Sunday, November 22, 2009

NOVEMBER ACTIVITIES AND FALL HARVEST




Windmill Farm recently participated in the Colusa Harvest Market Saturday, November 21st. Although the attendance was low, people seemed to enjoy the festive spirit of the market and I believe we had a good presentation of our fall harvest. My friend Tina, owner of Happy Chick Farm was there selling her wonderful farm fresh, free range chicken eggs too.
At our booth, we had available Hachiya and Fuju Persimmons, great for eating and baking; Wonderful Pomegranates; Meyer Lemons; Satsuma Mandarins; Rosemary springs made up in bundles and wrapped with raffia to help with the Thanksgiving turkey; cut and bundled lavender; and I had made up some wonderful gift baskets full of all these products from our farm. A great gift to take to family and friends house over the holidays. I will have these gift baskets available outside at our roadside stand if you need any last minute gift to take to someones home over Thanksgiving weekend. All the other fruits and herbs mentioned will be also available at our Farmer's Stand here in Gridley. We will not be participating in any future Farmer's Markets until next spring.

I have on my desk a file folder full of farm notes, recipes, seed and equipment catalogs and documents in process to work on during the next few months. My head is full of all new ideas for planting vegetables, flowers and herbs on our 4 acre field for 2010 keeping our new Community Supportive Agriculture (CSA) memberships in mind, that will be available in the late spring. Check out our site at www.localharvest.org and this blog; or call us at 530-846-3344 if you have a special fruit request or want to learn more about our CSA memberships.

In a few weeks, after the leaves have completely fallen off of the fruit trees, it will be time to prune the orchard and I also plan on bringing in several truck loads of organic compost to put at the base of the trees. One last raking up of leaves after that and then the orchard should be ready to rest for the winter.

I purchased 4 new Buff Orpington chickens this last week and added them to our flock of chickens. I had been reading about this Heritage breed in my farm books that they are the friendliest breed of chickens, lay extra, extra large eggs and are fairly large birds, weigh about 8 lbs each. Honestly, I bought them just because I loved their beautiful light brown color feathers and their plumpness of body. Our flock now includes Rhode Island Reds, one Leghorn; Black Stars; Plymouth Rocks and now the Buffies, as I call them. They all seem to be getting along well and hopefully the new Buffies will be laying these huge eggs by the end of the year. I have some regular weekly and bi-weekly customers and I know they will be very pleased when they open up their egg carton and see how huge these eggs will be!!

Frank and I at Windmill Farm wish you all a great and festive Thanksgiving Day and a very Merry Christmas.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Is in the Air



There never seems enough time to finish all the projects we plan for the year. One project that did get accomplished by Frank, was a new "staging" shed. He built it near both the vegetable gardens and our orchards. The idea is to have a sink, large counter space, shelving and bins so that as I pick early in morning, I can put all the produce in the shed, wash and sort and place into either bins or lugs so it will be ready to sell directly to our customers. A small refrigeration unit is Frank's next project that will be attached to this shed so the more fragile items can be store there.

One big news event is our decision to sell in the 2010 season, CSA memberships. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, meaning the community (customers like you!) have a direct relationship with the farmer, us, at Windmill Farm. People have the opportunity to know the farmer that grows the produce, see our farm and see our vegetables and fruits that we sell directly to the CSA member. In an age when food travels an average of 1500 miles from farm to the dinner table, and chemical-intensive industrial farming corporations produce foods bred to withstand shipping and storage. The CSA membership concept offers a healthful, local and tasty alternative to going to the grocery store and buying produce you have no idea who grew it or where it came from or how it it was grown. Because we harvest at the peak of ripeness and deliver straight to you, our produce is rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and all our food is tilled by us, weeded by us, watered by us, picked by us and handled to our fruit stand or farmer's markets by us. We are a small family owned and worked farm. You can't get a better relationship than that, our farm to your dinner table.

Our goal in 2010 is to sell at least 10 CSA memberships. I will post more details later, but I anticipate that the yearly membership dues will be $25.00 and offer a small, one-two person harvest CSA box at a price estimated at $17.00 ; and/or a Family size harvest box at an estimated price of $22.00. The boxes can be delivered to your door-step if you live within a certain radius of our farm; or at a nearby centrally located place to our customers in nearby towns.

CSA members sign up at the beginning of the harvest season to receive a share of the farm's harvest each week. That means for the entire growing season, you get a harvest box loaded with a variety of fresh produce, which would include seasonal vegetables and fruits. I am also adding an extra acre on the farm to flowers that can and will be available to our CSA members for an additional charge and to our other customers. Also, for an added charge, you can receive a dozen fresh, free range eggs AND we are partnering with a rancher that raises and packages grass fed, hormone free beef. Our plan is that a list of meat cuts and prices will be given to you each week in your box or on-line to order for the following week. We also want to encourage our clients to email us the orders for the grass fed/free range beef and eggs to save us time so we can devote our energies to working in our fields. What we hope our customers will love is getting a week's worth of the freshest and tastiest produce, have a weekly floral arrangement for the table; be able to have their week's worth of meat and eggs delivered right to their doorstep. Our lives are very busy and I can see this CSA service could help save our customers a great deal of time but also get great food!!

If you are interested in being a Windmill Farm CSA member, please give me a call at 530-846-3344 or email me at windmillfarm@sbcglobal.net. It is a new venture so we will work through the details. After winning so many ribbons at the Butte Co Gridley Fair this year, you are guaranteed to receive the best fruit and vegetables grown in Butte County!!!

I have all my seed catalogs and a diagram of our fields on my desk waiting to plan out our next season and I heard that we may get some much needed rain next week. Thank goodness, I can use that time to get going for our next season at the farm.
Life is great at the Windmill Farm and we thank all our customers for coming to our stand and at the Farmer's Markets in Colusa and in Gridley. We still have some pumpkins, pomegranates and we also have some early Fuji persimmons available and we have our farm fresh, free range eggs available too, upon request. Stop by our stand at 535 Obermeyer Avenue, Gridley, California or call us at 530-846-3344.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

WINNERS ALL AROUND

Windmill Farm has had a fabulous summer. I can't believe it has been so long since I have brought you up to date with what has happened on the farm this summer. And ohhh, what beautiful fruit and vegetables have been produced here.

Since we had such an abundance with our fruits, herbs, vegetables and flowers, I started selling not only at the Certified Gridley Farmer's Market, but on Mondays, at the Certified Colusa Market. My usual products were tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans, squash, peaches, plums, nectarines, grapes, parsley, basil, carrots and flowers. Windmill Farm is located in the most fertile soil area and with our weather perfect for growing, just about anything will grow. Our farm is one of the most complete farms in that we do have mature fruit bearing trees along with fields of vegetables, giving our customers a complete variety of products. We even have increased our flock of chickens so that we have been able to keep up with the demand of our Gridley customers for our free range chicken eggs. We also have continued to keep our small self service roadside stand full of produce so our customers, many of which are our wonderful neighbors, can take home something fresh picked that day for their family.

The BIGGEST news in August was our winning awards for our fruit and vegetables at the Butte County Gridley Fair. We won Best of Show in the Garden and Farm Division with our "Garden Bounty" basket, full of a good portion of everything we sell here at the farm. It was an impressive display. Unfortunately, the day we dropped off our exhibit items, was the same day as the Farmer's Market and I forgot my camera. We won 1st place for our Crimson watermelon; huge sunflowers;Freestone peaches; 2nd place for our tomatoes, pumpkins, Cling peaches and basil; 3rd places for our cantaloupes and rosemary. Not bad for our very first year entering into competition. Receiving The Best Of Show was about the best news ever for our farm and a testament to our quality, flavor and beauty of our produce.
September has been equally rewarding and busy. Some crops are over, such as the plums, peaches and many of our vegetables. We were very pleased that the demand for our produce is sometimes larger than our yields so that there has been very little waste of our fruits and vegetables. Our watermelons were sweet and wonderful. One afternoon, with a load full of them in the back of our Gator, Frank and I went from one end of our street to the other dropping some off at each of our neighbor's doorstops. There is a new house being built on our street and one HOT HOT day, I saw all these workers putting up walls and roofing. I went home, cut up 3 big watermelons cold from the refrigerator, put them in a big tub and drove them over to them. They were all pretty surprised and very happy. Gardening and sharing is what we are all about.
We recently had another group of family members come and stay with us. Instead of eating and relaxing, they wanted to work on the farm as they are all from the Santa Cruz or Santa Clara Valley. So we spent an hour or more picking apples from several of our apple trees. With the back of the Gator full, we pulled out our old and trustie ancient apple peeler and cranked away. Several others had buckets and cutting boards slicing and putting the applies into lemon water to keep them crisp and fresh. After we filled a gigantic plastic container of peeled and cored apples, we made homemade pastry dough and filled 11 pie tins!!! We were all tired, but had a wonderful time together in the late afternoon of a lazy September day. The next day, we spent the time going to local yard sales, every one's favorite passion. When the family members left, we split up the pies between the families so that everyone went home with a "piece" of memory and food from our Windmill Farm of Gridley.
As September is ending, our crops of various varieties of pumpkins are ready and waiting for fall and Halloween. We planted different types this year, called Baby Boos and Caspers along with our Jack O Lanterns and Tricksters. The Boos and Caspers are white pumpkins and the kids just love them. Our grandkids Carli and Collin decorated a Casper this week, signed their names and sent it off to their Daddy who is away from home for a few months due to his job. I am sure Chris will just love getting that pumpkin from his adorable children.
The Gridley Farmer's Market is finished for 2009. The Colusa Farmer's Market has two more Monday evenings left in their season. I will be selling there this Monday, September 21st and have available my pumpkins, the last cases of sweet Bartlett pears and some of our pomegranates. My good friend Tina, from Happy Chick Farm in Orland will be joining me at my booth and selling her fresh and beautiful free range chicken eggs. I know her customers will be happy to see her there to buy their weekly eggs. Hope to see you there too!!!
Life is great at the Windmill Farm.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yum Yum Sweet Peaches!!!

The Freestone Peaches are ripening fast and I have to fight the birds and the wind to pick the best of the best for my customers at my fruit stand and for the Gridley Farmer's Market. They are so sweet and juicy. And they smell just like you remember as a kid. Windmill Farm will have Freestone peaches available for several weeks, but I noticed the Cling Peach trees had a few on the ground after the windstorm we had last night. It also indicates that some are ripening and falling so I will keep my eye on those trees as I want to leave them on the trees as long as possible so they have the best flavor ever. Most people do not realize that the majority of fruit is picked almost green and placed in cold storage until it finally reaches the major grocery store chains. That is why when you purchase it and take it home, it doesn't seem to save well.


With our Freestone peaches, I made peach cobbler last night and it was heaven to eat. What a satisfying feeling to water the trees, nurture them, pick the fruit, prepare the fruit and then eat the fruit. You can too, just stop by my stand or come by on Tuesday night at the Gridley Downtown Farmer's Market.
Windmill Farm started with an idea and business plan to be able to be as self sufficient as possible and with all the food scares coming out of the news, we wanted to know where our food that we ate came from and how it was cared for by the people who raised it. Know where your food comes from, ask your grocer, look on the internet and your local papers to see if there are any local farmers or growers in your area. When you find the markets, ask them if they raised it themselves or ask where their gardens are located. If they just buy cartons or cases of produce from other people and sell as their own, you need to know that.


If you like peaches or pears or beans or whatever, ask your local farmers if you can buy in larger quantities and try putting them up in jars or try freezing them. It isn't hard, it just takes a little time but well worth it. And it saves you money and you will be feeding your family the best possible fruits and vegetables all year long.



Next week our relatives from Los Altos, California are coming to visit specifically to have a two day peach canning marathon. We set up a long table, the guys pick and peel; one team of women cut and slice; the kids push the peaches into the jar and I cook the hot syrup and pour it into the jars, put the seal on, and that is it!! It is so much fun to chat and laugh and visit with friends and family and at the end of a few days, we split up our work between all of us. During the winter months, as we eat those lushish peaches, we think back about the wonderful time we all had together.

Life is great on the Windmill Farm of Gridley.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Melons are Ready!


We picked our first watermelons from the field and they are sweet and juicy. There are many discussions about how to tell if they are ripe, but my old way of thumping them to listen for the deepest tone and looking at the flat spot on the bottom to see if it is yellow is still my favorite. We have three varieties of watermelon, Crimson, Jubilee and Bush Sugar Baby that we call the refrigerator watermelon. They range from about 5 lbs to 30 lbs. The Bush Sugar Baby are dark, dark green, almost black but so sweet you could eat the whole thing! The cantaloupes are just about ready. Each day I check to see if there is at least one to try but after counting the days from planting until now, it looks like next week they should be ripe. On Tuesday we have a booth at the Gridley downtown Farmer's Market. It is so much fun with live music, Fat Boy hot dogs and great vendors. I sold out of the very large slicing tomatoes. They were so beautiful, perfect for a sandwiches where one slice fills the whole size of the bread. You never see tomatoes that large in the markets and the wonderful flavor is hard to describe. At the self service stand and at the Farmer's Market, we also have available cherry tomatoes, Romas, and Early Girl. Hope to see you Gridley next Tuesday night!!!

COMMENTS

Your Name :
Your Email: (required)
Your Message: (required)

Popular Posts