Little Peace Farm

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Little Peace Farm Blog

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 12/3/2009 9:41am by Michael Scheidel.

Hey good folks.  Those who are in the area were sure to have enjoyed the 40 mph. gusts of wind and rain last night.  I spent a good deal of time in bed thinking about what was potentially being destroyed outside.  The egg-mobile was first in my head.  That's what I made to house our pastured egg layers.  Well, the hens were fine this morning, the egg-mobile upright and a beautiful sunrise it was!

We are in the process of acquiring a loan for purchase of the farm which has been a very difficult process in this tight lending market!  We're stressed but trustful that all will go well.  We'll keep you posted! 

We are currently accepting new members for the 2010 season.  Take a look at the details below and let us know if you are interested.  We are expanding for next season in volume and offerings.  Note that we are offering a limited number of egg shares so first come, first served!

Anyway, I hope all are well.  Looking forward to hearing from you soon and keep in touch!

2010 MEMBERSHIP
We are currently requesting $50 deposits or full payments for half and full vegetable shares and additional shares for the 2010 season.  We are expanding our membership for next year so spread the word!  Here are the details:

Half Share=$295; 6 items per week; 18 weeks
Full Share=$520; 10 items per week; 18 weeks
*we will not be offering free flowers and herbs for the 2010 growing season (read below)!

GOOD STEWARD SHARES
We are again offering our members the opportunity to sponsor an anonymous family in the area.  Last season, 10% of our members were recipients of Good Steward Shares.  If you are interested in sponsoring a family, let us know.  You can either purchase a half share or donate any amount to our Good Steward Share Bank.  When we reach the cost of a half share, we will add another family.  If we fall short, Little Peace Farm will pick up the difference.  We will identify the families and share with them our farm information.
 
ADDITIONAL SHARES
We learned that a valuable addition to our farm this year was the cut flowers and expansion of the herbs we grow.  We are offering for 2010 a flower and herb share.  This entitles a member one bunch of cut flowers and two bunches of herbs per week.  Our herbs include: basil(multiple varieties), parsley, fennel, chives, rosemary, chervil, savory, thyme, oregano, tarragon, cilantro,  mint, among others.  The cost is  $70 for the 18 week season in addition to the half or full vegetable share.

We are also offering a small number of egg shares this year.  Our hens are pastured and fed a layer ration and lay some beautiful eggs.  The cost for a dozen eggs per week is $35 for the 18 week season.   

NEW PICK UP SITE
We have decided to drop the Schuylkill Haven Farmer's Market for next year.  We were losing a significant amount of money and time there, although we enjoyed the market.  So we are offering two pick up sites for next year; the Pottsville Farmer's Market on Saturdays and at Little Peace Farm.  We have not decided on a day for farm pick up but it will likely be towards the beginning/middle of the week.   We'll keep you posted. 

WHICH CAME FIRST... 
Well for us, it was the chicken.  This summer we pastured 30 birds which are now in our freezer.  It went well although our simple system could use some changes.  We're considering growing pastured meat birds for customers but want to make sure we've got a grasp on the process so stay tuned.  

Oh, the final addition is our baby who is due in early January!  We'll keep you posted.

Posted 7/9/2009 11:51am by Michael Scheidel.

One more piece of great news, garlic is in!  We'll have it at markets starting today!

Enjoy.

Posted 7/9/2009 11:26am by Michael Scheidel.

The warm and dry weather has kept me from my communication duties but I wanted to take the time before market today to update you on farm news.

Late Blight!

Late blight is the same fungus that caused the great Irish Potato Famine and it has reared it's ugly head here in PA due to the historic wet and cool weather this spring.  It has never been detected so early in this part of the country and the source is apparently from Wal-Mart/Home Depot stores selling infected plants that they got shipped in from the south!  The tomatoes home gardeners planted have spread the pathogen spores all over the northeast region. 

An alert from Penn State went out to growers over a week ago and since then me and lots of other growers have been losing sleep trying to decide how to proceed.  The problem mostly exists for those of us who stay away from chemical sprays.  The most effective sprays are used in conventional growing and there are very few OMRI (certified for organic production) listed products that are effective in stopping blight.  Late blight is a virtual death sentence for tomatoes and potatoes. 

After LOTS of reflection I have decided to use a combination of some OMRI listed copper products with a conventional fungicide.  Since I don't have a licence to spray anything very strong, I will spray whatever the average Joe can buy at Agway and will limit my applications as much as possible.  The loss of all of my tomatoes and potatoes would mean a virtual collapse of our business and we have worked too hard to stop here.  I thought you all should know.

 

NEW ALLENTOWN MARKET

We've joined a new market (the Plaza Grower's Market) at the base of the PP & L building in Allentown on Wednesdays from 11:30-1:30.  It is a very new market and has thus far yielded weak results but I think the potential is there and I really enjoy meeting new people in the same business.  The Allentown Brew Works is purchasing our produce weekly to put on their weekly sepcials menu.  There is live music every week and organic coffee, awesome hot food, AWESOME LITTLE PEACE VEGGIES, and honey.  Stop out if anyone is in town on Wednesdays.

 

Anyway, I hope all are well.  Pray that we survive blight and check us out at our markets and on the website.

PS...we promise some current photos soon! 


Posted 6/18/2009 7:14am by Michael Scheidel.

RAIN

Normally I wouldn't have the time or energy to type a coherent entry but the weather has given me the opportunity to do so.  Lancaster Farming, a weekly newspaper that we subsribe to, reported that as of June 13th Lancaster received 2.12 inches of rain; normal is 1.46.  However, looking at year to date data, they were at 14.65 inches, more than one inch below this time last year.  Normal year to date is 18.44.  Now, I'm no meteorologist but I make a living that is weather dependent.  This is no normal year so far.  The rain and clouds have been unrelenting, slowing down the whole growing process.  Last Saturday, we saw pockets of nickel sized hale in the region.  A farmer friend in Kutztown said he had a foot of water flowing through his tomato field!  I saw a bit of soil washed away from my fields as well.  Frustrating to say the least but at least I have other growers to commiserate with!

NEW MARKET

Aside from our two local markets, we were invited to join the Plaza Growers Market at the foot of the PP&L building in Allentown on Wednesdays during lunch.  I have  a crew here at the farm picking and washing while I'm away but it's never the same as when the control monger (me) is here to oversee and help get the work done.  Gas is expensive and it is a 100 mile round trip.  So far, turnout has been disappointing, however I am optomistic that the market has real potential to grow so we are going to try to stick this one out and help promote the market.

HARVEST

Currently, we are harvesting over 15 different varieties of veggies: kale (2), head lettuce (4), peas (2), garlic scapes, lettuce mixes (2), parsley, radishes (2), chard (3), pac choi, and tatsoi.  In the weeks to come look for the following items to hit the table: summer cabbages, collards, beets and carrots, fava beans, green beans, and several herbs.

July will bring garlic, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, summer squash, beets, carrots, herbs, cut flowers, wax and bush beans, and all kinds of summer salad lettuce and mixes. 

STRAWBERRIES

We tested some strawberries this year and liked the results we got.  Yields could have been better but we are confident enough that we've ordered a few thousand plants to get in the ground in mid-late July.  Our hope is that we'll have lots available next June!

THANK YOU

A big "thank you" goes out to all those who help here in the fields.  Some are family and others are friends but all are part of this endeavor to grow the freshest, healthiest food around.  Thanks to all of our loyal CSA members and customers who keep us going.  It is encouraging to know we are supported by those who not only are concerned about their food origins but simply want good food. 

Happy eating!

m

 

 

 

 

 

Posted 6/7/2009 9:06pm by Michael Scheidel.

Well good folks, we survived the first week of our season.  Despite the rain, clouds, flea beetles, broken vehicles, all went very well.  Most of our local CSA members visited the farm for their first pick up instead of picking up at the markets.  This was a great opportunity for us to see everyone and to show everyone what we do.  I believe it really takes a first hand experience to build confidence and community.  The markets in Schuylkill Haven and Pottsville went well and I even mustered-up the guts to drive my new 1984, 24 FOOT LONG, Herr's potato chip truck to both markets.  Folks, I'll be straight, I'm terrified driving this thing.  I'll get used to it but man is it big and loud!  The sugar snap peas are perfect right now and the giant snow peas are right behind.  The garlic scapes are our family's favorite right now.  This morning Emily sautéd baby rainbow chard and scapes and mixed it with scrambled eggs.  MMMMMM, garlic.  The spicy greens add a nice bite to salad and the lettuce mix is on the table daily, usually topped with Easter-egg radishes.  I hope you have all been enjoying as much as we have.  Next week we hope to have a few varieties of head lettuce, kale, tatsoi and pac choi among others. 

This week we are trying out a new market in Allentown in addition to our two others.  They started last year with limited success but have since dedicated a market manager with some motivation to make it work.  Stay tuned for more.  For now, I need to sleep... Thank you all for your interest and support.

m

Posted 5/18/2009 8:51pm by Michael Scheidel.

Well, in response to Dolores's question as to how we fared the storm on Saturday night...the greenhouse held up just fine.  No damage and no flooding.  All of the drip irrigation lines that were in the field were tangled up in a knot but not a big deal.  I won't know if the seed I put in the day of and before the storm survived until germination which may take up to a week. 

Amazingly, we lost no branches from the BIG old oaks that we have here and suffered no immediate damage.  That was a wicked one but it brought NO hail. 

Now tonight, two days after our traditional last-frost-date they are calling for pockets of frost across the area.  So Em, Ari, and I moved 65 flats of tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumbers, squash and eggplant into our basement.  This has been a very tricky spring regarding growing conditions.  Luckily, we're small.  Other large scale crop farmers haven't been able to get into their fields at all.  So across the state, farmers are behind on planting corn and cutting hay. 

Time to rest.  I shoveled poop all day!

mike

 

 

Posted 5/16/2009 8:11pm by Michael Scheidel.

STORM

Well, it's quiet now.  Kids are in bed sleeping.  Even Casea our dog is out.  However, Emily and I sit and wonder if our greenhouse made it through the storm.  We just had a VERY strong thunderstorm with heavy winds and lots of rain.  Through the flashes of lightning I could see that the greenhouse was holding up.  I just don't know if it flooded inside.  My biggest worry, besides the buildings coming down, is all the seed I put in the ground today...atomic red heirloom carrots, two varieties of red beets and golden beets.  I transplanted about 400 swiss chard plants too...  I just wont know if the seed washed away until germination...or not.  I believe they were calling for hail too but I didn't see or hear any.  I hope everyone else made it ok.

TOO WET...

If you haven't noticed or you don't live in this part of the country, we have had a very wet spring.  Most farmers who depend on heavy machinery have been completely unable to get into their fields.  Fortunately, I can do a lot by hand (or foot) so I have been able to do some field work.  But I, like most other growers, am behind in getting field work done.  It's simply been too wet. 

FROST???

Typically, the last frost date in these parts is about May 15th, yesterday.  Welp, I've grown mistrustful of the weatherman but pay attention to his forecasts like my life depends on it.  They are calling for mid thirties tomorrow night and almost as cold the next.  Now I'm glad I didn't set my tomatoes and basil out yet.  I was going to but, gee it was too wet to plant (see TOO WET... above).  About a week ago we got a cold evening down into the upper thirties.  I don't know if this farm is succeptable to frost (cold pocket) but I wasn't taking any chances so I shoveled about three cubic yards of hot steamy mushroom compost in and covered the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil with tarps.  Welp it worked!  Let's see if I can figure out how to evade a freeze this time.

SEASON BEGINS

Less than three weeks away from the Markets and CSA start up.  We are really excited about getting started.  We'll have lots of greens as usual for the first couple of weeks but should have a good mix by mid June.  If all goes well  we will have over 90 varieties of herbs, vegetables, and flowers this year.  We are still looking for a van to haul veggies with.  I'm thinking something like what Jed Clampet drove in the Beverly Hillbillies!

Aside from this crazy storm, things have been sunny here in more ways than one.  I got a tri-axle load of poop!  Actually aged mushroom compost.  I've been able to amend this new soil (new to me that is...) with the hopes of building tilth and an overall healthy meduim to grow in.  Casea (the dog) has been working hard scouting the property and killing groundhogs.  She's gotten two so far.  We've caught snakes and fish and even buried a couple of birds. 

Anyway, as always, I hope all are well.  Lets pray for just the right mix of sun and rain.  If my seed keeps getting washed away, we'll have one crazy salad bowl in our fields!

Peace.

 

Posted 5/1/2009 12:55pm by Michael Scheidel.

Welp, I've been joking with the folks who have been helping with the move to the farm saying, "This doesn't feel much like farming!"  It seems like all we have been doing is moving lots of furniture and boxes of our stuff.  I haven't been able to do much field work because of the move.  One thing that the move has made us realize that WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF. 

However, due to the help of some incredible family and friends, we're in the farm house!  We moved in this past weekend.  We are all adjusting to the new environment.  Em and I are frustrated by living out of boxes and not knowing exactly where everything is.  The kids are seemingly oblivious to the frustration and are loving their new home and farm.

The greenhouse is built and just needs to be covered with plastic.  Then our flats will have a home. 

Here are a few things we have ready to transplant into the field or that have been recently direct seeded: cabbage (3 varieties), lettuce (same), chard, spinach, beets, carrots, peas, fava beans, lettuce mix, spicy greens mix, scallions, red onions, etc...

Last night I was seeding flats until after dark: escarole, endive, savoy cabbage, bok choi, tatsoi, 4 varieties of lettuce, etc...

Almost all of our peppers and tomatoes have been transplanted into cell flats and are bulking up for transplanting into the field in a few weeks.

So lots of change for the farm and for us as a family.  We are really excited about growing all of this food and sharing it with our community and families. 

We have no suitable internet connection at the farm so if postings are sporatic, we are working on getting set up. 

Peace.

Posted 4/5/2009 9:05pm by Michael Scheidel.

Well last Sunday we got nickle sized hail that punched a few holes in the greenhouse plastic but not much more.  This week was miserable with 2" of rain, 50 mph winds...  And today, welp, a lovely one but it is not to last.  They're calling for another 2" over the next 2 days.  Each time it rains plowing the fields gets pushed back farther and farther; can't plow wet ground.  So pray for a 4-6 day break in precipitation!  

Also, I'm not sure if I posted this before but the garlic looks great (I'll upload a photo soon).  I was a bit worried with this really cold winter they wouldn't do so hot but they are doing fine.  Fava beans are planted as are about 1000' of Oregon Giant snow peas and Sugar Ann snap peas.  I've got quite a few flats started including the first of a few varieties of cabbages, collards, kale, spinach, bibb romaine & green leaf lettuce.  Onions have been transplanted from strips to individual cell flats called 288s (288 individual cells for each onion, VERY TEDIOUS WORK). 

TOMATO HEADS:  all of my first tomatoes are up and will be transplanted up to larger cell flats soon.  I will be growing about 15 varieties of tomatoes including quite a few herilooms plus standard red slicing tomatoes.  You'll be eating one like Black Krim, green sausage and green zebra, and dad's sunset.  I'll keep you posted.  Hope all are well.

m

 

 

Posted 4/3/2009 7:33pm by Michael Scheidel.

Hey good folks.  I wanted to share with you a Glossary of Meat Production Methods from Sustainable Table.  This simple pocket guide creates clarity for some of those terms you may not be familiar with.  Enjoy!    http://www.sustaina bletable. org/getinvolved/ materials/ GlossaryofMeatPr oductionMethods. pdf.