Caterpillars and Compost

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”

–Roald Dahl

Things are chugging along out at Street Fare Farm. Veggies (and weeds) are germinating, transplants are growing, and more and more is being planted. This past week, I seeded the second round of lettuce and the first rounds of squash, zucchini and cucumbers in the greenhouse, and just as soon as I’m done typing this up, I’m going to plant another succession of carrots, radishes, turnips, spinach, arugula, baby kale, and baby mustard out in the fields. Spring is here baby, and I ain’t lookin back!

I’m hosting another Bed Prep Bonanza out at the Lomax Incubator Farm next Thursday, from 8am til the works done! I really think it’s high time you all came out and played in the dirt with me! I have the fourteen 100 ft beds for my summer plantings under a tarp right now, smothering out some of the weeds growing there, but come Thursday, I’ll be peeling that off and wheelbarrowing out compost to add to the beds, putting out some fertilizer, and getting it all beautified for the summer veggies to go in the following week! I’m also VERY excited to announce that the 14 ft x 100 ft caterpillar tunnel that I ordered a couple weeks ago is due to arrive this coming Monday, so if we can get all the bed prep stuff done, we can have fun setting that thing up! I’ll be growing my tomatoes under there, and am excited to really amp up my tomato game this season, for I know how much you all love your maters! All volunteers will leave with eggs in hand, as well as all the microgreens you can carry away with you. I’ll treat you to lunch, and invite you back to my homestead for libations and chicken-gazing after the work has been completed. Click here to RSVP for the fun!

I’ll be back at the market tomorrow, and guess what?! I hear Miller’s and Sons are going to have strawberries! You better get there quick ‘fore I eat ’em all up! Don’t think I will? Dare me, I dare you! I’ll have Woodlot Raised, Non-GMO Eggs, Pea Shoots, Radish Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, Kale Shoots, and maybe another surprise? I don’t want to give it away, for it may not come to pass, but I can tell you this… WE’RE ABOUT 2 WEEKS OUT FROM VEGGIES!!! Get pumped. It’s go time.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, and come see us tomorrow!

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Dinosaurs and Chickens

Life finds a way…

-Jeff Goldbloom, Jurassic Park

The Daily Steward

I let myself sleep an extra hour this morning, but after falling asleep again after turning off my alarm, I had the most vivid dream that a prehistoric velociraptor had gotten in with my chickens. And there I’d been, worryin’ on and on about hawks and owls, cayotes and raccoons. I was ill-prepared for the predicament I had found myself in. Even less prepared were the chickens, though they often bear a strong resemblance to a heard of tiny dinosaurs, especially when running down the hill towards me, hoping that I’m there to give them treats. Upon further reflection of this dream after I’d finally managed to pull my arse out of bed, it occurred to me that I seemed to recall having a similar dream at some point in my past dream-life wherein I’d had a similar problem, but the adversary then was a pterodactyl. All I can do is hope and pray that these dreams are not warnings of an invasion of jurassic proportions at Street Fare Farm, though I guess I best take heed and at least get a .22 or something!

It’s been a long week of planting, but the job is almost done! The last seeds (of this first planting) will be going in the ground directly after writing this here newsletter. This is such wonderful news, for I tire of only having microgreens to freshen my cuisine. I’m ready for some veggies. What veggies, you ask? Well, I’ll just go right on ahead and tell ya! We’re talking red beets, gold beets, red onions, yellow onions, lettuce mix, spinach, baby kale, arugula, carrots, mustards, kohlrabi, pac choy, and broccoli raab! In addition to getting all that in the ground this week, I was also able to mow and do a light till on the plot to be planted in the summer veggies, and got it tarped for a spell to kill off some of the weed pressure. I’m feeling really good about this season, guys. I’m excited to bring for you the fruits of my labor!

With all this stuff getting done this week, I’m hoping next week to get a lot of stuff done over at the homestead, including but not limited to mowing, breaking ground and tarping where the fall crops will go, put some finishing touches on the 100 gallon greens bubbler I built, convert a wash machine into an electric greens spinner, and tackle a couple other projects. I’ll tell you what, farming encompasses so, so much more than just playing in the dirt in the sunshine. My invitation stands for any and all of you that want to see what a good days work, I’d love the company and would appreciate the help! I couldn’t express more gratitude without having a stroke for all the folks that have graced my modest fields with their presence! I wouldn’t be where I am without all your support!

ACHTUNG! I WILL NOT BE AT THE WINECOFF MARKET TOMORROW!

Instead, you’ll be able to find me with pep in my step and a twinkle in my eye at the 13th Annual Plant and Herb Festival at the Cabarrus Arena Center from 8am til 4pm! I’ll have eggs, microgreens, as well as a bunch of tomato and eggplant seedlings for you to plant in your gardens! It’s going to be a beautiful day, I hope to see you out there!

I hope you all have such a glorious weekend. Spring is here, and I hope it is finding you well! Peace and love!

Egg CSA

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. 

-C. S. Lewis

That’s right, your eyes are working fine. It’s high time you all got your egg on! The ladies and I had a real heart to heart recently. Feathers flew, tears were shed, but we came to a consensus that we need to figure out a better way to get their hard work into your hands. And thus, the Street Fare Farm Egg CSA! Here’s how it works. If you want to get my girls woodlot-raised, non-GMO eggs every week, all you have to do is send me a message stating how many dozen per week you’d like and if you would like to pick them up either at the Piedmont Farmer’s Market on Winecoff School Rd. on Saturdays from 9am til noon (soon to be 8am til noon), or from me at the homestead on Highway 601 right past the Highway 200 intersection on Saturdays from 2pm-4pm. Then, I will send you a recurring monthly invoice in the amount of $19 per 4 dozen per month that you may pay by cash in person, by check in the mail, or by credit or debit card right from the invoice. That’s 25¢ off the retail value per dozen! Signing up for this would be very helpful for me as it would start generating some better cash flow here in the early season while most of my monies are flowing outward. You may click on the “E-Mail” icon below this newsletter or just shoot me one at ben@streetfarefarm.com. The girls and I would be much obliged for your support!

I have been truly blessed to have found myself in the circles of community that I have, as well as to have had such lovely weather this past week! I had a bunch of volunteers come out Monday, Wednesday and yesterday to help me prep my beds, set up my irrigation, pull out some lingering things in the plot I’ll be prepping next for the summer veggies, do some flame weeding and setting up the deer fence, as well as just hang out with me and play in the dirt and the air and the sunshine for a few days! I’m so incredibly grateful for all the help I received this week. Thank you! If you missed out on all the action, fret not! Starting bright and early Monday morning, I’ll be out at the Lomax Incubator Farm getting the first crops in the ground, transplanting kale, arugula, lettuce, spinach, onions, potatoes, beets, a little carrot transplant experiment, kohlrabi, bok choy, broccoli raab, and direct seeding radishes, turnips, beets, baby greens, spinach and carrots. I know you all must be all but jumping out of your seats to join in on all the fun! I’ll be out there every day until that work is done, and if you come out to help, I will buy you lunch and send you home with some eggs and microgreens on the house! If this sounds enticing at all, send me an e-mail, shoot me a text or drop me a line. I hope to see you out there!

Well folks, I regret to inform you that I will not be at the Farmer’s Market tomorrow, for I have, for some unknown but most likely masochistic reasoning, signed up to compete in the Spartan Race here in Concord. But never fear, for Shelly is here! Shelly is among the newest class of Farmer’s in Training at the Lomax Farm, and she has stepped up to take care of the Street Fare Farm booth at the market tomorrow! She’ll have with her Pea Shoots, Radish Shoots and Sunflower Shoots, as well as a veritable legion of fresh, woodlot-raised, non-GMO eggs! You may recognize her, as she has handled my booth before, but treat her well! As well as you treat me! Better than me, better yet!

I hope you all have a jolly good weekend, and I hope you are finding contentment in this deliberate transition into spring! Be well, my friends!

The Daily Steward

But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

What a Good Friday it is! It would appear the Spring has arrived, though I knock on wood as I type this, for we are almost assured another frost or two before winters gnarled hand loosens it’s grasp until the other three seasons have their chance. Spring and Autumn are my favorite, when the sun gains or loses it’s power that will surely redden my neck come midsummer, but I’m happy to soak in these shoulder season salutations for the present.

This coming week is planting week! I’ve had my beds tarped for the past two weeks in an attempt to smother out a bit of the ensuing weed pressure. Last week, I had 20 yards of organic compost delivered, as well as picked up a new sprinkler system for some overhead irrigation I’ll be experimenting with this season, and had my companions pick up some bags of fertilizer for me, and come Monday, I’ll be removing the tarp and spreading all these inputs atop the beds, mixing them in ever so shallowly so as not to bring up new weed seeds from the soils depths, setting up the irrigation, and get to planting! If any of you reading this are at all interested in coming out on Monday, or really any day next week, to help me with this bed prep and planting, I would be much obliged! I created an event on Facebook for this Bed Prep Bonanza, and if you should come out to the Lomax Incubator Farm to help, I’ll buy you lunch, send you home with some eggs and microgreens, and invite you back to my place for some beers and chicken-gazing! I hope to see you there!

I look forward to seeing your Spring-flushed faces tomorrow morning at the Piedmont Farmers Market on Winecoff Shool Rd.! I’ll be there with the first hints of my coming farmer’s tan, slinging Pea Shoots, Radish Shoots and Sunflower Shoots, as well as Woodlot-Raised, Non-GMO eggs! I’m still very long on eggs, so come on out for a special 2 dozen for $9! Some people complain about the price of my eggs, but here’s the deal: you can get your eggs from the grocery store very cheaply, but those eggs are produced by chickens that live their whole lives in tiny cages, eating nothing but grain, and never seeing the light of day. Those lackluster diets and stressful living conditions truly come out in the quality and nutrient content of the eggs, and to top it all off, most of the eggs you get at the grocery store are already a month old! My girls spend all day every day out of doors, scratching and pecking for tasty worms, grubs and bugs that enrich the quality of their eggs, supplementing their forage with leftover veggies and a locally grown, non-GMO feed that isn’t cheap, let me tell you. I hand-wash each and every one of them every day(10+ dozen a day right now…), it’s the first thing I do in the morning! And I will never sell eggs that are over 2 weeks old, most of them are laid the week that I bring them. Nothing beats fresh eggs, and nothing beats fresh eggs from happy chickens. And, being that it’s Easter weekend, you could buy a couple extra dozen just to hide around the yard for your Easter Egg Hunts! Maybe?

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend, and find comfort in the fact that we were made as beings of love to reign over creation, and to shed that love on everybody and everything you encounter! Peace be with you!

The Daily Steward

There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations. 

Washington Irving

The warm breeze wafting through my open bedroom windows make for longful yearnings for the coming spring, though I fear it is yet too early for that spring to be upon us. I do hope you seized the opportunity to open your windows and let the world back into your home to air out the stagnating cold of winter’s chill, and I have greater hope that you find cause to venture outside to soak up some of this late winter sun and this less-than-seasonable warmth, for I fear the grasp of winter’s chill has yet to loose it’s hold. Days like today, telling of the promise of spring and the recommissioning of life after the winter slumber, have a way of invigorating the spirit, that right now is best depicted in the blooming of the yellow daffodils.

This next week I hope to break ground and build the beds for springs first plantings, which I’m hoping to be putting in the first weeks of March. I’m also hoping to get my walk-in cooler set up and the rest of my post-harvest infrastructure built. Seeding in the greenhouse will also resume this coming week, as I start kale, collards, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. I’m ready for some new variety after a long winter of microgreen salads and eggs-every-which-way. I hope you’re ready, too!

Come out and see me at the Winecoff Market tomorrow from 9am til Noon! I’ll have Pea Shoots, Radish Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, Pasture-Raised, Non-GMO Eggs, and also this week, Shiitake Mushrooms grown by my friends Brock and Mary Beth of Blue Merle Farm! I made a stir fry with shiitakes, onions and pea shoots this week… Scrumptious… What else can you find at the Winecoff Market? I’ll tell you what! Pastured Beef, Pork and Chicken, Salsa, Honey, Pimento Cheese, Chicken Salad, Fresh Fish, NC Apples, and so much more. I implore you to come on out and support local businesses that are trying to provide you with a quality product in a sustainable way!

Have a great day, weekend and week! Do try to get outside and enjoy this marvelous creation that is our planet, and let it’s majesty soothe your soul!

The Daily Steward

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“The one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” 

Proverbs 28:19

Things are picking up while plants are popping up in the greenhouse! As soon as there is a a stretch of dry weather, I can get out in the field and get my first beds prepped for the coming season. Judging by the 10 day forecast, however, it seems that a deluge is more likely. It might be a late start to this season, folks, but that’s how this whole farming thing works. The elements are beyond my control, yet they dictate much in my day to day. I’m not going to stress about it, though. What will be will be, and I will try my best regardless of what the weather throws at me, and no matter what, the veggies will come! Spinach and onions are popping, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, peas and chard are next. Cross your fingers and say a prayer that the rain in the forecast to clear out!

You’ll notice something very familiar to last weeks’ newsletter, that the title hasn’t changed. Why, you may ask? I really like it, truth be told. It rings of the heading of a newspaper, a play on words harkening back to an age gone by, the golden age of the press. It’s also terribly difficult to come up with a title to each weeks newsletter, something that pops and will entice you to open this e-mail and read this prattle herein. More than any of these reasons, however, is that I’d like to think of this as my title, no, my calling in this vocation. I’m not merely farmer, who, according to my pal Merriam-Webster, is “a person who cultivates land or crops or raises animals,” I strive to be a steward, which in my mind is a much grander and nobler undertaking, but also connotes an idea of being of service rather than simply managing. I see myself as tasked with the responsibility of serving the natural environment, making it healthier by my intrusion upon it, and in doing so serve you, my community and my clientele, by providing you one of the basic fundamentals of existence, provided in service that which is produced in service. Perhaps I sound like a broken record, and in some ways I write these words again and again to cement them in my psyche moreso than in an attempt to convince you to patronize me. I know that if I come at this vocation in this attitude of humility and servitude, no matter what, my efforts will not be in vain.

Here’s a great idea: go the the Winecoff Farmer’s Market between the hours of 9am and noon! I will not be there in person, but Street Fare Farm will be represented by the lovely Taylor, aspiring flower farmer and one of the newest farmers at the Lomax Incubator Farm! Be gentle with her, she hasn’t vended at a market in a while, but knowing you all, I know you’ll make her feel right at home! She’s going to have some Pea Shoots, Radish Shoots, Sunflower Shoots and Pasture-Raised, Non-GMO Eggs in tow to dispense to you good people of Cabarrus County!

Where will I be, you ask? I thought it’d be a good idea to sign up for what’s called the Frigid 5k Run and Plunge at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, a 3 and change mile run followed by a dip in the Catawba River. The air temperature isn’t supposed to be terribly cold in the morning, but it’s supposed to be rainy, and I reckon the temperature of the water will be somewhere in the 40s… Good thing I take these cold showers! I’m going to do my best to bring a medal back for you guys!

Have a great week, and, if you’re so inclined, have a go at finding some way to adopt the mindset of servitude in your work this coming week. Take the ego out of it, and do something solely for the benefit of someone else, even if it’s hard. Give it a try, I bet you’ll like it!

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The Daily Steward

“Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.” 

-Marianne Williamson

Subdue the Earth

There is something awe-inspiring in these clear winter days, where the sunshine seems entirely too brilliant for the temperature to be as low as it is. Maybe it has something to do with there being no foliage on the trees, thereby allowing more sky to come down so blue-ly around us. February is here, however, and plants are popping in the green house! Onions are started, spinach is next, then there’s only going to be more and more until the first plants go in the ground, hopefully somewhere in the first week of March, though I’ve got a good amount of ground to work (like, any ground, to be perfectly honest) so these little plants will have a happy home. It’s happening though, and I’m ready for some fresh veggies, let me tell you what!

My tractor came in! (See picture below). That’s right. Sexy. Who wants to name her? Now I have the means to push that earth around, build these beds, and really start refining these systems of intensive cropping and equally intensive soil building. I admit, I was starting to go down the road of a more conventional mindset, trying to eek out as many cash crops out of every patch of earth I could, foregoing some of the environmentalistic notions that got me on this road to begin with, in an attempt to make sure I was making enough money to sustain myself and move my business forward. While this was not an altogether bad thing to want, I know, and hope you all also know, that a strong bottom line, while important, shouldn’t be the end goal. In fact, I believe it could be argued that focusing on some of the more qualitative aspects of your daily endeavors will lend itself to building up that bottom line, though I recognize that that is not the rule.

Yes, I need to make money selling vegetables and eggs, but my focus is not on producing more and more in order to sell more. My goal is to build the health of the soil, the health of the ecosystem, to nurture the plants and thereby produce nutrient dense food to nourish my and your bodies. My goal is to build a community around this sort of sustainable food system, and to encourage and facilitate a means of getting you, the consumer, more directly connected to the source of your food. My goal is to do all this while maintaining a balanced life, working hard while maintaining sufficient time away from the job in order to pursue my other interests, of which I have far too many! I implore you to join me in this mission, which I bracket under the broader idea of “stewardship,” which Oxford defines as “the job of supervising or taking care of something,” and let us create a community that values careful quality in all things!

I’ll be at the Winecoff Market tomorrow from 9am til noon, and I hope you will, too! I’ll have Pea Shoots, Radish Shoots, Sunflower Shoots, and a ton of Pasture-Raised, Non-GMO Eggs!

Do you love my girls’ eggs as much as I do? Do you eat them by the carton more than by the egg? Well keep your eyes peeled, because the Street Fare Farm Egg CSA is coming soon! Stay tuned!

Have a great week!