Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tropical Storm Blues

After 3 days of rain, the sun is shining again.Our soil amazes us. I was determined to rescue my tomatoes today before they split and spoiled; I thought for sure I would be sinking in the muck, but I could actually walk out there without sinking, and this is after 6 inches of rain! We made 28 quarts of juice today which makes a total of 50 quarts.
The 600 plants ( broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower) are doing well. Good thing we planted them deeply. We were able to find onion sets. We have been searching all over for them so were grateful to find them.
The beans are exploding with blooms and little peas and green beans. The honey dew are crawling off the plastic, okra is blooming and setting well, and we had some delicious yellow zucchini for lunch.
Lettuce is under shade cloth and has sprouted very well. Next week will be in the low 80's so we will be able to remove the cloth. Good thing we had that on during all the rain.
Ron and Seth started on our chicken tractors. We have 12 Rhode Island Reds coming in October. They will be about 18 weeks old then. We found a local guy who is breeding RIR, and Buff Orphingtons.
We are getting geared up for the Fall Market. Ordering labels for the lettuce, bags, tables , and making more signs.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


We are regrouping, starting school, planting and planning. Mercifully, we have had 2 beautiful rains. Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower will love it. Honeydews are spreading rapidly as are the squash and cukes. Okra is finally coming on, brown crowders and green beans are blooming. We are still about 2 weeks out from harvesting. Mixed lettuce will be ready then, too, and then back to the farmer's market. We found 2 more markets in Crossville. One is attached to the new food buying club we joined so we can kill 2 birds with 1 stone- ( as awful as that sounds).
Hopefully they will come to dig our pond soon. We just made it this season by the seat of our pants. Rains came just in time. Ron found a good place to buy drip line and greenhouse supplies in McMinville. We also found a man in Pall Mall- Wolf Valley Growers who will grow our plants for us (organically). We bought our broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower from him. They were lush and green and we popped them in the ground this morning, and then it rained again. Great timing.
Ron made the hoops for our low tunnels. He bought conduit and a hoop bender from Johnnys Seeds for about $79. We will start to use these in September. Try to purchase that from the manufacuturer. We are going to buy the Salad Spinner that Johnnys carries; however, we will purchase it from the manufacturer for 1/2 price. Sorry Johnny's - They have great seeds but some of the extras are a little pricey.

We are getting our website,, ready for purchasing produce.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


The heat index was well over 100 degrees. I felt like wilted lettuce. Everything was moving slowly, lots of people had corn to sell. I didn't know how we could sell all that we had. Patra yells across to the other vendors, "Are we crazy or what?" There's a heat advisory out, what are we doing here?" I was too hot and too tired to answer.
There must have been 1/2 a dozen people ask me if the corn had been sprayed with conventional sprays. Organic standards saved the day. We sold every ear of corn, cantaloupes and watermelons. My 13-year-old said, "This organic thing is big." Yeah it is big. People are tired of being subjected to poisonous sprays and tasteless food. Viva naturally and locally grown food.
Yesterday at the market the heat index was 109. I sold all the corn again and people were asking for me, the melon lady. Those sangria watermelons were incredible. We won't raise anything else again except maybe for some sugar babies. The ambrosia cantaloupes were all that their name implies. They could look soft and over the hill and be absolutely delicious. Lots of chicken manure and a handful of kelp in each plant hole.
Excited about the gourmet food varieties for this fall. will have available produce and what is available for this fall.
Also had a lady inquire about CSAs for this fall/winter. She was very excited about moving out to the country. When I mentioned that Ron helps people to pick country properties, build energy efficient homes, and help them to utilize the property's natural resources ( springs, trees, fields, etc.), he grabbed my hand and shook it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tips For A Successful Farmers Market

To have a profitable season at the Farmers Market, you must advertise. I sent a query to the Knoxville News Sentinel about a Farmers Market article. We don't want the Knoxville residents to forget about all the delicious locally grown food and baked goods. I suggested writing an article about the Market and the individual vendors. I am working on another article for Rural Heritage Magazine which will include the vendors and their websites.They are all so interesting and many characters among them. It would be good to put out articles every few weeks to stimulate new market customers. We will especially need to advertise during the fall/winter as patronage drops off after school starts again. Many of the growers and bakers want to extend their selling time in the winter so we are looking for an enclosed place in Knoxville and Oakridge. This too will have to be aggressively advertised.
Another place to advertise is on Craigslist or any other local online advertising. I will list what we have to sell and give a discount to anybody who comes thru the craigslist add. It has generated customers.
Brochures are another good idea. These should be distributed in neighborhoods and businesses. I will be distributing them in health food stores, Quilt shops, Wellness Centers, Fitness Centers, Food-Co-ops, Churches, Dental Offices, Pediatric Offices, etc. Knocking on doors and handing them to homeowners is a good idea, too.
As always make sure your stand is attractive and that you have a neat and clean appearance. Don't look like you just came out of the fields ( even though you did). Grubby looking farmers do not make the food appetizing.
An attractive 4 x6 or 2 x 6 banner with your farm name, phone number, and website is very important, too. These can be purchased for about $50-$60. Some folks wear t-shirts, polos or aprons with their farm name.
One piece of equipment you must have is a digital scale. You plug in the price per pound and it gives the weight and total. Customers can see all this info. on the other side.
Of course you must have produce or baked goods that look good. Baked goods should be packaged neatly with your logo and ingredients. Produce must look fresh and clean. Attractive containers with your farm name looks really professional.
Be friendly, even if you feel dead tired and be ready to answer questions. Recipes are helpful for different food items that people may be unfamiliar with.
Farmers Markets have great potential for success and you will find your CSA customers there, too. Have a brochure made up of the foods you will offer, price and for how long. Monthly payment terms can be included. If you stay focused and work hard, you can reach your financial goals and

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to make a Farmers Market Work

Yesterday I went to the Farmer's Market in Oakridge, TN. As always it was hot and sticky and I was ringing wet by the time I set up, but it was still fun. As always I am impressed with the ingenuity and hard work ethics of the people who sell at the Market. Many of them are quite wealthy but you would not know it because they are so down to earth. One 16 year old girl sells produce to support her horse show habit. She shows Walking horses and racking horses.I talked to a lady and her daughter yesterday who are selling several varities of heirloom tomatoes. I think they have a good niche and seemed to do pretty well. The baked goods always seem to do well, too.
Displays are very important. I have learned a lot from the other vendors. Each stand is very attractive. Piling the watermelons and cantaloupe in front of the table attracted the people. Wicker baskets displaying colorful produce always looks good. I have a huge wicker basket= 4 ft. tall to display my corn.
Ron has been planting lettuce, carrots, squash and radishes. We have to be careful to keep the soil cooled down so that they germinate properly. It will be tricky this time of the year but we will try. The honey dew melons are ready to be transplanted.
I canned 21 quart of tomatoes and used the Turkey Frier to can in. I can put 14 quarts in the pot at one shot. Really speeds up the canning process.
We will query the different vendors tomorrow to see how many would like to continue selling thru the winter. We will have a great variety of fall produce: Various lettuces, carrots, radishes, bok choi, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, etc. Also offering artisan breads, goat milk soap, maple syrup, jams, gluten-free breads, and hopefully this spring we will have bedding plants and heirloom seeds.
We visited Paul Wiediger on Tuesday. He has a great book, Walking to Spring, about High Tunnel Winter gardening.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yellow root , the Spring, and Jumping Boys

Up early and ready to pick purple hull peas today and then off to the farmers market . While we were cleaning the spring out we found we had a huge amount of yellow root which from what the sources indicate is the same as golden seal. We will make tinctures and salves with it. We want to get the spring ready for our own use soon.Ron and Seth probably scooped the mud out which was probably 18" thick. The spring hadn't been used in years.
Check out herbandplow for CSA news.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fall/Winter CSA and Summer pie recipe

Here is a great raw food frozen pie recipe: It is called Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie but you use carob instead of chocolate. make a crust with 1/2 c. raw walnuts ,1 c dates and 1/2 c coconut- blend without water or use 3 T water) in blender until powdery and a little sticky- press into pie pan. Place almond butter in pie shell.
In food processor or blender add: 2 large avocadoes or 3 small ones; 1.3 c. carob powder; 1 c. pure maple syrup (or agave syrup, honey or dates.)
Blend until creamy, If you want darker chocolate taste, add more carob. If you wnat it sweeter, add more maple syrup, agave, or honey. Pour mix on top of the almond butter. If desire, crumble 2 T of crust on top of pie for garnish. Place in freezer overnight. Do not use in glass pie pan. Glass gets too cold and makes it difficult to remove the pie.
Fall/Winter seedlings are started: cabbage, broc, leeks, cauliflower, celery,melons. We drove over to Smiths Grove to visit with Paul Wideger who wrote the book on High Tunnel Gardening. He was very generous with his time and answered a lot of questions that we had. He does a lot of mesculin lettuce, radishes, carrots, turnips, leafy greens, tomatoes and strawberries. Tomatoes and strawberries are ready a full month ahead of everybody else. This is done with no heat. He does have an inflation fan in the high tunnel so that is one source of electricity. We will plant some lettuce and spinach- keep the ground cooled by keeping it wet and planting in the evening. Paul sprouts his spinach before he plants it. We will try that. So much to do.
Off to the farmers market tomorrow. More melons and purple hulls to sell then we will have a break. We are trying to get more organized so that there are few breaks during the season. We are also trying to extend the farmers market for the winter. Will have to network with other vendors to see the possibilities.
For our CSA we are networking with others to provide artisan bread, jams, maple syrup, goats milk soap, possibly honey along with our produce.



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