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.
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 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.
The Ozark Slow Foods movement held a potluck here, as part of their effort to support local foods and local farmers. Paul and our neighbor Pauline, the produce manager at Ozark Natural Foods, were interviewed before the event by Kyle Kellams, for Ozarks at Large, promoting the event. Please click on the link if you wish to hear the interview. It’s funny in the write-up how they butchered Paul’s last name, Chapracki. It was a nice turn out, where good food was shared, which had to have one local ingredient present. So, needless to say, there were a lot of potato dishes. The event also gave us time to promote our CSA to a new crowd of people who were ripe to listen. Most of the people who came, came because they heard the story on the radio and were intrigued. Thank you to all of you who attended.
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.
Father’s Day, does it always fall on a Sunday? Sundays are our Farmer’s Market day, so we watched all of the daddy’s with their children, young and old. Channel 5 news was there, a local news outlet here in Northwest Arkansas and they interviewed Paul, Oliver and Isaac about Father’s Day and what they were going to do for their Dad. I have a link posted. We were the first to this market with tomatoes. Lest you forget we sell at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks, every Sunday, from 9am-2pm. Also, I take that back about the first with tomatoes, that accomplishment was shared that day. Another vendor had tomatoes also, they weren’t quite ready, but it’s important to be first. The people are tomato hungry right now and I don’t blame them.
Paul and Isaac at the farmer’s market on Father’s Day.
Later in the day we sat and prepared garlic to cure. Here is Shiori doing an amazing job.
Action Packed Father’s Day in Washington County. Here’s the link to our Father’s Day news spot. The clip at 10pm was much better, they gave a shout out to Ozark Alternatives. This must be the 5pm clip.
I was really pleased to know that a neighbor of a friend of mine reads my blog. When I saw him recently the first thing to come out of his mouth was how I had a “buy local” sticker on my foreign automobile. The second thing was “You need to update your blog, and with close-ups of all of your hot volunteers!” I’ll try my best Dale, and for the record I think he meant hot, as in it’s hot outside and therefore they are hot…it’s just a guess. Like I had said before, on day one of the CSA we received Nora and Will from Brooklyn. Shiori and Keyohei were here as well. A few days after Will and Nora’s arrival, Hayley also arrived from Albuquerque.
Everybody, this is Will. He’s planting cucumber seeds.
Crew cleaning onions while Oliver just watches.
These were some great people and great volunteers. Thank you Will and Nora for bringing Brooklyn to the farm, and to any future Brooklynites who are interested, BRING IT!