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Archive for the ‘Local Farming’ Category

Happy planting, harvesting and eating!

by Neal & Marie Curran

 

Spring is coming and so is our garden! Here at Nine Acre Farm, we are incredibly busy planting our spring/summer garden. Most of this work as of yet is indoors. Our plants go through quite a journey to make it from seed packet to the field. We are trying our hardest to keep conservation-intensive methods in mind even as we work indoors. We hope our process will be helpful to you as you begin your 2011 garden.

1)  A garden-ready greenhouse



Our greenhouse is small, but can fit many plants. We built tables for our plants. On two of our tables we have plastic tubing (a waste material) arched over the tables to support insulating plastic at night.  To warm the greenhouse when it’s cold and at night, we have use an old wood stove and a homemade chimney. Discarded fencing posts from the property fit perfectly in the stove. When it gets too warm in the greenhouse, the walls double as windows that lift open from the bottom.
Also, we make our own potting soil in our greenhouse. It is a mixture of homemade compost, peat, and perlite (available at most Lowes).

2)  Seed packet to greenhouse


In late December and throughout January we started plants such as broccoli, artichokes, celery, kohlrabi, beets, lettuce, leeks, brussels sprouts, and many more. Instead of using plastic trays, which aren’t always space efficient and are wasteful when they fall apart, we use soil blocks. We use the soil blocks to punch out a mold of soil. Each block mold contains 20 1-inch spaces: one for each seed. After seeding, we sprinkle our homemade potting soil over the block and water.

Currently we have begun seeding our tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Because these members of the Nightshade family require higher germinating temperatures than our winter crops would find agreeable, we start them on soil blocks on an electric heat mat. This is an excellent way to get a jump start on summer crops!

3)  Greenhouse rotation

When our seedlings begin to grow out of their one-inch cubes, we move them to two-inch cubes made with a larger soil blocker. The two-inch blocks remain on the tables to be covered with plastic at night, just as the one-inch blocks. After a couple of weeks, we move them to our uncovered table. Here they begin the process of hardening off. The lack of plastic covering at night exposes them to lower temperatures.

4) The Cold Frame


After plants have spent a week or two on the uncovered table, they are moved to the cold frame outside our greenhouse. The cold frame is a wood frame on the ground with a tarp covering the soil. At night, the plants are covered with plexiglass (a waste material available to us). They are uncovered during the day but sheltered with sheet when it gets to warm/sunny. Plants spend about one or two weeks in here.

4) Greenhouse to field


I’m not going to talk much about this part, but I will tell you that once plants leave the nursery and go into the great adult garden, they still receive a little help. They are sheltered nightly with a light row cover. So far we have a few rows of transplants and additional direct-seeded vegetables (snap peas, carrots, turnips, beets, leaf lettuce, radishes, etc.) growing in our garden.

~ For more information about our farm or to join our CSA (starting in mid-March!) check our our website at www.nineacrefarm.com and email us at neal@nineacrefarm.com.


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Musings by blogger Lydia of “Through the Screen Door”….

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for Spring.  After so many months of cold, rain, frost, and fog, the sun has finally decided to grace us with its presence!  Don’t get me wrong, I love Wintertime too.  Warm fires, fresh bread, rich hot chocolate, savory stews, and holidays with family are all delightful.  But, by this time of year, I’m usually ready for a change.  As soon as we get a sunny day or two, I start fantasizing about warm dirt between my bare toes, and the tangy burst of sun-ripened tomatoes in my mouth!

Last weekend was gorgeous.  My Dad brought over some baby fruit trees and boysenberry starts for me.  I have begged for his assistance in my quest for the ultimate garden, as he is the master, and I cannot yet snatch the pebble from his hand.  I remember, while I was growing up, he always had a garden.  Unfortunately for me, watching him garden back then, and managing my own wayward piece of heaven by myself, are two very different things….

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What inspires me…

Responsible farmers who not only believe in doing work that matters but also loving the work they do.

This guest post you are about to enjoy will hopefully inspire you as it has done for me:  to show up.  Written by Anna Brown, farm manager of  the organic Uplift Farms in Ceres, Ca.  She is a young woman who believes in giving back to her community and is as brilliant, authentic and adorable as her blogging words!

 

Every once in a while, we all need something that reminds us why we do what we do.  When the activities of daily life become a blur, one sight or word or experience can bring us back to center and return things to focus.

I had an experience like that last Tuesday, and it had to do with cauliflower.  Specifically, mid way through the weekly harvest in my 1/2 acre patch of winter vegetables I found the biggest and most beautiful cauliflower I have ever seen.  This variety of cauliflower usually keeps its leaves wrapped protectively around the head, but the one that caught my eye that morning had completely lowered its leaves, as if showing itself off to the world and inviting admiration.

Yet neither that cauliflower nor its neighbors down the row were perfect in the conventional sense.  Its beauty was a function not only of size and looks, but of the way of living and farming that nurtured it.

One difference between my cauliflower and it’s conventionally produced brethren is that most of mine show the traces of one insect or another, mostly caterpillars.  But I’m willing to forgive that because I grow organically and know that farming without pesticides means cultivating diversity and being willing to share space with competitors to some degree.  In fact having a crop that tolerates pest pressure without being decimated is a success!
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Take this opportunity to hear what’s going on in your Central Valley every first Friday of the month with Tom Willey and guest speakers on KFCF radio….

Down on the Farm ~ KFCF 88.1  fm

Friday Feb. 5th

5:00-6:00 pm

The topic: “A recent immigrant to these parts from No.Carolina has discovered Fresno’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods to be a veritable food wonderland. Host, Tom Willey will interview James Collier whose fascination with our food culture led him to co-found the online community, “Taste Fresno”, fast gaining members and notice. It’s possible newcomers recognize treasures underfoot to which we locals have become complacent. We’ll discuss a citizen food activist’s vision of the celebrated edible culture we could become on KFCF’s Down on the Farm. “

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What is a Community Garden?

Any piece of land gardened by a group of people

A few months ago I visited a community garden and met an inspiring woman who is truly in love with dirt, gardening and the well being of her community. This kind preserver of nature is an ER nurse that admitted playing in the dirt was a great stress reliever. I applaud her for taking this passion one step further by following her dreams and bringing her community together to successfully build 4 community gardens in Riverbank, in just one year!

Her name is Dotty Nygard, she is president of the Riverbank Community Garden Coalition. Partnered with the school district, the city and the community this amazing hands on team have created a wonderful opportunity and educational environment for all, their goal and belief ….” creating consciousness for our earth, our community and ourselves”.

As I strolled through the first garden across from California Avenue School, with my camera in tow, Dotty sat with a group of children and read “Our Generous Garden”, a lovely children’s story about gardening. Quietly listening I could feel the profound respect and connection between Dotty, children and the dirt they learned to love and nurture together.

If Riverbank is your community don’t miss out, become a part of this experience and get dirty!

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My farmer friend Anne Piccirillo is a delightful person with a witty sense of humor, a passion for her family and a love for her olive trees. Anne, her husband and daughter live on their family olive orchard in Gustine, CA. Their orchard is simple, natural, maintained and harvested by the family, a few employees and friends who volunteer.

Friends have always asked if they could come help with harvest wanting to enjoy some good old fashion farm work, so she took them up on their offer and an annual harvest day with friends and family begun. They start early picking olives, catching up on each others lives, laughing, sharing some wine and eating. This year I was invited to volunteer and gladly accepted, knowing this would be another learning experience for me in the world of farming. I had a wonderful time and look forward to next years harvest!

Enjoy my photos and if you make it to the Merced Farmers Market stop and say “Hi” to Anne, ask her about her olive orchard & treat yourself to best tasting olive oil in the valley….Athena’s Gift!

Athena’s Olive Oil Harvest ’09

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Just wanted to share this wonderful comment here on LC, I am very excited to be invited to the grand opening of Riverbanks Community Garden!

“Dear Anna,

We wish to invite you to the unveiling of Riverbanks’ first-ever Community Garden, Friday, October 23 from 3:30-4:30 at California School in Riverbank. We have partnered with the Riverbank Unified School District and the City of Riverbank Park and Recreation Department. This has been an awesome adventure and am so excited for the children to learn, experience and benefit from growing fresh fruits and vegetables. we hope you can attend.

May we grow together,

Dotty Nygard/Riverbank Community Gardens”

Come back for pictures!!

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I am very excited to say that I am on a committee that is putting together a new Farmers Market here in Turlock.  Our goal is to offer our community a healthy local food shopping experience!

If you are a farmer interested in space at this market, leave your information in a comment and I will get back when the market is further along in its planing stages.

The survey that was posted has been closed, so check back soon for upcoming market news!

Happy Farming, Just Anna!

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Well, life has been busy here at Local Choices and consequently it has put me behind on my local favorite finds, so I’m catching up by putting together a not so short blip of all I wanted to share with you!

Make sure to right click on the photos to see more and remember…be a locavore & support local!

  • Local Choices on Facebook… for quick updates on what’s going on here in the Central Valley don’t be left in the dark, get yourself a facebook page, become our fan and connect with others!
  • Pure Valley Honey Bees… Frankie and Evelyn by far have the yummiest honey products I have ever tasted! This bee team comes from Le Grande and can be found at Merced, Mariposa and Los Banos Farmers Markets. Visit their website to see what they have & what they are up to!
    Pure Valley honey Bees
  • Xiong & Silva Farms…. a while back I discovered this small corner produce stand in Turlock on Tully & Canal, it is family farmed and diversified with fruits and vegetables, the selection was abundant and super fresh!
Xiong ~ Silva Farms
  • Green Leaf BBQ Shop & Catering…. is a new BBQ Shop located in Village Market Corner on Canal St. in Turlock. Owners Tim & Carrie take pride in offering unique bbq’n supplies that are earth friendly, from Treager bbq’s to wine infused wood chunks for a sweet smoked flavor. Need good quick advice on your techniques check out Tims blog & facebook for fun facts!
Green Leaf BBQ Shop
  • Pageo Farms…. from the road you can see the rows of sweet beautiful lavender but when you drive in there is a whole lot more going on. This charming Turlock farm has a stand with organic fruits & veggies, a large variety of peppers & tomatoes grown by Josh, bath salts, lavender lemonade, lavender cookies and what ever treats they feel like baking up for the day. In the back a courtyard surrounded by lush greenery, renovated barns and silo make for a perfect wedding or party setting. Look for them on 11573 Golf Link Rd. Become their friend on facebook for updates!
Pageo Farms
  • Merced Shares…. all I can say is genious, a group of urban women who love to grow their own foods found they had so much extra they decided to create a “food exchange”, they get together and bring what ever they have left over from their harvest, divide it up and everyone is happy! Learn more about these progressive backyard farmers on their blog!
Merced Share’s
  • Heifer International & UC Cooperative Extension… these two organizations have collaborated to help promote and support community and school gardens teaching organic sustainable agriculture here in the Central Valley. A valuable quest that needs community involvement, want to volunteer? Check out the learning farm in Ceres.
Heifer International & U C Cooperative Extension School Communituy Garden Seminar
  • Cynthia Flesher’s Pink Papaya Spa Parties….Inner Balance and Outer Beauty is her mantra, she is a Certified Massage Therapist in Turlock offering home spa parties with her luscious Pink Papaya skin & body line loaded with 100% pure essential oils. Treat yourself and friends to an “all about me time” and book a party!
Theraputic Body Works by Cynthia Flesher

Check back again for my next Central Valley updates!

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planting, hoeing, shoveling, cover cropping, composting, integrated pest management, cultivators, tractors and many hands of love for the belief of growing certified organic healthy foods.

Brian and Tracy Kline come from a long list of conventional farming families and wanted to continue the tradition but with an alternative twist….organic farming was the row they chose!

Their first small patch started in 1993 as “Dos Manos Farms” and has flourished to “Kline Organic Produce” with more land, specializing in a variety of seasonal heirloom tomatoes and potatoes, various unique vegetables, fruit, herbs, their new pasta sauce and spicy pickled bean products, an annual tomato tasting, selling at 2 farmers markets and a CSA of over 40 members!

This local family farm here in the heart of big Ag has a small farm charm that is tended by committed family, including their two young daughters, and many friends. It oozes with the most comfortable natural energy enticing you to be a part of.

With every farm visit I learn something new, this time I came away with a true understanding of how and why farmers connect with mother earth, and what she can give us providing she is nurtured with respect and appreciation, the bond for those who do is phenomenal!

You can find Brian’s smiling face at Modesto Farmers Market on Saturdays and Thursdays & Tracy’s friendly face at Sonora Farmers Market on Saturdays.  To keep up with what is going on at the farm and learn more about your local choices visit their website at www.klineorganicproduce.com.

Happy Farming,

Just Anna!

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