Monday, April 13, 2020

First 2020 Farmshare Newsletter

Hello Farmshare members!!

I sit here wanting to tell y'all so much stuff that I don't even know where to start!  We have SO many new members this year that I guess I should start this email with a warning that I can get a little wordy (it might be worse since y'all are the only adults outside our house that I've conversed with in weeks!) so I will always start the newsletter with the important information that people need to know.  Everything else is just farm fluff.  

Most important....despite the craziness happening throughout the world, we are still growing a LOT of food this summer.  Other than y'all, my captive audience, I'm not sure who's going to buy it, but we are growing as if our markets are going to be open and our restaurant customers are going to survive.  We are taking extreme social distancing precautions to ensure our health, our employees' health and the safety of handling your food.  Because of this, our Farmshare pick-ups are going to look a little different than normal at least for the month of May.  We love holding market style pickups at any location possible.  Market style means we set out a lot of food and tell you how much to take of each item and you actually come through the line and pick out your produce, weighing and bagging it yourself.  For the time being though, this year, we will be pre-bagging your Farmshare bags on the farm.  All individual items will be bagged and your entire basket will be placed in a brown bag for you to pick up.  This limits the exposure your food has to no more than two people (the person that picked it and the person that bagged it), in all likelihood, the same person will pick and bag your food.  This also limits our exposure to who is handling scales, tongs and bags.  Finally, this reduces any exposure for our partners that hold the Conway and Tarrytown pickups. 

Please keep reading...as of today, there are no changes to the pickups that will be held at the farm, at Julie's house on Tarrytown or at Jazzercise in Conway.  Hillcrest folks, though, we don't yet know what is going to happen with the market this year.  The church is confident it will happen but they are not yet saying when it might open.  If it does not open by the first week in May, my first attempt to distribute your food will be to ask the church if we can distribute from their parking lot.  I am not confident that they will say yes.  Because of this we have spoken to two of our restaurant partners about the possibility of distributing from their parking lots.  To keep distribution as close to Hillcrest as possible, our first choice would be to work with Zaza's in the Heights.  If that is not possible, we have been told we can park outside of the Root Cafe.  Rest assured, we will get your food to Little Rock, we are just figuring out what our best option is.  I will keep you updated as I know more.   

Now to a report on how things are growing on the farm.  After last year's May floods we have taken every precaution possible to play this year as safe as possible.  This included saving our high tunnel space for early Farmshare crops.  Typically, we are harvesting the crops we planted in December out of our high tunnels in March.  This does not leave much time for turnaround to start new crops in the tunnels in time for the Farmshare so we rely on the outside fields for the Farmshare.  This year we planted all of the high tunnels for early Farmshare crops.  Over the years, y'all have repeatedly asked for MORE CARROTS.  While we do a great job of growing carrots all winter, it much harder for us to grow them outside, the weed pressure is tremendous.  This year I planted an entire high tunnel in carrots.  50,000 carrot seeds.  If even a quarter of them produce carrots, that's a lot of carrots.  My goal is to swamp y'all with carrots this year.  ;)  And so far, that high tunnel is looking fantastic.  In another tunnel we have swiss chard and japanese salad turnips, both are looking beautiful.  In the third tunnel, sweet candy onions, a small round of radicchio and lovely chioggia beets.  The fourth tunnel currently has the first two rounds of our lettuce mix planted on both sides of heirloom tomatoes.  Right now, I could not be more pleased with the way things look.  As of today, outside the only crop planted is sugar snap peas which are about hip high and starting to bloom.  On Friday though, Mike and I were able to get into the driest field and pull beds covered with plastic mulch.  This is the field that will hold squash, cucumbers and winter squash and the great thing about us getting those beds pulled is that they are ready now.  No matter what the rain does (okay, another 100 year flood would affect things), we have a place ready to plant those crops and they will go in the field on Thursday after we get through the low 30 degree nights we have coming up.  On Saturday we were able to get into a second field with the tractors and while it wasn't ready to pull beds, we did get initial tractor work done and I'm hopeful that if we can string together several warm, dry days, we will get beds pulled in that field soon.  In one more field, we pulled beds over the winter that have been covered with large silage tarps for two months.  On Thursday we will pull those tarps off and plant green beans, more salad turnips and purple hull peas.  Cross your fingers and say a prayer that we catch a little warm dry weather and we will be off to a good start for the season. 


Sunday, February 16, 2020

2020 Conway Location & mid-February Newsletter

Good morning Farmshare community!


I hope everyone enjoyed yesterday's sunshine as much as we did!  I'm crossing my fingers that this morning's sunshine continues throughout the day!  I wanted to send a quick email to tell you that while the farm is wet and soggy (expected in February), the start of the season is progressing as well as we can ever hope.  We have broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, sprouting broccoli, kale, beets, radicchio and sugar snap peas started in the greenhouse.  The heirloom tomatoes that we will plant in the high tunnels have been started in our germination room with the next round of tomato seeds to start today or tomorrow.  We have four monster beds of carrots just sprouted in a high tunnel and plan to plant several more beds in one week in the hopes that we harvest enough carrots for most of the May Farmshare baskets. While I never know what March and April will bring, so far we are on track.   

My exciting news this weekend is that we have secured a spot for a Conway pickup location and I hope that it meets the needs of everyone that has asked for one.  I have to say first, I am so thankful for the generosity of Brothers Honey Co in hosting last year's Conway pickup.  My change in venue for this had nothing to do with them but entirely to do with me honing in on what it would take for me to continue dropping off in Conway.  Last fall, after such a rough season, I really considered dropping a Conway pickup altogether in order to simply simplify the Farmshare.  Over the last two months though I have had so many people reach out to me requesting a Conway pickup that I decided if I could get a number of very specific needs met we would be in Conway again this year.  My first and most important need was not just a good location, but a person at that location that would really take ownership of the distribution to help make sure that it runs smoothly and that everyone gets the food they are supposed to.  My second wish was to find a space that could comfortably hold not just the food but a number of members picking up at the same time while impacting the actual business as little as possible.  Both of these requirements also resulted in finding a space where we could run the pickup "market style" like we do at the farm and at Hillcrest in order to reduce our use of plastic bags, a cause that is very important to me.  Last Friday I finalized a commitment to a location that would meet all of these requirements.  For the upcoming Farmshare season the Conway pickup will be held on Tuesday afternoons from 2:30 to 4:00 at Jazzercise in Conway, located at 2625 Donaghey Ave, Ste 102!  I hope this works for the majority of you!  Know that in choosing this location, we NEED you to pick up your food by 4:00 so that we don't interfere with their 4:30 class and we NEED you to bring your own reusable bags and containers!  I'm really excited about being able to offer this.  The women at Jazzercise have such great energy and are excited to help make this happen with us.  

Now, housekeeping...some of you have already signed up for the farm pickup but have expressed interest in a Conway location when available.  If you wish to change your pickup location from the farm to Conway, I need you to click on the 2020 Farmshare link above and follow the "Sign up" link to choose the option to transfer from the farm to Conway.  There will be a $25 additional cost for the Conway pickup.  This is no different than any of our other pickups.  The cost to pick up at a location that is not the farm has always been $25 more.  This helps us cover the cost of the Farmshare basket given to the hostess of the location as well as the cost of delivering the food.  While I love hearing from y'all, there is no need to send me a message about changing as long as you go to the website and purchase the transfer.  Finally, due to space limitations in my truck when hauling the food, we will limit this pickup to 20 members.  Just like last year, I expect these 20 spots to fill up very quickly.  Likely not today, but I won't be surprised if it is full in the next two weeks.  

Please email me at rattlesgarden@yahoo.com with any questions!  Have a great day, y'all!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

2020 Farmshare registration open in time for Christmas

For all past and future Farmshare members...this post holds two "firsts" for us. This is the first time we are opening up registration for the summer Farmshare in time to give or receive as a Christmas gift! And as a bonus for signing up early, we'll give a jar of the farm's beekeeper's delicious "crystallized" honey to the first ten members that join this season.  Simply click on the "2020 Farmshare" link above to check out details on pickup times and locations for the upcoming season and then if you would like to join us, follow the link to sign up.  Merry Christmas, y'all!!


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Conway pickup location is full for Summer 2019

This is our first season to partner with Brother Honey Co in Conway as a pickup location for the summer Farmshare and I'm pleased to say we have filled all available slots for this pickup location!  I'm so glad that the time and place will work for so many people!  I'm so happy to be able to partner with a wonderful family in Conway to make it easier for our members to get their food!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Fall Farmshare to start week of September 10th!


The Fall Farmshare is coming up quickly!  We will start the first baskets the week of September 10th.  Check out the Farmshare link above to see available  pickup locations and times or to sign up online.  Please email me with any questions (rattlesgarden@yahoo.com)  Here's a sneak peak at what the first week's baskets will look like!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Farmshare Newsletter - May 6

Hello Farmshare members!

Tonight's email will be short.  I just want to remind all of you that we will skip baskets this week to give our field crops another week to grow and will resume baskets next week.  This skipped week will not count as part of your 10 weeks of food, we will just add another week in July.  

For a quick update from the field, we've had a ton of plant growth in the last week.  Warmer daytime and nighttime temps have helped the ground warm up considerably and in looking at the 10 day forecast, it won't be long before farmers switch to complaining about the heat rather than the cold!   I told a few of you yesterday that I've started to see the squash plants blooming with baby squashes attached to the flowers.  It is such a strange year for us...I never would have imagined y'all might get squash (a summer crop) before you got broccoli, cauliflower and green beans (spring crops), yet, it appears that might happen!  Overall, everything in the field is looking really good and we are really close to winding up the bulk of our spring planting by the end of this week.  

Our farm excitement for the week included the delivery of a new tractor for the farm as well as one for Gus.  We added a small 25 hp tractor to our lineup to narrow the space between our beds in certain fields allowing us to get a third again more beds into a field.  If you've ever heard me talk about the farm, I often tell people I've definitely learned farming the hard way, through trial and error.  Nowhere has this been more apparent over the years than in purchasing the right equipment to get the job done on a farm our size.  This tractor is one more piece I'm putting in place to help make this farm more sustainable on a slightly larger scale for my farmhand Mike and I to be able to do the bulk of the farm labor ourselves.  

Until next week, y'all....please don't hesitate to email or text me with any questions!  See you soon!