Weekly produce boxes

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Are you interested in fresh veggies but don’t want to commit to a weekly subscription?  Well then we have a solution for you!  What we are offering this year is a weekly box with seasonal vegetables that can include a dozen farm fresh eggs as well.  Here’s how it works:

  1. You give us your email.
  2. We will notify you on Sunday night what we have available.
  3. If you like what you see, send us a quick reply.
  4. You pick it up Monday evening between 5 and 8 from the farm.
  5. That’s it!

We will only have a select number of boxes available each week and some weeks we might not have any.  This way, we as a farm can offer great produce at a great price (since it usually means we have extras and need a home for all the awesome produce).  It also gives you a chance to help support your local farm and you don’t have to commit each week or pay any upfront costs.

A box of awesome, locally grown produce will cost you $25.  Here is a sample of what it may include: Spring Mix, Cucumbers, baby Arugula, Heirloom Tomatoes, baby Spinach, Eggs, Microgreens, Squash, Goji Berries, Luffa Gourd (You can make your own sponge!).  Who knows what else.  This is a perfect produce box for those that want to try something different, be creative and enjoy what’s in season.

To sign up send your contact information to sonofsomethingfarm@gmail.com.  We will contact you back to let you know we received your email and will start sending you weekly emails on Sundays letting you know, what’s in the box!

More rain?

This has definitely been a wet start to the season and at times I feel like I am so far behind.  It could be worse.  Like hot and scorching, to the point where you have to call it a day at noon, or sitting behind a desk!  But you learn to work around the weather and make the most of what mother nature gives you.  It’s humbling really.

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This time of the year we are prepping beds that have been covered with tarps to reduce weed pressure.  We are even harvesting overwintered crops and trying to grow more through the Winter.  Tomato plants are about to be transplanted into the soil, usually this is done April first but we are just a little behind.  We have compost being delivered on Wednesday and every morning I’m looking to see what the weather will be like in the week ahead.

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We have big plans for a few plots and hope to be working with the NRCS to get approved for a cost share program to 1: Get our Organic certification! and 2: A new greenhouse!  Both are very exciting as I have wanted to be certified in order to hopefully sell to places like Briar Patch COOP in Grass Valley.  I’m also looking forward to adding a few more greenhouses along with the one (hopefully) that the NRCS will help with.  These season extensions will help us grow earlier and later into the season.  They will also be an added protection to the crops from heavy rains and a welcome place to work under during stormy weather.  During the Summer we will look to remove the poly and utilize shade cloth as another welcome place to escape the summer heat.

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There is so much going on around the farm these days, it’s actually hard to go to sleep at night, I’m just so excited!  When I first started on this farming adventure I used to have trouble going to sleep because of anxiety – will this work, am I crazy, should I just get a real job?  Now 3 years into this rabbit hole things are starting to fall into place.  Or so they seem, life is a big roller coaster, I’m just trying to enjoy every moment of it!

Start of a new season.

It’s late January and the farm has been “resting” over the winter.  During this time of the year we mainly focus on getting things ready for the upcoming season.  For us this means prepping beds, starting our tomato seeds and placing orders for bulk seeds.  With our crop plan in hand and our planting schedule updated we are ready for the start of another year.

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This season we are taking a streamlined approach to our farm by growing only a handful of crops seasonally.  Our original plan was to be a diversified farm and along the way we started focusing heavily on annuals to make a living from the farm.  Taking a look back we have now realized that a diversified farm needs a diversified farmer.  In order to accomplish this we have decided to grow more perennials for the long term and only a few annuals during the short term.  We are doing this for several reasons:

  1.  We are a very small farm with limited space for annuals but plenty of room for perennials.
  2.  We work with the seasons to grow whats best when it should be grown and not when we want.
  3. We want to specialize in leafy greens as these grow the best on our land for annuals.  For perennials we are focusing on a few specialty crops that will do well with our climate and our land.

The main annual crops we are focusing on are: Spring Mix, Spicy Mix, Arugula, Spinach, Red Russsian Kale, Pea & Sunflower shoots as well as Heirloom Tomatoes.

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With each passing season we learn from the land and we learn about ourselves.  The farm is a teacher of all things and the lessons learned are important ones.  I feel grateful to have the opportunity to grow food for my local community.

The last of the farmers market

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Green tomatoes.  Whats your favorite recipe?

As the weather turns to cooler nights and the first frost is nipping at the foothills, the last of the Tuesday Farmers markets are upon us.  Two more Tuesdays and we will take our winter break (at least from the markets).  You can still find our greens at Heartwood Eatery & The Stonehouse (in Downtown Nevada City).

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Almost a translucent core.  This radish is sweet and spicy.

We will be bringing lots of root crops like beets, carrots and radishes along with our seasonal selection of salad greens.  As well as green tomatoes.  Here is a great website with 15 different recipes for green tomatoes.  We have baby carrots by the bunches this week and red/golden beet mixes by the bunches.  Our heirloom radishes are French Breakfast, Purple Plum, and Scarlet Long (pictured above).  Hope to see you at the market!

 

 

Where we came from…

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My first attempt at gardening.

In my early days of gardening I was fascinated with the idea of zero waste, closed loop systems and agroecology.  They were ideas that appealed to me because of the ways in which they viewed nature – as a partner, something to work with and not against.  This notion of working with something instead of against it captured my mind, and forced me to think differently.  When working with people we learn to change them, when working with natural systems we learn to change ourselves.

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What our lawn looked like before.

A former front lawn converted to a market garden, an area roughly the size of a football field.  Growing up on this land since the age of 5, I watched as each sibling would mow the lawn.  At first with a push mower, which I was fortunate enough to be too young to remember, and eventually my father purchased a riding mower.  A beautiful green lawn for half the year and a field of star thistle during the summer.  Although most of the lawn is gone and converted to beds for crop production the beauty of the market garden far outshines the lawn on even it’s best day.

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Not so bad looking during the spring and fall.

As I look back on the start of this gardening exploration I often wonder where all the time has gone.  Working with the living systems to benefit each other mutually is a time honored way of living a fulfilled life.  There is no greater purpose than to serve one another while caring for the land.  I consider my profession as a farmer, someone who works with the earth to provide a nourishing harvest for his community, to be the highest honor.  I am grateful to be where I am because of where I came from.

Rain on the farm

What a beautiful time of year, especially after a brutally hot summer.  This summer did not feel as long but the intensity in August was devastating.  It’s times like these, cool mornings and rains that have watered the garden, that you forgot about how hard it can be to grow food during our Mediterranean summers.  You often forgot that there is no rain between June and October.

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For nearly half the year there is no rain in California and the ground dries up.  The grasses turn “golden” and the wildfires rage.  The lakes and rivers that flow through the Sierra Nevada foothills are the only areas of greenery.  Farming in the foothills without water would be certain failure, yet farmers are gamblers in the respect that they will do whatever it takes to make it work.  Ditches were put in place years ago and lakes damned and diverted for irrigation water.

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When Fall comes rolling around the rains are a welcome reprise for the parched soil.  The earth breathes a sigh of relief and so to does the farmer.  Days are shorter and the plants grow a little slower.  Living without moisture for so long we are often ill prepared for the first rains, as if we have never seen this miracle before.  It is easy to take for granted the water that pours from a faucet.  Often that water is used but for brief moment and gone down the drain.

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Our farm reuses water from our drains to water perennials like fruit trees, goji berries and hop vines.  The farm is designed with water in mind, we have strategically located our gardens in areas that would benefit most from seasonal rains and created contoured beds to harvest runoff water.  Drip tape is used for all long season crops and micro emitters for quick turnover annuals.

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Lining up for fall

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Red and Golden beets, rainbow carrots planted for fall.  Cucumbers still coming on strong.

We are prepping up beds on the farm for fall and winter.  Plantings of beets, carrots and greens are going in and we are working on our stale seedbed practices.  Last season we had a number of weeds that overwintered and clogged up the beet beds pretty bad.  This year we are really looking to be as proactive as possible.

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New starts getting ready to go through fall and we will see how far we get into winter.

With each new passing season we learn some more tricks of the trades.  Always trying to do things more efficient, because in the end we strive to have a balanced life.  Not just one filled with meaningful work but also one in which there is time to cultivate meaningful relationships.

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With the new irrigation in place and the cooler weather, germination has been much better.

When I first had the idea of a homestead it conjured up ideas of a place of rest, an oasis.  Often now when I look around I see nothing but work.  The grass is always greener on the other side, but how did it get that way and who watered and cared for that grass?  Sometimes it takes hard work to make that grass green and in the end is it really worth it.  Nature will always reclaim the land, our minds will always wander and in the end everything falls into line.

The Sun, the soil and the water it needs

 

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Starts hot and then feels like fall, thanks August for messing with my emotions. 

August started off blazing and now it feels like that Fall crisp weather, at least in the mornings.  It’s still warm out there and September to October have often had some hot days of there own.  For the most part I am writing off this Summer and moving onto Fall.  There are days when you question the choices you have made in life.  Well, the first few weeks of August was filled with many of those days.  Time to regroup and move forward with planning a resilient farm in a world that will, most likely only get warmer.

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Some call it dirt, some call it soil – to a farmer it is life.

We utilize cover crops and add organic compost to our soil every season.  When prepping our beds we utilize a practice of minimal tillage, this prevents weed seeds getting tilled up from the depths.  This also helps to reduce the impact to the soil ecology by reducing compaction and minimizing disturbance below 2″.  We cover our beds with giant tarps when not in use to smother out weeds, giving our crops a better advantage and creating less work for ourselves.

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Di-hydrogen monoxide – an essential item needed when farming. 

H20 – chemically know as dihydrogen monoxide or better known as water, is the essential element needed to grow.  We use a combination of drip and overhead irrigation with micro sprinklers.  Our overhead water is as clean as it gets coming straight from our well.  We conserve water on our farm and reuse our grey water for perennial plants.  We have just excavated out our pond and are looking forward to greening up more of the property.  This will help with fire protection, growing more crops and providing forage for our livestock.

 

 

Finding balance in work and life

“There is always something to do but only so much that really needs to be done.”

~ Life

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White Wonder Watermelon.  Take the time to sit back and enjoy a watermelon with friends.

The old work/life balance is a tough one to master.  On the farm there are so many things out of my control that you are forced to accept what mother nature provides.  Sort of.  Here in Northern California we don’t see rain after June usually, and not again until October.  So we have to provide water for the crops we want to grow during Summer.

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Red Sails Lettuce.  Growing greens in the heat of Summer is not for the weak.

It can be a lot of work to keep the soil moist in our clay rich soils of the foothills.  There is rarely a time that you can leave the farm for more than 6 hours without having to re-water a crop during the Summer.  Sure, there are timers for irrigation but if there is a problem with a timer it can mean major crop loss in just a matter of hours on a 100 degree day.

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Elenora Basil.  Slightly spicier than the traditional pesto type and loves the summer heat.

There are many days when the work is hard, things don’t go right and you lose crops -which means you don’t make any money.  As time goes on you learn and things become more efficient.  The weather teaches you patience, working with the soil teaches you respect and running a farm teaches you balance.

The heart of the “Mater”

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Tomato season is here! Black Beauty is the darkest tomato out there.

Tomato season is in full swing on the farm and we are picking some amazing specimens this year.  The Blue Beauty has an amazing red color under that dark skin and the Black Beauty just the same.  Both have very dark skin, tender meat that is mostly seedless and an amazing flavor.

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Making pasta sauce with a special ingredient!

 

We grow heirloom tomatoes and look for unique and flavorful varieties.  This year we have some amazing grape tomatoes that look crazy but have a sweet and complex taste.  As well as some Black Pineapple varieties, with a multi color center and a lip smacking flavor, that starts out sweet and ends with the perfect amount of tang.

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Ananas Noire – The Black Pineapple.  A swirl of colors awaits at the heart of this mater.

 

I love to make a homemade pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes and herbs from the garden.  With a medley of heirloom tomatoes there are so many wonderful recipes to make this time of year.  We will have tomatoes at the farmers market in Grass Valley on Tuesday at the Pine Creek Shopping center.