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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Week 6 and the Big Countdown

It's Week 6 of the CSA, and the garden is trying so hard to wrap things up for the season...we've been harvesting and pulling up plants and Will has been tilling and plowing; this has gone on for several weeks now, since our Great Beanapalooza two weeks ago. We try to shoot for a 9-week season, but sometimes the garden says 'excuse me, but I think it will be 8'. As always, we are winding down to the last couple of weeks and there will be melons and eggplants and cucumbers and hot peppers- the great hangers-on of a late summer garden. The squash will linger a while (particularly since we planted more of them along the way!) and there are field peas that have yet to bloom - and it's looking like that event will be a post-CSA one. The loofas are still in a flat - the very very last flat to be dealt with - and we'll build a fence behind the barn and set them out. The herb beds look like they will hold out and stay beautiful long past the the one hand, I love to work out there and enjoy the rows and rows of herbs - but still, so much never gets harvested and thats a shame in a way. That's a problem for another day.

In the meantime, we work all week and work and visit with our CSA members Friday nights and Saturday mornings and everyone seems quite happy with their experience (and their weekly haul). Some have been bringing eggs to sell or to just give us (lucky us)

...but everyone is showing the wear and tear of the season - all are tired. More later....the great weekly cleanup is underway while we try to put things to rights - the tablecloths are in the dryer, the carport has been hosed off...and of course Will is out there weed-eating because he just can't help himself...after lunch it is most definitely nap time.
...for some.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Turtles?...What Turtles?

Every time I cook down the dinged tomatoes to make a sauce, I always throw the scraps in the pond - long ago we saw a turtle eat one (or maybe two) and so it's for the turtles - right? wrong!
I threw the bowl of icky tomato parts into the pond and then I thought - I'll just wait and I stood there...and there were clouds of disturbed mud from the bottom and I thought 'man, that must be Big Boy' (the turtle caught several times and always escapes and once bit Will o the leg and now Will has a scar).
Well - I'll be....GALOOSH!...It's a giant catfish! He ate a whole tomato - one gulp!...So I ran back in to get the camera...I sat and watched this phenomenon for a few minutes - no way was I quick enough to actually get a picture of a fish eating a tomato. But there you have it. Case closed.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

CSA Friends...

..and a few minutes of fun

Friday, June 15, 2012

Coons in the Corn...

HA! They outsmarted us this time!
No raccoons in thefirst planting of corn - not a one. Well, there was one in the'd walk out at night and there he'd be, up on a table eating the catfood...and he's just look at you like..."What!?"
But none in the corn. And here comes the second crop...pollinated and lookin good...and Will walks out, man...And we didn't have any sardines so he set the trap with shrimp - did get a possum but no raccoon. Sardines at the moment and we shall see...we're thinking everyone is going to have to have corn just a bit early...just a few days early - I don't know. In the meantime, here is our farm update from Wednesday....

CSA Farm Update and 5th Week Selection Sheets

It is with palpable relief that we bid adieu to cornucopia and bean-o-geddon last week.  We hope everyone got their beans shelled and consumed or frozen before they spoiled or grew into new plants.  One large bowl of shelled horticulture beans, which were beginning to sprout as we shelled them, had uniformly sprouted overnight in the cooler before we processed them the following day.  I joking told Thais that we should plant them and received a stern look.  Sprouted beans are supposed to be good for you and make no difference in the final product, so in the freezer they went.

In other news, our near-perfect garden run was dealt a setback when I discovered yesterday that we had been hit by the masked bandits.  The little guys faked me out this year when they left the first batch of corn completely alone and, when I dropped my guard, snuck into the new corn to do significant damage.  Usually they don’t hit the corn until the ears are full, but I am sure that they get together and strategize on how to keep me off balance.  I’m thinking we should organize a vigilante group, perhaps with shifts of CSA members in the corn all night with torches and pitchforks.  Sign-up sheets will be in the carport.

Farm Update:

In contrast to Baton Rouge, we have had perfect rains; a half-inch last Thursday and (just when it looked like we would be watering again) another 0.6 inches Tuesday.  The remaining plants in the field are in full gear.  You will find an abundance of the following items.

TomatoesSlicer and Roma varieties
Bell Peppers
Yellow Squash
Peppers – Bell, Jalapenos, Chilies, and Shishito
Green Onions adding green onions to the list this week– these are real nice
Radish – No promises on the level of heat.  These got lost in the bean shuffle, but there are a lot out there to be picked.

In somewhat less abundance, we have Red and Yellow Beets

We are also adding Potatoes to the list this week (thanks to all the help from the pickers).  If selected, you will receive red potatoes this week and white potatoes next week, etc.

We know everyone wants garlic, but it needs another week to dry sufficiently to divide easily into “toes”.  It also needs to mellow out a little.  It will be on the list next week and through the end of the season.

Herbs – You will see a complete compliment of herbs this week.  Only dill and cilantro are in somewhat short supply.

Flowers – They are in such abundance that you can substitute flowers for one selection of either vegetables or herbs (instead of two) – just adjust your selection sheet accordingly.  But bring jars.  We do not have enough jars to accommodate all of the flower requests.  This round we have zinnias, and sunflowers from the back of the field.

Again, thanks to everyone for your participation and help.  Remember to bring back your baskets and jars and to come early (between 6:30 AM and 8:30 AM) on Saturday or late (between 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM) on Friday to help out and receive your basket.

Will and Thais Perkins
Port Hudson Organics CSA

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

oh yes...

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans

Monday, June 11, 2012

So many many vegetables

I'm not sure we have ever had this productive a garden - or this much luck with rain...not that we've had enough, but that we didn't have too much. I think Baton Rouge had 8 inches or more last week - we had 1/2 an inch. Lucky lucky us. Because of the threat, we had an 'all hands on deck' call last week and every single evening members showed up to help pull in the first planting of corn, all of the shell beans (red and horticulture) and the potatoes. oh yes...and the weekend before, all of the garlic! Any of these would have been ruined by a big rain and all of them came ready at the same time. Needless to say, our members stepped up to the plate and helped all of this happen - but it made for The. Longest. Week. Of. Farming. Ever. Not any time to add to this blog in the meantime, but I've manages to collect some pictures along the way: people and garden. So I'll just throw them out there for you to peruse!

...and now we still have 19 weighed bags of horticulture beans in the cooler...but our members (once again) are 'doing what needs to be done' - I see a flurry of emails about Baton Rouge Bean Delivery being formulated. Amazing. Go CSA Members!
And now, the beans and first corn and garlic and potatoes are all out of the looks a bit blank, but actually it's nice for it not to be a jungle! You can walk between the flower rows and get to the tomatoes to pick them (and the cucumbers and the peppers and the eggplants). And the garden still looks healthy and productive.

and of course now we have QUITE the compost pile!
We spent Sunday making pickles and shelling beans and of course cooking...what a great season it's been so far.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

My But That Is Tasty!

...a young man and his garlic flower!

Friday, June 01, 2012

Rain: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

we really needed rain in the worst way - and had flooded the field with the pond, trying to give the corn and beans enough water as they ripen, and trying to keep everything else from withering in the heat...but the garden was in good shape, and had reached and was surpassing that 'Disney' moment, when everything is orderly and all is beautiful...and right after the pumping of the pond was finished, of course we get a whopper of a storm yesterday...
Like everything else about gardening, there are many ways to look at this; there are trees and beds and many things (including the pond) that needed this rain. But a big rain can be brutal.

The sun will pull all of this skyward - to a point. Let's be honest - everything's a mess! But, you can also say that now we are released from the pressure of maintaining the absolutely perfect-looking garden! And Will thinks maybe he can stand the corn back up - not the crop that was full of ears and almost ready...and we'll be able to harvest that in a few days; but maybe the second planting...we shall see. I cut the glads and just refuse to look at the herbs that are flat...they'll straighten out to a degree. messy messy messy. But this morning was surprisingly cool and nice, and I cut all of the herbs we'll need for the Friday evening crew. Don't know how we're going to get out there and pick this evening. Lots of things are already harvested for the week. But the peppers (all kinds) and eggplant and even the yellow beans...we'll figure it out.

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