At the end of 2014, our farm, Oakhill Organics, needed a new direction and fresh energy. We were wrapping up two years of operating a Full Diet-style CSA while also continuing to offer our longtime vegetable CSA (see the cover of the June/July 2021 issue of GFM for that story). Neither felt exactly right. The Full Diet model was exhausting and unprofitable, the vegetable CSA paled in comparison in terms of the hospitality and diversity of products we were able to offer.
We needed a new structure that would retain our valued customers from both programs, revitalize our farm, and synthesize the best of both CSA models into something new, exciting, and — yes — profitable.
I knew from the start that I would like this book! Who among us hasn’t wrestled with tools that aren’t quite right, that we spent good money on? Handle too short? Wrong angle? Made for very large hands? Who hasn’t wished for a tool that isn’t commercially available yet?
Textural arrangements are popular, especially for wedding and other events, so foliage is definitely an important part of a bouquet. Having creative foliage is something that sets apart a locally grown bouquet from the typical florist bouquet. It gives the customer something unique and gives it a more natural, ethereal look. The attention to detail makes people fall in love with flowers even more.
Growing lettuce in the summer is a challenge almost anywhere. The heat stifles growth and kills germination rates. The sun scorches leaves and rapidly wilts the fresh harvest. Summer is just not lettuce’s season. But fresh, local lettuce is as in-demand in the summer months as any time of the year, maybe even more so. So for advice on how to grow lettuce when the heat is high, I turned to the people growing where summertime is pretty much the norm: the South.
In the April issue, I wrote about growing herbs to use as fillers in bouquets and floral designs. This month, I’ll expand the list of plants I consider fillers. These annuals, perennials, and woody shrubs add fragrance, texture, size and an element of the unexpected to our flowers.
Kale has been trendy for a while and nutritious and tasty for centuries. Collards are now in the limelight. The inaugural Collards Week in January was part of The Heirloom Collard Project. Michael Twitty, Ira Wallace, Jon Jackson, Amirah Mitchell and Ashleigh Shanti led online presentations celebrating collards, including food history, seed stewardship, gardening, farming, and cooking.There are very fine open-pollinated collards, so, I see no reason to look for hybrids. This rise in interest in heirloom varieties provides an income opportunity for market growers and seed growers.
In 2016, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture (formerly the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) conducted farmer focus groups and identified aspects of sustainability they would like to monitor on their farms. The top three research priorities were financial viability, soil health and nutrient density, setting in motion several benchmark studies.
As I write this, it’s mid-July, and we’ve been suffering through a week of 95-degree-plus temperatures with the kind of humidity that makes me feel very slow and tired. The only thing making me happy right now is that it’s time to place my tulip order.
For years I have been hearing the term “IMO,” though it wasn’t until this past year when I started to see an increasing number of market gardeners talking about these IMOs that I began digging in. I quickly found myself buried in a heap of acronyms, yet captivated by an exciting new approach to soil and plant health.
The term IMO, I would soon learn, stands for indigenous microorganisms. This term is used to refer to microorganisms—primarily fungi and bacteria—that the farmer has collected from his or her own farm as opposed to buying them in a bottle.
When I saw this tool I knew the exact need that inspired its creation and I loved seeing the abundant comments from other farmers around the world who had also created their own versions, born of that same common need. Nat Wiseman from Village Greens of Willunga Creek near Adelaide in southern Australia posted a very simple and relatively quick fix to the problem of laying drip lines in garlic after the canopy has already filled in.
Jesse Frost, the host of The No-Till Market Garden Podcast, has now made a lovely how-to and why-to book for us. No longer do we need to imagine the pictures while listening to the podcasts! The book is generously illustrated with color photos, charts, and diagrams and also hand drawings by Jesse’s wife Hannah Crabtree.
Farms in the southeastern United States like elsewhere are being hit hard by the effects of climate change. At 3 Porch Farm in Comer, Georgia, despite swales and rain gutters outside their tunnels, streams ran down the aisles of their largest tunnel during non-stop heavy rains, soaking the soil and spawning fungal pathogens that killed many flowers. In response, they dug a 50-ton perimeter French drain around the saturated tunnel at the start of 2019 to salvage 60 percent of the flower crop.
Usually when garlic is ready to be harvested and dealt with, the farming year is in full swing, and bodies and brains are tired a lot of the time. We have made ourselves a checklist to help things go more smoothly, and make sure no important step gets forgotten. This also helps new crew know what they are supposed to be doing when and if they get confused.
Although you may have just finished getting your summer flowers planted, it’s time now to start on fall crops. Summer’s heat, pests, and weeds will take their toll on your first few plantings, and by September, you’ll be longing for some fresh flowers to take to market.
Last month, I wrote about growing and marketing baby ginger. This month, I’ll tell you about turmeric, a crop that is often grown as a companion to ginger. Although turmeric is generally grown the same way as ginger, that’s where the similarities end. Turmeric has different germination and harvest requirements, projected yields, and financial margins. Marketing a product that most people don’t recognize, having never seen it as anything but a yellow powder in a spice bottle, also takes much more effort.