Saturday, December 27, 2008

Here Comes the Rain!

Looks like it is finally going to hit. The wind was sure a bear yesterday while I was trying to secure the floating row cover down - like trying to fold up the jolly green giant's parachute while he was still falling!

Everything can use a good drink - there is nothing better for a garden than a nice rain.

Enjoy!


Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Rooster's Tale

I wanted to let you know, as the community supporting this farm, that there is a bit of warm water on the stove where a frog is about to be heated up. You know what I mean - a simple and seemingly harmless regulation is on the table for passing - yet in doing so, it will bring us one step closer to losing our rights to feed ourselves what we want to. I'm not going to re-post the entire letter I have submitted to the local paper for publishing regarding the "outlawing" of roosters in Balch Springs, but I invite you to read it here.

Whereas we don't have enough of a flock to supply ourselves with eggs right now, it will never happen if they keep me from having roosters around.

Perhaps a couple of you would be interested in coming to the next city council meeting in January, the 2nd Monday of the month. I plan to read the letter during citizen's comments and anyone connected to the farm that wants to come stand with me is welcome to do so, or to add your own 3 minute comment. Your support would be helpful. Thank you.

Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally! (and, fight for your right to do so - before it is against the law!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

TURNIPS WITH GARLIC CRUMBS

I rec'd this on one of my farm newsletters today;

(Adapted from Gourmet mag. and Akin Farm's Wendy Akins)

Simmer a pound of trimmed small turnips in salted water to cover until perfectly tender.
Drain.
Meanwhile, toss the remains of a baguette or other crusty bread into the food processor and make fresh bread crumbs.*

For 2 cups of crumbs, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet large enough to hold the turnips.

Add either one fresh garlic clove, minced fine, or two or more cloves caramelized roasted garlic.

Mush around in the butter to mix well and then stir in the crumbs. Saute briefly, then put in the turnips and heat through.

A bit of snipped parsley on top is a nice touch. Or cilantro or chives or onion tops; something green

* I never use store bought bread crumbs. I save the bits and heels of good bread in the freezer for all kinds of use.

Sounds yummy!


Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

In the News

Well, there were a lot of folks to choose from for Secretary of Agriculture - and while none of the names being thrown around seriously were all that well known for supporting the things organic farming supports I suppose, but it looks like we got a doozey in Mr. Vilsack. One friend says it is a step backwards from GE food technology protection for organic farmers as he is a big ag biz supporter. Great.

Here is an interesting article about the choice made. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_15573.cfm


What can we do? Know who grows our food - try to eat organically as much as possible as it may be the only way you will know what you are actually eating. Just cuz it looks like an ear of corn, doesn't mean it is just an ear of corn.

See you Saturday.

Please remember - the farm will not have a pick up next weekend 12-27. Enjoy the holidays and your families. Thank you.

Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Community Supported Agriculture

Thank you for the feedback some of you have offered about our progress thus far with the farm. I wanted to take that moment to review where we are planning to head and some of the challenges, victories and clarify any potential for misunderstandings.

Due to some kind of glich, the farm's listing was duplicated on Local Harvest so I ended up on Local Harvest's CSA page. I thought it did a great job of explaining Community Supported Agriculture and for anyone new to CSA or thinking about it, here is the link. I think it may help answer a few of the questions that I may not have answered directly, and it helped to re-inspire me as to the real purpose behind CSA's creation back in Japan many years ago.

http://www.localharvest.org/csa.jsp

I hope more community members will gather together, find farmers and places to farm so that this wonderful movement to secure our food supply is realized in the DFW area (and beyond of course). I also hope through these farms, youngsters can be encouraged to get into farming so I'll have someone to rely on to grow me healthy food when it becomes time for me to hang up my overalls some day when I'm too feeble to drag bags of cottonseed meal around, sling manure off a trailer or spend hours out in the sun - I hope that day doesn't come for decades - but we have to plan today for the future farmers of tomorrow.

Thank you again for your support of CSA.


Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Brrrrr!

A weather blast from the Arctic is NOT what our seedlings needed. We soaked them in seaweed water before planting and watered them in and covered them up with row cover - that is about all we can do - besides pray a lot - and wait till the weather breaks, apparently Thursday, and see what happens. I'll give them another round with seaweed water, then, too, and hope for the best.

The good news is that it is early enough that if we need to replant for winter crops we can. I'm looking into what is available the soonest from the certified organic grower we got the present starts from. However, we didn't get them all planted anyway so there are still a good number of most varieties we can replant this weekend to replace any we may lose.

On another note
I had a great conversation with another farmer today, (to line up some goodies for us this weekend), and it was interesting to hear her take on the weather this year. She said they'd had a difficult year themselves, and they've been farming for over 30 years so I'm sure they've seen their share of challenging weather. Too much rain in June drowned her tomatoes, the strong summer winds that seemed to never end this year drying everything out, the lack of rain this fall which made plowing up a new area all but impossible, now these early, long lasting freezes.

In fact, she said she heard on the news today that this is the coldest, deepest, Arctic Blast we've had the earliest in the year, since 1901! And, unfortunately, that is what has done in the season's squash and cucumbers I'm afraid. They seemed to hang in there for the few frosty nights we had early on, but between the freezes in November, I think I counted 3 of them at below 32, and now this long lasting freezing 20's, I'm afraid they are toast. Or mush actually. The plants are still alive, but I don't know yet if they'll reflower and continue to produce after this last blast. A little unheated hoop-house can only protect them so much. It's not like we put up green houses out here.

Anyway, another farmer I spoke to over the weekend said we sure picked a difficult year to start farming. She too noted plenty of difficulties, many echoed the ones Wendy cited. But, every year will have its challenges. That is part of farming and why it isn't for everyone.

Those who support a farming endeavor and those who do the farming are few and far between or else we'd have a lot more local farms around. And with this recent resurgence in the interest of eating more healthful foods, you could say that we are all pioneers of sorts as small farms are making a comeback.

It warmed my heart to hear the kind words of encouragement from these two seasoned farming women though. And although I realize that supporting a farm via community supported agriculture is not going to be for everyone, I think it is going to be rewarding for those who are able to endure the start ups and downs. Despite the slow start, the set backs and the challenges unseen yet, I am still excited about this project. The ways in which people who are part of it will benefit will be priceless.

Our working share members and volunteers have helped me and worked very hard to get this plot of land going, and to see their faces when we pulled 34 pounds of some of the best looking veggies we'd seen out of that ground last Saturday was worth its weight in gold! "We grew that!" Yep - and we'll grow a lot more as time goes on.

A lot about farming is timing - and, as my friend Wendy told me, you can do all the planning you want, but it doesn't always, or even usually, go the way you planned it. You have to be patient, flexible and understanding to rely on a farm for your livelihood and your food.

This fall we could have caught every drop of rain on time, planted in early August, as planned, and had a hail storm dump on us as the flowers bloomed on the plants - and we'd still have gotten very little for our work. It is a big risk to farm and to eat from a farm as opposed to a grocery store. But to me it is worth all of the work. And to many of you, it has been worth it, too. I'm glad to hear that because it has not progressed as well as any of us had hoped, I'm sure.

But you have to decide for yourself if the benefits outweigh the risks. And I know I'm not willing to make that decision after only a few seasons, much less the first one. I'm in this for the long haul for one thing because it is too important to give up on. Those of you who may know me personally know that I'm not a quitter. I'm determined to grow organic, healthy safe and local food for myself and my community and to spread the word about local farming, encouraging the next generation to follow.

I'll keep you all posted on this weekend's share pick up via email. But it looks like we'll have turnips, golf ball sized and perfect for cooking, turnip greens and some mixed greens, too. I will check with Judy to see if she can supply us all with eggs as well as keep trying to reach Harmony Harvest Farms, too. I only want to supply your shares with locally grown food, and that is why we are doing this - to support local agriculture.

We'll also be working in the field and taking advantage of the warm snap this weekend. We may move plastic to the newly planted lettuces and replant the things that didn't make the freeze we're enduring as I type this. We'll also try to get an early jump on potatoes this Jan. so we'll start preparing those beds soon, too. Even though early potatoes may not like whatever weather we get in February, oftentimes we can get them going early here in North Texas. We'll have a back up crop to go in later on, too. And onions will go in around Valentine's Day or so. We'll see what old man winter says about that.

As for soybeans, my friends tell me yes, we can grow them - I'll just be careful who supplies the seeds as we all know there are a lot of GMO soybeans out there. Ick.

Keep warm and please pray for mercy on those seedlings. A lot of folks worked a lot of hours to get them into the ground this weekend. I'd hate to think this early cold snap would do them in.

Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

From Sunny CA to Chilly Dallas

The winter season plants have started to arrive! Now they still have to get in the ground and grow, but I estimate some of them will start to be ready to harvest in late February/early March if winter is kind to our farm.

We have a great opportunity this weekend for you to get your hands in the dirt and help plant them, mulch and harvest from our fall crops, too. What a neat chance for children to see plants going in and then come back to harvest and eat what they planted months previously. And be sure to bring them by once in awhile to see the progress of growth, too, of course! Community Supported Agriculture is about the farm and the community - that is YOU! So please, always feel free to be a part of what is going on out here at the farm even if you are not a work share member.

One of our members is actually a co-worker of mine at my "day-job", Dave Shepard, and he was kind enough - not to mention very excited - to snap some pics of the arrival of the veggie plants. Surely they are shivering from our cold welcome - they were growing in CA until Monday! But, I'll harden them off gradually this week and we'll treat them with kid gloves till they go in the ground. Last night, in fact, some of them even got to spend the night in the dining room - talk about spoiled plants! Now, my dining room wasn't heated, but I think it was still warmer than being outside - even in the greenhouse. They are tiny but numerous and they'll cover a lot of ground once planted.

There is BROCCOLI-ARCADIA, BROCCOLI-PACKMAN , CABBAGE EMERALD CROSS, PAK CHOI JOI CHOI, PAK CHOI MEI QUIN CHO, CABBAGE RUBY PERFECTION , CAULIFLOWER SNOWBALL, CAULIFLOWER VERONICA , MESCLUM BLEND, RADICCHIO RED PRECO & SPINACH BLOOSDALE! Whew! The grower had a crop failure on the Brussels sprouts unfortunately. We'll try to get them another time.


Let me know what you would like for me to try to secure for spring growing - now is the time to think about that. If you want to do some growing at home, let me know as I'll be ordering 4" organic plant starts for the shop this spring. As Eden's CSA members I'll work out some kind of special discount for you.

And watch your email for a survey soon. I'll be putting one together and I hope you'll take a few moments to answer a few brief questions as to your relationship to Community Supported Agriculture and connection to this farm and local food in general. It will help me understand what your goals and objectives are for supporting the farm.

Looking forward to seeing many of you soon!




Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Little Common Sense

Regardless of any one's political persuasion, I think most everyone can agree that eating is a pretty important thing. After all - if we don't eat, we won't live very long, right? The simplest form of common sense. However, not everyone understands just how important, even critical, it is to eat healthy - and what exactly that means. I have a relative who is a living example of what poor diet looks like. How long can one sustain quality of life on sugar free this and that, diner food and microwave mystery meals? I'm hear to tell you, about 20 years. Then these fantastic and wonderful machines we live in begin to break down due to lack of nutrition.

I am in my last few months as the president of an organic garden club in Dallas, for those of you who may not know that. The DOGC is a group of wonderful people I was introduced to many years ago by the club president back then who was bringing in a group of local food producers to speak to the group on eating organic foods. She graciously invited me as a local organic garden supplies provider to join them. Now, you might think that organic gardeners would automatically eat that way, too. But, not all do and I attribute this to a variety of reasons, primarily I think is information - or misinformation. It is getting better I am happy to say. And that is evident of the snacks that are brought to our meetings. But let's look at one example of how we shop and maybe where some of America's priorities are a bit out of line.

Many of us in the garden club group may shop at boutique garden centers where the products are a bit more costly. But we do so in part to support local small businesses and to find the quality and selection of products we desire that support our hobby of gardening. Often this is not found in big box type places when it comes to plants and organic supplies. (Tho, I'm seeing the latter pop up in a few of them under names previously tied to miraculous products - ahem. I guess everyone wants in on the growing market of organic gardening.) And in other people's hobbies, they often pay a higher price for whatever gadget it is they need/want to have as well.

But where are we getting our food from? It is a common misconception that we must pay a high price tag at a boutique food store to find healthy, organic foods, though this is probably the easiest place to find an abundance of it - or is it? You may be surprised to find what is in your boutique grocery store isn't all organic, very local or without its hidden ingredients when it comes to processed "organic" foods.

We can grow some of the most healthy, nutritious food in our very own neighborhoods, in fact in our own yards, right next to the beautiful roses, cosmos, lavender and other most perfectly beautiful perennial gardens I've ever seen! And I think many of my fellow club members do raise the standard tomatoes and peppers, herbs and a few other select items at home and there is a growing interest to learn how to grow more. But last year we tried to get support of our group to maintain a local community garden plot up at Flag Pole Hill in central Dallas and found many people just honestly didn't have the time. And these are people who love to garden. I fear this is true of home gardens as well. I think we are all rushing so much, we've left out time to tend to an essential part of life. Which leads me to the answer of my previous question; we're buying our food from places all over the world or grabbing it on the run, thus contributing to our own demise and an endless cycle of nonsense. This is where local farms can and do help. We need more of them to really make a difference.

I'll get off my soap box, and let me say, I'm not a purist by far nor mean to be preachy or judging anyone either. Yes, I can be caught redhanded in the cheese fry basket at Snuffers from time to time. But, as Mr. Pollan suggests in the video I've linked below, a treat now and then is normal and perfectly fine. So long as we don't make it a regular ritual. And, I have my eyes opened every day at ways I can be doing things differently and better, too. But I do encourage you to watch the video of this author who was recently on a PBS show. I'm not sure this poor guy really wants to be secretary of anything, as has been suggested, but he does have a lot of good ideas that perhaps should at least be reviewed and considered. Maybe he can be on one of the committees anyway, to represent the eaters' side. We seem to have plenty of representatives of the large family farms and huge corporate farms. I think there needs to be some balance and see nothing wrong with that. We as a country could use a little balance in a lot of areas.

Small farms may not be very well represented on the Hill, but are learning ways to get started and support themselves with the likes of this CSA and more "direct to market" type selling - rather than getting the under priced wholesale values from the middle man. When government subsidizes farm prices to cheapen the cost of food to the wholesale purchasing agent - who pays for those subsidies anyway? Of course we know the answer. The cost is spread around among all who pay taxes. So food isn't really cheap, it is subsidized by everyone who pays taxes and profits those buying it cheaply and reselling it as higher priced processed food to the unsuspecting. In many cases it is nothing more than a box of chemicals with a few food products in the mix and a pretty picture on it. Hooray for the local farming and local eating movement! We can make a difference, right in our own neighborhoods and communities.

Watch the interview - it is actually in two parts so grab a cup of hot herbal tea and ponder over some of what is said. And be proud to know, Eden's Garden CSA members and CSA and local farm supporters everywhere, are already part of the solution!

I can't get the picture out of my head of very young little children who are grossly overweight and surely on thier way to health problems. I can't help but think the parents must surely not realize what kind of future they are setting their little loved ones up for. We all can do a little to help by teaching those around us of the importance of eating your veggies. And eating them grown locally, seems to be the most beneficial to everyone around us for many reasons.

Tell your kids' school you want to see healthy lunch programs. Tell your city council at local events where "free food" is passed out that it shouldn't be hot dogs or doughnuts but fruit or other healthy alternative. Bring a healthy covered dish to work for the potluck dinner and expose your peers to a tasty and healthful treat. If you don't know how to cook - go to one of the local organic or vegan diners that cater and splurge this one time for your co-workers. (Spiral Diner - all I can say is they really have a way with Vegan food, and I'm an omnivore.) Thanks for listening. See you soon on the farm. Things are growing in spite of the lack of sunshine and I may have a harvest week after next to share. I'll keep you posted.

Please keep fellow Eden's Garden CSA members' the Gordon family and the Walker family in your prayers as one family welcomes a very young son home from the hospital diagnosed diabetic and the other family sends an older young son off to Iraq.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/11282008/watch.html



Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

CBS News story on eating locally

Here is a great story about localvores in Texas - our friends Brad and Jenny were contacted but the newscrew apparently stayed in Houston. Good to see more urban farming going on somewhere, but it needs to spread even more!



Watch CBS Videos Online


Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

CSA - All the Way!

Well, life on the farm it tastes pretty good! I know that isn't how the song goes, but we changed it up a bit today as members picked up their first share of Eden's farm's harvest. Due to many setbacks, it has been long delayed and somewhat truncated, but nevertheless, we harvested fresh greens including Swiss chard, collards, kale and beet greens, fresh oregano and the last of the basil this season.

Supporters of the CSA were also treated to a dozen eggs from JuHa ranch, a frequent participant at the Eden's Market Day event, as well as a baked item from Mama Jeani, the Bistro Mama, who also bakes for our market friends, through pre-orders. Man you should have seen the Thanksgiving pre-order goodies in my freezer for her customers! Mmm, mmm! Too bad everyone showed up to claim theirs - Jenice and I didn't get to split a pie! And from the east Dallas community gardens I was able to secure some tasty freshly harvested onions. Today's harvest was modest at best, but it was a good start to a great thing. And with over 2000 plant plugs on the way from a certified organic growing operation in CA this December, the future winter season is looking really good!

Probably the best part about today was the unified vision that we are building something awesome here in Balch Springs for the future. Thank you for the hugs and kind words of encouragement! I was a bit nervous what you all would say but it seems everyone is on board with the bigger picture about what we are doing.

With all of the talk of down economies, those participating in this CSA are doing something to help the local economy, which also helps each of us individually in several ways. Not only are CSA members helping support a local farmer that one day will enable the expansion of the farms’ potential for bigger and better harvests, but they are helping themselves by eating healthier. And, in the long run this is a win-win solution not only for the locavores and the farmer, but as a whole, the community in which the farm exists. Because as the farm grows, the farmer inevitably needs help - this means employment opportunities for local individuals. Simple economics tells you that is a good thing. And the more food produced, the more people who have access to local, organic food. Additionally, local food means fresher and less of a "carbon footprint" getting it as it isn't flown in from around the world.

One of my goals here at Eden’s Gardens is to produce enough food to more than satisfy the CSA members and have plenty leftover to sell at Market Day. In an effort to make sure no one is denied healthy food, I’ll apply for certification to accept food stamps, and we’ll set up a sliding scale for CSA members’ fees, including adding more working share opportunities that teach members the skills they need to grow their own some day. In this way I hope to make healthy, organic food attainable by anyone who truly desires it. Through free classes, skits and other activities, teaching kids the importance of vegetables in their diet, I hope to help create a generation of educated young people who appreciate food and its origins. So many of us have gotten away from that with modern food conveniences that we just expect to pop something open and eat it. So much is compromised that way.

If you are just visiting our CSA blog and want more information about CSA? Just Google Community Supported Agriculture or CSA and you'll find a bunch of great info. Or, check out the book by the late Elizabeth Henderson and Robyn Van En, Sharing the Harvest. Also for a great example of the important role a local urban farm can be on a community, check out Fairview Gardens website. Lamplighter school just hosted an appearance by Michael Ableman a few weeks ago and it was inspiring, to say the least.

Between the TOFGA workshop a few weekends ago, Henderson’s and Ableman's books I’m immersed in and the Lamplighter presentation and Michael's documentary, you could say I am a bit overwhelmed with inspiration and a sense of awe for what appears to be my calling. It is much more than a job, it is a way of life that I hope will inspire many people to eat healthier, get involved together as a community and take better care of the future in tangible ways. To Eden's CSA members - we're on the right track! Happy eating and a huge THANK YOU!



Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Monday, November 17, 2008

We're all in this Together

We had a great turn out Saturday afternoon and got much accomplished! Thank you to Sara, Leo and Emily and Jenice our volunteers and to Charity, Shana and Randall who are some of our regular workshare members - Hey, everyone, Shana just ran the New York Marathon! Go Shana! Jenice (pictured here as proof to her workout coach that she did workout Saturday) is the one we can thank for covering the story that brought Sara to us and Charity is part of Eden's Community Gardens, as well as our CSA community, which can all stay clean a lot more naturally with the soaps that Emily and Leo taught us how to make earlier in the day!

Someone mentioned community and its importance 3 times to me this weekend. What a great group we have and I can feel the commitment and the support for our project - thank you. I just read something the other day that said the majority of those forming new CSA's were not farmers previously, but came from an assortment of various careers - many not even agriculturally related. At least with this CSA the land is secured already, I do have a working knowledge of horticulture and soils (the life of the soil is the direct result in the life of your food), and I've been an organic gardener for the better part of 20 years, and most important of all - I have a great group of charter CSA members! I am really looking forward to the growing of relationships that this CSA will foster as I get to know everyone. I encourage you all to comment on the blog - talk to me - and perhaps we have someone who's a techie out there who can set us up a yahoo group or something. (I am sorry, I just really don't have the time to maintain it and the emails and this blog as well as my other electronic outlets, but would love to see you all connecting on line and I promise to chime in!)

We didn't get the shed framework moved Saturday as I planned, but more importantly, we did get all of the plants that are tender and still trying to bear fruit covered up and tucked in. (pic coming) It never actually froze down here, my thermometer showed 34, which is cold enough! - but we were ready! I would rather be prepared than panic. What is in there under that plastic are a few cucumber and several squash plants that I hope will give us some fruit and about 5 or 6 cherry tomato plants I threw in at the last minute this fall just to see if they'd grow. Most plants were among the things that were started way back in September on time - but couldn't get in the ground due to the irrigation issues. Thank you Herb - we're on track there now, too! (I promise, I'll get the renewable energy pics and info in soon!)


This first season has been both frustrating and exciting - and soon, rewarding. This week I look to see us bringing in some kale, chard and possibly, some cabbage. I harvested basil in anticipation of the weather (some came with permission from another local organic garden where no one from the school came to save it) and will try to keep it fresh for the week in vases of water and we'll cut fresh oregano, too. I've sent out a request for overages of produce from 2 other local farms and we'll see what they have - soon as I hear, I'll let you know as I'm sure you are planning your feasts' menu this week. I have a dozen eggs coming for you all and a surprise baked good item. Jeani baked her heart out - and into - these goodies and it is my gift to you this Thanksgiving. There are tarts, muffins and breads - mmm mmm good! I'll just cover my eyes and put one of something baked in each bag - you guys can feel free to swap out. They are in my freezer out in the garage so I don't have to be tempted to eat them myself! You folks that split a share may be arm wrestling over who gets what! (Nah, I'll put the muffins in those bags, we don't want any fights breaking out.)

Oh, that reminds me. I do have some cloth bags on order - 100% organically grown and made in Texas I might add - Eden's Organic tote bags. I've ordered enough so you can each have one to carry home your shares (and then please remember to bring it back next time) and I'll have one for the next week's share. I thought that would be better than a bunch of boxes - roaches like boxes anyway. This first share may end up in Whole Foods bags, since ours aren't in just yet, but we'll have them sooner or later.

I'm not sure if we're where we need to be to start scheduling a weekly pick up yet. Erica asked me about that this week and I just don't think it makes sense to do. Hang in there with me and let's get through the Thanksgiving basket - I really wanted you guys to have more local stuff for the holiday next weekend, but the season didn't go quite the way I hoped. However, we're on track now and that rain, man that rain was a delight! Did I already mention we got 3 inches!? Ahhh! It was just what the garden needed - thank you Lord! I am also planting more as a way to continue things so long as it will grow. I put in garlic, which is actually for next summer, and more radishes and some carrots! In just a few weeks, several trays of organically grown plant starts will be arriving for our winter shares. Trying to get lettuce going again - last batch still not showing itself : ( - and whatever else I think I can get to grow in the dark gloomy winter days that are on the way. Can anyone say greens?

What would you like to eat this spring? Now is the time to start thinking about that stuff. I'll be laying out the plan for spring over the next couple months. I'll start to secure seeds in December and January. I'll be putting out onion sets and potatoes soon as I can get them - do you guys like sweet potatoes? Let me know what you would like to see me try to grow.

Well, that is all for now. I don't have the camera handy or I'd put some pics up this morning from the garden this weekend. Check back later this week for pics.

Have a great week!
Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Growing - Physically and Spritually

Yesterday, I attended an all day farmers' workshop that was put on by our friends of TOFGA. The Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is an organization of state wide farmers, ranchers, retailers and individual gardeners who share the same mindset about growing things naturally. Some are certified others are not. TOFGA's main goal is to educate those who farm and ranch and to encourage those who don't - to get busy!

Local farming really is an important part of our country's future. Some even say it is critical. Everything I read about our current food situation is pointing more and more in that direction for various reasons. Some parts of the country don't raise enough food to support their own people should there be some kind of natural disaster that kept food from being brought in - such as a severe snowstorm or hurricane, etc. They could feed on the corn raised that is stored in the silos - but I don't think they'd like it much. Heck, the cows are force fed that stuff. And you don't have to look far to see the deteriorating health of our kids and many peers. It is hard to sustain much of a quality of life on sugar free this and that, processed frozen food chocked with preservatives and chemicals and fast food diets free from fresh vegetables and full of sodium and who knows what else. But that is how a vast majority of America eats - and barely survives. Nutrition - it affects our bodies, our minds and every other part of our lives.

The point is that what we all are a part of here at Eden's, is actually on the cutting edge of what is coming. No, I'm not a doomsday person, not at all. I'm just a pretty practical girl. It makes more sense to me to grow what we can for ourselves, and export any extra perhaps, sure if there is any, - but why rely on others to import to us, what we can already grow here? OK - you want strawberries in January, or in August for that matter. Maybe we can cheat and get in a California shipment at the local grocery store. But to import things year round like meats, dairy, common veggies and such - all that does is lower the value of what is being grown at home - and put farmers out of biz. History has shown us that.

The saddest part perhaps of all is that what is being imported isn't nearly as fresh or valuable as what is now unavailable locally because the farmer couldn't survive on the lowered prices for his or her products and had to take a day job or lost their farm - or both. His or her crops were far superior to those imported from who knows where and in storage for how long? But, many people don't have an inkling about the importance of eating really fresh food. As long as it looks like a tomato it is one, right? Well, sorta. Unfortunately, the tricks they use to make things look fresh are unknown by many people and many more are sold by the pretty pictures on the boxes - even though the taste inside is far inferior to homemade freshness. Sadly, I think many have forgotten how good fresh, home made food really tastes and nourishes, not only our bodies, but our minds as well. Why does special Thanksgiving dinner really taste so good - probably because much of it is really food - not out of a box or can. (hopefully anyway)

At our workshop yesterday we talked all about the nuts and bolts of growing and ranching. Then, one speaker took us on an interesting path. Energy and Intent.

With what intent are we growing our crops? Many believe that plants grown by someone with a true respect for nature and a love for the process, are going to be far superior plants with less pressure from pests, disease and other problems. When you raise animals with respect and dignity, their bodies don't produce various enzymes or release natural chemicals that can make the meat less palatable as when animals are crowded and abused, scared or neglected. Sure, we still have to work hard and take necessary steps to grow plants and feed the animals, but doing so by using our energy and the energy that exists on the earth in various minerals, etc., in a positive way, can make a big difference in the end results.

I really think there is something to this theory; as "out there" as it may seem to some people. We all have energy - positive and negative. Everything puts off vibes or energy of some sort. These vibes or waves, etc., can be picked up by instruments and measured, so we know it is true. And, we know people tend to do a better job at something when they love what they do. Perhaps part of that is the belief in what you are doing is important, even a mission or a life calling. And perhaps part of that is the energy or vibes you send out are apparent in the final product for other reasons. All I know is that many people who follow a holistic way of doing things, tend to be pretty successful at what they are doing.

Having said that - know that I LOVE growing for you all! It is important to me to be successful for reasons that go way beyond the monetary ones. It pains me to see people unable to get the nutrition they need because they can't afford it, or can't find it, don't know how to prepare it or just don't know how badly they need it. This is personal for me and it is to many who farm. For some, it may be just what has been passed down and expected of them to carry on, although for those who have had a farm passed on to them and welcome it with open arms - they know how blessed they are. Yet for others, we chose to do this, to farm, and have found a way to make it happen, many of us amidst growing metropolitan areas and rising property taxes, pollution and other various societal pressures. It is very heartwarming to think that what is grown locally can have such a positive effect on the people's health and lives who are also local. Many of you are my neighbors! I know what isn't available around here to eat. That is in large part, why I decided to do this. To farm. And even though it has been frustratingly slow to get started, every time I come around that corner by the pond and see those plants coming along - I can't help but smile cuz I know the good stuff is coming! Yeah, there are some weeds out there among the fallow areas - feeding the birds; but the tomato plants, cucumber, squash, beets, peas (yep, guys, your seeds are up!), and the other various things we've planted are all growing and just as healthy as can be. And that is without much water as irrigation issues continue to plague us.

But, as I walk among the plants inspecting their growth (with a flashlight sometimes as it is often dark when I get up and out there especially before the time change), when that sunrise comes up over the horizon, I can't hardly think of anything else I would rather be doing at that given moment. Except wishing I didn't have to rush off so soon to sit at a desk for the next 9 hours. But, that day will come, too. More people need and want what our members are getting ready to enjoy - fresh food grown locally and with care, by someone they can see and get to know and someplace they can visit and feel a part of. Connecting to the food - especially when you have been able to help grow it - just seems to make it even more satisfying when you get to eat it. I can't wait either!

Growing with love and faith. Your prayers for healthy food to nourish your bodies and those of your kids are heartfelt and I believe they are heard and being answered in a positive way. I feel the positive energy through the notes, blog comments, and emails I get from you - and I thank you and appreciate them all as well. It reassures me I'm on the right track even with the setbacks. I can't tell you what all this project will net or who or how many it will ultimately affect, but with the good intentions that are involved by everyone participating, from the paying members, working members and unpaid volunteers who just want to be part of this - I can tell you - it is going to be great!

I'll be out watering soon - with a pump I'm going to rent soon as the store opens. We're still finessing the solar irrigation system (more on that soon) - trying to find a pump that will keep up with our needs till the shed is re-assembled and rain water system is in place. And then of course, we'll need rain...

Bless you and your families this beautiful Sunday morning.


Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ken Meter: Building a Local Food Economy (part 1)

I subscribe to Farmer Brad's blog because, in part, he always finds such good stuff to post! I think you'll find this interesting...





Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Great Steps Forward

Working share member Monica Walker shows
volunteer Emily how to plant Eden's way.
Last Saturday was a great day for Eden's Garden! We had several volunteers come out to help weed and plant seeds, yep more seeds, and water and fertilize. Things are growing slowly, but they are growing and I have seen some buds for the tomatoes, squash and cucumbers - so if ol' Jack Frost will stay away long enough, we could be getting some fruit soon. Perhaps our first season has gotten off to a much later start than I had planned, but I'm basically pleased with the current progress the farm is making. I do wish we'd get a bit of rain, as it would jump start the seeds that are in the ground waiting for moisture to arrive. But, help is on the way....


Saturday late morning a gentleman approached the field to inquire about joining the CSA. He asked some of the typical questions such as what we were planting and how much we were planning to harvest, etc. While I was answering these questions, as I usually do, I mentioned that I was striving to create a sustainable environment on the farm by using wind and solar power to fuel the water pump and future lighting. I shared my plan for the irrigation holding tank and rain water barrel system that will feed the elevated 55 gallon water tank which feeds the drip tape via gravity.
The gentleman nodded, and noticing two of my CSA workshare members fussing over the electric fencing set up, walked over to offer his assistance. That is when he began to share of his ability and interest in helping us with our energy goals.
Herb and his wife, Barbara, have pledged to help the farm achieve its goal of a sustainable energy program. His experience in designing and installing a wind turbine system is going to enable me to skip a lot of trial and error time and his generous offer to donate his expertise and time will save money, too. I'm still not sure about all of the watts and such, but that is where Herb has said he can help simplify things for us non-engineer types.

This is going to be an expandable system and so in the future, it can power much more than the little water pump and a few lights. I am very excited about this opportunity to move even closer to being sustainable out on the farm! Harnessing nature's power to work for us, working with nature instead of against it - is a part of what the organic spirit is all about to me. Why create or use something artificial, if it already exists in nature? And, perhaps more importantly, why pay for it!? Wind is free, sun and rain - free! Right?
I know everyone is anxious, as am I, and as with almost any start up of anything - the set backs have been plentiful, and we're all still wondering about the first harvest dates. All I can say is that things are in the ground and growing. I'm planning and planting for successive harvests, so our winter season should come in more on time. But, I've got my calls out for sweet potatoes and other goodies for your Thanksgiving baskets - things that would have had to be planted much earlier if this were an established farm - and will next be year! I didn't envision it taking so long to get the ground plowed up and ready, but with the lack of rain - it would have been damaging to a plow with that ground as hard as it was. That is all behind us now....

CSA member Sara Barnard works side by side with
volunteer Leo and Sam, a working share member of
the Walker family.
I am so looking forward to future seasons! For those of you who have been in this with me since before we even turned a spadeful of dirt - we have come a LONG way baby! and it wouldn't have been possible without your support. Those of you who have chosen to jump in on the ground floor of this farm, are to be commended and applauded! You are making a difference by supporting local farming - organic farming and a sustainable one, at that. We may not have the bounty we hoped for this first season, but we are laying the ground work for a future of many to come.

This will be a special Thanksgiving. To have this opportunity to farm this way for folks that want to take better charge of their health means so much to me. There are adults, seniors and children all over the metroplex who will benefit in the long run from this farm as it grows.
I'll give thanks for all of you jumping in there with me this first year. And thanks to those of you who are spreading the word and recruiting more members. The best thing I think could happen is that I'm able to break away from dependence on working outside of the farm full time so I can devote more time here. 2 hours of daylight before or after work is not a lot of time to get a lot of things done.

Thank goodness for our workshare folks and volunteers! Here are some of them from this weekend - THANK YOU! What a hardworking group of folks.












Sara Barnard, Butch Gordon and his camera shy son Bubba,
Emily and Leo. Not pictured, but equally as tired,
the Walker kids and Jennifer Smolinsky-Ross.
The plan as it stands right now, is that I will have something for everyone for Sunday, November 24th. For those of you who took advantage of the Heritage Turkeys, you'll be heading down to the farm anyway that day. So, we'll make the first official day of share pick up that Sunday. If you haven't ordered a turkey and can't make it on Sunday, let me know and I'll have yours ready on the regularly scheduled day of Saturday. We'll share more details as the date draws closer and I have a better idea of what will be in your shares.
Keep praying for some rain and thanking Him for all of our members!
Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Anticipation....

Well, after many unforseen setbacks, we are planted! I'm anxiously (still) awaiting the solar charger panel from TSC - 2 weeks and counting now - so watering the crops with a hose by hand from the pond is still how irrigation is happening. I keep hoping for a good soaking rain but it keeps missing the farm. : (

Tomorrow is a work day for csa workshare members and also several volunteers have signed up to help out, too. So we should get a good deal of things done. I am hoping we'll have enough here to disassemble and move the framework for our new lean-to/rainwater catcher. If not, we'll plant some herbs, transfer rain water from the 55 gal drums to the larger basin, finish up the platforms for the irrigation system and do some weeding, watering and fertilizing.

I'll try to remember to take my camera out and take some pics of everyone so you can all see that the field now actually looks like a giant garden!

If you're curious and want to come out, we'll all be out here from about 9 till noon or so. C'mon out!


Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gardening by the Moon - Literally!

Monday morning at 5 a.m. I donned my flashlight and wheelbarrow and filled it with plants and organic soil goodies and headed out to the pasture to put plants in the ground in anticipation of the moved up schedule in the rain.

See, I had last heard the rain wasn't supposed to hit till Tuesday - then, Sunday night as I retired, it was supposed to come at midnight – it was too late and I was too worn out to go back out and do it. I had messed with the irrigation system all day long and never heard the update - and it didn't really "feel" like rain yet. So much for my built in weather predictor this weekend. Way off! Anyway, when I heard I had another window of opportunity to get some crops in the ground before the rain hit, I jumped at it. I have had some seedlings in 2 inch pots for weeks that were very ready to be planted. Mostly they were some warm season things like tomatoes and cucumbers, but that's ok. We may still have enough warm weather ahead to harvest a bit of summer’s goodies, too. The rest were some poor squash plants that already had flowers on them. They really wanted to get planted badly!

So, here I was out in the middle of the pasture digging and planting my little seedlings. Nary a soul was in sight, and it was pretty quiet as well; just the faint sound of my roosters back at the barns alerting everyone of the soon to come sunrise. Then, a flash of lightening. No thunder, so I kept going. Then, about 10 minutes later, another flash and a few drops of rain. Thunder - and then the rain came down! Wonderful, steady, gentle rains. It is amazing how it soaked in just perfectly and even helped to melt many of those chunks we started out a bit concerned about. That is what the farmer from the feedstore told me would happen, and sure enough it did! That sandy red clay just falls apart when it is wet. All you have to do is barely touch it and it mashes.

Life on the farm is kinda laid back, as the song goes, but, in just a matter of a few days, it can go from a crawl to a race to get things in the ground. Before the irrigation system was ready, we couldn't do much more than hoe ground, turn over weeds and dream of what the crops were going to look like and where they'd go.

Then, all of a sudden, you can get water to the rows and it is time for the rain to come and....let the planting begin! I must say that generally I am a pretty early riser most days. But Monday morning when that clock went off and it was the voice of the weatherman saying the rain was still 2 hours away - I shot up out of bed, got dressed, grabbed that flashlight and loaded up much faster than I've ever rushed out of the house for any regular job, that is for sure. Ah, life on the farm….

Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's Here - Sort of....

Well, the irrigation system finally arrived. I opened it all up and started to check in the parts - only to find it missing the end caps for the hoses! Now how can that be? We can't let the water run out the other end of the hose. So I called and the very nice people arranged for a Saturday delivery - which came! I was never so eager to see the UPS man - but, I opened the box and wallah - the wrong parts!

I think I am going to improvise until the correction can be made and I've sent a note to the makers already asking for guidance. I read through all of the other sized kits and it seems most instruct a way to seal off the ends without using these caps. So, tomorrow, that is what I'm going to do. And then get the buckets up on the platforms and run a few tests for water flow. I really want to get some of the bigger seedlings in the ground to catch the rain that they are promising this week.

The CSA workmembers did an awesome job rolling out the drip tape today and keeping after the weeds - which, remarkably, haven't been very bad at all.

I wish we were further down the road - I know you guys are all anxious to start seeing the fruits of the labor, too. Erica, I look up at your note to me, wishing me lots of joy, patience and great weather. The Patience is the BIGGIE as we crawl on to the next step.

The good news I guess you could say is that we continue to get new inquiries. The closer I get to my goal of 30 shares, the closer it brings me to being able to do this more hours a week than I can commit to now. Most of the first season's share money has gone to start up costs. Once I get all of that out of the way, the second season should help with the living expenses so I can focus more on the farm during the week, too.

This isn't my first start up projects over the years, but it is by far the best. I have not ever had the kind of support I have this time. This truly couldn't happen without YOU! I am constantly encouraged by many of you to keep the faith and keep on keeping on, even when it is two steps forward and one step backwards. I think next year this time we'll be so much ahead we'll need to read back to see where we were.

I am also encouraged by the interest in local food as a whole. It seems people are finding out how important it is to support this way of life. Not just for the sake of the farmer's lifestyle, but for the sake of feeding ourselves in general. Corporate farming has started to crumble it seems, in some cases, and certainly seems to have gotten away from us as far as providing what kind of foods many of us wish to eat. Safe, organic, fresh and as nutritious as it can be.

I do have pomegranates that are ripe. If any of you want some, please feel free to let me know and I'll pick some for you to pick up at the next market day - call it a preview share.

Let me know you are out there from time to time with a comment here or there. And I'll get more pics posted soon, too.

Thanks for the prayers and support,


Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Update on Eden's Garden

It has been a bit slow going, but as one of our work share members exclaimed yesterday, "it is finally starting to really look like something!" Indeed the rows are just about all in and seedlings are ready to go into the soil - as soon as we can irrigate them!

Word came Thursday that they finally were able to ship our irrigation system and I expect it any day this week - hopefully by Tuesday. I can then lay out the drip tapes and we can test the flow, making any adjustments to the grade of the rows needed, and next Saturday - plant those babies!
The bases for the irrigation system's buckets arrived today.

All we need now is the steps to the top and to attach the pallets/platforms.

We are using a gravity-fed bucket irrigation system - totally sustainable once we set up the workshed and rain harvesting barrels.

We'll also direct sow some seeds that have been waiting for this cool front that is promised, too.

Welcome to farming in North Texas - just hurry up and wait...

I'm comforted to know that a long time farmer colleague of mine in Grand Saline hasn't gotten his crops in yet either. We had such a dry spell, seems no one could work the soil when we wanted/needed to. But, that just means a later harvest. And, going forward, the soils will need less and less preparation for planting of some things so we'll have carryover from things planted in the summer to fall, plantings from fall carryover to early winter and so on. This being our first planting - there isn't any carryover yet.

Those who work the field will probably have a different appreciation for things as they can see how long it takes to hoe a row, to level the soil out, and in some cases, to remove some of the huge chunks the tiller didn't manage to break up sufficiently. Yes, some of them will have to go - Kevin will be happy to know I'm not going to plant in the huge chunks.

We saved a lot of time though yesterday not worrying about breaking up everything as we were going. We've got through 17 rows - 100' long and 4' wide - that is going to be a lot of veggies!

I'm linking an old story that I thought did a great job on explaining CSA's and it features one of my mentors, Brad Stufflebeam. I thought you might enjoy reading it and seeing other CSA's, too.

I'll keep you posted - come on out to Market Day next weekend - we are hoping to have carving pumpkins and a local art show featuring some winners of the youth photo contest and photos by Jenice Johnson, professional photographer and local newspaper editor that also is one of our CSA subscribers.

Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Working Day

This Saturday will be a work day for our CSA working share members. I've laid out rows to be hoed and we'll spread out more amendments, plant more seeds and (hopefully) transplant some of the warmer season seedlings into the ground.


Our irrigation set up is delayed due to Ike - it actually knocked out power to the plant that makes them in New York! Can you imagine that? So we won't plant unless the irrigation comes in so we can set it up.


We'll need all hands on deck the next few weekends so if you're a workshare member reading this - roll up yer sleeves and be ready to work this and the next several weekends. We're about 2 weeks behind where I want to be so we need to try to condense some of the tasks and get caught up.

Volunteers are always welcome - just let me know you're coming and dress for a farm. Please remember, no pets and no smoking. Thanks!


Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We Made the Front Page!

Check out the story about your CSA in the DMN NeighborsGo - Mesquite/Sunnyvale/Balch Springs edition or online at http://www.neighborsgo.com/stories/21140

Jenice Johnson will be around from time to time to talk to our members about why they joined a CSA and what it means to them and their families. First up was one of our working share members, Butch Gordon and his family, wife Charity and their 5 children.

I must say as a business person, I do see opportunity to make myself a living doing something I really enjoy, playing in the dirt and helping people eat/be healthier. When in the past, farming meant risking it all on your own, the CSA helps make it happen faster as I can focus on the planning and planting instead of how much debt the farm is racking up and worrying about who will buy the product and where I have to go to sell it, etc. This is the ultimate "work from home" job!

As a person who loves people and cares about helping them be healthy, I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to know what I am privileged to do for some of my neighbors. Some of that warm fuzzy feeling I have gets lost in newspaper articles, but I assure you, your stories of how you found me and why are very touching, important and inspiring to me. Growing organically is so cool and rewarding I hope more people take out plots in their own yards to do it on a small scale just for the fun of it.

Some of you have searched and searched for good, healthy, naturally and locally grown food for yourselves and your families - I'm the fortunate one who gets to work the land that has been here all along. I take what I am doing seriously, while having fun and enjoying it every day - and I truly appreciate your support and faith in this project.

Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Ike took a hike!

Well, I have lived in the DFW area for over 16 years now, but I guess I'm a slow learner. I managed to get taken in by the panic over Ike that swept across the state, even to my mom's weather forecast in Washington state, who called to make sure I was "battened down". I made the mistake of watching too many weather forecasts and local news reports via the Internet over the past few days - and it seems they hyped it up a bit when it came to how it would affect us in North Texas. They didn't really know - it was really anyone's guess.

Where I grew up, we didn't have weather that may or may not come in, could or could not hit. I tell you, if they said it was going to come a storm - IT WAS COMING! All we generally had to do was look to our Iowa neighbors in the west a bit and we could see exactly what our weather was going to be like - and then intensify it a little if you lived nearer to Lake Michigan.

So, when all the buzz about a hurricane the size of our great state here in Texas began, I guess I took it literally and got a bit shook by it. The barn over here is still in a state of disrepair from the tornado, although I finally have some bids to begin working with, and my goodness, I live in a house that is nearly 100 years old and I venture to say that the roof is not very young either! So, had I been feeling a bit more secure in the integrity of the structures around me, I'd probably have been like most native Dallasites - "what storm?"

Well, I'm glad to say we did get the barn roof re-secured and all the misc things you keep thinking you're going to do to tidy up, done. If I could only get that darn spring hooked back up to my riding mower so I could've mowed before the rains....oh well, the horses will get to have a snack in the back yard I suppose.

When served lemons, I'm an expert lemonade maker as a rule. This time I just forgot to squeeze enough.

The good news is that the field is tilled and ready for the final steps and planting. We'd have worked today but the winds are pretty gusty and they'll take the fertilizer to places we don't need it to go. So, we've scheduled a CSA workshare work-day for next Saturday, which again is a market day, and the place will really start to look like a farm. We'll hoe rows, spread the amendments and mix them in. Cucumbers should be ready to go in the ground and even some of the little bite size tomatoes. I didn't plan for too many "summer" veggies as I wasn't sure how early we'd get to plant things, but we'll have a few favorites to enjoy for a little bit. And pickles for the winter!

Well - having said all this, it is time to get some work done. We had moved all the seedlings inside to protect them from what was supposed to be this horrible 8 inch rainstorm with 70 mph gusts of wind - now, I think I'll let them back out so they can enjoy a drink of rich rainwater that comes from Above!

See ya'll soon - batteries are charged again, check back for more pics soon!

Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

We're Plowed!

Just a short entry to update everyone following the farm's progress. I know you all are anxious and waiting for our first harvest - well, as I can feel your excitement, remember this is a fall garden, meaning it gets planted in the fall - think October....

The field did get its second round with the tractor and it looks awesome out there. (Batteries died in the camera, so I cant' post a pic right now -you will have to take my word for it.) Jack, an ol' farmer from these parts in days gone by, ran into me at the feed store the other day and told me he'd come over with Larry to watch him plow. "You've got some good soil over there!" He told me. All righty then! Now I'm really chomping at the bit to get that last tilling done so we can really get stuff planted in the ground.

I've got some 250+/- plants started in seed trays. Another batch will get planted this week and our workshare helpers will come next weekend, postponed from today, to plant more and put up the fence around the field.

There have still been some inquiries about shares and we may still have a few join. Technically, I guess we can add folks up to harvest for the season. We have plenty of land ready to go and I have more than enough seeds and plants to grow. So if you have a friend looking to join, just have them get in touch with me.

I'm getting caught up around the house and shop this weekend and praying for a bit of rain, just for good measure, before the final tilling. We want those weeds to be exhausted! Then, compost and other soil amendments will get turned into the soil, fence goes up, rows get hoed, irrigation gets set out, seeds and plants go in and things get growing!

Next Saturday is Market Day, so we'll be open to the public from 9-4, (market is till noon). Come on out and see us! Be sure to bring the kiddos so they can feed the chickens and see the new baby chicks, too. Here is a pic of a few....




Marie

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

After the rain....

We wait for the rain, praying with anticipation that it will come. Then, it won't stop! But, I firmly believe the seasons happen just they way they are supposed to. There still are certain things we as humans, can't control - thankfully! The "trick" is, we have to learn to sit still, listen, watch, really observe and even feel nature at work so we can work with it. Sounds a bit mysterious, but I think the more you are out in nature, the more you see it differently. So for some reason, I'm really not frustrated at the week or so I felt like I "lost" to the rains for getting the gardens ready for planting. I think we're right on time.

Now it is true, sometimes you can "feel" a time where there is an opportunity to get a head start. Brad and Jenny, my farmer friends near Bryan, had that slot this summer and are just about to enjoy some really late summer or very early fall, however you want to look at it - squash. And, when you have beds that are established you can generally catch those windows - if the prior season's plants are all done, the beds are clean and you've been able to re-work and prepare them for the next crop - before that short window closes.

It is amazing to watch the trees seem to cry out to the heavens for a break during the summer dry spells - you can really almost hear them! Then, even more awesome, is to watch the skies open up and give them what they ask for - what their Maker knows they need! Why the floods then? Sometimes, it is because we have used up too much of the precious ground that should be drinking in the precious rains. It has nowhere else to go. Coming from a family of construction industry workers, my thoughts about development are not always kindly received. I'm sure there is a balance somewhere - I really hope for future generations we figure it out - soon.

(OK - it is Sunday morning and I'm feeling a bit spiritual I guess - but then, you come out here and see all that just "is" and I don't know too many who won't feel it, too. It is hard to escape, even if you wanted to.)

We're going to get to really plow the plot up today - it should be awesome now that the ground is good and soft - a far cry from a few weeks ago when it was like a dust storm! Our friend from Canton, Glen McIlvain, is bringing in his tractor for us again. After he plows, he'll hit it with the disk once more to smooth out any big clumps. If it is smooth enough then, the amendments can get added and our work share members will be putting up the fence next weekend. We're also going to be starting more seeds throughout the week and hopefully everyone will have a chance to hoe a row next weekend! Y'all can come out and see us if you want, you are certainly more than welcome, to help or just observe. We'd love to have you!

The Dallas Morning News' NeighborsGo on line paper is going to follow our progress by stopping out from time to time and filming things. This blog will have links to the on line video series by our friend and editor, Jenice Johnson, called "Life on the Farm" when it starts, and my Life on the Farm blog, seperate from my normal "Eden's Gardner" gardening blog, is on NeighborsGo for those who are not CSA members but that might be interested in seeing a new farm popping up right in their town but don't know about this blogspot. Feel free to visit both. I'm not a professional writer, these are just my attempts at tracking the process. Who knows, maybe it will inspire someone else to start farming a small plot of land! That is the goal of TOFGA - to grow more farms, locally, organically and bring more healthy and naturally good food to the tables of the folks who live nearby; eat local. We're on our way to do our part! All of us together can make a small splash and watch the ripples......

Enjoy your Sunday - try to stop and watch some nature today - you'll be blessed for it if you can.
The beautiful rainbow shot above was taken by CSA member David Sheppard after one of the first of the thirst quenching rains came through - look closely, you'll see the double promise!

Marie

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Monday, August 18, 2008

While we wait

Just wanted to let y'all know some of what we're going to be planting for you this fall. I've completed and submitted the seed order for what will be a bit of a later fall harvest than we'd hoped for, but you just can't control the rain! It has taken this long to get some so we can actually work the soil. The second and final round with the tractor should take place this week - if we can get enough of a break in the rain to get out it out there. You know the saying, when it rains, it pours.

The good news is, here in north central Texas, our growing season can last well into what most of the rest of the country considers winter. Things will slow down for sure, the daylight hours growing fewer will impact growth, but the temps will hold steady or generally be controlled with some frost cloths or hoop houses to protect from most of those early season cold snaps.

Here is a sample of what we're looking at planting;
Green Finger Cucumbers, a variety of lettuces & greens; several varieties of squash - Delicata, Red Kuri, Sweet Reba Acorn to name a few; beets; Mammoth Melting Peas; Leeks; cutting onions; chard; radishes; pok choy; garlic (for next spring); and a variety of herbs for cutting fresh to add to your cooking each week! Ok - now I'm hungry....

Keep checking back for more updates and pics - as I have time, I'll post.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!
Marie

Friday, August 15, 2008

What's that falling out of the sky?


oh it is R A I N!!!! And a nice, steady one at that. We really need this - and we're supposed to get rain for the next 3 or so days! This means the plowing will probably take place mid week next week.

It is Friday the 15th and there are still about 10 spaces open for the fall season's CSA shares. We're going to go ahead and move forward even if we don't get 26. I've kept my "day" job, so I can still pay my bills for now. And the grocery bill will go down a lot!

I have several folks who've requested working shares, which of course, will help with the work load, especially while I need to keep my regular job. (Sorry, there are not any more working shares available at this time.)

If you have signed up, look for a short note from me this weekend and we'll talk about pick up days/times, the carpool idea and a few other things that have been brought up.

That is all for now - enjoy the rain!

Marie
Eat your food - naturally!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Get your umbrella!

I guess you guys have been praying for rain - cuz it is on its way! This is going to help the ground preparation process so much. We were able to disk the soil but the ground was so hard the plow would've potentially damaged the tractor had he brought the one he had. So, we are borrowing another style of plow from another friend of the tractor owner - and we'll really plow up the ground like we need to.

I suppose if the ground wasn't so hard, a few trips with a disk would be ok - but we really need to deep plow this first time to get up as much of the prairie grasses as we can - root and all. Thankfully, this isn't really a Bermuda pasture - whew! - just a little bit seems to have survived what was apparently an attempt to seed it many years ago. But, by plowing it up - we'll expose roots and they'll cook in the sun and we'll remove the vegetation and add it to the compost heap. We'll make good use of whatever we pull out.

We have about 12 folks so far committed - which is great! I really didn't know if anyone would respond to this CSA, being it is our first year. But I am very honored to have your support and it is my pleasure to do this for you - for us all!

Eating healthy is so very important. Much more so than most people really realize. We as a society have gotten so far away from nutrition, eating from scratch - eating around a dinner table, I truly believe that is why we have so many people suffering from so many things today.

I urge you to check out the book, Makers Diet. Not for the purchasing of any of his products, but for the theory of how we have so far strayed away from what our bodies were designed to eat.

Well - more another day. Feel free to add your comments. And again, thank you for letting me do this for us all!

Marie
Eat your food - naturally!
video

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Breaking Ground

August 9th - D Day - or should it be P Day (for plowing day)? At any rate, I went out to the pasture this morning, it was relatively quiet for an urban farm - the quiet sounds of roosters and a bullfrog or two mixed in with the sound of highway traffic. Almost perfect.

Here is what the pasture looks like at this moment, early sun coming up over the trees. Breaking ground is exciting. I am waiting on the tractor and plow to arrive to get started. While I waited, I went to see my feed store friends, Jacky and Matt, about some fencing. Jacky is going organic! Well, at least on one of his acres of garden anyway. It is a start. He wanted to know what to do to "go organic". Turns out, last year he already was. He keeps rabbits and used manure over the entire garden last winter and let it mellow the soil - had the best tomatoes of all his friends! It's catchy - once you see how well it works. He'll be hooked in no time.

Well, here is the video and some sounds of the morning - listen closely, you can hear the bullfrog's song. I plan to tape some of the ground breaking so you can see the transformation from pasture to gardens.



Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!






video

Friday, August 8, 2008

Twas the night before ground breaking...

AUGUST 8th - Tomorrow is the big day - the big tractor and plow are coming in to break up the ground! Fortunately, you only have to plow deeply like this the first time you break ground in a sustainable farming operation. But we really will save a lot of labor and time using a tractor versus a small or even large, tiller. In subsequent years, we'll use very little in the way of mechanical equipment. By doing this, we will help keep the topsoil in place and the life of the soil that lives close to the surface.

I'm very excited to get going and if you'd like to come watch, you're more than welcome. We'll probably not get started too early, our friend is coming in from East Texas to do the work.

Our friend Jenice at NeighborsGo.com will also be chronicaling the event as well as the progress of this urban farm. Watch for video updates to come at http://www.neighborsgo.com/edensgardener.

We still have plenty of shares open. I want to welcome the first 5 members though and I look forward to meeting all of you in person!

Marie
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Humble Beginnings

It is August 7th - almost the 8th - and finally the 100's seem to have ceased. At least, the air feels less heavy, the evenings are cooling a bit and the end of the heatwave is in sight.

Still no rain, which would've been good considering we're scheduled to break ground for the new fall garden Saturday morning. It may be a bit dusty, but we need to get started. Already a bit behind where we wanted to be.

Good thing we're going to practice sustainable, no-till gardening techniques. A good tractor is hard to find in the city! My good friend from Canton has to come into town with his big John Deere and a plow but it will be worth it - he'll get to take home fresh produce once it comes in - working shares, gotta love it!

Well, here is where I'll try to keep things updated as I can, a bit of a journal if you will. For now, I'm still planning what and how many to plant. If you have some special requests for the CSA shares - let me know!

Eat your food - naturally!
Marie