News and blog
First there was the wet winter and we couldn’t get in the ground to plow and plant. Then we got some things in and the weather turned cold. Late March when the ground normally starts warming up brought a week of freezing temperatures that sent soil temperatures back to where they were in January! Now it is warming and signs of spring cannot be denied--plants are blooming and bees are making honey, seeds are germinating on time, potatoes are about to emerge, and transplanted crops are growing by the day.
It turns out that floral timing (when during the year flowers-especially flowering trees-bloom) has a lot to do with degree-days, and correlates well with insect emergence and activity. Just as you may have noticed a delay in those flowering trees, we see a delay in bees getting ready for spring nectar flows. So much so that our pickup of two new bee hives has been pushed back a week. We’ll get those hives this weekend from Carolina Honey Bees in Travelers Rest and install them in our boxes down on the farm. Including the hives at my house, that will bring us to 5 in all. I checked on our three established hives this week to find thriving colonies that are each working on their first honey supers. With any luck that means a good crop of the sweet stuff for our CSA members!
So far we have one acre planted with ¼ acre left to plant in spring crops—more than ever before. There is broccoli, cabbage, napa cabbage, bok choi, beets, carrots, kale, collards, fennel, and more already planted. There are a dozen or so varieties of lettuce planted and more to go in the ground soon. Some of the beds are covered with remae row cover, a light fabric that lets in air, moisture, and sunshine while keeping the plants and soil warmer at night. Plants under covers are about twice as big as plants out in the weather at this point. Pretty soon the covers will come off as temperatures reach the 70s.
We can plant spring crops like arugula and salad turnips as late as May for harvest as late as early June, and we start planting summer crops by mid-April. Assuming the soil-warming trend continues, we are poised to transplant tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash by the frost-free date as well as direct-seeding beans. By early June, almost all the summer crops will be in the ground and we get to focus on harvest.
Now is the time to sign up for CSA if you haven’t already. Our CSA is like a subscription to the farm. You get a selection of everything we can pick that week delivered to a convenient pickup location. Members get the best of the farm on a consistent basis, including some exclusives like honey and pick-your-own sugar snap peas. Call or email Daniel if you have any questions, or go to www.parsonproduce.com to sign up!
Let's play 20 questions...or just 7 questions! Below you will find some questions that you may be asking concerning this year's CSA. If you have others, feel free to contact me, but let's start with these below.
Is signup different this year? Yes, we have switched to online signup for everyone except work shares--you need to contact me to sign up for a workshare. Go to www.parsonproduce.com and click on CSA signup and follow the online instructions.
The website doesn't recognize me as a returning member, what's up? It only recognizes you as a returning customer if you signed up online last fall. I know lots of you have been members for years, but the website doesn't know that--don't worry because you aren't missing out on anything by signing up as a new member.
Do I have to pay online? Not at all. You can sign up online and follow up by mailing a check. If you want to take advantage of the 5% discount, you can send a check for the full share cost minus 5%. You can still do the payment plan, but you won't get the discount.
What if I have problems with online signup? Call daniel at 404.452.4321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get you signed up.
Isn't it more expensive this year? If you take advantage of the 5% discount, the price has gone up a very small amount. We set prices each year according to the cost of production and delivery.
Is there a reason to sign up for all three seasons now? Yes, we are starting to get information around town and online, and planning to sell out our limited number of shares this year. If you sign up for all three before April 17, you'll get two out-of-season pickups this year for a total of 30 weeks!
What's new this year? Each year we try to grow more of the crops that people love, and provide them over a longer period of time. More greens, carrots, beets, squash, and beans--yes. Longer season of broccoli and lettuce--yes. Of course, all this depends on the weather, and we will do our best!
Thanks for your support and hope to see you in April!
Some measure the start of the new season by seeds in the ground or a plow breaking the earth. I start it with the seed order. Over several days' time, Chelsi and I have worked out a new rotation plan, inventoried our in-stock seed, and detailed the field plan. Today we worked out the 2013 seed order (except tomatoes--we'll get to that next week, don't worry). The season has begun!
First thing next week, we'll be putting seed to soil and lighting the 'green fuse' that is the farm. I think we have the best plan yet for bringing diverse crops in good quantity to our favorite customers, our CSA members. A few new items have tempted us--baby lettuce mix, purple peppers, more pac choi varieties, a new beet, and artichokes. Ok, don't hold me to the artichokes, but we will plant and nurture them in hopes of a late-summer harvest.
Thank you to all those who have signed up for the 2013 season at Parson Produce!
If you haven't signed up yet and would like to, this is a reminder that until the end of the month, you have preference as a 2012 member to sign up for the new season. Starting in February, signup will be first-come, first-served, and we are planning to sell out. You can signup online at www.parsonproduce.com. We do have workshares available: if you want to exchange 2.5 hours per week for a half-priced share, please contact me for details.
Winter is supposed to be a time for farmers to take a break, and we have to some extent. There has been more time for family, and time to attend conferences, meetings, and workshops. Last week, I attended the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. I taught a class on vegetable startup, and learned a lot from the regular sessions and conversations with experienced growers. The next conference is Georgia Organics at the end of February. Conference season finishes up with SCOOL in Columbia, SC--and that's one you might want to attend because they have classes for consumers, home gardeners, and serious growers. http://scorganicliving.com/
If you have any questions or just want to chat, give me a call. Drop by the farm anytime you like or set up a visit by calling ahead.
You're probably wondering, like many people: 'what do you do on the farm all winter?' I wish I could tell you that we take a long break and head to some sunny island--far from it. In fact, we continue to harvest crops for the chefs--Stella's, High Cotton, AGR, and Coal-Fired Bistro among them.
This year crops are looking good and we are even offering a one-time CSA share on December 5 for $35. If you are interested, you can sign up at http://www.parsonproduce.com/2012-csa. Thank you to those that have already signed up for this one-time drop.
Greetings Friends and CSA'ers,
Hope you all enjoyed the veggies yesterday. Remember that there will be no pickup next week, August 15, and again no pickup on September 5.
I did want to tell you about an opportunity to stock up by going to the Slow Food Upstate Earth Market in Greenville on August 16. Chelsi will be there representing Parson Produce, and you'll find other vendors like Bioway and Earth Perks produce farms, Gibson and Walker beef, Carolina Honeybees, and more!
This is a special market featuring producers who do things the right way--no chemicals or genetically modified organisms (gmo). Also, Slow Food promotes traditional varieties and biodiversity through their Arc of Taste program showcasing endangered foods that are worth saving. Several of the producers will be presenting varieties and breeds that are on the 'Arc'.
The market is at the corner of Rutherford Road and North Main Street in Greenville, on the lawn of the Michael McDunn Gallery. It is every third Thursday from 3-7pm.
Fresh website for your fresh veggies ... the Parson Produce website is new and improved. Check it out!
Look through recipes!
It's been a great week on the farm. I know we had some rain tonight, but I don't know how much. And that's the thing--even with 5+ inches last week, it still dries out in a week's time when it is warm. We are at full throttle now--harvest, planting, weeding, mulching trellising. Check out facebook if you want to see some pictures! Our brand-new website is launching this week, and I will let you know when it is live. We've gone with a group that serves small farms exclusively and we will be adding functions like a recipe finder that not only links to recipes we post, but also to those from other farms. Very exciting!
This week in your share, you will find:
- swiss chard
- green garlic
- savoy cabbage
The nasturtiums are edible flowers that have a peppery flavor.
Please let me know if you have any trouble getting your share, if the share is missing an item, or if something does not look fabulous when it gets to you. We do or best to get everything to the pickup spot in great shape, but we won't know how to improve if we don't hear about any issues.
Thanks for your support!