Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Planting Is Nearly Done






I have never been so obsessed about checking on the weather than I have this year. Each morning and each night, I go to the weather.com and check out what is supposed to happen the next day and future days. My life has been planned around whether there will be some sun so I can plant; or if there will be some rain; meaning I plant like crazy so my new plants will have some nice rain for them so I don’t have to water. Not that I am complaining about the rain, but good grief, a farmer has to have some time to plant and if the soil is too wet, it can’t be worked to lay seed or put in young plants.
Last Saturday and Sunday I planted more beans, peas, flowers, squash, cucumbers, and corn. I waited for the rain that came Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday and Friday when it was sunny, I planted my watermelons and cantaloupes and another row of beans. Today I am picking up my tomatoes and pepper plants from the wholesale nurseryman and I hope Frank and I can get them all in the ground, install the tomato supports before (I saw on the internet anyways) it rains on Monday. All my shoes I use to work in the vegetable fields are lined up by the back door in different stages of mud compaction on the soles. It is like walking around with 5lbs weights on your feet!!
Oh well, at least after today and tomorrow, when we get the tomatoes and peppers in the ground, most of my planting will be done. We still have lots of time yet to plant the pumpkins and future additional rows of corn.
I have signed up all of the slots available that I have set aside for my CSA memberships. I have such a great group of members that I am excited to become good friends with over this summer as we deliver their boxes of Windmill Farm produce. I have been so thrilled to talk to the CSA members as there is truly a new enthusiasm by young families to have their children eat good and wholesome fruits and vegetables AND to be able to know exactly where that food was grown. Frank has called me the Surrogate Farmer as many of these families are so busy trying to make a living and keeping up with their kid’s activities and have no time to grow their own gardens. But they don’t want to give up on having fresh vegetables and fruits available to their family. Having our produce delivered right to their door is fitting in perfectly in the lives of many of my new members.
Better get to planting those good Heirloom and Beefsteak tomatoes and those red, yellow and green Bell Pepper plants. Next blog will talk about how we recycled items and built a new sorting shed and refrigeration unit. Thank you again for being a part of the Windmill Farm family.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Technology on the Farm

So much has happened this month, it is all almost too much to talk about in one blog. I am going to divide up what we have been doing here at Windmill Farm from a business point of farming first and later to talk about the actual farming work.
Not only do small farmers work planting, weeding, watering, but we have to really, really make sure we make time “marketing” what we expect to grow in our season. That is what I have been doing this past winter and spring and it has yielded some great market potential for us.
I became a member of Buy Fresh, Buy Local in the Northern California organization. This group is working hard to match up producers with people/businesses/companies that want to use or buy local and fresh items. Recently they presented a workshop to teach small farmers and producers how to become more “tech” oriented in their marketing skills. This is something our daughter has been pushing and promoting me to do for some time. I took their advice and had my daughter; Celli set me up a Facebook page of the farm. That has been a wonderful experience of meeting new friends and also getting the word out of what is happening on the farm. I find that it helps me to write more on a regular basis, sending out small, incremental bits of everyday living on a farm, in hopes of sharing what we do, and what is happening. But most importantly by doing so, may help to educate the public about what it takes to bring food to a table.
Buy Fresh/Buy Local had Kelly and Shannon Douglass from the Douglass Ranch to discuss technology in farming and ranching businesses. I was so impressed with their story, I contacted Shannon to see if they would be interested in making their grass fed, USDA approved and processed beef available to my CSA members. Shannon came out to our farm and she is very interested in making her beef available to us. Now my customers to be able to get grass fed, no hormone, beef delivered right to their front doors along with Windmill Farm’s farm fresh fruits and vegetables. AND wonderful eggs from my friend’s farm, Happy Chick Farm where she has free range chicken eggs. I have my own chicken eggs available, but depending on the supply and demand of my CSA customers, and our self service roadside stand, Tina and I have teamed up to make sure we will always have fresh eggs available
Our friend, Sarah Reynolds now works as the business manager for Llano Seco - http://www.llanoseco.com/.com/ an organic pork farm. Sarah has been so inspirational in helping me get our farm out there in the business world when she worked for the Butte Farm Bureau, which I am a member. Through our friendship and cooperation, she will make Llano Seco Pork available to our CSA members. Fresh organic sausage and bacon can be included in Windmill Farm’s CSA boxes if our customers order it. As Barefoot Contessa always says, “How Good is That?”
Through the memberships of localharvest.org; buylocalca.org; Facebook “Windmill Farm” and this blog; farming agencies such as: Butte Farm Bureau; Gridley Business District, Butte County Farm Service Agency, US Dept of Agriculture, NRCS; and the food and farming periodical Edible Shasta-Butte , I have been able to find new customers, new audiences and have new “fans” and friends that are interested in knowing what we grow and how do we grow it. My next goal is to get an actual website up and running so we can get a broader field of people who are interested in buying Windmill Farm produce.
Recently I was contacted by Eileen, owner of who found us on localharvest.org. They wanted to be able to buy local vegetables from a farm that could be used in their products that is canned in Yuba City. Windmill Farm will now produce beets and beans (and possibly in the future) carrots for Pick A Peck of Pickles!!! We are devoting an additional area of our fields to grow just for them and I am very optimistic that this can be a very long friendship and business venture together.
I was contacted by a travel business out of San Francisco who specializes in arranging travel plans for Japanese business people. One businessman from Japan had read about our farm through our blog and wanted to visit us, here in Gridley to see how a CSA farm works; our sustainable and water saving farming practices. Unfortunately, the timing of his visit could not coordinate with our timing, so that visit may be in the future. Isn’t it amazing how far our little blog reaches!!
While trying to find a perfect “box” to be used for my CSA , I happened upon a place in New York that used the boxes I really wanted. They could not provide me with the boxes, but DID want to purchase our fruits and vegetables from our farm. I am not sure if I can make this happen as I have never shipped our produce any farther than the West Coast. But another possible “e-commerce” market that could not have happened if it had not been for the use of technology, websites, emails, Facebook and blogs.
I guess this old lady can learn new tricks!!! A special thanks to Celli, our daughter for getting me up and rolling on this blog and Facebook and to Sarah who encouraged me to take another step forward and make CSA memberships available, and to all our friends who help and support all our endeavors.

More about what is happening out in the fields coming soon.

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