Thursday, July 28, 2011

This is more pixie dust and "once upon a time" going on in our field than you might imagine.

Our brave little tomatoes are eeking out their first flush of cherry red orbs despite the fact that they have been desperate for water...

We crooned over them and furrowed our brows in apology as we discarded many tomatoes that simply couldn't make it, and rotted from the bottom through lack of moisture. "Never mind never mind!" Our long suffering vines chirrupped. "We shall rally for another round!" And so they are...perhaps in a wild attempt to grace our tables alongside the fresh slicer cucumbers.

It is sheer lunacy farming vegetables without a water source. If the land were ours, and not just for rent, we'd have sunk a well a long time ago...but as is, we have traded a neighbor vegetables for gracious use of her spigot every other evening. It is not enough...but it is something.
We will hand water what needs it.

It seemed the stuff of fairy tales when we brought in our first tomato harvest ahead of schedule, here for the last week in July.

And pumpkins fit for Cinderella's coach are already ripening on the vines...

Whenever it rains I find myself heading for the kitchen to take advantage of the temporary cool and indulge in homemade soup and brownies...Our "retired" laying hens make the tastiest of broths when boiled with a little oregano, basil, a cut up zucchini, onion, garlic, and bay leaf. And this rainstorm was reason to celebrate indeed with a chicken in the pot...with freshly made buttered biscuits we feasted in honor of the gift of this good rain, sitting outside breathing in the newly damp air.

The natural world has been at times the dragon we battle to free the imprisoned princess, and the princess herself...and every week the field gives birth to generous bounty. We throw our labor into it, to meet our members' needs and our own...and we are greeted with harvest after harvest of joy.

Week 9 Share:

romanian peppers,chili, jalepeno


european market cabbage

bell peppers

summer squash

cherry and 4th of July tomatoes

red onions

Bac Choi

French Breakfast Radishes

English Slicing Cucumbers

Pickling Cucumbers

weekly newsletter

flowers available from Petal Patch Farms

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wild Raspberry Muffins

Bramble Muffins

*1 stick unsalted butter at room temp.

*2 C all-purpose flour

*1, 1/2 tsp baking powder

*1/2 tsp salt

*2 C fresh black raspberries

*1 C sugar

*2 Large Free-Range eggs

*2 tsp vanilla

*1/2 C milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper cups. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Toss raspberries with 2 tsp of the flour mixture.

Beat butter and sugar on medium/high for 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.

Add reserved flour mixture, and beat until combine. Then add milk. Don't overmix.

Spoon into muffin tin and bak for 30 minutes. Picnic Time!

Of Popes and Gypsies

The world is filled with many teachers, and riddled with many rabbit trails of knowledge.

Accurate knowledge of nature, the environment, and surefire admonitions about sustainable agriculture often come from the most unexpected my great enthusiasm these sources of knowledge often confound our prejudices and egg us on to better ways of living despite old habits...

Juliette de Bairacly Levi, renowned herbalist and author, often said "We all learn from each other...and the main purpose of a garden is to have the garden as teacher and friend."

Her own path to knowledge of plants and animals was quite an uncommon one. She grew up in a wealthy family and eventually went to study veterinary medicine at the Universities of Manchester and Liverpool. Time and again she would notice the wandering gypsies and their animals, and note the evident blooming health of them as compared to the animals that were being treated by those at the finally one day she just walked away from University and went to live amongst the gypsies to study herbs and the healing of animals and humans alike from them. Many of the cures she speaks of in her books have saved our bacon on the farm plenty of times. We brought back a dairy goat who for all the world looked like she was hankering on making out her will through the desperate feeding of mint tea, honey, and sage leaves, a shock restorative after sunstroke. It was from her writings on rosemary that we learned the best way to cure stomach aches in our little ones: simple sit them down in a bath infused with drops of rosemary oil.

Many liberals and conservatives alike may be surprised to learn that Pope Benedict has proven himself a passionate and informed champion of sustainable agriculture. He is a modern day gypsy, an unconventional path to accurate knowledge and wisdom concerning nature. The people who ignore him on everything else will most likely be inspired and edified by his comments on the need for small farms, and social justice. Likewise many people who adhere to everything else he says on faith and morals may indeed become uncomfortable with what he says about climate change and selfish materialism. I am finding that in farming there is no east or west- no right wing or left wing. The earth has a funny way of coming right uncomfortably down the middle...and such a solid stance challenges the rest of us.
On July 1st, in a recent address to the participants of the 37th World Conference on Hunger Pope Benedict XVI


"Poverty, underdevelopment, and hence hunger are often the result of egoistic behavior, that coming from man's heart, is manifested in social actions, in economic exchanges, in market conditions, in the lack of access to food, and ins translated into the negation of the primary right of all persons to nourish themselves, and therefore to be free from hunger.

Nourishment is a factor which touches on the fundamental right to life....How can we remain silent before the fact that food has become an object of speculation and is tied to the movements of financial markets, which lacking clear rules and moral principles seem fixated on the single objective of profit?

...Initiatives must be supported to rediscover the value of the family-run farm and to support its central function to obtain stable food security...

...The objective of Food Security is a genuinely human need. To guarantee it for the present generations and to those that follow also means to preserve the natural resources from frenetic exploitation, because the race of consumption and waste seems to ignore all considerations of the genetic patrimony and biological diversities, so important for agricultural activities."

In response to the current economic crises, during a November 2010 address the Pope called for a strategic relaunching of agriculture as a solution to the trouble caused bu the industrial model and called for responsible consumption and personal responsibility with regards to the environment as well as a return to rural activities, social and agricultural. He called for a reevaluation of agriculture not for nostalgia's sake, but "as an indispensable resource for the future."

In his message on the occasion of the world day of peace, 2010, the Pope chose as his theme:

"If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation" The entire address is worth quoting, but as that would make this post the size of a small book we'll settle for a few snippets:

Here the pope is as passionate as a member of the Green Party,

"Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes, and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights such as the right to life, food , health, and development."

The Clarion Call:

"Technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption, and improving its efficiency."

"There is a need, in effect, to move beyond a purely consumerist mentality in order to promote forms of agricultural and industrial production capable of respecting creation and satisfying the primary needs of all."

Similar to the Native American proverb: "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children," Pope Benedict called for a "solidarity which embraces time and space". Meaning our love for future generations will guide our treatment of the earth's natural resources now...we must be thinking of each other, and those to come before we purchase that second car, sign up for chemical lawn service, and ignore the farm stand in favor of the box store. Not bad for a man who is supposed to be infallible only on faith and morals.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Week 7

This week's lineup:
Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale
Red Romaine
Last of the Peas

European Market Cabbage
Mitzuna (Asian Green)
"Candy" onions
Genovese Basil

Romanian (Med-hot) peppers

Green Bell Pepper

Carl Gohs' Zucchini Bread
* 3 Free-Range eggs

*2 C sugar

*1 C veggie oil

*2 C grated raw zucchini

*3 tsp vanilla

*3 C all-purpose flour

*1 tsp salt

*1 tsp baking soda

*1/4 tsp baking powder

*3 tsop ground cinnamon

*1 C coursely chopped walnuts

1.) Beat eggs till light and foamy. Add sugar, oil, zucchini, vanilla. Mix lightly.

2.)Combine dry ingredients. Add to egg/zucchini mixture. Stir. Add nuts.

3.) Pour into 2 greased 9x5x3 loaf pans.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Cool on rack.

Shares still available! $25 per week.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Small Verse

"When you take your dearest (aged) buff orpingtons...

and turn them into (frozen) soup chickens

you do not serve meat for dinner."


A lot has been said about the current median age of the average American farmer.

We're all supposed to be shaking in our boots 'cause its somewhere around 60 years old.

The future of farming, it is often said, rests with the young. A conservative statement at best. A dull one at least.

Sometimes I wonder about the inherent antagonism that exists between generations...especially on a farm, where a man's identity is literally spelled out in windrows, fencelines, and fields. Lately it has struck me that there must always be some kind of gritty friction, high expectation, and hard won camaraderie between the old and young farmer. Friction to sharpen the senses, different expectations in each....the older farmer expecting work ethic and lively wits in the young, and the beginning farmer expecting the tried and true proverbs of experience and some kind of leg up from the seasoned hand.

Haying time is pure magic. The old hay-farmer a magician. I suspect that the men and boys and women helping with the harvest become younger by years than they are as they spin dried grass and clover into cash. The heavy repeated actions of grabbing bales and stacking them high on the wagon as the baler plods on down the windrows is a kind grown-up re-enactment of Rumpelstiltskin. And everybody, sweaty, sticky, covered in scratchy bits of grass heaves to with a kind of unspoken understanding that this indeed is noble needed work.

Shane and Nathan help Cecil with his haying from time to time, in exchange for some bales for Winter feed on the farms. The more people I meet around here, the more I find that most everyone in the neighborhood has been out haying with Cecil...courting couples, awkward boys, and older men...Greenville's own version of the age old summer ritual.

When I listen to the men receiving the telephone call about haying at 2:00 I smile at the acceptance with which the appointed time is met...its as solid and simply done as Sunday church. There's no question of whether you're going to go. If the grass is ready, you just do.

Walking into the hayfield a few days ago
was like stepping into the 1950s. Plaid shirts, worn ball caps, and cold watermelon from Cecil's "Royal Crown Cola" cooler. The women stood around chatting as the men and boys would take turns leaping on to the two outgoing balers. Machines magical in their methodical maneuverings...spitting out perfectly packed and twined bales...I watched them with the fascination of a newborn. When they had finished one load they'd park it underneath the lone oak tree in the middle of the field. The sight of that simple act created such a desperation in me it choked me with surprise. I suddenly flamed up with this flailing desire to be a great painter, or sculptor, or poet, so that I could manage adequately to capture that unbearably beautiful, utterly ordinary scene which spoke so casual-eloquently the language of gratitude for the sturdy old oak and the first new cutting. In other words:

The visual poem for the

the 60 and 70 something farmer-magicians and the new cutting of farmers beneath their shade.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Citizen Farmers

I admit it.

At times I wonder why we moved here.

Like the time when a drunk driver ran a stop sign across the street and continued down the embankment to plow over our stock panel fence and leave skid marks 10 feet into our pasture.

"Oh yes," commented a neighbor "I've lived here for 5 years, and seems like every year somebody comes careening down one of these streets and does something stupid into one or the other of our yards."

I asked my girls if they saw the accident, since they were playing in the yard at the time.

"Yes" my 5 year old answered blandly "But they just didn't realize where they were going. Once they found out, they backed up and drove away the right way."

And there are those, fond of revving up the engines of their 2-ton pick-ups and laying on the gas to see if they can hit one or two of the stray hens that escape our enclosure. Not exactly neighborly.

In this close-knit community it sometimes it seems like everybody knows your business, has made their judgments about you, and keep a close watch on everything going on. Sometimes that can be a nuisance. No padding about the house in your underoos for an early morning read, or a midnight snack. No loud marital disputes, or bathrooming behind a bush.

But I can't count the number of times when this farm was succored in many ways by random citizen farmers pulling in the driveway, or pounding on the door at all hours, day and night, to tell us about sheep that have gotten loose, goats that are out, a cow that came untethered, and a chicken dead on the side of the road. Sometimes they'll be downstairs in the dark banging on the door to let us know in sugared tones and raspy voices that our icelandics are on the road...

"sorry to wake you honey, but I saw your sheep out on Harlow, and honey, I didn't want anything to happen them...I live just down the road...and...."

Another time a gentleman did a U-turn, pulled into our driveway as we were harvesting veggies and asked "Is that your cow up there in that field? She didn't look so good. I think she might be thirsty, just thought I'd drop in and let you know..."

A CSA member, after roaming the farmstead came up to me asking:
"Do rabbits lay eggs? Cause there are a lot of them under the hutch!"

Many times I've been stopped on the road, "Is this your farm? Are those your goats? I can't tell you how much I love your place! I drive out of my way to pass by here on my way to town, just so I can watch the animals!"

Sometimes people watching you is a good thing. Sometimes they make you feel like there in this crazy adventure with you. Sometimes you can feel it quite keenly, like a thin strand of electric wire giving you a little jolt just when you need it...a zip and zing which cuts through all your mistrust and your misgivings, and your missed opportunities and sings: "Ain't no man an island! We got your back...Keep on keeping on....Reminds me of when I was growing up on a ....."

And these little things tie us together whether we were looking to be tied or not, and more than that, these pigs, and sheep, and chickens, and cows, and goats tie people up with their they haven't thought about in a while, not with all their bills to pay, their sitcoms to watch, vacations to take....

The Sheep seem to get in all sorts of trouble. Pastor Mark from the Baptist church up to road has been down before, letting us know that our flock goeth astray, and would we need any help bringing them back into the fold? Once my neighbor watched in disbelief as a lamb skittered about on the roof of the barn. We were up in the veggie field at the she sent her husband up to Tom and Candy's place where he ran into Farmer Shane and delivered the message...but by that time the lamb had jumped back down to solid ground, giving our neighbor an afternoon's worth of entertainment, and all of us something to introduce ourselves over.

One of my favorite recent chains of citizen farming started with the people who saw our sheep out, going berserk over the evenings fireworks, so they telephoned Mrs. Bailey who ran down in the dark to knock at our door and let us know. We all jumped into the truck for an adventure under a pyrotechnic sky, and the next morning Mrs. Bailey reappeared with a plate full of bars to console us in our time of sheep wrangling.

Just today I was out picking black raspberries with my daughters on the side of the road when a car slowed and a head appeared at the window. "Where's your cow?" she asked. We had just sold Daisy two days before. "I'll miss her! I always like to look at her sitting at the corner just chewing her cud..."
Sometimes we can't choose our neighbors anymore than the family we are born into. Sometimes they prove as aggravating and nosey as our mothers and fathers, sisters, and brothers. Then again, sometimes they prove as kind.

We're going to be reimbursed for the fence because a lady snatched the license plate number from the car that mowed into the T-posts, as she witnessed the accident. She gave it to the police, who sent Officer Wheeler to check up on us and let us know we can file a complaint.

Seems like there were two citizen farmers working for us that day. One who thought we needed a new fence. Another who made sure we'd get one.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pro-Rated Shares Available!

We are selling pro-rated shares: $375 for the 15 weeks remaining in the season!

to sign up by Tuesday evening and get in on this week's box.

After Tuesday evening shares will be $350 for 14 weeks.

Help support sustainable agriculture in your community! We need you!