Strawberries

Cane Creek left its banks last evening which means Robert spent the day making sure the ditches were all flowing at capacity and adding new ditches where necessary. Ditch Digging, in other words! We farm in the fertile, bottom lands of Cane Creek Valley. Water management is always a top priority. If we must have this much rain at one time, this month (or before) is when we want it. Certainly NOT once we have transplanted our precious plants into the gardens!

There are now over 9,000 plants in our greenhouse with more seedbeds started and hundreds more plants on the way. This is a very busy time of the year. Actually, all seasons of the year are busy for us! But this particular month comes after the December thru February “winter break” which adds more emphasis to the workload.

Our front yard grows strawberries as well as flowers. We started out with a neat six-foot circle a few years ago, but now strawberries are growing everywhere—like weeds. One would think with so many plants I would be able to have fresh berries on my salads and even for dessert. Unfortunately, the wildlife seem to get the majority of our berries! This year we are seriously attempting another “squirrel relocation” project. Robert is capturing the critters in have-a-heart traps and relocating them to another parcel of property with woods and a pond. Nearly twenty have been relocated thus far. They should be very happy at their new home; and hopefully, we will get some strawberries for our mouths this season. We saw the very first white strawberry blossom yesterday!

Speaking of strawberries, I understand Florida is growing a new strawberry variety which it hopes to harvest between December and April before the California strawberries are ready for market. The new berry is white with a pink blush when ripened. The “white berry” is said to be very sweet and have a dense texture and a unique taste with a hint of pineapple scent—which explains why it is sometimes called a “pineberry.”

Only a few trials are being marketed as of now—one by Wish Farms under the name of “Pink-A-Boo” berries. I seriously doubt any will make their way to Asheville this year, but keep your eyes open just the same!  Europe and Japan have been commercially growing a related variety which commands “gourmet” prices.  FYI:  wild, white strawberries originated in Chile in the 1700’s. There is always something new under the sun!

We do have CSA farm share memberships available for the 2021 Harvest Season. You can find the sign up form on the Join Our CSA page. It is time to make Local Food commitments!

Our Greenhouse Babies

We have been busy since I last posted. Those seedlings too tiny to see (as of today 4,220 to be exact–yes, we count each and every one!) are growing quite nicely with strong root systems and are happily transplanted into their individual pots of soil. Each seedling we pray and trust will become a vegetable item for our CSA Boxes. Thus far, we have red and green cabbage, kohlrabi, choi, broccoli and cauliflower. We are frequently asked if these seedlings are our “babies.” The answer is a resounding YES! They require constant attention with regard to temperature and moisture regulation. They are the first thing attended to in the morning and the last thing attended to in the evening.

The process is just getting started and is the first step involved in having the veggies we will one day pack into the CSA Boxes of our farm share members. We have room for another 4,000 plants at this moment. Once that goal is reached some of the oldest “babies” will be ready to move outside of the climate controlled nursery to a location where they can begin to get acclimated to the “real world” of direct sunlight and wind. We are doing our best to raise strong “children” plants which we are optimistic will produce nutritious, seasonal gourmet vegetables!

This is an exciting time of the year for us! A season of renewal and hope and growth. As I look out of the greenhouse windows, I see yellow daffodils dotting the front landscape. The sun is warm on my back–not oppressively hot yet, just exceedingly pleasant. This is the best time of the year to be working in the greenhouse.

We do have CSA farm share memberships available for the 2021 Harvest Season. You can find the sign up form on the Join Our CSA page. We would love to have you join our Tribe of Veggie Lovin’ CSA Members! Submit the form and I will get back to you within 24-hours by email to let you know you are definitely in our CSA. And Happy Spring! By necessity, we start Spring early on our small, family farm in Fairview!

Spidermen At Work

I snapped a photo of the workers on our greenhouse roof today. If you look closely, you can see the giant suction cups which are required for them to carefully move around. This is not a job for the faint of heart! When exhaust fans need to be replaced or a seal repaired, it takes special equipment to move around two stories up on the glass rooftop of our greenhouse.

Our Super Heros are Bill and Will Kater of Pool Enclosures, Inc. All of the greenhouse maintenance is complete and our tractors have been serviced. We are ready to begin the season! Many seed beds have been started and the first seeds are starting to poke their heads up from the soil; right now they are so tiny I cannot even show them in a photo! Stay tuned. I will post more photos soon to show you the progress of our “babies” which will eventually fill your CSA Boxes and tummies!

In the meantime, here is a photo of our evening meal. Broccoli, cauliflower, tatsoi quiche cake, and Eggplant Parmesan–all from our 2020 harvest and freezer stash. Properly prepared and stored, these veggies taste like they were just harvested! However, it is 2021 and time to clear items out and get ready for a new crop of seasonal gourmet vegetables. Now this is some healthy eating!

Farm shares are available! We are currently accepting new CSA Members for the 2021 Harvest Season!!

The Forecast Is Always Bright

The weather is always changing, but the forecast is always bright. That’s the way we try to roll–looking on the bright side of life! There is no point in stressing over the things one cannot control. Such behavior will only make one anxious and there are enough anxious events and people in the world right now. Robert and I trust the boxes of veggies we harvest for our CSA Members will provide positive energy and be nurturing, nutritious, and joyful. If this is what we can do, then our Mission is being accomplished!

Our greenhouse is ready to go into full production! Seed beds to transplants to the gardens to the harvest to the CSA Boxes to kitchen tables throughout Buncombe and Henderson Counties. Crop production takes many steps, lots of hard work, planning and luck! Pray for a bountiful season!!

If you are looking for a family-operated CSA farm, we would love to have you join us.  Just fill out the Join Our CSA form on our website. We will get back to you with a Welcome Email as soon as possible so you know that you are “IN” our CSA Family.

We are so ready for spring to arrive . . .

Hopeful and Optimistic

I read an interesting article today about the difference between hope and optimism. In a nutshell is said that optimism is expecting good things will happen and hope is the expectation that one can make good things happen. Getting into the “weeds” of the subject, the author said optimists tend to deny or avoid negative information. I have a sign which has hung in every home I have made. It says “Optimist On Duty!” And yes, as farmers we MUST deny and avoid negative information in order to even proceed with our occupation each spring. Otherwise, weeds, insect pests, blight, fungus, drought, excessive rainfall, heat, cold, frost, wildlife . .. . the list goes on and on as to the amount of negativity which could possibly deter us from even planting a crop! Bottom Line: Robert and I are both hopeful and optimistic that each year will be a bountiful growing and harvest season!

As you go through your life in the crazy world we are living in, keep these distinctions between hope and optimism in mind. The future is always uncertain and has been since the dawn of time. However, with uncertainty comes possibilities and the ability to be a part of something bigger than oneself. On our small, family farm, we say “come on!” to the negative possibilities. We shall struggle through and believe that we are capable of achieving our goal of growing a bountiful crop despite the challenges Mother Nature delivers. And we wish you hope and optimism in dealing with whatever situations you are facing in your life!

We have been farming and operating CaneCreekCSA aka Cane Creek Asparagus & Company along Cane Creek since 1993. CSA is all we do. No wholesale. No tailgate marketing. If you have been sitting on the sidelines and thinking about joining a CSA, now is the time to do so. Why? Because NOW is the time when we farmers are planning for the 2021 Harvest Season and preparing to begin our greenhouse work so we can have a crop in mid- to late-May! I have been preparing the greenhouse and today we had the glass roof resealed. Spiderman with giant suction cups! You can see a photo of him at work on the Resource Conservation page of the website. Soon we shall begin our seedbeds . . .

SUBJECT CHANGE . . .

If you are the sort of person who likes “going down rabbit holes,” you might be interested in doing some research on Personalized Nutrition which is defined as “Tailoring dietary advice to suit an individual based on their diet phenotype or genetic make-up.”  What does the optimal human look like? And who gets to decide what an optimal human is?

Scientists are even now working on a GMO tomato as edible COVID vaccine which will fundamentally change ones cellular structure. Nano technology and CRISPER technology and robotic bees and beehives are wrapped up in impact management of diabetes and agriculture and the bio-tech sector as profit engines.

One place to find a start to this “rabbit hole” is on the https:/greenmedinfo.com interviews between Alison McDowell and Sayer Ji. Also, https://www.wrenchinthegears.com.  Or search the Japanese Moonshot R&D program with Cybernetic Avatar Capitalism for Diversity and Inclusion. For those who look, there is a great deal of information available with regard to gaming and behavior management.  I like to be informed and to the best of my ability to understand these complicated potential transformations to a 2050 Cyborg 5.0 Society World Vision.

Smart apps, smart food, smart textiles, smart health systems, digital wallets, AI, and cognitive neuro science all connected to the “network” . . . What or who is in control of these systems? Is this the best way? Precision Agriculture with GPS Technology information is in all of the farming magazines—but not the path for me.

I prefer to use natural, old-fashioned, human-driven interactions.  In other words, getting my hands into the soil and working with real plants and real food!  I don’t see my body, brain, space and time as being limitations from which I need to be freed.  My choice, please, is to leave me and my Soul to my greenhouse and gardens with live bees and soil and earthworms. Our intention is to make the world a better place. Although if Robert and I had digital twins, that would double our workforce!

Live your values . . .

Stressful Times

In stressful and anxious times people look for things to make them feel more comfortable. We think membership in our small family farm CSA is one of those comforting experiences! When you are in our CSA, we get to know your family and you get to know ours. You will begin to understand a bit about life on our farm and what is involved in getting our seasonal produce to your family’s table. You get a sense of how your food is grown and you get to share in the excitement of our local harvest year–the first green salads, the fleeting snow peas, the tender, crunchy green beans, the thin-skinned new potatoes, vine-ripened tomatoes and cucumbers–perhaps even cantaloupes in a good year!

It is important to recognize one must do more meal preparation with locally grown, whole foods. I mean your farm fresh veggies will not be wrapped in plastic or pre-cooked. We do our best to keep as much of our soil here on our Fairview farm, but some washing will be involved. However, we firmly believe the simple act of preparing ones meal can be made into an escape and a blessing to ones senses!

If you have always valued family farms or if you just want to dip your toe into the CSA experience for the first time, we would love to have you join us! We are planning for a late-May through October 2021 Harvest Season–weather permitting, of course!!

If you were a member of our CSA in 2020, do not fret! Soon we shall be in direct contact with you to confirm your desire for continued membership into the 2021 farming season.

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Health and Happiness in 2021

I think all individuals can agree 2020 has been a very unusual year in many ways. We look forward to a new year, a new harvest season, and to the possibility of your being a valued part of our small, family farm CSA community once again–or for the first time–as the case may be!

We offer our Best Wishes to all for health and happiness in 2021 and prayers for a bountiful growing season!

Another Season Change = More Gratitude

The turkey and dressing are gone for 2020 and the Christmas trees and lights are going up around the neighborhoods. Robert and I ventured to the WNC Farmer’s Market today to purchase a Christmas tree for our own home. The premises were hustling and bustling with activity! We found the perfect North Carolina grown fir tree and had a lovely conversation with the farm owner and tree caretakers.

In a recent conversation with my seven-year old Grandson, he stated that we may have to cancel some of Christmas this year due to Corona-virus. I was saddened to think his young mind was considering the prospect. I informed him that WE would NOT be canceling Christmas at our house! Later that day, my mind went to one of the most unhappiest Christmas seasons I experienced. Instantly, I felt a flood of gratitude and appreciation for how much better my life is now. And I am grateful for the lessons learned in that long-ago experience. The Stoic philosophy says gratitude for every experience is the key to robust mental health.

Yes! This Santa is made of OKRA!! Doesn’t everyone put veggies on their Christmas tree?!

True happiness comes from recognizing things we are grateful for in our nation and in this world. To quote Abraham Lincoln: “We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation ever has grown; but we have forgotten God! We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

In your self-reflection this holiday season, remember there is a force greater than ourselves. And remember to look at the nation and world situation, examine it, and then make the conscious decision about how to respond in the best possible way. Even in hardship we can be grateful for the lessons learned. So breathe deeply, exhale slowly, and prepare your body and mind for a Healthy and Prosperous New Year in 2021.

Merry Christmas 2020 and a Blessed New Year in 2021 from Robert and Glenda Ploeger AKA Cane Creek Asparagus & Co CSA

GRATITUDE

I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson, “I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new” . . . and the ordinary delights brought by each passing day!

Whatever means of celebration you choose, I trust you are filled with gratitude and joy for the Blessings we enjoy in this great country–America the Beautiful. Happy Thanksgiving 2020 from Robert and Glenda!!

Lyrics for America the Beautiful . . .

  1. Oh, beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea.
  2. Oh, beautiful for pilgrim feet, Whose stern, impassioned stress A thoroughfare of freedom beat Across the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.
  3. Oh, beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine, Till all success be nobleness, And ev’ry gain divine.
  4. Oh, beautiful for patriot dream That sees beyond the years Thine alabaster cities gleam, Undimmed by human tears! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea.

Text: Katherine Lee Bates, 1859–1929

Music: Samuel A. Ward, 1848–1903