Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flowers on the farm?

In mid-March, I listened in on the Small Farm Summit.

It was 4 days of presentations all about sustainable, small farm business.  There were 4 presentations each day and they were recorded so that if you could not listen to them live, you could listen to them later.  The best part...it was free!
Flowers I picked from our yard this morning

This morning, I listened to a presentation about Production Flower Farming.  I have to admit that I was going to skip it but since I was just hanging out in the kitchen, making pancakes and washing dishes, I clicked on it and listened.  I am so glad I did!

First, a little background, when I went to college, my first major was Horticulture because I love flowers.  Then, after 1 semester, I switched to Agronomy.  At the time, it seemed that there were more job opportunities in Agronomy so that is why I switched.  Of course, I still love flowers, especially, sunflowers (more background - I grew up in Kansas and there are wild sunflowers everywhere - so pretty!)

The presenter was from Full Belly Farm.  They also grow vegetables and have animals.  However, their organic flowers are one of the best cash crops on the farm!  She said that sunflowers are the most popular and make up a third of their flower sales.  She said that if you were to grow one flower, try to grow sunflowers.  I have seriously considered doing this for our farm (this is one reason I wanted sunflowers pictured in the logo).  She also said that peonies and snapdragons are popular.  I like the idea of growing peonies and snapdragons because they are perennial.  Lots to think about...

I first saw the idea of growing sunflowers as a cash crop at Juniper Hills Farm.  This farm also gave me the idea to have ReMARKable Farms...
Here is some information from their website:  

Juniper Hill Farms is a model of independent living for adults on the autism spectrum.

We are not a group home. We are not a 'facility'. We are just friends renting in the community, like everyone else. We live on a small farm in southeastern Pennsylvania with lots of animals.... and fields of sunflowers in the summer.
Three of us rent a small three bedroom rancher, and we have support people who come several times a week to help us out with our farm chores as well as everyday things that come up. In another house on the same lane live three more of us, and we have support people that come in most days as well. In this second house, we also have someone who lives with us.... to make sure we are safe overnight, to make sure things happen that need to, and to help everyone get along.
That person is the author of this blog... because really, none of us wants to write or talk about autism much... we just want to live our lives.

Garden Update:

This past week, we had some small hail and it got cool...low 30's.  I covered my lettuces and they did fine.  My spinach has finally started to germinate but it is not as "thick" as the lettuce.  I planted the lettuce too thick so I went out to thin it a bit and tried to transplant some to a new patch right beside the original seeding.  So, if things work out, I will have twice as much lettuce as I probably need...

The garlic has just exploded!  Lots of nice big green stems.  Kinda hard to see in this pic...

 Finding a local farm update:

I called Deep Roots Farm to see if they had any eggs.  They said the chickens are just starting to lay and that they would have some ready for the Farmer's Market which starts the first Saturday in May.   So, it looks like I will have to wait for my farm fresh eggs.

I called Omache Farm to get the pastured pork.  I sent in a $100 deposit and they said that when they were ready to take the pigs in for processing in a couple of weeks, they will contact me with the cut sheet.  Excited to get my order placed!

This past week, I went to visit my friend at Meadowlark Heritage Farm.  They have dairy goats and make soap from the milk.  They had babies born about a week ago.  We got to let the babies out for some exercise.  They are very lively...

 You can click on this picture and go to their website.  
See all the different types of soap they have for sale!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Find a local farm

Okay, I want to support my local farmer until the time when we are the local farmer!  So, I have made 2 goals toward this: 1) find a place to purchase farm, fresh eggs and 2) purchase half a hog to put into the freezer.

To find a local farmer, I went to a website called Local Harvest.  Click on the picture to go there now and find a local farm near you.

I put in my zip code to do a search.  The second farm listed, Deep Roots, said that they had eggs so I sent them an email.

I already know the farm that I am going to get my half hog from.  It is pastured pork.  I printed off the pastured pork brochure.  It stated to email them if you want to reserve a half hog...so I did!

I sent emails to both of these local farms last Thursday (as I am writing this, it is Sunday).  I did not hear back from either place.  I know farmers are busy but this was a little discouraging.  I will make phone calls this week and see if that will be more effective.

Garden update:

My seedlings are doing great and I transplanted some yesterday to new little pots:

I think that I mentioned that I planted lettuce and spinach into the soil outside in the garden.  I knew this would be a gamble when I did it.  However, the lettuce has germinated!  It was supposed to get a little cool last night so I covered the bed.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Starting seedlings

I am going to start our farm blog.  I am not sure how often I will blog, maybe once a week.  I purchased this book called Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook by Ron Kujawski and Jennifer Kujawski.  It is nice because you can personalize it based on your last frost free date.  I used May 23rd for my frost free date in north Idaho.  However, you have to realize that this is just an average and I have seen in snow here in June. So, always be ready to cover crops when the temperatures get low at night.

Once you have your last frost free date, you put that in the book and then you start counting weeks before and after that date.  It tells you different things to do each week before and after the average date of last frost.  For example, March 14 is 10 weeks before average date of last frost and the book suggests that this is a good time to start cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage seeds indoors for transplants.  It also reminds you to tune up your power equipment.  My vegetable gardening areas are 2 raised beds that are 4X8 feet in size.  So, I don't have any power equipment. 

We have had a crazy warm winter here.  So, last week, I decided that I would try to plant some leaf lettuce and spinach OUTDOORS.  I have a cover ready in case it gets too cold.  My book suggests you can plan the outdoors beginning 9 weeks before average date of last frost.  So, this is a bit early to be planting things outside, but again, things are unseasonably mild this year.  I had covered my garden beds with dry leaves last fall.  I was hoping the worms would pull down the leaves and mix them in over the winter...I guess this was wishful thinking because I just had a bunch of dry leaves on the top of my beds.  So, I just used a shovel to turn over the soil and incorporate the leaves a bit.  Then, raked it smooth so I had a nice area to plant the lettuce and spinach.  I will let you know if I get good germination...

Last fall, before I put the leaves on one of my beds, I planted A LOT of garlic.  
See all those green things?  It's all garlic coming up through the leaves!!!

 Here are the seedlings I have started.  I like to go to the Dollar Store and buy the covered cake pans and use these are miniature greenhouses to get things going.  I take my plants outside each day and bring them in at night.
Look at these tiny, baby kale!  Aren't they adorable!  I think they look like 4 leaf clovers!  
May the luck of the Irish be with you this week!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Dream

Mark and I want to have a small farm that is open to the public.  We will have pastured eggs in the spring (and hopefully, all year), you-pick berries in the summer, a pumpkin patch in the fall, and a Christmas tree farm in the winter.  I am wanting to document our journey.  We are collecting lots of information right now...hopefully, will be looking for land and a home next year (2016).