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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ah, yes..................................

.......a hot summer day and a pile of burlap bags

This May Not Look Like A Beautiful Thing... first glance. BUT...after being kept out of the garden by the rains for so, so long, we managed yesterday evening to plant the second round of corn. That is quite an accomplishment, given the recent circumstances. Here is our work banked against the existing corn , and here is an inside view of what I think anyone would say is, indeed, a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Things are drying out (finally)

...and it looks like we'll get several no-rain days in a row (please please). I was out in the garden this morning, and although I neglected to take a picture, I would like to report that the eggplants have indeed rallied, and will be fine. I am very surprised, but grateful. They withstood two bouts of heavy rains, one of 9 inches, and then one of 3 inches. They can be added to the list of 'vegetable that won't let you down' along with the tomatoes and peppers (but that's kind of cheating, because the tomatoes and peppers are all on built-up rows banked with hay).
The black cat (Mousy Tongue) followed me out this morning and was trying to get to the catnip, but never made it over there. It is near the Martin house, and on his way, although he crouched flat on the ground, he was bombarded by not ONLY martins, but cardinals and mockingbirds too! They all took turns dive-bombing him and they had him trapped there against the ground!. When he finally did escape, he made it back to a garden bench and remained there, thoroughly admonished.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

how much rain...well, just suck it in!

I took pictures this morning when I was in the garden. good thing. because things were looking up. But that was then and this is now (as they say). the last picture of that ditch? I could take a picture tonight and it would look the same. But best not to worry about all that. Because there's nothing you can do. We are trying so hard over here. We have customers calling us, emailing us, asking us what is ready? when can they get this and that? There is nothing left to say. We cannot get ahead of the rain. But we'll move forward. Because that's all we can do. In the meantime, here's a couple of shots of the garden this morning, before this latest spate of depressing rain:So you see; it's not that we don't have anything in the garden...its' that we have to haul these things from day to day and week to week because the rain will just not stop. This corn was only fertilized yesterday evening by Will, by cannot be hilled because now it is too tall for that. The rain has not let us get in there with the tractor.
And now:
I would like to extend a memoriam to the eggplants. This is sad. They were just about killed by the nine inches of rain last week. But they made a valiant effort to survive and MOST were coming back nicely. After today, however, I would lay money on them just giving up. They were, I must say, some of the most beautiful eggplants we have ever had and I bow to their efforts to somehow pull through.
I know this is somewhat depressing; but we will just walk forward. That is all you can do. We had no hail, no tornadoes; things could definitely be worse, right?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

How Much Rain... too much rain?
I don't know - maybe 8 inches? I'm not brave enough to go out and look at the garden. and it's not over yet. We had a slab poured next to the barn yesterday...and Will ran home from work so we could cover it with plastic before all this started. I'm operating under the assumption that the plants in the garden will weather this (no pun intended); but this much rain always reminds us of the 'Remnants of Allison" back whenever that was..2000 or so. A hurricane / tropical mess of a situation that lingered long enough to give us more than 20 inches of rain. I don't remember how much exactly, but I remember having to pull hundreds (literally hundreds) of mature tomato and pepper plants loaded with fruit out of the field because the had drowned and died from the rain (!) so you can understand why it makes us nervous.

I'll just stay inside, maybe make some bread....and try not to worry about it because you sure can't DO anything about it. and, in the end, I think it's better than a drought...we've had that too.

At least there's no work outside today...after hauling bales of hay and bags of leaves to mulch the new herb beds I needed a break anyway. And thanks to a new friend / customer...we prepared three new beds on Tuesday. Had she not offered to help, those beds wouldn't be out there for maybe another two weeks(!) p.s. she helped tie up the fencing in the garden and then planted the cucumbers too! And we've had offers of help from others as well...and we plan to take them up on it...all I did was ask. Don't know why I never asked before. There are a lot of generous people out there!

By the way, here's the driveway...

Monday, May 12, 2008

R.I.P. Sweetie

Truly a good dog...rescued by a friend many years ago on Swamp Road (she had been dumped). Barked only at things in the sky (planes, birds). Life-long friend of the Dude dog. They went on late night / early morning jaunts way down the road. This morning, she only made it back to the front fence. Then she just laid down and gave it up. Ah, well.

Friday, May 09, 2008

trudging along..trying to make hay

Here come the martins...home for the evening...It's been a testy Spring.
Rain, rain....too wet to till or plow...or anything else
and the plants in the flats by the greenhouse multiply.
Ive been nursing so many things that are TRYING to hold on until they can be set in the ground...very frustrating.
But life goes on. We'll see what we can do this weekend. In the meantime, here is a picture or two; no, you can't have the new bees story or the clover pics - because Will has promised to tell you all about that.

ok. that. Now for the 'you just can't keep a good plant down' MANY things will be with us till the end of time. It matters not whether we want these things....we planted them and they'll be here and too bad. We even try to discourage some things but forget it. Last year it was the zillions of evening primrose plants everywhere. I mean Everywhere. This year it's the stupid loofas (sorry loofas, but I mean REALLY). Do i dig up hunks of them and try to move them? what? I mean, they'll be plowed under in any case. But it is admirable, you have to admit. The fence is gone and the ground has been tilled at least once, but here they are.
And then there is the Lemon Grass. Seemed like an exotic idea at the time...It's on the fence-line, and it grows really tall in a big clump. Then it dies and makes a huge bush of dead stalks. Then Will tries to get rid of it. Burning only burns the fence - we've figured that one out.
what now? who knows..I'd like to keep it but it's all gnarly; dead stalks, new growth and I must admit to you, there's a big poison ivy problem in there...

Then we have accidental happiness in the form of things that just spring up and it makes you smile ; and we try to let them do their thing and go to seed so it will happen again next year.
Several years ago we planted a row of coreopsis. This is a wildflower...I first saw them in Hattiesburg Mississippi and they would grow in all the ditches. Just beautiful. Then we saw some seed at the Texas Wildflower Farm and we bought that...of course, what with the good soil etc., we wound p with this crazy hedge of giant coreopsis and it would try to fall over so like a couple of idiots we got out there and tied them up...tied the whole row up! It was silly, looking back. But it sure was beautiful. And so now, every year, they spring up on the outskirts of the garden and we let them be.And, in the herb beds (which we are in the process of tearing up and re-planting but for a couple of things), the ox-eyed daisies which were NEVER supposed to grow down here but they do.
And..lest we forget...the sunflowers. We grow rows of then in the field every year. So of course in the spring they just jump up all over the place. I think it's nice that (apparently) Will has gone around these few volunteers.Oh, wait - one more thing: we'll be setting out cucumbers in this row tomorrow, but I just might leave this guy alone: ha. a potato plant. why not?

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.

In Summary

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 Perkins

Port Hudson Organics CSA