My goodness gracious. It has been so hot and DRY lately, things are dying all around us. Lawns are brown, trees are loosing their leaves, the people are wilting themselves. Team WWOOF is so bored, I can tell. They spend a lot of time, all day usually, watering. You see with the CSA, we can’t let things die on us. Our customers are depending on a crop. Let me rephrase that. We could totally let it ALL die and the customer would have to understand, because they signed a piece of paper, and something like drought is part of the liability. But we’re too nice, and since we have a lot of help and it’s too hot to do much else, we put a hose in their hand. It’s funny, because as I type this out, it is currently raining. The rain, which has only been going on for about 20 minutes or so has prompted me to write about the dryness, because I’ve been needing to. One of our CSA members asked me the other day how things were growing. I let him know how tough it’s been and how some things are just wilting away. He totally understood if the bags were empty for the next few weeks. He shared the story of his garden with me. He said he and his wife had been gone for three weeks. Even though they had someone watering it for them, they returned and their garden was dust. This “heat wave” that the weather man has talked about has lasted for two months now. It’s more like a heat tsunami! This wave won’t leave. I guess my message to you dear reader is respect the fact that there is produce at your grocery store, and there are many, MANY factors that go into its survival. Uh oh, the rain knew I was talking about it, it just stopped : (
So the tomato tasting “contest” was more of a tomato tasting “event”, held Sunday at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks. The Ozark Slow Foods Movement is the group that hosted the event, and they purchased Peron, Chocolate Stripe, Mexico Midget, and Grape Cherry varieties from our farm to put into the tasting. There were 60 varieties for the public to choose from. Paul says there were well over 200 people who waltzed through the hall. I say “waltzed” but they had to put in their time in line, which went out into the parking lot. Paul and Oliver walked over to the Botanical Gardens, whilst Isaac and I wo-manned the farm stand. There was a woman who walked by and said: “The Mexico Midgets were delicious!” I thanked her for the compliment and we talked tomatoes for a bit. She must have talked to Paul inside the venue because they were not marked as “Ozark Alternatives”. This woman told me of the ones she was excited to taste and was sorely disappointed, and the ones that surprised her like the Brandywine variety. It was $5 to enter this event to participate in the tasting. I wish I could have seen the crowd and the line, I don’t know if I would pay the $5 to taste, I don’t enjoy tomatoes enough to want to taste all of them…shhhhhh! Don’t tell anyone. I mean don’t get me wrong, tomatoes are awesome, I like them on a sandwich, I feel no need to explain myself any further. If you come by my Farmer’s Market stall though, I’ll tell you how good they are!
The same day at the Farmer’s Market, we sold out of all that we brought. It was a good feeling, I must say. We had pints of Blackberries, several bunches of flowers, several quarts of tomatoes and a few of Okra. All of it gone. The crowd was all jazzed up about the tomato tasting so they were in the mood to buy.
I wore my bonnet at the market that day and at least ten people complimented me on it. I couldn’t believe it. Usually I get a “that’s nice”, but really they’re thinking of Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Mother Goose. This day was otherworldly!
I was recognized at a busy restaurant today at lunch, by a complete stranger. He said: “You look familiar.” There we were, for what seemed like minutes, me saying nothing. “Where do I know you from?”
“I don’t know”. Is my reply.
“But I’ve seen you before”.
I’m shaking my head, I have no idea who this is, not even the slightest inkling. I’m usually great with remembering faces. “Do you go to the farmer’s market?” I ask.
“YES! Yesterday. You sold me blackberries!” He says and points at me. I look down at his little boy, I remembered his face.
“Aaaahh! Yes. I did sell you blackberries!” Ha ha, and I walk away. It was a very surreal and awkward experience, but flattering at the same time.
Lastly, Paul gets an email from someone who says that he spoke to brothers in a natural foods store in Missouri. They tell him all about the farm and their experience on the farm. He’s intrigued, and apparently he has spent time at both Dripping Springs and Foundation Farm. Hmmmm….I wonder who those brothers could have been. I don’t know anyone from Ava MO. Life is sure funny sometimes.
Up at 5:30 am this morning. It never gets any easier, I don’t care what anyone else says. Today is Sunday, so that means it’s time once again to load up the truck and head down to the farmer’s market. The Slow Foods Movement is holding a tomato tasting contest and are buying five different varieties of tomatoes from us for the contest. I’m not sure how it’s judged or awarded, or if there are awards. I just finished picking okra. Since we were not here for 24 hours, the okra was long and not edible. I think I might have picked enough the right size for us to eat for dinner. I invite all of you locals to come down to the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks today for the contest. Should be lots of yummy local tomatoes for your tasting pleasure.
We had scatter-seeded basil in the hoop house back in April. Now, there is so much, that it needed its own space. So team WWOOF transplanted some in this August-like heat.
Watering in the basil before removing it.
Missouri angels pulling up the basil babies.
David and Marine transplanting the basil to its new home.
If you want to grow ANY kind of squash in Northwest Arkansas, you have to fight the good fight with these guys, squash bugs. Organically, there aren’t too many options for you…just don’t grow it. I’m fighting for these babies here, I’m determined to keep them alive some how. I don’t have many plants in the ground, so I’m scraping the eggs off of the leaves just to see if my plants can have a fighting chance.
The eggs and a newly hatched baby.
Another squash plant culprit, the stem borer. Little white moths lay their eggs at the base of the plant and the baby bores into the stem and eats the inside of it, killing your plant. This day I took a knife and split it open and yanked the grub out. Fingers crossed the plants still make it. I’m determined to get a crop.
Calendula and dill. In case you were wondering, this is a picture of something I love.
Cosmos. These are called seashell. The produce this beautiful tubular petal. I ordered the seeds on a whim, and am very pleased with them.
My sunflowers are my pride and joy! I LOVE them as if they were my own children.
Except when the deer nibble off the tops!!!! If anyone has any advice on dear deer solutions, I’m all ears!
We have lost Annie, but gained Jake and Patrick, brothers from Springfield Missouri. The brothers have been here a week now and are enjoying their time here on the farm. They have a fun story, sorry guys but I’m going to tell it. They both worked for Expedia, the travel web site. They worked in the call center to help you book your trip. Well, they both got fired on the same day and decided it was time to move on. They said that their higher-ups did them a favor because they saw how unhappy they were. So they started to travel themselves , instead of helping all of you book your vacations. They also drastically changed their lifestyle choices, including their diets. Jake was over 400 lbs. Through good old eating right and exercise, he was able to drop over 160 lbs! Talk about a monkey off your back! I’m so inspired by their enthusiasm and will power and in turn they are inspired by ours.
Annie D’s last breakfast with the team. We miss you already, happy trails.
(L-R) Jake, Patrick, since nicknamed the “Missouri Angels”.
The greatest job on the farm.
Oliver likes to hang out while people are working. He makes sure this ship sails smoothly.
I’m glad he does, because we can get cute pictures of him doing super-cute things.
Paul put him to work picking green beans.
Jake displaying his tomato harvest.
We are currently selling produce through numerous avenues. A few local grocery stores are the proud recipients of Ozark Alternatives potatoes, as well as a few local restaurants and of course the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. The tomatoes seen here were sold through our CSA, Northwest Arkansas Local Harvest. We also have sold some through the Farmer’s Market.
We have an endless supply of potatoes in the ground her at Ozark Alternatives, and they’re for SALE (*wink*). Marine, Annie, David and I were digging potatoes, until Annie and David broke for dinner duty. We took a little breather when David brought out some wine, we were pretty much done for after that.
We started off by playing hookey from the Sunday farmer’s market, shhh. It was very nice to not have to get up early and schlep everything in the truck and schlep it all back, but it did feel like I was skipping school and quite possibly was going to receive a call from the principal. Paul did the honorable thing of making breakfast for all of the WWOOF’ers and the family, and we went to work on the farm (not me). We shared lunch as well, and McKenna surprised me with a cake and candles, then she took off for Arizona. THANK YOU MCKENNA! And everyone else for keeping the secret cake in the fridge a secret. After lunch Paul took the kids and I out to the “country” to visit Mark Cain who owns Dripping Springs Farm. Talk about one of the kingpin growers in this area! We had been invited out on several occasions, but those of you who glance in this blogs direction or share the same profession know that the farm never sleeps. But it was a special occasion, so we went. I wore my bathing suit, because I had heard of this epic swimming hole and I was ready to wash the 20’s out of my hair! This farm is off the beaten path, traveling for mile on nothing but dirt roads, did I mention epic? Mark was very nice, taking time to show us around and talk about all of his goings on, we’re such big farm nerds! I feel like I didn’t take enough pictures, but I have some to share, I hope Mark doesn’t mind.
Isaac was asking if he could have a pepper.
Mark picked Isaac a ripe one, purple mmmmm. I’m glad he did, because Isaac might have ripped half of the plant off.
Inside one of his hoop houses.
This is the outside of the structure.
A view from the inside corner.
Another hoop full of snapdragons!
Isaac kept thinking this whole process boring, and kept trying to drag me to the creek. I wanted to go badly too, but I also wanted to finish the rest of the tour. Don’t you realize where we are Isaac? This is Dripping Springs!!!
Onions drying upstairs in his barn.
Garlic curing downstairs in the barn.
There are no pictures of the creek. It didn’t occur to me to bring the camera, but for good reason. The creek/swimming hole was magic, heaven on earth, see to BELIEVE! So, you’ll just have to volunteer some time to gain access…and it’s totally worth it!
After we pulled the garlic out of the ground, the next step was to bunch it together and hang it to let it cure. Once garlic is pulled, it is not dry like the kind you buy from the grocery store, it’s moist, still usable, but for any kind of storing purposes you must cure it. In order to cure garlic, you need to hang it in a shady spot, where it won’t be rained on and that gets plenty of air flow. Proper cure time is two to three weeks. We had a couple of places to consider, one being a tool storage area in the goat barn, the other being under the front porch of the office. We chose to hang it under the porch because it would get more airflow. Mckenna, Marine, Annie and David were the WWOOF team dedicated to getting this task done.
This task looks easy, but it was definitely a learning curve. Last summer, I hung the garlic by myself up in the attic of my house, near the opening with fresh air hitting it. It worked, but I think it was too hot up there for it. Garlic has to be kept somewhat cool…as cool as it can get in the summer heat.
Since these pictures were taken a few days ago, Mckenna has left the farm. She was needed in Arizona a few days ahead of schedule then she had planned for, so like the wind poof. It wasn’t a sad goodbye, they can be sometimes, but we seem to have a pretty good “swing back through rate”. So, like others before, McKenna will be coming back through at the end of July. She plans on taking David and Marine to her native Kentucky, Louisville, to visit and see the sights. She’s even going to bring them back that crazy girl…but I’m glad somebody is, they have a two month commitment here.
Shiori and Keyohei have also taken leave of us after six weeks of service. However, as old friends leave, new friends arrive, to swing a mattock in the heat of the day, all with smiles on their faces.
On this day, the team harvested potatoes. Shiori invited two of her friends from Fayetteville to come over and help, their names were L.J. and Hirona. We also received McKenna, she came to us from Louisville Kentucky on her way west. I can’t forget our newest recruits, David and Marine, coming all the way from Toulouse, France.