Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #29, 9/20/18, Post Hurricane Florence

What’s been going on!

Another storm unlike any other.  While we were spared the worst of it, there are many people down east who were not, including farming friends of ours.  There will be a lot of money raised, donations and time given but most of the farming community will not be the focus of all that generosity.  Our friends at the Rural Advancement Foundation International are already working on helping farmers in the disaster area and need your donations to support their work.  This is one of the main things that RAFI does, come to the aid of farmers in crisis and assist them through all the red tape involved when their farms are in danger of being lost.

Our damage has been limited to just too much rain, nearly 8 inches with the 4 inches Sunday night and Monday morning sending the creeks and the Haw River way over their banks but that is not news to most people especially in Orange and Durham counties.  Jennie and I did a field walk this morning and some crops look better than others with the lettuces that were almost ready to harvest looking hard hit and beginning to bolt or go to seed, which is a reaction to stress.  Time will tell how the other crops respond but the peppers still look good.

The Haw River came way out of its banks and was supposed to crest somewhere near 26 feet but the gauge failed so it is hard to know exactly.  If it did get that high it would be the 8th highest ever recorded and the deepest since hurricane Fran.  It completely filled our bottom field and was certainly in the top 3 or 4 floods we have seen down there.  We had pulled the irrigation pump and there were not crops down there so fortunately for us really no damage.  Let’s hope fall will settle down and be pleasant.

Pictures of the Week

IMG_20180917_163943 Near high tide, it came up another 2 feet from this point

IMG_20180920_083652This is where the irrigation pump normally sits, the water was over the meter, neck deep, if you look close you can see the bathtub ring on the trees

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 13 #14, 5/18/16

What’s been going on!

Another rainy week ahead, at least it is cool, so some solace.  We used the beautiful days leading up to yesterday to cultivate as much as we possibly could as the weeds were biblical after the previous wet period.  While we did not get everything perfectly weeded we did get to most of it.

Always too much to do in May and so we are a little behind in getting the big planting of tomatoes suckered and tied up for the first time.  Got a good start on it Monday but now it will be too damp to break off the shoots (suckers).  If we do it when it is really wet then the chances for disease to enter those wounds is very high so we will just have to wait until the sun comes back out.

The other big job we are trying to get to is preparation for the big pepper planting next week.  The plants look perfect and will be really happy to get in the ground.  Just before the rain started yesterday we tilled the nine beds that get covered with landscape fabric for all the hot and fussy varieties.  Today or tomorrow we can lay the drip lines and pin down the fabric so we will be ready to plant first thing next week.  That just leaves the rolling/crimping of the cover crop for the no-till sweet peppers.  Go, go, go!

Pictures of the Week

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Thousands of pepper plants ready to go

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Freshly tilled pepper beds on a really gray day

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 13 #13, 5/13/16

What’s been going on!

Running behind again this week after my two day Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) board meeting.  There are a lot of good sustainable agriculture organizations across the country doing great work in all areas of farming to make the lives of farmers and agriculture in general better and we have worked with a number of them over the years.  RAFI is one of the keystone organizations in the movement and has been working on the issues of fairness and farm sustainability since the 1930’s, tracing their roots back to the National Sharecroppers Fund.

Few organizations have the history or the experience to do the work that RAFI does both in North Carolina and around the world.  It is one of those groups that you probably have never heard about because they work either far out in front of emerging issues or quietly in the halls of the USDA, UN-FAO or the North Carolina General Assembly.  Their headquarters are right here in Pittsboro!

This small group has had far reaching impacts on fairness in contracts for farmers, literally writing the legislation for the National Organic Program and other farm bill provisions, saving hundreds of family farms from foreclosure, issues of rural poverty and hunger, preserving the rights of farmers to save seed and develop new varieties, farm worker’s rights and more.

But there is a big problem in the non-profit world that is bringing many well established NGO’s to the brink of closing their doors.  For last few years the foundations that fund most of the work that non-profits do have narrowed their focus and will only pay for exact project work and no longer give money for general operations.  This means RAFI can do the field work but cannot pay the light bill or the book keeper unless they can raise money from individual donors like you.

The work is so important that anyone who eats should donate to RAFI.  Those of you who read this newsletter who have received a grant from RAFI, get your check books out, those of you who read this newsletter who have used RAFI’s farm advocate services and had their farm saved from foreclosure, you need to donate.  Those of you who want good, clean and fair food have to send money.  RAFI has helped you and made for a better world, now you need to help them continue that work.

Betsy and I have worked with them for nearly 20 years and continue to be amazed at what they do; I am honored to be on their Board, donating time and expertise and even with a small farmers income we are sustaining donors.  Be prepared, when you see us next, to talk about RAFI and why you need to become a sustaining donor or at least give $50 to start.

Picture of the Week

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Perfect Sugar Snap Peas, sweet and glistening with dew.

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #31, 11/6/15

What’s been going on!

One of those crazy busy weeks with many meetings and trying to get a pile of things done before heading out of town next week.  The three days of board meetings for the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) fortunately landed during the extremely wet days (another 3.2 inches of rain).  Extremely inspiring and critical work being done by their staff, I would love to talk with those of you who are able, about becoming an individual donor to their work.

Betsy had a Farm to Fork picnic committee meeting, yes the planning goes on year round to make it a great event.  This weekend is the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Conference in Durham so I am putting the finishing touches on my workshop presentation.

The last of the pepper trellis is coming down and Betsy got the anemones planted and mulched and we pulled one of the little tunnels over them now that they have been well watered in.  With all of the rain, the cover crops look awesome.  The best early growth in years!

We had a great visit yesterday from the folks from Jamaica who I worked with last year on the Jamaica Farm Sustainable Enterprise Project.  In country for a few weeks to both see more organic farms of all sizes and to make connections for supplies, expertise and funding.  They will be talking about the project at the CFSA conference on Saturday.

Picture of the Week

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Nkrumah Green and Nicola Shirley-Phillips in front of the tunnel they helped us slide over the anemones

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #29, 10/23/14

What’s been going on!

Cover crops seeded!  Not up but everything is done and waiting on rain, unfortunately none in the forecast for maybe several weeks now, just as I feared, oh well, it will happen and we will enjoy the amazing weather in the meantime.

It has been a really busy week.  Betsy just back last night from the Association of Specialty Cut Flowers (ASCFG) annual meeting in Delaware where she saw lots of old friends, learned a few new things and oversaw the successful benefit auction to raise money for cut flower research.  Last week was also the culmination of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) 20th anniversary with three separate events and a board meeting, it is sometimes hard to believe that it has been 20 years already.  Sunday was the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) Crop Hop to raise money for their very important Farm Sustainability work which, amongst other things, has helped save hundreds of family farms from going out of business.

Last night I was on a panel with Amy Tornquist of Watts Grocery and Jared Cates of CFSA for the first of the Triangle Land Conservancy’s Wild Ideas speaker series.  We all shared thoughts on not only where the local food movement is in this area and some ideas of what needs to be done to help increase the availability and access to locally produced food.  A good discussion with about 70 folks.  Fortunately the calendar is clear for the next several weeks, whew!

Picture of the Week

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Two acres of soil and beds ready for 2015, just waiting for the rain

 

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #26, 9/26/14

What’s been going on!

The first week of fall certainly wasn’t messing around, almost straight to early November weather instead of the beautiful 70’s and 50’s originally forecast.  Good days to be inside working on other projects.  At least today looks dry to get all the peppers picked and Saturday looks marvelous.

The season is beginning to pick up with meetings and events for many of the organizations that we work with.  Farm to Fork 2015 picnic planning is well underway with an exciting plan to expand it to an entire weekend with multiple events that folks can pick and choose from, more on this as we fill in more of the details.  Many events around the 20th anniversary of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) that we serve on the Advisory Board for.  The same weekend is RAFI’s Crop Hop a fun time and they raise money for their farm sustainability programs.

We were talking the other day about all the groups we work with and that the three we will do just about anything asked of us are the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, RAFI and CEFS.  They constitute the entire range of issues that are most important to us.  Of course the market is our main source of income but is also a leader in how local markets should be run.  RAFI fills a middle niche working on policy issues that affect us both in the state and nationally.  CEFS rounds it out by actually doing the hard science and field scale experiments of sustainable agriculture as well as much work in local food systems.

The Carrboro Market’s fall harvest dinner was last night and it went off beautifully with a sold out house, fed by 20 area chefs we raised nearly $7000 to go towards market site physical improvements.  The exciting new announcement was the kickoff of the Market Perennial program.  Like the WUNC Sustainer program it allows people to donate a set amount every month to help support the ever expanding market programing.  Check in at the market’s website where there soon will be a link for you to sign up so that you can be Perennials along with us!

Picture of the Week

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A gray day but these crazy celosia brighten up anything

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #25, 9/19/14

What’s been going on!

Farm Aid was a whirlwind but with a quick nap after a shower to wash off pepper roasting debris I was able to make it all the way through Neil Young’s set before making the hour drive back to the farm.  Many of the groups that we work with had information booths with good traffic and exposure, North Carolina’s sustainable ag organizations represented well.

One of the highlights, that I missed because we were at market, was the news conference that always kicks off the concert.  Our good friend Scott Marlow of RAFI was so impassioned that Neil Young got up and gave him a hug, not sure if he will wash that shirt or not.  Also during the news conference they ran a short video with me talking about farmers markets and community on the big screen, kind of a small Carrboro market add and check out that pepper field!  They also took me back stage to do a short interview on Sirius XM radio but for those of you into music it was during Jack White’s set where I was able to stand just off the side and watch up close.

Speaking of peppers tomorrow is the Carrboro Farmers’ Markets The People’s Peppers event with tastings of dishes prepared by Sheri Castle, a pepper cookbook and more.  We will of course have the roaster going non-stop all morning.

Pictures of the Week

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Jack White in front of twenty thousand fans

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Only at Farm Aid would you have a collard field as the back drop

 

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #24, 9/12/14

What’s been going on!

So we survived the wedding and all the associated responsibilities, the flowers looked great and everyone had a good time albeit much short on sleep.  This week the extra-curricular activities roll on.  Farm Aid is in Raleigh this week and our friends at Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) had a large hand in getting it here and are major players in the week’s events.  Being on the RAFI board in turn means that we have some extra things going on too.

Farm Aid is more than just the concert on Saturday.  There are farm tours, workshops, dinners and gatherings of all types.  Much of what the Farm Aid organization is about is working with groups to help change farm policy and the food system to be better and more fair to farmers.  Yesterday was an interesting day with a room full of activists, many of them both in the farm community but also in the civil rights communities.  Besides some very impressive people and dynamic speakers the gist of the day was how do we take the lessons learned about organizing for social change from the civil rights movement and apply them to the food and farming movement.  Much to think about.

Today there are multiple farm tours which we will not be participating in, have to get ready for market, and tomorrow is the concert itself.  We will be going after market to take it all in, both the music but all of the attached booths and activities, I am sure I will spend some time in the RAFI booth talking with folks.  On top of it all my brother Jon and his wife are arriving today on their way to the beach.  Always great to have them here, I am sure another weekend short on sleep, oh well there is always winter.

Picture of the Week

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Beautiful Yukina Savoy tucked in next to Zinnias and Plume Celosia

 

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #10, 5/16/14

What’s been going on!

Well that was quite a bit of rain, 4.5 inches!  We actually needed a good rain, maybe not that much but because we have somehow missed all of the big rains in the last month and have been pumping lots of water it was good to get, might be a bit muddy harvesting for market today.  Cool the next few days, blackberry winter for sure and then probably right into summer conditions for the duration.  Must be time to plant peppers.

Running behind this week after my two day Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) board meeting.  There are a lot of good sustainable agriculture organizations across the country doing great work in all areas of farming to make the lives of farmers and agriculture in general better and we have worked with a number of them over the years.  RAFI is one of the keystone organizations in the movement and has been working on the issues of fairness and farm sustainability since the 1930’s, tracing their roots back to the National Sharecroppers Fund.

Few organizations have the history or the experience to do the work that RAFI does both in North Carolina and around the world.  It is one of those groups that you probably have never heard about because they work either far out in front of emerging issues or quietly in the halls of the USDA, UN-FAO or the North Carolina General Assembly.  Their headquarters are right here in Pittsboro!

This small group has had far reaching impacts on fairness in contracts for farmers, literally writing the legislation for the National Organic Program and other farm bill provisions, saving hundreds of family farms from foreclosure, issues of rural poverty and hunger, preserving the rights of farmers to save seed and develop new varieties, farm worker’s rights and more.  The work is so important that anyone who eats should donate to RAFI.  Betsy and I have worked with them for nearly 20 years and continue to be amazed at what they do; I am honored to be the current Board President.

Picture of the Week

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All washed clean by the rain, beautiful spinach, baby fennel and other spring greens

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 10 #25, 8/1/13

What’s been going on!

5:38 this morning the phone rings, jolting us out of the last stages of sleep.  I say “just pick it up and then hang up” as Betsy reaches for the phone “No wait!  It might be the Post Office calling to tell us the turkeys are here!”.  Indeed the case and we are off and running, Betsy driving to Graham to pick up the box filled with little chirpers and me across the field to finish up the brooder preparations.  By 7:00 they are all installed, eating, drinking and running around.

You may remember this newsletter from June when I was debating if we would raise turkeys this year and the specific hurdles to doing so.  Well those hurdles have mostly been cleared.  The feed plant problems have been solved, the availability of poults later than normal worked out and a processing date has been secured the week before Thanksgiving allowing us to have fresh birds and avoid the freezer plant issues.  One more time around the block.

A fun event coming up a week from today The Crop Hop at the Barn in Fearrington Village is a fundraiser for the Farm Sustainability Programs at the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI).  Live music, square dancing if you are so inclined, microbrews and some deserts all for just $10-20.  We will be there as I am on the Board of RAFI, one of the oldest and most important of all the sustainable agriculture organizations in the country.  They do great work in many areas of agriculture but this night we will be focusing on the work they do to help save family farms from going out of business.  Come on out for an enjoyable evening and support sustainable farms.

Once again we have made it through July and it is time for our annual August break so no newsletter for the next two weeks.  After market this Saturday, Betsy and I will be laying low for two weeks, taking short road trips, going out to eat and just taking it easy.  The exciting party (really) is we are going to focus on moving into the new workshop, building a work bench, putting up shelves, sorting and organizing all the tools and supplies that are strewn across five buildings; Betsy has been waiting for this for years!  Jennie and Liz will be working next week and expect to see them at market, maybe both Wednesday and Saturday.  They will both then have a week off and we will not be at Market at all on the 17th.  When we come back it will be full pepper season and roasting should begin on the 24th.

Picture of the Week

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This little turkey is saying “here we go again”

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