Chain Saw Season

Among the tools that most people equate with farming like tractors and plows and hoes, none is probably as universal as a chainsaw.  We owned a chainsaw before we owned land and a tractor because we knew it would be essential.  Most farmers have one because inevitably trees fall down; on fence lines, across roadways, into fields.  Many also heat something with wood like their house or greenhouse.

We have used ours for all those reasons but we have also personally cleared more than 3 acres of land here on the farm.  When we bought this place we knew we needed more cleared land and so the cheapest way to do it was to cut the trees down ourselves.  We have spent months behind hot chain saws, to the point where we had his and hers chain saws.  A big one for Alex to drop and cut up the big trees and a small one for Betsy to drop the small trees and help limb up the big ones.

From 1981-1986 we almost always had a clearing project underway, first the blueberry field up on the hill and then the whole bottom field along the creek.   Our process was to first have the pulp wood cutters come in and take the sweet gums, smaller poplars, and other junk wood.  Some years this would actually result in money from the sales of the wood, usually not but it got the trees out of the way.  We would then take out the large trees for either firewood or lumber.  This would result in lots of brush that needed to be burned.  During some winters it looked like the Dark Ages around here with fires burning constantly. Finally we would have nothing but stumps left that required a bulldozer to remove.

The bottom field waiting for the bulldozer

My brother Jon, who helped clear the bottom field, said the first chapter in the book will be titled “Buy Cleared Land!”

The bottom field just months after the bulldozer

No matter what the reason we have a rule around here that chain saws will not be used when the leaves are on the trees (storm damage aside), hence chain saw season.  Chain saw work is physically hard, loud, and dirty.  If combined with warm weather it is debilitating and dangerous

Fortunately these days our needs are reduced to keeping the edges of the fields trimmed back and for firewood to heat the house.  We try and cut firewood the winter before so it has an entire year to dry.  So this past week we began cutting for next year.  It always seems that we start with the hardest trees.  This year it was a large dead oak leaning towards the house, well and heat pump.  Betsy lobbied for hiring someone to take this one down as we have managed to drop trees on things by mistake but I was sure we could do it.  After some careful rigging and the usual nervous last cuts, it fell beautifully in the correct direction.  Only a few months left in chain saw season, thankfully.

This tree leaned directly on a line from the stump, over the little well house, the heat pump and on to the house!

4/16/04 Vol. 1 #5

Kind of a mixed bag this week.  Beautiful rains early in the week allowed us to catch up on rainy day chores.  The Staff moved up 2400 pepper plants into larger containers to grow on for a few more weeks when they will go out into the field the first week of May.  21 varieties this year, a few new ones for you to try out, the pepper roaster will make it’s appearance in only 18 or 19 weeks!  Wednesday was a raw day and we used it to do some cleaning up of the edges of the field and burn some brush.  The Wednesday afternoon market also opened this week (kind of slipped up on us and I forgot to let you know last week that it was opening, sorry).  More clean up on Thursday after trying to cover one more of the “big tops” with those 30′ X 100′ pieces of plastic, we are lucky we all didn’t get blown into the next county.  Today is the day!  Calm winds and perfect weather, we are going for at least 4 bays, find out next week!  Cold weather scare the last two mornings, Thursday was right at 32 degrees with some scattered frost and we fully expected this morning to be colder but it looks as if 36 degrees might be a cold as it got.  We protected everything as if the worst was coming and it all looks good.  I did pick some short asparagus in anticipation of a freeze so they will look a bit odd at market tomorrow.

A bit of news from last week.  We had one of our best cheerleaders/supporters here last week helping us on the farm.  A bit of history, Betsy and I started Peregrine Farm by incorporating and then selling shares of stock to people who knew us and wanted to support this kind of endeavor, several who receive this newsletter.  We had many great shareholders who were very patient with us in the lean years as we figured out how to make this place profitable.  The best was Dottie Eakin who not only helped us with investment money but has come almost every year, from far distant places,  to spend a few days to a week working on the farm.  The reason I say was is that we now own all of Peregrine Farm, Inc. so we no longer have outside owners but Dottie still comes and helps.  Without her and others like her we would not be here today, thank you all!

Picture of the week
Look at the what’s to come!  Peas, spinach, broccoli raab, turnips…

8/4/04 Vol. 1 #21

Whew!  We made it to August!  This is when we really begin to think about the end of the season, the coming winters plans and next seasons preparations.  This week marks the three quarter point in our personal marketing season, 21 down, 7 to go.  While the Farmers’ Market goes until Christmas we end our season around the first of October.  This allows us time to prepare and plant for next year and have some quality of life time in the fall.  We used to go all the way to Thanksgiving but beginning five seasons ago we looked hard at the numbers and the effort required to produce those numbers and its effect on us and the next season and decided to call it quits sooner.  It was considered a radical move at the time but now we are very glad that we made the change.  Now we will of course be back for the special pre-Thanksgiving market to distribute the birds and with some just-for-Thanksgiving produce.  In the intervening seven or eight weeks we will have put the farm to bed for the winter, planted most of Betsy’s spring flowers and already done a little traveling!  We wouldn’t have been able to get all of this done under the old system.

No newsletter next week because we will be on our August break.  When we used to go straight thru to Thanksgiving we used to take two weeks off in August to try and rest and regroup for the remainder of the season.  Now that we stop early we just take one week off.  This is timed to coincide with the end of the early tomatoes and before the peppers really get going.  No exotic destinations this time just a little rambling around the area and general lolling around.  The staff gets the week off with pay and we get a week off!

We are looking forward a visit from my brother Jon and family this week.  19 seasons ago Jon came and threw in with us and helped turn the farm towards the course it is on now.  Jon is the one in the family who got the natural “grower” gene from my father, I have had to work at becoming a decent grower all these years, Jon can just go out and grow beautiful crops.  He was here for our first season at the Farmers’ Market (1986) and got us started growing vegetables and cut flowers on the only piece of ground we had left that wasn’t planted to blackberries and raspberries.  Unfortunately for us but fortunately for his wife to be, he moved back to Tennessee the next year.  He will be helping on the farm this Friday and at market on Saturday morning.  Like most Saturdays if you watch our stand closely you can usually spot members of my family behind the table.

Picture of the Week
Summer Crisp lettuce planted under shade cloth to keep it cool.  It should be ready the last week of August.

6/15/05 Vol. 2 #15

As hard as it is to believe, this season is our 20th at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market!  This week twenty Junes ago, June 7th 1986, we made our first feeble attempt at selling our vegetables, flowers, and berries at market.  We started the farm as a pick-your-own blackberry and raspberry farm planting the first crops in 1982.  Because they were perennials we didn’t open for business until 1984 and quickly realized that the pick-your-own business wasn’t going to pay the bills.  We began to look to additional markets for our berries.  In the winter of 1985 my brother Jon moved here to join us in the farming venture and we turned over the last piece of ground we had that wasn’t in berries.  Jon is a natural grower and he and Betsy had the little quarter acre patch overflowing with vegetables.  Our neighbor George Graves (some of you may remember him as a vendor at the market) kept saying “you really need to bring your berries down to the Carrboro Market”  every time we went to check the market out it was pitiful.  No customers and none of the vendors had anything to sell.  Turns out that 9:00 was too late to get there, it was all over but the cleanup by then.

Our first day it took two trucks to get everything to market, not that we had that much to sell, just that we were that disorganized!  One truck for the little bit of produce we had and one for all the display materials- saw horses to hold up the door we used as a table, five gallon buckets filled with concrete and poles to hold up a tarp, etc.  We had zucchinis the size of gun ships, summer squash, a few flowers and not much else.  We made $17.  It didn’t look like the market was going to pay the bills either but we were excited!  The customers were great, interested and encouraging.  The other vendors were helpful, we were so inept we certainly couldn’t be competition!  Jon left the next winter and the blackberries are long gone but we have now made the market the center of our business.  As exhausting as it can be we still are excited about going to market and seeing all of the customers who are still interested, encouraging and great!

The turkeys finally made it out to the field in a wild move.  Last Thursday as the berry picking finished up I decided to use all of those hands to help move them from the brooder to their first stop in the fields.  It had been raining and we waited until it stopped, we thought.  As we were chasing them around it started to rain again and by the time we had finished it was a down pour.  The poor birds were shell shocked both by being caught and handled but were soaking wet too.  We rushed their portable shelter over and got them all loaded with fresh food and water.  In an hour they were all dry and happy and so I let them out to run in the hydrangeas and viburnums.  They are now trained professionals, ranging the area for bugs and grasses by day and each evening as I go to put them up they are already loaded into the shelter, on the roosts, ready for a nights sleep.

Picture of the Week
Amazing Hydrangeas and brilliant? Turkeys

8/3/05 Vol. 2 #22

After 21 Saturdays Peregrine Farm’s marketing season is three quarters of the way done!  Whoopee!  While the market itself continues on until Christmas we decided in 2000 to stop at the end of pepper season and not to grow the fall cool season crops.  With a sustainable view of  our world we know that the most limiting part of our system is labor, and especially for us is our quality of life.  We realize that if we cannot renew ourselves then eventually the whole thing will grind to a halt.  This also represents the social part of the sustainable triangle.  The economic part of this decision came by looking at the numbers it took to go until Thanksgiving, and the return, we decided that it wasn’t worth it for us.  Turns out we were right, we make more now that we don’t market for the additional seven weeks or so than we did before.  Part of that is we personally are in better shape to manage the main season (see part one) and the other is the third leg of sustainability, the environmental side.  We forgo the fall crops, let the soil rest, get our soil improving crops planted just right and put the farm to bed for the winter in better shape, ready to go for the spring.  Of course as you know, 27 or 28 weeks of marketing doesn’t mean we have the rest of the year off, we are just working on other parts of the system.

Also after 21 weeks straight it is time for a break.  We have always taken a break the beginning of August after the early tomatoes wind down and before the peppers kick into full speed.  After the ugly hot weather of July we give the staff a week off with pay and we slow down a bit so we can all pull on through to the end.  So to that end we will be at the markets this week and then take the week of August 7-14 off.  No markets next week and no newsletter.  Nothing exotic for us while we are off, maybe the the beach for a few days, and maybe a few other excursions close by.  There are still the turkeys to keep an eye on and plants to water but by and large we will be lounging with our feet up!

Good news of the farm front though, turnips, radishes, lettuce all for September are in the ground.  Brussels Sprouts are planted for Thanksgiving and the leeks go in this week too!  Good rains last week have made all of these crops very happy.  By the way tonight, Wednesday, Panzanella restaurant (another of Weaver Street Markets businesses) is having another of their “Featured Farm” dinners where they have a special menu built around what the featured farmer has in season.  Tonight it happens to be us!  We took them lots of tomatoes of all kinds, cucumbers and peppers.  I know for sure that one dish will be poblano peppers stuffed with their house made chorizo sausage!  It should be an enjoyable eating experience.  Betsy and I will be there after market to eat our way through the menu, come by and see us!

Picture of the Week
Rudbeckia Triloba in full glory

12/19/05 Vol. 2 #30

Well the year is truly winding down.  This is the time of year for planning and introspection.  I am sitting here surrounded by seed catalogs, spreadsheets and notes from the last season trying to make myself order seeds.  Maybe its the short days and the low angle of the sun but it is difficult to get the brain headed in that direction.  Instead Betsy and I have been having long talks about the future and what it might look like, both for us and Peregrine Farm.  Now this is a common practice for us this time of year but after the tumultuous season that gave us many twists and turns we seem to be looking at life a little harder.  We think that most folks see Peregrine Farm as a constant with few changes but in reality we are changing all the time, both the farm and us.  For Betsy this has been the year of all things Italian with a keen interest in their culture and artisanal food.  She even suggested, that maybe for a change, that she take over the vegetable production and I run the flowers.  I raised an eyebrow at that one.  For me the big change that has knocked me out of my comfortable patterns is taking over the poultry processing plant.  Very scary at times but intellectually stimulating too, we still think that it is such a important piece of the local food system that it must happen.  The wish list of changes is forming; new crops (lots of artichokes, baby swiss chard, pigs?), new places to see (Italy again, Kenya for Betsy, southern Utah for Alex), new techniques to try which I will not bore you with now.

The biggest immediate change though will be the passing of my father Sam.  Many of you knew him as a fixture at our stand at Market.  Others may know him from his years at the University of North Carolina.  For Betsy and me he was a constant supporter and sideline advisor of our work for 25 years, and of course for my entire life.  Many people ask how I got into farming and I usually reply that my father was a rabid gardener and my mother a fabulous cook.  We grew up working in his gardens and eating three home cooked meals a day from her kitchen.  He lived a colorful, varied and determined 84 years.  He was first exposed to gardening as he grew up in rural Arkansas and spent summers with his grandparents.  Early morning trips with his grandfather to pick breakfast berries, gorging himself on figs while sitting under the bush and more.  He was the first in his family to go to college.  He lived in Memphis where he met Mom.  Spent time in the Pacific, in the Navy, in World War II.  A life long movie nut he went to cinematography school at the Univ. of Southern California before deciding to settle down and become a librarian.  They moved to Atlanta where he graduated from Emory Univ. and my brothers were born.  His first grand garden was in Columbia, Mo. where my sister and I were born.  He began to develop a style that included wide choices in plants in large beds with fences, patios, and garden art.  As kids we lived outside during the warm months and we all had small personal gardens with radishes and more.

He took us to Connecticut where he started the Univ. of Conn. Medical School Library.  Gardening continued to consume him and with the help of the “homegrown” work force he transformed a difficult hillside into a terraced wonder.  During our stay in Connecticut he made a business trip to Chapel Hill and returned telling Mom that he found the place for them to retire and garden.  A detour to Houston, Texas and the medical center library was the nadir of his gardening life.  Miserable climate and soil on a quarter acre suburban lot.  One Christmas we had railroad ties and top soil brought in and we built him a garden.  8 feet by 16 feet and two feet high he would come home from work, make a drink and go out and work in the garden, it helped keep him sane.  Finally he became director of the UNC Medical Library and his garden dreams unfolded.  The house that they remodeled and he designed and the gardens became the culmination of a lifetime of moving, travel and collection.   Over three acres of rolling terrain, granite boulders and mature hardwoods eventually would comprise the gardens.  Early on Betsy and I helped build the bones of the place with rock walls, raised beds, brick patios, pergolas and more.  Betsy spent many days with him going to nurseries and others gardens feeding their plant lust.  For those of you fortunate enough to visit the place and eat Mom’s food understand how they could influence ones life.  The picture below, while not crisp, is typical.  Pop sitting in the garden holding court with friends while Mom looked at him, trying to figure out where he was headed.  We will all miss them both, and we thank all of you we have talked to since his death.

I will leave you with two book suggestions for Christmas gifts or just winter reading.  The first is a couple of years old “Local Flavors- Cooking and Eating From America’s Farmers’ Markets” by Deborah Madison is one of the best reads on the importance of farmers’ markets and local food with many great recipes.  The second is brand new “Fields of Plenty- a farmer’s journey in search of real food and the people who grow it”  by Michael Ableman.  An excellent read about many sustainable, artisanal food producers around the country.  It also includes many recipes by the farmers themselves.  Betsy and I know many of these growers.  Between the two I think one can begin to get an accurate picture of a small farmers life and what inspires them.
Betsy and I hope you all have enjoyable holidays, eat well, rest up and stay warm.

6/7/06 Vol. 3 #13

One more shot of beautiful cool weather with occasional rain.  I always feel like we are cheating or escaping from something when the weather is like this in June.  I know full well that the relentless heat of summer is hiding just around the corner and then we have to settle into a more measured pace just to make it through until September.  Having been born and raised mostly in the South you would think that I would be used to the heat and humidity but that gene never got passed to me.  When we moved here twenty six years ago from Utah, we lived in a tiny duplex in the middle of a field in Bynum while we crafted the plan for Peregrine Farm.  That first summer, in that non-air conditioned box, was hot as hell and we thought we were going to die!  We would lie awake at night with the tiny window high on the wall above, a box fan feebly trying to move hot air around us.  Thoughts of cool nights in the mountain west would somehow coax us to sleep.  I always assumed that I would acclimate and get used to the heat and while it did happen, somewhat, I still cower when the forecast reads in the 90’s.

The blueberries roll on.  After last years record crop it is hard to judge just how this years will end up.  My best estimate is that we have about a third of last years harvest, maybe half a normal year.  It is hard to say exactly why.  My best theory is that it was so warm this late winter it caused the bushes to bloom very early.  They started in late February and consequently many blooms and fruit were lost to frosts that came afterward.  It makes the fruit that is left a bit larger and maybe more flavorful because they get all the good stuff they don’t have to share when there are too many berries on the plant.  I was told yesterday that our berries were served last week to the former White House pastry chef, of twenty five years, and he said they were some of the best he had ever had!  With not so many berries to pick we are actually able to get other things done on the farm like critical weeding and tying up the tomatoes.  We are also beginning the process of taking out the spring crops to be replaced by summer cover crops or more summer flowers.  Out come the irrigation lines, mow down the weeds and what is left of the spring crop, turn under the residue.  If we are planting another crop then a little feather meal is spread for nitrogen, the bed is tilled again, then a drip irrigation line is buried right down the middle of the bed.  Planting follows quickly behind.  Last week more sunflowers and seven more beds of zinnias (the third planting of the year).  Soon those fields that don’t go on to summer crops will be turned under and sown to big summer soil improving crops.  The next batch of turkeys arrived on cue last Thursday morning.  Forty broad breasted bronzes, all happy and running around in the brooder.

Picture of the Week
Purple Bouquet Dianthus flanked by Campanula and Safflower

6/28/06 Vol. 3 #16

Rain, that is what has been going on.  7.3 inches this month.  Not as much as many other folks have had but wet just the same.  When we first moved to the farm in 1982 we lived in a tent for eight months while we began to develop the farm and build the first part of the house.  We had planted 5,000 berry plants in March and struggled through a very dry April to keep them alive.  We would fill five gallon buckets, by hand, out of the pond put them on a trailer behind the tractor and slowly drive up the hill to the field and hope that all the water wouldn’t splash out on the way.  We would then carry those buckets up and down the 20,000 feet of row and pour a little bit of life giving water onto each one.  Finally in late April the irrigation company we had contracted with to install our system arrived and we spent three very long days running thousands of feet of two inch PVC pipe up to the field to carry the water to the drip lines that we buried down each row next to the plants.  I always joke with folks that we lived in a tent while we put in $6000 worth of irrigation and I am still married to the same wonderful woman!  Now we could water all those new berry plants and our future.  In May it began to rain.  Every day we would stand under our little twenty by twenty tin roofed tractor shed/kitchen/world headquarters and watch as the rain dumped down on us.  The dirt track that ran past the tent and shed would run like a river and the lightening would shake everything around us.  The month ended with seventeen inches of rain!

Out in the field the plants were now happy but so were the weeds that we had unleashed by turning over soil that had held the weed seeds for years just waiting for someone to come along and bring them to the sun.  The May rains gave them extra vigor and we saw our berry plants disappearing into the jungle.  I carefully worked my way up and down the four miles of rows and hand weeded a cylinder around each plant after I found them first.  It was a race as the weeds: lambsquarter, pig weed and ox-eye daisy grew to head high.  I finally got on the tractor and stood on the seat so I could look down and find the cylinders I had created around each plant as I carefully mowed the aisles between the rows.  The battle with the weeds carried on through out that first summer (and still continues today) but we had saved the crop.

Fortunately we are going to have a dry spell coming the next five days or so and we will be able to get in and start to fight the weeds back.  We now have more equipment and tools and more help to do it with.  After years of cultivating, hand weeding and rotating crops our weed seed bank is not what it used to be but just letting a few big ones make seed will set a portion of a field back five years, so we are ever vigilant.  There is a section in the new Zinnias where it looks like we spread grass seed with a butter knife, or spray painted the ground green.  Last year we had Dahlias there and couldn’t till or mow the grass in them and couldn’t keep up by hand so some grass went to seed anyway.  We may end up mowing those Zinnias down early so that grass can’t make more seed, better that than making the problem even worse.  When organic farmers are surveyed about what is their number one problem it always comes back weeds.  It has been that way since man first started farming.

Picture of the Week
From the archives.  The early camp with tent as bedroom wing, ah the good old days!

7/12/06 Vol. 3 #18

Now the weather is returning to more normal summers conditions this week but in general we are all looking at each other and saying “I don’t ever remember a summer like this”.  This, this… not so hot.  No complaining here mind you but it does sort of throw one off balance.  Just as you have your brain programmed to expect one thing and act in a certain way it doesn’t happen.  The only comparison is back in 1991, which we always refer to as the Mt. Pinatubo summer.  That summer that volcano in the Philippines erupted and sent huge amounts of ash into the stratosphere which circulated the globe for months.  The result was a very cool summer in North Carolina,  we barely got into the 90’s.  Back then we were in the midst of the long and expensive “Raspberry Experiment”.  The most noticeable result from that cool summer was that the raspberry canes grew almost twice a tall as normal and the following year we had the best harvest we had ever had.  It turns out that it is too hot here for raspberries to grow vigorously, but that summer it was more like the conditions further north where they produce them in abundance.  Soon there after the raspberries came out of the ground never to be planted here again (under threat of certain penalties from Betsy!).  So while we are not experiencing as dramatic conditions as that year it is still affecting crops here on there farm.  Most noticeably the tomatoes are still not producing at the level we are accustomed to.  Every Monday and Thursday we go out and pick and while we are getting some of all the varieties we are not bringing back the number of boxes that we should be.  Normally this would be the peak week of tomato harvest but it will be at least next week if not later.  Yesterday we were up working in the peppers and the rows that are on black landscape fabric are moving along well but the rows planted no-till are way behind.  The soil is cooler under all that mulch which in hot weather a good thing but this season it is holding those plants back.  Just when your brain is programmed one way…

We did manage to get the cover crops all seeded before the big rains last week and they are up already and looking great, little soybean plants raising there fat heads out of the soil and the millet with one blade pointed straight up towards the sky.  The turkeys have all been rotated around the farm.  The little guys as we call the Broad Breasted Bronzes right now (they will eventually weigh twice a much as the Bourbon Reds) graduated out to the blueberries from the brooder and are extremely happy lazing the days away in the shade of the blueberry bushes and taking group walks around their new grassy enclosure.  The Bourbon Reds have moved into Betsy’s first and now abandoned Zinnia patch (we plant Zinnias five times and she is now cutting off the second batch).  This is the same field that had the leeks, radicchio and the last lettuce among other crops so they are now eating the crab grass and other weeds while hiding out in the four foot tall Zinnia rows like outlaws only to come creeping out when someone walks by the fence.  The last Zinnias get planted this week and the Brussels Sprouts for Thanksgiving went into the ground this week too.  Despite the different weather we still march on with the calendar assuming that normalcy will return.

Picture of the Week
The effects of cool weather.  The same varieties next to each other but the plants on the warmer black fabric are much larger and have large peppers on them.

7/19/06 Vol. 3 #19

Everyday begins the same at this time of year.  I am usually out of the house around 6:00 to let the turkeys out before the increasing light makes them too fidgety.  We close the doors to their shelters each night at dark and most of them are self-loaded with the rest having flown up to the peak of the shelter to roost for the night.  In the morning the top sleepers fly back down and taunt the locked-up groups by strutting around just outside the chicken wire walls.  So, out they come for another day, pecking for bugs and discussing with each other what happened last night in the other shelter.  Then I walk down to the irrigation pump to turn on the water for the day.  When it is this hot we water everything for two hours a day, every day, and it is most effective if we do it early when it is cooler.  You can tell that fall is on its way because the spiders are getting serious about stringing their webs across the paths to catch every thing in sight.  I assume it is either to gather lots of food heading into the winter or trying to catch a ride for the new borns to another location so they can set up shop.  In the early part of the year you can walk all around the farm and never run into a spider web.   Now I have to find just the right stick, each morning, that I hold out in front of my face and chest to intercept them before I get a face full of spider!  This morning walk can be up to three quarters of a mile or more depending on side jaunts, which gives me a chance to think about what needs to be done this day and to contemplate other issues.  It is not quite a perambulation of the bounds but close.

Today I was thinking about the tragic passing of a friend, neighbor and fellow farmer, Chuck Glosson.  Chuck was accidentally hit and killed by a car on Saturday morning while we were at market, he was only 33.  The news spread quickly though the market community as we all returned home that afternoon.  Many of you may remember Chuck who sold at market from 1993 until 2000.  He and his family set up right behind our Saturday stall where Chapel Hill Creamery is now.  The next to take over the family farm, a farm that has been in the family at least 200 years.  Chuck finished High School and went right into farming with his father and it was a true partnership from the beginning.  A true traditional family farm, they raise cattle, pigs and chickens.  They also produce corn, wheat, soybeans, grass seed, hay, straw and many more crops, some to feed the animals and some to sell.  At market Chuck was an innovator.  He was the first to sell beef and pork.  They sold beautiful produce and cut flowers.  They immediately had a loyal customer following because of the huge diversity of product but mostly due to the fact that Chuck was the friendliest, kindest, and most sincere person they ever met.

We first met Chuck when he was about to graduate from High School.  He came by the farm one day because another market vendor suggested he go see what we were doing.  He was sure of staying on the farm and thinking about how he would fit into the family operation.  We walked all around our place and he asked good questions and soaked it all up.  In the years since we have bought straw from them, asked them about raising pigs and other crops.  After Hurricane Fran, when we had to move our transplant greenhouse after it was flooded, Chuck came over with one of their huge tractors and towed the structure up the hill and helped us set it on the new foundations.  He was always happy, willing to help and was a great listener.  The kind of farming that the Glossons do is completely different than what Betsy and I do but we had an understanding of each others daily lives.   Chuck has always been the picture, in my mind, of the future of traditional mid- size farmers.  Now I don’t know what image I will have in my head when someone talks about young conventional farmers but I will always know that I was friends with one of the finest humans to have ever walked this earth.

Picture of the Week
Bourbon Reds perambulating their bounds in the early morning.