Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tempting Fate

I've been up reading more Eliot Coleman since 5 this morning, listening to Brad Barton's predictions of low 20's for morning after next, and deciding how courageous I am going to be in the garden. I'm not much of a gambler, really.

I've decided that after my morning reminder calls for December CSA installments, attaching the plastic door and window to the greenhouse and getting the frost cloth ready for the new seedlings/plugs, I'll be harvesting the lion's share of the tomatoes. Just not going to risk all of them. Low 20's is pretty low.

I will, however, leave the darker green ones in there. It is supposed to be sunny for the most part on Wednesday, which should warm it up in the hoop house pretty good. The plants will be covered with frost cloth, just as before, and this will of course be a good test of this procedure for future crops - I just don't want to risk our best crop of tomatoes to this relatively untested system - untested here anyway. Eliot Coleman wasn't growing tomatoes - he was growing cold season crops.

Speaking of which, we are going to seed some beets in the greenhouse since the ground seems to still be so saturated as to prohibit the roots from surviving. I know we all loved the beets we grew last year, and of all the root crops, those are among the ones that can be transplanted instead of direct sown only.

I'll erect some more makeshift low tunnels and keep trying for carrots, but we're not seeing much in the way of help for getting the soil to dry out - as more rain falls as I type. As well, the daylight hours and sun's angle are not in our favor. They should be ready for our late winter harvest, if we can get them to germinate.

The green cutting onions are getting there, Mesclun mix is coming along nicely as is the Pok Choi. Brussels sprouts and cabbage seem to take forever, but we'll have them in the late winter and the strawberries are doing their thing, too. Garlic is up, and we're going to just replant the fall/winter herbs in transplants, same as the beets. We've lost 2 seedings to the rain and I'm not going to try a third. Cilantro, Fennel, Dill, Parsley will all have to be started in the greenhouse this year.

Irish Potatoes, sweet and red onions and all of the warm season seeds will be ordered right after the holidays. The seasons all roll together in North Texas as there is little break on the part of the farmer, even though the harvest seems to end. Seeding warm season crops in the greenhouse begins in just a few weeks, while the winter crops are still in the ground growing and just starting to be harvested. Early planting is done in order to get a jump on any early heat we may be in for this spring that retards growth of early warm season crops or makes them bitter with too much warmth. With the newly gained knowledge of these small portable hoop houses, we should be able protect some beds from late frosts and risk getting some things out a bit earlier as I am able to afford production of these simple units. I should have enough materials to cover 2 rows right now, once the last of the tomatoes are done. (They are made with PVC pipe, some wood and hardware, covered with greenhouse plastic & floating row cover.)

Fall 2009 has been a roller coaster ride in the organic farm world of North Texas for sure. All of the organic farmers I spoke to in our area have experienced the same fate, or worse, as Eden's Garden. Washed out fall plantings, rotted, stunted warm season fall plants, poor to no germination for fall and winter seeds and most of us didn't have the fall harvest of crops we should have had. It was very disheartening, considering the great weather and high hopes we had going in to the season....abruptly coming to a halt Sept 10th with that first gullywasher - will I ever forget that date?

We are all at least a month behind in our planting, and it is the hardest time of the year to make that up.

In the "old days" we'd be relying on our canned goods, root cellar crops and the little bits we could manage to scrounge up from what did survive. Fortunately today, we have the corner grocery. And, after 7 hours of stripping leaves, some basil I put through the food processor and into little containers in the freezer, you'll have some "fresh" basil paste, too. :)

KUDOS to those who are able to support local, small farms in good times and bad times just the same, and to the farmers who never give up or stop encouraging each other to go on and plant again, a retired couple I know, joking how it would be just as risky to gamble their social security check at the casino - and be drier, warmer and possibly more fun.

The farmer has no control over rain fall, excessive or otherwise, hours of day light or the temperatures. We can only do so much to try to accommodate for these natural occurrences when they become adverse. The rest is out of the farmer's hands. This is why many a farmer is also working a full time job to feed, house and clothe himself/herself and the family. If they have no crops to bring to the market, they have no income. Several of these poor seasons in a row, has put many a farmer out of business entirely, sending the fertile soils back to the banks to become housing developments or shopping centers. Losing yet another local source of food and learning for that community, as well as a family's livelihood and home.

This is why a committed CSA support group is so very important to the survival of a small farmer. I've worked full time off the farm and come home to farm in the dark. (I suppose that is why there are lights on tractors?) It makes for very, very long days and short nights, long weeks and months. I am not sure how long one could endure such a schedule. Fortunately, I only tried it for 7 months and hope never to have to return to that schedule again.

Because with CSA, everyone involved is taking a small bit of the financial risk that is spread out if things go south, yet reaping the same bountiful rewards when the harvests come in.

With CSA, small farms can survive as the farmer works tirelessly to adjust rotations, research, re-plant, build new soil beds and re-plant some more. Praying for favor from the elements.

Ah, but the sweet, nutrient dense and fresh rewards that result from the hard work and patience - are priceless.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Deep Organics - Double Insulation

The results are in! Looks like tomatoes for Christmas my friends! Yahoooo

check out the last 2 videos.

And inside....

Double insulated Hoop Houses ROCK!

Marie Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The First Freeze

This morning at about 5:30 it was 32.2 F. About an hour later it was up to 32.4 F, so it looks like tomorrow and maybe Saturday morning will be the real cold ones. This gradual dropping over 3 nights is actually better than a sudden swing in dropping temps overnight, and helps to harden plants off, or acclimate them. This is much better than to shock them from 60 degrees to 28 degrees as it sometimes does in N. Texas.

Late blooming fall tomatoes and assorted squash are hunkered
down in the mini hoop house to escape the frigid weather.

The plant plugs, little tiny seedling plants, that were ordered came in from sunny CA yesterday on the Fed Ex truck. They are sitting on the back porch for right now to get conditioned to Dallas weather gradually. Today, I'll move them outside and back in tonight, doing the same tomorrow. Then Saturday, we'll put them in the greenhouse - once the freezes are past - until we can get them in the ground. The beds are ready, just need the top inch or so to drain off so we can level the rows off and plant.

In addition to what is out there now, we will be growing 3 different types of lettuces, artichokes, which are a perennial plant that harvests around May, meaning we'll have artichoke plants growing every year getting better and better, and another round of broccoli.

Plants this time of the year grow very slowly as we barely have 10 hours of actual useful sunlight a day. But they do grow. By putting in a second round of some things, we should be able to have better successive harvests and early harvests in the spring - late winter.

On the recommendation of a fellow farmer, I'm currently reading a couple of books about winter farming by Eliot Coleman who grows all year around up in Maine where it gets way below 0 degrees F in the winter. If they can do it, I know we can. We just have to keep in mind we can't make the sun shine more hours a day than it is, so there will be some slow time here until February, when the daylight hours increase sufficiently more again to spur new rapid growth. He offers some great insight on this subject and a whole list of cool veggies I'd like to try here, too, that combined with some of his techniques, should widen our offerings of winter produce of mostly greens.

The crops we got in before the days shortened are looking good. The Pak Choi and Mesculin mix is covered up just because I didn't want to risk it if we got sleet or whatever they don't predict. It won't kill the plants, but it can make them look sorry and get soggy as they thaw back out. Ever eat frozen lettuce? Ick. Saturday, we'll uncover them and give them a shower with fish and seaweed and let them soak up some sunshine.

IF you happen to be one of those folks who rakes up your leaves up into bags and drags them to the curb - AND you don't use any chemical fertilizers or herbicides on your lawn, you can bring those leaves over to the farm. We will put them in our compost piles. (I would rather try to encourage you to mow them and leave them on your own lawn as a free fertilizer and cover/protection for it, but if you do rake, we'll take them and help keep them out of the dump.)

So that is the farm report from the weather bunny for the day. Tomorrow and Saturday are the real tests for our hoophouse'd tomatoes. I'll take some pics and open it up and see what's what in there later today, but I think they are all nice and toasty in there. Well, relative to being outside they are toasty. :)

Snowflakes made a brief appearance at Eden's Wednesday
morning, accompanied by another inch of rain.

Don't forget, this weekend is a meet and greet at 12:30 after market day. New potential CSA supporters are coming to see the farm, meet me and they'd love to hear your story about why you help support Eden's Garden and eat local, organic (clean) food.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Life on the You Tube

Well, Life on the Farm has gone video - finally. I'm not a video-grapher that is for sure, but I did think a few weeks back, when it had been several months since many of you had been to the farm, it would be nice for you to see what was going on. This was taken on October 22nd, after about 20 inches or more had come down - I lost track after awhile! As you know, more fell since that date and we're up to about 27 inches of rain since Sept. 10th. Wow!

Sooo, it took me quite a while to figure out how to get the camera's video to become an actual video I could upload - and well, it had to go through You Tube cuz it was too big of a file for just uploading straight to the blog. So, now I'm a You Tuber, too.

But, I wanted you all to be able to see more of what is going on and this seemed like a good way to do it - (actually, I stole the idea from Farmer Brad - Home Sweet Farm - I saw his video and stole it since it was such a good idea.) I hope you all enjoy and I'll try to get better at this and post other fun and informational videos that may not fit here.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Be Careful What You Eat

A little humor.....with a serious message.


Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Farmers

I'm not sure how many new farmers read this blog, but I'm re posting a reply I made on a "new farmers" forum to a young lady who has had a bit of a bumpy road her first 2 years. To my charter members, that rings so true - and bear with me as I re-live our first 2 years so far anyway, to date.....

I have to agree with Julie - you can't give up just because of a few bad seasons, well I guess you CAN, but....

The first year for me, which was last fall while I was still working a full time day job (for a chemical commercial grower of ornamental plants - in the office I might add), on what is now soft and squishy, sandy-red-clay beds, was as hard as a parking lot - so hard, in fact, that we couldn't even get it plowed and planted in time for a warm season fall crop. And the broker messed up my order, placing it 3 weeks too late, so my first order of plugs arrived in December - not when you should be planting anywhere short maybe southern zone 9.

The winter may have been our best shot weather-wise, but due to the late planting, the cole crops sat there - and sat there. Then, my 67 yr young father took critically ill - and eventually I lost him to the neglect of a nursing home basically..... That happened in late Jan - when we should be focused on spring starts, potatoes, onions and such. Well, if you've never lost a parent, even under "normal" circumstances, I can't even begin to explain the feelings that whirl through your head, but it wasn't good for keeping my mind on things. I missed ordering onions and had to take what the local feed store had left over, potatoes went in late and ironically - those 2 things probably were everyone's favorite when they did come in.

To top it off, a young woman who was a self proclaimed expert in what CSA was supposed to be based on her experience on the Angelic Farm CSA in IL, riled up the troops and took half of them off the farm with her after the very first season. (Apparently, after reading her emails, she was also a lawyer, accountant, farmer, small biz owner and expert of everything - except as a supporter of a new farm)

Needless to say, we didn't have a very fruitful 1st year....

This year, we've had to come out of our summer's drought and record heat (which kept our tomato crops at an all time low across the region and killed most of my sweet potato slips as I couldn't keep enough water on the 120 degree sandy soil at the far end of the gardens), to 20 something+ inches of rain in 30 days. (heck after 20 in less than a month, does it really matter anymore? I got tired of dumping out the rain gauge!) And at least 30days without sunshine.

Our crops are dwarfed, the ones that survived, and not yielding much of anything. I've got 200' of tomatoes - GREEN as they can be, and I'm praying for some sunshine and warm temps for about 2 weeks - BEFORE we get a darn freeze.

But - after over 20 years doing various other occupations, this is my chosen life and so long as people will support my efforts, I'll get my rear up out of bed and out to that garden and talk to it till I'm blue in the face if need be - positive stuff of course. And I fertilize and I re-plant until I get something to grow! (we planted 3x now on root crops; after 2.5 inches came down in 45 mins. of an unpredicted rain, and the 2nd time the ground was apparently still so saturated that while we were planting on almanac days in-between rain events, it rained before and afterwards and they never even came up. The other day, again with the almanac, we planted turnips, beets and carrots - and again it has rained - 1/2 inch the first day after - no problem, but then again all day today - about 1.75 inches probably when it is all said and done in the morning. It was at 1.5 earlier, and it is still drizzling out there.) The ground is so wet I'm afraid it will suffocate the roots of the seedlings that should just now be sprouting! And, while all the rain was coming down, caterpillers were chomping because the BT wouldn't stay put - now, I'm not sure if something with 4 legs or 6 is eating the brocolli starts, but I'm not happy about it either way. And the chard seems to keep disappearing as well!

A wise farmer lady friend of mine told me this about farming - as that first 2.5 inches I mentioned was coming down at my farm, unknown to us at the time while we were shelling peas on hers 20 miles away - "if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!"

And she's right - but, I feel like it is a noble and very important thing to do and in a way, I feel honored to have the opportunity to do it. I'm a first generation farmer - no kids or spouse, so it may end with me as far as my family goes - but I'm training others to farm and hopefully they'll take over the CSA when the day comes I want to hang up my hoe, and I'll keep this land in cultivation via an ag-easement, to keep the city's grubby hands off it, and lease it to the new farmers/owners of the CSA. (so I'll have a retirement to live off of. Not counting on any gov't to be left with any much money by then, so I"m planning to take care of myself.)

It gets in your blood when you look at your supporters and know they are counting on that good, clean food they can trust you for. Diabetic, autistic, cancer survivors and other auto immune disorders, die hard supporters who pay AND come work on the farm.
I'm dying to provide a market table - heck I HOST a farmer's market on my farm 2x a month and I can rarely provide anything cuz my CSA comes first. But I know in my heart that one day I'll have an abundance - and it will all have been worth the worrying and the long days & nights blogging, recipe hunting and dishing out work day chores.

I hope you keep after it; the country needs more small, local growers. Keep in touch with other farmers, like you're doing here, or on facebook, and on other forums, get involved with regional farmer organizations (down here in TX we have the state-wide "TOFGA"). Stay connected and stay positive - it will affect your planting if you aren't. I believe in the energy we give off when we are in the gardens - if you're having a bad day - go back in the house till you can recollect yourself and then go back to work. Grow with and out of love for your people and the earth. You are doing something so important!

(Julie - you should write a book! ) (Julie is one of the other farmers I take some of my inspiration from)

To Eden's Garden supporters - I thank you all very much, and I mean that - because what we are starting here doesn't end with us - it goes on and touches many beyond us for generations to come. And I could not execute what it takes to make this farm successful without your support.

The community will grow around it and we'll all have stories to tell and books to write some day about our connections to the farm.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

San Francisco starts mandatory composting this week | MNN - Mother Nature Network

This is a great goal for Dallas - even if it may be hard to sell to those who still rake and bag leaves....

San Francisco starts mandatory composting this week MNN - Mother Nature Network

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Rain, Rain, and more RAIN!

Normally, we do nothing but give thanks and praise for the rain we get....but after 20 inches of the wet stuff in the past 30 days with only a few shots of sunshine inbetween, it is making our garden grow very slowly and difficult to finish getting our cool season plants in the ground. The trees are sure happy though and I'm not really complaining, just sayin it is part of farming.

The tomatoes are producing fruits, but they are a ways off from being ripe yet - and I would like to have some to can for the winter! "Farmer-in-Training" Chad, has developed a Charlotte's Web of sorts to support our fall tomatoes - so let's bring 'em on!

Radishes that were planted before the deluge started were intended to harvest with beans, tomatoes, peppers and squash - so much for that idea! That first planting of radishes was harvested, and another round is in - and the recipes are coming for them, too. Radish greens ARE Edible - some use in soups, others stir fry, and yet others saute' with other greens. Share your recipe with us. Here are a few from Liz. The website is getting close to being ready and I'll have a page just for recipes there!

Spicy Stir-Fried Radish Greens and/or Swiss Chard

(Makes 2 servings, can easily be doubled. Recipe created by Kalyn with some chard-cooking inspiration from Vegetables Every Day.)

8-10 ounces radish greens and/or swiss chard,
washed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
2-3 tsp. peanut oil
2 large garlic cloves (for seasoning the oil)
sauce mixture:
1 T soy sauce (I like Kikkomans)
1 tsp. rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tsp. Agave nectar
1/4 tsp. (or less) Sriracha sauce or other hot sauce
Wash and dry radish greens and/or swiss chard. (I used a salad spinner.) If desired, soak greens for about 30 minutes in very cold water. (This makes sure they're crisp for the quick stir-frying.) Working in batches, cut greens crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Mix together sauce ingredients and set aside. Preheat the wok or large, heavy frying pan until it feels very hot when you hold your hand there, then add the oil. When oil looks shimmery, add the garlic cloves and cook about 30 seconds, making sure garlic doesn't start to brown. Remove garlic and discard. Add chopped radish greens and/or swiss chard all at once and immediately begin to stir-fry, turning greens over and over just until they are almost all wilted. (For me this was only one minute, but I have a great gas stove with a burner with really high heat.) When greens are almost all wilted, add sauce ingredients, stir, and cook 30 seconds more. Serve hot.

Potato Salad with Wild Radish Greens
Ingredients: (serves 2-3)
A bunch of wild radish greens
4-5 potatoes
a few spring onions
Dressing:3 tbs olive oil1 ts dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 lemon juice
1)Boil the potates, when cool enough peel and chop them. Transfer them to a salad bowl.2)Throw the wild radish greens in a pan full of boiling water,leave them for about ten minutes.3)Strain them and pour cold water over them to avoid discoloration.4)Then chop the greens, transfer them to the salad bowl.5)Whisk all the ingredients of the dressing, pour it into the salad bowl, mix well and serve.

Over the course of a few work days, our great work share members and volunteers did plant over half of most of the plugs we wanted to, but there are still the strawberry plants and 2 kinds of cabbage that need to get in. Garlic is on the way and it won't be too long before we plant onions and then potatoes - those were soooo good last year!
Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Mesculin Mix, Spinach, Pok Choi, green cutting onions and some of the two varieties of cabbage are in along with seeds of Swiss Chard, more cabbages, turnips, mustard greens, carrots and more radishes. (French Breakfast this time.)

I've also started to get some of the annual herbs going as the basil is fading - being eaten by something is more like it - and will soon succumb to cold temps.

It won't be long before we're flipping pages of seed catalogs for next spring and I'm always looking for more stuff to plant. Send me your ideas.
Stay dry!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Your Family Could be Eating Organic Food for the Same Price as Processed Foods -- or Less

I know we all could use some help in the kitchen budget department. And many of you are probably far better cooks than I am, but when I see an article like this that combines the menu planning with a shopping list, I'm all over it because I think it is great to get new ideas and who can't use a little help planning meals?

Especially I like it when it is an all natural food menu that can show the contrast of the mainstream's thought that eating healthy is more expensive than eating cheap food.

I hope this helps you in your meal planning. Pass it on to a friend. I have many friends, and relatives, who think I'm nuts - but this article proves you CAN eat organic and not go broke.

Your Family Could be Eating Organic Food for the Same Price as Processed Foods -- or Less

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eat Locally Grown Food All Year

What a great article - even though these folks are up in the north and have basements, we can learn some from them, too. I'm working on a canning class actually for later this year and Herb has given me directions for dehydrating that I've yet to share - my bad.

We all can do many little things to try to eat as local and in season as we can. Those in our CSA are doing tons! Hopefully, the coming rains will be gentle and water in nicely the few plants I have bravely put in. I've held out most, but thought we'd try to get at least one early round in since the rain delayed most of the day. Maybe it will stay north of the farm?

Seeds are covered this time so we shouldn't lose the 2nd seeding of root crops.

Enjoy the article - eat well!

Eat Locally Grown Food All Year

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing...

Another two and nearly a half inches of rain since last night, has made the gardens quite the soggy mess again. The good news however, is that I think all of the seeds planted have had enough time to get going before it started coming down and it wasn't coming down too hard, so as long as they don't rot in the excess moisture before they sprout some true leaves - we should be in good shape on cabbages, lettuces and tat soi.

Our plugs should be in this week - but we're not going to get them in the ground if the forecast holds true. Dave from my old job, told me that the plugs should be ok in their pots for about a week or two upon arrival - so we have to hope the soil dries up a bit in that time frame or we'll be potting up plugs into 2 inch plug trays....not a task I want to endure.

Just wanted to put in a bit of a weather update - stay dry!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Barn Aid and Life on the Farm

Whew! I made it through September - but just barely. What a month filled with activities and fun! For those of you who missed the event, the 2nd annual Barn Aid & Dinner at Eden was a great success and lots of fun. The evening was captured in photos by James Edward Photography and I invite you to take a peak at the album.
Lorynn the Redhead wooed guests as they were arriving to the farm with her silky voice and magic guitar sound. While author Pamela Walker was educating our guests about some of the awesome Texas farmers and ranchers she profiled in her wonderful new book, (I'm almost done reading it and it is great!), we served over 40 dinners including the volunteers, the members of the band, and several scholarship dinners donated by some who purchased tickets to the fund raiser. Chef Gilbert wowed even the discriminating "non-beet" eaters with a gourmet, organic vegetarian dinner using almost exclusively locally grown, farm fresh foods, including;

Aunt Cindi's Organic Farm beets, 50 year old jerez vinegar, palm sugar, pickled onions from Eden's Garden;

Organic Provincial Vegetables from Aunt Cindi's, Thyme, confit tomatoes (sweet 100's and Juliets from Eden's), (served over cream peas)
Vanhuizen Farm Blue Cheese Foam w/Toasted Texas pecans, pomegranate seeds from Marie's personal pomegranate shrub, (that was a fun course to watch everyone eat!),

and topped off with a Lucky Layla Farms Yogurt Parfait Blueberry compote for desert!
And he put this all together in less than 2 days as most of the ingredients arrived in Chef's hands Thursday afternoon. Many thanks to Chef Dave and his fine assistant and friend, Steve Smith.

We held the DFW premiere screening of FRESH! and 90 people watched as Joel Salatin, Will Allen and others explained how and why it is so important to return our food system to smaller, sustainable operations. If you've never seen or heard (or read) anything by Joel Salatin, you will surely enjoy his positive outlook and dry, or maybe that is wry, sense of humor about our out of control food system and the legislation trying to reform it. He's a farmer, but also a great inspirational speaker. I had the pleasure of introducing him at last year's TCOOP event (hosted by TOFGA) and have now seen him live and in two movies about food. The man has a passion for what he is doing!

The Lucky Pierres performed some great songs and some folks even cut a rug out on the dirt dance floor. Organic popcorn was popped, natural sodas made believers of a few who tried it and Chef served up some tasty hoagy type Italian sausage sandwiches featuring Dominion Farm's all naturally raised meats. Everything was yummy, fun and fulfilling. The evening ended a bit later than we expected, but all good things do have to come to an end sooner or in this case, later.

It was a great afternoon/evening and I am pleased to say we raised $1,000 for the two beneficiaries and enlightened many people about the plight of others' need for the kind of food we are growing and enjoying here from Eden's. I got to meet many new fans of the farm and saw lots of kids enjoying themselves as well. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have shared this evening with so many great people. I can't thank enough those who volunteered, bought tickets, donated and participated. A special shout out to Edible DFW, The Green Spot, Dal-Tex Rentals in Mesquite, James Edward, Jenice Johnson, Saint Arnold and Lucky Layla Farm for their generous contributions and support of the event.

Back to the farm; September is planting time for many of the fall foods we'll be harvesting in the coming months, such as beets, radishes, carrots, turnips, lettuce, spinach, broccoli and much more! Sadly, after 15 inches of rain fell, (I never thought I'd be sad to see rain), we have to replant most of what went in as the first 2 1/4 inches fell in less than an hour and came down in buckets, washing most of the seeds away. The radishes seemed to survive the frog strangler, but I think they start to germinate as you plant them! Turnips, beets and the rest of the root crops were the most affected. The tomatoes, peppers, beans and cucumbers all seemed to enjoy the rain and except for the peppers, have all grown about a foot and a half in 2 weeks! I'm not sure about those peppers though this morning I did see a few blossoms, so maybe they will give us peppers but just won't be tall.

I also planted several varieties of cabbage, lettuce, kale and other greens. We have those strawberry plants and about 1500 other plugs on the way next week to get in the ground. So, if you wanted to volunteer on the farm, this and next week would be great weeks to come out! We still have some finishing to do on the rows, just smoothing out and weeding and then next week it will be a planting frenzy!

I hope we get gentle rains tomorrow, as they are predicting a pretty good chance of storms. It gives me a couple of days to catch up on paperwork and inside chores, but the heavy rains always set us back a few days as they flatten out our rows and wash seeds away.

Enjoy the fall weather we're having - thank you for supporting your local farmers and ranchers. Market Day this weekend at Eden's - come see us, and bring the kiddos.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Monday, September 28, 2009

What's Going on in DC - the Food unSafety Bill

For those of you who've asked me recently about the latest and greatest from DC - here is what FARFA has posted on their website currently.

Please, do keep yourselves informed, and call your local congress person - the health care issue is taking front seat, which may mean our legislation gets shoved through while no one is really looking!

FROM FARFA; (My notes in italics)

A food safety bill is moving through Congress! The House Energy & Commerce Committee has approved HR 2749, the "Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009." The bill contains many problematic provisions, including:

A food facility—defined as any establishment that manufactures, processes, packs, or holds food—would have to register and pay an annual $500 fee. Although farms are exempt, the agency has defined “farm” narrowly, and people making foods such as jam, cheese, or canned vegetables for local markets would be required to register and pay the fee. This could drive start-up and small producers out of business during difficult economic times. The fee is the same whether you are a small, local producer or a Heinz factory.

Facilities are also subject to extensive recordkeeping and paperwork requirements that could bury them in red tape without improving food safety. (Not to mention the part that allows the FDA to come on our property and have access to all records, including customer lists, whenever they want. These "facilities", are our HOMES!)

The FDA is authorized to regulate how farms grow, harvest, pack, sort, transport and hold raw produce and crops. The agency's track record shows that this is likely to lead to regulations based on the practices of huge, industrial facilities, and that will be impractical and counterproductive for small, diversified farms. (See what they are doing in CA - no animals on farms, no ponds/creeks/lakes on property, no border crops - must be mowed to dirt, must eliminate all wildlife from crop area or plow up 30ft surrounding animal tracks that are found.)

Establish a sliding scale for fees based on gross income, with an exemption for small facilities.

Limit the bill to food being shipped interstate, and explicitly exempt all farms and food processors who are selling only intrastate.

Exempt all farms and food processors who are selling directly to consumers. (This would mean us and farms like us, because we generally sell directly via CSA supporters and directly at market day.)

The industrial food safety system does need to be reformed. But a bill that harms small and local producers is not the answer!

Help protect both farmers and our food supply by calling your Representative today! Talk with the staffer who handles food safety issues. Explain how important local farms and local food sources are to you! Ask your Representative to push for an exemption for small farms and small food processors from these overly burdensome provisions.

To find out who represents you, go to http://www.congress.org/

I'll post pics and such from Barn Aid soon!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food

Seems as though what I've been trying to share with you locally through events such as the upcoming Barn Aid & Dinner at Eden, is finally get more and more national attention. We're trying to spread the word to folks about the real cost of cheap food - essentially, sickness - and encourage them to eat healthier, local, fresh meals.

Time magazine did a great job with their story about cheap food - pointing out a good deal of issues, mentioning some of the more prominent authors covering the subject and even sharing some great pictures of what families around the world eat and urban farming projects, like the budding blossom here at Eden's Garden.

Take a moment if you will to pass on this article after you've read it.

Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food

We're looking forward to next Saturday - this weekend's rains seem to be washing the excessive heat out of the air and bringing in the cooler temps of late summer/ early autumn just in time for the event.

Come join us in the gardens, out on the farm for a gourmet dinner and wonderful treat, Pamela Walker, and watch with the rest of DFW, the premier screening of the new food movie FRESH!

We'll scoot some boots afterwards with The Lucky Pierres - till the cows come home...oh wait, Eden's doesn't have any cows......

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cool Winds a Blowin'....?

Well, we thought it was going to cool down. I guess the good news is that the days are shorter and so that means the sun has less time to bake us and the plants and the ground they grow in. But boy, it is still hot out when it gets up there in the 90's. But, then I come in and finalize orders and plans for future crops, update the blog, send out emails and drink lots of water and green ice tea! After all, it was these nice warm temps in September that lured me to move to Texas in the first place. I know, what was I thinking!? Well, it is already too chilly up north for my liking so I'm not complaining about the lingering warm weather too much. Just glad we've started to see a bit of rain again.
In the ground, as we type, are tomatoes (Amish Paste, Yellow Pear & Cherokee Purple), peppers (Magnum Habanero Orange, Corno di toro and Black Hungarian), winter squash (Delicata), cantaloupe, another round of squash - yellow straight neck and dark green zucchini - Wax Beans, maybe they'll grow now that it isn't quite as hot, Provider Bush beans and a Chinese Red Noodle bean from fellow farmer, Carol Moss' farm. I had several other trays seeded - but I'm afraid a few hens found out there was corn meal in the potting mix this go round, and they messed up some of the seedlings on some of the other squash. We'll have a handful of plants that come up, and hopefully enough to at least put in the swap out box this fall. Silly chickens.....(no, that is not what I said at the time.) - we're hoping we get a nice fall crop of these short season warm veggies this year before it gets too cold. I'm hoping to find someone to teach a canning class, too, so we can learn how to preserve some of this goodness for the winter months. (I don't know how to can - do you?)

We've had to "cheat" a bit on our renewable energy plans, I'm afraid. I hate it - the stink of the pump not to mention the noise - and the fact that I have to burn gas to run it, but I also can't keep doing all of this work for the little harvest we've been getting and a few of you have said the same thing. The low harvest, we believe, is primarily due to low water input. We hope to be able to find a better combination of equipment when we attend the renewable energy roundup in a few weeks. Renewable energy is certainly the way to go, but it isn't a perfect system either. Until then, I'm using the gas pump only on days where we just HAVE to get more water on things and the sun/wind are not cooperating enough to recharge our batteries - not to mention, when our pumps have over heated and require cool down time, too. All of these things combined, do not make seedlings happy - nor do they put enough water down on crops with the pure sand we have in some areas of the garden, which drains faster than you can imagine. This will serve well for wet winters, but not for hot, dry summers. It will take several seasons under our belts to get that organic matter built up in the sandy parts of the gardens. But boy has the cantaloupe been sweet! (If you missed that week's pick up, we should have more soon if the aphids will leave these new plants alone.)
Eden's Garden is committed to growing "off the grid" and with sustainable practices. We're close to building our shed out back (out of the neighbor's old framework of a structure he used for covering his garden with shade cloth many years ago). Reuse! Recycle! We'll put tin salvaged from last year's tornado damaged barn roof on the roof of this new shed, and start to catch rainwater just as soon as we can afford a new rain barrel. This will help us rotate the use of pond water and rainwater - which will be nice to rinse off the mud this winter and when the pond gets low. By incorporating rain water, it only increases our sustainability goals.
Why we do what we do
Each time I read statistics about how many obese, diabetic children we are raising, it breaks my heart. It literally brings tears to my eyes to see a little one waddle behind his or her parent, who is also usually overweight. I am very blessed. My mom raised us on home cooked scratch meals for the most part. I learned to cook decently at a very young age and managed to maintain most of those good eating habits as an adult. But today, our school system FEEDS our kids junk in vending machines and cafeteria lines - the television, magazines, radio and every billboard you pass FEEDS all of us junk - how can we expect anyone, much less the children, to crave anything better, even when we choose to try to feed them healthy at breakfast and dinner? We have an opportunity to let our voices be heard. This Labor Day is the day set aside to call attention to what our schools are dishing up for your kids at lunch. http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/campaign/time_for_lunch-eat_ins_by_state/Texas/ is where to go in Texas to support an "eat in" event sponsored by Slow Food USA. Hey, whatever happened to packing a PBJ sandwich and an apple for the kiddos? That would be better than some of the junk they are feeding them. Geez.
By encouraging school aged kids to come out to the farm, get involved in school gardens, (see the great article in this seasons Edible DFW about Stonewall Jackson's program!), community gardens and even a pot of lettuce grown at home on the balcony, we take important steps to helping our children learn the important difference between real food and processed, packaged, pseudo foods. Devoid of nutrition, we are all left hungry, and craving the fat, salt and sugar that junk foods are packed with, to satisfy, not our hunger, but our taste buds. Take a week and fast from fast foods - and see if you're not left with more energy, clearer minds and a thicker pocketbook. Fast food is cheap - but it isn't really food or cheap if you have to eat twice as much of it to fill your body's needs.
Barn Aid promises to be a busy and fun event this year. I'm so glad to have the opportunity to show FRESH! here in the DFW area. I hope that many will come and be inspired to eat healthier foods, grow some of their own foods and, support local agriculture. The movie and concert are free - gates will re-open about 7:15 if you don't come to the charity dinner beforehand. There will be a panel of local food advocates discussing the movie with the audience afterwards. I hope you can bring some friends and join us. We'll have a free concert after the movie. Chef Gilbert will be serving up some gourmet sausages from Dominion Farms and we're looking at getting some organic popcorn for the movie! Thank you to all of those who are helping sponsor the event and make it happen.
We do have several new CSA members this year that have jumped on board to support our efforts here at Eden's Garden. I am so grateful for each and every one of you - and I hope in spite of the light harvests we had this first year, you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for what you are a big part of. Please, come out to Barn Aid and see this other aspect of why it is important for there to be local, urban farms, too. There are lots of good reasons to be a part of local agriculture. Growing healthy food, preserving the land and protecting the environment, practicing community involvement, supporting the local economy and educating people all along the way are just the tip of the iceberg for the impact one single small farm can have on a community.
Welcome to a new farming year - and here's to a great one! Cheers!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Farming and the Reality of Failure

It's been a few weeks since I've blogged - I've been pondering what to say for one thing, and then I ran across this young lady's blog via the FRESH! link and I think she summed it up pretty well. Farming = failures. It is just going to happen and if we want to be in the business of farming, we'd better just get used to it. (click on the blog title for the link to the story.)

But, as she also points out, there are many successes to celebrate as well. Sometimes, they don't come at us as obviously as the losses, but they are there if we look.

We've hatched out many, many new little chicks this past year and soon, they'll be laying eggs. That means, we are several steps closer to having free range eggs available from Eden's for shares.

We have started to recruit younger people to the farm in a learning capacity. I have been working side by side with Chad for several weeks now and Charity and Butch, who have been in our CSA since day 1, are learning and helping with both field work and behind the scenes things such as web site development. Since she has a little one at home with special needs, it is not always possible for Charity to get to the farm on a routine, but, she's dedicated to doing what she can to help the farm and to learn about it as much as she can. This means as we continue to train folks, that our farm can become more successful and, as some will intern and leave the farm, other small, local farms will pop up for other communities.

We have harvested a lot of food off our first year's gardens. I know many weeks it may not have seemed like it, but if you think about how much food it takes to feed 20 shares+, it is a LOT of food. We have been short as far as full shares some weeks, but the quality of the food never had any complaints. We've had other farmers and chefs comment on the taste of the food harvested - that, you just can't substitute. Once we get the watering issue nailed down - we should be home free.

And, lastly - for now, we're doing it all off the grid! I've asked about the potential for introducing a gas powered pump - in situations where we have seedlings in the field and a cloudy, windless yet very hot day and we NEED to water. Consistent watering has hurt us a bit. That soil is just too hot and we can't water all day - our capacity just isn't there. As we build the soil, this won't be as big of a deal, but we've got a few years to go before we can say our soil is full of good, rich organic matter. It is nutritious now, but we need to build the tilth of it so it will not drain so fast. I know, most of you struggle with heavy clay that never seems to drain - not so here though. We have beach sand in many sections.

I think we've learned some great things in this our first year on the farm. I am learning what not to plant and what to try. (We'll NOT be planting little leaf cucumbers next year on the sandy soil), and we're really going to have to be more strategic when it comes to jumping on that small window of planting - soon as the soil hits a good temp - we're going to have to call in all hands on deck to get things in the ground more efficiently. That hurt us this year - it went from freezing, to sopping wet (and still too cold in the soil) to hotter than blazes within a very short window. We can't count on the season being average - it was much hotter than normal, much earlier than normal this year and that wiped out any possibility of re-seeding things that didn't germinate. We tried - several times. Corn, beans, okra, (which is just now coming up), and cantaloupes all had to be planted and replanted or plowed up. There is nothing more depressing than watching all those hours of work plowed under....

One more cool thing is that this seems to have been a good year for the pomegranate bush! I'll be sharing those with you all as soon as they ripen a bit. Last year the darn stink bugs got them, but they were soft and not very good. This year, they seem to be in good shape, a bit small, I suspect from the heat, but they are firm and I've not seen a bunch of bugs on them yet. So, I'll keep an eye and hopefully in the next few weeks we'll have a big picking party and get them harvested. They are soooo good for you!

In the meantime, we have to say good luck and good bye to Sam Walker - he's leaving for college next week. We'll miss his help and humor out here at the farm. But, the good news, for us anyway, is that his sisters will be staying for a bit longer as the family has not been able to move up to Denton yet. (Mr. Walker is getting his doctrine in Denton - way to go!)

Keep abreast of the HR2749 legislation, please. This is not just something we can ignore. The widely vauge way it is written, as well as some of the very clear stipulations, spell trouble for the local food system. I'll be posting some info here soon. It can spell disaster for small farms for a variety of reasons. Let's hope the Senate takes into consideration that one size fits all isn't appropriate for this law. It gives way too much power to the USDA/FDA and invades the privacy, not to mention takes away the right to farm naturally and sustainable - the way it has been done since Biblical times - from those who choose to do so, but don't want or can't afford to pay the USDA to do so. (It never made sense to me to pay the government NOT to do something - like NOT to spray poison or pollute the land.)

Hope you are having a great last summer weekend - school starts too soon I'm sure. But, maybe that means cooler nights are on the way. It sure has been a scorcher of a summer this year.

Don't forget Sept. 19th is Barn Aid and the free screening of FRESH! (gates open at dusk) and the traditional free concert afterwards. I hope you can make it. I'd like to give a public kudos to my supporters - it is because of CSA that this farm - is.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Letter to my representatives

HR2749, The Food Safety Enhancement Act, going before Congress this week does not address the underlying problems with our food supply. All previous food recalls have been traced back to industrial farming practices and/or uninspected imported food and yet HR2749 does not directly address these issues.

Instead it indiscriminately challenges all food providers giving the FDA unchecked powers that will "bully" small family farms and local food artisans out of business.

I urge my representatives to include the Farr-Kaptur amendments that would exempt small-scale on-farm processors selling directly to consumers, require FDA to coordinate with USDA and to consult with the National Organic Program, exempt farms selling directly to businesses from the traceability requirements, and establish a sliding scale for the registration fees.In Addition to these amendments we need to limit the bill to food being shipped interstate, and explicitly exempt all farms and food processors who are selling only intrastate from all provisions of the bill.

We also need to provide an exemption for farms and food processors selling directly to consumers within a local "foodshed", since those who live near a state boundary often have local markets on the other side of that boundary.Please do the right thing by exempting our few remaining small farms and by specifically regulating the real threat to food safety: the imported and industrial food industry.

http://www.ftcldf.org/petitions/pnum993.php sign the petition

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Here We Go Again....

Thank you Eden's Garden CSA supporter Sara Barnard for the heads up! I missed this one somehow - usually I'm deluged with emails when another broadbrush piece of trash, I mean legistlation comes out of DC or Austin that aims to make what we're doing here either harder or outright illegal. That is right. Illegal. They want to outlaw raw milk altogether, really restrict value added products like breads, jams, canned goods, etc. and give me a pile of paperwork to do - or be forced to hire someone else to do for me.

Folks, I realize we need to have safe food and food safety guidelines. But to what extent and who do those guidelines need to be aimed at? The farmer who picks your food, puts it in a basket and hands it to you or the assembly line owner? You decide with your vote at the grocery store, this and other farms and, by letting your local congress person hear your voice.


Thank you for your support.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Something to Ponder

An old classmate of mine from back up in the Midwest, I recently found out, also turned out to be a farmer. He, unlike me, grew up each summer at a cousin's farm - whereas I grew up at the public pool. But this is something I never knew about my classmate, Robert. Well, as a result of us finding out we have followed similar paths, he and I have been exchanging news articles, pics of our farms, stories and info. He and his wife have raised pigs, chickens, crops and lease some land out as well. I hope to get to visit his farm soon.

The link in the title up above contains an interesting article we've exchanged, written by the witty farmer out east, Joel Salatin. He's got some great antidotes, stories and better yet - solutions, to many of the problems that plague this country's food industry problems. You saw him in the movie FOOD, Inc. (Still playing at the Magnolia by the way.)

Seems in this article he suggests knocking big agribiz down a size or two. Not a bad idea. But how? I remember the phrase, "I refuse to participate in the recession!" Well, many people did'nt seem to really be affected by it then, and many seem to be handling this one, too. Now, was it positive thinking or was it creative solutions that kept them afloat? Maybe both. But, by not actively taking part of the problem, big agribiz in the case of the food crisis we have, we can help avoid the problems that come with it, such as unsafe, unhealthy foods.

I think it is an interesting read if nothing else. Just click here or on the blog's title link above.

I hope you all are enjoying our spring harvest. We pulled in about 75#, way over a bushel, of potatoes, and just enough tomatoes for you all to get about a half pint of those sweet 100's and large cherry reds and at least one heirloom. I know, just enough to tease you. I don't know when all of those green ones hanging out there are going to turn red - but something tells me it is going to be all at once!

With this heat, it seems if I don't pick the almost ripe ones right then when I see them, they are red as Christmas ornaments the next day and over ripe. I hope you all didn't get any you couldn't use. We refrigerate them the very day we harvest them to keep them from continuing to ripen.

Those 1015's are wonderful, we'll be sure to plant again next year and the squash continues to be tasty, too. The squash have slowed down production some - but then so hasn't everything including us? Heck, even the cats and chickens are out there panting! The heat stops many plants in their tracks from much growing.

The eggplant have put on some more leaves and a few blooms have popped so they should be putting out fruit soon. The cantaloupe don't seem to mind the heat either and we picked our first cucumber - only one was ready - and I'm going to taste test it for you. ;'p

The other day the breeze fooled me as it was 3pm before I got hungry and realized I'd been out there 8 hours straight, and it was over 100 again. Thank goodness for straw hats and breezes....The soil temps are well over 100, too, cooking everything but the fire ants who seem to enjoy the scorching sand, but finally the end is in sight....Monday, I hear, clouds and a chance of rain with a high UNDER 100! Whew, won't that feel nice. This is NOT a normal June pattern but then what is normal anymore?

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

ps - this was my dinner last night....100% local, cept the butter....and who knows, maybe some day we can have that here, too?

Mashed Eden's Garden spuds, rosemary, squash, onions, maters and olive oil, (ok so that's not local either), local chicken and bread from our market day ranchers and producers. Yummy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Regulations....You Have to Be Kidding!

I think in this entry's title link above, the author says it all. The government is wishy washy with their regulations. They allow us to assume risks in some areas, but not others. They make it so difficult and expensive to do what farms have done for centuries - milk animals and drink it - that folks go covert to do so, making criminals out of honest, hardworking good-health seeking people like you and me.

I am able to get fresh, unpasteurized goat's milk - blessed that I personally know someone who raises dairy goats. But I'd give nearly anything to be able to allow the legal sale of it at my farm's market days. So many people can not tolerate pasteurized cow or goat milk - but would benefit from raw milk. But the state of Texas thinks it is too risky for you and me to drink.

There is a hearing coming up in Austin about Raw Milk regulations. I don't expect you all to jump in the car and drive down there, but if you can - do so. And if you can't, make a call, send an email or fax to your local congress person telling them you are a big person and can decide for yourself whether or not to buy raw milk from a local farmer.

I fear this is a slippery slope folks. First it is raw milk, then it is various types of meats which HAVE to be slaughtered and processed in gov't. regulated facilities - which are usually less sanitary than family farm facilities - and now I hear rumblings about fresh eggs in Austin restaurants. Next will it be produce? (TOFGA.org should have details.)

Here are a few links that our new CSA member John Christens sent me over the weekend about local, sustainable food and where to find it. (I just submitted Eden's today so it won't appear just yet.) You'd better write them down someplace because if the gov't keeps cracking down....we're all going to have to go underground.

http://www.sustainabletable.org/home.php (cool website - recipes, info and ideas)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tINy06Nx2G8 (I think this is part 1 of 3 that we previously posted - worth seeing again!)

Tomatoes are ripening a bit more every day. We'll surely have some for next weekend. The heirlooms for sure, maybe some of the others, too. This is one section that is tomatoes...about 800 plants in all. That is a lot of maters my friends....get ready to come pick some. I'm not a big tomato eater so y'all, come and get em'!

Thank you all for supporting local agriculture and helping make local, healthy, organic food available in the community. Eden's couldn't do it without you!

Be well.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

FOOD, Inc. Premiers in Dallas!

The movie that has rec'd lots of hype in the locavore world, FOOD, Inc., finally arrives in Dallas tonight!
Free screening at the Magnolia (7:30 show, but plan to arrive at least an hour early), and the official opening is Friday. Join us for an Eden's Watch Party at the 7:30 show!

Watch your market day email reminders for details on how you can win 2 free tix to Saturday night show!

See you tonight - and I'll be there Friday night, too. This one is worth seeing more than once!
It will change the way you look at dinner.....

Eat Your Food - Naturally!
UPDATE: Just returned from the movie screening - GO SEE IT! And take a friend with you - preferably one who may not otherwise go see this movie. Someone with kids who get their calories from a box at a drive thru or, in one of our public school lunch programs...
This movie should make you think. It makes me prouder than ever of what we're trying, and DOING, here at Eden's Garden. You can see my review of the movie at the link above - the link to the movie site is http://www.foodincmovie.com/
Don't forget, we're having a watch party Friday night at the 7:30 viewing at the Magnolia. (It is also opening at the Angelica in Plano for you north group folks.) And I'll be raffling off a pair of tix to the Sat night show at the Magnolia at Market Day Saturday morning.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Storm That Wouldn't End

Well gang, the farm hasn't quite floated away - or blown away - but it was a tense night and the storms are still blowing up.

This old house was built before A/C so as you can imagine, there are windows everywhere for the circulation. So, with 70mph winds and tornado warnings all night long, I took my pillow, my laptop, camera, cell phone and a blanket and spent the night in the hallway - the only part of the house besides a closet, without any windows. And if it wasn't bad enough to spend the night on the floor, I was awaken twice more throughout the night after the midnight storm blew in that sent me from my bed, it hit again at 2:30 and again at 5:30. So much for sleeping....

Here are some pics of the storm's aftermath and a quick video of it's brewing this morning before it broke loose again - as I type it is pouring and storming, but no real danger or severe winds this time. Thankfully. But it did reveal another leak in the house roof.....guess it is time to get the other half done.

I went out in between storms to check on things and the wind turbine is up - Herb and my brother Joe reinforced it the last time it came down - and the fields look pretty good considering I'm sure we've gotten about 3 inches of rain or more by now.

I hope this finds all of you safe and sound, too. Thanks for praying for rain - next time, maybe we need to refine our request a bit.....could do without the 70mph winds!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Rain! Wind!

Wow, I wonder if I'll ever be able to relax when it storms again. Today when it started to rain, I was just enjoying dinner and a movie at Parker Chiropractic College with our friends Leo and Emily, farm volunteers and future CSA operators once they return to their home of Florida.

They called off the movie, right in the middle of it, and asked us all to go into the restrooms/hallway.....that hasn't happened to me since school! Now of course most of you remember the farm's tornado experience that left the place resembling the aftermath of, well, a tornado's path! Trees down, limbs and branches everywhere and, the roof of our barn torn off. So, needless to say, now when the radar looks a bit more than green, I tend to get a bit concerned.

Well, the link in the title was round 2's storm map and the pic above is the calm before the storm started up again. I had just gone to bed at 11 with my last bit of water for the night and really until some time tomorrow late morning as I have my blood work done with Parker, and I was rattled up out of my sleep. I'm not sure how much more rain we got yet, the first round brought almost exactly half an inch - just what I had hoped for. From the sounds of it, I bet we got at least .25 more. And a ton of thunder and lightening that scared the beegeebers out of me and the cats! I don't like it at all, much less when there are no MISSISSIPPI's inbetween the flash and the rumble!

I'll go out in the morning and check everything again for damage. Round one brought 70mph winds. Our turbine seemed to handle it fine and although laid down somewhat, the crops seemed ok, too. No hail damage that I could see in the dark. And I don't think round 2 brought any hail. Just a LOT of lightening and thunder. And, more rain and some wind.

So, a weekly dose of rain would be awesome - but do you think we can get it without the severe weather? I hope so. My nerves can't handle this every week like last year. Every Thursday after the tornado in April, it stormed for like 5 weeks in a row.....ugh.

Hope all is well at your house - we'll see you soon.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Let's Eat!

It was so nice to see everyone again today! I guess it has only been a few weeks since our last pick up, but it seems like a long time. So many of you had such wonderful things to say - thank you for your continued support of Eden's Garden!

Just last week the new mayor of Balch Springs came by, at my invitation, to see what we were doing over here on the edge of town. As you know, they have been considering an ordinance that would regulate the number of chickens and outlaw ownership of roosters as well as require cooping all poultry here in town. After explaining to Mayor Gordon that there are families right here in town that, for health reasons, rely on organic food, including organically raised poultry and eggs, I feel very confident we'll prevail in our struggle to maintain our right to eat free range poultry and eggs. Just as she was leaving, one such resident pulled in to my driveway explaining her son, who has autism, is basically prescribed organic food so his body dosen't have to process the chemicals and pesticides. Nor can he drink the city water due to the highly toxic fluoride in it.

While my farm would likely be exempted due to the acreage size, many home owners with smaller yards would be adversely affected. Some of these are the very people who have lived here in town for many years, in some cases, generations, raising livestock, including chickens.

While I agree you need a minimum amount of space to raise and process large livestock, a small flock of chickens needs only a small area comparatively, and the occasional crowing of roosters, that are needed to keep a closed flock sustained, can be compared to many other noises heard in any community, such as the barking of a dog, the singing of a mockingbird or the laughter of kids playing nearby.

When people rely on the nutritional values and affordability of raising their own food, it seems a mute point to complain about a little noise or the way it may look to someone. This goes way beyond a nuisance issue. I've been asked to sit on the committee that will oversee many of the ordinances that are up for review - including the one about livestock/poultry ownership. I've accepted the invite and will keep you posted. Thanks for your support on this issue. If we're ever going to get our flock up and organized enough to lay us tasty free-range eggs for our group, we need to be able to let them roam free. Free range should mean more than 4'x4' areas of dirt....not much omega 3's there......

The 2 kinds of potatoes we harvested this week do look very much alike but are supposed to be very different types. The Yellow Finn are a creamy, buttery type, great I would say, for steaming or mashing. Try it without adding butter. The Binjinte are a French Gourmet potato that is supposed to be great for frying. Both sound good to me!

I sauteed myself some onion, potato and squash with the rosemary Robert brought us for dinner tonight. Deelish! Thank you Robert! (he has apparently got a monster rosemary bush that needed a hair cut.)

Hopefully the heirloom tomatoes will start turning red here soon and we'll have those to add to your shares. The sweet 100's, Beefsteak and Large Red Cherry are growing and blooming - and the wind is helping pollinate them, but no fruit just yet. It was a late year with Easter coming so late and that freeze the Tuesday beforehand. But we've got eggplant, more squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe and some sorry slow growing peppers in the ground. I even put in some corn, which I noticed was up the other day. I'll admit I've not had great luck growing corn in the past, but I wanted to give it a try in this soil my farmer friend Jack says is soooo great! We'll see.

The irrigation system is running very well, thank you Herb, and an article about that very renewable energy system running our pump/irrigation system is going to be in print very soon! Herb is getting published in Mother Earth! We'll let you know which issue so you can be sure to bring it and get his autograph. ;)

The whole idea behind this system, besides providing green energy for our farm, is to help show other farmers how they, too, can do this. In fact, a couple of brothers stopped by the farm today to ask about our set up and Herb filled their ears with the set up he has put in for us, explaining it is all about to be put on line for the taking.

By using natural energy, a farm can pretty well be put out in almost any field where there is a tank or ability to capture rain water or tap into a spring or well. Electricity won't be needed if the farmer uses wind and solar energy to power things. This opens up a whole new frontier for some people living "off the grid".

We're getting closer to having our own web site just for Eden's Garden CSA members - that will replace our weekly newsletter email. Butch will explain how we can all tie in so we'll know when something is updated on it and our pick up notices, recipes, driving group conversations, etc., can all be accessed through one place rather than all of the emails. I don't know about you guys, but my in box gets FULL! I'll still put up entries here on the blog, as it isn't just us that follows this, but more of the CSA news will be on the web site and this will be more "farmy" news, instead.

Well, I hope this finds lots of happy taste buds and full tummies tonight. I'll keep planting if you guys will keep eatin!

Be well!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rural Lifestyle on Highway 6

Well, I made the jump onto Twitter a few weeks ago, at the urging of one of our CSA members, Jenice Johnson who is a media guru and works for the Dallas Morning News. I was trying to follow some event that was going on in town and they kept saying to follow it on Twitter but I thought it was only for cell phones or something. Jenice set me straight and now occasionally, I Tweet.

The significance of what I am doing throughout the day seems pretty mundane to me, but apparantley, there are 25 people out there who find it worthy of "following". ok. Among them, just happened to be a radio program out of Iowa called Rural Lifestyle on Highway 6. He became interested in the farm and what we are doing down here in Texas and has invited me to be on the show this Sunday morning at 8. If you follow the link in the heading, you can follow the link to hear the show on line. I guess they podcast it, too if you miss it and want to hear it later.

I'm not sure what exactly he will ask me yet, but you can be sure we'll talk about the proposed ban on roosters here in town as well as our wonderful CSA and getting the good stuff (organic food) out to as many people as we can through Eden's Garden.

Hope you can tune in!

On the Farm

I (and you) am anxiously awaiting things to ripen and grow! I pulled 3 baby potatoes out of the pile yesterday just to see if they were really down there, and there they were! They are no where near ready yet, but the good news is that they are growing and tasty!

I fried them up with some onions. There are spring onions and we're getting some larger ones, too - funny how they all go in at the same time, but grow at different rates.

So, keep the rain coming once a week or so and I think we'll be eating from the garden again by the early part of June!

Don't be strangers to the farm inbetween seasons though. Market Days are 1st and 3rd Saturday and next Saturday, May 30th, I have invited a guest speaker to come to the shop at 10 and talk all about insects. This would be a good one to bring the kiddos to, because Kim usually does some show and tell. Yeah, really. ;)

I hope you all have a peaceful weekend this Memorial Day holiday. We'll not have an official work day. Look for your email next week when I catch up on newsletter stuff. I'm hoping Butch and Bubba are almost done with our web page so we can update everyone there instead of creating an email everytime.

Y'all take care,

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Doctors warn about GE Foods

The best way to know you're not eating GE or Genetically modified foods, is to know your farmer. Eden's searches high and low for organic seed and plant starts for you! And if I can't find them, I research what I'm getting before we plant it to be as sure as we can be that it is safe, not GE'd and/or full of pesticides.

Sweet potato starts have been a real challenge. I'm not late yet, but we're probably not going to find organic starts to get started this year so I will be using the same producer as one of my farmer peers who is USDA Certified Organic. He's known the guy a long time and uses his starts. Then, we'll try to have enough of our own starts for next year and the future. THAT is the best way I can assure we're using organic sources.

But, when you buy processed foods or eat out - you may very well be eating more GMO than you realize.

Pass along the word - Who's YOUR Farmer?


And, if that wasn't enough.....how sad is this? CSA is the only way a small farm has a chance with these kinds of statistics... the wonder of it all....who gets all of the money?


Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day at the Soggy Farm

Whew - when it rains it pours, eh?

This was the sight on the back end of the pond the afternoon of Gleaning day a few Saturday's ago. And the pics are from the front end of the pond where we usually walk. Would have needed a rowboat that afternoon! The taters flooded, but I think they'll be ok, thanks to our sandy soil. It drains pretty fast out here.

Other than weeding there isn't a lot to do with it so wet though. I've got the irrigation lines all run and will be splitting it up into 2 systems later this week. 300' of flat tape and all of those 100' drip lines are just a bit too long to do an efficient job. So we'll water it like 2 gardens rather than up our power needs or stress the pump.

We have had 2 meet and greet days at the farm and I would like to welcome 4 new shares! Heather and Jason, Amy and Greg, Stephanie, and Kristen. We have 1 more date, next Saturday, due to the rain we had yesterday. Amy and Greg were troopers though, I must say - came with their golashes and everything!

I am constantly humbled by everyone's commitment to sustain a local farm in the Dallas area. I do not know what all is in store for its' contribution to this community, but I feel it will be wonderful. It is all possible through the support of you great folks, too! Without your financial backing, I can't do all I do.

And, here is one of those things I am going to have the opportunity to do next Sunday -

Eden's Garden will be visiting with Michael Libbie of Rural Lifestyle on Highway 6 radio show next Sunday 8am go here http://tinyurl.com/5qgdpp for details of webcast, unless you'll be traveling through Central Iowa and can listen on the radio.

Cool eh? from Texas to Iowa! We'll talk about the farm/CSA and our fight to keep our rural way of life, including our right to keep chickens and roosters in town. And you can betcha I'll tell everyone how our CSA family is making it all happen in DFW!

Well gang, it's too wet to play in the dirt today, so I'm taking some inside time and R&R.

Remember, you can always call me up (or email) if you want to come out to the farm for a mom's day out or kids trip. We can always find simple things to do that won't leave you too sore. ;)

I think we're still a few weeks from harvesting, but I see squash and maters growing and the taters are blooming, too. It won't be too long!

Enjoy this beautiful weather - see you all soon.


Eat Your Food - Naturally!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Court and the Farm

Our first mater! The heirlooms that were planted several weeks
ago are just starting to put out some green fruit.

Now, for some not so great news....

I went to the court hearing with my fellow farmer this past Tuesday. Court, I must say, is NOT the best environment to get to say what you need to and make your points clear. My friend was unable to clearly state her side, and unfortunately, by the time she found her voice, the judge had already decided that because she wasn't electronically available at all times, basically, she would be advised to work out a monetary settlement with her customer.
For those of you who've never farmed, believe it or not, some of us don't generally take our cell phones out in the field with us. At least I don't, unless I know I am expecting a call. It is so sandy/muddy/wet/dirty out there - and guess what.....cell phones don't much like that. And in this case, cell phone signals weren't even available until recently at her farm. And you know what, by the time we get inside at the end of the day, we're pretty tired. And probably, it is pretty late. So when our email is down, and we leave a message on your phone, and you can't reach us back - it isn't because we're avoiding you. We're busy and pooped!

I must add though, I told the court that I really, honestly felt that if one of my CSA supporters was trying to reach me, and didn't hear back from me in 2 weeks, that you'd probably come out to the farm to make sure I wasn't dead out in the gardens! THAT my friends, is what CSA is all about. Creating a caring, bonding relationship between the person that grows the food and the people who eat it.

If you've missed the last posting, please scroll down and watch the sweet, loving video that our CSA member Charity Gordon (and the help of her kiddos) made for me. This is just one of the wonderful things that keeps us going on bad days. When the pump fails, the field is flooded, the fire ants are stinging, the sun is scorching, the tractor is stuck in the mud, or the bones are aching. It is all soooo worth it to me! I love you guys - and I love what we're all doing together!

Only a few of our community took advantage of the Gleaning Opportunity
this past weekend. They all left with a nice variety of yummies though!

Unfortunately, some people in some CSA groups are more worried about themselves than the concept of community. I hope we've not totally lost our farmer friend from the farming world. One unpleasant CSA member can really dampen your spirits though. Your farmers care enough to grow the very best for you all - it is hard to think that not everyone has the same kind of care back for those who do the growing. CSA is supposed to be a partnership of sorts, not a consumer/vendor situation. I guess sometimes at the bigger farms, it becomes less of a partnership with the farmer and more of a pay your money/pick up your food type situation. But you can be sure that this is NOT what Robyn Van En had in mind when she introduced CSA's concept to America. And this is not what Eden's CSA ever has plans to become.

The judge's decision really had nothing to do with the original reason this lady filed the suit against her farmer.....in fact, he swore he backed the farmer up on the fact that she had a bad year because farming had inherint risks and she, as a member, accepted those risks. What he did say, basically, is if the farmer had called her customer back more (what is enough?) times to tell her there wasn't anything to come pick up - he wouldn't have a problem with the situation. I guess he'd have dropped the case if the computer didn't crash and there was cell signals up there. Sometimes, I think the courts just want to show they forced a comprimise - no one wins then. But, it was a setttlment, not a judgement and that part at least is good. But the farmer still had to pay money out of her pocket as her spring season begins....not good.
Anyway, if I am ever not providing you guys with the customer service you feel we need to give all of our members - please, let me know directly. Come see me at the farm if you've not heard back from me. Email is usually the best way, but you know what, computers crash, AT&T's DSL is not invincible and sometimes, I just plain can't keep my peepers open another minute to answer another email! But, we'll talk about it, as we've done in the past. And, if needed, we'll put it in front of our Advisory Committee. We'll resolve it as a COMMUNITY!
Thanks again to Eden's Garden CSA family; for making this farm possible. I coudn't do it without your support and your help!
Come out to the meet and greet Saturday if you'd like to meet some potential new members. There were about 12 shares worth of members that decided our CSA wasn't working for them and the final installment of their annual commitments need to be picked up. Normally, we don't do seasonal shares, but this is a good way to let someone "try" our farm. We'll ask for annual commitments when our new farming year begins in the fall. Bring a friend or neighbor who may be interested in our tomatoes, potatoes, onions, squash, peppers, melons, cukes, zukes and whatever else we harvest. YUM!

After only 2 inches of rain Saturday afternoon - the already saturated soil
just couldn't take it anymore. Ladies, this is the road you walked on earlier
in the day on Saturday when you came picking!

Eat Your Food - Naturally!