Friday, September 28, 2007
you know...usually, August comes and the grass on the side of the road turns brown..the trees are turning from green to brown, Things just look tired, that's all. They've grown and now they're ready to give it up for fall and then for winter.
Not this year. Things are unusually green for fall. Beautiful, but very, very green.
We've had lots of rain, which is also unusual this time of year...its kept us out of the field for the past couple of weeks. Well, not completely out, but less tilling etc. than we'd like. Things are looking up for the fall vegetables, although the pumpkins are marginal. Hints of viruses and disease brought on by too much wet....we'll have to wait and see. Same with the winter squash. Again, we'll have to see. Will has been yanking a plant or two out of the ground every couple of days. When one plant has a virus, you have to remove it, or it will infect the other plants. That's just the way it is...a little dry weather would go a long way at this point.
Here we have the 'cats on a fence' phenomena...And here, we have the first very beautiful Acorn Squash.
SO; tonight's embarrassingly fabulous menu: FRIED chicken. FRIED Sweet Potato Chips; FRIED slices of Acorn Squash. Yes. A truly Southern dinner. Everything FRIED!!!!
I think we are feeling the effects of many weeks with no sugar of any kind and no processed carbs. (!) The sweet potato chips were the highlight, I must say. There is a company down here named 'ZAPPS'. It's a chips thing. They make all manner of wonderful potato chips spiced with things we love: cajun stuff and vinegar and like that. Up until a year ago, you could always get ZAPPS Sweet Potato Chips. But they don't make them anymore. And we really wanted them. So we made our own. Better than ZAPPS. And there's a whole field of sweet potatoes out there. yea.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Two tons of chicken manure from Mississippi + one very old FarmAll tractor plowing it under.
and you get: really pretty dirt. You must admit, that is a glorious color...
and here is picture #2:
In the 'yes, we have bananas' category. How cool. I still don't understand why the flower is not open, yet the fruit has set. Obviously, I know nothing about bananas. (!) In this part of the country, lots of people have banana plants (or trees) and they freeze back every year. And not many folks we know have ever actually HAD bananas. But Will has been taking care of this plant, cutting back the frozen stalks and wrapping the trunk, for a couple of years now. I read that once a stalk produces, it will not produce again, Only the new growth will produce. We were both surprised to look up and see this. It is a first for us. We only planted this for decorative purposes, not to actually GET any bananas! surprise!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
just goes to show
you can't take your eyes off the tropics for a minute this time of year.
We're crossing our fingers about the rainfall.
the garden can only take so much, and we remember the heartbreaking 'remnants of Allison' back in late June of whatever year that was...more than 23 inches of rain here in three days. 350 tomato and pepper plants, loaded with fruit...drowned. dead as the proverbial doornail. It was very sad. We won't get that much, but we stand to get more than we want on the garden. Can't do anything about it...we'll just have to wait and see.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
we have, at the moment:
Sweet Potato mayhem: 500 little plants that have done well and will be harvested relatively soon.
Keep in mind that, as a customer, you should probably get a crate of them and keep them to 'cure' into the winter.Fall tomatoes and peppers are in the field and coming along. It will be a while yet, but know they are doing well. We'll let you know....
The 'Winter Squash' are doing quite well, and setting fruit. These are Acorn and Butternut squashes. They don't come in as quickly as summer squash, but store very well.Summer squash (yellow, zucchini), and cucumbers are up in the flat. Even though they aren't yet in the field, they'll produce in a big hurry once they're set out.
And then there are the pumpkins...pie pumpkins and jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Lots of blooms but no fruit set as of yet. I haven't talked to Will about this, but I think the nights are not cool enough yet...not to worry...there will be pumpkins. For those of you who have little ones who want to pick a pumpkin for Halloween, I don't think it will be a problem, but here we are at this moment:
You can see the buds and the spent bloom...
For those of you who groove on the beginnings of the garden, you can see things are on their way. We will be planting rows of beans (red, green, yellow) this week. And lettuces and spinach of course. Any questions? firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask them here.
In the meantime, we have honey from the hives available, and if you want a 'first fishing experience' for the kids, weekend pond fishing is available. Let us know if you want details about that!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
So..Will and I have been trying to catch catfish out of the pond. Last weekend we thought we'd just haul in a few and have them in the fridge for the week. Well...come to find out, our catfish are WAY smarter than that. I'm here to tell you that last Sunday, they actually HID from us...and this is true.
Every night, we feed them. They come up by the dozens and swarm on the surface of the pond, gobbling up all the food. The perch don't even stand a chance. We have to haul off and sling fish food way out for the perch. Well. once the catfish figured out we were actually FISHING for them, they didn't come to the dock at all. They were nowhere. We were puzzled. I even caught Will out in the night with a flashlight on the other side of the pond, kind of looking around in the water. It was very curious.
So, this evening we gave it another go. He left the fountain on, I think for cover. And when I got out there, he was being very quiet and fishing really deep off the end of the dock. I joined in, not having much hope. He caught a really big catfish. I was impressed, and hopeful. We were sitting there staring at our corks, and he was telling me...'you know, with catfish, you have to be patient" ok, patience. I can do that. Then he says..."look. see? (and he's getting a bite) "just let him take it. let him pull it way under." Hey! another one! And he pulls it to the surface. But. Uh.
It's not a catfish. It's the ugliest nastiest snapping turtle you've ever seen! I mean, EEwww!
He was hooked pretty good. Will kind of drags him over to the bank. 'I need a shovel" he says. A shovel? By the time I get to the barn and back, I won't even get a picture~! wait!. So I run in to get the camera. And the closest implement at hand is a big hoe. So I brought him that. But the turtle is in a vile mood by now, snapping and whatnot. And he breaks free of the hook and sinks under the dock. So there you have it. He's down there. Somewhere. I figure there's 1000 fish in that pond, so he's eatin' pretty well. Oh, and p.s.///after the first catfish was caught, the rest of them disappeared. Will had to wait until after a rainstorm and threw out a big load of fish food. Then he had them all confused and caught two more. But there are 200 of them in that pond. And it seems like all 200 come to dinner every evening. So we'll have to come up with a fairly clever strategy about this.
About Our CSA
We are entering the sixth season of our CSA (Community Support Agriculture). What began as an experiment for the creative marketing of our produce has developed into a fulfilling experience for us and our members, one that we so look forward to each year. What you will find below is an explanation of how we operate the CSA, the cost, length of season, expected commitment, etc. We ask that you read it carefully before responding. We have dedicated members that stay on year after year, but for a number of folks, it is challenging to come out every Saturday for nine weeks running and to have time to participate. For those who love the quality of the vegetables, herbs, and flowers – and who like the experience of planting, harvesting, and interacting with others who have the same likes, it is a very rewarding experience. Please read on…
What is Community Supported Agriculture? (CSA)
Community supported agriculture is a movement that got its start in this country in the mid-1980’s, driven by a desire by neighborhood groups to re-connect with local growers and producers. The CSA movement is enjoying increasing popularity and availability with each passing year. The goal of CSA is to involve the vegetable-eating-public more intimately with “their” farm. Why do I use “their” in that description? Because in CSA, members buy a share of the farm which, in effect, provides them an ownership stake in the vegetables produced. In that respect, the farmer and consumer become partners. There are many benefits from this relationship to the farmer and consumer alike. For the farmer, it provides a guarantee of sales so he can plant to supply his contract. It also minimizes the time required to market the produce, freeing him up for what he does best, which is…farm. For the consumer, it guarantees a steady supply of farm fresh produce for a fixed price, encouraging healthy eating, and promoting a sense of participation and community around the farm that has been long lost in the age of industrial agriculture. For both the farmer and consumer, it promotes a bond based on trust and mutual interest. For those interested in information on CSA and farms that have set up these systems, the web has worlds of information available with a simple word search.
Why did Port Hudson Organics decided to become Port Hudson CSA?
For most of you who have spent any time visiting our farm and talking with us, you are aware that Thais and I both work full time, maintaining our little farm, bee hives, yard, and other farm-related activities in our “spare” time. This means that virtually every waking hour that we are not at work you would find us in the field or manning the produce tent (or carport). As we expanded our farm-related enterprises to areas such as biodiesel, berries and bee hives, the farm demands finally exceeded our available time. So in 2009, in order to continue our farm sustainability effort and reduce our time commitment (primarily the time spent selling), we tried a concept that is becoming increasingly popular across the country in the “Eat fresh, Eat local” movement, that is, the CSA farm. In the spring of 2009, we enrolled (what ended up to be) 25 CSA member families, and were blown-away by the success of the venture. Member enthusiasm, assistance, and clear appreciation for the unsurpassed quality of our produce resulted in an excellent experience for everyone involved. Since then, we have expanded our enrollment to approximately 40 member families, which is a comfortable carrying capacity of our one acre garden. At this point in our lives, with regular jobs and other commitments, we have no plans to expand further.
What kind of vegetables are grown and how are they distributed?
We grow a wide variety of Spring and Summer vegetables (generally about 20 different varieties). At any time during the season, you can expect around 12-15 different offerings, and 6-8 culinary herbs. We also grow cut flowers, usually zinnias and sunflowers. Each week members will receive a selection list by email. Members then make 7 selections of vegetables and 2 selections of herbs from the list. Members can check off their first and second preferences and we will make every effort to supply the members with their selected items. In cases where we are short on a particular item, say, yellow squash, we will substitute another available vegetable (for example, zucchini) from member’s second choice selection if at all possible. Members are free to make notes on their list if there is a particular vegetable they do not want (for example, zucchini) and we will try to honor their request. The amounts (pounds or numbers) of vegetables or herbs per selection were based on an approximation of equal value based on the prices we have charged for these items in the past. And as last year’s members know, the amounts of produce on the list are the minimum amount you will receive. Often, when there is a surplus beyond what has been selected, we will throw in some “lagniappe”. Members should note that there are a couple of exceptions on the selection list: a bouquet of flowers, when available, counts as two selections from the herb list; similarly, watermelon, when available, counts as two selections from the vegetable list. Each week, a basket with all of your produce and herbs will be made up with your list attached. Blank lists will be available for you to fill out for the following week, as the mix of produce and herbs change with the weather.
Can I select more than one of a particular item?
Yes, if you want 6 pounds of tomatoes one week, you can simply put the number “3” next to the selection “2 lbs. tomatoes” on your sheet and pick four other vegetable selections to make a total of seven selections. If we have enough tomatoes to satisfy your request, we will provide that amount. If we are short, we will attempt to at least provide you with one selection of tomatoes and make up the rest of your basket with other choices. We will let members know each week which vegetables we expect to have in abundance. For example, due to space considerations, we have limited plantings of corn and each planting is generally available for only one Saturday, so we will be encouraging members to select as much corn as they can from the list on the weeks that corn becomes available (we try to send out weekly emails on the state of the farm). Of course, members will also be given preference for the purchase of additional vegetables if, for example, you want to freeze a bushel of corn when it comes in and there is surplus available.
How will the CSA Baskets be distributed?
Members choose to come to the farm either Friday evening or Saturday morning each week during the season. Once you arrive, you can choose from a variety of garden activities in progress and lend a hand. This can range from planting and/or picking vegetables; washing, weighing, and bundling produce; cutting and arranging flowers; cutting and separating herbs to order; helping to pack baskets with weekly selections; sitting under a tree with other members and stripping beans off of plants. Occasionally there is a bigger project at hand, such as erecting the cucumber fence or helping to mulch rows with hay. There will be weeks when you are not able to help due to your schedule, but we find that most of our members help out almost every week. The process takes about an hour, and when you leave you bring your weekly basket with you. Many find this outdoor activity in the garden a respite from their work week in an office!
Members are asked to pick up their CSA baskets each Saturday by 10:00 AM. This is probably the biggest commitment you will make as part of the CSA. We understand that it may be difficult to come every Saturday for 9 weeks, but there are a couple of strategies you can employ to make this easier. (1) you can buddy-up with one or more members in your area and go on alternate Saturdays, each delivering or holding the other’s basket for pick up at their house; (2) you can send a family member or close friend; or (3) you can come Friday afternoon to help with the harvest and bring your basket home with you then (we had a lot of members take this option, as we do a lot of harvesting on Friday in advance of the Saturday bedlam).
What if you have a crop failure or natural disaster?
A CSA is a partnership between the farmer and the consumer, and within this partnership is an understanding of shared risk. That said, we do not expect members to bear the full cost of a catastrophic failure, nor have we ever experienced a completely failed season. Should the worst happen, members will be reimbursed a portion of their investment and we will do all in our power to make it right with members through a combination of refunds and discounts on following seasons.
What time commitment is asked as part of the CSA?
CSAs, by definition, include member support. Each week, literally hundreds of pounds of produce must be harvested, hundreds of bunches of herbs must be clipped and tied, and dozens of flower bouquets must be picked. Without member support, this is logistically impossible for part time farmers. Hence, we ask members to commit to help in some fashion (picking, sorting, filling orders, etc) according to their abilities every other weekend or so (we are not rigid on this). We have found that members enjoy becoming involved in the process. Learning about how food is grown and harvested is an uplifting and educational experience. After all, that is why we do it. And it is an integral part of CSA farms across the country. We are assuming that you found us because you appreciate this connection, and we hope that you can find the small amount of time to required to experience that connection.
What is the cost?
Cost of the CSA membership is $350. This covers 9 weeks of farm fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers of your choice. This comes out to about $38 per week, probably more than you would pay at the grocery store for conventionally-grown produce, but less than you would pay for organic produce at Whole Foods. The quality of the produce, however, cannot be approached by any supermarket, and the experience is priceless. Also, membership in the CSA includes a pint of our farm honey when it becomes available.
So that about covers it. If you want to experience first hand the pleasures of seeing, smelling, picking and eating truly wholesome food, please respond quickly to this email. We would appreciate some information on you and your family, and why you want to join the CSA. We will let you know within a few days, and will ask for payment at that time. We ask that you understand that we have about twice as many families on the waiting list as we have openings. However, if you do not make in into the CSA this year, we will give you first shot at joining next year if you are still interested.
Thank you so much for your interest in our little farm. We hope to see you this spring.
Will & Thais PerkinsPort Hudson Organics CSA