Thursday, December 25, 2008

Season's Greetings

Happy holidays to you all. Looks like things are beginning to warm up around here. The snow will be gone in a couple of days and we'll see if there is anything left in the field after the freezing weather. Hopefully the hardy overwintering crops will pull through.

We still have brussel's sprouts, cabbage, turnips and potatoes available for sale. Call me at 376-5994 or 622-6433 to place an order.

The snow's been great but I'm ready for it to go away now.

All the best to all of you. Keep well,

Farmer John

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Perfect Solstice

Ahhh. Winter solstice, The shortest day of the year. It's snowing, the powers been out all morning. Quiet, calm, dark. Perfect.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Too Dire

Ok, so maybe my last post was a little dire? Just tellin it like I see it. I could candy coat it and make it all happy happy but that would be defeating the point. The truth is it's not all a bed of roses all the time. Sometimes things don't go the way you would like them to. The problem is there's just nothing you can do about it. I can't change the economy or the weather. I can try and be positive 100% of the time but thats not real either. Not writing about it is an option I suppose. But if you're reading this you're most likely interested in whats happening so you might as well really know whats running through my mind. In the end, it all comes down to perspective.

A couple of days ago a young man from the island was seriously injured in a snowboarding accident. As I understand he is paralyzed as a result. I am so sorry to hear that news. Another example of things just happening that we have no control over. In comparison I have no problems to complain about what so ever. This young man will have some hard times to get through. I wish him and his family and friends all the best. You can do it.

For us, The kale will grow, the roots will survive, the cauliflower will thrive and so will I. Spring will come, grass will grow, dollars will flow. All will be well. Our economy will return, we'll all be better for it in the end.

And for now? Let it snow let it snow let it snow!

Keep well,

Farmer John

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Crap weather

Here we go, nor'easter # two! Well, if the first round of frigid weather didn't kill the overwintering plants I'm almost positive this one will. It's just too much stress. I've goy my fingers crossed that at least some of the kale will survive. It'll be a miracle if it does.

This is some classic bad timing. I lost my side job a couple of months ago and have been relying solely on the farm for an income. Things were going pretty well and sales have been brisk. I was keeping up. Now with the killing weather, that is gone too.

Time for plan C. Uhh. lets see boss, what is plan C? Better make one up.

This time of year I always send out a wrap up letter for the season and solicit membership for our CSA. The letter is ready and will go out at the first of the year. We need signups! Please, this is setting up to be a rough year. If you can, please send in your renewals and new membership payments ASAP.

Things are rough for alot of people right now. The timing of the weather has made it even harder. Retail sales from local shop owners are off, construction has mostly halted and the restaurants are quiet. I hope we get through this stormy December and see things normalize a bit. I'll be aiming at re-planting earlier than normal in 2009. It's hard to fight mother nature but maybe we'll catch a break?

Anyway, if you can help us out we'd be grateful.

Hang in there everyone, things will get better.

Happy holidays to all.

Farmer John

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hold On To Your Skivies

Aye, got a noreaster blowing in this weekend. We're expecting winds gusting up to fifty MPH and temps to drop into the teens and stay that way for several days. Not especially looking forward to it. It's been so nice I think I'm little on the wussie side.

This event will pretty much end the season for us. I'm sure most things will take a beating. I'm particularly sad about my fava beans. I've never successfuly overwintered a crop and had high hopes I would pull it off this year. There is a beautiful stand all about 3 ft tall and luscious. Maybe they'll make it but I doubt it. Oh well, at least they're cover crop.

I'll harvest as much as I can today to store into the walkin. That will cover deliveries for the next couple of weeks. If anyone would like fresh produce just give me a call. I have salad greens, braising greens, kale, turnips, potatoes, cabbage, brussels sprouts and bok choi.

It's been a good year. The best ever for sales volume, length of season and eating.

Here's a great recipe for turnips I got from Tyler Florence of the Food Network.

Peel and chunk up your turnips and simmer in milk with a sprig of fresh thyme until fork tender.
(I also added celeriac when I made it) Remove some of the milk and then mash or use an immersion blender to make them the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add salt and pepper to tast. Delicious! I served mine with rack of lamb and fresh greens. Truly an unforgettable food moment.

I'll still have turnips, potatoes, kale and cabbage for weeks to come. Don't be shy. call me.

Hold on tight

Farmer John

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Matching Contributions And Holiday Gifts

For the month of December Maple Rock Farm is extending a special offer. If you purchase a farm share to be donated to the food bank, we will match your contribution by 50% For example If you buy a $100.00 credit, we will match it with another $50.00 for a total of $150.00. This is a great opportunity to help your community and support a local farm at the same time.

We are trying to raise $10,000 by the end of the month. To do so we need your help. Please consider taking advantage of this special limited time offer. Tell your friends, family and neighbors. If just 100 people bought a $100.00 share we'd meet our goal.

Also, are you looking for a unique Eco friendly gift to give for the holidays? Why not consider giving the gift of locally grown produce. Shares can be purchased starting at $50.00! Who would'nt enjoy receiving such a gift. Delivery can begin anytime for any of our seasonal goods.

We are also accepting membership and renewals into our CSA/Farmshare program. Join us and you will eat the best you ever have. We still have lots of produce in the field for immediate delivery.

Why? We are heading into our off season and are trying to come up with creative solutions to even out our cash flow. These are tough times and we need the support of our community right now more than ever. Maple Rock is commited to being a consistent producer of the freshest local produce available. We believe that by offering a quality, sustainably grown product and working together within our community we can overcome some of the short term difficulties we are experiencing. To do so, we need your support. Please join us today.

Keep well,

John Steward

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Special orders and town sales

It's Tuesday. Two days and counting till Thanksgiving.

If you would like fresh produce for your gathering please call me at 376-5994 or on my cell at 622-6433 You can also e mail me at stewardship@maplerockfarm.com

I'm planning on being in town both today and tomorrow for truck sales. 12:00 - 3:00 I have a pretty tight schedule and lots to do so if I hit a snag I might be a little late. Calling or e mailing works the best.

Here's what's on

Salad greens
braising greens
cabbage (green savoy)
bok choi
turnips (regular and Japanese salad)
German Butterball potatoes
bunched kale

Hoping for a good turnout so give me a call.

All the best.

Farmer John

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving

The last official farmers market of the season will be this Saturday 11/22/08 from 11:00 til 2:00 PM. We still have a great selection and this is your chance to stock up for thanksgiving. We'll have...

salad greens
braising greens
potatoes
turnips
kale
chard
bok choi
broccoli
cabbage

I'll be taking orders for deliver next week also. If you can't make it to market. E mail me and we can make arrangements for delivery.

Business has been good. The nice weather this fall has extened things a bit and helped us push past or sales plan. So a year that began slowy and proved to be erratic and slower than normal has turned out to be a record breaker. Persistence pays off once again.

We still have lots of produce in the field. Give a call or drop me an E mail for availability and delivery.

Thanks to all you for another great season!

Farmer John

Monday, October 27, 2008

Winding down

Sorry for the long delay in posts. It's been a busy fall season. The shorter days and colder temps have slowed the pace down a bit. It's hard to get everything done in a day before it gets dark.

We've extended our market season this year with the addition of five indoor markets at the Oddfellows hall in the village. It's been pretty good. Traffic has been decent and sales are in line with what I was anticipating. Two more to go and we'll be done. The dates for the next markets are November 8th and 22nd.

We should have produce available through the end of December. For orders just give us a call and we'll make arrangements for delivery.

The extended nice weather is giving us a little bit of a break on getting our fields cleared and cover cropped. hopefully by the end of this week we'll have it all done.

So overall it's turning out to be a decent year. this was a difficult season. Cool, wet spring conditions and the lack of a real summer made for challenging growing conditions. We made adjustments accordingly throughout the year to compensate for the conditions. it seemed to have worked. It's not a banner year but depending on how sales go in the next few weeks we could beat our numbers for last year.

Just starting to think about next year. We have some excitings prospects coming up. I'll fill you in on that later.

For now we're concentrating on doing the best we can this year.

Keep well,

Farmer John

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Peak Tomato

Tomatoes are on at their peak right now. We have about 300 lbs going to market today. Although this has been a difficult year to grow toms, it is turning out to be an outstanding season. Yields are about normal but the quality and flavor are the best I have seen in years. We're seeing lots of big guys ripening on the vine. There are a few standouts. Paul Robeson, Momotaro, Nayagou, Sioux and the Black Plums are especially tasty. So in the end patience pays off.
We have more nice weather on the way so I'm expecting another good harvest for next week but they won't last too much longer. The plants continue to look healthy though so we'll see. We could have tomatoes into November if the weather stays halfway decent.

Potatoes are coming on strong as well. We have Yukon Golds, German Butterballs, Austrian Crescent and Rose Fir Apple fingerlings. The're wonderful.

Broccoli and Bok choi are back on. Kale, cabage, turnips, beets, peppers and winter squash are all on in abundance too!

This is a great time of year. Most everything is at it's prime. So come on down to the market and stock up.

Good eating.

Farmer John

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Solstice Bounty

Despite the unusually cool summer, the harvest here is in full swing. Lots of tomatoes! Winter squash is in as well. A little earlier than normal and it is delicious. The potatoes are great right now too. My favorite is German Butterball. We're bringing in a few now with lots more to come in the following weeks. Basically, everything is on right now. I'll post some market pics in a couple of days.

Fall and overwintering crops are growing nicely with the favorable weather we've had. I'm looking forward to a busy fall, winter and spring harvest.

This is my favorite season. The eating is real good right now and life is easy.

Cheers,

Farmer John

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shooting for 100

Here at home and two of our three satelite farms, we are 100% planted out. That is a rarity. Normally we would have some ground laying fallow, in cover crop or otherwise waiting to be prepped and planted. However with this years unusual weather condidtions we are resorting to unusual techniques. We are still planting many crops for fall and overwintering. Salad greens of mostly an Asian mix like tat-tsoi, mizuna, arugula, komatsuna and mustards as well as lettuce. We've been transplanting assorted kales, chards, napa cabbage, bok choi and lettuce. Today I'll be working up the last available space we have to make room for for one more round of transplants and direct sowing.

Also putting in root crops like beets, carrots, onions, turnips an radishes. It's getting late to plant some of this for fall harvest but who knows. If we get a nice long fall and Indian summer we'll get something. If not, hopefully these will overwinter for an early spring harvest. Regardless of my implanted knowledge, (pun not intended) I'm forging ahead as quickly as possible to get as much in the ground as I can before the season closes out. We sell alot of produce in the fall and since we have markets scheduled all the way into November, we need to have as much produce available as possible. We see how we do.

Currently the highlight crop is strawberries. We harvested fourteen flats yesterday and we'll have that much again on friday. They are gorgeous! This is the best time of year for them and the weather has been perfect. We'll continue until first frost.

For such a cool summer I'm thankful to see a decent tomato harvest coming on. We are actually harvesting outdoor toms, something I thought we might not see at all. The late August rain was beneficial and we have not had blight issues as one might expect with the cool/damp condidtions. The big producers are Stupice and Paul Robeson. Ironically, cherry toms have been very slow this year.

The broccoli coming in right now is stunning as well and the kale is exceptionally delicious, especially for this time of year. It's normally not tasty like it is now until it's been hit with a few frosts. In particular the Cavalo Nero is phenominal.

We've been bringing in some potatoes. Our main crop has just completed flowering and will be ready in a month or so. Tuber production seems a little low to me but hopefully they'll bulk up nicely in the coming weeks. Potatoes are a big crop for us so I'm hoping for a good harvest to carry us through the winter.

All in all, most everything is looking great. Despite the weather challenges, our crops are the healthiest I've ever seen. So things are behind where they normally are but these days nothing seems normal so hopefully we'll come out in the end looking good.

Keep well my friends and look forward to some great fall produce!



Farmer John

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Summer That Wasn't

OK, here we are August 27th. It's raining again and about 50 degrees. Not exactly what one would expect for this time of year. Typical summer crops are just not performing as usual. I keep expecting that the outdoor tomatoes will get the blight with this inclimate weather. They keep hanging on. Lots of tomatoes on the vine, mostly green and hard. I'm no expecting much of a harvest at this point. Squash are making some fruits but not nearly up to par. Healthy looking plants just not much production. There are no bees so it could be partly due to lack of polination. Cucumers are just setting there. I tilled in the melons. It was obvious they were not going to do it. No eggplant, a few peppers from the greenhouse but unimpressive.

On the flip side we have broccoli. Beautiful broccoli and the kale and chard are the healthiest I've ever seen. Asian style salad greens and some incredible arugula. This is atypical. The indoor toms are starting to kick in OK. We're getting between 60 and 100lbs per week. New radish's should be on this week and we have turnips and beets up and looking great. Winter squash is looking good and still making fruit. We've been digging a few new potatoes and the main crop is in full flower and standing tall and looks great. new carrots are up, cultivated and look great. Direct sown onions will be weeded today an are also looking good. Corn looks like it will make it. And oh yes, the straberries are back on and true to fashion they are the best of the season. Big, fat, shiny and super sweet. Green beans are on and also look and taste great!

We have most of our winter crops in at this point but we are still sowing a few things like kale, collards, choi and lettuce We'll be transplanting out kale and choi today. We have about sixteen new beds ready to plant and a couple beds of beets that did not germ well so I'll be replacing those today as well. We'll be direct sowing onions, beets, turnips, carrots, greens and peas for tendrils also. We have the FEAST kids coming out to lend a hand so we should get in a good day despite the rain.

Been working on the firewood pile. With the weather like it is I'm feeling antsy to get it in. We just got the barn closed in so I have extra storgae that I have not had before. Having big o'l piles of split, stacked and cured firewood make me feel rich indeed.

At this point I'm still hopeful for a nice fall growing season. We do well that time of year if we have the product so we are concentrating on that.

Restaraunt sales have been good and picking up. I have to say although we are not harvesting in abundance right now, everything that we are picking is of the best quality and the chefs really appreciate that. We've made big strides in our fertility this year and it shows. Everything is just luscious.

So there you have it. The wackiness continues but we seen to be adapting to it just fine. This has been a difficult year growing wise so I'm just happy we have done as well as we have. I not counting out that we'll have our best year ever.

Keep it real folks.

Farmer John

Monday, August 11, 2008

Coming out of a summer lull

This has been an odd year weather wise. The cool temps have pushed all of the summer crops back by a good month if not more. Things are starting to kick in though. I was just out in the greenhouses and there are quite a few tomatoes that are ripe and ripening. Normally at this point in the season we are harvesting a couple hundred pounds per week. We have just had a few here and there at this point. Hopefully the weather will kick in and w'll be in the tomatoe business. Peppers and eggplant have yet to set fruit. Summer squash has just been a trickle of normal. Grenn beans are just starting to happen. Garlic is harvested and curing and we have been harvesting a couple hundred pounds of baby potatoes for the last couple of weeks. Our main crop of potatoes wil be flowering in a couple of weeks.

So with the delay, havests have been a little off but we've been holding our own. We had a nice rain on Saturday and the weather looks promising this week so I'm expecting things will pop and we'll be in full production. Strawberries should be back on this week too and we have new beds of lettuce ready to harvest for greens. The farm looks really good right now. Everything is healthy and lucious.

Stil sowing new crops too. Just put in two beds of beets and a bed of turnips yesterday. Lots of sowing in flats right now too. Things like kale, collards, choi and the like. Recently sown carrots, beets, onions, radishes and greens are all up and looking good. We are setting up fo a tremendous fall. Hopefully we'll make up our shortfall from the flukey weather this summer.

Time to roll.

Keep well,

Farmer John

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Full swing

Back on the farm after week off. It was good to get away but good to be back too. The season continues with it's peaks and valleys. We are having a slight lull at the moment. Waiting for the heat loving summer crops to come on. Especially tomatoes. There just kind of setting there. We've had a few ripe ones from indoors. Some of the outdoor ones are starting to show a little color but nothing of any note at this point. We've had cool evenings all spring and summer. Many of the outdoor ones may not even produce. Just don't know at this point.

We are hoping to start harvesting potatoes soon. Summer squash production has been off. I believe it's a lack of heat but also a lack of pollinators. Green beans may be on in a couple of weeks? We missed a planting on our greens and ran out. Hoping to be back in full production in a week or so. This is the first gap we have had since February. It always seems to happen this time of year. It's a combination of many things. Regardless, it hurts. Greens are our main crop and it's money lost when we gap out. Strawberries are off now for awhile too and peas have just finished. So it's a waiting game of sorts. A high level of patience required here.

One thing we are not short on and that is fava beans. We have alot of fava beans!

Also alot of weeds! uggh.

At least allergy season is coming to an end and I'll be able to weed whack and mow again.

Prepping ground as fast as it becomes available from terminated beds. We are planting out for fall and winter now. All sites are set on an extended season. It seems to be the trend here weather wise. Hoping for a nice long Indian summer.

Time to make firewood too. The party never stops!

Keep well,

John

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gone Daddy Gone

I'm outta here for a few days of smoke inhalation in southern Cal. Never had a real vacation in the summer before. Weird but way cool. One last day to take care of a long list of projects. Business has picked up to what seems normal. Good day at the market yesterday. We sold out of everything. Wish we would have had more to take. Oh well. Tomatoes are ripening. We took some to market. Most people were astonished we had them and they tasted great. I don't eat store bought tomatoes so having home grown is fabulous.

Anyway, Keep well all and don't forget to eat your greens.

Farmer John

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

transistions

Good day here. Lots of Tillage, mowing, bed prep and transplanting. I'm thinking more of fall than summer but summer crops are soon to be. We put in melons and more squash today. The first ripe tomato appeared in the greenhouse today. Squash is threatning, corns bout knee high. It's all lookin good. Have some of our fall crops in. Cabbage, sprouting broccoli, kale etc. Still have about 400 lbs of potato seed that I would like to get in the ground. Need to do field work first.


Bad allergies last couple of days but basically escaped hell this year. Farm looks good. Nice little thunderstorm this evening. Growing up in the southwest, it's one thing I really miss.

Thanks to Dave for taking the pics!

Happy fourth

John Boy

Monday, June 30, 2008

Holy Berry Batman!

Well now. Strawberries are on like I have never seen before. The're on so thick that when you're picking you don't have to move much. Just stand there and pick about 4 pints from one location. We picked 11 flats this evening before we simply burned out on picking them. ( we had a big day here) We'll go back in the morning. Catch us in town around noon if you would like some. They'll go fast so don't tarry along the way. They are gorgeous, delicious and good for you. They are not sprayed with posion. They are grown with love, very expensive and worth every penny. $5.00 pint. Call ahead or e mail me if you would like to order a flat (12 pints)

Today we installed trellising and tied up three rows of tomatoes. We also culivated those as well as about 10 rows of potatoes. Also cultivated the garlic beds. This is when they are pushing to bulb up and don't like any weed competition. Really happy to get that project started! Also mowed around the farm tonight. Things were looking a litlle shabby. It's a big job just keeping things looking nice let alone farming as well.

It's hella busy right now. We are terminating and re-planting many areas right now. crazy, gotta keep it rolling.

Happy 4th of July to you all. See you at the fireworks.

Keep well,

John

Thursday, June 26, 2008

No Farmers!

I just returned from a trip to eastern Washington. One of my favorite things to do while visiting other areas is to check out the local farmers markets. Sadly my visit to the Twisp market was a dissapointment. There were no farmers. I asked one of the vendors about it and she said that most of the farmers had retired or moved on. What a shame. I came away thinking about how fortunate we are on Orcas to have such a lively farming community. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are. Getting caught up in our day to day lives, it sometimes takes a visit to another place to recognize our abundance.

One of the best things about the trip though (aside frome some quality family time) was seeing all of the orchards. The cherry harvest was just beginning and there were many other types of fruit. Apples, apricots and peaches mainly. Thosands of acres of wheat which was really interesting. All dry land farming. It was beautiful.

It was also great to come back. We have such a wonderful crew. They did a great job and I think they enjoyed having me be gone. Not in a bad way but in an empowering way. It's a great feeling for me to be able to leave and not even give it a second thought. Thanks guys, you rule!

Theres alot going on still in the way of planting. We hopefully will get our main crop of potatoes in this afternoon. Other stuff too. Late summer, fall and winter plantings of just about everything. Beets, turnips, brassicas, greens, beans etc, etc.

Anyway, back into full swing. Time to get a move on.

Keep well,

John

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not Too Bad

Well, This whacky weather seems like it's gotta settle down here soon. Looks like another cloudy cool day. I've just been checking out some of the other farms sites around the Northwest. (virtual farm tours are a good thing) It seems as though if everyone is having some type of difficulty. If you get a chance, check out Blue Fox Farm on my link page. These folks have a gorgeous farm and there crops all look so healthy. They are quite a bit warmer than us but it's hard not to be envious of their harvests. Stunning.

Things are transistioning here a bit. Lots of groundwork being done making space for waiting successions from in the greenhouse. It feels great and I love the way the farm takes on a new face. The propagation house will quickly revert to a hoop house with beds where we'll grow our eggplants and peppers. We are adjusting our plantings a bit to adjust for the cooler summer. Just guessing here but I'm thinking the cooler than normal weather will continue. We're sowing more greens, broccoli and peas and a few others that will do well in these conditions. Melons? We've been hopeful but my hope is beginning to wane. Corn too. Just don't think it's going to do it this year. Also we have quite a few outdoor toms in. They are pretty much just sitting there. If they don't kick in here soon We might want to consider replacing them with something that will perform. Tough call. We are coming up on our deadline of summer squash, cukes and bean plantings here in a couple of weeks. We'll get in a second sowing on those guys shortly. We'll be planting our main crop of potatoes next week. I know it sounds late and it is compared to what the big guys do. We planted on July 1st last year and had a wonderful fall harvest. I'm hoping for even more success this year.

The fall and overwinting things are just being sown. I'm hoping for more root crop types of things this year, especially beets, carrots and turnips. Of course we'll keep the standards too, Brussel's sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale and the like. I'm still hoping for a bountiful fall harvest. Last year it made all the difference for us profit wise. This year appears to shaping up the same.

So it's all moving along slowly but surely.

The big news here is the strawberries are on. They are yummy and beautiful.

Generally I am just thankful. Those poor farmers back in Iowa are taking a beating. Think about it for just a moment. Corn is at an all time high at around $7.00 a bushel. The farmers there were all poised to have a banner year and actually make some money for a change and now they have nothing. Wiped out in a week. I don't know if I could take that. And as a side note, corn will go through the roof as well as wheat. Pretty sure you know how that translates.

Happy Solstice week and have fun at the parade.

Keep well,

John

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Twoofer

OK so I don't normally post twice in one day however I wanted to relay some interesting weather history I heard today on Kuow. This came from Cliff Mass, atmospheric scientist at the University Of Washingington. He referred to this as the bbq factor as most people are less inclined to bbq in temps lower than 60 degrees.

Since March 11th we have had only 23 days that have reached 60 degreees. Normal would be somewhere around 45 days. In addition, this has been the coldest June on record since 1917. That's the year my mother was born. She's 91. Anyway slight warming trend by the end of the week and yes by the beginning of the week another trough settling in from the gulf of Alaska bringing more rain and cooler temps. Hell yeah!.... just kidding. Gimmie da ting dat da doctor ordered and dats da sun dammit.

John

Unbelievable

OK its cold. I'm still building fires to keep the house warm. I don't recall such cool temps this late in the eight years I've been on Orcas. Snow level for the cascades last night was at 2500 ft and they were expexting up to a foot of new snow. Enough already! Poor little tomatoes are just geting hammered. They don't look so bad. If it does warm up they will recover I'm sure. They'll be some tough damn plants. I'd say this is going to be a tough year to get a decsent crop.
We do have about 150 plants in the greenhouses that look fine. Some of them actually have toms on them already. Yea.

Just getting around to the field prep for our main crop of potatoes. Mowed the cover crop on Sunday and plowed last night. I'll hit it with the rotovator this evening after work and let it set for a few days. One final pass with the tiller, set the furrows, fertilize, install the drip tapes, sow and cover. It's a little late but earlier than last year and we had a bumber crop. Putting in Yukon Golds, German Butterballs, Chieftan Reds, Austrian Crescent, Rose Fern Apple and Red thumbs.

Re-Thinking/evaluating where we are at and anticipating weather scenarios. I'm thinking/hoping we are in for a long late summer and Fall season. It very well could be the determining factor in our success or failure this year. Right now is the time to be ramping up for fall production. We have several indoor markets planned that go all the way into November. So I'm thinking about what crops we can market successfully into the holiday season. Also thinking about the over-wintering things. Good planning now puts us ahead in the spring when early crops are hard to produce.

Thankfully with all of this rain, allergies have been tolerable! The crops are loving it too! Theres no water like a good ol' soaking rain. The timing was perfect for things like beets and turnips and our newly sown crops of carrots, turnips, greens, and more. Great germination with the consistent moisture levels. Especially helpful on our drier/sandier plot. It's easy weeding right now too. Some of those big uglies like dock and thistle just pop right out.

Big news for this week will be the strawberry harvest. The forecast is for warming temps and clearing skies later in the week. Friday should see the first berries of the season!

It's time to get going. Off farm work day. Boo hoo.

Keep well,

John

Monday, June 2, 2008

Juneunary

It's still a bit on the cool side. I like it but the heat loving crops like tomatoes, cukes, peppers, squash and basil are not so impressed. Forecast is for cool temps all week.

Vehicle woes continue. Tranny went out on one of our eurvans. This one just came out of the shop on Friday. The other one is still in the shop with an unknown diagnosis. Ughhh.

The best thing this week is our new tractor. Mid 40's Farmall A. Nice! I will use it as a cultivating tractor.

This is going to be a big plant out week. More toms, winter and summer squash, cukes and more. More space we'll be available in the greenhouses in a couple of days as we pull the tables out. Melons and peppers will take their place.

Critical time. This is when I get hit with allergies. I'm taking prescriptions meds this year. So far I'm operating as normal. Most years I function at a minimum. Hopefully I can stay on schedule for a change. There's always so much to do this time of year it's easy to fall behind. We seem to be doing better this year.

Markets: Commercial sales are way off normal. A direct reaction to the slower economy. Less visitors to the island means less people frequenting the restaurants which means they are not consuming as much product. We've been making the difference up at the farmers market until this past week. Sales were substantially off. My vehicle woes didn't help us out either. We were limited on the amount of starts we were able to transport to market. Plus start sales are waning in general and we are in a lull for fresh veg More stuff will be coming on soon.

So there you have the dirt. Yes, it was a rough week. We'll see if we cant turn that around.

Keep well,

John

Thursday, May 29, 2008

As The Season Turns

Welcome to the MRF blog. The season is beginning to pivot out of having just green leafies to having a more varied appeal. This week for market we'll be having a couple of new items on the table. Broccoli! It is absolutely gorgeous and we have good volume. It's as nice as I've ever seen anywhere. We'll also have the first peas of the season. Thease are English shelling peas. We grew them in the big greenhouse starting in February. They're pretty much a one timer harvest wise. They look and taste great. Outdoor peas won't be far behind. I'ts possible we'll have some baby beets and turnips as well this week.

Field wise, it's all about getting things in the ground right now. We are well on the way to getting tomatoes in. We've bee spacing them out further than normal so we are not putting in as many but hopefully the extra space we'll give them a larger yield. We're trying celery this year for the first time. We just transplanted that yesterday, looks great. Basil is in, first round of corn is in, second round is germinating. Melons are just about ready to transplant and we have squash starts of all kinds ready to to get in now.

Potatoes! Today is field trip day. 2nd and thrird graders from Ann Ford Mcgraths class are coming out to help us plant. Last year they harvested so I thought they should see the otherside of the deal. Not as fun as digging, but still a fun job.

Really hoping the UPS truck comes today with our new water pump. The old one went out a week ago. Sears says its on the way but they are always slow. We need water! Thankfully it's rained a little and it's been cool.

Having van woes too:( One in the shop with a $2,000 repair and the second one unexpectedly went down yesterday and is being towed to the shop today. Hopefully one of those makes it back on island by Saturday so we can go to market.

Oh well. I'm no stranger to this. Just get it fixed and forget about it.

Gotta roll,

John

All in all, things are going great

Friday, May 23, 2008

It's bean awhile

Busy, busy, Just trying to stay ahead of the weeds. It's pretty much a non-ending task. Things are looking good. Some of the early crops like boc choi and raab ae starting to wane and some of the newer things like turnips, broccoli, peas and kohlrabi are coming on within the next week. Hoping that we dont have much of a product gap this week. I always think we are short but by the end of the day we have a bounty.

Market has been good. Last week was a little slow for produce but we sold a good deal of starts. We'll have more this week. We are just getting ready to put out tomates so you're not too late. In fact we still may need another week or so. I just can't wait. Ours are going in on Monday come hell or high water. We'll pop in a few rows of fingerling potatoes that are all greened out and ready to plant as well. Soil temps are still off by a few degrees but I suspect we'll hit 55 o in the next couple of weeks. Great weather for growing lettuce. Ours is looking lovely. We did get hit with a little downey mildew, not enough to worry about. Typical for cool/wet conditions. We also lost our cauliflower to a couple of persistent critters. First slugs and then cabbage root maggots. Oh well, pest damage has been minimal to us this year and no deer invasions!

Strawberries are all up and growing like crazy. Our old patch has tons of berries on. Should see the first ripe ones in a couple of weeks! Still sowing indoor but as beds become availble we are going direct as much as we can. We even started beans inside. We don't normally go this route and franklyI have not had good luck doing it. We'll give it a try again. We'll sow some direct at the same time. We did get the first corn in and it looks awesome. We have a econd succession that was jut planted in flats yesterday.

Alright, I have to get going here folks, It's a busy day. Take care and eat well,

John

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Where to start

Uhh, there's alot to do right now. It's generally an overwhelming sense. Basically about three days worth of tractor work staring me down. Tilling, bed prep, cultivating, mowing, etc. etc. We had a nice couple of days of rain. I'm thankful although it did interupt my busy schedule. The weather is supposed to get real warm for a couple of days and then switch back into a cool and wet period (oh really) Not exactly what we are hoping for but hell, we'll take anything over 60 degrees right now with a big smile. We need some sun for our crops to grow. It's all growing soo slow. we're looking at a gap unless it kicks in her real quick. Anyway, I'm tractor guy today.

Weeds have been a big obsatcle for us this year. We lost a couple of beds of carrots because we simply can't devote that much time to weeding/thinning 150ft rows that are smothered in weeds. Till em' up and do it again. That said we've been on the weeds better than most years. It's just those small things like carrots that are especially challenging. We are getting the to the point where we are having to devote so much time to harvesting that it is hard to keep up on everything.

Despite the difficulties, we are off to a stellar start. The first two markets have been great. Sales are brisk, inventory has been strong and we have sold through practically everything we have taken. Plant sales have been fair. Lots of competition and a limited market. We have a great selection if you need starts, espescially tomatoes. Commercial sales are coming around. The economic slow down can be seen and felt directly.

In the field. Stawberries are in. Tomatoes are going out next week. New greens are just about ready. Old greens in the greenhouse are just about done. They'll be out next week and something will replace them. Melons or toms? hmm maybe peppers. Potatoes are chitting and I'll be working on the field they will go in today. We arte planting them with AnneFords second and third grade class on the 29th. So much more to list. Where's it all going to go?

Keep well,

John

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Farmers Market

It's been a busy week around the "Rock". Farmers market started last Saturday. We had a great selection of produce and starts and despite the rain we had a steady flow of customers clamoring for the first greens of spring. We are shooting for another big day this Saturday. We'll be taking salad greens, braising greens, spinach, kale tops, broccoli, kale tops, pea shoots, arugula, bok choi, raab, radishes, parsley, potatoes and lots of plant starts.

In the field, we are extremly busy right now. Transplanting continues to be an almost daily task. The weather continues to be cool so most of our sowing is taking place inside. We just started sumer and winter squash in the last few days, cucmbers too. They'll be ready for transplant in 3 or 4 weeks. The basil is looking good and we just began potting it up from cell trays into 4"pots. It's still a little early to get it out. We've been transplanting tomatoes into the greenhouse as space comes up. I have some planned for outdoors as well as oon as it warms up. This may well be a difficult year for toms. I'm only putting the hardiest and small fruited varieties out and reserving the larger and more fickle ones for the greenhouse's.

Any spare time I have right now is spent on setting up irrigation. We're getting there. We did get a little rain last weekend so that gave me a break for a few days. It sure dries out fast though. It's time for everything to get water again. I' ll spend a good part of my day geting tapes set.

Oh! strawberry starts are here! There's a project. We have to lay the drip, plastic mulch the beds and get em' in. Five 125ft beds, hopefully Monday?

Oh and one more thing... Don't forgret to mow.

Take care,

John

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Apex Of Spring

Yesterday was not the warmest day out. A quick nip in the air on a light wind sent me back to the house to change into a heavier jacket. We were harvesting and prepping for yet another market day in the village. It turned out to be a great day. Sales of veggies and starts were both brisk. We took in a couple more CSA sign ups and in general had a great day. Despite the coolness, the sun was out. It was beautiful.

Yesterday just felt different. It felt like spring. Perhaps it was the length of the day or the slight hint of warmth or the flowers and new leaves on the trees. Or maybe the radishes or the new salad greens, the first cutting of spring sown outdoor greens we've had. I can't say. It just felt like spring. Maybe the buzz in town, from both eager patrons awaiting the opening day of the farmers market or the first honey bees I've seen in a damn long time. I'm not for sure. I don't even care. Spring is here and I could not be happier.

It'll be another big field day here today. Once again, sowing, transplanting setting drip tapes, field prep and getting ready for market. We are so fortunate to be as far along as we are this year. This was a tough spring and we pushed through and never missed a beat. I would like to offer a big thank you to Katie, Justine and Laura. You are the best!

Keep well,

John

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Push Is On

There is a whole lot going on right now. This week will be full of potting up, transplanting, sowing, setting up irrigation and laying drip tape. Also, the farmers market starts on Saturday! So in prep for that we'll be getting all of our booth display stuff dialed in. Tables, signage and what not. We've been selling in town on Tuesdays and we'll be there this week as well so we're pretty much set to go.

What will we have at market? That's been a big question around here the last few days. Things are growing pretty slow with all of the cold weather. Despite that, we should have a good showing. Salad mix, braising greens, rads, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, parsley, kale tops and a few other misc. items. We'll also have starts for sale. Lots and lots of starts. Tomatoes, greens, chard, kale, broccoli, herbs etc, etc. So please come see us at the market. We'll be there rain or shine!

In addition to all of this there is a great deal of ground work to get done. We are going to run out of space to put everything so it's time to prep more beds. Weather looks like rain. Trying to get out early today to plow.

We still have room for more CSA memberships Give us call or catch us in town on Tuesday from noon til four across from the green.

Keep well

John

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where Is Spring?

Needless to say I think we are all wondering if spring will ever arrive. This has been a most frustrating time for us. Opposite of last year which was tough because it was wet, this year is dry but just darned cold. The plants that we have out are pretty much just sitting there. In hind sight, we would have benefited from using row covers this year but I still stand behind my deciscion to use less pertroleum based products, especially plastic. Hopefully we can just link a few solid days of sun together before the market starts on May 3rd. If not, I'm doubtful there is going to be much fresh veg out there. The good news here is we escaped from any major damage from the cold snap we had. Some minor frost damage but I think things will recover OK.

We have been harvesting and delivering steadily since February and just barely meeting our production demands. As the season progresses, so does demand, so the tight availabilty will be with us for awhile. Please just know we are doing the best we can. The sun will shine and the bounty will grow. I know from experience that we will make up any spring shortfalls in a long productive autumn season. It is so much easier to grow into the fall than it is to have early Spring production. In the spring we're just fighting everything (mostly ourselves) cold soil temps, unsettled weather, wind, etc. Going into the fall plants can get established while it's nice and warm and then ease into the cold.

Here at MRF we pride ourselves on being the first early producers and going late into the year. So sometimes meeting with adversity is difficult to acknowledge. Best thing is just not to sweat it.

All of that said, The first tomatoes have been transplanted into the greenhouse. They are neatly tucked into their wall o waters and waiting for sun. My prediction is this year will be a difficult year to have success with tomatoes. I think we may just stick to planting in the grenhouses.

It'll be transplant city around here again today. Lots going on. We are close to having all of our available ground planted out.

Gotta get going here. Take care all.

Farmer John

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Snow Day

OK, it's the 19th of April and it's snowing! Cool. We had the best day yesterday. It's just glorious to have the greenhouses to retreat to. We prepped our first tomato bed, potted up lots and lots of seedlings into 4" pots and sowed about 40 flats of lettuce. It was actually a bit serendipitous. Sometimes things in flats can just go by the wayside. Spring is a busy time and occasionally we just miss the timing and let things stay in the flats too long and they pretty much die. So yesterday we got a good jump on getting starts into their new homes and avoided letting many of them go bad. We did a culling of starts that didn't make it too. We had a few things that we'll have to re-sow due to frost damage from the last heavy frost a couple of weeks ago. Especially peppers and eggplants. They really dislike this weather!

We have flats everywhere, including outside. We re-organized and moved everything inside for the next few days while this front moves through. we made tents in the greenhouse and have all of the tender plants covered in remay to protect them from freezing. Last year about this time we had a hard frost come through and take out quite a few toms. Hoping to avoid that scenario this year. Depends how cold it gets as the high starts to build and the cloud cover moves out. Keep your fingers crossed. I'm also hoping we don't get a hail storm today. I can deal with snow but we just put out about 400 broccoli plants earlier this week. It would be ashamed if they got hailed on. It'l be what it'l be. We have another 400 to put out next week regardless.

We're in full gear despite the weather. I'ts going to be an awesome season!

Keep well, enjoy a good book and cook some good eats!


Farmer John

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Move em' on out

This week marks the transistion into our selling season. We set up our market stand in town on Tuesday for the first time this season. We had radishes, scallions, kale, braising greens, spinach, eggs and a few seed potatoes as well as plant starts. It's a good PR move if nothing else and we were able to pick up a couple CSA members. It's a great feeling to kick off a difficult year with early market sales. Our tactics paid off. This was the first of many forays into town to pedal our wares. We are trying to show up again today. we have a big day so I'm not sure if we'll pull it off or not.

Finally we have plenty of bed space available and we have been transplanting just about everyday. Onions are in as well as the first broccoli, lettuce, and lots of other misc. green leafies.
Peas are mostly up. We did have some germination problems on one variety so I'll be re sowing those beds. The favas are really looking good. We have a new bed of radishes just coming on and the carrots, turnips and beets are all up and looking good. Those will all have a second sowing here in a few days. Things are growing slow with the cool temps but they are growing!

I'm a little nervous that we have not sown in about ten days. We have just been too busy doing all of the other things that need to be done. Those skips have a way of catching up and leaving mini gaps in production. We have harvest and deliveries to make today and the weather looks promising for town sales so we'll push for that. We can sow tomorrow, both indoors and out, but mostly in for one important reason. Our outdoor beds were just prepped this week. If I can let them set for a few days the first flush of weeds will germinate and we can hit them with the flame weeder prior to transplanting or sowing. This makes a big difference in our cultivation schedule, which is often our biggest challenge area. The key with flame weeding is timing. I missed being able to flame our new beets by just one day yesterday. They were just emerging. The prior day when I looked there was no sign of germination. So now we'll have to do it manually which eats up time.

This is also a very busy time for potting up starts. Broccoli, tomatoes, gailan and cauiliflower mostly. Some of those could go right into the field strai9ght from the cell trays in a good year. With the weather we've been having we'll take the insurance of keeping them in the greenhouse for as long as possible. The weather WILL get better! Looks like we'll be normal again around the 21st.

Irrgation is underway. Sorting and dragging drip tape. Yeah! :0( my least favorite thing to do.

We still have CSA memberships. Lots of teaser calls. People saying they are singning up and not following through. Come on folks, We need you now.

That's where its at for this week. Take care.

John

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Suby Is Dead

Interesting week. The water pump went out on my big truck that I use to haul my equipment. Fortunately not an expensive repair, just an inconvenience to not have my rig for a week. Ironically the day the dodge is back on the road our trusty ol $600.00 Subaru wagon AKA (farm jeep) bites the dust hard. I think she's a goner folks. It's hard to spend more money on a car fixing it than you paid for it. That's a bummer. The Suby had shift on the fly 4wd and was great for loading flats from the muddy greenhouse access to the waiting fields. Oh well. Anyone out there need a Subaru for parts I'll make you a great deal!

More importantly, We appear to be farming again. We transplanted quite a bit this week and hopefully can crank out a little more today. Looks like we get one really nice day of weather and then return to gray, cold, dankness. At least one more shot of frigid air for next week coming. It'll be back to the greenhouse for us. Sowing more flats as we make room from the transplanting. Today will be a big tractor day. Scrambling to get as much of our remaining bed space worked as possible. Where is everything going to go? Always a big question this time of year.

The next big thing here is getting all of the irrigation systems up and running. It's quite a task and one of my least favorite activities. Life would be so easy if we just didn't have to water:o( Wah.

Farmers market starts three weeks! I think we are looking OK for product. The weather is definately putting everyone off schedule. The first market could be a "crafters market". There have been some unfortunate developments within our market this year. Few people seem to understand how fragile our farming community is here on Orcas. It would not be to much of a long shot for our farmers to basically dissapear. I have to say, I've actually considered boycotting the first market this year in protest and to increase the awareness of the role small scale growers play in our community. It would be a sad day indeed if one went to the farmers market only to find no farmers. But that's a whole other issue that is probabaly not in by best interest to explain here. I just want to grow food and that's where my energy is focused at this point. We will be at the market regardless. We need the the market as much as the market needs us. See you there.

Anyway, It's the beginning of a beautiful day. Take advantage.

Keep well,

John

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Talk about the weather

The weather forecast caught me a little off gaurd this week. I was expecting that we would be dry again on Friday. Instead we had a steady rain for a good part of the AM. Missed my field prep. Bummer. The extended forecast is'nt looking too promising either. Extended series of storms passing hrough every 36 hours for the next several days and cooler, wetter condidtions expected through at least the next two weeks.

An intersting side note here. The last week of March was the coldest on record since the 1940's! The upper level atmospheric condidtions have been much cooler than normal this spring due to La Nina. In fact the entire northern hemisphere has experienced cooler temps than normal. I'm betting it's going to continue for a bit longer.

So how does that affect us? Well, first off the ground temprature is stuck in the mid 40's (lower than normal) That simply affects how things will grow. There is less microbe activity in the soil at those temps so plants in the ground tend to just sit there. This makes them less healthy thus more vunerable to disease and pest pressure. The ground is still too wet to work in many places. That delays us getting crops in the ground thus setting our schedule back a bit. All in all not too big of a problem really. I take our flukey weather as the new norm.

Fortunately we did get some ground work done back in February as I have mentioned here several times before. It's been a blessing to have the space to put things out. Despite the slow growth, at least we do have things in the ground and they appear to be doing just fine. They'll pop when the temps do rise.

We are having to get creative with space needs in the greenhouses. There are flats everywhere! We continue to forge ahead with our planting schedule despite the fact that we are about to run out of bed space. Yesterday we hand raked five 100 ft beds and direct sowed two beds of carrots, two of beets and another of Asian salad mix. That was all the space we had. There are hundreds of flats that need space. Hopefully today I can eek out a few more beds even though condidtions are not quite prime. The Allis with some row markers will earn it's keep today.

Thank goodness for greenhouse's. without them we'd be sunk right now. The greens that are coming out of there are fabulous. The nicest I can remember. Radishes are full on and gorgeous. Shelling peas have just found the trellis and are going nuts! It looks awesome. Overwintered onions are beautiful and proud. Some great chervil also! Soon we'll be transplanting tomatoes into there. It's a whole other world. I just love being in there this time of year when it's all weird outside. Step into the greenhouse and it's all warm and calming. Odiferous too. It just smells.... green, you know?

All right. I'll hold it there. Shine on.

John

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The broccoli is fine

No frost damage!

Patience Is A Virtue

Most of the farmers I know in this part of the world are feeling a little tried right now. Most of us have been set back or at least delayed a bit with the inclement weather. I don't normally get too excited or upset about it. I can't change it so I whats the point? However, let me just say... I'm ready for a return to our nice PNW spring weather! Farming is and has been on hold for the last week or so. The greenhouses are full full full. We are out of flats. We have tons of stuff ready to transplant but it's been too cold. We hit 25 degrees last night. Thats not really abnormal but worrisome when you have greenhouses full of tender annuals like peppers and tomatoes. I'm scared to go look. Last year we had a hard frost on April 20th. We lost quite a few toms that night. So this is all normal.

Hopefully we'll see some warming by the middle of the week and we can crank out some beds. That'll give us space to re sow more flats of whatever we need. It's time for flowers, more broccoli, lettuce, herbs and I'm at least starting to think about cucumbers, squash and beans. What about corn? If we do it, I'll start it in flats. Not for sure we have the space but boy is it good.

All in all we are ahead of the game. We've been making deliveries for a few weeks now and biz continues to pick up. The Farmers Market starts in one Month! We'll be ready, bigger and better than ever. We were on it when the weather was dry in February. All of the things we put in are doing pretty well. (even though they are not thrilled about this weather)

We have starts for sale. All you have to do is drop us a line.

Ok, So I just went to the greenhouse to take a look. Tomatoes seem to be fine. Broccoli is frozen solid. It may be OK. We'll see later.

Time to roll,

John

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Web Stuff

Well..... Inclement weather here. Slows things down to just performing the neccessary tasks at hand. Watering, feeding the chickens, harvesting etc. I am feeling so good about working ground when we had the chance. At least we have things in the ground! We have beds waiting to be planted as soon as the weathe permits. The greenhouses are beyond full and at maximum capacity. Its just a waiting game now. Personally, I'm going to the city.

This akward weather pattern looks like it's going to be in play through about mid April. Hold on!

So, Let me update you on some info on our website. www.maplerockfarm.com Check out the links page. There are links to some other farms out there who are doing similar things as us. Interesting. We often share tips, stories and offer up encouraging words to one another.

Make sure you check out The Weather Cafe. Rufus is right on the money. Most of the other weather sites are unpredictable. I use the Victoria BC weather as my daily forecaster. We are pretty much the same. Seattle weather is completly irrelevant for the San Juans.

Are you looking for a new recipie for fresh produce? Go to the Harvest Page on our site. Click on any of the highlighted items and you will be directed to the food networks recipe listings for that item. It's slick and I'm afraid little known and seldom used. Since you are reading this, You obviously are in the know and aware that we actually have a website! Many people don't. Please tell your friends and send them our way.

You can easily download our CSA membership form from the sight as well. All of the details on our program are on the site. We are still looking for members. We are way short of our goal this month (unless we get a whole bunch of sign ups by Monday) I know many of you have helped us put the word out. Thank You! Please don't stop. We need everyones help right now.

Big thank you to John Clancy for the article in the paper about supporting local farms. Thanks John!

Thats all for today. Enjoy the rain/snow and have a cozy day.

John

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brrrr.

It's a might chilly out there and a tad windy. Uggh. The wind wears us all out. The sound of plastic flapping in the wind from a cloche gone south is especially annoying. We'll be taking that down today. Nice try. I just dont have the patience for plastic things in the field.

The good news is we started potting up toms yesterday. We have more to do and as I'm taking stock there's a little man in my brain saying "you better plant more tomatoes" I think we will. I'll check to see what we have left for seed but I'm thinking Stupice. This is a nice, early, productive, open pollenated tomato. Nothing fancy by any means. An old dog if you will. Always there and reliable. Good flavor and a nice size too. Not too big. Consistent producer when others fail in our fickle maritime climate.

Direct sowed more radishes and turnips yesterday too. We are harvesting the first sown radishes from the greenhouse right now. They are lovely. I'm experimenting with the turnips. Basically mixing three varieties together with the thought that as we harvest the early ones (hakurei) it will act as the thinning harvest for the bigger ones to size up.

Experimented with the cultivating tractor yesterday as well. Its a little too wet to do much ground work but we really needed some bed space so I set up some S tines minus the points onto my tool bar and drove through some previously tilled sections to cut the furrows to transplant into. It actually worked great. The wheel tracks rough in the paths and we wind up with a wider/more effiecient use of space bed at 48" Might be onto something here for the future.

Looks like shaky weather for the next week. We'll work on indoor stuff.

Keep well,

John

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Things

Things are getting more busy here everyday. Yesterday, after our orders were filled and delivered, we spent most of the day in the greenhouse's. We actualluy pulled out all of the side tables and forked under the beds before they were to become a tangled mass of weeds. We direct sowed the new beds with arugula and a mustard green mix. We'll get a harvest or two off of those and then they will be incorporated as green manure prior to transplanting a heat lover like eggplant or peppers. Looks great! So nice to see clean beds instead of weeds.

We also continued our transplanting. A little everyday makes it not such a daunting task. On the docket for today is some early morning tilling. Trying to capitalize on this dry spell and get a few more beds made to transplant into. I think we have some golden beets that are ready to go. We'll also start potting on tomatoes today, always a monumental day.

No time to tarry, Keep on.

John

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring!

Spring is here. We're all happy about that here. The weather has turned a little wetter but the days have still been pretty sunny. It's amazing to see how fast things are growing now. Especially in the greenhouses. You can tell a noticable difference sometimes just overnight. We'll be having the first of the french breakfast radishes next week. They are inetrcropped with onions that we sowed in the fall and overwintered. The shelling peas are coming along nicely too. With those we have cilantro and chervil intersown. There is also four beds of Asian greens that are just coming on and just in time. We terminated the beds in one of the other greenhouses that we had been harvesting our overwintered lettuce from just as the new crop was coming on. Timing is tricky this time of year. We are OK for now but a gap in greens is imminent. We just transplanted new lettuce starts indoors but are mostly waiting on outdoor greens next. They are up and have just had there first cultivation but are out at least another 30 days. I could speed them up if I covered them with remay but as most of you already know, we stopped using floating row covers a couple years back. I get a lot of curious responses from other growers on that one. I just don't believe in using all of that pertroleum based product that winds up in the land fill at some point. We do just fine without it. It does work though. I also hate chasing it down wind the wind blows it off the beds!

We've been transplanting outside beds also. Mostly with salad green stuff. Swiss Chard, Salad Kale, Bok Choi etc. We have some nice broccoli that is going out today. I'm going to heavily mulch it with hay to protect it from the elements. We just put in the first round of potatoes. Just a couplle of 200 ft beds. It's early for potatoes but we are doing a little different program than normal. We are growing them in hay mulch. We did'nt even bury them. Just plopped them onto the ground and covered them with about eight inches of hay. Main crop will go in later like mid june after we open up some more ground. Not new ground, but they'll go in one of our plots after the peas and favas come out. Speaking of favas (my favorite veg) We just planted about 40 lbs of seed in our very worst soil. I'm hoping its and edible cover crop situation. I simply broadcast the seed and tilled it in. I'll undersow it with vetch after they get established. Hopefully we can just cruise through the plot and harvest.

Outdoor sowing continues as we see fit. We have alot of stuff in the ground already. Peas and Favas are up on our other sites. Just planted turnips and more greens yesterday. It' time for more rads too.

Soon we will start potting up tomatoes. They are looking healthy, just putting on their first true leaves. I have most of them under lights right now. We have several thousand started, I'l do one more sowing just because I'm a belt and suspenders kinda guy. Peppers and tomatillos are up and doing well as are the eggplant. These are all heat lovers and need a little extra love. I covered them last night (with remay) just in case it got really cold. We lost a bunch of stuff last year on a very cold night. It lokks like it did'nt get that cold though. Frost but not too hard.

Space will be an issue frome here on. Hopefully we can just crank it all out and stay on top of it all. Weather may set us back if I can't get into the field to make beds. It's looking good so far though. Really good!

That's what's happening here.

Keep well,

John

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Hey everyone! Matt, A mrf CSA member posted a comment in the form of a recipe for the Melissa cabbage that's on right now. Matt, I love it -sounds delicious. You had me at the porkchops. It was perfect timing being that it's St. Patricks day and all. Also I thought it would be great to see some other recipes posted. Tye and Barbara, if you're out there I would love to hear how your Irish fest turned out.

I'll start it out with a recipe that my partner Katie B. came up with loosely based on her interpretation of corned beef and cabbage.

This recipe was based around ingredients that we just happened to have on hand and also some cozy PNW Sunday weather. (I'd have her do this but she's busy making butter right now.)

She started off by dry roasting four good size beef short ribs from Coffelts farm. (grass fed and local) for a couple hours at 350 degrees. Then oven braised in a broth made from the drippings plus a couple cups of broth. Sauteed onions, celery and carrot were added and the pot was placed back in the oven at 325 degrees for another two/ three hours. Basically what your going for here is more of a broth texture rather than a stew. Season to taste with salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf.

These particular cabbage are quite small but their over-wintered flavor and texture is quite complex and sweet. Katie simply peeled whole leaves of cabbge into the pot about ten minutes prior to serving, plated into a large bowl with broth and a big serving of the short ribs. Damn baby! Serve it with an ice cold beer poured into a frozen mug. Life is simple, life is good.

Eat well, drink wisely and don't forget to wear your green

John and Katie

Make it work

Stirring the nest makes things happen. I've gotten a lot of response and some kind words of support from other farmers off my last couple of posts. Thanks. I'm really not a whiner. I live my life with intent and take action and make comment as I see fit. My experience has always been action = activity. Things are starting to flow again and I've received many verbal commitments to pay so it looks like we're back swing'n on a steady roll. Hopefully this week I'll have enough in to pick up our seed potatoes and a few other supplies.

The greenhouse shuffle is on. Constantly moving flats around and setting out as they become ready. It's been a little wet but we have the upper hand and have beds ready and waiting thanks to the earlier dry weather. Everything is looking great!

Direct sown peas are up and I was able to flame weed most of them right before they germed. I missed a coulpe of beds by a day, so it will be interesting to see the difference. Also the garlic we just planted is already up in full force! That was fast. I just finished my Sunday morning foliar spray and am very pleased how everything looks. I'll re- fill the greenhouse again today wth another round of starts. Not sure what yet. I'm thinking about basil and cucumbers. Early I know but I have a couple of ideas. we'll see. We'll be putting in our early potatoes this week too. Im going to put them in the very worst soil on the farm and mulch them with hay. I'll undersow with a low growing cover crop after they are established. That way Hopefully we'll get a crop and be adding organic matter to the soil at the same time. I'll keep you postd on that one.

Time to hit it. Bye for now

John

Saw more deer tracks this morning. Really gotta finish that fence or I'll be sorry. I have a couple of wascally wabbits awound here too. I'm thinking stew... or maybe braised with tender mustard greens.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

People Do Care

It's been an interesting couple of days. I've recieved some help from more than a few of you out there and it is greatly, greatly appreciated. Thank You to all of you. All I can say is it's just really nice and it's starting to feel more like what I have always invisioned and that's people really caring about their food source and actually having a relationship with their growers. Cool!

So, For me just knowing that people do care and are willing to take action is a huge boost. Huge. Sometimes I hit the wall and it makes me wonder why I'm doing this? To have a little help from the outside makes it loud and clear. So again, thank you.

Things are looking better. We still have a tough month ahead of us but I know it's all going to work out just fine.

Yesterday, we transplanted four beds of Bok Choi and planted out three more beds of fava beans, another bed of shelling peas one bed of arugula and another of mixed Asian braising greens. Did a little clean up, made a couple of sales and raked out some beds. Not a bad day.

Today we have a restaurant orders to fill and perhaps some more tansplanting and direct sowing. If we can make some more room and have time we'll sow up a few more flats of something.

Keep well,

John

Monday, March 10, 2008

Anybody Out There?

Helllloooo, Uhhh, anyone? Bueler? What happened? Is that it? Well, sorry folks, gotta go off for a minute. Please, You cant be telling me that Orcas, A hip, progressive, forward thinking community of 5,000 plus people has less than 100 people that belong to a CSA farm. I'm not just talking just about MRF. I mean all of the farms on Orcas combined don't have 100 members. Shocking!

We're pretty much at a stand still here. There is no money. Bills are due, seed orders are on hold. We are in the middle of March. Our most difficult month. We have a ton of things to move forward on but are not able to proceed any further at this time without receiving funds. This is when we really , really need you to sign up. Not April, Not May. Now. I'm not putting any candy coating on it. If you like having local farms in you community we need for you to show us. Beggin aint my business folks, Growing food is. We need your support.

Here's the dirt. I need $5,000 to cover the month. How are we going to get there? Thats 25 members at our average payment of $200 or only 10 members at $500. Thats a totally doable number either way. Come on Orcas! I know you can do it! show me.

Your's truly,

John Steward

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Only Good Rat Is A Dead Rat

Snap!..... Got ya. Finally, you little bastard (the rat) The rat thats been stuck in the attic above our bed tormenting us for days or should I say nights on end. All night back and forth, up and down the walls. Ooohhhh I hate rats! I was starting to get worried, having visions of that of course being a female rat and doing what they do oh so well and then having a really serious problem on my hands. All attempts to trap the rat had failed. The elctronic evictor thingy thing proved to be worthless. I refuse to use bait anymore for two reasons. First off I don't want our cats to die if they eat the poisioned rat and secondly last time I did that, the freakin rat crawled down into the wall and died. Oh my god the stench. Hey wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. This is supposed to be a foodie sight not a gross out fest. Sorry, sorry. I am just happy I got the damn thing. Just part of life on the farm folks.

The photo up top is a sample of whats on right now. Cabbage, kale, mizuna spears, turnips, potatoes, collards, broccoli and eggs. pretty nice early March harvest.

First transplants are in the ground and this next week we'll be seeing quite a bit more of that action. We'll be sowing just as fast as we set things out, both in flats in the prophouse and direct into the field. It's perhaps a little early but I'm sowing beets and carrots direct today. I normally sow these guys around the 3rd week in March. It's just too nice to pass up. I have a big seed order coming in any day now and I'll be picking up seed potato here in a couple of weeks. We are well into the swing of things.

Still amazingly dry. I'll try and get some more groundwork done today too.

That will have to do for today. Keep well,

John

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Transplanting Begins

Today we begin transplanting the first of many flat trays into the fields. First off will be spinach and chinese broccoli. These will be covered by by low hoop cloches. Something I rarely do. I gave up on floting row covers of "remay" about three years ago. I just hated using all of that non recycleable oil based product and frankly find it to be a huge pain in the butt to deal with. It does work but I am still able to grow high quality early vegetables without it and my life is easier. Plus I don't carry the guilt of throwing the stuff away.

The cloches we are using today are built 100% from recycled material that I already had on the farm. I did not have to make a single purchase and am turning junk into something useful Now that makes sense in my world!

Getting transplants in the ground is always symbolic of success and new beginnings. It's insta-gratification. The big thing is it will open up some space for us to sow another 50 flats or so. Probably lettuce?

With exception of the peas and favas, all of the outdoor beds I sowed direct in mid February have all germinated. The weather has given us a real brak here. It's allowed me to work all but the wettest areas of the fields and has put us way ahead of where we were last year. I'll be working on ground prep and sow another round of outdoor greens this weekend.

CSA? Pretty lackluster couple of weeks. Trying not to get too discouraged. It's gonna be a rocky month. Fortunately we are making deliveries and we'll start seing a little flow come in here soon. I'll have to spend more time off the farm working so progress is going to slow down.

Allright, Time to work.

Keep it real,

John

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Holding Pattern

Things are on cruise control right now. Need a week for things to catch up to themselves. The prophouse is full to the gills and we can't sow anything more until we start transplanting. Perhaps later this week we can pop in the spinach and chard and maybe even our experimental beets. I've never sown beets in flats before. Heard of a couple of folks doing it. Just thought we'd give it a go, it appears to be working so far. We are trying a round of carrots that way too. Labor intensive to transplant but the end result could be some nice early root crops. Chinese broccoli is ready to put out. I think I'll build a cloche for that one, just to spped it up a bit.

We have a few deliveries going out today. Nothing major but it's nice to see the tide begin to turn. Overwintering crops like purple sprouting broccoli and cabbage are just coming on. Beautiful! Salad greens are gorgeous. We just keep eeking by on filling orders. They seem to grow on about the same schedule as we cut. This is the hardest time of year to have product in any quantity so I'm thrilled when we actually can meet the demand. Next week we'll most likely wipe out the cabbage with St. Patricks day and all. Call early to place your order!


I love March. It's 6:30 and it's already lite enough to go outside and work. Day length makes the most dramatic change of the entire year this month.

So, I'm taking a step back this week. I have off farm jobs planned for the remainder of the week. Gotta put some duckets in the ol piggy!

Take Care,

John

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Feeling Smart And Not So Smart

I'm feeling pretty good right now. The weather has reaaly been cooperating and I've been able to do quite a bit of groundwork. I'm using a moldboard plow this year to do the preliminary tilling. This is somewhat of a new tool to me. Not exactly my first choice but far superior to my prior method of just using the rotovator. The plow penetrates deeper into the soil than the tiller. Anyway, having the new plow (which is actually very old ) is opening my mind as well as the soil. Looking back on the history of my tillage techniques I feel like I could have made some better choices in equipment. Thats one disadvantage of being self taught. The learning curve is longer. I need to spend some money on aquiring the proper tools here. Thats always been one of the problems. Not having enough money but having equipment that will do the job, just not do it in the best possible way or give the best performance. So Im feeling smart in using the plow, and not so smart for the past, but I've always just been that way. Do the best with what you have. And so it goes.

My new equipment wishlist goes like this. Offset disc harrow, Chisel plow, ripper, new tiller/bedshaper with a bed roller/packer and lots of assorted cultivating tools, hillers ond so on. Most of this I could find used if I put my mind to it and was able to spend a few days off island. It all has to wait. No money to do anything right now. So I'll keep using my current set up for a bit longer.

It's been a fantastic start this year. We are further down the road than we've been in years past and everything is running smoothly in a non hectic manner. We have alot of our early outdoor crops in already and the greenhouse's are full and overflowing. I'll tell ya, that's one thing I feel smart about. When you're running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, you don't make intelligent deciscions. Poor decscions are usually expensive.

Csa memberships have slumped again. We did well in February. I had some big expenses and the farm paid them all so at least we are not in the hole. March is the hardest month of all. I still have a couple of large seed orders to place and some minor supplies to pick up so expenses are fairly normal, We just need about $5,000 to come in for the month. We are starting to have some sales so we can cover the rest from that. So once again, If you are planning on joining and have not. This is it. This is when I need you. Our CSA goal for March and April is $10,000. If we can hit that, Maple Rock will pretty much be standing on it's own two legs for the first time in history. We can do it, but we need your help. ( I'm going into public radio if we don't ) :0)

Smartly yours,

Farmer John

Friday, February 29, 2008

BEER!

I like beer. Beer is good. So, a funny story about beer. I was tilling yesterday and came across a poker chip from the pub for a free beer. I was laughing and yelling BEER! BEER! yeah baby beer. Well, everyone else thought I was yelling DEER. It was'nt until late in the day when we all had discoverd what had happend. Funny, Well... ok, guess you had to have been there. It's always fun when something cool turns up in the soil. One day we found an arrowhead, another day a wedding ring. One day a buried homesteader was found ( not by us but at one of our sites) creepy.

Finding things in the soil has always been fascinating. I remember one day when I was about 10 years old I was at my grandpa Gids homestead out in western Oklahoma. Grandpa had passed long before I was born so I never had the chance to meet him. I'm always thinking about him though. He was a farmer and a blacksmith. Anyway, I remember finding and old metal snap one day out where his garden used to be. I remember thinking that must of been and snap off a pair of grandapas overalls. I 've long lost that snap but the memory of that and that of ol Gid still live on. I wonder if Grandpa liked beer?

Here on the farm I'm always coming across something, mostly old tools. Makes me wonder about ol man Pinneo. You know we have it so easy these days. Just think how different things were back at the turn of the century. Life was a lot harder back then. We bitch about everything. We have about six ferries a day. Hell, back then there might a been six ferries a year!

Things have changed alot and are continuing to do so. Looks like we're headed for some $5.00 gallon fuel prices this summer. Hang on to your chonies folks, prices is goin up! Good time to be thinking LOCAL.

Keep it real,

John

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Good Times

Times is good on the farm. We could'nt be much more on it. We are filling ordedrs and sowing everyday. Prop house is full to the brim. The first tomatoes are germinating and we have an entire 3rd succession sown right behind that. Yes, I've completely gone mad once again. By my calculation theres somewhere close to 4,000 tomato seeds sown. Maniacal!

We'll move outside today and direct sow more peas and greens. Just need to form up a few more beds.

Short ordered on favas but I'll order some up today. Fava beans are my new favorite veg. Definately food of the Gods. I used to not eat them much because I felt like I didn't have the time to deal with them. They are a little time consuming, especially if you take off the inner peel. I have a quicker way that works best for my busy schedule. Simply shuck and steam for about 5 minutes, then pop em into the food processor and spin with olive oil and salt to taste. I use mine for pizza but it's great anyway.

So here's a little fun background on fava's taken from Saveur magazine. March 3rd is Festes De Medir in Barcelona Spain. During this annual festival comemorating Saint Medir, the patron saint of favas, who was martyred in the fourth century while planting them, People riding on horseback through Barcelona's streets toss candies symbolizing favas to crowds of children below.

I feel so informed, I had absolutely no idea there was a patron saint of fava beans...... Crazy Spanards.

I'll certainly celebrate the day by planting them that day.

Anyway, good times.

Farmer John

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Garlic?

Last minute desicion to put in some garlic. It's late I know and I'm not for sure if will work but it's in. Six beds of it. I think the worst case scenario is that it comes up, grows but does'nt form bulbs. We'll just use it as green garlic then.

Started a few more flats of toms yesterday. Have a few more to go. We'll be seeding peppers and eggplants here real quick too. The greenhouse is ridiculously full. We've got flats everywhere. Hopefully we'll begin transplanting within the next week or so. First things out will be spinach and lettuce followed up by choi, broccoli raab and kale.

Today is a bit of a clean up/catch up/ organize kinda day. Dump run, burn pile, mowing/weed wacking, table building, seed sowing, firewood splittin, seed ordering, fence building, chicken coop cleaning, soil sifting, worm feeding, greenhouse cultivating etc, etc. Just another day at the office.

If I can get some beds made up we'll sow some outdoor peas. Who knows.

Keep those Csa sign ups coming in folks. We need 20 more members!

Take care,

John

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Great Start

This last week the weather has pretty much been perfect. Highs in the low 50's low's in the low 40's. Sunny and dry. I've been getting a little more field work done each day. We're off to a great start. The prop house is bursting and all of the beds I planted in the hoophouses are up and looking great. I hav'nt checked out the outdoor beds I sowed last week but I would'nt be surprised if some of them were already germinating.

We will be planting our garlic this week. Way later than normal. In fact I was'nt even planning on growing garlic this year, however so many of the the other farmers had trouble with mold last year due to the wet conditions, I am thinking there won't be as much as a havest this year so it should be in higher demand.

We might actually might be able to transplant out a few flats of spinach this week. We sowed it on the 31st of January, it's just put on it's true leaves and is looking great. I have some direct sown outdoors and another round of 20 flats in the greenhouse. We're going to be needing more space here real soon so transplanting season may start a little earlier than normal. Yeah!

I cranked out another 60 flats of assorted items yesterday like celery, parsley, lettuce, raab, choi, and fennel. We'll be sowing alot more this week. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, gailan. It's here! It's going to be a kick ass year.

I'm very focused, directed and on task right now. I've got my blinders on and am trying to eliminate the minor annoyances and white noise in my world. It's hard. There is always so much to be done and so little time to do it. Lots of people wanting to take my time. I've got my head down and focused on farming and family right now. If you want in you're going to have to be pretty darn compelling. ( or have a check in your hand. lol ) It's an important growth year for the farm. We have some big hurdles to get over and it is my intent for this to be the most successful year ever. So far it looks like we are on track. I can't recall ever starting off this well.

Time to go.

Keep well, keep real.

John

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Weather Dodging

If you live in this part of the world you are high fivin. We have dodged so much of the wild weather this year. Very moderate well spaced rainy times, no floods, a little snow and mostly mild temps. We'll see sun again today for like the 7th day in row or smething crazy like that. As most of the northern US prepares for yet another arctic blast next week, we are tilling and planting our spring crops. This whole global climate change thing really seems to be working out well. (you know I'm kidding right?)

Rant for the day: Sustainable wannabes, Stay away and respect my privacy! Do not knock on my door. Do not enter my house. Don not leave me your conformist ideals of how you perceive the world should be.

And now a quote from Wendell Berry.

"the trick is to keep the talk intelligent. Sustainable is already virtually a useless term. We're going to do durable next or something like that. We'll be reduced to long-lasting or permanent or eternal. Terminology has to be specific and elaborate. And that simply means that you've got to have people who insist that thier food comes from good farms, and that means they've got to recognize what a good farm is."

Good day,

John

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rock & Roll Farming

Yesterday I found myself with an unexpected absence of what to do. The weather turned out to be much nicer than called for and I found myself with a last minute plan change. What to do? I decided to go ahead and sow some outdoor crops. Peas, fava beans, radishes, arugula, and a few other beds of assorted cold tolerant greens. For the most part this is right on schedule. Perhaps a tad early but most likely not. It felt so good to be planting again. especially fun with the ipod cranked.

In the process I made a new discovery that seemed to work well. When I plant peas and favas I use a 36" raised strip and make two furrows about 18" apart with tool on the tractor. I normally go back and cover the seed by hand with a rake. This method takes a long time and I have been experiencing some tendinitus in my elbows for the last couple of years and the raking is painful. So I was thinking of an easier way to cover the seed using the tractor. Finally it dawned on me. I ran my furrows a little deeper than normal, sowed the seed then made a pass with the tractor using my small 36" tiller/bed shaper running it at a low rpm and very shallow. It worked great! The seed was covered and the bed was re-shaped and now looks like it did prior to planting which will make it easier to cultivate. I love it when I have an idea and it works:) Were talking a couple thousand row feet here. I did in ten minutes what would have taken two hours by hand and achey elbows for days. Body pain is the mother of invention.

So we continue, slow and steady. Not so much to do that I run around all confused but enough to keep me busy enough to stay at it all day. Hopefully this little dry spell will hold on. After planting yesterday I only have three beds left open and soon we'll need space for plants coming out of the grenhouse's. Where's it all gonna go? If it dries up a bit I can make more beds.

It's getting light, time to go

Keep well,

John

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Fine Day

Well, do I ever feel smart. I was able to capitalize on a very short weather window: plow, till set beds and fertilize at one of our drier sites. I got in fourteen 3 x 175 ft beds. That'll get us started. The rest of our sites are still too wet to get on. Getting beds set early will allow me to transplant even if it's too wet to till due to a wet spring which I would'nt be surprised by. We've already got starts up in the greenhouse's and it wont be long before they will need a home. So for now at least the first succession is taken care of. Looks like we're off to a great season.

The weather the last three days has been great. We missed that window last year and it set us back for the rest of the season. Today is presidents day, time to plant peas. We have some that we sowed direct into one of the greenhouse beds and about 20 flats sown in the prop house. I'll hold off a bit longer for the outdoor ones, they always just seem to set there anyway. Starting them indoors works well if you can keep the mice out of them. We have three bad ass kitties on patrol. No mice here!

Direct sown greenhouse beds of greens have just started germing. They'll take right off as the weather improves. We started a few flats of tomatoes today. I like to spread it out a little. It's a tad early perhaps. Perhaps not. We'll put em under lights and a cloche inside the greenhouse and them transplant them into a wall o water. Those things work great.

Nice harvest today. Salad greens, mizuna tops, cabbage, turnips, beets, kale and broccoli. Purple sprouting broccoli is just starting to form heads, it'll be on in a couple of weeks.

CSA sign ups and payments are trickling in. Keep em rolling folks, We have a couple of big hits coming. Seed potatoes, strawberry starts and more seed orders.

Things are rolling fairly strong here. It's good to be back at it. Just makes me feel good.

Keep well,

John

Friday, February 15, 2008

Imsomnia... A Bloggers Best Friend

"Happens to me every season change" 3:00 Am Schpiiing! awake. Option 1; Lay there, think about all the shit I need to do and all the broken crap I need to fix and all the bills coming in. Toss, turn.

Option 2; Get up, make coffee or sometimes a whiskey (aye drinkin in the mornin don't ye scold, for that's the time she takes ahold...ARGH) Light the fire, read, surf, ponder, blog.

Option 2 normally prevails. It's my time, no one elses. Quiet, (except the rooster) contemplative, thought provoking. A bloggers paradise.

What's on my mind? Many things. I began replacing some old fencing yesterday. The deer have won. They've wreaked havok on my overwintering crops and reduced me to a deer loathing bastard. Money, infrastructure repairs, etc. etc. Theres alot to do but I'm finally excited about doing something.

We already have the prop house filled up with flats. That was quick! Makes me think maybe we need a bigger prop house eh. At the least I'll be erecting a few more feet of benching to go into one of the other greenhouses.

I listen to alot of talk radio. So lately theres been a lot of talk about the stimulus plan and what you should do with you're windfall. W wants you to be patriotic and go buy a new flat screen TV. Others say you should pay down you're personal finance debt. For me, I'm giving the money to the farm. How about you? Not sure? Well, One option would be to join a CSA. In my opinion That's a very reasonable solution. It's good for the economy. It's local and green. You get something good in return and you help counter the fiscally irresponsible actions of our leaders. Just an idea folks.

And lastly, I'm having a seroius problem with our council. Recently, the council budgeted $5,000 to go to the farmers market. Great! Maybe, maybe not. It's come to my attention that the council is strongly urging (so we can continue to receive funds in the future) that the money be used to benefit the farmers. Great! Maybe, maybe not. The market board, acting under pressure from the council finally said OK we'll give the farmers a 25% discount on the space rental. The farmers only and not the crafters or food vendors. Great! NO! Not at all! Listen, all of the vendors need each other for our market to be successful and cohesive. Diversity is what makes a market a vibrant center of community activity. SO my first question is why not just give everybody a 10% discount. Apparently our council is a little short sighted on this one. Whats good for the market is good for the farmers. What I would most like to see is for the rate to stay the same and have the council let us do with it as we see fit. If the council is going to impose stipulations well then I think we should kindly say no thank you to the $5,000.00 It's simply not enough money to jump through hoops for.

But there is one other issue that I personally feel is huge mistake. The market board is now requiring that we all pay our rent up front by April 1st. Ok, Not that uncommon nor is it an unrealistic request but... If the county really wants to help the farmers. Let them negotiate with the parks board a new lease date so we can all pay our fees a little later in the year when we are making money. It's a lot easier for me to pay $700.00 in July than it is $500.00 in April. Running a busines a small business is all about cash flow. It does'nt take a genious to figure out that farmers don't have money in April.

Regardless, I'm paying my $500.00 on April 1st and making a $200 donation to the market in July. I'm writing a letter to the council and market board to express my concerns and certainly Not attending the Market meeting. I'ts going to be whiny and I simply can 't give it any of my energy. I just want to grow food and have the best year ever.

nuf said


John