June in this area of Maryland normally averages just under 4" of rain. This year we got 8-10 according to NOAA. That's double+! What does that mean for the farm? Well, apart from the fact I haven't had dry socks in a month, a few things. Summer crops are all crazy this year. The watermelon will be ready before the tomatoes ripen, the peppers aren't growing at all (they like it hot and dry) and the weeds are even crazier than they normally are this time of year.
|Elephant Garlic Flowers|
|Heirloom Tomatoes in the Hoop house, lots of fruit,|
nothing ripe yet.
Summer Open House
Our Summer Open House on June 13th was a huge success! At about 20 people this was our best summer turn out yet. One of our volunteers, Frank, wrote this lovely letter that was published in the Maryland Independent about the farm and the event.
We mulched the herbs and rhubarb, weeded the cucurbits and cleared some beds. We even had a cub scout troop come and they went on patrol for squash bugs and their eggs.
|Mulching the herb garde|
|Enjoying a well earned lunch|
|Lunch by our own EatWell DC Chefs|
|Ebony met the baby chickens|
We had some of our first fruit tree harvests with sour cherries and plums.
Spring crops did well through most of June. We had a few days that felt like 100 degrees but also some milder days that they enjoyed.
|Funky Chicken Radish|
|Running Man Carrot|
|Merlin, Golden and Chioggia Beets|
|Elephant Garlic Flowers|
|Cucumbers and Zucchini|
|Nasturtium and Borage, edible flowers|
Production and Cultivation
Weed city! All this rain we've had has really spurred on our plethora of weeds here. Rain followed by heat followed by more rain. June seems to have been full of harvest days and weeding days. I've also been keeping an eye on the summer crops to make sure and catch them when they ripen. There are few I'm checking daily now because they are so close.
|Grapes- bunches filling out nicely|
|Buckwheat and Sunflower cover crop|
|Someone at Commissary wanted to help heat up the compost|
|Watermelon... SO CLOSE!|
|Field tomatoes, these are double this size now and full of|
A strange thing happened with our shiitake mushroom bolts. I went to soak them and discovered this furry brown stuff coming out of the innoculant holes. I sent some pictures off to a mushroom listsever and took a sample down to the extension office. My fear was that some other fungus had set up camp in the logs. It turns out it's a kind of cocoon created by some sort of invertebrate. There were little tiny caterpillar looking things inside the fur, lots of them. It shouldn't effect the logs or the mushrooms and I was congratulated for creating a habitat for this creature. Who knew? Anyway, shiitakes are back in action.
|Weird fuzzy cocoon on Shiitake Bolt|
|Another fuzzy cocoon|
We harvested the Garlic in June and set it to cure in the barn. It's an old tobacco barn designed to have good airflow for curing tobacco, so it's perfect. Some of it we hung and some laid on pallets. The idea is to get air flowing around it so that the outer layers dry and it will keep for a while without rotting. We grew four varieties, all from seed that we grew and saved from last year.
|Vampire proofing the barn|
Our CSA started up in June and we completed the first 5 weeks. We ended up with 10 members in DC and 10 in LaPlata which is just what I was hoping for. I'm really psyched to be getting some of this food into the community where it grows. Here are a few of the shares so far:
|Snow Peas, Cucumber, Carrots, Hakurei Turnips. Strawberries,|
Red Sails Lettuce, Kale, Arugula, Romaine
|Carrots, Mustard Greens, Red Sails Lettuce, Arugula, Kale, Rainbow Chard,|
Zucchini, Cucumber, Mint
We also went to our very first market this month, the LaPlata Farmers Market. It is held in the parking lot of the LaPlata courthouse and we are there each Saturday from 8am-1pm.
Lets get real for a minute. Being the new vendor at a market is not easy. Market sales can be a very important piece of the business pie. Farmers markets are a place where you can connect directly with the customers who will enjoy the literal fruits of your labor. It can be very very rewarding to have people come back to you week after week appreciating the work you do to keep them in healthy, clean food. However, it takes time to build that customer base and rapport. We are slowly build that base but I'll be honest, the pace is very slow. Our goal in selling at the market is to get more of this good food into this community and also to help get the farm to a break even point now in it's 5th year of existence. I need help getting the word out about what we do to the people of LaPlata and Southern Maryland. If you've read this far and live in the area please spread the word about us. We know there are plenty of people nearby who believe in what we are doing and just don't know about us yet. If you can help by sharing this blog or the website or Facebook page please do. We would really appreciate it. If you're one of the ones who has already found us at market and been back to see us again, THANK YOU!
|Loaded up for market early on a Saturday|
|Our first market|
|Ebony and Marge|
|Marge setting up in the pouring rain.|
|Late June Market offerings|
|A menu from The Pig with a featured farm salad. I just now|
saw my name in there!
|Erica's EatWell Farm harvest salad|
|Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) at The Pig|
|Zucchini, Turnip, Choi and Turnip Top Slaw|
at The Pig for the BBQ menu
Cooking ClassWe hosted our first cooking class with the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) this month. It was called Beyond Bacon and was taught by Chef Michael Bonk of The Pig. It started with a tour of the farm and continued through several courses featuring farm produce and a few choice cuts of pork. We have another one coming up mid July which is, like the first, full. There will be two more in the fall so watch for your CSM Community Education brochures to come in the mail and sign up fast. This one was part of their Girls Night Out Series and the ladies had a blast.
|Me showing off the hoop house|
|Chef Bonk has them enthralled|
|Going over the importance of fresh ingredients|
|Lane's favorite- Face Bacon|
The chickens are doing great and seem to double in size every week. We finally got their bird house done and now just have to get their outdoor pen closed in and find some Guinea Hens. (Check back next month for those cuties!)
|Lane, that's not a parrot...|
|This was early June. Now they are 4x this big|
|Last day in their small temporary pen|
|Bird house complete! Now they can stretch their wings!|
|Both feeder and waterer have been upgraded now|
to much larger capacity containers, these babies
eat ALL the time
|She thinks the chickens are fascinating|