Sunday, October 31, 2010

Meanwhile Back in the Dirt....

The Culprit!

The caterpillars that have been helping themselves to much of our fall plantings, now have an identity. Kimberly Schofield, Program Specialist-Urban IPM at our local Texas AgriLife Extension office, quickly reported back to me from this simple picture I submitted asking about our furry, hungry creature. Seems it is a variety of the salt marsh caterpillar. It becomes a white moth. For more detail, she provided this link;

The list of what they eat is as long as my arm, and included most of our fall crops;

beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, lettuces, onions, peas, tomatoes, and turnips.

I'm going to add, Swiss chard, broccoli and cauliflower to that list!

It is great to know that this service is available to everyone from our extension office. She even recommended the organic control method for me;

Spinosad and B.t. kurstaki - both are bacterial controls.

One is specific to Lepidoptera and the other, Spinosad, is more of a broad based insect killer so we are careful NOT to spray on anything were our honeybee friends would be working, such as open blooms. Both must be consumed by the offenders to be effective.

Our "girls" at work!

They were eating up the BT as fast as I sprayed it on new plantings. But the spinosad was also used after 3 sprayings of the BT seemed less than effective, and still we are getting severe pressure from these guys. Knowing that they also feed on the broad leafed weeds, perhaps means they are not making enough of a meal out of our crops to consume enough of either bacteria to kill them. After all, our plugs only have about 4 leaves on them when they hit the soil.

Baby Cole Crop Plants

I'm holding the Brussels sprout plugs in the greenhouse for a little bit, to make sure we have had a reduction in the numbers of caterpillars and to let the plants get a little bigger before we subject them to these creatures. If they can make enough food/store enough energy in their root systems, then they will have a better chance of surviving an attack. Or, maybe they will finish their cycle....we can hope!

There is still time to get in more seeds for late fall & winter; carrots, radishes, kohlrabi, turnips, beets, lettuces, cabbage, cutting (green) onions, chard, assorted mustard greens and various other cool season things, which are going to actually germinate better now that the soil temps are cooler. They don't much like the soil at 85 or higher and you'll generally get very spotty germination results in that situation. We still have about 12 hours of sunlight a day, plenty of time to get these cool season crops going in time for holding them over the winter for early spring harvesting. We're expecting a bit warmer than normal winter season with dryer than normal conditions - both not so bad compared to last year's monsoon and ongoing arctic blasts.

So, onward we go - squishing our way through fall and replanting/resowing to keep our garden baskets filled!


Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chefs for Farmers - Through the Farmer's Eyes

photo courtesy of

Chefs for Farmers' table for 100

Field to Fork - in the Field

Well, somewhere in between cleaning up, putting things back in place, feeding critters, planting fall/winter crops and harvesting same, I've managed to put down a few thoughts about this weekend's intimate dining experience for 100 of my newest friends. Most I'd never met, but many I imagine I'll see again, as we all certainly have good food in common and a passion for that which comes from local farmers.

Guests enjoy farm to field - in the field

Blue Lotus Floral Design Decorated the Tables with Natural Selections that

Complimented Nature in its Magnificence

Click the link above for more pics by me and our WWOOFer, Kyle Watson, and other coverage of the dinner on my neighborsgo blog or on Eden's Organic facebook page here for even more notes and other articles about the dinner.

This was truly a first of its kind dinner of this magnatude outdoing our Barn Aid by 7 chefs and about 60 guests. The tables were set up in a long row out in the gardens, well, right next to them in the pasture anyway, where we all ate like a big happy, gourmet food, fine wine dining family.

Susan Pollard and her Girls

We welcomed guests to the farm as many are each 1st and 3rd Saturday morning by a host of local farmers introducing their farms and wares. The Texas Honeybee Guild's girls stole the show and Sonja's hefty loaves of freshly baked breads were drooled over as newcomers to Eden's learned they can experience all of this and more at our market days.

Chef McCallister and His Host of Featured Chefs Introduce the First Course

The chefs were happy as larks, helping each other assemble their plates and just giddy with comments about the local food that was used to prepare each unique dish. Chef Abraham of Salum chose to see what we had at Eden's that he could create with and settled upon the now ever more popular Cucuzza, an Italian gourd harvested as a young, tender fruit and used as a summer squash could be. However, I don't think Cucuzza has ever seen a dish like it was used in Sunday night - Seared Scallop with Eden's Cuccuza, Caprino Royal's Goat Cheese, and Pancetta Bread Pudding with Grain Mustard Vinaigrette drizzled all over. Mmmm Mmmm Good!
Other farms besides Eden's that were featured at the dinner were MOTLEY FARMS, CAPRINO ROYALE, TASSIONE FARMS, BARKING CAT FARMS, & CAPRINO ROYALE

The weather could not have been more perfect, you'd thought we ordered it in special as the cloud cover that kept us all cool for the set up broke up just as the sun began to set in a spectacular display of colors over the farm. Soft music played in the background and each guest was treated to a gift bag filled with various yummies including a pumpkin bread loaf or muffin by Eden's Market Day's very own, Bedford Bakery -set to open any time now in Bedford.

Susan Pollard, the queen bee of DFW & I enjoy a toast over the 1st course

Susan Pollard of The Texas Honeybee Guild was my dinner guest for the evening and we laughed and ooo'd and aaah'd over the best dinner either of us had been fortunate enough to eat in a very long time. Where else can you get 8 fne chefs and an attentive wait staff to keep your wine glass filled and your empty plate cleared all in the company of great people and somewhere that you don't have to do the dishes!

I think folks will be reminicing about this event for awhile to come - at least until the 2nd dinner in the Chefs for Farmers series kicks off in Decemeber out in Fort Worth. Details to come soon.

In the meantime - the broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard and cabbage are being planted along with mustard greens, mizuna, lettuces and other cool season loving crops that will feed our CSA and market shoppers throughout the season - the caterpillars are munching, at least till the weather changes from summer back to fall again and Life on the Farm goes pretty much back to normal.


Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

When It Rains It Pours

That is how it goes with the weather in North Texas it seems. We go for weeks on end without rain and then, 6 inches in less than 24 hours - and a twister to top it all off!

Thankfully this time, it was about a mile away and didn't do any damage to my farm. I was up in the same oak hay loft that had saved the lives of the horses from the roof that collapsed on that barn only a few short years before when a spring tornado wasn't as friendly to us. I took a few pictures and said a few prayers up there yesterday.

We'll know in a few weeks if the only damage was some felled old dead trees near the pond when the seeds I planted on Monday emerge - or if they washed on down the creek into the Trinity.

A fellow farmer wrote this;
"We farmers live with the weather. It is our friend and our aggravation, something we spend our days thinking about, cannot change, and often complain about. We surround ourselves every day in the heat or the cold, the drought or the flood. Sounds a lot like love to me."
Glen Miracle of Laughing Frog Farm

See you September 18th, at the next market day, and stay for the veggie gardening class at 2.
Eat Your Food - Naturally!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Loss of Life on the Farm.....

Farm visitor and friend Julianna feeding Chipper and friends in their yard.

Sometimes Life on the Farm is difficult. I don’t mean in the sense of it's hot or hard work or anything like that. Every career has its ups and downs and farming is actually very fullfilling in most respects. But what I mean, is for me, sometimes parts of it are just difficult to understand.

Granted, I am no doubt a city girl who plopped herself into a “country” occupation in the middle of an urban area, so I wasn't raised with a country mindset. And rural as it may be, to the delight of most city official types and those anxious for urban sprawl, it is still very developed and overrun with concrete, buildings, apartments and lacks of green space as our town "progresses". But where my farm sits, on 14 acres, surrounded by 90+ more vacant acres and a pretty large 10+ acre tract across the street and another 6 or so next door, it surprises me the degree to which I am starting to have city critter problems.

Coyote, fox, the occasionally loose dog – all of these things I would expect to have. But last night, whatever it was that broke into my chicken yard, was there just for the sake of the killing. Not one of my chickens was removed for a full meal. And this type of killing, is indicitive of city living critters. I hear the story from my fellow city dwelling chicken owners, all too often. But this has just started to become something I've had to even think about here. And this is the 3rd attack now.

The scent of skunk was pungent in the air early this morning when I awoke - at about 3 am thanks to little Ed. (He’s still a kitten and on nocturnal timing and wanted to chew on my toes.) I came out of my closed up room and it smelled as if the skunk was camping out in my kitchen its scent was so strong. But, he/she does tend to take up residency under my old house so I didn’t give it much thought. I suspect this is the same skunk I recently lost one of my hens to, and rescued 4 out of 5 of her chicks from.

Well, those chicks, now pullet size, and 3 of my full grown roosters appear to have been the latest victims. The faint smell of skunk was still in the air when I was gathering up the limp frames and feathers of my friends this morning.

I may never get used to this part of urban farm life. The senseless loss of life. At least in the country, the reason for the loss is generally to feed a hungry coyote or a momma and her young, or a hawk or owl. But this was just a slaughter. And my heart is heavy and a bit angry at the "circle of life" story. Why such violence in the animal world? Are there not enough trash cans to overturn or rabbits to chase down - or whatever skunks generally eat?

People say "Your loose chickens are safer in coops" rather than allowed to roam free like naturally they would be – well, I rarely lose any of my chickens roosting up in the rafters of my barns all night long. Even the big ol' "chicken" snake one of my horse boarding customers has nicknamed The Kracken, doesn't bother them unless they are an abandoned sick chick or missed egg. But, trapped in a coop, they are helpless – with no where to go, no way to get away. This creature, this ruthless critter – tore at that coop until it ripped chicken wire loose from the wooden frame – just to kill its sleeping residents.

So, this morning I said good bye to the 4 remaining chicks, Popeye – my one eyed rooster, No-Butt, who defended himself against a dog about a year ago and came away with everything but his, well, butt feathers – but had re-grown the most beautiful white striped tail feathers in its place, and to my sweet Chipper, (son of the late mysteriously missing gentle Chief), who was also one of the two beautiful and gentle roosters I would take with me to educational talks, special events and just bring out at market day to meet the kids and show people how gentle roosters can really be.

I’ll miss them all of course. And I realize that “they are only chickens” – as some more seasoned to farm animal deaths or those callused to sentiment might say, but they were MY chickens and they were like pets to me. So imagine having 7 of your pets lost, all at once, overnight. This was not a good morning. Made seeing 3 flats of fall squash, beans and melon seedlings on the floor of my greenhouse an hour later somehow less maddening – knowing it was one of my yard chickens that runs free who’d found its way in there – I could hardly get angry. I’ll just replant.

Snowball will have to work all of the shows now for awhile, until I can find another of my roosters to tame. They are so much more afraid of us than we can be of them. It takes a long time to get them to really trust you so they don’t try to flap their wings like crazy to get away – which scares most kids and adults alike in a close up setting.

And tonight, I’ll have to set my alarm for the wee hours to see to it that my other friends that are in the other coop stay safe until I can figure out how to safeguard their coop. I'll have to set a live trap - much to the shigrin of my friend Bonnie Bradshaw with DFW Wildlife Coalition, who says you can't effectively relocate wildlife. This one is going away.

If only my neighbors didn’t care so much about having chickens get on their property that I have to worry they will call animal control again to come pick them up as they wander to their barns; then none of my chickens would have to be sitting “ducks”, locked up in jails at night. They could all roost in the barn at night and be like real chickens.

That is Life on the Farm in the 21st Century I guess.

Anyone got a recipe for skunk?

UPDATE! - After further investigation, 2 ducks were also found, near the pond - with footprints of a dog..... that would explain a few things - including the brute force in which the wire was torn apart on the coop - AND the exit hole found later on at the other side that I didn't see in my grief this morning. Sounds like we have a mad dog on our hands......that can be a bad thing. A very bad thing.

MarieEat Your Food - Naturally!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wearing it on My Sleeve

I actually find that I have quite a few "emotional" moments out on my farm. From watching a foal, just minutes after it was born, rise to its feet, to burying an old "friend" who's day came, to wishing my father would have been around to see our first, truly bountiful spring harvest and get to taste the fruit of my efforts, after watching me struggle for so long and not seeing the value in the "weeds" we harvested in the winter, such as bok choi - those moments are still tough - to the simple joys of needing to bring the tractor out to the gardens because I can't possible carry back all that I've harvested from seeds I'd sown with my own hands.

I don't generally share all of those moments on this blog, because, well, they are my moments and this is a farming blog. But it is about "Life on the Farm" and these moments are a part of this life I've created here for myself on the farm. So, at risk of boring anyone, here is a peek at today's "moment", and who knows, just maybe it will touch or inspire someone.

Susan and Brandon Pollard are beekeepers and friends of mine. They are the ones who dress up like honeybees and bee keepers and advocate on behalf of honeybees - rescuing hives and growing up new colonies and then fostering them out all over the Dallas area - zip code honey and Texas Honeybee Guild, you've heard of it, right? Well, a few months ago, I was very blessed. They decided to put 5 bee hives here at Eden's. Wow! I was so touched as I know there are a lot of other places they could be putting them, but I graciously accepted the bees and a learning colony for the training of apprentices was created here at the farm. It was a great day for Eden's Garden to say the least. (80% of your crops are bee pollinated!)

Today they came to the farm, apprentice in tow, to "check on the bees". I was working in the gardens and didn't go back to the hives with them - besides, they were going to "suit up" and I thought I'd just as soon not be part of that little party. Having met up with a red wasp and a bumble bee within 2 weeks of each other this summer, I'm feeling a bit, er, ah, cautious shall we say about purposely exposing myself to that environment at the moment. There are enough of them flying around my gardens and I love them - but I don't need to go knock on their front doors! The swelling on my arm just finally went down two days ago!

After they did whatever it is they do to "check on the bees", they stopped by the gardens on their way back. Susan handed me something and said "Marie, here is your first taste of your own land." She was giving me a piece of the honey comb, complete with a glob of honey oozing out of it. She repeated that this was what my land tasted like, as she invited me to suck on the comb and taste the honey on it.

As I tasted that sweet, earthy, richness - it brought me to tears. Indeed, I was tasting - Eden. Now, some of you know the story, so forgive the repeat. But for the rest of you to understand why the simple taste of honey would make what many think is a tough farm-girl cry, let me try to explain....

Several years ago in one of my weekly small group meetings from my church, a friend gave me a scripture out of the Old Testatment to encourage me. It starts in Ezekiel 36, where it is describing Israel of course, but often times we apply the lessons/messages to our own lives and I have no problem with that. (How often do we relate to a song?)!

Someone had shared the scripture with her and her husband as they were experiencing some of life's "issues" and she found comfort in it and felt led to share it with me - not having any idea what I was in the process of doing here on my ranch - but knowing I was hoping for some direction with my business ideas.

If you take a look at that scripture, starting in about verse 6 of chapter 36, and liberally change some of the language from nations to peers or mountains to pasture, etc., you might be able to see how it could help someone feel better about a difficult situation they found themself in. This place had once been a thriving business, no, not a farm, but nonetheless - work with me here - and many had told me how bad things were and that it was such a shame the place was so empty now, etc.

It goes on to say that, and I paraphrase again, despite all of the things I'd done wrong, or not done, etc., things would be ok - turn out right, I'd be shown mercy. And, when it gets to verse gets real personal. It was one of those moments when someone says exactly the right thing at the right time to you and you know, you just KNOW it was meant for you to hear it. Verse 35 named my farm - the name I had already picked out and was calling the recently opened community gardens;

v34"The fields that used to lie empty and desolate - a shock to all who passed by - will again be farmed. v35 "And when I bring you back, people will say "This godforsaken land is now like EDEN'S GARDEN!".

And as Susan handed me that peice of honeycomb and told me again to "taste your land, taste Eden's Garden." - I lost it. Talk about a "moment".
And Susan, I daresay, had not ever heard that story - but she will read about it soon.

Well, after that, we walked around as I showed them all what was growing, what their bees had help to pollinate, and we heard a squeaking - uh oh - was it a bird? No, in fact, it came running out of the brush towards us - it was......

Shall we call her, "Eden"?

and I've tagged her "Eden". At least for now, until I hopefully find her a good home and someone chooses to change it. Solomon and Eve are not likely to take too kindly to a youngster - Eve has already made it clear she wants no part of the little one. A shame she can't stay here, but I would feel badly for her to be isolated from my other 2 cats. This is a farm with coyotes and hawks, 4ft wing spanned owls that swoop down in the night (and cause your sturdy and wonderful guard-barn cat to disapear, yes, I'm afraid so...), and not a place for a loner kitty.

So, if you want your own little piece of Eden, and can convince me you'll let this precious little one live in your home, not declaw her but will have her spayed - just in case she gets out and to save your own sanity - she may just go home with you for a small donation to KittyCo (or your favorite low cost spay/neuter, no-kill shelter). See, I also have 2 male cats living in my house and needless to say, the chemistry is just perfect at the moment and if you've ever had male cats, you know what happens when you "upset" isn't pleasant.

Yellow Moon & Stars Watermelon

In addition to all of that, I picked nearly 100 lbs of watermelon today - ok, so 1 weighed in at 24lbs by itself, but still! As well I picked over a half bushel of costata romenesco zucchini, 2 more Arava melons, some cucuzza, (warning - if you Google that, be sure to turn down your volume a bit, you'll be serenaded by Louis!) and a handful of little fingers eggplant and some assorted peppers. So, it was quite the day on the farm today.

I think it is time for some lemon basil pesto on market day bread, a wild summer greens salad with some of my stray, but hardy, cherry tomatoes that are hanging in there and wash it down with some lavender sun tea and one of Farmer Mary Gilstrap's peaches for desert!

I hope you had a great day, too. I know I did - and it is only 4 o'clock.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Stroll Through the Garden

Just thought I'd update the videos. This was of course before the rain - now it is wet and everything is happier still! The carrots will pull out nice and easy, the onions and garlic can be dug up without breaking a soil fork and the potatoes might actually finish growing.

This week we'll have a nice little variety for everyone. Bring any extra herbs you want to thin out and share with each other - seems you all grow so many, we need to inventory what all you need me to grow for you. The Lemon Basil and cilantro are coming up and the new rosemary is rooted and slowly growing. The English Lavender is now in bloom and there are still plenty of dried blooms from the Spanish for your lavender tea, lavender brownies or whatever you can use dried lavender for. The dill is about done. Hatched a couple of swallowtails - it has done its job.

Enjoy the stroll through Eden's Garden and I'll see you Saturday!


Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When the Farm Meets Reality

Life on the farm is usually "kinda laid back", to quote a famous song. However, it has its moments. Like this morning at 4:23 when I was awakened by the hysterical screeching of one of my hens outside my bedroom window. Something was after her or her nest most certainly as it was not courting time and that was not a cry of "leave me alone dear, I'm not in the mood right now!".

So I went flying out the front door, not sure what I thought I was going to do empty handed and barefooted, but I could quickly tell, she was still on the inside of the backyard fence line and not as far away as she had sounded. So back inside through the house I ran, this time picking up a flashlight and shoving my now freshly cut grass covered feet into a pair of muck shoes, out the back door to the huge oleander where she must have been hiding prior to her being accosted.

My glasses were not in the bathroom where they normally were, so I was half blind, but there is not much question in my mind that the white furry flash I saw in the corner dragging off my hen was that of the tail of a skunk that used to compete for my barn cat's dinner every night. (my barn cat has disappeared, by the way, and now I'm wondering if Pepe had something to do with that, too!)

I had a stick in my hand, as my gun was in the barn from having just recently chased off a stray dog who had come sniffing around looking for lunch the other day. And without anything else all I could do was hope to scare the skunk off into leaving my sweet hen to possibly recover from whatever damage he may have done to her so far. No such luck....he dragged her off under the house where I heard her final gasp of a half screech. My poor girl. I was too late to help her.

They won't always stay up close to the barn where they are much, much safer. It is these renegade chickens that brave the cold, cruel urban world of reality outside of the safety of their farmyard that I often lose in the still of the night. Either to an animal catcher, y'all remember the rooster's tail story back a year or so ago, or to a hungry four-legged predator. Even the snakes that patrol the barn are more interested in rats, eggs (which I try to find every day) and scaring my horse boarding customers than taking on a full grown chicken.

Now the race was on to see if I could perhaps save her nest of eggs, as I didn't hear any chirping babies left behind, and I had a broody hen who would surely adopt and incubate them the rest of their way. While mosquitoes surely fed on my bare legs and arms, I pushed aside the thick branches of the old mature where I figured she'd been nesting just moments earlier. Thick, heavy coverage - no wonder she thought she was safe in there. No dog would have ever found her, that is for sure. But the only thing I could find, even after returning to the house to hunt down my glasses so I could actually see, was a surprised mouse staring back into my flashlight glare.

This is the part of farming that is not enjoyable. I treat my chickens like pets, many are named, and it is much different to lose one of these than when one of the thousands in a flock of nameless birds disappears and no one even notices, except maybe the dog on duty who had fallen asleep on the job. Not that most all farmers with a heart don't dread the loss as I do, and I've come to accept that I can't always protect all of them, but it is harder to tell one is missing when they are not part of the handful of critters joining you for lunch outside by the house or greeting you at the back door for breakfast several times a week - hoping you drop a crumb of that sandwich or toss them a stale cracker or some of dinner's scraps. Because, don't ya know, there isn't enough for them to eat on the 2 or so acres they roam all day.....

Well this was in much contrast to the potential winner of a funny home video contest from an event the other day when the trailer turned into a spontaneous see-saw as I pushed down on the trailer hitch from the neck of the trailer....and the tiller and tractor implement became partially airborne, along with my water bottle and a few other things....thankfully, I was solidly standing on the ground and did not join them in a heap on the tailgate of the trailer. I didn't hear any distant laughter so I don't think my moment was witnessed by any of my next door neighbors who surely often get a chuckle out of my moments of learning curves....another thing about urban farming - you more often have an audience than when your farm is surrounded by other farmland, so many of your farm escapades are not just your own to muse over. Oh well, keeps me and my neighbors amused.

I suppose I'll get an extra early start today, now that I'm extra wide awake. Maybe make myself a fresh batch of blueberry muffins for breakfast since I have an extra hour or so before the sun comes up and I break the news to Nobutt that one of his companions is gone. And I'm not much of a skunk hunter....but I see a call to the wildlife management group later today, I've had about enough of Pepe and his gang, he better hope they find him before I do.


Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What's Growing on the Farm

No E coli on the Romaine at your local direct farm to market stand

When multiple farms' harvests are combined into one - it makes it rather difficult to isolate the problem. The result - massive recalls.... The Latest Outbreak.....

One of the many valid points by Brad Stufflebeam at the hearing last week - IF, a small direct market farmer had a problem with one of their crops, which they rarely do as a direct result of the kind of farming we do - it would be traceable - immediately. The entire country's market of lettuce and anything containing it wouldn't need to be shut down and recalled. When will they learn?

Meantime, Life on the Farm...
Spring is being pushed out by early warm temps and dry weather in April. April showers? not in North Texas....I'd have to double check, but I think we had a grand total of less than an inch here on the farm. May is not starting out any wetter.

So that means irrigation is going full speed ahead and with our "off the grid" system down due to a lightening strike taking out our circuit board, I'm having to do my part at stinking up the air which i hate. But, we have to get water on the gardens, too and we're not getting much help from Above right now.

Since we need to rebuild our board anyway and do some rethinking about things, I am thinking about a long term solution that includes sinking a dc powered well pump into some pipe out in the pond. Seems there are far more choices for dc powered well pumps than continuous run land pumps we're finding and we'll need the ever expanding power of a larger pump as we continue to expand and need to irrigate more crops over time. We'll see what our wonderful volunteer engineer says. Seems I've taught him well as he's now busy growing a successful home garden for he and his wife and doesn't get out to the farm as often....

A drip tape monster is tamed

We were on the receiving end of the gifting of some drip tapes from farmer Sharlena who moved on to AZ to be with family. While finding all of the little leaks that come with prior years' tapes takes some time, being able to re-use the tapes that would otherwise have ended up in a dump before their time is a good thing. We do our best to patch and plug, thankful for the savings of not only our capital.

Naturally Beautiful

We're harvesting the last of the lettuce this week before it bolts with the early heat that came on last week and the one before. They are sure pretty and what our CSA can't consume, will go out for our hungry market day friends on the 15th so be sure to come, 9-noon. The Gleaning Network and a few local "hungry families" will enjoy the rest that is left.

Market Day's have been fun and busy this spring. We have a few new farmers/producers this year and our little "boutique" market is coming along nicely. Far as we know, we're still the only all organic/clean food market around - maybe in the state. And while it keeps us small, my point for sticking to this policy is that if you're going out of your way to look for good, local, food, might as well find clean, nutritionally dense food, too. Food that is grown locally is great, as it is fresher than the supermarket's offerings for sure - but I don't want pesticides on my food and I want to support those who support the earth's sustainability in their growing practices for many reasons.

We have an organic dairy and produce farm scheduled to join our market in June and as the produce comes in, so will the farmers we've been talking to including a local garlic farmer and various market farmers' seasonal produce growers with things like corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, squash, etc.

The rainbow of carrots are looking good here at Eden's - from above anyway - and I can't wait to harvest them. Beets, collards and the chard are dodging whatever has been eating the green mustard and our kale. Looks like a small black beetle that nothing else wants to eat. I don't like to use Spinosad, as it is non-selective even though it is an organic product, when eaten, accidentally in a water droplet or on the leaves as pests consume them, it will kill it's eater. So struggle as I may to stay with a target use control, we'd like to have some green mustard before summer comes on and I'll carefully spray just those plants when the winds die down. Bt , another organic tool, (this one is a specific insect targeted control), needs to go on the squash and tomatoes as I've started to see signs of nibbling - usually a caterpillar of some sort.

Parris Island Romaine at its Peak

It's dry and I suspect that is what the plants are hollering about - We Want Water! I'm doing so with irrigation, but nothing compares to a nice, gentle soaking rain. We pray.

Probably our biggest disappointment this winter has been the spinach and strawberries. Too much rain this winter kept several rows under standing water much of the growing season and roots need air to breathe as well as moisture to grow. We'll see about converting these obviously low and flood prone areas to compost areas rather than growing rows in the future. The compost piles will serve as water breaks and the "tea" that does run off should make anything downhill quite happy. :)

Our CSA potluck picnic was lots of fun and everyone seemed to really enjoy getting to meet others who are like-minded in the support of small, local urban farms - this one in particular. We toured the back 40 and saw where the honey bees' new home will be later this spring/summer. There are spring shares available - for details on how to join us and help support a small, local growing farm.

Supporting local farmers, organic or not, and growing some of your own food, helps send a message to DC and your state that you want choices in your food sources. We're not advocating an end to big ag, just a correction to what the results of it have produced.

Many thanks for your support of local farms, farmers, and clean food.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Food Safety "Listening" Session Comments

Here is what 2 of my fellow farmers so elequently shared with the FDA down in San Antonio. Please listen to the logic in what they say - and then explain to me how the absense of logic in the proposed regulations doesn't make sense to Senator Cornyn or anyone else supporting this bill (S510)?

100 crops = 100 safety plans! We'd need to hire people just to handle the paperwork!

And Brad nails it - we've already got that - tracibility.

Great job Judith and Brad - thank you and the others there in San Antonio, during the peak of planting season no less, for representing N. Texas Farmers, too.

Please be sure to continue to stay posted on this issue - we'll need the support of our customers/supporters to help make the voices of the farmers heard. Let them know you have food safety with your farmers' direct sales.

Your food choices will be at risk if they shut down small farms by virtue of over-regulating them out of business. And our food will be no safer, and in fact, less safe, as a result of it passing.

Senator Testor has proposed ammendments we need to get behind - we all want food safety - small local farms already have it. Go to for details, to support small farms' representation in DC and Austin, and to stay posted on this and other important issues that affect YOUR food.

MarieEat Your Food - Naturally!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Good Laugh! Who Says Farming isn't Fun?

As fellow farmer Brad says, with a CSA farm, you have to keep a good sense of humor....

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April Showers on the Farm

Farmer Jack and his nephew, farmer Larry, bring out the "big guns" to get more rows ready for warm season planting after a wet winter kept JD out of the fields to keep the weeds cultivated.

As I listen to the rain gently falling outside, I am happy. After all of that rain we endured this past fall and winter, I wondered if I could be happy to see it rain again, but it is in perfect timing this round. Many of our warm season things are in the ground and I'm sure they are welcoming this drink from Above and the cooler temps are good for the cool season things still to harvest and enjoy.

The Swiss Chard, collards, beets, carrots, radishes, lettuces, green mustard and a single row of broccoli the rabbits missed (whew), are enjoying this spring season. The tomatoes are in with the cucumbers, melons, some zucchini and soon peppers go in, gonna try some watermelon this year and even that popcorn I wanted to try will go in out near the onions this week. Summer squash, winter squash, and if it ever warms up enough to get enough of them germinated, I'll plant eggplant, too. I love eggplant!

The Irish potatoes are finally popping up so we may get some after all - was really afraid they'd all drowned but it looks like only one variety rotted out and the rest were just treading water. We replanted where the yellow finn failed and will see if we can at least get some "new" potatoes out of this late planting before it gets hot out. Work share members Paula and Jake showed no mercy to the weeds in the potato patch yesterday - great job!

The summer onions are sure enjoying the drink and soon we can thin out and have some "spring" onions.

Someone had asked for us to grow green beans and I hadn't planned that but I have some seeds we'll try. The two varieties of beans we tried didn't do well for us last year and I'm not sure why so we'll just try a different variety and let them grow up the trellis after the snow peas which are still pretty small but a few of the plants that made it through the winter are producing. Just enough to munch on as you walk by.

The strawberries that survived the monsoons of this past winter are blooming and starting to fruit. Not a ton of them by any means, but our CSA potluck may be a good time to graze....

Part of our warm season garden area
just freshly bedded up and ready for planting this week.
After Larry and Jack got done plowing and tilling the ground with the big tractor, I was able to bed up the area and will get it laid out with drip tape and start planting as soon as Monday, if the beds aren't too wet after this rain. The soil usually drains pretty well and it was dry enough for long enough that I think we're back in good shape for normal drainage again. I just hope it came down gently enough not to wash out the beds and need them re-raised. If I have to get the tractor back out there, it will delay things a few days. April is the month to get as much as you can in the ground and I'm working as much as I can to get that done.

Our irrigation control system was fried during a storm over the winter. Herb says that lightening must have struck nearby as our circuit board is toast. He's got to re-build it now and until then when I water I'm forced to stink up the place with a gas pump. We'll get back up and running soon I think. Herb wants to rebuild the thermometer and other fun gadgets, too, so we can have our own little weather monitoring set up out here that you'll be able to see on line.

We've had our share of ups and downs, late starts and set backs, but this spring seems to be agreeing with farming so far and I'm looking forward to sharing a bountiful harvest soon with my CSA family.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It Makes A Difference!

One of my CSA member families took advantage of the nice sunny day last Saturday and popped in at the farm to pick up their weekly share instead of waiting for the remote drop off later on.

The whole family rolled up their sleeves and joined other impromtu volunteer members as we were shorthanded that morning getting the harvest ready for pick ups. They prepared and washed the cabbage and greens leaves from the harvest, dried all of the leaves in the spinner, fed chickens and took a walk out to see the emerging spring gardens. Everyone working side by side chit chatting and getting to know each other for an hour or so.

Apparently, it left an impression as I rec'd this note yesterday and I wanted to share it, because this, my fellow farmers and friends, is why we do what we do;

"My son said he hated vegetables. When he was a baby we used to give him all kinds of veggies and he loved them. Then, three years ago, at age 6 he declared war on veggies other than carrots, broccoli or artichokes. That was until last week's visit to Marie's farm! I braised greens, made salads, chopped up green garlic on pizza and pasta, and last night, made a vegetable medley with the cabbage, artichoke hearts, garlic, chickpeas, green peas and a little white wine. My son ate it all and and declared: "vegetables taste great when you know who grows them and when you help cleaning them. Weren't the chickens funny?". I concur. :-)"

I thanked my member for sharing this with me, it really made my day and I'll keep it handy to remind myself on those long hard days, why it is I do what I do.

I hope it is an inspiration to others to support local farmers face to face, take your kids with you to see the farms and see the food where it is grown and give them opportunity to help in some way.

Thank you for supporting local agriculture - it makes a difference.

Real, Clean, Fresh, Local, Food

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Did You Call?

The time is drawing nearer and nearer to when your food choices may very well be limited to only the big, strong and powerful corporate farming industry.

The way the "food safety" bill is written, it suggests increased regulations and record-keeping obligations that could destroy small businesses, (which is what a small, family farm is), that bring food to local communities.

In particular, the reliance on hazard analysis and risk-based preventative controls, a concept similar to “HACCP”, will harm small food producers and not likely increase the food safety anyway as it has failed in the meat industry to do.

HACCP has already proven to be an overwhelming burden for a significant number of small, regional meat processors across the country. Applying a HACCP-type system to small, local foods processors could drive them out of business, reducing consumers’ options to buy fresh, local foods.

The major foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls have all been caused by the large, industrial food system. Small, local food producers have not contributed to the highly publicized outbreaks. Yet S. 510 subjects the small, local food system to the same, broad federal regulatory oversight that would apply to the industrial food system.


The FDA has its hands full enough and does not belong on the farm. S. 510 calls for FDA regulation of how farms grow and harvest produce. (Really? Farms have been around since WAY before the FDA) Given this government agency’s track record, it is likely that the regulations will discriminate against small, organic, and diversified farms. The House version of the bill directs FDA to consider the impact of its rulemaking on small-scale and diversified farms, but there are no enforceable limits or protections for small diversified and organic farms from inappropriate and burdensome federal rules.

Food safety and security both come from a diversified, vibrant local food system. Local foods give consumers the choice to buy from producers they know, creating a transparent, accountable food system without federal government oversight. State and local laws, which are often size-specific rather than one-size-fits-all, are more appropriate for local food producers.

Please, if you value your farmer's markets, small farmer/rancher friends, and your choices for where to get your local food - contact Senator's Hutchison and Cornyn TODAY - and send this to out of state friends as well.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March Showers Bring....

A great article/blog entry by a young lady I had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks ago.

She is right on as far as my vision of local and farmers' markets are concerned.... Dallas, can we do this?

Just a quick update - the lettuces are looking absolutely beautiful - which is good since the mesclun mix looks pretty ragged after such a hard winter. More flowers than leaves right now - although those are pretty and pretty tasty, too!

I'm going to Terrell this afternoon to see about the broccolli that Harmony Harvest left behind. We'll see if there is anything else to harvest - its us or the critters that get it!

We still have another round of green cutting onions that should come out this week, the Brussels sprouts are teeny tiny but I see them! And there is more pac choi, and lavender this week.

It may be a small harvest, but we're still planting, too. Kale, more mustard greens, radishes, carrots, collards - these are in the ground. The warm season goodies are just staying warm in the greenhouse waiting for the right moment to go out.

I hope you all enjoyed your shares last week - James shared this thought with me;

We enjoyed some of our 'take' in salads over the weekend. It sure makes a difference having fresh greens. Very tasty.

Neither Vicki or I had ever eaten mustard greens before. We really like the taste. Vicki is somewhat of a mustard/vinegar addict. The taste of mustard in the green was great. Adding mustard greens to our diet really make the farm special to us.


You are absolutely welcome! Thank YOU - for without your support, we couldn't have these tasty and healthy foods growing right in our back yard on this farm.

I hope for more sunny weather so things will fill out more and our harvests will increase as the weather gets more favorable.

Liz wanted to share a few more recipes with everyone;
Several recipes: mustard greens are pretty much just like green mustard greens, except they have a pretty red tinge to them. Baby mustard greens are fabulous in salads, and the red ones add a lovely hue. When cooked red mustard greens lose their distinctive color as well as the sharp edge of their flavor. As with green mustard greens, you can mellow the flavor by blanching them in salted boiling water for a minute or two, draining, and then using. Or saute as is for a sharper, but still mellowed, flavor. Longer cooking leads to an increasingly mellow flavor. MustardYoung, raw red mustard brings vibrant color and heat to salads, slaws and sandwiches. Steaming, wilting and sauteeing curbs the burn, but leaves plenty of rich flavor. Combine mustard greens in medleys with spinach and kale, or stir them into soups and stews.Tip: Do not cook red mustard or any mustard greens in aluminum or iron: It will affect the flavor and color.

Thanks all - keep the sunshine coming!

Till next time -

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Planting and Picking

Well yesterday was warm and sunny, breezy and overall, quite pleasant. I hastily harvested everyone's salad greens, knowing what was in store for the morning weather. I managed to squeeze in getting some rows ready for onions and potatoes and once Liz arrived to help out, we got most of the rest of the week's share harvested and did some planting as I wanted the rains to water in these already late plantings. Seems we just can't get dry enough for very long! But, we're almost all in for onions and potatoes now; we'll just have some come off later and perhaps smaller than we'd like.

When I awoke this morning after having stayed up enjoying the last of the warmth rinsing and drying in our handy salad spinner, (although, I do suggest you soak and spin again before eating to rinse out any remaining "grit".), the promised cold wind and pouring rain had arrived. One brave solider showed up to help on this frigid morning - thank you, Paula, and we sorted and bagged, harvested some more and rinsed and distributed. What a day for being outside! Brrrrr to say the least. If I had lights outside, I'd have harvested the rest in the dark while it was still nice and warm out last night. Sorry Paula! We dodged the rain though and pulled up some of the farm with your onions and saw signs of brussles sprouts so i decided to leave them to see if they'll mature rather than just harvest for greens. (they taste just like cabbage leaves)

I came in for lunch after 1 to ponder what to make for my dinner after I ate up the last of my home made lasagna for my mid day meal. I knew I'd want something just as hearty after making the Green Spot delivery later on. Cold weather seems to make me hungrier.

I turned to my trusty Eating in Season cookbook by friend and fellow farmer, Carol Ann Sayle of Boggy Creek Farm in Austin. And wallah! I also found some of her great recipes for some of the yummies you all took home today. This cookbook is sold out now, and in for a revamping, so I'll have to share some of them here on line until she finds time between seasons to do some writing - and in Austin, where they really farm all year round, I suspect that won't be easy to do. In 14 years, Carol Ann and her husband Larry have only had 2 Saturday markets that they didn't open, and that was due to snow - in Austin. They grow a ton of food! And, here is what Carol Ann has to say about those incredibly beautiful red mustard greens and such....

All greens in all stages of growth can be eaten raw. Some she says, are mild and sweet some are cantankerously hot, and some are bitter. I think the red mustard falls into that 2nd category!

If you want to eat them raw, try taming them with a sweeter dressing, maybe a touch of honey to a vinaigrette, or add some citrus, cheese or another more mild lettuce. But, she reminds us, the bitterness is the sign that the greens are doing their job!

To cook them, and not to kill them by boiling the life out of them, she suggests chopping up some onion and garlic with some olive oil and just as they finish the saute, toss in some chopped up greens. Cook them just a bit though, not till they've lost their color - or they've also lost most of their flavor and much of the nutrition. She goes on to say you can add these sauteed leaves to lasagna, fresh pasta or even tacos. I'm going to be adding mine to some soup later on tonight!

Many of us aren't used to eating fresh greens, myself included being from Midwest and not the south, but I've learned that they are soooo good for us and in the winter when we need them the most. So be sure to "eat your greens!" and share some recipes with us if you have them.

Here is one for the pak choi you can try;
Baby Pak Choi
1-2 T peanut oil (I'll use olive)
2-3 cloves of garlic (peeled and crushed)
salt (to taste)
pak choi (stem removed, cleaned well and chopped up into 1 inch pieces)
1T water or vegetable broth

Stir fry the garlic about 30 seconds. Add salt and pak choi and stir fry about a minute. If note enough liquid, add the water or broth. Stir fry for 3 more minutes and the sever with rice or hot pasta. If you were lucky enough to get one with some pretty blooms, toss those in raw or just warm them up - but yep, you can eat that part, too!

Sounds good to me!

And don't forget, when you do some stir frying, clean and chop up those onion roots - Wendy Akin from Akin Farm says a chef told her they make good eatin', too, and I've not tossed any roots from my green onions since.

The weather has really played havoc on some of the crops this winter. The cabbages won't head up, but seem to have just as much flavor, and the salad mix is having a ball bolting - that means, it is starting to flower and go to seed, ending its life cycle. But, we have no control over the ups and downs of the winter, and when it drops as cold as it did, even a warm up to our normal winter sends false signals to some crops that their season is over. (that is why they start to put out flowers and go to seed.) You can try braising some of those greens as well as enjoying them as salad mix. We cut them pretty tight so it may be a week or two before they grow enough to cut again. I'm hoping that one of the 3 varieties of lettuces we have in will be close enough to ready to harvest next week and we should be able to get some broccoli - hopefully enough for us all to get a nice head each - from another farmer who moved away. We'll see. Her dad is overlooking the gardens from a distance....let's hope not with his fork too handy.....

It's been tricky, but you all seem to "get it" and we'll keep planting and loving on the gardens in hopes that the harvests will grow bigger as the weather warms up. And don't worry, I haven't put in any tomatoes or peppers yet.... it isn't even Easter! We'll generally get one more good snap of winter that week and I'm not that brave without the hoop house covered and the soil warmed up yet. They are still cozy in the greenhouse getting more leaves on them.

The melons and cucumbers were peeking up out of the soil this morning, too. Ahh, spring can't be too far away - can it?

Stay warm and make it a great day!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

From the Front Lines - In the Strategy Room

The Mouthwatering Scene as We Visited

Boggy Creek Farm in Austin, TX

As I sit this morning listening to the woodpeckers happily hammering out a Morse code of sorts and while the plethora of other morning birds join in with their songs, I am taken back to my childhood, waking up those early, crisp mornings at camp in St. Charles IL as a Girl Scout where my love for the outdoors was nurtured. I don’t recall hearing roosters back then, though it is now a comforting reminder of my home, of which I am thinking fondly.

This year's grower’s symposium has been very good and it reunites old familiar faces and like-minded individuals who are all passionate about the same things – growing clean, good, healthy food in safe, sustainable and practical ways in order to make a fair, honest living. It is a gathering of ideas, information, hopes and fears about our livelihoods.

When Judith McGreary of FARFA took the mike during lunch yesterday to update us on the recent machinations of the DC Legislature, I was saddened to hear that our own two TX senators were not looking out for the best interest of their home state small business owners that happened to be in the business of growing food. Here we are in the trenches growing the best, most nutritious food on the planet, and we have no support from our own Senators to do so.

It seems as though either they’ve not had time to really read the bill, (gee, wouldn’t that be a surprise?), and see that the government intends to over reach its stretch by meddling with small business' practices or see that many portions of the bill are left way too open to interpretation, i.e., the whims of individual inspectors who likely have zero experience in farming, or any aspect thereof – except perhaps for their small home garden or the eating of the end product.

This, being eaters of food, is where every single person in America is affected by this proposed new policy because it will ultimately limit their options of food, both where they can get it and how it is grown.

It will, in fact, give the FDA the power to dictate to a farmer how he or she grows food and runs their farm – can you imagine the government telling Mattel how to assemble its latest toys on the assembly line? Or laying out guidelines to a business as to what kind and many sinks they have to have in the restrooms at the factory? Oh, I guess the unions probably deal with that. But then, that brings me to my next point, we are talking about local food….shouldn’t its producers fall under local jurisdiction?

If Farmer Jane takes the grown produce from her family farm of say, 25 acres, to the local county farmers’ market, or better yet, sells them at her farm's produce stand on the roadside to her neighbors, why should the FDA care how many stainless steel sinks she has or whether or not they wore rubber gloves to harvest? Do you wear them when you select them from the basket at the stand?

Trying my "hand" at leading Layla down an unmarked field with

a cultivator attachment..... Get in the hole Layla!

Or better yet, if a deer, rabbit, coyote (or your trusty Halflinger) happens to wander across her spinach patch, probably grazing it along its way, why should she be forced to tear out and destroy all of the rows of crops, her very livelihood, within 30 feet of the tracks? Do deer, rabbits, cats and dogs really have that kind of trajectory?

Even for those who choose to jump through the many hoops of the USDA’s certification manual so they can use the now regulated “O” word, (and I bet Oprah thought she had the corner on that one.), there is the likelihood that layering of additional regulations not yet covered in that pack of regulations.

(After later hearing the process which farmers have to follow in order to be granted permission to label their foods with by the modern day word used for the age old practices of farming passed on by many generations before them, made me even more convinced I was not interested in pursuing that avenue.)

My current customers all know, and new ones come to know, that I wouldn’t use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers on their food or intentionally use unsafe practices, pass along dirty or contaminated foods or do things that would likely contribute to the risk of making an inherently safe thing, fruits and vegetables, unsafe to eat. And they also come to know that I care at least as much, if not more, about the condition of my land and those who work with me as anyone of the other farms who have felt it an advantage to pay the government to tell the world they do. Not only that, I was saddened to find that no where in the requirements for being certified organic, were there any real provisions for the well being of the folks who do the work. (At least, not that was discussed anyway.) And that is the true spirit of organic farming.

The spirit of organic farming, to my understanding and how I choose to interpret it in my work, is about stewarding the land for future generations, replenishing it as it is used to keep it healthy and viable, and to restore that land which has been neglected in the past, to heal the land so it will grow food that contains the most nutrition possible. It is about growing cleanly, sustainably, safely and practically while treating any of those who help to do so, in a humane, fair and fairly compensated manner, so they can live in a reasonable lifestyle.

The scene at our host farm, Home Sweet Farm, included veggies that were bursting from the greenhouse just waiting to get into the soil after a record breaking wet and cold winter for Central Texas.

Way too many of the guidelines of the USDA’s certification process, seemed to be very much like this proposed S510 bill; way too open to the opinion, discretion, understanding and interpretation of the process’ guidelines by the field inspector and his ability to convey the information to his or her certifier, who never steps foot on the farm or probably ever speaks to the farmer, applying for the coveted right to call their products what they are – organically raised.

And to top it all off, this bill doesn't do a thing about food safety in meats where safety regulations are already in place. Perhaps they just need to enforce the ones that are already there and focus on these food factories where there are literally tons of food being dumped together from countless large scale farming operations from all over the world, and being handled by hundreds of pairs of hands on conveyor belts - rather than the one place where to our knowledge, NO known widespread outbreaks of national health threats have ever come from.....the local family farm.

No thanks, you can keep your regulations and I’ll keep growing clean, nutritionally dense, sustainable food with common sense and good farming practices, take care of those who help me, and call it REAL food. Want some?

See you Wednesday at the Balch Springs Library on Elam Rd. @ 635 for Farm Day and the free screening of FRESH! at noon.....

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why We Do What We Do

Some of my pets, who happen to leave good food around for me to share.

Recently, someone lovingly told me I was cheating myself on the price I ask for my chicken eggs. She said mine were organic-er and fresher than Costco, yet I was charging less than they were. Well, I thought to myself, maybe I am cheaper, but then, I also am not a big store with huge overhead and a staff of hundreds to pay. No middleman either. It doesn't cost me anything to pick them up as I walk through the barn on my way up to the house, and thank heaven's I'm not doing the hard part - the laying of the eggs! No, I thought, I think I'll keep them at the price they are. I think they are already twice what "regular" eggs are at the grocery store!

Amy the local bees' wax candlemaker's son Max helping

weed at our first community garden area several years ago.

Part of my mission here, is to try to make this good stuff accessible and affordable for folks so they will be more likely to eat it. I don't really try to run an egg layer business so that means, on the down side, we only get eggs as we find them, (we don't have a huge supply of them because these girls are not very consistent all of the time about their favorite places to lay eggs), and these chickens eat mostly a diet of whatever chickens eat on their own, (you don't want to know), so sometimes they may not lay as abundantly as those fed a constant diet of "laying mash". But on the up side, it keeps the cost down cuz I'm not constantly having to buy 50lb bags of organic feed just for them to survive and lay eggs, I don't spend time on paperwork figuring out how many eggs per flock or whatever tracking an egg farmer does and our eggs are probably chocked full of omega 3's since most of their diet isn't laying mash, so I can eat about as many as I want and not worry about cholesterol.

To me, eggs are kind of the bonus for having chickens as more or less pets. Can't say that about most pets now can ya? They are educational, too. How many a previously scared of birds child (or adult), has pet one of my roosters? Whereas the chickens most assuredly are part of the overall farm business, I suppose if I turned the egg laying part into more of a business and tracked those expenses it may cause me to bump the price up as I calculated how much square footage they take up and how much that space actually costs, etc. Maybe I'll start setting aside what I get for the eggs to put towards new electric chicken fencing to keep them all on my property so I don't get a ticket for stray chickens - and that will mean even more eggs for us as they won't lay them all over the neighborhood! Hmmm, something to ponder....

Heading this farm in the direction of a "closed-loop" system will eventually mean less inputs from outside sources, too. So, in the future, as those costs of ammendments rise, I hope to be able to hold down the cost of our shares and the food we sell at the market day tables, because we won't need as much of them to grow our farm's food with. (That is unless our taxes all go through the roof to pay for the things our government invents for us to pay for. And then we may all just have to live out here on the farm to save money!)
Again, making our farm food more affordable so anyone who truly desires this food, this beautiful, nutritionally dense grown with TLC food - can afford it.

I don't mean to "cheapen" its value. NOT AT ALL! This food is priceless when it comes to your health, the relationships we are building through the farm and the taste....oh don't get me started on the fresh taste! But I do look for ways to keep my expenses down, diversify the farm's resources and make this food available here in this community, or a short drive away. I believe that is how local food should work. I don't want organic/fresh/local to be a gourmet priced only type thing. We may grow specialty foods for chefs at some point or there may be a shortage of something one year that causes the good ol' "supply and demand" theory to kick in. But I am working very hard to make Eden's a paradise for all those who seek it.

Anne "Kip" Rogers teaching some ladies
the value and simplicity of a healthy
eating lifestyle at a free class in 09.

And of course, that is part of why we have work shares, a community garden area as well as the various classes, too. I want to help empower people to find ways to live healthier lives by eating better food than they can find elsewhere and teach them how to use it, too. A fresh head of broccoli doesn't do anyone any good if no one knows how to prepare it. Zucchini will get old fast if you only know one way to use it and it would be a shame for home grown tomatoes to not be enjoyed all winter long because someone didn't know how to preserve them. (Watch for canning classes this summer!)

Don't get me wrong, it is not cheap to have a 14 acre piece of land inside of city limits paying for 2 school districts' taxes and all of the "amenities" of living in a large metropolitan county. So yes, all of those incidental expenses must be covered of course. And yes, most of the mainstream food is subsidized by our taxes in the way of the "farm bill" that gets passed every year or so. I thought about grant money, but then decided I didn't want to be at the government's beck and call or be told what I could or couldn't do on my farm. (we already face that fear if the looming "food safety" bill S510 passes the Senate.)

But as more people jump on board, the costs will even out, the farm will get healthier and risks will even out more and more and as the production rises, I suspect I'll have some of you hollering "UNCLE!" on the food distributions and everyone will feel they've made a more than wise investment in this farm. That is my goal anyway - we have to keep hoping the weather will cooperate sooner than later!

The ground breaking crew for Eden's Community Gardens - Home Depot of Balch Springs helped in a big way

Don't forget that in March we're helping sponsor "Farm Day" in Balch Springs. I'm looking for helpers/volunteers to over see the chicken petting/feeding area, answer questions about local food and our farm/CSA, see that kids don't eat too much of the potting soil at the FOFA potting station and oh, you get to watch the movie FRESH! with us for free and be entertained by Ms. Petunia Hopper and Kevin Davin Fine's Mission of Nutrition series.

March 17th - noon to 5 at the Library on Elam Rd. More details as they firm up.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Eden Under Snow

Somewhere under there is Savoy Cabbage!

Well, I'm anxiously awaiting the first thaw and word from my organic farm consultant up in Iowa to see what he has to say about 12" of snow on a young winter garden. I think everything will probably be fine, but I honestly must say I've not ever experienced this farming extreme. When it did this in Chicago, everything was already harvested for the winter or in a greenhouse. Cole crops are pretty tough though, and I'm hoping for the best. I'll keep you all posted soon as I hear word.
A new meaning to "winter garden"

I covered the mature things, (never dreaming we'd get a foot of snow!), to protect them from the possible ice they were calling for. Now I'm hoping they are not crushed under there. We've had a few power surges, but fortunately, never lost power.

There isn't any need to irrigate of course, which is a good thing because as you can see, there isn't a lot of sun getting through to the solar panels right now.

It was very pretty to look at this morning, at least till my mom's old snow boots sprung a leak and my foot started to get cold. But, I'm all for warm sunny weather and can't wait for spring.

I just wanted to shoot this quick update and share some pics. I heard from Herb and Barbara who were without power today and saw pics of the Gordon's playing in the snow. I hope you are all toasty and warm again.
Pray for sunshine. The seed potatoes are in and it would be nice to plant them soon.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

DC is at it - AGAIN!

Please, don't forget to keep sending info to your your out of town friends, family and to your local Senators about the S510 bill - please read the story about some of the specific ways this bill, as it is currently written, will mean the end to many small farm operations.
This bill will mean smaller, low staffed farms won't be able to legally produce many of the yummy cut greens, and as the restrictions grow, many of the other vegetables you love due to cumbersome handling restrictions designed for large operations.
DC and individual states can't even keep up with the current inspections now, which is why there are food safety problems, and they want to further restrict farms by implementing tons of paper work, new regulations and fees? How is this going to help keep your food safer? It won't.
Passing this bill as it is currently written, will, however, either make criminals out of good, small farmers or put them out of business - meaning you will have fewer choices about where your food comes from as only the larger, factory type operations can afford to impliment all of the paperwork and extra procedures being called for. We'd have to hire someone just to READ all of the new restrictions!

Your food from Eden's, and other small, local farms. comes directly from the field to you. THAT is the safest way to get your produce.
Well, for all of you out of town that follow our blog, we have had a bit of a snow storm here in Dallas! The gardens are totally under snow cover - I shot these pics earlier this morning and have not ventured out again with it being so wet and not wanting to ruin my camera. But, I'll get more of the gardens later - when it stops snowing for awhile! Everything that was at risk was covered up and should be ok. The rest may just be a bit waterlogged again, but then, that is the same broken record we've played since September....
The seed potatoes have arrived - not that we can plant them any time soon - but we'll be cutting them up and dusting with sulfur next week so when it does dry out enough, we're ready to get them in the ground. It has to dry out sooner or later. Onions are on the way but I suspect it is too wet where they are, too, so they are delayed as well. Ironically, they would be loving this weather but they are not here to enjoy it.

The chickens didn't seem to want to venture out much today so they got an extra helping of their organic feed. And the horses weren't sure what to make of the snow either, so after a brief investigation, they returned to the barn hoping to find some dry hay to munch on. Can't say as though I blame them.

Needless to say, there isn't a lot to do outside today other than keeping the snow off of the roof of the greenhouse so it doesn't collapse - a real possibility as we've had about 5+ inches of very heavy snow fall already, and it is still coming down! This is NOT typical for Dallas that is for sure.

We have a mattress heater on the way so we can start seeding as soon as that gets here. Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and some more cool season things we may need to replant and have a late harvest of things like broccoli, beets, kale and chard.

I hope everyone is enjoying this taste of winter - I had my fill of them when I lived in Chicago though, so I'm quite ready for SPRING! :) Back to my Eliot Coleman and John Jeavons books... and some acorn squash soup.....

Stay Dry!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!