliveries till the end of this month but we believe we will have enough for everyone this  week.

If you are picking up at the farm, please come after 4:00 tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.  Pick-up at the St. Matthew's Market will be from 8:00-12:00 on Saturday.  If you were a CSA member last year, please bring the bags we provided for you.  New members will be given bags when you pick up.

The CSA model has been very successful for many years for many farmers.  We enjoy it because it allows us to have a relationship that is not possible through other distribution channels.  It also allows you to understand the impact that things like weather have on the production of local food.  When you buy produce at the grocery you have no idea of the challenges facing the farmers producing that food.  And, most food in groceries come from farms thousands of miles from here or even other countries.

The food that you get from us is grown right here in Shelby County using Certified Organic methods.  It is harvested on Friday so that it is as fresh as possible.  You also share in the risks that come with buying local, organic food.

If you need to contact us, the home phone is 502-738-0510.  My cell is 640-0042 and Beth's is 640-0043.

Thank you for your support of local, sustainable organic agriculture.  It really does make a difference in our world.

Larry 
Posted 9/24/2010 8:22pm by Larry Brandenburg.
The day we all dread has finally arrived.  The last CSA delivery.  What a great year it has been and what an incredibly great group of people you have been.  It has been a joy seeing each of you each week, here on the farm, or at the market, and we will miss seeing you.  Please keep in touch.  Let us know what is going on in your lives.  We are truly a community that supports each other.

I was a little worried today that we were going to get everything harvested.  Some labor I was counting on did not materialize but somehow we got it all done.  This week's bounty includes potatoes, (red and white), tomatoes, lots of peppers, three kinds of winter squash, eggplant and okra. 

Beth and I are going to get up at 4:00 in the morning for last time for a long, long time!  It will be so nice to sleep in till 6:00 next week.  Fridays and Saturdays are killers for us and we will not miss these rhythms.  However, we will miss you.

Last week a young lady stopped by and took a picture of our booth.  She is new to Louisville and has blog where she is sharing her experience of being new to Louisville.  She has a nice mention of us (with picture) and you might want to visit it and give her an encouraging word.  Her name is Lauren Ione and the site is newaroundhere.wordpress.com.  Leave her a nice comment to show her that Louisville is really a friendly supportive place.

Heard last week that Michael Pollan is going to be speaking at Bellarmine on Oct. 7 in the evening.  Free.  Don't know any other details but will let you know when I find out.

If I can figure out how to do it, I am going to email an evaluation form to you.  This will help us know how we are doing and what we need to do to improve.

Please, please keep in touch. And again, thank you so much for being who you are, doing what you do, and showing that you can make a difference in the world.

Larry and Beth 
Posted 9/24/2010 8:02pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,
On May 15th the St. Matthew's Farmer's Market opened their fourth season and tomorrow this year's season will come to an end.  It has been a really good year for us.  The support for local, organic food is growing tremendously.  Our sales have been up almost 75% and we now have several restaurants that buy from us each week.  This year's CSA was the most incredible group of people we have ever had.  Thank you for helping to make a difference in our community.

If you are thinking about becoming a CSA partner for next year, please let us know as soon as possible.  Based on the enthusiastic interest that so many have shown, we may need to expand the CSA next year.  In order to do this we will have to start making plans now.  Next week we will begin the process of cleaning up the fields and planting cover crops.  It is the care and attention we give to the land in the fall and winter that enables us to grow successfully in the summer.  So, we need to know how much land we are going to need to prepare.

There are many reasons to become a CSA partner.  A concern for the environment is one of the primary reasons.  Knowing that our land is being nurtured and cared for in a responsible manner gives you a sense of peace that you can't find with food grown in conventional, industrial agriculture.  Health issues are also important.  When you eat one of our potatoes there are no chemical fertilizer residues in the soil to contaminate it.  No pesticides are used and our weeds are dealt with the old fashioned way.  A hoe.  Also, organic food is richer in the important vitamins and minerals that our bodies need.  

Money is also another consideration.  However, this should not be the main reason you want to join a CSA.  If you are interested in cheap food, then the values that we espouse as organic farmers are probably not congruent with this way of thinking.  If you were a CSA member this year, most of the weeks you received produce that had a retail value (based on what we sell for at the Market) that was double what you paid to join the CSA.  This was a good year and we share the bounty that we are blessed with.  There may be other years when this may not be true.  That is why you need to believe that supporting local, organic farmers is the real reason to join a CSA.

We are very proud that we are Certified Organic by the USDA. There are not many in this area that can make that claim.  We do this because it enables you to be sure of our growing practices.  We are inspected yearly and have a lot of paperwork to keep up with.  We think it is worth it because your trust is important to us.  I know that there are  lot of farmers who say they don't use any chemicals, and I hope they don't, but with us you can be guaranteed that we not only avoid chemicals, but also use production practices that improve the soil.

We are sad to see the growing season come to an end, but we are ready for a break.  The winter gives us time to read, plan and attend conferences that will help us become better farmers.  Each year we do get better.  That is one of the joys of farming.  

So, come see us tomorrow at the market for one last time.  We have many people that visit our website and sign up for the mailing list that we don't know.  Come meet us in person.  And, if you are interested in our CSA, let us know soon.  

Again, thank you for your interest in Harmony Fields Farm and keep working toward the goal of sustainable, local, organic food for all.

Larry D. Brandenburg 
Posted 9/17/2010 11:33pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Thank you for putting Louisville in the top six of "Foodiest Cities in the U.S.A. for 2010."  This, according to the magazine Bon Appetit, is partly due to Louisville's soft spot for Community Supported Agriculture.  So, give yourself a pat on the back and a round of applause.

This week we will be sharing the first of the Winter Squash. Butternut and Delicata are wonderful either stuffed or baked and I know that you will be surfing the web for even more creative and interesting ways to cook them.

Lots of peppers this week.  Everyone will even get a couple of jalepenos if you wish.  The cherry tomatoes are still producing but are beginning to fade a little.  You will still get two pints.  More heirlooms and perhaps the last of the okra.  The okra is now over eight feet tall (this is how it continues to produce--it just gets taller) and I don't expect it to go much higher, but it might reach ten feet by next week. 

Counting tomorrow we only have two more weekends.  Next week we will pick everything clean.  After September 25 we will be cleaning up everything and planting our cover crops which will grow over the winter giving protection to the soil and then providing fertility and organic matter when they are turned under in the spring.  Then it all starts over again.

Next week fall begins.  Temperatures are forecast around 95 degrees for the first day of fall.  I will be not be too sad to say goodbye to this growing season.  However, we feel very fortunate because we have had such a successful year.  There have been a few disappointments but so many more successes.  You have helped make it a great year for us by being so supportive and appreciative.   Thank you.
Larry 
Posted 9/10/2010 10:58pm by Larry Brandenburg.
I always look forward to the Wednesday Courier-Journal because it features articles about food.  Last week, the chef they wrote about had recipes that called for Moon and Stars Watermelon, Lemon Cucumbers, and Okra.  I thought it was really cool that he was recommending things that you received last weekend in your shares.

This week the main article was called "Awash in Squash."  I believe that they probably should have run this a couple of weeks ago when the squash was going crazy.  I know you were probably sick of squash but you don't have to worry this week.  The summer squash has sent up the white flag and surrendered to the rhythms of nature.  Cooler night time temperatures and much less sunlight is the signal that it's time to shut down.  So, no squash this week but we do have something to offer as a transition between summer and winter squash (next week you will get winter squash.)

Ronde de Nice is a round Zucchini from the south of France that can be used like a regular squash (harvested when small) or allowed to get bigger where they are best either baked or stuffed.  You will get one of these this weekend and I will be interested in hearing of your culinary triumphs.    

Also, this will be the last week for watermelon.  When things start slowing down we usually have only enough to sell at the market but not to share with all of you.  We only had 12 cucumbers this week and a half bushel of squash.  We also were able to get about 20 bags of Basil.  All of the things we sell are available to you for a discount of at least 20%. (Except for Beth's flowers)

Hope it doesn't rain tomorrow during the market.  Hard to believe that we will only see you for three more weekends.  I think you will enjoy tomorrow's bounty and we look forward to seeing you.  Thank you for making all of this possible.
Larry 
Posted 8/27/2010 9:38pm by Larry Brandenburg.
I hope that you saw the newspaper articles this past week dealing with agriculture.  No, I don't mean the $1.6 million country ham.  Front page of the Courier Journal was a story about corn and soybeans.  Actually, the story was about the adverse effect the hot weather was having on these crops.  Yields will be down considerably this year.  A couple days later there was another article about the weather's effect on vegetables.  It was the same article I had read the week before in the Lexington Herald-Leader and I shared some of the information with you in my last email.  The reason I hope that you read these articles is because now that you are a part of Community Supported Agriculture, any issue involving agriculture should arouse some interest, if not passion.  Also, you have personally experienced the effects that weather can have on crops.  People who go to the grocery store for all of their food have no idea what is going on here in Kentucky.  As Wendell Berry says, "If you eat, you are involved in agriculture."  It is our desire that after your experience as a CSA partner you will pay more attention to what is going on in the world of agriculture. (And I didn't even mention the toxic industrial farm eggs--probably the biggest national agriculture story this week.)

It has been a good week here at HFF as we have thoroughly enjoyed the cooler temperatures and lower humidity.  I wish that one week of cooler temps could make up fifteen weeks of hot weather, but it doesn't work that way with nature.  We are happy to be able to share eggplant and okra with you this week in addition to all the other good things you have been getting.  I am really disappointed in the big tomatoes but I do hold out hope.  I have heard from some people who are having success with them but most aren't.  Microclimates may be a part of the success stories.  Had I known the summer was going to be like this then I might have planted them in the woods! 

Since I began with challenging you increase your agriculture awareness, let me end by encouraging you to continue to grow in your agriculture literacy.  I know that many of you have read Michael Pollan's
Omnivore's  Dilemma, but I would also encourage you to have a go with his In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.  The latest book I am reading is Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep us Safe by Marie Rodale.  Marie is the granddaughter of J. I. Rodale who essentially started the organic movement in America in 1942 with the publication of his magazine Organic Farming and Gardening.  The Rodale Institute is today one of the leading centers for organic research in he world.  And the magazine is still being published but is now called Organic Gardening. I have great hope that the message of this book will stir up enough people that we can change the direction we have been going with industrial agriculture.  Perhaps this fall and winter,if you wish, we could get together for discussion about this book and others that you might be reading.  We do miss seeing you during the dark of winter and this could enable us to keep up the connection.

I guess that I am "preaching to the choir" but I do get very excited about the potential for organic farming to make a major difference in the world today.  And I know that you believe this too.  Thank you very much for your support and friendship.

Larry 
Posted 8/27/2010 9:22pm by Larry Brandenburg.
I hope that you saw the newspaper articles this past week dealing with agriculture.  No, I don't mean the $1.6 million country ham.  Front page of the Courier Journal was a story about corn and soybeans.  Actually, the story was about the adverse effect the hot weather was having on these crops.  Yields will be down considerably this year.  A couple days later there was another article about the weather's effect on vegetables.  It was the same article I had read the week before in the Lexington Herald-Leader and I shared some of the information with you in my last email.  The reason I hope that you read these articles is because now that you are a part of Community Supported Agriculture, any issue involving agriculture should arouse some interest, if not passion.  Also, you have personally experienced the effects that weather can have on crops.  People who go to the grocery store for all of their food have no idea what is going on here in Kentucky.  As Wendell Berry says, "If you eat, you are involved in agriculture."  It is our desire that after your experience as a CSA partner you will pay more attention to what is going on in the world of agriculture. (And I didn't even mention the toxic industrial farm eggs--probably the biggest national agriculture story this week.)

It has been a good week here at HFF as we have thoroughly enjoyed the cooler temperatures and lower humidity.  I wish that one week of cooler temps could make up fifteen weeks of hot weather, but it doesn't work that way with nature.  We are happy to be able to share eggplant and okra with you this week in addition to all the other good things you have been getting.  I am really disappointed in the big tomatoes but I do hold out hope.  I have heard from some people who are having success with them but most aren't.  Microclimates may be a part of the success stories.  Had I known the summer was going to be like this then I might have planted them in the woods! 

Since I began with challenging you increase your agriculture awareness, let me end by encouraging you to continue to grow in your agriculture literacy.  I know that many of you have read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's  Dilemma, but I would also encourage you to have a go with his In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.  The latest book I am reading is Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep us Safe by Marie Rodale.  Marie is the granddaughter of J. I. Rodale who essentially started the organic movement in America in 1942 with the publication of his magazine Organic Farming and Gardening.  The Rodale Institute is today one of the leading centers for organic research in he world.  And the magazine is still being published but is now called Organic Gardening. I have great hope that the message of this book will stir up enough people that we can change the direction we have been going with industrial agriculture.  Perhaps this fall and winter,if you wish, we could get together for discussion about this book and others that you might be reading.  We do miss seeing you during the dark of winter and this could enable us to keep up the connection.

I guess that I am "preaching to the choir" but I do get very excited about the potential for organic farming to make a major difference in the world today.  And I know that you believe this too.  Thank you very much for your support and friendship.

Larry 
Mailing list signup