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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We Have Officially Moved On...

..It is now time for the late-season vegetables to make their appearance...
The garden is not as pretty - actually the garden looks kind of terrible(!) but only if you take a wide view...corn and beans uprooted and mowed down...peppers kind of fallen over from a storm or two: but up close, there is as much beauty as before...
The garlic is just about cured...enough to use anyway. although still a little sharp

The basil REALLY needs to be trimmed, but to do the job correctly would give you a garbage can full of basil, and that's too much to fool with all at one time. I had to fight the bees for this, even: It's the time of year when you have baskets and wheelbarrows and boxes and bins of vegetables kind of everywhere...not to mention all over the kitchen(!)
tonight's menu:
stewed okra and tomatoes
purple hull peas
fried green tomatoes
icebox melon
Didn't get around to pictures of the eggplants and peppers this morning: purple hull peas was the goal - enough for dinner. Calling on our CSA members to come on over and pick before the rains come. T.S.Alex should give us plenty of rain - it will mess up the garden, but the garden is halfway messed up already - and it will put water back into the pond, which is a good thing...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It Did Rain

...and I have proof: this is for Will, cooped up in his office today. We haven't had rain in many weeks, and then only a little. So, Will, this is for you.

Oh Wait!!

This one has thunder!

The Transitional Garden

It's so easy in the spring to take pictures of the developing that show order and beauty and all that is (at least for a little while) 'under control'. Before the weeds, before the drought, before the maturaton of anything planted for this season. I'm always amazed at the rapidity of here we are, third week of June. Here are some 'then and now' scenes: Sunflowers: first they look up - then they hang their heads...heads of sunflower seeds will be on our CSA list this week for our families... (The sunflowers are beautiful in both stages)
First there was corn: ...and now there's not!
(takes a little getting used to, all this change)
First there was garlic, and in their place we now have field peas Once, you could walk through the flowers, and now you certainly can NOT!
This is just a taste of what's happening out in the garden - some things are just now coming into their own in the heat (eggplants, peppers...)
it's a transfomation - a little sad, but life is change, right?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bird and Cat

...It's that time of the year

the baby mockingbirds are hatching out

and the parents are all about terrorizing the cats!

look closely...that cat can't even figure out where the bird is....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hard Work and Fun on a Saturday Morning

...but lets begin with Friday, shall we? We all know we will remember this year as the Amazing June Heat year - let us not think about August, ok? On Friday evening, csa members began to show up around 6 to help pull red beans off of the plants...a LOT of people showed up! This picture does not show the entire group, which expanded as time went on - and when we ran out of plants, we had to truck on out there and pull more - because Will was busy back there in the potatoes. It was beYOND hot. No breeze stirring; just sitting there in a chair, and sweat pouring off of you..and nobody complained. Beans were pulled and piled into carts, then boxes...ready for the Saturday baskets.
We had an amazing number of members come out to lend a hand on Saturday morning...much work to be done. Digging of the potatoes, picking up, hauling, sorting; a truly grimy task!
There was the second round of sweet corn...some people just like to pull the corn...when it was all said and done, we (for once) had extra corn - AND - it's not exactly 'all said and done' - there's still corn out there!
Then there was 'the weighing of the beans'...accomplished by the boys - who do love scales...3 lb bags...ready to go
Always - I ask the first two women who show up to be the flower-gatherers. Although it is truly beautiful out there in the zinnias, one must cut and trim each and every bouquet, then get it back to the packing area and put into a mason jar of water - this makes for many trips...and it is getting hotter by the minute...but the results - oh my.

And then there are the kids - the ones too young to work really enjoy meeting each other and playing all morning...I mean, how cute is this?.This morning (monday), I picked (or cut, rather) the cucumbers...beginnings of week 4 ...

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Life Of Garlic

These pictures begin last November, when garlic must be set into the ground. I want you to know that any CSA members you see working in these pictures were here to help long after the 09 season was over, and long before this season began. We just put out the call, and they showed up...amazing bunch of people, I tell you.
Here is the ground prepared for planting:
Then, we have the buckets of garlic 'toes', bought from the Glasers in New Roads (who sell at the BR Farmer's Market), and our csa friends setting out each one on these three 75-ft rows:

last, (but certainly not least- because it's a tough job) is the laying of hay over all of it, so the garlic can sprout and stay bedded down and weed-free until late spring
The garlic blooms about the time the strawberries play out (late May or so), and is beautiful, if a little strange looking to some:

And, as a grand finale, one of the dads from our csa families stayed and worked with Will to pull all of it, stack it in the barn for drying, and weed the rows, getting them ready for another planting (field peas).

I think this is beautiful, don't you?

And there you have it - start to finish. It takes many months, but such is the life of some things that must be over-wintered. And it's the only way to get fresh garlic (!)

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Daniel - Future Beekeeper!

well, it was time to rob the beehives, and Daniel (from one of our CSA member families) had decided he wanted to get in there and help (!) Mom (Barbara) was SO supportive!...looked around for a smaller bee suit to the end, Will thought that a couple of shirts and some boots and an extra hood and gloves he had - well, they could make do. First of all, you won't catch me within 100 feet of the beehives. I love bees, but hundreds of thousands of bees?...
So here we are with the suiting up of Daniel: Mom makes sure there's LOTS of duct tape around that hood!Then we have the gloves (which came up to Daniel's shoulders, but that was a good thing...)

And finally, after every potential place where a bee could crawl in and sting Daniel was covered and taped (!), he's ready to go: And he went up the road to meet up with Will and the truck.
He helped move the boxes around, check in on the bees, and remove 4 boxes filled with honey to bring back to the house. Will was glad to have Daniel around for the honey-getting, and it's always cool when a young person shows such interest in the workings of the farm. Thanks, Daniel, for your help!
Although I don't have pictures of the actual honey-spinning operation, Daniel and his family were there, as was another member family.
..A picture of some of the results of our beekeepers' efforts...from this Saturday's CSA acticities:

Thursday, June 03, 2010

I Don't Know What's Going On Around Here...

...But THIS guy was on the carport when I went out to do some clean-up. The fun never ends. This frog is HUGE!

OK: a little perspective is in order, I believe.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Aaaccck! - I'ts Walter the Wedding Snake!

I am petrified of snakes
and I know that's rediculous - because some are ok
but what's this guy doing up in this rosebush anyway?
I must say, I do appreciate him letting me know he's here...we call him Walter the Wedding Snake because last year, right before our son's wedding, this snake (or one very much like him) was stalking the bride-to-be as she helped prepare the flower beds.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

'Would you Mind Picking The Cucumbers?'

' problem!...sure!'
True, everything in the garden is beautiful in the early morning. Last Thursday, I picked 68 cucumbers...plenty enough for our CSA members for Saturday. Of course, not everyone chose cucumbers, so there are still some lurking in a bin in the outside cooler.
Even so, no vegetable waits for man; you either go out there and take care of business, or you have giant useless cucumbers, and vines that are putting too much energy into perpetuating giant useless cucumbers. All I can say is...when picking anything...there's kind of a rule. Don't look down toward the end of the row!
It's WAY too daunting! Just keep to the chore at hand and eventually you'll get to the end. We have this plastic netting pulled along this fence. It has tiny little squares. I have 2 distinct cucumber-picking problems. (1) those pesky cukes who chose to grow THROUGH the netting - so half is on one side and half on the other - and the only way to get them out is to cut a hole in the fence. Then, of course, you have this weird cucumber cinched in the middle...but it has to come out (see giant useless cucumber statement above). (2) I only pick on one side of the fence, because on the other side are 10-foot tall sunflowers and there's not enough room in there for a person. Well, if you squeeze in there you could do it I guess, but as we all know, the underside of cucumber AND sunflower leaves are sticky and will scrape you! SO; my little snips, although pointed, cannot reach those growing on the backside of the fence. Again, I have to actually cut a square of fencing out to get through and cut the darn thing. Man, I sound like a whiner...but that's not it. I'm just giving you the lowdown on picking massive numbers of cucumbers. You do have to be pretty careful. As with other vegetables that continue to produce throughout the season, you don't want to damage the plants, so you have to work slowly and show some respect for the vines....
Now on to the new garden cart. Yes, we love it - it's big and black and rolls nicely and is light. I pulled it up one of the old strawberry rows as I picked. I thought I'd avoid the 'dragging of the 5-gallon bucket.' This was a good idea, conceptually. Toward the end of the row, I was wondering how on earth i was going to pull that cart with all those cucumbers in it out of the garden and on to the house. I want to say this about that: I don't care how cool your new garden cart is. NOTHING is light and easy to pull when you've got maybe 80 lbs of ANYTHING in it. I'm glad nobody else was here. I got that thing to the carport, but it was one baby step at a time! Oh, and P.S. guess what's in everybody's basket this Saturday?

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