The Great Transition

I forgot to mention last week…

Hans is single, ladies.

The Daily Steward

Well folks, after a lovely midweek break to celebrate our Independence Day holiday, we’ve been back at it, harvesting some delicious summertime treats to grace your refrigerators and delight your taste buds with flavor explosions! I hope that all you readers out there had a wonderful holiday, and that you all have all of your phalanges still intact! Hans and I ventured to our friends house for a wonderful cookout and pot-luck, but here’s the problem with a summertime cookout and pot-luck that is comprised primarily of a bunch of farmers: zucchini. Not only zucchini, but squash, eggplant, peppers, so on and so forth. Feast or famine, folks. It’s the name of the game. I definitely ate too much, but that’s kind of my modus operandi.

Now that the holiday has passed, it’s really time for me to get down to business moving my operations from the Lomax Incubator farm over here to the Riverbend Estates where I’ve been living going on three years now. The time has come, the walrus said. It’s bittersweet to be leaving Lomax. I love that place, it’s a beautiful gem of a property so close to the town of Concord, my business would not be where it is today without the program, and it is nice to go to work and have a community right there to socialize with every day. Honestly though, I’m sick of driving in circles all day long, having to plan out meals, blah blah blah, you get the idea. It will be way more convenient to farm where I live, and live where I farm. In fact, I consider it one of the perks, and I’m SO EXCITED. So, we’ve stopped the planting at Lomax, and it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Ya dig?

I hope to see you all at the market tomorrow! Hans and I have been working really hard to bring you some delicious Green Beans, Onions, Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Peppers, Cherry Tomatoes, Microgreens and Woodlot-Raised, Non-GMO Eggs! Our backs are really sore because of such, so we’d be much obliged if you came to see us at the Piedmont Farmer’s Market tomorrow from 8am til Noon. WILL ACCEPT DEEP-TISSUE MASSAGE AND/OR ACUPUNCTURE AS PAYMENT FOR PRODUCE! Seriously though, green beans are the worst…

Have a great weekend! I think it’s supposed to cool down a touch this weekend. I’m sick of going through AT LEAST three shirts every day…

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The Burn

The United States was born in revolution and nurtured by struggle. Throughout our history, the American people have befriended and supported all those who seek independence and a better way of life. 

-Robert Kennedy

The Daily Steward

Everyone’s going on vacations, the weather is hot, the 4th is coming up, and, in full disclosure, I’m starting to feel the burn. It happens pretty consistently around this time of year. I’ve been pushing hard since March, planting, weeding, harvesting, mowing, tilling, planting, weeding, harvesting, washing, packing, etc. It wears on a man. I’m not alone in this, however. Sometime in June, it seems like many farmers nationwide, and I have to imagine northern-hemisphere wide, start to feel the effects of it all. Around here, my farmer friends and I have less-than-affectionately termed the feeling “June Gloom,” though I understand that June Gloom is really a pattern of cloudy weather this month in the US southwest. I’m getting better at mitigating these feelings, but I’ll tell you what’s helped the most, and that’s this guy up there. His name is Hans.

Hans has been staying and working with me for the past couple months, and let me tell you, it’s been fantastic. Hans hails from Los Angeles, CA, though he grew up in the DC metropolitan area (as I did), and had been wanting to work in agriculture or on a farm in some capacity for a while. Hans and I got in touch when he was expressing these interests to my older brother, Abbot, whom he met through our sister, Amanda, whom Hans has been friends with for some 20 years now, and Abbot told Hans about what I was doing down here what with this whole farming thing and such. Well, after trading e-mails off and on for about 6 months, everything fell into place for Hans to pack up and drive cross country here to sunny Carolina, just in time for the summer plantings, and the summer heat. It’s been great! Many of you who frequent the Piedmont Farmer’s Market on Saturdays have already had the privilege of meeting Hans, but for those of you who haven’t, he is a large part of the successes we’re having this season, and a huge mitigator of the failures! Anyway, I just wanted to introduce you all to Hans, he’s been a great help, as well as a good friend.

Hans and I will both be thrilled to see you all tomorrow at the Piedmont Farmer’s Market on Winecoff School Rd. from 8am til Noon! We’re working hard today to bring you lettuce, carrots, beets, eggplant, peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, microgreens and eggs! Come get some veggies to wow the company you’ll keep over the holiday, or stun the hosts of the cookout you’ll be attending, or just staying healthy as you take this holiday as an opportunity to get some much deserved rest! You know what goes great on the grill next to those dogs and burgers? Eggplant! Just slather some oil on ’em, salt and pepper, and you’ll be good to go!

I hope you all do find opportunity to recharge over this holiday, I know I’m looking forward to it! Happy Independence Day!

Solstice? It’s Been Summer…

This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath.

-Margaret Atwood

The Daily Steward

Yeah I said it. The solstice may have officially marked the first day of summer, but, I’m tellin’ ya, summer’s been here for a minute as far as I’m concerned! Hans and I have been getting out to the farm by 6am to beat the heat and get the harvesting done when the fruits are at their plumpest and juciest. And, lemme tell ya somethin’ else, we’re picking some plump and juicy fruits presently! We’ll have a few hundred pounds of squash, zucchini and cucumbers at the market tomorrow, so get your skillets ready, wipe off that juicer, warm up that pickler, sharpen them choppers, and get you some summer veg!

I know, I know, everyone wants to know, when are the tomatoes coming?! Well, as is indicative of the photo above, there are some tomatoes beginning to ripen! I’m going to let you in on a little secret: tomatoes are not so different from you or I. They, like you or I, don’t like it when it’s too hot outside. We’ve got them tucked under the caterpillar tunnel, protected from the wind and the rain, the fog and the foam, and we’ve even got a shade cloth over the tunnel, blocking out 30% of the sun’s shine, but, man, that thing traps heat. When we get days like we’ve had of late in the mid-nineties, it gets upward of 120°F in that piece! Hence, the reason we’ve endearingly dubbed her the “Ziploc Bag.” But, all that aside, the saving grace has been the fact that the nighttime lows have been dipping into the seventies and even high 60s, so the plants are looking good and still growing, and there are a ton of green fruits hanging, they’re just taking their sweet time ripening up. Soon, my friends, soon!

I anticipate with great relish catching a glimpse of your shining eyes and smiling faces at the Piedmont Farmer’s Market on Winecoff School Rd. tomorrow from 8am til noon! Hans and I will be there, as I’m sure you know, this fact being the highlight of your week, with a ton of veggies in tow! I’ve already enlightened you to the immense quantity of Squash, Zucchini, and Cucumber, but I’m excited to tell you that the Lettuce mix is back for a limited time only! Additionally, we’ll have Red Beets, Gold Beets, Pink Turnips, Orange Carrots, Rainbow Carrots, Pea Shoots, Radish Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, and, of course, your favorite, Woodlot-Raised, Non-GMO Eggs! See you there!

Have a wonderful weekend and a blessed week ahead, and, all kidding, and hopefully heat aside, happy Summer for reals!

Spring Push

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”

-Theodore Roosevelt

The Daily Steward

I’m so happy to announce that the big spring push is over! Over the past 2 weeks, myself, with the help of many other very gracious and willing helpers, not to mention good lookin, were able to get 300 tomato plants in the ground, 100 squash and zucchini plants, 100 cucumbers, 140 peppers, 140 eggplant, 140 okra, and 200 feet of green beans planted. The weather’s been pretty steamy, but mostly pretty enjoyable to be working in. In addition to getting all these first rounds of summer veggies in the ground, we were also able to set up the deer fence in the summer plot, get a few of the spent beds in the spring plot turned over and prepped for another planting of something else, and had a bountiful harvest that we’ll be bringing to the market bright and early tomorrow morning!

I’m happy to be done with this push here, for now I have a little breathing room to be able to turn my focus on the home fields, getting the ground broken, amended, bedded and tarped so that they’ll be ready and waiting for the first fall plantings come late August! I love the Lomax Farm, I do, but I’m over commuting… I’m sure you all can relate! 

I hope you’ll come out to the Piedmont Farmer’s Market on Winecoff School Rd. tomorrow from 8am til noon! Hans and I will be there with Lettuce, Arugula, Radishes, Turnips, Beets, Spring Onions, Kohlrabi, Microgreens, and Woodlot-Raised, Non-GMO Eggs! I’m predicting a mild and generally pleasant morning, weather-wise. Maybe a little overcast with a light breeze, not too hot and not too humid. Come on out and see us!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! School’s almost out, and vacation time is almost upon us!

Tomato Planting Party!

“In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream…”

-Bruce Springsteen

The Daily Steward

I really need to start writing these newsletters ahead of time… Howdy folks! It’s hot outside… Where’d spring go? It seems to be the trend here, winter to summer. That’s ok, we do what we can! And guess what? We’ve done a lot for you all this week! The caterpillar tunnel is just a hair of a hair’s breadth from being completed! The spring plot has been cultivated, and we’ve got a lot of stuff harvested and are in the process of washing and packaging it all for your enjoyment! Also, on Tuesday, the newest addition to the Street Fare Farm family arrived: 104 healthy day-old Plymouth Barred Rocks chicks! This is the first time I’ve ever received chicks in the mail where there was not a single mortality in transit, and I still have yet to lose one (knockin’ on wood). These little freeloaders will eventually lay some delicious and nutritious eggs, the very same you’ve come to know and love.

Being that the caterpillar tunnel will be completed here directly, it’s now time to put some tomatoes in there! They are ready to get in the ground and stretch their little roots deep into the ground and reach their vines up into the expanse. Guess what? You can come help with that fun! I’ve created another Facebook event for this Tomato Planting Party that you can find here! Come help me get 300 tomato plants in the ground either Monday or Tuesday of next week. I’ll be out here all day both those days digging holes, adding compost and fertilizer, watering them in, and popping the plants in. Bring your kids, I’m sure they’re already expert hole-diggers, bring your friends, bring your parents, bring your aunties and uncles, it’s gonna be a party! Lunch will be provided, and I’ll be sure to send you home with some delicious eggs and veggies for your help. Come on out even if you can only make a brief appearance, or come let me regale tales of wit and cynicism, spin you yarns of trial and tribulation, or serenade you sweetly with songs of yore!

I hope to see you all at the Piedmont Farmer’s Market on Winecoff School Rd. tomorrow from 8am til Noon! Like I said, I’ve got the goods coming in now: Lettuce, Spinach, Baby Kale, Arugula, Spring Mix, Radishes, Microgreens, and Woodlot-Raised, Non-GMO Eggs! Do like mama told you and eat your greens!

Ok, I have to go. The help I’ve got here must think I’m just trolling on Facebook at this point. I never said I wouldn’t… Have a great weekend!

Strawberry Festival

Let me take you down, cuz I’m going to strawberry fields…”

-The Beatles

It’s a happy day? Why, do you ask? I’ll tell you why. I’ll ‘splain you up real good, indeed I will! If you really want to know why I’m happy today, I’ll tell ya: veggies are here! I spent all morning harvesting the first veggies out of the field, and, believe you me, it feels good to be back, baby! Just in time, too, for tomorrow at the Winecoff Market is the Strawberry Festival, which will kick off the busy season at the market! I’m excited to see the place filled up with vendors of all kinds, and to see throngs of yous guys smiling faces milling about, supporting local farmers and vendors, and participating in some of the family friendly activities that will be available! I have to make a prediction here, though… I foresee the best attraction at the market tomorrow will be… Spinach! And Arugula! And Baby Kale! All can be yours for a reasonable price when you swing by the Street Fare Farm booth! In addition, I’ll have Pea Shoots, Radish Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, Kale Shoots, and, of course, the real star of the show, my lovely ladies’ fresh, Woodlot-Raised, Non-GMO Eggs, also reasonably priced and did I mention fresh? The Strawberry Festival will run from 8am til 1pm tomorrow, and the market will start at 8am here on out. I can’t wait to see you!

There’s a lot going on, but I fear I’ll have to save the finer details for the next edition of the Daily Steward, as right now I’m in a sprint portion of the marathon that is this 2018 season, and I fear I must get back to work so I can finish up, get a good night’s sleep, and be as bright and chipper as I’m feeling right now typing this all out to you! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and May the Fourth be with you!

April Showers

“If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?”

THANK YOU to those of you that came out to help with some more bed prep yesterday! We spent most of the morning peeling back the tarp that had been covering the summer plot, which did a great job killing off some of the weeds there, might I add, hoeing up the lingering weeds, and moving wheelbarrow loads of compost and adding about an inch deep on top of the beds. We almost got all the beds covered, but there’s still a bit left to do, which I should be able to knock out by weekends end, in addition to adding some fertilizer. The summer veggies I’ve got going in the greenhouse are going to love it, I’m absolutely sure of it! After the beds are prepped, it’s just a matter of getting my new caterpillar tunnel installed, and getting them lovely plants in the ground. Though I have yet to harvest any of the spring crops (next week, I promise!), my eyes are already starting to turn towards the summer, which, in case you didn’t know, is our longest growing season here in the sultry south. Get pumped!

The spring crops have been doing a great job soaking up the rains we’ve had this past week, and now the forecast is clear and sunny and warming up for the foreseeable future, which is perfect, as the plants stretch their roots to the receding water table and soak up the coming rays of sunshine. Just as much as the veggies are loving the rain, so are the weeds! Next week will be filled with a lot of weeding and cultivation, I’m sure of it, but I’m confident in my new weed-management strategies and techniques, utilizing some of the tools I’ve invested in to manage the weeds, and am excited to really get this, what has been a problem for me in seasons gone by, under control, so I can give the veggies the best possible conditions to produce a high-quality, nutrient dense product for your enjoyment! Next week I know I’ll be able to start bringing some greens to the market, as well as putting them in my own salad bowl, and I can hardly wait. Stay tuned!

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there has been a huge egg recall in our wonderful state, with a lot of eggs being contaminated with salmonella. Here’s the issue as I see it… Eggs produced from unhappy chickens in confined animal feedlot operations (CAFOs, for short) are more susceptible to contamination both due to the often unsanitary living conditions these hens live in (think shelves of small cages where the hens can barely turn around, never seeing the light of day (sunshine is a great sterilizing agent, as well as being necessary to enact the proper hormonal regulation required for healthy egg production the bodies of the hens), being fed only grain, which their bodies aren’t designed to solely thrive on. They are stressed out, and therefore have to be supplemented with antibiotics in their feed to combat the diseases and pathogens that thrive in these inhumane living conditions), and the sheer quantity of eggs being processed and cleaned to send off to the packaging facilities, where they often sit for months before making their way to the shelves of the supermarket. In these operations, one bad egg can spoil the whole lot, and by the whole lot we’re talking beaucoup eggs, tens and hundreds of thousands of eggs. Did you know the eggs you get at the grocery store are on average 45 days old, and often upwards of 3 months old when you purchase them?

Here’s where my girls eggs differ… I raise my hens in a woodlot setting (chickens are jungle-fowl, after all), where they spend their days running around freely, scratching and pecking for bugs and grubs and worms, munching on whatever greens they can find or tossed in their run after the market, supplemented with a non-GMO grain feed I get from Barrier Farms, which they grow not 10 miles from my farm. They live in a low-stress environment, spending their days doing chicken-things, which, in all honesty, you could get mesmerized watching them do for hours on end. My eggs are collected (almost) daily, and each one lovingly hand-washed, packaged, and refrigerated until I bring them to the market. I never sell eggs that are over 2 weeks old, no because of freshness, but because of limited storage, but also because I want you all to be able to enjoy what I’ve been enjoying for over two years now, the incredible taste of farm fresh eggs from happy chickens! You may have questions about the price of my eggs, complaining that it’s too high? Well, I’ve crunched the numbers, and for the sake of transparency, my break-even on the eggs is $3.50/dozen, so at $5.00/dozen at the market, I’m making $1.50 profit, and that’s not even taking into consideration the 6+ months I’m feeding these ladies from the time I get them in the mail as day-old chicks to the time they stop free-loading and start laying. I’ll be frank with you, I have to make money doing this farming thing if I’m going to be able to do it, and, honestly, $5.00 is often less than you’ll spend for free-roaming, pasture-raised, non-GMO eggs that you’ll get at the market, and those eggs at the store are likely as old as the CAFO eggs you can purchase for pennies on the dollar. My girls are healthier for your bodies, with higher omega-3 fatty acids, a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, with harder shells and richer, tastier yolks. So, all that to say, support me, your farmer, and support my happy hens, and come get some eggs, with the confidence that my eggs won’t make you sick!

I hope to see your shining faces at the Winecoff Farmer’s Market tomorrow morning from 9am til noon! I’ll have pea shoots, radish shoots, sunflower shoots, kale shoots, and delicious, woodlot-raised, non-GMO eggs with me, as well as some eggplant and tomato starts that you can plant in your home gardens!

Have a wonderful weekend, my lovelies, and I’ll revisit your inboxes next Friday! Be well!