8/14/06 Vol. 3 #22

Back from the summer “break” and already we are running around like crazy so this will be a quick newsletter.  The time off was too short and we worked far too much, we did have some nice dinners out and slower afternoons but we are going to have to rethink how to actually make it even slower.  Now we are back at it trying to get caught up and into the swing.  The staff is back too and are ready to go, after a good long week off.  Today was tomato picking and turkey moving.  The rest of the week there are more fall crops to plant, peppers to pick and plenty of regular maintenance chores to take care of.  The dry spell is really getting noticeable as the cover crops are not growing as they should and some near the tree lines are really stunted.  The creek stopped running last week and we will have to start pulling water out of the upper pond soon.  Perfect weather for peppers as long as we keep them irrigated.

What’s up with the early newsletter?  Betsy and I have to leave for the airport at 4:30 in the morning to fly to Wisconsin.  Not exactly the week we would have planned to be gone again but we are receiving the Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture and thought we might ought to be there to accept it.  We are very surprised and honored to have been even nominated for such an award and nearly speechless (well almost, you know Alex).  The award is presented by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, the USDA’s effort at helping to make agriculture more sustainable.  “This award recognizes producers who have explored ways to make farming more profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities, and have served as effective educators”.  We are always amazed when anyone recognizes us for what we consider everyday farm work and the outreach we do to anyone who has questions.  On top of it there will be an embarrassing amount of publicity about it including an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered with Melissa Block on Wednesday afternoon.  We won’t be back until Thursday late so Rachel and Will will be taking care of Wednesday market and the farm along with Joann.

Picture of the Week

It is colored bell and pepper roaster time!

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8/23/06 Vol. 3 #23

Well it was a whirlwind trip to Wisconsin but we survived.  We attended some interesting workshops and went on a great tour through the beautiful countryside to an excellent small meat processing plant and retail store (had to see where all those sausages are made), then to a mushroom farm and store.  Betsy was pleased to have finally toured a mushroom operation as her mother tried for years to get them on one in Pennsylvania and never succeeded.  Betsy’s mother was a great adventurer and wanted to show her kids where stuff came from.  Instead of just going to museums and zoos they went to factories and farms and out of the way places, you can begin to see where Betsy gets her interest in all things cultural.  As we accepted the award I told the crowd about the survey I had just heard about where more Americans know the names of the Three Stooges than the three branches of government.  My reason for doing this was to point out how hard it was going to be to make Americans aware of the three tenets of sustainability.  Now I am a basics kind of person, just keep reinforcing the major points and the rest will fall in place.  Of course those of you who have received this newsletter for any time already know those three tenets; environmentally sound, economically sound and socially responsible.  Those along with Slow Foods three guidelines; food that is good, clean and fair are how Betsy and I have tried to organize our lives.  It is hard at times to meet them all but if we try to at least keep them in mind when we make decisions here at the farm then generally we make a better decision than we might otherwise.  We want to thank everyone who called or e-mailed to congratulate us on the Patrick Madden Award, it is a little overwhelming.  A friend of ours, who was on NPR this spring, warned us that we would get messages from people we hadn’t seen in years, she was right!

Back to real world.  The staff did a great job while we were away.  The celery (for Thanksgiving) and lettuce (for September) were transplanted and the turnips, radishes, and carrots are seeded and up now.  We are headed towards getting all the rest of the Thanksgiving crops in over the next few weeks, the lettuce and collards have been seeded in flats for later transplanting, soon the spinach, radishes, turnips and carrots will be seeded in the sliding tunnels so we can keep them growing actively up to Thanksgiving as the nights begin to get cooler.  They got the last layers of trellising on the peppers as the plants are becoming heavy with fruit, high up on the branches, without support those branches will break off.  The early, early tomatoes in the sliding tunnels were taken down yesterday, a dirty job as the old vines have to be ripped off the trellis fences as you try to not splat yourself with an old oozy tomato still hanging on.  No more Early Picks or Orange Blossoms.  It is getting so dry now that everything that is not irrigated is getting really crispy.  We had to pull the first water out of the upper pond as the creek is still not running.  Good thing that we made sure to refill that pond this spring!  So now the end game begins, as one by one the crops finish up and are taken out.  Over the next few months we will begin to plant the whole farm in winter cover crops like a blanket, putting the farm to bed for the winter.

Picture of the Week
The modern mushroom cave, white buttons in the front and Portabellos in the back