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 : (
Up with the sun, and we got more accomplished before 9:30am than most. Early this morning, Paul went up to Lowell Arkansas with a new farm friend Butch Wilson, to pick up a bee hive. Butch and his wife came to the Slow Foods potluck held here about a month ago and noticed that there was a hive at the back of the farm. Since he and his wife grow a garden, he said that he couldn’t support what we were doing in that way, but would like to help out in another way. So, Butch and his wife purchased a bee hive for us, to help pollinate the crops. Thank you Butch, and your wife, I feel bad that I don’t know her name, for your generous contribution! Also, a few representatives from the CO-OP, Ozark Natural Foods came by to take our picture to go up on the wall in the produce section of the store, and interview us for their newsletter, or possibly their blog? I’m not sure, I was in and out of the conversation, but we were interviewed about the operation. Lastly, about 20 highschool/college engineering students came out for a tour of the farm. Paul and Jonathan took them around, and with their enthusiasm, I’m sure these folks were wowed. Then it was lunch time.
I read this article in the New York Times today. It’s worth spending the two or three minutes reading.
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.
I just pulled out my onion crop, late. I kept thinking they would do more, they might have one last fight in them. Sadly, I was mistaken. They were a fright. They were such a fright in fact that I won’t even post a picture, some no bigger than the day I planted them in the ground. What in the heck happened?! I’m so confused. Last year I had an epic crop, with little to no attention paid to them by me, or anybody else. I know you all remember the pictures. You’ve all been fastidious readers of this blog, keeping up on every detail. No? You dont’ recall off the top of your head? Hmm, let’s see. Here and here. Yeah, this crop looks nothing like that. See how those onion tops are HUGE. Well, these didn’t even reach a third of that height. Ughhh. I’m simply disgusted. Has anyone out there had a similar experience they would like to share with the rest of the class? Please leave a comment. And to the rest of you….well, try growing some onions so you have something to share too.
I am quite satisfied with these flowers, these are a cactus variety of zinnia from Baker Creek Seed Co. The package said “Giant”. Not quite so sure about that, but the color is really nice. We’ll put this into the “Love” category.
This too can be put into the “Love” category. This, another cactus variety of zinnia, called “Bright Jewel Cactus”, seeds from Baker Creek Seed Co. I’m in love with the color. Anything orange attracts my eye, but when it’s a beautiful flower, even more so. With this pack of seeds you get a few colors. I’ve noticed a few white, a few yellow, some orange and pinks. I’m satisfied with this mix of seed. A beautiful mix of color.
This is the pink that comes mixed with the “Bright Jewel” packet. It’s pretty, more of a salmon pink.
The award for “I love you, I love you, I love you!” goes to the “Righteous Red” zinnia from Seeds of Change. These seeds had an excellent germination rate and produce hearty, vigorous plants. The color was very chromatic, no complaints. Absolutely stunning flowers.
I am also in love with my Celosia, seeds from Seeds of Change. The germination rate was good and the plants are healthy.
Dum dun dun dun DUM!!!! It’s that time to talk about the things that make me shudder and ultimately mean a swing and a miss on my part. These pictures are of a zinnia variety called “Envy”, which is funny, because there is nothing to envy here. I was so excited to buy these seeds, more than any of my others. I bought them from Baker Creek Seed Co. Zinnias should be direct seeded, but can be started in your green house, or indoors. The risk of starting them early is to not let them get root bound, because they can suffer a transplant shock, which can send double blooms, (refer back to the picture of the Righteous Reds), to turn into singles, which you will see:
The single blooms are not pretty and they fall apart AND they look ugly a whole lot faster than they should.
I only have one plant that produces double blooms, but the color is far from what was advertised. Let this serve as a warning to stay away from this variety of zinnia. Notice the brown petals, this flower just bloomed! Shouldn’t be brown. Yuck “Envy” zinnia, just yuck.
Team WWOOF planted sweet potatoes up in the front and had to construct a fence to keep out the deer. Deer will wipe out your sweet potato crop if you don’t protect it. The Missouri Angels and Annie D worked on it during the morning, before she took off.
Go team go!
Blessed rain! Enough to soak the ground and cool things down. However, the next day it was so humid.
Swallows hanging out during the downpour.
Missouri Angels picking blackberries in the rain. They wanted to.
The 4th of July. Jr. Soapbox y’all. I felt so American. Thanks to Cody Russell for organizing a fantastic group of musicians to come and play in the yard during the fireworks. It was so awesome, you all should have been there! I’m adding all of these pictures even though they’re blurry. I can’t thank all of the musicians enough for coming out. Thank you Cody, Clayton, Chad, Stacey, Jr. Soapbox, Bayard and others who jumped in here and there. I’ve joked about Jr. Soapbox playing in my yard since the winter, so it was a real treat to have him.
Thanks Paul B. for the harmonica stylings!
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.