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   On the way to my family’s house the other evening, I passed one of our local strawberry patches.  It came to me as the sweet perfume of sun-ripened berries wafted in the window on the balmy summer air…It’s that time of year again…

Time for shorts and flip flops, farmers markets and county fairs, fresh fruits and veggies, canning and preserving, frolicking in the garden, and chowing down on all the local goodness you can get your hands on!

Here in the valley we’re very lucky to have such a dazzling array of produce to choose from!

You can put a face and warm smile with what fills your plate, by visiting a Fruitstand or Farmer’s Market in your area….

If you prefer stalking your own goodies in their natural habitat, you can find a You-Pick Farm in your county…

A CSA is also a convenient option which supports your local farmers…

And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can always grow some fruits and veggies of your own…You don’t have to have 40 acres, just a few pots or old buckets on the porch will do!

Whatever you choose, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing where your food came from and who grew it…not to mention nothing compares to the taste of fresh veggies and fruit!

Or the smell of it on the breeze for that matter…Happy foraging!

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Hey Locavores!  It’s that time of year again, when the wonderful folks at Riverdance Farms, host their annual “Pick and Gather”, it’s always a wonderful time rain or shine!

We’ll see you there with our bee~luscious lemonade!  Find the up to date info on facebook @ Hey Honey! Artisanals & Riverdance Farms Pick & Gather!

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We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,

we borrow it from our children.

– Native American Proverb

    Inspired by the free-spirited activism of the 1970’s, Gaylord Nelson and a few dedicated individuals, set out to remind us how precious and fragile are the resources we’ve been given.

    The first Earth Day was the culmination of growing environmental concerns, and the efforts of those determined to make a difference. Principles still relevant today. We have been given the wonderful gift of the earth, and with that, comes the responsibility of stewardship. How often have we forgotten the meaning of that word!

Merriam Webster’s defines Stewardship as: “The conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”.

Wikipedia explains: “An ethic that embodies responsible planning and management of resources.  The concept of stewardship has been applied in diverse realms, including with respect to environment, economics, health, property, information, and religion, and is linked to the concept of sustainability.”

    In short, the earth and all it’s bounty, was given to each of us. To care for, love, and celebrate.  It’s easy to feel like you can’t make a difference, but the tiniest effort matters!  There are so many things we can all do to help….

    Composting, recycling, shopping locally, having your own garden (even if it’s a pot on your porch or balcony), choosing to walk or ride a bike rather than drive, cutting back on the water or electricity you use, switching to natural cleaners; it all adds up to a smaller carbon footprint and taking better care of our home.

As you celebrate April 22nd, we’d like to hear from you….

How do you show Mother Earth some love?

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught

will we realize we cannot eat money.”

-Cree Indian Proverb

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Here you are, the long awaited video of “our girls”, sorry for the delay.  With all the changes coming to Camp Turlock, we’ve been busy bees!  There is some exciting news we can’t wait to share with all of you, so stay tuned!

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Shady Oak Chickens

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I taste that the earth is treated with kindness,
I taste that animals are cared for in a humane way,
I taste that social justice is an important part of the mix,
I taste that economic viability is the foundation that helps it happen,
and all of these tastes combine to form a deeply rich satisfying experience on my pallet and in my soul.

- Kirsten Olson, farmer at Hunter Orchards

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Wishing You a Peaceful and Joyous Holiday Season!

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The summer has been a busy one with many new and exciting projects around here on our very young evolving farm, and yes, I said “farm”….

For many years our CaMp TuRloCk homestead has been a place for family celebrations, a respite for friends to recharge with some country-time & a menagerie of well loved animals and of course home to Local Choices.

Today it feels good to say our homestead has added a new venue:  A farm!

A farm that grows our own food organically, a farm that provides a pastured haven for chickens of  Shady Oak Organic Eggs, a farm that feeds our family and beyond!

So stay tuned as we look forward to sharing with you our growth, new projects & this amazing gift of nature that is right out our back door.

In the meantime, enjoy some photos from our garden. See, we have been working hard!

(Check back soon for the sound of  happy chickens)

Growing Corn

Lavender at Local Choices

A day's berry harvestPhotos taken by Alexandria Araiza

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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….

(more…)

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