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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Week 23 September 10-14

Field Trips!
This week involved a lot of extracurricular activities. Monday we went on a tour of local farms and Thursday we took the farming to the kiddos at a local elementary school. All this fun put us a little behind and Friday we worked 7:30am-8:30pm to catch up, but it was worth it. 

Farm Visits

Monday we all piled into my car and headed southwest to visit some friendly local farmers. First stop was Many Fold Farm owned and run by a husband and wife team. They raise hundreds of sheep and chickens in a grass based system. They turn the sheep's milk into some delicious cheeses at their brand new creamery right next to the milking parlor. It was a fascinating visit. They consider themselves grass farmers and see the sheep as really great machines for turning solar energy into protein by eating grass and producing milk. The cheese is labor and infrastructure intensive but it's a great value added product. Cheese also helps to preserve milk, turning it into a product with a longer shelf life than fresh milk. They gave us a tour of the creamery and the pastures where we got to meet the happy sheep, companion dogs, chickens, hogs and goats who call Many Fold Farm home. 

Milking Parlor

Aging Cave-Temperature and Humidity controlled

Pasteurizing and Cheese Making Vat


Working Dogs need love too

Happy Sheep at Many Fold Farm

Next stop Planted Rock Farm . Ashley and RJ are in their first year farming at Planted Rock. They have two acres of vegetables, a one acre fruit orchard, 2 hoop houses and a green house. I loved the size of this farm although Ashley says it's a lot of work for just 2 people. Still, it's something you can stand in one place and see and wrap your mind around. They are really focused on sustainable techniques including eliminating plastic and using locally sourced amendments with the goal of building the soil to the point where it does not need any fertilization in the future.
Ashley shows of her soil blocks

Planted Rock

No Out Building? Build your cool in the shade.

Planted Rock has a huge selection of well established muscadines and scuppernongs. We brought some back with us to put in our CSA box this week. I have become a huge fan of this fruit. They are like a grape but the flavor is so much more full, complex and intense. It's the perfect summer snack. You can't eat the peel and you have to spit out the seeds but you can not beat the burst of juicy goodness.

After muscadine madness we headed over to Le Tres Lune at Glover Family Organic Farms. The Glover Family has been farming here for decades but have retired and allowed young farmers to steward the land and get in some good practice before stepping out on their own. Le Tres Lune is special to Burge because the owners are last year's apprentices, Lauren and Luca. This is their first solo farming venture thanks to the generosity and guidance of the Glovers. It's a wonderful deal for both parties and the kind of situation I am looking for next in my career.

Last stop Serenbe Farms. This is one of the more established and respected local organic farms around Atlanta and was a good wrap up to the day's visits. Paige and Justin have been at it long enough to have a good system down. They also have apprentices and it was interesting to compare notes.  

Serenbe's laying hens

Stepping away from Burge for a day gave us all a chance to see how other farmers do it. The similarities were reassuring. Example; everyone fights weeds, it's just part of the game. One of the biggest differences was the sheer size. Burge is the largest vegetable farm by far with no more labor than the others. This did make me feel a little justified in my constant underlying state of being overwhelmed by how much work there is to do. 

School Garden

Wednesday afternoon Cory, Daniel and I went over to Mansfield Elementary and prepped the raised beds for planting. Thursday Morning we all went and helped the two first grade classes plant their fall vegetable garden. We helped the kids plant beets, carrots, turnips and radishes from seed. We also brought lettuce, kale and komatsuna transplants for them to put in. The farthest bed was full of last year's strawberries which had gone to runners. We helped the kids pull off the new plants then cleaned out the bed and put those in to be this year's strawberries. 

One of the things that the kids really enjoyed was learning what we used to amend the soil. We had them grab a handful of each ingredient and inspect it. They we told them that they had just handled rotten vegetables (compost), worm poop (castings) and chicken poop. Each revelation was met with delighted screams. 
Adding compost to the raised beds

Jason helps the kiddos plant some transplants

Vegetable guessing and sampling with Cory

Daniel watering it all in

One of the first grade classes after getting their hands dirty

Okra (surprise!), Eggplant (nearing the end), Peppers, Broccoli Raabe, Arugula, Rutabaga Greens, Hakurei Turnips, Okinawa Spinach, Carrots, Tomatoes, Choi Sum, Green Luobo Radishes, Watermelon Radishes, Mantanghong Radishes, Sweet Potatoes, Peanuts, Basil, and lots of Salad Greens.

Choi Sum

Potato Digger pulling up Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes 7 of 18 rows took 5 hours to harvest

42 Boxes at 40lb each= 1,680lbs (nearly a ton), we moved these 3 times this week and that's less than half the field

Sweet Potatoes Curing in the Greenhouse


Van Full of Peanuts

Pumpkins and Peanuts curing

Green Luobo Radish

Watermelon Radish

Winter Radishes

The Bell Peppers are enjoying the cooler nights

Production and Distribution

In the CSA Box this week:

Muscadines (Planted Rock)
Peppers (Le Tres Lune)
Choi Sum
Rutabaga Greens
Salad Mix

Fall CSA Week 4

Market Harvest List

We turned over a few Hoop House beds this week and spent a few hours removing the plastic that the Crop Mob pulled up for us over a month ago along with the drip tape that lay underneath. 
Monarch Caterpillar in the herb garden

We need to get more successions of fall crops started in the greenhouse and direct seeded in the field but we barely kept up with watering and harvesting this week with all of the off farm activities. 

Farm Life

Sunsets at Fred's House are amazing

Wine Break in the Okra

Covington Square- Rural American Snapshot

Saturday I went to Factory Shoals which is a park on the Alcovy River, not far from the farm. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm but not hot. The river used to be lined with mills. Many of the stone walls and foundations still stand along the banks. There was a small cemetery with headstones dated in the late 1800s. This monument stands for a married couple. I imagine they were immigrants and soul mates.
"They steer'd their course to the same quiet shore. Not parted long and now to part no more."

Puddy Time

Puddy is taking the week off but Sprocket wanted you to know that his belly is available for rubs any time for which he will pay you with a very gratifying purr. 


None this week but I wanted to point out that this whole thing is coming to an end the last week of October. So, if you've been wanting to come out and visit you have only 6 weeks left to do it. I'm happy to host anyone who wants to see where real food comes from. You can volunteer or just visit and tour. You know where to find me. 

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