Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Attended Great Farm Marketing and Social Media Class and Other Farm Projects

Always doing flower projects.  I had an order for 5 arrangements and a surprise how many blooming plants we still have available at the farm.
 Flowers in Cooler ready to be in arrangement.  Hard to believe it is the middle of November!!
I feel like I have been on the road for a week, so many activities and events.  I give classes all year round here at the farm, it was nice to ATTEND a class this week.  The class was put on by Buy Fresh/Buy Local, USDA and Northern California Regional Land Trust organizations in Orland.  The topics were Marketing Strategies and Social Media for the Local Food Economy.
Great speakers, great topics.  Being the "older" generation of social medias, I use them-i.e. this blog, Facebook and a little Instragram.  But to learn how these tools can enhance farming identification, marketing and ultimately-sales of our products was so interesting.  I just need to force myself to venture out and try the big one they talked about, Twitter.
I guess I had this idea Twitter was for the 13 year old kids saying "Was Up".  It appears from this workshop that many people have moved on from Facebook to Twitter for various reasons.  The word count is low so most talk is short. Group talks is an added benefit plus that instant, immediate information about what is happening within the group you belong to.
As one instructor Gina Sims stated, you pick your groups by your interests and if nothing worthwhile is happening, you move on to another group.  Time is so precious to all of us, information has to catch our eye and interest and the article or information provided has to be on point and worth reading by others.  Don't we all feel that way?
I read my emails, blogs, Instragram, Facebook early in morning before I start my day.  You scan through with videos and photos catching most of our attention lately instead of seeing long paragraphs of chatter, sort of like what I am doing now!!!
The point is, social media continues to play a key role in getting information about our farm, classes, baskets, produce, flowers out there.  If I post in one media, it may be missed in another media, such as Twitter or Instragram with a much greater audience.  Farmers basically would rather have dirt on their hands or on a tractor than to sit with their phone or tablet posting photos or chatting.  But it needs to be done, particularly if you are a smaller farmer with varied products to sell.
Frank has been putting up some really great lights around our yard, using old porcelain lights.  I found this one porcelain shade antiquing with a friend and I knew Frank would like it.
In two days, he took and old light down, built a new post, wired it, painted and attached to fence by his shop.

We had this other porcelain, larger shade and Frank re-wired it, attached to a metal post, put a finial on top and connected it to our night time landscaping lights by the front gate.  Oh and he installed the new LED lights to it so it only uses pennies to run.  
Only Frank would say how much he enjoyed these type of projects, he so loves to keep busy.  
At our last house in Manton, we had a 100 year old barn that Frank restored, beautiful 3 story wood structure.  I wish we had it here in Gridley.  Every day Frank says he wishes he had an old barn here at Windmill Farm or at least the $$$ to be able to build one like an old barn.  Boy could I have great classes in an old barn or have it for weddings, events??  That is what keeps us going, those dreams and wishes.
Until next time from Windmill Farm.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Time To Start Bulbs-Paperwhites for Christmas; Fresh Holiday Wreath Making Class

We have a Holiday Wreath Making Class scheduled for Wednesday, December 3, 2014-6-8:30pm.  All the greens, eucalyptus, olive tree branches, pine cones, Christmas decorations, bows, wreath forms are included in the $35.00 fee. PLUS, fabulous floral designer Lisa Hunter will be teaching the class.  Light refreshments and door prizes are provided.  Space is limited so please sign up early, pre-payment will be required.  Call 530-846-3344;Facebook, or email us on Windmill Farm.  Our wreath making class last year was so fun and everyone went home with a completed wreath that lasted all through the holiday season.
Now is the time to start those bulbs that you want to bloom at Christmas and after.  There is nothing more heavenly than to walk into a room with fresh paperwhite bulbs blooming.  Most hardware and big box stores are carrying all types of bulbs to be forced indoors or to plant outside.
It is easy to start them.  I always use just a bit of dirt and then place bulbs in gravel, cover so that all but the top shows through.  Keep them watered but don't have too much water sitting in them for long periods of time or they will rot.
My friend is starting her bulbs in an old clear glass fish tank.  You can use just about any container.  Seeing the bulbs grow with their roots is interesting for children to see how nature happens.

The amaryllis bulbs are a little expensive but what a fabulous bloom you get in variations of red and white. One bulb can give you 1-3 blooms.
Don't forget to sign up for our Wreath Making Class scheduled for December 3rd.  Space is limited, we already filled up one class set for December 4th.  You won't want to miss this great class here at Windmill Farm.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Projects, Pumpkins With Flowers; and the Positive Power of Craigslist

I have to say it-Christmas Eve is 44 day away!!!  How did that happen?  Honestly, we keep thinking summer just finished and now we will have time to repair things on the farm, do some painting, we still haven't finished disking the fields; and cleaning up the vegetable gardens.  
I was asked to make several floral arrangements using pumpkins for a special birthday/Halloween party. They turned out really cute and I think I may make more of them next year.
I was at the hardware store yesterday buying paint to paint my garden shed door and I saw all these boxes and boxes in the isles for employees to put away.  I asked Kenny what was in all these boxes?  He said $10,000 worth of new pruning shears, didn't I know?  Remember this is farming country and basically we are all doing pretty much the same thing, at the same time.  Kenny was right, I should be out pruning the fruit trees,heck I thought I had another 2 months in my mind clock of things to do, when.
I was reading a newsletter from a family owned, local nursery I like and he was reminding viewers it was time to start thinking about the 3-dormant spraying times.  OMG, that is right, Thanksgiving is the time frame when we need to do the copper spraying.  Now I am starting to panic that I have too much to do and not enough time.
Since my last posting, we delivered our final, Fall Harvest CSA basket.  It was so full, almost too heavy for me to lift.  In the basket were late tomatoes, peppers, egg plant, cilantro, squash, 2 kinds of persimmons, strawberries, pomegranates, kiwi, Meyer lemons, dried fruit, shelled walnuts.  It is two fold when we delivered them, happy that it was our last box for the season; but sad it was our last box for the season and we won't be communicating and seeing our fabulous members.  I think the feeling is fairly mutual too because now our members will have to go to their local markets to buy produce.
We still are marketing our pomegranates and persimmons.  I believe, because the weather still remains warm it is difficult for people to think about making jelly, juices or baking using persimmons.  I decided to post these items on  I have used it previously to purchase items and occasionally use it if I have excess produce that needs to be moved quickly or it will spoil.  
I received a call from a nice man in Yuba City asking if I still had both these items.  I said yes.  He said he was cleaning out his garage and decided to list some tires he had on craigslist to get rid of them.  He received a call from some people who were driving through with a produce delivery van and wanted to purchase his tires.  While talking, they mentioned they were buyers and sellers of large amount of fresh produce, they were from the State of Washington.  They bring down produce from Washington and then pick up produce in California that is generally not grown in Washington and were looking for persimmons and pomegranates.  Lots of it!!!  2000 lbs or more of each item.
This nice man went to craigslist to check out what was available locally since these produce buyers were not from the area and didn't know the local cities.  The man called me and passed on the info.  I waited for a call but it did not come from the buyers so went on with my farming jobs.  Then yesterday morning at 6:30am I got a call from these people from Washington saying they were driving thru Gridley in 30 minutes and would I have the produce ready.  I do not have the amount they wanted, but they said they would look at what I had.  While they were here, they asked if I knew anyone else selling persimmons, which a friend of mine did.  I gave my friend a call, he came over and talked to the Washington buyer, made arrangements with them and he sold them 2000 pounds of hachiya persimmons.  My friend didn't have Fuyu persimmons, so he called one of HIS friends who did, the Washington buyer went over to that farm and purchased 2000 lbs of persimmons from him.  Even though I only sold about 8 cases of persimmons and 4 cases of pomegranates of our Windmill Farm items, the buyers helped our fellow farming friends sell their items.  One ad on craigslist, helping a buyer looking for produce; sellers looking to sell produce or tires!!  Pretty amazing.