We have been so busy with the gardens and markets that I feel we have neglected the communications! We now have a plant cam installed in the garden and can't wait to see results. We will share, of course.
It has been a real learning curve with the markets. We are trying to make things come out even. Unfortunately, we've been selling out at the Saturday markets behind the Lindale Community Theater. Our CSAs know to come early! Speaking of CSAs, we've had a few requests for a summer CSA program. What do you think? Tyler & I discussed having a 10 week program beginning in June and ending in August. During the summer, there is so much more produce to share. Tomatoes, squash, okra, peppers, winter squash, pumpkins, watermelon, cantaloupe, green beans, onions and flowers. We will also have jams, jellies, pickles and dried as well as fresh herbs. The summer CSA would cost $350 and includes our beautiful embroidered organic cotton tote bag. Let us know if you would be interested.
I have some exciting news about the Lindale Community Theater. Beth's Little Farm Market is proud to be a co-sponsor in bringing the 50s singing group Shake Rattle & Roll to Lindale. The event will be one night only, June 7, 2014. The benefit for the theater will include admission, finger food, BYOB, and dessert during intermission! Buy your tickets athttp://www.lindalecommunitytheater.org/ or call 903-638-0402. We are expecting a sell out.
Spring is finally upon us – I was beginning to think it would never come. The Dutch Iris, daffodils, narcissus, and now the beautiful dogwoods are blooming with such intensity this year. Our gardens really love the longer days and warmer temperatures. I just wanted to write a little about our first market of 2014. Our new CSA members are in for a real treat. We open Saturday, April 26th at 8:00am and run till 1:00pm at The Fatt Apple and behind the Lindale Community Theater. We will set up next to the actors’ stage door and on the concrete loading dock behind the theater. There is plenty of parking back there and we won’t have to unload the trucks. We will also be inside Darla’s Fatt Apple right there on Main Street across from The Pink Pistol. You CSA members will be able to pick up your totes or let me know if you want to get them early. Just email, call or post on Facebook with your wishes. We will also be set up on Tuesdays beginning April 29th at Denise’s Pavilion in Mt Sylvan. Most of you remember where her wonderful Mt Sylvan Coffee House is. We have maps of both Saturday and Tuesday locations available on the Market page of our website. Our wish is to run through the end of September and perhaps beyond with offerings of fall produce, ornamentals, and canned goods, . We have planted some beautiful gourds, broom corn and lots of flowers that dry well. Of course we will have my pickles and jams & jellies, too.
Now, back to information about the first market. Most of you gardeners know that everything is not ready all at once! In other words, we won’t have watermelons, tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra, etc. right away. We will have, however, lettuce, radishes, asparagus, green onions, spinach, basil, and greens. In a few weeks we will add kale, cilantro, and baby elephant garlic, among others. The blackberries & strawberries are blooming and starting to set fruit now, and should be ready mid-May. We should have cut flowers hopefully starting the end of May. The “Icemageddon” cold front from a couple of months ago managed to set back a lot of produce and we have some farmer friends who lost thousands of seedlings to the extreme cold. Tyler has seeded some interesting plants he brought back from our Japan trip. He might even share!
Terry thinks we may have gone overboard with the variety of plants we are growing this season. Tyler and I just want to make sure we have enough diversity as well as quantity of this beautiful produce. Most of the varieties we grow are heirlooms and don’t ship well. That’s the beauty of buying locally; you won’t find our now famous heirloom watermelon, “Orangeglo” in any grocery store! The ground cherry is a new item for me. Tyler grew them at Mountain Dell Farm last year and I am pleased that they are doing so well. The plants are getting bushy and are about 6” tall.
Terry plowed up more pasture and we have a new “red gizmo” to help us with the irrigation and plastic mulch. It’s really fun to plan, plant, and care for and enjoy the new gardens. One thing I did this morning (was really hard) was to thin the purple top turnips. I’ve always had a real problem thinning the baby plants for correct spacing. It’s a Mother Earth thing, I guess! The babies are so small and they really were crowded. I ate as many as I could, and then just made little piles of the seedlings to dry in the wind and sun. The process kinda reminded me of cutting down the giant bamboo invading the terraces at the farm in Japan. The boys used chain saws to cut them down, and then burned them! They were 50-65’ tall and 8” across. HUGE.
Speaking of bamboo, we have friends who have it invading their property and said we could cut as much bamboo as we needed. We will be using it for stakes for the tomatoes, climbing beans, cucumbers and a trellis for winter squash and gourds. Terry, Tyler, and I worked for about an hour and filled the 20’ flatbed trailer. As I type, they are out back cutting it into stake lengths. It’s fun to dream up creative uses for the bamboo. In Japan they made brooms from the side branches and smaller pieces. We saw the bamboo brooms everywhere. Even the street crews and construction crews had several bamboo brooms on their work trucks! I’ll keep you posted on how ours turn out.
Our first market opens the same weekend that our Lindale Community Theater opens with the funny comedy “Dearly Beloved”. So come see the show opening night (Friday April 25) when Darla at the Fatt Apple will be catering the Opening Night Gala. Then on Saturday morning, come back for Beth’s Little Farm Market! We will have the produce I mentioned earlier as well as T-shirts and shopping bags with our logo on them. The shirts are $20 and the forest green bags are $2.
Thank you so very much for your support and I wish you all good health, good food, and good times!
This is my first blog and I am excited to try something new. By way of introduction, I am Beth Walker. I’m married to my very talented retired dentist husband, Terry Walker. We both have loved growing things all our lives. I studied horticulture in the 1970s in Dallas at Richland College and in Commerce at East Texas University (Now A&M). My father was most influential with my learning the love of all things growing.
I was instrumental in getting the Organic Co-Op in McKinney, Texas off the ground in the early 1970s. It’s wonderful to come full circle and live and garden here in East Texas. Terry & I have always had a vegetable plot somewhere. I even dug up my zero lot line back yard in North Dallas to grow veggies. Now we have 50 acres of East Texas soil, timber and pasture. The gardens and orchards grow in area a little bit each year. We’ve been cultivating and enjoying “Heartland Farm” for over 12 years now and expanded into growing enough produce to share and spare. We started Beth’s Little Farm Market last spring and are learning so much about varieties and preferences for this beautiful East Texas area. Farming is a lifelong learning process full of trial, error, and sweet success.
We expanded into the pasture last year and are cutting into it again by the same amount, giving us an additional 1/3 acre of prime growing space. Terry has a wonderful antique Ditch Witch he uses to trench down about 24”, fill with manure & compost, then lay drip tape and cover for raised rows. Expanding the garden space again this year will enable our farm market to offer a bigger variety of produce & fruits. This season, we will also offer herbs and flowers at the market. It has been my dream since I was a very little girl to grow & share flowers. My mother used to let my sister (13 months older) and me pick flowers & tie them up with ribbon. On May Day every year, we were allowed to go to our neighbors’ houses, lay the small bouquets on the porch, and knock on the door before running around the corner to hide. We would then watch to see the joy on the neighbors face as they discovered the flowers.
The best thing about growing the produce, fruit and flowers is sharing with my friends and family. A friend last year told me “There is something special about eating food that has been grown by someone I love”. I believe sharing something as very personal as food gives us a lift that cannot be explained with words. When I am choosing seeds or plants during the planning process, I think to myself “Oh Rachel’s little guy will love this……” or what other friends might prefer to eat. We had so many folks enjoy the ‘Orangeglo’ watermelons last season that we are increasing production of them this season. I have a funny story (was not funny at the time, though) about the watermelons. Late in the season, around August, our young Angus bull, Beauregard, decided that he was immune to the electric fence surrounding the melon patch. At night, he would ‘bull doze’ his way through the three strands of electric fence and just chow down on the watermelons! We also had a family of raccoons join in the fun with the ‘Bodacious’ honeydew melons. The dry conditions did not help with the grounding of the electric wires, either. We calculated that Beauregard finished off over 45 orange watermelons. One evening, he talked one of the young heifers into joining him. Can you believe the nerve? Have no fear, the Orangeglo are heirloom seeds and we save them and share them and we are preparing a new melon field as I type. The new field is fenced with cattle panels and electric fence outside of that. Beauregard will just have to be content with his alfalfa and coastal.
Favorite vegetable: Sweet corn!
In 2009, the USDA launched an initiative to strengthen relationships between farmers and consumers. The initiative is called Know your Farmer, Know your Food. This motto reflects the increasing desire among farmers and consumers to return to a food system that emphasizes health, flavor, sustainability, and honesty within local communities. In the spirit of Know your Farmer, Know your Food, I thought that I would use the first blog post here at Beth's Little Farm Market to tell you a little bit about myself.
Before I became a farmer, I was a graduate student at Cornell University in the Microbiology Department. My research revolved around the communities of beneficial bacteria in our intestines and how these bacteria help in preventing inflammation and promoting a healthy metabolism. Though I enjoyed the science, I found that I was happiest when I was working in my garden. I craved a life that kept me connected to the soil, the sun, and my local community. When my Aunt Beth (yes, THE Beth), Uncle Terry, and Cousin Lane came to Pennsylvania so that we could all go to the Mother Earth News Fair, I popped the big question: "Can I farm with you?". Thankfully, they said yes!
So, after completing my doctorate degree, I began my journey as a professional farmer. Before moving back to Texas, I completed an internship at Mountain Dell Farm in New York. While at Mountain Dell Farm, I learned how to sustainably grow over 50 varieties of vegetables in the beautiful Catskill Mountains. The internship gave me indispensable experience in organic farming techniques as well as organizing restaurant deliveries and a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. I brought this knowledge with me when I moved back to Texas and joined Beth's Little Farm Market last November. Together with Beth, Terry, and Lane, we are hard at work to insure that we have an excellent selection of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs when we open our Farm Market this April. I am excited to be a new member of the Lindale community and I cannot wait to meet all of you at the market!
Favorite vegetable: Beets!