In mid-November the 2022 CSA Season ended and while planning our family’s Thanksgiving Feast, life came rushing at me with an unexpected challenge.  Suffice it to say, I possess the latest viral antibodies as we begin the 2023 New Year!  Now thru February is when we turn our attention projects other than farming.  Thanks to Corvus Wood Company, we can walk on our decks and no longer fear falling through a rotting board.  I have nothing but praise for their craftsmanship and professionalism. If you are in the need of such services, I can happily give a recommendation!

With one home project successfully completed, our attention turns to rebuilding the second project which has been demolished and is currently a gaping hole!  What joys do wait?  I do realize many of you recently experienced water challenges.  We faced water issues as well.  Of course, we are not on a city water supply so it was necessary to call Reuben Caldwell Drilling.  Another company to whom I can offer a glowing recommendation for services rendered over the years.

Our Christmas tree is still up.  I am waiting for the wise men to appear!  The tree came from The Garden Spot on Hwy 74 in Fairview and is so fresh and beautiful that we have not the heart to remove it to our “wildlife sanctuary” before its time.  I have been playing with food recipes and Robert with seed catalogs in addition to cleaning out the ditches and working on the road now that the gardens are all in their winter state of slumber.

We are fortunate to reside in Western North Carolina where local food is in abundance. Granted that food may be coming from a freezer this time of the year, but we know where and how it was grown. The food one eats either fuels disease or fights disease. There is no middle ground. Eating a clean diet and living an active lifestyle are the most important elements to staying healthy. Science-based research is available on supporting the body systems through nutrition, supplementation, and detoxification. Your Body is a miraculous Temple! Treat it with the love and respect it deserves and it will serve you well for many decades. 

Robert and I look forward to growing vegetables for our CSA Member Family in the 2023 Harvest Season. We will do our part to plan, prepare, and plant to ensure success; however, I learned from my father that prayers for the success of the farm do work!  Please join us in our daily prayers for sunshine, appropriate amounts of rain and frost and heat at the proper times, minimal pest issues, cooperative wildlife, and an overall bountiful production in 2023 Harvest Season!

 Here’s wishing you a Healthy, Happy New Year! 

Bring Forth Food From The Earth

Robert and I believe that real food is created by God.  The Earth is a delicate balance of Nature; therefore, each creature (even those we call pests) is intertwined with one another.  On our small, family farm we do our best to work with nature using pest control management systems which do not include toxic chemicals but rather respect the purity of the Earth (and of our bodies).  Some growing seasons are better than others; some crops are better than others.  All in all, we feel the 2022 Harvest Season was a successful one.  We had a beautiful variety of luscious greens, the summer squashes bountiful, the green beans magnificent, the eggplant majestic, and the late tomatoes definitely worth the wait! 

Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbages before the rain . . .

Thinking back one CSA Member recalled the monster potatoes we were able to grow in 2021.  “The small ones are delicious, but what happened this year?” he asked.  I reminded him of the excessive rainfall we received in late May which stunted all of our crops going forward.  Still we are grateful we managed to fill our CSA Boxes each and every week.  And when apologizing to another CSA Member for the small potatoes this year, I was told, “Our family loved the small potatoes!  My husband is a runner and he would boil them in salt water and carry them in his pouch for a bite of instant energy when running!”  These are the attitudes which explain our success as CSA Farmers.  We are unable to be all things to all people, but seem to be good enough for most much of the time!  And this is why we continue to attempt to grow nutritious, local vegetables for our family and for those Souls who are our CSA Family.

The first seed catalogue arrived in early November and Robert immediately poured over its contents. The planning and preparation of our 2023 Harvest Season has begun just as the 2022 Harvest Season is ended.  “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the Earth” Psalm 104.

We trust everyone will have a Thanksgiving Holiday filled with love and favorite foods!  Let us pray for the Awakening of our Nation.  As always, we have so much for which to be grateful.  Blessings,

After the party . . . 2022 Gardens disassembled

Food Revolution

Three years ago I purchased digital access to The Food Revolution 90-minute documentary The Need to Grow.  It shows container gardening, how to build the soil, and talks about the importance of Local Food for all people. I will share the link with you here.  We think it is worth watching if you have never seen it. And please consider sharing with others. The following is the online description of this documentary:

The Need To GROW offers an intimate look into the hearts of activists and innovators in the food movement – an 8 year old girl challenges the ethics of a beloved organization – a renegade farmer struggles to keep his land as he revolutionizes resource efficient agriculture – and an accomplished visionary inventor faces catastrophe in the midst of developing a game-changing technology.

TNTG delivers alarming evidence on the importance of healthy soil – revealing not only the potential of localized food production working with nature, but our opportunity as individuals to help regenerate our planet’s dying soils and participate in the restoration of the Earth.

As members of our CSA, you are already participating in the Local Food ecosystem and being a part of the solution for a healthier planet while providing healthier food for your family. Enjoy the movie!

Our Spring Garden in its glory days early in the 2022 Season!

Definitely we will be providing CSA Boxes through the last day of October. We intend to go through the third week of November as well. For some members that will mean two boxes in November; for other members, there will only be one box in November. You see . . . we really like to have a full six months of farm income, at least! If you intend to discontinue CSA Boxes on Halloween, please let us know as it will affect our planning.

Future boxes will contain carrots, a variety of potatoes, and winter squashes along with the remainder of our tomatoes and peppers.

Leave Our Veggies Alone!!!

August is a hot month and Nature is unpredictable, but August came and went with the creek staying within its boundaries. Now we are well into September. We trust everyone is having a relaxing Labor Day Weekend. Of course, the gardens do not know about the concept of “holiday.” We are not complaining. We love being able to grow nutritious veggies for our community! From seed to final product is a miracle of life. The bell peppers and eggplant and green beans and patty pans have been glorious this season. Part of my joy comes from all of the wonderful comments I hear from our CSA Members about our vegetables. Of course, I share these comments with Robert at the end of each day. Thank you!!

One thing I forgot to mention during berry season was our neighbors. I did not want to scare anyone who was interested in picking blueberries! Honestly, we have never seen evidence of bears in our gardens as they prefer our front yard and the surrounding woods. There is a second larger and older bear who also “checks in.” HE can reach the bird feeder while sitting down! Recently I did see him drinking from our bird bath before walking up on the front steps to check out his reflection in our front door! I am happy he did not attempt to “fight” himself. Perhaps this behavior is something only the Tom turkeys do in the Spring? Wildlife . . . gotta love it!

This is the ‘baby bear.” The other one is much larger!

Some have asked me when our season will end. This depends on Mother Nature! We have always been able to have boxes through the end of October, so plan on that as our season. If we have produce into November remains to be seen; but if you can hang tight until Halloween, we would be most grateful as that provides us with almost six months of farm income. Fingers crossed we make it to mid-November!

My quick and easy eggplant, tomato and pepper bake drizzled with EVOO and Italian Seasoning.

The slicer tomatoes are finally ready and going into the CSA Boxes. And our green beans are still beautiful. Those of you who have been CSA Members for 15, 16, or 17 years know these are the BEST BEANS we have ever been able to produce! Perhaps we have finally stumbled upon a simple secret of Nature!

Amazingly, these are sweet potatoes which have been kept in cool, dry storage for the last YEAR! They are still good enough to eat!! Just FYI.

Soon there will be 2022 sweet potatoes and some winter squash to go with our other potatoes. The eggplant seem endless this season, but the sweet bell peppers will not last forever. About half are rotting on the vine thanks to the dampness and lack of sunshine. By the way, these bell peppers may turn red if left setting out on the counter. If you attempt to ripen them in this manner, however, they will lose some of their crispness. So keep an eye on them!

Anyone who stills gets a physical newspaper and is willing to share, we are interested! As you can see in the above photo, the papers will be put to good use being recycled–mostly under tomatoes.

Finally, AS CSA FARMERS we resent the new virus discovered in May 2022 in India being called “tomato flu” or “tomato fever.” Not heard of it yet? Patients who develop tomato fever should drink plenty of fluids and rest in bed, as it is also advised for other viral fevers, to keep the body hydrated and well-rested.  Seriously?! Please just continue naming with “chickens and monkeys” and leave our veggies alone!  We have enough trouble getting children and adults to eat vegetables without naming a virus after them!!

Bad Blogger

I was told last week that I am a “bad blogger” because I am not consistent and that I should be consistent so you readers will not “forget about me.” I apologize for this! In my defense I will say that I do meet most of you face-to-face every-other-week and you are preparing and eating the nutritious vegetables grown by Robert and I on our small, Fairview family farm. So . . . perhaps as we are eating the same veggies each week, I am not so out of touch after all?!

Staking Our Late Tomatoes

We are still waiting for the tomatoes to ripen! After that big May rain, the plants stopped growing for about three weeks. They had to re-develop their root systems before they could start producing fruits. (Yes, tomatoes are a fruit!) The zucchini are dropping off to a trickle, but the patty pans are still producing a crop. The green beans are taking a break, but should be back. There is some okra and a few small cabbages–that May rain hurt the cabbages just like the broccoli and cauliflower! However, the eggplant and sweet bell peppers are plentiful! Still, Robert and I are holding our breath as we approach August 17. The memory of last year’s devastating flash flood is still fresh in our minds. Some things are quite difficult to forget!

Someone got this comical eggplant in their CSA Box!

We still have blueberries. We do not put them in the CSA Boxes, but as CSA Members you may come and pick whatever you wish. We do not charge a fee, but instead ask that you leave us a “half-share of your harvest” in a container which we will provide. Robert cleaned out all weeds and trimmed the bushes last winter; however, he also applied fertilizer, so the weeds are plentiful and the plants are tall– unlike a manicured, commercial berry picking patch is what I am trying to say! Email me if you are interested in getting berries and I will send further directions.

Blueberries are plentiful this season!

If you need a new way to prepare those patty pan squash consider cubing and sauteing then in coconut oil. Then add in a bit of water, a bit more of orange juice and some chopped dates to the pan! Season with a dash of ground cloves, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper for a new “orange-spice” sensation with your summer squash!

Orange-Spice Patty Pan Squash

Summer Time Veggies!

We are into the summer time veggies now. Robert and I are extremely busy and dreaming in “patty pan!” Joining a CSA and eating locally grown food seems to heighten the senses of our CSA Members in terms of the local weather and how it affects crops growing in the gardens. We think this is a very good thing! The weather report is always on our minds as just another thing we have no control over. We have been fortunate to get rain when we need it and not really too much at any one time–even if it was enough to wash out our road in places!

This clutch was the first to be hatched and so the biggest in size.

The wildlife is abundant in our “sanctuary.” Robert saw the newest fawn the day after it was born–so tiny! And we have three different turkey moms walking around with their chicks trailing behind. Unfortunately, the duck near the little pond did not survive and her nest was raided by some hungry predator. Also, something ripped out the first two cucumber plants and a six-foot stretch of the drip line including “chewing” it off of the hose bib at the connection point. This was not an easy feat and we have NO IDEA who this predator could be. To make things more interesting, there are no tracks to be found!!

This was the first tie-up. Now it has been done three times!

The tomatoes have been tied up for the third time and look great as do the eggplant and bell peppers. There are blueberries this year. We do not put them in the CSA Boxes, but as CSA Members you may come and pick whatever you wish. We do not charge a fee, but instead ask that you leave us a “half-share of your harvest” in a container which we will provide. Robert cleaned out all weeds and trimmed the bushes last winter; however, he also applied fertilizer, so the weeds are plentiful and the plants are tall– unlike a manicured, commercial berry picking patch is what I am trying to say! Email me if you are interested in getting berries.

In your near box expect some or all of the following depending on the day: green and yellow zucchini, zephyr squash, a variety of patty pans, sweet cucumbers, green beans, eggplant, and/or potatoes. There may even be some okra this year! The tomatoes are green and growing . . . and in case you had not noticed, it is HOT, HOT, HOT!!!!!

Harvesting zucchini, squash, and patty pans!

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July to everyone! We celebrated the Holiday by . . . working in the garden. This probably does not surprise you! Robert staked and tied up all of the tomato plants, finished weeding the eggplant and peppers and cucumbers. We are seeing tiny, tiny cukes which makes me very excited as they are one of my favorites!

What to expect in your veggie box this week? Red potatoes, green and yellow zucchini, our favorite type of yellow summer squash, a mixed variety of patty pan squash, and kohlrabi. Then one may find either the last romaine, or endive, or escarole, or some broccoli florets–this will all depend on the day and what we are able to find in the garden! I say “find” because sometimes seeds or a plant get mixed into the planting tray and thus planted in a random section of the garden. It is rather like a surprise or a scavenger hunt to find the last remaining of some crops; but “find” them we shall and put them into your veggie boxes.

The zucchini, summer squash and cute, little patty pans can all be mixed together if you wish. Or kept separately! The choice is up to you. Look under the “S” section for summer squash and zucchini recipes. IF you happen to get a patty pan that is large enough, you can stuff it. We attempt to harvest them while they are small, but sometimes they hide in the large, green leaves and grow larger. Enjoy!!

Farming Is Difficult

Let me say first that we love what we do. And Robert and I are both optimistic people. One cannot attempt to grow anything and not be both optimistic and a gambler! I do not mean a gambler as in taking chances. I mean a gambler as in there are so many variables which one cannot control that one must realize up front that all of one’s work may produce only 25% of what one had intended.

Farming is difficult. Gardening is difficult. Mother Nature is in charge at all times no matter the amount of effort and labor one puts into the challenge. I feel sorry for all of those people who are attempting to garden for the first time during this 2022 Harvest Season. This year has been nothing but trouble! The damage from that early storm that came and dumped inches of rain is still showing up in the garden. You heard me say we lost our Asian greens. We were able to strip off the yellowed leaves and get an extra few boxes, but we lost the majority of those crops. Some of our CSA Members may be happy to hear this! You have seen the broccoli “heads” which are just “stalks” thanks to the rain; however, we hope to harvest a few broccoli florets from those plants. Very few peas were produced. The cauliflower and cabbages are badly stunted. And now you can see from the photo below what our beautiful potato plants are producing.

Red potatoes are splitting due to the rain weeks ago.

Can you see the splits? Not all, but the vast majority are splitting. This is due to the heavy rain and their stage of growth at the time. Oh, they will be delicious to be sure! I am willing to bet the most delicious potatoes you have ever tasted; however, the crop is compromised and they will not last through the winter months. Some will not last more than one month. These are from the “good” section of the potato patch. The potatoes in the “bad” section have rotted in the ground. It cannot be helped. Too much water is too much water and there are not enough ditches to keep it all drained away! Bottom Line: Enjoy them while you can! And keep a close eye on them for spoilage!! You will see potatoes in your next CSA box/bag!

Are you ready for some more uncomfortable news? Last night a herd of deer broke down our deer fence and enjoyed all but three of our red lettuce heads! They simply went down the rows taking one bite out of the top of each head. Fortunately, we had harvested several green and red romaines the night before so there will still be some of those. It is enough to make a farmer cry or have venison for dinner!!

We know the deer are ever present. This is why we plant clover close to the mountain side praying they will stay near the woods where they can quickly run and hide. But they know we are growing yummy edibles inside that fencing! This is why Robert grows clover in all of the ditches which are not mowed. For the most part, the deer will stay out of the gardens and in the ditches eating the clover. The older deer in particular are appreciative of the clover we plant. The younger ones, however, are more adventurous and those are the trespassers.

Of course, deer can tear down a seven foot deer fence! And even eat apples right off the tree!

So what will be in the near future CSA boxes? The last of the romaine, some escarole and endive. Deer are not as fond of the “bitter” crops it seems. Bitters are good for you and said to reduce sugar cravings. There will be a few broccoli florets. Some kale which I recommend either “massaging” before adding to salads or making into kale pesto! There will be the first ugly potatoes–but they are oh, so creamy and flavorful. Finally, the first of the zucchini and summer squash and patty pans will start to appear as we enter this second week of summer. We feel fortunate and blessed to have what we do and trust you will be happy enough with what we have to offer even if it is not exactly as we had planned!

Longest Day Of The Year

So what did you do today on the longest day of the year and the first day of Summer?! Robert was busy weeding. He is weeding carrots and potatoes and tomatoes and squash and beans and peppers and eggplant and cucumbers and cantaloupe! He is on a fixed goal this week trying to get it all done in order to give the plants a fighting chance to grow. In three weeks one will not even know he did it, because the weeds grow back quickly; but at this moment, it is important to do.

The last garden Robert planted. Note the bean fence on the right.

I worked on our harvest schedules for the month of July. It will be here by the end of next week!! Which reminds me . . . if you have an out of town trip planned please, please, please let us know in advance. We harvest daily for a specific number of CSA Members and once a veggie is harvested it cannot be UN-harvested. I understand that sometimes emergencies happen; but if you are planning a trip, let us know! We can prepare your box early so you can take it with you. Or we can prepare it once you get back into town. Or we can prepare it on your regular day and you can have a friend come for the veggies. We try to be very flexible, but we do expect you to purchase each box one way or the other. This policy is covered in the Frequently Asked Questions on our website.

The potatoes are looking beautiful this season!

In the “boxes” now you will find red and green romaine, escarole, endive, red lettuce, purple and green kohlrabi, broccoli “heads/stalks” or florets, and perhaps a few snow peas. There will be just enough peas to add to a salad in this first harvest as they were drastically damaged by the rain three weeks ago. Fingers crossed the second crop will produce better.

Kitchen Art: It’s what we call that forever stack of dishes drying in the side sink!

Situation UPdate

We are very busy and I have not had time to even write a Blog! My last report on the farming situation said we just received a massive amount of rain rather quickly. You have seen how that affected the joi chois . . . the roots started to rot and the leaves turned yellow. For a while we were able to strip off the outer leaves and still put them in our boxes, but eventually we lost even the “hearts.” This is one of my favorite spring veggies, so I really, really hate this happened! The onions were in one of those field puddles and are not looking good. The broccoli (which you are getting in your boxes now) were stunted. There will be some nice heads in this picking; but when you see what looks like a “stalk” of broccoli, remember that this was supposed to be a “head” of broccoli. And the tops are not quite as beautiful-green as we would prefer. Just another example of how too much rain is not good for one’s garden. You probably would not like having your feet wet for days on end either. We do plant multiple varieties and in multiple gardens, perhaps another will perform better! Time will tell.

This Cane Creek road sign might well apply gardening!

Robert made valiant efforts to create extra ditching to remove the water. He actually dug trenches under the black fabric and drip lines (sacrificing some plants) to create drains perpendicular to the garden rows. His efforts made a difference. It was hours of dangerous labor in the pouring rain and the following day. And I could have made an outstanding laundry detergent commercial with the rain gear he was wearing!

Robert finished planting last week. Note the seven-foot deer fencing you are looking through!

Last week he finished planting the winter squash. The summer squash have been hilled and weeded. These plants look beautiful. So do the potatoes! Next the carrots need some weeding attention as well as the cucumbers and cantaloupe. The eggplant and pepper plants are show signs of water-related stress, but we believe they will come out of it and produce in the late summer. The tomato plants are doing a bit better. Our tomatoes will be late this year. Perhaps they always are! We have so many crops to get planted and tomatoes are always near the end of our list. August tomatoes are always sweeter anyhow!

Three rows of summer squash and zucchini are just beginning to bloom–potatoes on the far left.

We trust we have thrilled you with at least one unfamiliar vegetable thus far! In the next box you will find red and green romaine, escarole, endive, red kale, red lettuce, purple and green kohlrabi, broccoli, and perhaps some black summer joi. The kohlrabi may be new to many of our CSA Members.

Purple kohlrabi growing in the garden.

Kohlrabi growing in the garden actually sits on top of the soil in the garden! With a bit of imagination, one might think they have the appearance of little, alien space ships that just landed in a neat row!

Sliced raw kohlrabi, with dried cranberries and grapes in a salad.

I like kohlrabi raw. Robert prefers his slightly sauteed in coconut oil. There is a crunchy kohlrabi salad recipe on the website under “K” as well as some tips for storing and preparing this unique vegetable. And yes, the tops are edible. They will need some time in the saute pan, however!