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Greens, Greens and More Greens!

. . . May 14, 2017 | posted by Josephine
Red Russian kale in the chill tank

Two of the mustards we grow,a red and a green harvested and in cratesThis week there are a lot of green and leafy things in the shares.  Now is the time to enjoy lots of fresh, crisp salads.  I know that the season for greens can seem to stretch on and on.  Once lettuce falls to the heat, it wont be back until October.  The next couple weeks will likely include lots more leafy things!  But soon we will also have onions, new potatoes and carrots to add to the shares.  Cabbage wont be far behind, either.  After all, being part of a CSA is all about eating locally, and that is all about eating what is in season when it is in season.  We are accustomed to the convenience of the grocery store where the produce section represents every season in any latitude.  Basing your weekly menu on what is coming out of the field at any given time of year can be a big adjustment to our pallets.  But we find the quality of seasonal produce makes it well worth the wait. 

This week is a busy one for getting ready for planting.  We have 2,000 sweet potato slips to go in the ground.  For the past two weeks, rain has kept us from preparing beds for the sweet potatoes, but finally it has been dry enough to prepare the soil, shape beds, lay irrigation, and cover the beds with biodegradable black plastic mulch.  Sweet potatoes are typically planted from vine cuttings called slips.  In addition, we have tomatoes and eggplant in the greenhouse waiting to get transplanted, and it is time to seed the okra.

Baby Cooper being help by Randy with Josephine and Randy's mom ConnieMr Cooper hangin with his Grammy CSome folks were disappointed that last week’s newsletter did not include an update on baby Cooper.   Now five weeks old, Cooper is eating well and growing like a weed.  He loves to be outdoors and enjoys hanging out in the wash-pack shed while the crew is preparing your CSA shares. 

Kohlrabi is closely related to cabbage.  Its firm flesh is sweet, crisp and mild.  At first glance you may think that it is a root vegetable but in fact it is a bulbous stem.  This is one of the only vegetables, along with beets, that must be peeled, as the skin is very fibrous.  Kohlrabi is delicious raw.   I can often be caught peeling and eating one like an apple when I need a snack out in the field.  It is also excellent cooked and can be roasted, sauteed or steamed.  Some folks like to mash it like potatoes (or with potatoes) and it is also wonderful in soup.

Patrick driving Rosie our 1949 Farmall CubHello fellow Tubby Creek fans! Allow me to introduce myself (many months late, but such is often the fate of administrative matters on a working farm). My name is Patrick; I am Josephine's cousin. I moved here back in November to learn what it's like to live off the land, to live on the land – to live with the land. I've always loved nature, and I believe being outdoors is important, and so is eating good food and learning about good food and doing physical work and being close to the earth and treading softly upon her. So this opportunity, to be part of a small working farm for a year or so, is just about perfect. I really cannot thank Jo and Randy enough. And of course I hope to be of service what with an expanding family, an expanding CSA, with life and growth in general. So I'll be here, learning about planting and cultivating and harvesting, just being part of the amazing project that is feeding hundreds of people with little more than good earth and hard work. Phenomenal stuff.

    A little bit about me: I am an avid (more than avid, really) cyclist. I have traveled approximately 30 000 miles by bicycle, including a trip from the top of Alaska to the bottom of South America. I speak Spanish, would love to learn French, and basically enjoy new experiences to no end. When I'm not cycling I like to work with food. Well here on the farm I get to experience the entire life cycle of food, from soil and seed to plant and then plate and back to soil again. It is truly a beautiful thing. Richly rewarding, satisfying, and delicious.

    I'm looking forward to a great year here on Tubby Creek Farm!

The Baby is Here, Farm Update and More!

. . . Apr 14, 2017 | posted by Josephine
Cooper asleep, one of the things he can be good at, at times

Cooper Patrick Alexander rapped in a white blanket with frogs, snails, bugs and other critters onitOn Thursday, April 6th at 12:54 in the morning we welcomed our baby earthside.  Our baby boy weighed 8 lbs and 5 ounces at birth and was 21 inches long from his adorably kissable head to his long monkey toes.  His name is Cooper Patrick Alexander and now just days old he is already running the show.  Many thanks to everyone who has showered us with gifts and food and support and help.  We are so grateful for our community of support.  Our “village” is already played a huge part in raising this child. 

Even with a newborn baby on the scene, farm work must go on.  May and the beginning of the CSA season is fast approaching.  Even though the start of the CSA is still a few weeks away, Patrick will be at the Farmers Market throughout April selling our earliest produce, raw honey, pasture raised eggs, and goat meat.  Spring crops are growing by leaps and bounds as the days continue to get longer and the weather warmer. 

Sarah Laves and Patrick Gridley planting lettuce with row cover onthe leftThis year we succeeded in covering nearly all our spring crops in floating row cover to protect them from the dry and roaring south winds of March that turn our soil into concrete.  The row cover also keeps the soil soft, friable and moist.  The result is that the spring garden is wrapped up like a present.  We have to peek under all the wrappers to see how our plants are growing and check for pest damage or disease problems.  The fire ants also like it under the row cover, but I guess we just have to live with that. 

Josephine holding up a hail stone that is alomst baseball sizeMarch was in like a lion and out like a lion.  No gentle lambs here.  We were lucky enough to get two hail storms last month.  While the first one left us without any damage, the second was another story.  It swiss-cheesed all our floating row cover, punched zillions of hole in the silage tarps we use to cover the beds, and peppered the high tunnel plastic which will need to be replaced before winter.  The hail tore up some leafy greens and even squashed whole plants where it made a direct hit.  Still, it could have been much worse.  Where the hail was the worst, just a mile or so away, it was breaking car windows!   

Sevenbeds finished and mulched with bio plastic just before darkWe farm at the mercy of the weather and the rain has been relentless all winter and spring.  The field finally dried out enough for some marathon tractor work over the weekend and all day Monday.  The team finished just as darkness was falling Monday night and ahead of Tuesday’s rain.  Now we can start planting all our “summer season” crops.  Kudos to Randy for pulling out all the stops to get all that work done while battling new-dad fatigue!

February 2017 Kick Off

. . . Feb 06, 2017 | posted by Josephine

Pulling the plastic over our new greenhouseWhile the occasional frosty night reminds us that it is still winter, we are itching for spring.  Good thing spring isn’t quite here yet as we still have a little time to make headway on our Winter Projects list.  Last week on a warm and windless day, we stretched the plastic on the new greenhouse.  It was surprisingly easy, no doubt because Randy and Patrick did such a thorough and professional job assembling the structure.  We still have to put on the roll-up doors and side (for cooling and ventilation), but for now the greenhouse is functional and full of tiny vegetable seedlings and freshly planted seed trays. 

Out in the new orchard, we have planted 38 more blueberry bushes and nearly 150 38 blueberries and 146 blackberries just plantedblackberry canes.  The blackberries will produce a small amount of fruit in 2018, but we’ll have to wait until 2019 or 2020 for the new bushes to produce a blueberry crop.  A thousand asparagus crowns have been ordered and are next on the list for planting.  Eventually we will be planting something that will be ready this year!  Onions are the first crop to go into the ground in late February.

What do all these winter time activities have in common?  They are expensive!  The list of preseason expenses can be daunting.   Each year we buy organic fertilizer, irrigation supplies, mulch, and wax boxes before the season begins.  This year we need a new air conditioner for the cold room, a disk harrow (we’ve been borrowing a friend’s for the past year!) and an enclosed trailer so that we can bring more produce to market.  All this on top of our regular monthly expenses at a time of the year when we are not harvesting and selling any produce.  That’s one reason why the CSA is so important to our business.  All the CSA deposits, and especially those members who pay for their share up front, allow us to get what we need to get the growing season started.  A big thanks to all our 2017 CSA members.  What would we do without you?

2017 CSA Registration Information

. . . Jan 22, 2017 | posted by randy
A typical June CSA, carrots,beets, cabbage, onions and eggplant

Special Announcements!

Our 2017 CSA will be starting May 3rd instead of early April. Why? Because we are expecting. Josephine’s due date is March 28. We decided to push our start date to the first week in May.

We will be teaming up with Loch Holland Farm to offer broiler chickens to our CSA Members as we will no longer be raising our own broilers. See below for details.

Already know what you want? Go straight to our registration page here.

OUR 2017 CSA
We will be accepting 100 CSA membership in 2017.  Small shares cost $15.45 per week, and are good for households of two people, or even a sinlge vegetable maniac.  Full shares ($25.75 per week) are ideal for households of two or three, or families with a couple small children.  We offer multiple paying options and discounts. You will find specifics on the registration page.

We have divided our CSA into three seasons, Spring, Summer and Fall.

Spring Share:  May 3 through July 1 Full Share $231.75 or Small Share $139.05

Our spring CSA runs 9 weeks.   Over the course of the spring, you can expect head lettuce, salad mix, spring onions, cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, turnip roots, beets, changing over to potatoes, cabbage, squash, eggplants, cucumber carrots and more. 

Summer Share:  July 5 through September 2 Full Share $231.75 or Small Share $139.05

Our summer CSA runs 9 weeks.  Over the course of the summer, you can expect potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, squash, okra, onions, tomatoes, sweet pepper, eggplant, melons, garlic and more.

Fall Share:  September 6 through November 18 Full Share $283.25 or Small Share $169.95

Our fall CSA runs 11 weeks.  Over the course of the fall, you can expect cucumbers, squash, okra, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, root vegetables, salad mix, lettuce, various greens, snow and snap peas, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.  

Pasture Raised Meat and Eggs
Members of our 2017 vegetable CSA can choose to add our farm fresh eggs to their shares and/or Loch Holland Farm whole broilers. These add ons are only available to members who commit to all three seasons.

(Eggs SOLD OUT for 2017) Egg Shares for 2017: Full Egg Share $139.05 or Half Egg Share $69.50

Our laying flock lives in a mobile chicken coop that we move around so that they always have access to plenty of insects, grass seeds and other snacks. As the number of eggs that our chickens lay varies continuously throughout the year, egg share members will receive a proportion of all the eggs laid in a given week.  There will be extra eggs in spring, and fewer eggs in October and November as the hens start preparing for winter.  We expect that to average out to one dozen per week over the course of the season for Full Egg Share members, and a half dozen per week for Half Egg Share members.         

Whole Broilers for 2017:  May through November $144.20

We also offer pasture raised Freedom Ranger broiler chickens to our CSA members.  Loch Holland Farm raises the same breed from the same hatchery we did previously. Their broilers are never given antibiotics, have constant access to pasture from 2 or 3 weeks old, and are even processed right on their farm.  A Broiler Chicken share includes one whole, frozen chicken per month (4.0 to 4.5 lbs chicken, $20.60/month), delivered on the first week of each month.

Goat meat is available Saturdays at our Cooper Young Community Farmers Market booth and at the farm.

Pick up locations

Shares are available for pick up:

Saturdays 8:00am to noon at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market at 1000 S. Cooper AS OF 03/28/2017 NOW FULL

Wednesdays 9:00am to 5:00pm at the Crews Center for Entrepreneurship at 3618 Walker

Wednesdays Noon to 7:00PM at Wholesale Nutrition 2130 W. Popular Suite #102 Collierville, TN 38107 AS OF 02/28/2017 NOW FULL

NEW! Wednesdays 9:00am to 2:00pm near the interesection of Cooper & Central. This pick up will be at a members home and the actual address will only be shared with members that have selected this location.

Wednesdays shares are also available for pick up at Tubby Creek Farm in Ashland Mississippi

Registration
Regstration is nearly full if interested in a CSA share please email Randy, randy@tubbycreekfarm.com

2017 Winter Update & CSA Registration

. . . Jan 18, 2017 | posted by Josephine
A young kid in an A-frame shelter in the snow

It is midwinter on the farm.  The lengthening daylight should start greening up the pasture soon.   Between rainy days and freezing temperatures, Randy and Patrick have been assembling the new greenhouse.  Vegetable seeds for next year are ordered, delivered and sorted.  A few – cabbage, lettuce, kohlrabi and beets- have even been started in seed trays.  The crop field is mapped out and planting dates set.  A season’s worth of planning takes place in December and January.  We reflect on the season, try to tease out the good decisions from the bad and think of creative ways to make good management easier.   Every year we get better.  We make new mistakes and sometimes re-make old mistakes but on the whole we get better.  

Greenhouse frame under constructionStill, this is our slowest time of the year.  There is time to do things other than farm and sleep.  Randy has been baking lots of delicious sourdough bread and I have been quilting and stocking the freezer with soups and broth in preparation for busier times.  While we could, with some coddling, keep some vegetable crops growing for most or all of the winter and early spring, we choose not to.  The last of the carrots will be coming out of the muddy soil this week and then we will be done harvesting until April.  Which is good, because the wash pack area has been converted into a makeshift seed starting station since the new greenhouse isn’t completed yet. 

The reason we choose not to grow and sell produce year-round is that we need a break.  Just like we fallow the field to let it rest, winter is the farmer’s fallow.  While physical recovery from the hectic growing season is relatively quick, I find that I need more time to prepare myself emotionally and mentally for the coming season.  Sometime in early spring it is like strapping oneself in to a very long roller coaster that does not stop and is impossible to get off of until well into November.  Taking a break in the winter means that we can step onto that roller coaster with excitement and anticipation each spring.  I am already starting to get excited about spring planting, impatient for the arrival of the onion starts which is still a month away.

2017 CSA Registration

Speaking of excitement and anticipation, registration for our 2017 CSA is now open!  This will be our 6th year offering a CSA.  We are planning to accept 100 memberships in 2017. 

There are a couple of changes this year: 

  • Instead of starting in early April, the CSA will instead begin the first week of May.  I am due at the end of March, and we thought having a baby and kicking off the CSA at the same time might be a bit much.  The CSA will run until mid-November as usual.
  • We will continue to offer pasture raised Freedom Ranger broiler chickens to our members, but this year Loch Holland Farm will be raising the chickens for our CSA.  We respect their production practices and know they hold their products to a high standard of quality.
  • We are looking for an additional CSA pick-up site in the Cooper-Young area for Wednesdays. The Saturday Farmers Market pick-up is always to first to sell out so we are trying to find another site in the same neighborhood.  Please let us know if you have any suggestions.
  • For more information about our 2017 CSA and to register click here.