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Posts Tagged ‘sustainable farming’

   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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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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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!
(more…)

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Saturday, August 14th     5:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Sunday, August 15th        6:00 am to 11:00 am

If you haven’t been to this farm event here in our neck if the woods, I highly recommend checking it out!  The Double T in Stevison, CA, is an organic working dairy farm loaded with history and agricultural artifacts that are amazing.  The Double T has been hosting this wonderful farm event for many years with the support of The Ecological Farming Association, through the EFA Heartland Project and their mission is this:

The Heartland Project seeks to strengthen the future of sustainable and family farming in the San Joaquin Valley by bringing together farmers and families and encouraging a closer understanding of food production. Join EFA and other local groups for education events and fun including local music, delicious food, berry picking, and more.

So take your family and enjoy this 2 day festival that will give you the opportunity to experience blue grass music, local foods, children activities, organic dinner,  draft horse driving class and much more you will find no where else in the Central Valley!

Below are a few photos from last year…

Heartland Festival ~ Double T Acres 2009

More info here…

www.eco-farm.org & www.thedoublet.com



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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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Enjoy some good old fashion fall fun at  The Greenery in Turlock,

and see all the beautiful flowers, plants and unique goodies they have

to spruce up your home for the holidays!

October 16 – 18, 2009

California State University Stanislaus

Get inspired and equipped for the green future of the Central Valley!

The Council for Sustainable Futures is pleased to host the third annual environmental conference, featuring speakers, and activities that promote environmental solutions, human rights, and social engagement. Come and see how people are making a difference, globally, nationally and locally.

Morning sessions of the conference feature live satellite feeds from The Bioneers Conference, an acclaimed forum of social and scientific innovators.

Tickets are just $20 for the entire conference. Register today!

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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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