Uncategorized

“I carried a watermelon??” – Baby

All Planted for Fall

All Planted for Fall

Well we survived “Black Monday”. It wasn’t really black this year….surprisingly it wasn’t even 50 shades of Grey :). Sarah did a great job of holding down the fort at the farm while the new staff was trained at AKL. I have a lot to share this post and most of it is going to be pictures! What’s the saying….. a picture’s worth a thousand words….

Strawberry Paw Paws

Strawberry Paw Paws

OK, well here we go. The farm is busier than ever. We are still harvesting twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. I mentioned two weeks ago the pain of harvesting those potatoes. Well, the chef at AKL roasted some up with olive oil, salt and pepper. They were DELICIOUS!!! Almost dissipated the memory of the painful digging :).

Romaine

Romaine

IMG_1165

Planting Romaine beds

Planting Romaine beds

ROMAINE!!! I love this crop. When the deer aren’t eating it it does really well for us. We borrowed some string sprayed with deer repellant and posts from a researcher at the U of I to put around our adult bed. So far so good there is no damage to our adult crop. We have three rounds in the ground right now each bed two weeks behind the other in an attempt to have a constant supply of lettuce. I was able to get away from the training session at the frat last week and Sarah and I speed planted the 3rd bed. I plan to seed one more round of transplants in the green house this week and hopefully can squeeze it in before the days (sunlight) get too short. I harvested the first round today and it was absolutely lovely. I am so excited to hear feedback from the chefs.

Now that's a lot of watermelon

Now that’s a lot of watermelon

Lowboy

Lowboy

WATERMELON!!! HOLY WATERMELON!!!! I don’t think I need to say much more about this. Please reference the picture. I will say that the truck turned into a lowboy and I was slightly nervous driving it down the street to our cold storage facility 🙂

Sue's local lunch

Sue’s local lunch

I will end this post with the beautiful colors from our harvests. Summer is not over!!

Peppers

Peppers

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

Kale

Kale

Advertisements
Standard
Uncategorized

PO-TA-TOES

First delivery to the Greeks!! So excited!!

First delivery to the Greeks!! So excited!!

T-minus 6 days and counting until “Black Monday”, the day I refer to when the students are back, meals resume from summer break and somehow I have to go back into the kitchen to train a new staff yet maintain business as usual at the farm with triple the amount of land. No, we have not found enough research on cloning yet and yes, we are still looking into that 🙂 .  I have to say that the farm is in good shape and it is all hands on deck! Sarah is trained and ready to take the reins during harvest for the first week of class and even our HR director has graciously agreed to donate personal manual labor on this infamous holiday. Terrin (our HR director) came out Saturday and helped me finish harvesting our potatoes, which was a daunting task,  and I’m almost positive that was what caused him to take pity on us and help next Monday. It was either that or the begging. Total toss up at this point. 🙂

Big Tomato Harvest

Big Tomato Harvest

We had a dry run today with a gigantic harvest. The dorms and some of the sororities are back in session so we are definitely feeling business pick up. I had a lot of interest from new chefs/ clients at the meetings last week so we are eager to see what this season holds. This is just in time since almost all of our crops are ready to roll. We sold 900 lbs of tomatoes, watermelon, peppers, the last of our squash (which just doesn’t seem to want to die) and the first of our romaine for the fall. Sarah and I are harvesting Mondays and Thursdays with Tuesday and Friday being our delivery days throughout the week.

Beautiful Paw Paw Reds

Beautiful Paw Paw Reds

Terrin helping at the farm

Terrin helping at the farm

At the end of last week Sarah and I started harvesting our three 180ft potato beds, with Terrin and myself finishing Saturday. I WILL NEVER GROW POTATOES AGAIN!!! This was incredibly labor intensive and I seriously want to charge $50/ lb instead of the $2/ lb, which we will be getting. Before the harvest I pitched it to Sarah that it would be fun, like an archeological dig, and within ten minutes she told me she never wanted to see another potato again, EVER. Needless to say we made it through and some crops just aren’t worth the labor. Although they are beautiful, potatoes are one of those crops 🙂

******Side note: I will not be blogging next week as we will be busy with the beginning of meal service. I will be taking a lot of pictures so please stay tuned. Wish us luck 🙂

Standard
Uncategorized

Sayonara Squash! It’s been real!

No more squash

No more squash

Adios Squash! You were of great value to me this year. When I planted you I had no idea that you would be such a work horse. You gave me almost 2,000 lbs of produce and I thank you greatly! Until next year my friend, well sort of my friend when you weren’t stinging the bejesus out of me and Sarah.

All Planted

All Planted

Broccoli

Broccoli

The farm is all planted for fall. It is such a good feeling to be prepared and ready this year. The extra land allowed me more space to grow a variety of seasonal “quick” crops that I could turn around for fall. Our broccoli has almost doubled in size from when we put it in the ground last week. It is always amazing to me how quickly everything can change in a matter of days. Planting into the landscape fabric worked perfectly, except for some minor drip tape repairs. I so desperately wish we would have used it in the spring but you live and learn and I will know now for next year.

Little Beet

Little Beet

The kale, chard and beets are coming along swimmingly. I found out that Sarah is a master fast weeder so she has been doing an amazing job keeping those beds nice.

Kale

Kale

Well I must admit I caught a lot of flack from the farmers for transplanting carrots. I was so disheartened in spring when the weeds took over the direct seeded beds that I vowed to transplant EVERYTHING! They turned out beautiful!! They are large and vibrant green. Because we planted in transplants, they did not have to be thinned and we can clearly decipher between plant and weed when doing maintenance to the bed top. It turned out to be a brilliant idea.

Carrot transplants ARE a good idea

Carrot transplants ARE a good idea

By taking on this farm project I have been wearing many different hats. Some days I am a farmer, some I’m an accountant, sometimes I’m a bookkeeper and sometimes I’m a chef. I must say, and you can ask Sarah, that I HATE being in front of a computer. It is sheer torture for me. I knew that I needed to find ways to market the farm this year and help get the word out to the clients. I came up with an idea to print postcards to pass out at the different accounts. Well, I have been working on this off and on for a good two months. I got the design I wanted, had some photography that I took of the farm and also knew what I wanted to say. For some reason I had trouble putting it all together. That is when my friends (and fellow incubator plot participant) the Kinkelaar’s told me one of their sons knew graphic design. Dustin helped me get my idea to the printer and it was absolutely beautiful! A million thank you’s to that amazingly talented family!! Here is the finished product:

IMG_0991 IMG_0992

Standard
Uncategorized

Heavy Weight Champions

so many...

so many…

ba badadum badadum badadum …. AND THE HEAVY WEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE FARM ARE THE TOMATOES!!!!! We

Heartbreaking Monday Mistake

Heartbreaking Monday Mistake

pulled 600 lbs last week and again this week. I’m walking with a limp :). This time of year makes me nervous because we are at the brink of farm busy season. The part that makes me nervous is that we are between camps at the dorms and classes starting. Crazy props to the chefs because although some of them are not feeding numbers like they have been, they are still taking quantity to help process. I really thought this week would be the week for begging and bribes. So far so good. I have sold EVERYTHING :). So far it is taking us almost 3/4 of a day to harvest tomatoes, sort and clean up containers so they are ready for the next harvest. Starting this week we are going to go to two day a week harvests. This is a BIG project and I am being uber aware of the time restraints we are going to be facing soon. Hopefully we will have hired help by that point. The word is out!

IMG_0921

Tomatoes may be the headliner this week but they are certainly not the whole story. This weather has been puuuuuuurrrrfect for our peppers, who have now made almost a full recovery from the BS. We had a small but fragrant harvest of hot peppers and bells. Sarah even spotted a Carmen turning red!

Watermelon Jungle

Watermelon Jungle

Neighbor Incubator Watermelon (cubs hat for scale)

Neighbor Incubator Watermelon
(cubs hat for scale)

Backing up is hard

Backing up is hard

We have been working really hard on trying to get rid of this Bacterial Spot – Bullshit! It has been so nice using the tractor sprayer instead of the backpack. There is no way we would be able to finish everything we need to do if we were on foot. That being said. . . next year when I am in farm planning mode I need to remember to arrange things with a 4ft tractor going down the beds. For example, I should not have planted watermelon and squash at the end of my tomato beds. Those big bushy vining plants do not allow for a tractor to drive through or turn around. For those of you that have never backed up a itsy bitsy teeny trailer behind a tractor….. let me tell you….. it does not save time. After the seventh time of trying to get it back down the tomato bed with a total of a one foot grace period, Jeremy finally hopped on and got it out for me. It was not without a good laugh and a small “what the hell were you thinking??”.  Good times…

Planting for fall

Planting for fall

Between harvesting tomatoes, peppers, watermelon and (oh yeah) squash (the squash are still producing 400 lbs a week) Sarah and I are vigorously trying to plant for fall. We got all of our kale and chard in the ground last week. This week we will be planting broccoli, more carrots, romaine (succession planting) and beets.

Standard