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Posted 9/24/2010 8:02pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,
On May 15th the St. Matthew's Farmer's Market opened their fourth season and tomorrow this year's season will come to an end.  It has been a really good year for us.  The support for local, organic food is growing tremendously.  Our sales have been up almost 75% and we now have several restaurants that buy from us each week.  This year's CSA was the most incredible group of people we have ever had.  Thank you for helping to make a difference in our community.

If you are thinking about becoming a CSA partner for next year, please let us know as soon as possible.  Based on the enthusiastic interest that so many have shown, we may need to expand the CSA next year.  In order to do this we will have to start making plans now.  Next week we will begin the process of cleaning up the fields and planting cover crops.  It is the care and attention we give to the land in the fall and winter that enables us to grow successfully in the summer.  So, we need to know how much land we are going to need to prepare.

There are many reasons to become a CSA partner.  A concern for the environment is one of the primary reasons.  Knowing that our land is being nurtured and cared for in a responsible manner gives you a sense of peace that you can't find with food grown in conventional, industrial agriculture.  Health issues are also important.  When you eat one of our potatoes there are no chemical fertilizer residues in the soil to contaminate it.  No pesticides are used and our weeds are dealt with the old fashioned way.  A hoe.  Also, organic food is richer in the important vitamins and minerals that our bodies need.  

Money is also another consideration.  However, this should not be the main reason you want to join a CSA.  If you are interested in cheap food, then the values that we espouse as organic farmers are probably not congruent with this way of thinking.  If you were a CSA member this year, most of the weeks you received produce that had a retail value (based on what we sell for at the Market) that was double what you paid to join the CSA.  This was a good year and we share the bounty that we are blessed with.  There may be other years when this may not be true.  That is why you need to believe that supporting local, organic farmers is the real reason to join a CSA.

We are very proud that we are Certified Organic by the USDA. There are not many in this area that can make that claim.  We do this because it enables you to be sure of our growing practices.  We are inspected yearly and have a lot of paperwork to keep up with.  We think it is worth it because your trust is important to us.  I know that there are  lot of farmers who say they don't use any chemicals, and I hope they don't, but with us you can be guaranteed that we not only avoid chemicals, but also use production practices that improve the soil.

We are sad to see the growing season come to an end, but we are ready for a break.  The winter gives us time to read, plan and attend conferences that will help us become better farmers.  Each year we do get better.  That is one of the joys of farming.  

So, come see us tomorrow at the market for one last time.  We have many people that visit our website and sign up for the mailing list that we don't know.  Come meet us in person.  And, if you are interested in our CSA, let us know soon.  

Again, thank you for your interest in Harmony Fields Farm and keep working toward the goal of sustainable, local, organic food for all.

Larry D. Brandenburg 
Posted 9/17/2010 11:33pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Thank you for putting Louisville in the top six of "Foodiest Cities in the U.S.A. for 2010."  This, according to the magazine Bon Appetit, is partly due to Louisville's soft spot for Community Supported Agriculture.  So, give yourself a pat on the back and a round of applause.

This week we will be sharing the first of the Winter Squash. Butternut and Delicata are wonderful either stuffed or baked and I know that you will be surfing the web for even more creative and interesting ways to cook them.

Lots of peppers this week.  Everyone will even get a couple of jalepenos if you wish.  The cherry tomatoes are still producing but are beginning to fade a little.  You will still get two pints.  More heirlooms and perhaps the last of the okra.  The okra is now over eight feet tall (this is how it continues to produce--it just gets taller) and I don't expect it to go much higher, but it might reach ten feet by next week. 

Counting tomorrow we only have two more weekends.  Next week we will pick everything clean.  After September 25 we will be cleaning up everything and planting our cover crops which will grow over the winter giving protection to the soil and then providing fertility and organic matter when they are turned under in the spring.  Then it all starts over again.

Next week fall begins.  Temperatures are forecast around 95 degrees for the first day of fall.  I will be not be too sad to say goodbye to this growing season.  However, we feel very fortunate because we have had such a successful year.  There have been a few disappointments but so many more successes.  You have helped make it a great year for us by being so supportive and appreciative.   Thank you.
Larry 
Posted 9/10/2010 10:58pm by Larry Brandenburg.
I always look forward to the Wednesday Courier-Journal because it features articles about food.  Last week, the chef they wrote about had recipes that called for Moon and Stars Watermelon, Lemon Cucumbers, and Okra.  I thought it was really cool that he was recommending things that you received last weekend in your shares.

This week the main article was called "Awash in Squash."  I believe that they probably should have run this a couple of weeks ago when the squash was going crazy.  I know you were probably sick of squash but you don't have to worry this week.  The summer squash has sent up the white flag and surrendered to the rhythms of nature.  Cooler night time temperatures and much less sunlight is the signal that it's time to shut down.  So, no squash this week but we do have something to offer as a transition between summer and winter squash (next week you will get winter squash.)

Ronde de Nice is a round Zucchini from the south of France that can be used like a regular squash (harvested when small) or allowed to get bigger where they are best either baked or stuffed.  You will get one of these this weekend and I will be interested in hearing of your culinary triumphs.    

Also, this will be the last week for watermelon.  When things start slowing down we usually have only enough to sell at the market but not to share with all of you.  We only had 12 cucumbers this week and a half bushel of squash.  We also were able to get about 20 bags of Basil.  All of the things we sell are available to you for a discount of at least 20%. (Except for Beth's flowers)

Hope it doesn't rain tomorrow during the market.  Hard to believe that we will only see you for three more weekends.  I think you will enjoy tomorrow's bounty and we look forward to seeing you.  Thank you for making all of this possible.
Larry 
Posted 8/27/2010 9:38pm by Larry Brandenburg.
I hope that you saw the newspaper articles this past week dealing with agriculture.  No, I don't mean the $1.6 million country ham.  Front page of the Courier Journal was a story about corn and soybeans.  Actually, the story was about the adverse effect the hot weather was having on these crops.  Yields will be down considerably this year.  A couple days later there was another article about the weather's effect on vegetables.  It was the same article I had read the week before in the Lexington Herald-Leader and I shared some of the information with you in my last email.  The reason I hope that you read these articles is because now that you are a part of Community Supported Agriculture, any issue involving agriculture should arouse some interest, if not passion.  Also, you have personally experienced the effects that weather can have on crops.  People who go to the grocery store for all of their food have no idea what is going on here in Kentucky.  As Wendell Berry says, "If you eat, you are involved in agriculture."  It is our desire that after your experience as a CSA partner you will pay more attention to what is going on in the world of agriculture. (And I didn't even mention the toxic industrial farm eggs--probably the biggest national agriculture story this week.)

It has been a good week here at HFF as we have thoroughly enjoyed the cooler temperatures and lower humidity.  I wish that one week of cooler temps could make up fifteen weeks of hot weather, but it doesn't work that way with nature.  We are happy to be able to share eggplant and okra with you this week in addition to all the other good things you have been getting.  I am really disappointed in the big tomatoes but I do hold out hope.  I have heard from some people who are having success with them but most aren't.  Microclimates may be a part of the success stories.  Had I known the summer was going to be like this then I might have planted them in the woods! 

Since I began with challenging you increase your agriculture awareness, let me end by encouraging you to continue to grow in your agriculture literacy.  I know that many of you have read Michael Pollan's
Omnivore's  Dilemma, but I would also encourage you to have a go with his In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.  The latest book I am reading is Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep us Safe by Marie Rodale.  Marie is the granddaughter of J. I. Rodale who essentially started the organic movement in America in 1942 with the publication of his magazine Organic Farming and Gardening.  The Rodale Institute is today one of the leading centers for organic research in he world.  And the magazine is still being published but is now called Organic Gardening. I have great hope that the message of this book will stir up enough people that we can change the direction we have been going with industrial agriculture.  Perhaps this fall and winter,if you wish, we could get together for discussion about this book and others that you might be reading.  We do miss seeing you during the dark of winter and this could enable us to keep up the connection.

I guess that I am "preaching to the choir" but I do get very excited about the potential for organic farming to make a major difference in the world today.  And I know that you believe this too.  Thank you very much for your support and friendship.

Larry 
Posted 8/27/2010 9:22pm by Larry Brandenburg.
I hope that you saw the newspaper articles this past week dealing with agriculture.  No, I don't mean the $1.6 million country ham.  Front page of the Courier Journal was a story about corn and soybeans.  Actually, the story was about the adverse effect the hot weather was having on these crops.  Yields will be down considerably this year.  A couple days later there was another article about the weather's effect on vegetables.  It was the same article I had read the week before in the Lexington Herald-Leader and I shared some of the information with you in my last email.  The reason I hope that you read these articles is because now that you are a part of Community Supported Agriculture, any issue involving agriculture should arouse some interest, if not passion.  Also, you have personally experienced the effects that weather can have on crops.  People who go to the grocery store for all of their food have no idea what is going on here in Kentucky.  As Wendell Berry says, "If you eat, you are involved in agriculture."  It is our desire that after your experience as a CSA partner you will pay more attention to what is going on in the world of agriculture. (And I didn't even mention the toxic industrial farm eggs--probably the biggest national agriculture story this week.)

It has been a good week here at HFF as we have thoroughly enjoyed the cooler temperatures and lower humidity.  I wish that one week of cooler temps could make up fifteen weeks of hot weather, but it doesn't work that way with nature.  We are happy to be able to share eggplant and okra with you this week in addition to all the other good things you have been getting.  I am really disappointed in the big tomatoes but I do hold out hope.  I have heard from some people who are having success with them but most aren't.  Microclimates may be a part of the success stories.  Had I known the summer was going to be like this then I might have planted them in the woods! 

Since I began with challenging you increase your agriculture awareness, let me end by encouraging you to continue to grow in your agriculture literacy.  I know that many of you have read Michael Pollan's Omnivore's  Dilemma, but I would also encourage you to have a go with his In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.  The latest book I am reading is Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep us Safe by Marie Rodale.  Marie is the granddaughter of J. I. Rodale who essentially started the organic movement in America in 1942 with the publication of his magazine Organic Farming and Gardening.  The Rodale Institute is today one of the leading centers for organic research in he world.  And the magazine is still being published but is now called Organic Gardening. I have great hope that the message of this book will stir up enough people that we can change the direction we have been going with industrial agriculture.  Perhaps this fall and winter,if you wish, we could get together for discussion about this book and others that you might be reading.  We do miss seeing you during the dark of winter and this could enable us to keep up the connection.

I guess that I am "preaching to the choir" but I do get very excited about the potential for organic farming to make a major difference in the world today.  And I know that you believe this too.  Thank you very much for your support and friendship.

Larry 
Posted 8/6/2010 10:06pm by Larry Brandenburg.
I don't know where you were on Wednesday a little before 6:00 p.m. when the mercury hit 102, but I bet you can guess where we were.  That's right.  We were sitting in a nice air-conditioned theatre here in Shelbyville enjoying a summer blockbuster!  We never get to the movies during the summer but we made an exception this week.  It was just too hot.  

Most of our plants have been tolerating the heat much better than we have.  Except for the beans.  The only people I know who are having success with beans are some home gardeners who have them planted where they get some shade.  My father-in-law (who has been farming his entire 80 years of life) thinks that the hot weather in June was too hard on the blooms causing many of them to fall off.  I know that our yield this year is terrible. This week we picked 2.5 pounds of Royal Burgandy.  Normally we would have at least 50 pounds.  We are getting some production out of the Providers--only about 20-30 lbs./week-- but it is enough for us to give on an alternating basis.  Last week the Friday Farm Pick-Up Group got beans and this week the Saturday St. Matthew's Pick-Up Group will get beans.  We do have some more planted that are just beginning to bloom.  Let's hope for some more reasonable weather.

Last week everyone got a pint of cherry tomatoes and this week we are going to give TWO pints to everyone.  The other tomatoes are coming on but only the cherries have gotten the message that it's time to get with it.  Maybe the others will catch on.  Right now they are green with envy.  

Something that is not green are the cucumbers you will get this week.  They are a golden yellow and absolutely delicious.  I think you will enjoy them. Squash (both Yellow and Patty Pan) are still producing strong but the Zucchini is starting to play out.  Hopefully we will have some more Zucchini in a few weeks if our succession planting does well.

Potatoes will continue with a choice of four different varieties but we may not have Basil for much longer.  We are starting to see some watermelon but it is not yet ready. Won't be long.

I know that I sound like a broken record (or CD, or MP3) but we really enjoy growing food for you.  What gives us joy is knowing how much you appreciate and enjoy this partnership.  You have become part of a community that is bound together by a love for local, organic food.  For this we are indeed thankful.  Continue to spread the good word.

Larry

 
Posted 7/23/2010 7:25pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Hope you are enjoying the nice warm weather we have been having!  Remember these days when we are beset with snow and ice storms in January and February.  We had just gotten home last Saturday and unloaded the last of the market stuff when the clouds burst forth with an inch of rain in less than twenty minutes.  This was accompanied by seventy mph wind.  In fact, some places in Shelby County got ninety eight mph wind.  Needless to say, there has been a lot of damage here in our county.  Shelby and Pike counties were the only two in Kentucky declared disaster areas.  Many farmers here lost a large percentage of their crops to wind and hail damage.  Barns were destroyed and several houses lost their roofs when trees were uprooted and blew over on them.

Here at Harmony Fields Farm we spared most of the damage but we did have all of our corn blown down.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that we were able to salvage about forty percent of it.  So, this week all half-shares will get five ears of corn.  I had hoped to wait till later to pick it, but I feel really fortunate that we were able to harvest this much.  The raccoons would have loved getting it since it was down on their level.

Corn is very difficult to grow organically.  I think we are the only organic CSA in Kentucky that provides it for their members.  There are no cost efficient organic controls for the worms that inevitably get into the ears.  Be warned, you may find a worm or two.  They are usually at the top end and all you have to do is cut that part off.  The rest of the ear will be fine.  Also, some of the ears are smaller than I would like but they will be just fine.  We have two more succession plantings of corn, so hopefully you will get more next month and then again in September.

We started digging the Fingerlings today.  If this is your first experience with Fingerling Potatoes then you are in for a treat.  These are considered to be gourmet potatoes and they are best when roasted.  Have fun experimenting with different ways of cooking them.  You will get two quarts of potatoes this week and will be able to chose from two Fingerling varieties and either Yukon Golds or Red Norlunds.

Also this week we will have more Yellow Squash, Zucchini and Patty Pan Squash.  We are going to let you bag your own Basil (Genovese) this week.  This way you can choose your own amount. 

The tomatoes are looking good, they just aren't ready yet.  We did pick a few pints of cherry tomatoes but not enough yet to share with the CSA.  I do speak to them in a gentle, yet encouraging voice each day.  I don't think they are listening.  

We love getting to visit with each of you when you pick up.  Sometimes it can be a little hectic at the market when we have other customers trying to buy stuff, and it can even be hectic here on the farm as we are still finishing up harvesting.  However, it is the personal relationship that makes it all worthwhile.  A part of us goes home with you each week and the memories of your smiling faces keeps us going when it feels like 100 degrees out in the fields.

Next week I am going to start a four part series on local, organic food that will go out to our general mailing list. So, don't be surprised if you get two mailings from me next week.  

Thank you very much for being the kind of people you are.  You are different.  And because of this -- you are making a difference.

Larry 
Posted 7/16/2010 10:23pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Well, I guess that week 9 will have to be a retrospective since I ran out of time last week to get anything out.  So, I hope that you enjoyed the potatoes, onions and basil.  We really appreciate all the great comments we are getting.  We love it when you tell us "That was the best ______ I have ever tasted."  It is hard work growing vegetables organically.  Your words of encouragement help us get out of bed on hot, humid days and head to the fields.

I had an email this week from a good friend who is an organic grower just outside of Lexington.  She is having a terrible year with her squash and zucchini.  Cucumber Beetles and Squash Bugs have destroyed her crop.  She has even tried using some of the approved organic sprays but to no avail.  You can see why most farmers just get out the poisons and start spraying.  It is so discouraging  to see your beautiful crop wilt and drop over.  This is why there are so few organic growers in our state.  It is really hard work.

Speaking of things organic, I would like to make you aware of an organization known as OAK.  The Organic Association of Kentucky was formed last January at the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference with a goal of promoting organic agriculture and educating consumers about the advantages of organic food.  We are a young organization but I hope that you will want to become involved.  Check out the website at oak-ky.org.  Oh, and by the way, for some strange reason they elected me president.  Now you can go around and brag to your friends that your farmer is the president of OAK.  I know they will be impressed.  Ha!

I am very glad to inform you that we have not had any major problems with our squash or zucchini.  This week you will get Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Patty Pan Squash. As I have been telling you, we were late this year getting out our main crops due to weather and infrastructure needs.  However, it only took 28 days from the time we put the seed in the ground to gathering our first harvest.  Normally it takes about 45 days.  But, we have a few organic tricks up our sleeve that help us get there faster.  Beth and I went our tonight at 8:00 and picked an additional 45 pounds in 45 minutes. 

In addition to the above, you will also get five Onions, two bags of Thai Basil, and a quart each of Red Norlunds and Yukon Golds.  If for some reason you are ever challenged by what to do with your produce, just ask and we can make suggestions.  (We have a wonderful recipe for Thai Basil Ice Cream -- I love it, and I don't like ice cream!)

Tomorrow when you pick up you will be assisted by one of the young people who work for us.  Michael Lonneman is from Independence, KY and will be a senior at the U of L this fall majoring in Anthropology.  He came to us this spring as a work share CSA member (working four hours per week for a half share) and is now doing an internship with us through the U of L.  He is a great worker.  However, sometimes when he is digging potatoes he keeps digging trying to find an old skeleton or two.  You know how those Anthropologists are!

As always, thank you so much for your support of local, organic food.  Not only are you eating healthier and making the world a better place, but you are providing the opportunity for people like Michael to have a unique, perhaps life changing experience.

Larry 
Posted 7/2/2010 11:32pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Good Morning Everyone,

We just finished getting everything ready for tomorrow.  We will not be happy when the alarm goes off at 4:30.  However, the joy we get from providing food for you helps us forget how tired we are. 

Sorry that I have not been faithful in getting these emails out to you over the last few weeks.  We had some Internet connection challenges (goes with living in the wilderness) and our work days have just been non-stop.

We opened up some new ground this spring.  This helps us with our crop rotation and also allows us to let some of the old ground re-charge with cover crops.  The cover crops will be tilled in in the fall or next spring and will provide fertility and increase our organic matter for next year.  Organic farming involves a great deal of advanced planning.  We don't have the option of chemical sprays or fertilizers as the conventional farmers do.  "Rescue Chemistry" is what they call it.  We have to work "in tune with nature" and therefore we will not ever abuse or rush the precious soil we are building for future generations.

The new field has six "plots" and each will involve a three year rotation.  Most of the plots utilize black plastic mulch which is applied with a machine that makes a four inch raised bed and lays a drip tape under the plastic for irrigation.  By using drip irrigation we send the water directly to each plant and the black plastic keeps it from evaporating.  The plastic also heats up the soil which makes the plants really happy.  Of course the main reason we use it is to control weeds.

The challenge we had with this new field was getting water to it and it took a while to get 700 feet of water lines to four hydrants.  Therefore, we were much later getting the plants in the ground and this is where we are growing all of our tomatoes, squash, peppers, melons, beans, cucumbers, basil and okra.  But thanks to the advantages of the raised , warm, wet and weed free beds--things are doing very well.  You are already enjoying the Basil and it was planted on June 7. The other things are plugging right along but it will be a while longer.  It will be worth the wait.

This week we have seven items for your bag.   Red Norlund and Yukon Golds (potatoes) "Vidalia" onions (2), Beets, Basil, Green Onions, and your choice of one other item.

I will try to do better with these emails in the future.  May send out some random ramblings earlier in the week just to keep you posted on what happens on an organic farm.

As always, thank you for your support of local, organic food.  Together, we are making a difference in our world. 

Larry 
Posted 6/4/2010 8:29pm by Larry Brandenburg.
Friends,
I apologize for the lateness of this update but it has been another crazy week here at HFF.  The hay I had hoped to get in last weekend got rained on and I to re-rake it and fluff it before I could finally bale it on Wednesday and Thursday.  The rain won't hurt the bales we use for mulching but it does leach out nutrients that would be beneficial as livestock forage.

The heat continues and with it more of our lettuces are starting to become very uncomfortable.  Their biological clocks are not in sync with the unnatural rhythms of the seasons we are experiencing.  However, I think we might be able to coax a couple more weeks out of them.  It's the nighttime temperatures that are the most unsettling.  We did get two showers today so maybe that will cool down the soil a little bit.

This week was also filled with the mundane tasks of building infrastructure and doing equipment repair.  All farmers spend way too much time under a piece of equipment.  I had to repair the PTO shaft on the John Deere and the tiller decided to take on a large rock which Cody (one of our fine young workers) finally had to chisel out.  We also were finally able to run the water lines out to the pasture where we have put in six new plots for growing vegetables.  Had to to fix a major water leak ($800 water bill is how we discovered it) and then run 600 feet of new lines to four new hydrants.  It looks really nice now and we have started getting our transplants into the ground.  We are probably 2-3 weeks behind on some things but hopefully we can catch up quickly.

This week we have a lot of stuff for you.  Half Shares will get 2 pints of Strawberries (double from last week) 2 pints of Snow Peas, 1 Cabbage (Chinese style Cabbage) 2 Turnips with wonderful greens, 1 Kale, 1 Swiss Chard and the choice of Spinach or Arugula.  We will also offer you the option of an extra Snow Pea if would like that rather than the 2 Turnips.  

I hope that you will appreciate the extra bounty as this abundance may need to balance out any impatience while waiting on some of the crops that we have just now been able to get in the ground. 

Several of you have expressed your delight in the food we are providing for you.  There is nothing quite like fresh, local, organic food.  Some of you have recommended recipes and we are trying to figure out how to get this info onto our website.  One hint -- fresh Strawberries should be eaten as soon as possible.  They do not save well!

Come and visit us.  Watch your food grow. Savor the taste of a leaf or a fruit popping straight in your mouth after a one second journey of inches.  Let all of your senses take in the breathtaking marvel of nature.  Break a sweat and get your hands really, really dirty digging in the soil.  By becoming a part of our CSA you are directly connected to the land.  But, if you desire even more of a connection -- come on out and we will find a way for you to experience the joy that comes from seeing the miracle of seed becoming plant, plant becoming food, and food becoming a part of us. It's a reciprocal agreement.  It sustains us and we sustain it.  At least that's how we do it here at Harmony Fields.

Thank you for your commitment to local, sustainable, organic agriculture.  People like you are making a difference in the world.  Making it a better place.

Larry 
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