Next Week

This is what you do with radish shoots; throw a pile on your cheeseburger!

-Farmer Ben

It’s finally here, the official start of the 2019 Street Fare Farm season. My calendar shows “Start CT Transplants” for this Monday. CT stands for Caterpillar Tunnel, of which there are two, both of which are still lying in a pile next to the field where they are to be constructed. Yesterday morning, before the rains came, I tilled the plot where the tunnels are to go, incorporating even more the chaff and residue from the previous inhabitants, as well as mixing in the lime and gypsum Hans and I had broadcast the afternoon prior. Oh yeah, Hans is back! More on his triumphant return shortly. Where was I… Oh right, so I tilled it all in, the soil was definitely a little too wet in certain spots to be doing so, but time is of the essence, for three weeks from Monday is a note in my calendar that reads, “Plant Early CT Crops.” My God, there’s a lot to do in those three weeks.

I plan on installing the caterpillar tunnels on Tuesday, starting at 9am, in case any of you would care to join! After that, I have to run the irrigation up to the field, for which the well has yet to have power (but we’re so close!), broadfork in the tunnels too loosen and aerate the subsoil, move my compost pile, tractor bucket by tractor bucket, from over here by the house up to the field, then spread that compost in the tunnels, ammend with fertilizer and stir it all in. And that’s just the beginning, for just under the “Plant Early CT Crops” tab in my calendar, there’s a note that says “Start 1st FC Transplants.” Here, FC stands for “Field Crops,” and once those get started, it’s a mere three weeks again to get beds broadforked, composted and fertilized, irrigation set up, landscape fabric pinned down, and in that span of time I’d also like to get some trees felled and logs cut to inoculate with mushroom spawn, and start transplants for the NorthEast Hospital Garden and the 2019 Plant and Herb Fest in April. I’m a mad man, but if I can pull this off this season, well, then I’ll have pulled it off this season!

One thing that is pressing on the back of my mind is getting the walk-in cooler set up, because fresh vegetables need to be cooled if they are to last until I can get them into your hands and onto your plates! I dug out the side of the hill next to the patio where my post-harvest station is set up, severing my internet connection in the process, but there that pit sits, wet and muddy. I have to somehow grade the pit so that it’s tilting forward for water runoff, lay gravel, build a retaining wall, and pour the cement where the walk-in will sit. I’m beginning to think I may be a bit out of my scope for this project, and what with everything else on my plate, feel as though this is a job I should hire out for… That’s where you come in! If anybody has experience in this realm, or know somebody that does, I would love to work with you! There is one caveat, I’m about flat broke until the veggies start coming out of the field (or more of you sign up for the CSA!), so I was hoping to find somebody to help with this job that would be willing to accept either vegetables and eggs, or even a full CSA share, as payment, or at least as subsidy to the total cost of the project? If that’s completely out of the question, is there anybody out there who would be willing to complete this project with a payment plan? I have outstanding credit and always pay down my debts! Please let me know!

I hope to see you all at the Piedmont Farmer’s Market on Winecoff School Rd. tomorrow from 9am til noon! It’s going to be rainy, so wear your galoshes and bring an umbrella! Tomorrow I’ll have Microgreens and Eggs, and maybe I’ll bring along the prodigal Hans! He’s back from a month out west visiting friends and family in Boulder, Los Angeles, Monterrey and San Francisco. If he comes (I’m not sure he will), he will regale you with tales from his journeys, captivating your attention and mystifying your sensibilities! Maybe that’s extreme, but he’s fun to talk to.

That’s all I have time for today, but I hope you all have a magnificent weekend and a glorious week! THERE’S STILL PLENTY OF TIME TO SIGN UP FOR THE CSA! It’s mutually beneficial, I promise!


Plant a Tree

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time in now.

-Chinese Proverb

Man, that’s a pretty picture. That tree sits right by the river on the property I’m living on, and I love that tree. It’s an old tree, half-dead, but the craziest part about it is the huge, dead grape vine wrapped around it. Usually a vine like that will kill the tree, but in this instance, the tree won the battle and the vine is but a skeleton, still gripping the tree even in death. I can’t take credit, that picture was taken by a guy named Remy Thurston, who is a great photographer. It’s making me anxious for spring. I just finished a book last week titled The Man Who Planted Trees by Jim Robbins, which was a great read. In summary, it describes the efforts of a gentleman, David Milarch, who, after surviving a near-death-experience, claims to have been commissioned by spiritual beings to seek out and clone the “Champion Trees” of this planet, the biggest, most robust trees of every species, in an effort to preserve their genetics in a world where deforestation is rampant, either directly by the hands or man or indirectly due to environmental changes caused by the warming climate. There is an argument that deforestation is far and away a greater contributor to the shifting climate than our consumption of fossil fuels, for not only do trees sequester a huge amount of carbon, they also cool the earth by their shade and their respiration, as well as act as buffers against solar radiation, and the massive clearing and die-outs of our forested lands are having an exponential effect in the warming of our planet. The author also describes some of the more obscure research being done on trees, which is a severely under-researched field of study, theorizing the other benefits trees have to not only our environments, but to us, such as emitting aerosols that help regulate our hormones and keep other plants and animals healthy, filtering ground and surface water much more effectively and efficiently than our modern water-treatment facilities, and even that trees hold clues to our connection to the celestial bodies outside of our atmosphere, the stars above. Just down the road from me, a new solar field was installed. A massive one. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for transitioning our energy inputs from fossil fuels to more sustainable means, but to install this solar field they had to clear-cut a lot of forest. After reading this book, I’m under the assumption that the trees were providing much more benefit to our planet than that solar field ever will. David is doing his work of securing these genetics at the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, check them out and read the book, I highly recommend it! Be warned, it will make you want to plant some trees!

Lot’s going on here at the farm… the microgreen/germination chamber in my basement is getting a much-needed facelift, and I’m making some improvements and experimenting with some bottom-watering techniques to hopefully better streamline that enterprise and make it more automated. At the same time, I’m increasing my microgreen production, so get ready for some tasty shoots! I’ve also been able to take advantage of this stretch of dry weather to get some initial tilling done where I’ll be installing my two 14’x100′ caterpillar tunnels for under-cover growing! With my first plantings going under these tunnels in just over a month, it’s high time! Aside from that, I have a hawk that is picking off my chickens, and I really need to do something about that. Pronto. I have a few ideas: hawk netting, locking the chickens in their coop for a week to break the predators routine, or, as a last resort, a rifle. Once I take care of that issue, I need to re-stock my flock ASAP, for demand is rising but eggs are dwindling! I also plan on getting some other fowl, a few geese to protect the flock, and maybe some guineas to knock down the tick population in the spring and summer.

I hope to see you all at the Piedmont Farmer’s Market on Winecoff School Rd. tomorrow from 9am til noon! It’s going to be a mite chilly in the morning, so bundle up, we’ll have the heaters on! I’ll have Pea Shoots, Radish Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, and the return of the Micro Mix! Of course, I’ll have eggs, too. I wanted to share something I’ve been doing with my Pea Shoots, a delicious side-dish. Heat your pan (I use this cast iron skillet for everything) medium-high with 2-3 tbsp the oil of your choice. I like all the oils, so I usually do butter, bacon grease, and coconut oil, just to run the gamut. Chop up AT LEAST 3 cloves of garlic, cuz one clove is just not enough. When the pan is hot, take a clamshell of Pea Shoots, rip them in half, and throw them in the oil with the garlic. Sprinkle with salt, and stir until all shoots are coated with grease and the tiny leaves turn dark green and start to wilt. Boom. Delicious. I’m going to have some with my eggs right now!

I wanted to extend my condolences to the family and friends of Gina Guthrie, who passed away early Tuesday morning after a long bout with cancer. Gina was a great friend to the Piedmont Farmer’s Market, The Lomax Incubator Farm, and farmers all across Cabarrus County. She was very supportive of my farming efforts from the very beginning, sourcing produce from me when she could for her farm-to-table catering company, Bocca Felice, and was a wonderful crusader working to change the way people thought about the food that they eat and where they get it from. She was also just a wonderful lady who always had a smile on her face and a sweet and caring temperament. You will be missed, Gina, but now you are in the presence of glory!

Have a great week, folks. Be excellent to each other, and party on!

The Year of the Pig

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

-T.S. Eliot

I want some pigs, I really do. Just a couple, just to suss out that whole situation, to see what it’s like, to see what it takes, and to stock up the freezer with some delicious pork chops, sausages and bacon raised by my hands and watchful gaze. I love the idea of adding a hog enterprise to my operation, as they are relatively low maintenance, have a relatively quick turnaround as the generally mature to slaughter weight at about six months, and everyone I know that works with pigs absolutely love them. Everyone except my sister, Bree, who at one time raised a pig named Mabel. Mabel for the table, she said. I guess Mabel was kind of mean, and my sister hated Mabel. I never met Mabel personally, but I did get to enjoy a delicious Mabel ham when I went to visit Bree in Olympia when I was sixteen. That was almost half my life ago now. Wow. Her daughters were just toddlers then, and now one is twenty and the other is as old as I was on that trip. Crazy. Anyway, my better judgement tells me I shouldn’t get pigs this year, that I should put all my focus on building my vegetable enterprise, my bread and butter, here on this new land before I add anything else into the mix. My better judgement tells me I need to pump the brakes and get one enterprise sorted before letting my lofty aspirations get the better of me. My better judgement is probably right, but my better judgement may lose out on this one. How much could two pigs get in the way, anyway?

I’ve been going full bore since the New Year! Well, since the day after New Years day, that is. I’ve been following through on the morning routine I’ve committed to, though I’ve been feeling a bit of the low-carb-flu since adopting this Whole30 challenge. Getting back in the swing of things doesn’t happen automatically, either, so, if you’re like me and your re-committed-to routines are taking a little longer than they used to, be gracious to yourself and tell yourself that you’ll be back in fighting form in no time, as long as you keep going through the motions. Anyway, here at the farm, projects are still getting underway! The microgreen chamber in my basement is currently undergoing massive renovations, with lots of improvements to streamline that operation. My post harvest area is so close to being complete, too. Now I just need this damned rain to quit for a bit so I can do a little field work! The first seedlings of the season are going to be started in just a couple weeks, and there’s lots still to do to get ready! I’m pumped, I’m feeling good, and I know that if God is for me, who can be against me? This is going to be the best season Street Fare Farm has ever seen, and I can’t wait to share it with you! Stay tuned for an announcement for a field day soon to spread some compost!

I hope to see you all at the Piedmont Farmer’s Market on Winecoff School Rd. tomorrow from 9am til noon! I’ll be there with some Pea Shoots, Radish Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, Basil Shoots and, of course, the true stars, the free-roaming, woodlot-raised, non-GMO eggs, laid by Concord’s very own Street Fare Farm Cluckettes! These ladies have been working hard to get you folks their very best offerings of eggs, come out and show them your support!

I know I shouldn’t curse the rain, I’m just tired of the wet and soggy and soppy and grey. Much like Superman, whom I have much else in common with, I derive my power from the glorious sunshine. Sun, o’ Sun, where art thou, where are thy gleaming rays, where did thee go? Have a great weekend, and I’ll catch you on the flip!