Category Archives: Farm Events

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

Basil

Parsley

Cabbage

Mixed new potatoes

Sweet peppers

Carrots

Beets

Talon onions

German Stiffneck Garlic

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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.

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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.

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This week’s box includes:

Cucumbers

Summer squash

Rattlesnake Pole Beans

Shishito peppers

Winter squash

Chard

Jalapenos

Summer greens (Purslane, Dandelion, and Nasturtiums)

Copenhagen or Capture cabbage

Ichilleum Red garlic

Carrots

Beets

Purple Majesty potatoes

Purplette onions

Kohlrabi

Parsley

Cilantro

Basil

Mint

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What’s happening on the farm

 

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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.

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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.

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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

Bread and Milk

The last few weeks have presented some challenging weather for farmers in this area.  We weathered the storms with no damage to our farm, but all of the moisture can prevent us from working the soil, adding amendments, and early planting to get a jump on the season.  Not to worry though, while everyone was hunkered down eating milk sandwiches our farm manager and brilliant students have been plugging away on plenty of things.  When weather is not ideal to be in the field we are able to catch up on some basic farm maintenance and organization, something that we don’t have a lot of time for when the season really gets going.  We have a greenhouse full of transplants that are getting ready to go into the ground and have been able to plant some peas and carrots.

This is an exciting time of the year for us as we watch our farm begin to take on some character.  I am sure that many of you are looking forward to our amazing CSA boxes, which are not too far away in the near future.  We will keep you up to date on when that will begin.  We are also looking forward to another flock of Crevecoeur chicks from the Livestock Conservancy!  These wild looking creatures have plenty of feathers on their heads and if you follow the blog you may remember a post and some photos last year about these “punk rock chickens”.

So buckle up!!  The season is about to take off!!

 

Something To Crow About!!

The student farm is always in motion and there are so many exciting things going on. We are looking forward to a break from the heat, and our fall crop production class has been busy planting crops that enjoy cooler weather as well. As we gear up for another amazing CSA, there are plenty of the usual suspects being planted: Radishes, Turnips, and Beets, just to name a few. This is always an exciting time of year on the farm. Students have returned, and with all of the extra hands, James is getting some much needed help, and production is in full swing. I am sure that all of your mouths are watering in anticipation of our always bountiful and diverse CSA boxes. I know that mine is!! If you are interested in receiving a share, speak to James about current pricing OR, if you think you have what it takes to farm, and aren’t afraid of getting your hands dirty, we have work shares available for those willing to pitch in for a few hours a week.

If you haven’t visited the farm this semester, YOU SHOULD!! Come on down and see what we are up to. You may be asking, “What’s up with that new sound echoing around the campus?!”. Our heritage Crevecoeur chickens, a rare breed that we are working with the Livestock Conservancy to reestablish in the region, are finding their cock-a-doodle-do!! Come take a peek at these amazing chickens. They look like little punk-rockers!!

Our summer production of eggplant and peppers may be starting to wind down, but make sure to mark your calendar for the upcoming PepperFest, sponsored by AbundanceNC. It is their 8th annual celebration of all that is peppers, and kicks off on September 27th. PepperFest

Punk-Rock Chicken

Punk-Rock Chicken

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