Category Archives: Farm Events

9/13 All Farm Things

With the first day of fall just around the corner, fields are getting prepped for a new fall planting! Hurricane Irma sent some additional rain our way (but fortunately not much else), so everyone is drying out and moving on with production. Look forward to lettuces, brassicas, fennel, carrots, radishes, turnips, rutabaga– and so much more! collards tomatoes.jpgPictured are collards and tomatoes hardening off outside of the greenhouse before planting (to avoid transplant shock). 

It may be too early to bring out your sweaters! We had a week of cooler temps, but it seems like the 80’s are coming back (gratefully, sans sweatbands and leotards). So while you may not want to pack away your shorts and T’s yet, the appearance of pumpkins in this weeks CSA remind us that it will soon be time to get ready for costumes, candy, and delicious new recipes. But for now, continue exploring trying new things with peppers and eggplant! Or slice ’em and roast ’em again and again. Simple can be sweet.

pumpkinsPumpkins present in this weeks CSA

Indoors, in the Sustainable Ag classroom, students continued learning about the principles of propagating by cuttings– considering such things as the time of year it is, the health of the plant, and the ideal growth stage.

In the selected topics course, class has been reviewing all things trees– from IDing, to creating agroecosystems, to learning the importance of urban forestry. Guest speakers Tony Mayer, Ben Bergmann, and Barbara Fair shared their expertise and love of trees. There is now less mystery about what is an odd bipinnately compound leaf structure– another Jeopardy question solved. (post by Laura Maule)

leaf-structuresImage from here:

Post By Laura Maule


Out With Summer Favorites, In With Fall Seedlings

This week, enjoy some of the season’s last week of summer favorites as we move towards planning and planting fall crops.



Here is what you will find in your CSA box this week:


Assorted eggplant

Sweet peppers



Sweet potato greens

Holy basil


Pinto Gold potatoes

Red Ichilleum garlic

Gladstone onions

Please note that red shishito peppers can take on a spicy, hot taste unlike the green version of the pepper.



The Gladstone onions should also be consumed soon to preserve desired freshness.


Our last summer CSA…

This week will be the final summer CSA. The fall CSA will begin again after a 3-week hiatus. Thank you for all of your support during our summer  growing season!

This week you will find the following items in the CSA box:

Sweet potato greens

Early jalapeños

Red chiles

Banana peppers

Hungarian wax peppers




Mixed new potatoes

Sweet peppers



Talon onions

German Stiffneck Garlic


Yes, Your (Purple) Majesty

Look for Purple Majesty potatoes in the CSA boxes this week. These antioxidant-rich potatoes are purple on the inside and out.


Please note that the garlic has already been divided into cloves this week. It has been cured, but the rainy weather has negatively impacted the durability of the garlic requiring that it been broken up to salvage.


This week’s box includes:


Summer squash

Rattlesnake Pole Beans

Shishito peppers

Winter squash



Summer greens (Purslane, Dandelion, and Nasturtiums)

Copenhagen or Capture cabbage

Ichilleum Red garlic



Purple Majesty potatoes

Purplette onions







What’s happening on the farm



Bring on the salad!

This is a busy time on the farm.  We are already preparing for the spring season even though we seem to be in the depths of winter.  The fields still have a few overwintered brassicas that we are getting a harvest off of, but one of our hoop houses has already transitioned to spring crops with the early alliums and some salad mix already popping up.  Meanwhile our greenhouse has already started to fill up with trays of spring seed germinating and sprouting ahead of outdoor spring planting.  Last week we seeded trays with a variety of brassicas including broccoli, kale, and cabbage.


Our new Poultry Palace

There are several other winter projects coming to fruition right now as well.  These would include new (to us anyway) gravel around the greenhouse, storage shed, and wash stations, a new and improved mobile chicken coop that is nearly finished, and a hugelkultur bed that is almost ready to transition from cover crops to cash crops.

In years past this time might have been a quiet time of rest and reflection for the piedmont farmer, but increased competition at markets has changed all that.  The increasing number of small vegetable farmers has created an arms race of season extension.  With the first and last crop to market commanding a premium price it seems that nearly every successful small farmer is continuously pushing the envelope to get his crop in earlier than the farmer down the road.  Likewise we’re all trying to extend our harvest later and later such that our fall crops are being harvested into the spring.

There are a couple of factors facilitating this escalating competition.  Seed companies are developing new varieties that are more heat and cold tolerant all the time, and this increasing diversity is one factor that helps us stay competitive.  Another is the increasing availability of season extension and new and innovative techniques that allow crops to survive extremes of temperature that would’ve ended their production a decade ago.  Yet even with these new varieties and practices farmers today are facing more and more challenges from unpredictable weather, high fuel costs, and drought or extreme rain events.  As the effects of global climate change continue to manifest in new and different ways the farmers that succeed will be those that stay curious, adapt quickly, know their markets really well, and invest in flexible infrastructure that help to buffer their crop against the outlier weather that is becoming the norm.  So the next time you pick up a bunch of kale in January or a clamshell full of cherry tomatoes in April take a moment to reflect on the skill, expertise, and experience that made that minor miracle possible.


Beds prepped and ready for trellised peas





What’s Happening!?… on the Farm..

Recently we received a  pair of guests on the farm. “Una” and “Little Bit” are two Tamworth pigs who came to visit the student farm at the end of August to help remove an old nemesis of the farm, “Johnson Grass”. In the last few weeks, Una and Little Bit have done an excellent job removing the grass from one tenth of an acre on the farm. Now that they have successfully completed their job, they will be leaving the farm this weekend. We would like to thank Una and Little Bit for a job well done as well as our own Linda Bradford and her son Sean for facilitating the visit. Check out the before and after pics!

That’s not all going on this week on the farm, we are awaiting the arrival of six new Delaware pullets as new members to the flock, our cool weather crops have been put into the ground and are well on their way to becoming beautiful adult plants, and we are expecting strawberry plants anytime so that they may be planted next week . Lots of things going on down on the farm. Remember to support local farmers by buying local!


Off the Farm. 5th Annual Piedmont Grown Conference, March 10, 2016

Are you already registered to attend this exciting conference?  If not, go ahead and get signed up!  There are 9 sessions to choose from, so there’s definitely going to be something to pique your interest and, likely, increase your profits.

Join a contingent of CCCC students – and hundreds of local growers and small business owners – for the opportunity to hear keynote speaker Ben Hartman lecture about how to create efficiencies and reduce waste on your farm.

In addition to Mr. Hartman, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about opportunities to join the burgeoning community of brewers and spirits makers, in North Carolina.  You may have been unaware, but there are already 150 breweries active in this state, making this the “leading craft beer state on the east coast.”  This could be your chance to get in on the action.  Don’t delay.

If you’re like me, you’re concerned about how the new challenges that the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) are going to impact your operation. There are two sessions that are bound to answer all of our questions and concerns.  The earlier session, 1:15-2:30, specifically covers Good Agricultural Practices (GAPS), and aims to give current farmers the knowledge they need to ensure that they are in compliance.  The second opportunity to learn about FSMA runs from 4:30-5:15, and should provide the opportunity to fill in any details we might have missed in the earlier session.

If you’re already up to speed on those topics, pick from the other 6 lectures that are on offer.

After a long day of learning, we’ll have to opportunity to join the Raleigh City Farm Tour Pub/Food Crawl!

Here’s to hoping to meet you at the conference,

Jonathan Cole