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!
Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Friday, October 24, 2008


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!

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….

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,

Eat Your Food - Naturally!