Anyway, it's time to get back to planting! Thanks for reading.
After 3 months of camping in national forests looking for land, a year and a half of living in a glorified shed, and 6 months of living with family up north, we are finally in our REAL home!
We are thrilled and farming seems a touch easier now with some creature comforts! (Look! I'm writing a blog post on a COMPUTER!) We did pretty well last year with the farm considering our steep learning curve growing vegetables in a totally different climate than Texas. We are also seeing the effects of global warming first hand and adjusting our planting times, plant varieties, etc. to adapt. On a lighter note, I am really excited about this year! We've got a BCS walk behind tractor which is making preparing beds a lot more efficient. We had a well drilled last summer for our house and were able to run some irrigation down to our crops, which is a huge improvement compared to pumping 55 gallons of water at a time into a cistern, followed by filling watering cans and watering by hand! I don't even want to think about what the summer/fall would have been like without irrigation during the drought.
We keep expanding our little farm with terraces going up the sloped land, so we can increase production (it looks pretty cool too!) We're continuing our CSA and we'll have pickups on Tuesdays at the West Asheville Tailgate Market and Mondays at our farm. We had some really nice CSA boxes last year and I only see them getting better this year. We'll be at the ASAP CSA fair March 16th at Jubilee, so come on out and meet us! Learn more here.
We're also on the Pedal to Plate Tour again this year put on by our friends at Root Bottom Farm. The cycle tour offers 33 challenging miles, over 2,600 ft of climbing, 5 farm tours and a farm to table dinner at Root Bottom Farm. Last year was really fun and the food was delicious! Learn more and buy tickets here.
Anyway, it's time to get back to planting! Thanks for reading.
So, it's almost Winter and we can finally step back from the farm. It's strange to me how much creative energy it takes to grow vegetables! I went to art school before becoming a farmer and I don't get around to making much art until Winter. I hope to get back into making ceramics this year and I've already been painting a bit. I've put up some prints in my Square shop if you interested! Click here to shop!
You'll also notice our CSA share listed in our shop, it's not too early to sign up for 2017. It makes a great Christmas gift too! ;-)
Happy Holidays Everyone!
It's been too long since I've written anything about what we're up to. This year has been a wild ride! We set out on our journey from Austin to North Carolina with no plans except for an air BnB camping reservation for 1 week and a mission to find land. We arrived in Asheville in April with our big canvas tent and our dog Chappy. Until then, I had never camped for more than one night. Throughout April, May, and June we camped in all kinds of places, on a farm, in the Pisgah National Forests, in Durham, on the coast, and in Tennessee. Those might have been some of the best times of my life. It was rough at times, like when bears tried to get into our tent one night and when we got lost in the middle of the Pisgah National Forest those couple of times, but it was incredible living in such beautiful forests and being surrounded by nature. We went swimming in ice cold clear mountain streams, saw black bears and all kinds of wildlife, foraged for food, went on long hikes, saw LOTS of waterfalls and cooked delicious meals over the fire. We would occasionally stay at a motel to take showers, watch Game of Thrones, do laundry, and sleep in a dry place. I always slept better in the tent, though.
We drove all over Madison County looking at real estate listings and "for sale" signs that were off the radar. Seeing all of the old tobacco barns, log cabins, and rusty old horse-drawn farming implements made us feel like we had stepped into a time machine that took us back to the 1930's. We saw so many cool properties! We checked out one place that had an old log cabin and barn. The chimney had collapsed, but the craftsmanship inside was beautiful. Outside of the cabin was an abandoned car camouflaged by the plants that had been slowly burying it over the years. At another property, there was an old saw mill that looked frozen in time, with a log still sitting on the conveyor belt ready for the huge saw blade in front of it. There were lots of old canning sheds filled with mason jars and I'll never forget the creepy screen door that conveniently swung open as we approached a long abandoned house. Our time travel experience was only enhanced by a CD Matt stumbled upon called "Hard Times in the Country", a compilation of song recordings from the 1930's featuring song titles such as, "Cotton Mill Blues", "Prohibition is a Failure", "Got the Farmland Blues", and my favorite "Don't Put the Tax on the Women".
We ended up buying 5 acres of raw land in Marshall. Four acres were cleared at the bottom where tobacco grew at one time, and later cows grazed. It's been years since anyone has done anything besides bush hog it once a year and I'm happy to say that the soil is beautiful! It's full of earthworms. The only problem is that there is a lot of invasive grass with deeply rooted rhizomes that grow in bunches and expand every year. Our big walk behind tiller does not tear up the roots at all, so a lot of time has been spent digging up the grass with a mattock. Let's just say we've built some muscles!
After lots of hard labor, we planted some Fall crops! We didn't anticipate having so many flea beetles, so we had to restart most of the brassicas, but luckily the Fall was mild and the plants were able to mature. We watered our plants by hand from the spring on our land during dry spells, which became another nice workout! We started a CSA, sold to some restaurants in Asheville and to the Madison Natural Food Store. We set up at the Marshall Farmers Market on the Island a few times in November and are returning in Spring.
Once we closed on our land we set up camp in a rustic cabin (AKA a fancy shed) and have been living off the grid for 5 months. Our shed was not quite Winter-ready, so we headed up to Massachusetts to stay with family for the Winter. When we lived in Austin there was never a break from growing seasons. I thought I would miss it, but I'm actually enjoying this Winter break! I took a ceramics class for the first time and have had a lot of creative energy. It will be nice to feel refreshed going back into the Spring season. We are heading back soon to start Spring crops and are having a legit house built as well! I think 2016 is going to be a good year. You can sign up for our CSA this year right here!
Yes, it's true. Spent and I are moving to the Asheville area of North Carolina at the end of this month. We visited there last Summer and fell in love with it while escaping the 110° heatwave in Austin. But really, it's the best way for us to follow our dreams of farming on a larger scale (not huge, but more than 2 backyards) and starting a farmhouse brewery. We would like a large piece of land, so we've decided to sacrifice the house part and live in a tent while we build our own house. This will be an adventure to say the least! I hope to be able to keep everyone updated with pictures, etc.
Austin has been great to us! We will miss everyone so much and I cannot tell you how nice it feels to hear people in the food community tell us we will be missed. I really feel like we became a part of something bigger here, which feels especially nice because our farm is so small. We've met amazing people and have made great friends. I gotta say, farmers are my favorite people now. Recently, there hasn't been much to do in the gardens, so I've been helping out other farmers to learn and for fun! I wish I made more time to do that a long time ago, because all of these people are so smart, generous, and inspiring. I thank them for sharing what they do. I want to thank so many people for their support: the markets and our customers; restaurants who support local farms; In.gredients; the Texas Young Farmers Coalition; The Compost Pedallers; fellow farms; and a HUGE thanks to Beth and RC who own Texas Coffee Traders for letting me take over their old backyard. Without which I couldn't have grown enough to sell. I can only hope that Asheville, or whatever town we end up in, will be just as nice to us. Wish us luck! We'll miss you Austin!
I have enjoyed making sauerkraut, kimchi, and fermented pickles for a few years now. Once I started making these delicious sour concoctions, I swear my body started to crave them! I say "my body" because it's a different craving than when I want something salty or sweet, which satisfies my mind, it's a craving that satisfies the body because it is actually nourishing. Fermented foods are full of beneficial probiotics, enzymes, B-vitamins, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
This year, I set out to grow everything I would need to make kimchi. I almost did it! I am happy to say I've grown carrots, daikon radishes, green onions, green garlic, and cabbage. The cabbage is still coming along slowly but surely. It slipped my mind that I would need dried chilies, so that's a plan for next year, and I've got to figure out how to grow ginger. Ginger is not something that is commonly grown in Texas.
I had so many daikons that I decided to ferment some on their own, greens included. Radish greens are often discarded even though they're edible. I'll admit, I don't usually want to eat them either, so I figured I would give them a shot this way. I was hoping the greens might come out like pickled mustard greens, which I love in ramen or phở. I added some of my husband's lactobacillus starter which accelerated the fermentation process and resulted in deliciously sour, crispy, pickled daikons (you can pick up one of his lacto kits at here or at Dai Due). The greens came out as I expected too, delicious, woohoo!
Upon further investigation I learned that pickled daikons are called "Takuan" in Japan and are often served at the end of a meal to aid digestion. They also help clean your blood, eliminating the toxins through the kidneys, liver, sweat glands and digestive tract. Nice! Right?
Here's my recipe if you'd like to try it out! I will forewarn you, during the fermentation process, when you open these babies up to taste them, you're going to think "who the heck cut the cheese?!?!", but once they taste the way you like and you stick them in the fridge, they will not smell nearly as strong, just bear with them for a bit! It's worth it!