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Sunday, October 27, 2013

ok. I dropped the ball, so to speak. An entire season comes and goes and almost nothing on this blog...and the season was over on the 4th of July....I can plead 'too busy' and that would be correct, but still, people like to know whats up with the garden, so really that's no excuse. Now it is late October. Will has manhandled the garden and managed to put in fall veggies - some will make it to the first frost and some will not, but its the effort that always.
The green and yellow beans are blooming, but not setting quickly. It's been hot-cold hot-cold so maybe they are confused. We hope to have beans. That, and the loofas (no chance but hey...)and the cucumbers (making a mighty good try and we've had a few) and the tomatoes (in the greenhouse so maybe we'll get some) are our effort to steal a little summer.
The fall vegetables, on the other, hand, should be fine. Here are our round bales - not what we wanted, but they'll have to do, because nobody makes square bales anymore(!)
..the rest of them are in the barn, but Will has been rolling some of them out...and they make a very fine mat for protection...

and all along the front of this herb bed, teeny-tiny cauliflowers and broccoli. We never really worry about what on earth we'll do with this much broccoli and cauliflower.
The herb beds, along with all of the rest of the 2013 garden, were hard to handle and never produced the way we wished they would. But fall came, and little volunteers began to poke their heads up and the herb beds turned into this fabulous array of craziness - very healthy craziness. We're enjoying it while we can -if we were home every day and had all the time in the world, there would be pesto and basil drying and all sorts of things...hope the frost holds off for a while longer...

In the meantime, would somebody please come over and help us get all the extra-giant catfish out of the pond?

Saturday, June 01, 2013

First Week

and we managed to pull it out...three weeks later than usual, but everyone was happy...
Chinese Cabbage, lots of lettuce, squash, red potatoes and herbs...not bad for a beginning
and, as usual, we had lots of help...

even Liam (who wants to be a 'gar-di-ner' but loves to play golf also) brought his watering can..last week, he forgot to bring it and was sad
here's to having survived a challenging planting season...
now we can have a nap. On this, our 39th anniversary...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

This season...

I've decided that avoidance is not a good tactic...I haven't been here since April, and there's a reason for that. First, before i go any further, let me say this: we have, bar none,  
The.Most.Awesome.CSA. Members. Ever. 
That has always been the case, but this season has been 'special', and their efforts have been even more meaningful than in the past. If that is possible.
The weather, all spring, has been difficult. And I'm being polite here. Torrential rains, evenly spaced, have meant planting and re-planting. The ground has been saturated, the soil packed down. Veggies do not like this...I heard Will saying this morning to someone...'plants cannot grow in mud' and that is the truth. But that is what we have been battling since March. Case in point:
This looks like a perfectly respectable corn patch. yes. Tasseling, setting ears, all the right stuff. However, if you were standing in front of it, you'd be laughing (to keep from crying). because the corn is probably 5 ft. tall. or short.Or whatever you want to call it. It's doin' it's thing, but it's tiny. For corn.And this has been the season so far, in a nutshell. Things are stunted. The cucumbers were set out maybe 5 weeks ago. maybe 6, i cannot remember. and there they sat. And did not grow. Because it rained and rained. Yes, they have now 'busted a move'. as we like to say, as has the squash, which behaved the same way for weeks.
I like to porch-sit in the evening and try to count our blessings in the garden. Let's see; The garlic will be good. the squash is finally 'making'. The field tomatoes are promising (but the hothouse tomatoes are trying so hard as the greenhouse gets flooded over and over). After replanting then finally plowing under the red beans, the field peas (replacement beans) look pretty good. We will have awesome flowers at some point.
But it's just been hard. That's all there is to it. And our members come out every week and they work and smile...we love them.
We have yet to start our CSA distribution for this season. That is amazing in itself. But we will begin next weekend, on the 1st, on our 39th wedding anniversary. We are DETERMINED to make a good season out of this, a year in which nature is NOT cooperating. But that is farming, right?
Here. A bright spot. beautiful lettuce.
Well. Everybody went home today with lots of squash and rosemary. I'll be glad to get this show on the road next weekend. And I am also glad I have a place to go and say what I have to say (that would be right here). Not all seasons will result in the 'Disneyland Effect' we have perhaps become to used to these past years. But there will be plenty of good food. Will explains that the curve of the season will just be different his time around. From the looks of things, the beginning has been slow, and the production will all happen in a cluster in the middle somewhere, about the end of June,. beginning of July. The shape of the garden will just be different this time around.
More later, but I had to start somewhere.....

Sunday, April 14, 2013

When Pigs Fly

So it's January and February and you look out at the garden and the winter wheat cover crop is really tall (with a bunch of daikon radish flowers sticking out of the top because the radish seed got mixed in somehow).  And you think....When Pigs Fly...that's when this is turning into a garden yet again. So my sister had gotten me this flying pig on a stick for Christmas, and although she seemed kind of embarrassed, I was tickled...because here we get that feeling all the time. The task is monumental - it seems not possible to turn a field into a garden wonderland. But you just do one thing at a time. Cut down the cover crop, plow up the dirt, plant your seedlings into flats...and on and on.
And then the CSA members start to come over to help...and three or four weekends later (with Will out there till dark after work all week too, mind you) can see it.

You can remember it. Watch out because it will sneak up on you - it does happen fast once the plants are all in. Well, right in the middle of this, my computer decided to quit 'recognizing' my device that reads my more later.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 1

...Getting ready for the Slow Food Tour tomorrow....pulling up winter veggies from the herb beds...washing and packing for people to have some goodness to bring home. In the back,  CSA members constructing the first cucumber fence - because, as we know, veggies don't wait - and the cucumbers are in the greenhouse in the background...anxious to be put into the ground.
You know, it is amazing what 12 people can do in a couple of hours! And we always are pleased to meet this year's new members - today, a couple of awesome families....a man and his daughters and grandsons - what a hard working crew! and Nhu and son and daughters - older sister watches younger sister and they are so sweet!
Today, Dinner in the Field after the Slow Food Tour. My goodness but we are very tired(!) The day was cool but there was sun...met lots of really nice folks many of whom want to be CSA members but, alas, we only have a couple of spots left...closed the gate at 1:00 p.m....then there was a lot of wind. Our tent went crawling and spiraling and punched holes in one of the greenhouses. no! but at least the tent wasn't very damaged. Then we went to Oakland Plantation for the dinner...good food - but cold cold night! Home and warm now.

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