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New Terra Farm News -- Factoids of Interest to the organic foodie
August 13, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Written & Published by Scott Kelland
Written at New Terra Farm
13510 County Rd 15
New Terra Farm News is sent only to those who have requested it. We value your privacy and never share our mailing list with anyone. To Cancel or Change your subscription, use the links at the bottom of this e-mail.
Special note to CSA customers: please have the previous delivery bag ready for pick up when the new delivery comes. We are running short of bags because many have not come back.
Happy August, CSA supporters! The weird weather continues, but the effort goes on.
here's what we have in this issue:
1. Opening Notes
We have a somewhat different promotion going on right now, the story is as follows:
As many of you know, a couple years ago we made the decision that 2008 would be the 'transition' year to a full-time farm business. To help accomplish this, we developed a 5-year business plan, expanded the garden and sought out partners to help us expand our business line. We also sought out investors, who (thank you!) provided us funds to help finance the expansion.
This was not driven solely by the desire for a bigger business and more money (although there's nothing wrong with that). We actually had a vision of forming a model of a successful, sustainable small farm, that provides right living for the farm partners, right rewards for customers, and a right example for others to emulate.
In other words, we wanted to be teachers and guides as well as farmers, because we believe the knowledge of growing great food naturally will be needed more than ever in the near future.
This vision has attracted some wonderful people to us e.g. Martine, James and Amber who help us in the garden, Roger, Joanne and Allan that we did workshops with, Tony and John who provided us their vision (and lo! it was compatible with ours) and who may become partners in the future, and some great WWOOFERs to help us as well.
We also met great, like-minded local businesses like Little Stream Bakery, Sam Jakes Inn, EcoGen Energy, TOSH Gardens, Sweet Meadow farm, Mountain Path Mill and others. There are lots of commited small businesses out there with a vision too.
So, what does this mean? Well, I think New Terra Farm is moving through yet another transition; we are probably going to become a different kind of entity (at least business-structure-wise).
Some of you (i.e. those who have seen the 5-year plan and perhaps have invested in the farm expansion) know that we planned to hold the farm separate from the corporate structure we are creating. We are contemplating changing that, and creating an actual farm corporation, with New Terra Farm as one of the corporate assets.
There are several reasons for this change in approach:
So, if you think you might be interested in owning a piece of an organic farm and supporting our vision, contact me for more details. You can get the grand tour of the farm, and see where we plan to go with all this. firstname.lastname@example.org or 613 269-3884.
Opening NotesAn unusually challenging week here at the farm, starting with a predator attack (a fisher we believe, from the kill pattern) that killed 57 chickens in one night. Our electric fence charger blew a fuse (middle of the night of course) and the bad guys moved in. Goes to show you that nature is not very far away, waiting outside our fences.
It's too late in the year to start more meat birds, so the availability of chicken will be reduced a bit this fall. We do still have a few from the first July batch and still have the third batch coming later this year.
Re gardening, seems like all Eastern Ontario growers are flagging under wet and cool conditions, even in August. We went to the Perth farmer's market last weekend, and the selection of vegetables was way under par compared to most seasons. Like us, few growers had any of the hot weather veggies - e.g. tomatoes, peppers, eggplant - ripe yet.
We spoke to a few growers there, and its seems that many bugs are around later in the year than usual as well. I know we have flea beetles and tarnish bugs past their usual season. This is taking a toll on the broccoli and cabbage.
Most things in the garden are doing OK, surviving if not thriving. We lost a lot of our big sweet onions, the ground was just too wet even in raised beds and they began to rot. Luckily we pulled the garlic a little earlier than usual, so that crop is mostly OK.
We keep struggling with head and leaf lettuces, weather stress is making them bolt and become very bitter before they are big enough to pick. The field greens are producing but in reduced amounts; we are starting more for fall harvest.
But the beans, summer squash and cukes are doing well and producing LOTS of fruit. And the carrots seem to be producing steadily but slowly. We have planted our new movable hoophouse with tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in an attempt to keep them producing later in the season.
On the plus side, I haven't turned my irrigation hoses on once this year!
This section will be of interest to farmers and those considering the leap to farm living – or any of you curious folks who just gotta read EVERYTHING!
Before the sale, you have to find ways to help your customer find your stuff; even more than that you should help them find the RIGHT stuff from what you have to offer. For example we try to 'customize' each delivery bag for our customers, giving them more of the things they like and none of the stuff they don't (when the garden allows).
We also try to accommodate customer preferences for delivery day. So customer service is partly about making it easier for the customer to buy from you.
But after the sale the service needs to continue. We believe in trying to accommodate all reasonable requests from our customers. We have occasionally switched delivery days, have dropped off veggies at alternate locations, or have substituted other farm goodies for some of the veggies (let me hasten to add these were all special circumstances, this is not standard policy!)
Another key element of customer service is communication; you need to be both pro-active and responsive in communicating with customers. The onus of communication is on the one who wants to get the message out. This is (usually) YOU. So make every effort to get important information to your customers. We use our web-site, flyers, personal phone calls, and this newsletter for that purpose.
And make it easy for customers to reach you e.g. our phone number and address is on every page of our web-site.
And finally, make sure to return calls and e-mails promptly! We have been guilty of violating this, sometimes due to technology issues (our e-mail was wonky for a while after the Great Computer Melt-down earlier this year), and sometimes we were just overwhelmed with stuff and didn't respond promptly. This is a customer service no-no; nobody likes to think they are being ignored.
So, while you are caught up in the many, many, MANY details of trying to keep a farm and a business running, it is easy to lose sight of WHY you are doing this. The 'why' is your customers, those nice people who are giving you money (and positive feedback, hopefully, if you are doing things right). They are the reason you are in business, so look after 'em!
Snap beans are a 'snap' to grow (obvious pun, sorry) and if you pick the right varieties you can get a lot of beans out of a small space. We plant several different kinds here on the farm, for variety and for their different qualities.
We find that dark-seeded bush beans can be planted a week or so before our last frost date. The lighter-seed beans should wait a couple weeks. We plant 4 rows of beans across our 32” wide beds, and plant the seeds about 6” apart in the rows. When the seedlings are well up,we give them a little boost with ½ strength fish emulsion.
Beans don’t like sprinklers, so use drip hose to give them about an inch of water a week, or water at the base of the plant with a hose or watering can.
Depending on the type of bean, successive plantings about three weeks apart will keep the harvest coming all season. Figure that each plant will produce about ¼ lb of beans over its life. Some types, like ‘Provider’, will produce over a longer period, as long as you keep them well picked.
You can also plant pole beans and grow them up a trellis; we grow a couple types of pole beans, which (in my humble opinion) taste better and also freeze better than most bush beans. The secret here is you need a strong, tall (5-6 foot) trellis, because a fully-loaded pole bean trellis weighs a LOT. We use 8-foot steel T-posts, spaced about 15 feet apart, driven into the ground about 30 inches deep, and strong nylon netting strung on wire between the posts. Plant pole beans seeds on each side of the trellis, spaced about 6 inches apart. You can run a drip irrigation hose down the trellis line for watering. Wait until a week or so past last frost to plant pole beans
Most pole beans varieties will keep producing all season as long as you don't let the beans mature on the vines.
When the first beds of beans are finished, pull up the vines and compost them. Because the beans fix nitrogen in the soil, this bed makes a great place to plant late season lettuces or brassicas.
Roasted Snap Beans
Preheat your oven to 450F. Lightly grease a large shallow pan or cooking sheet with oil.
Put the beans on the sheet in a single layer, and drizzle with olive oil. Roll the beans about to cover with the oil.
Roast for about 15 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan for even cooking.
When beans are well browned, remove, put on a serving platter, and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve while hot.
With apologies to Trooper, here is the world-famous New Terra Farm arrangement of Raise a Little Ham!
If you don't like
Raise a little ham
If you don't like what you see
Raise a little ham ...
In the end
Raise a little ham ...
Nobody's going to stop you
Thank you, thank you very much, any of that deep fried-banana left?.
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