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Posted 8/28/2015 9:14am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

What a gorgeous few days we've been having!  Really gets us to thinking about the fall days ahead and all of the things that need to get done before the official start of autumn!  I was really reminded of that yesterday as I read Chris Blanchard's Purple Pitchfork blog.  He said that a day's difference in planting in the fall is equal to a week's difference in the spring.  This is because day length begins to shorten at the same time the high temperatures reduce. As a result, plant growth begins to decelerate, and that deceleration has a cumulative effect.  So many times in farming we feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland -- running around with our pocket watch and frantically crying, "I'm late!  I'm late!" 

In our repertory of tasks that we juggle, we have a new addition -- a very small addition!  Say "Hello" to BB, the latest member of Team Plum Granny!

BB and Ray

BB (aka Black Beauty and Celia) is a tiny Icelandic-Finnsheep cross bottle baby.  She came to us from Laura Frazier, farmer & owner of FarmGirl Arts.  BB was born premature and is just like an infant -- she requires feeding every 3 hours -- guess now we know why we didn't have kids!  Ray agreed to be the lead with BB (while Cheryl is trying to learn Donkey) -- it's great how we share responsibilities!  BB is currently living in a large dog crate in the bathroom - with lots of time outside.  In about a month, we'll be able to move her outside permanently.  But she has to get a lot bigger -- she's just over 5 pounds now! Laura has kindly agreed to take care of her while we are at our tent at market, so stop by the FarmGirl Arts booth at the top of the Cobblestone Old Salem Market and say "hi" to BB and Laura!

BB helps weed the flower bed  Ray feeding BB her bottle  Every where that Ray went the lamb was sure to go  BB's indoor barn stall

Take Me Out to the Ballgame...

Team Plum Granny had a reunion of sorts on Sunday evening with Cheryl, Ray, Chris & Summer met up with Jen & Bea at the Greensboro Grasshoppers game.  It was great to catch up with Jen and hear about her new life in Mebane/Durham.  And we got to see Miss Babe Ruth (the Grasshoppers' Bat-Dog) before she heads into retirement and topped it off with a Grasshoppers win!

Chris and Summer with the Grasshopper   Miss Babe Ruth heading back to the dugout The Plum Granny Farm gang at the Grasshoppers

Market Updates

We'll be at Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem on Saturday (9-noon) and King Farmers Market at the YMCA on Wednesday (11-1). Our famous Garlic Scape Pesto is back!  We will also have lots of cured garlic (Red Toch, Music, Purple Italian, Lorz Italian and Lahontan along with Elephant Garlic),   Tomatoes (Fruit Boxes, Saladettes, slicers and paste tomatoes), along with a few containers of Shishito Peppers, Okra and Muscadines -- all Certified Organic.  This will likely be the last week for our Organic LaRatte fingerling potatoes, Concord Grapes, Summer Pippin Apples and French Red Shallots.  And our jams are quickly disappearing -- we have Old Fashioned Raspberry, Raspberry-Cranberry and Yam's Jam Sweet Potato Butter remaining!

We are happy to hold an item for you -- just let us know no later than 9 p.m. the day before market (Friday evening or Tuesday evening).

Enjoy the Full Moon tomorrow and savor the last days of Summer!

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

Posted 8/21/2015 8:44am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

It was great to be back at market -- our customers have become true friends and we missed seeing you!  It's always great to catch up a bit and to hear about your adventures.  Thanks for sharing your stories with us!

It's been a busy week both on and off the farm!  On Monday, Cheryl attended the on-farm portion of a Cut Flower Workshop sponsored by Chatham County Cooperative Extension.  Debbie Roos, the Chatham Extension Agent, organizes fabulous programs and we have taken advantage of several of them.  This one was no exception.  We were hosted by Cathy Jones of Perry-winkle Farm in Graham and were treated to the opportunity of seeing her farm and beautiful flowers (plus veggies!).  Leah Cook of Wild Hare Farm was the other grower leading the workshop.  It is always so inspiring to see what other farmers are doing and to get ideas!  Expect to see more flowers on our table next year!

Cathy Jones demonstrating how to cut sunflowers  Visitors admiring the gomphrena at Pery-winkle Farm

The rain this week has been a godsend.  We've had lots of issues with our pump at the pond (fixed now, we hope!), so having the addition of rainfall has been a true blessing.  It's helped us do more planting -- lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, cilantro and more plants are now in the ground and the greenhouse is filling up with more freshly seeded trays.

Matt & Chris planting kale  Chris planting lettuce in Rhubarb Bed  New salad plot in Demo Garden

Rainy afternoons bring some interesting things -- like rainbows and muddy donkeys!

Rainbow over farm  Muddy Brix

Looking ahead, those green beans are looking good -- LOTS of flowers!  And do you see the tiny green bean?

Jade Snap Beans

In addition to all the seed trays, the greenhouse is a major hub of Baby Ginger and Turmeric activity!  Here is Ray doing a check of the yellow ginger -- looks like it is ready to hill again!  And Cheryl is trying to see how she measures up to the turmeric.

Ray and ginger  Baby ginger in grow bag   Cheryl and the turmeric

Market Updates

We'll be at Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem on Saturday (9-noon) and King Farmers Market at the YMCA on Wednesday (11-1). We will have Organic LaRatte fingerling and German Butterball potatoes and cured garlic (Red Toch, Music, Purple Italian, Lorz Italian and Lahontan along with Elephant Garlic).  There will be lots of French Red Shallots, Tomatoes (Fruit Boxes, Saladettes, slicers and paste tomatoes), Concord Grapes, Summer Pippin Apples and hopefully some Muscadines -- all Certified Organic!  And FOUR varieties of jam!

We are happy to hold an item for you -- just let us know no later than 9 p.m. the day before market (Friday evening or Tuesday evening).

This week we say farewell to Jake Chesnet as he heads back to school.  Jake has been helping us this summer - we gave him lots of opportunities to work on his pitching arm as he worked in the field!  Jake is a Junior at North Stokes High School (and is a great baseball player!) Good luck in school, Jake -- hope to see you next summer!

Jake farewell

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

Posted 8/14/2015 8:49am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

We're back!  Yes, after a two week market break, we are back at it and getting ready for market again!  Thank you all so much for understanding our need to pause for a few days and not be at market.  It was very restorative and will give us the energy to get through the end of November!

Even though we didn't go to the beach or the lake or the mountains, and we did do lots of farm things, it was good to hit the pause button on our market attendance and (dare we say it?) sleep in on a Saturday morning!!

But now we are in full tilt market-prep gear and have put together a great list of crops for the remainder of the season!

Before we dive into the details of what we've been up to, we must take a moment to brag a bit!  Two of our tomatoes entered in the Winston-Salem Journal's Taste of Summer Tomato Tasting were winners!  Our yummy "Chocolate Drop" won First Place and "Suzanne" came in second! Woo hoo!  Read all about the event in Amy Dixon's great article in today's Winston-Salem Journal!  Thanks to Amy, Michael Hastings and the Journal for sponsoring this event and giving farmers and gardeners an opportunity to show off their wares!

And -- breaking news -- we just learned that "Chocolate Drop" won the Customer Choice favorite at the King Farmers Market!  Double winner!!

Chris & Ray picking Red Pearls for tomato tastingChris and Ray harvesting Red Pearl tomatoes to be entered in the "Slice of Summer" competition

So other than entering contests and sitting on the porch, drinking iced tea, what else have we been doing?  LOTS!  More planting, weeding, clearing, straightening, and planning than you can shake a stick at!  Oh -- yeah, and we also submitted our Organic Growers Plan to our organic certifier!!

Since we have had some crop disappointments this season (potatoes, raspberries), we are trying to make a big push for fall crops.  We just finished planting the 3rd succession of snap beans yesterday.  The 1st flight looks like it will be ready in a couple of weeks!  Get your tastebuds ready for French filet beans, "Jade" snap beans, "Rattlesnake" pole beans, "Dragon Tongue" and "Pension" Romano beans!  The early riser okra is popping up and we are starting to get a few shishito peppers.  And the sweet potatoes are looking fantastic! 

 Green beans are growing great   Burgundy okra   Garnet sweet potatoes

We are getting our beds ready and covered with plastic mulch for the first flights of kale, swiss chard, lettuce, frisee, senposai, tat soi and more!  We are even putting in a late crop of sunflowers -- hopefully we will have them for your Thanksgiving table!

Covering the beds in Flat Shoals    Chris tilling the Test Bed for sunflowers

Market Updates

Yes, we are BACK!!!  Find us under the purple tent at Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem (Saturday, 9-noon) and King Farmers Market at the YMCA (Wednesday, 11-1). We will have Organic LaRatte fingerling potatoes and garlic (Red Toch, Music, Purple Italian, Lorz Italian and Lahontan along with Elephant Garlic).  There will be lots of French Red Shallots, Tomato (Fruit Boxes, Saladettes, slicers and paste tomatoes), Concord Grapes, Summer Pippin Apples and artichokes -- all Certified Organic!  And don't forget the JAM!

We are happy to hold an item for you -- just let us know no later than 9 p.m. the day before market (Friday evening or Tuesday evening).

And even though we are a day late, we must shout-out a special day -- Left Handers Day!  Yep, since Ray and Cheryl are both lefties, August 13 holds a special significance!  So here is some left-handed trivia from Holiday Insights:

  • Sinistrophobia is the fear of left-handedness or things on the left side.
  • While many people are left handed, very few are 100% left handed. For example, many left handers golf and bat right handed. Meanwhile there is a high percentage of righties who are 100% right-handed.
  • Tuesdays are Lefties luck day.
  • Only about 10% of the population is left handed.

So to our Southpaw compatriots, "Left On!"

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

Posted 7/31/2015 10:15am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

Okay.  We give in!  There's been something tugging at us for the past few weeks.  The heat and the humidity have taken their toll (the RealFeel heat index was 107 degrees yesterday).  As Alex Hitt, a fellow farmer from Chatham County, said "you can see the fatigue in the eyes of most of the farmers at market now and we are no different."  Yep, we're pooped and we need a break!  So that's exactly what we are going to do -- it's not a vacation but it will be a "pause."

So here's the deal:  we are taking a break from markets for the next two weeks.  Our crops say they are not ready for prime time so we will listen to them.  We will not be at Cobblestone Farmers Market tomorrow (8/1) or next Saturday (8/8) and we will not be at King Farmers Market on 8/5 or 8/12.

Despite the market pause, we will be doing lots of things around the farm to get it (and us) ready for the busy fall season.  There are fields to ready, plants and seeds to plant, berries to tend, equipment to maintain and our annual Organic Systems Plan to submit.  But it will be different.  We will be a bit more on our schedule and not be driven by market preparation and market days.  It will actually be a break!  Expect to see more cheerful, less stressed and rested farmers when you see us next at market on August 15!

Other Farm Doings

There has been a lot of activity in the fields this week!  We are closing in on getting the tomatoes cleared and giving them some breathing room.  We're getting them all ready for the Winston-Salem Journal's Tomato Tasting next Friday, August 7!

Red Pearl tomatoes in the field      Lollipop tomatoes

The Shishito and chile peppers are coming along nicely!  Roaster time soon!

Shishito pepper plant    Joe E. Parket chile

We are also working on keeping the weeds in check BEFORE they take over.  We have been hoeing the okra, sweet potatoes & beans as well as flame weeding.  But to get the weeds on the side of the beds and in the aisles, a tractor does a good job.  Here's Chris doing some cultivating with the Cub in Flat Shoals.

Chris cultivating Flat Shoals field with the Cub 

And remember the sunflowers that the kids planted during the Farm Tour?  Take a look now -- it's amazing that they are this big at just 3 weeks!

3 week-old Sunflower plants

A Farewell...

We are sad to say goodbye to our terrific employee, Jen Garrison.  Jen started with us in June 2011 and has been a key asset in the 5 seasons that she worked with us.  She has been so many things -- field hand, jam maker, garlic braider, sign maker, idea generator, cheerleader, foodie and most of all, friend.  We'll miss you Jen as you head off to your new job in your new town!  There's always a place for you here!

Jen harvesting turmeric

Market Updates

Don't forget -- we'll be missing markets for the next two weeks but we'll be back at Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem on Saturday, August 15 and King Farmers Market at the YMCA on Wednesday, August 19!

 

Blue Moon

Take a look in the sky tonight for that rare Blue Moon -- the 2nd full moon of the month.

Moon over the fields on July 30

 

Stay cool and hydrated!

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

Posted 7/24/2015 9:10am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

I think they call it "Summer Slump" -- that point in mid-summer when the plants seem to be giving up, the weeds are doing their happy dance, and the farmers are just plain tired.  Yep -- sounds like the state of things here at Plum Granny Farm!

It's hard after you get through the rush of an amazing blackberry season, a phenomenal farm tour and great garlic harvest.  There's always a bit of a let-down.  But we have to keep on moving forward!  So what do farmers do when the slump hits?  Plant more things!!  (well, we would LIKE to go to the Outer Banks.... but since we can't.....)

Yes, we have been busy planting!  The okra and sweet potatoes that we got in the ground last week look amazing and the beans -- Wow!  Just take a look! I keep wondering if the beans were planted by Jack.

Newly planted green beans  Flat Shoals field with beans & sweet potatoes

We've also been busy seeding in the greenhouse -- kale, swiss chard, lettuces, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, pak choy, tat soi and even pansies and johnny jump-up violas! A preview of things to come.

With a newly planted field, now is the best time to get the weeds under control.  We use our flame weeder for a lot of these tasks -- we were able to knock down any of the weeds in the beans the day before the plants emerged!  It's all about timing!  Here's Chris demonstrating his skill with the flamer!

Chris flame weeding Flat Shoals

We continue to plant more strawberry tips for our 2016 crop -- we need about 3,500 plants so we can expand our strawberry field and have plants for sale this fall.  Another group of youth from the Leadership In Training program at YMCA Camp Hanes visited yesterday as part of their week of community service activities.  They helped us get more plants out of the field and into trays!  Thanks so much for your help, Campers!

LIT youth in strawberries  LIT youth planting strawberry tips    Counselors Alex & Addie plant their strawberries  Camp Hanes LIT group shot

Other Farm Doings

Potato harvest has begun!  Those delicious little packages of yummy potato-iness will show up on our table at market this week.  Here's Ray bushhogging the field to get ready for the harvest.

Ray and the bushhog in potatoes

We also got up the shade structure on the east side of the greenhouse to give some relief to the turmeric and rhubarb.  I think the plants are happier already!

Shadecloth off the greenhouse   

Market Updates

Find us under the purple tent at Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem (Saturday, 9-noon) and King Farmers Market at the YMCA (Wednesday, 11-1). We will have the first of our potatoes!  We'll have LaRatte fingerlings as well as a new potato to us, Binjte.  These heirloom potatoes are of Dutch origin but also widely cultivated in Belgium, the country that insists it invented frites.  We tried an early batch and are happy to report they are excellent!

We'll also have cured garlic -- Inchelium Red, Music, Chesnok and Lorz Italian.  There will be lots of French Red Shallots, Tomato Fruit Boxes, Cabbage (Caraflex - a European favorite), Swiss Chard and artichokes -- all Certified Organic!  And back by popular demand -- we'll also be sampling Yam's Jam Sweet Potato Cheesecake and will have special pricing on Yam's Jam Sweet Potato Butter. 

We are happy to hold an item for you -- just let us know no later than 9 p.m. the day before market (Friday evening or Tuesday evening).

Tomorrow is Culinarians Day -- a special day for anyone who cooks. You don't have to be a chef, or a graduate of a culinary institute to celebrate this delicious day. You simply have to cook and enjoy the results - and we know that applies to all of you!  And thanks for using local and Organic produce in those dishes!

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

Posted 7/17/2015 8:57am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

WOW!  You blew us away!

The response to the Northern Triad Farm Tour on Sunday was absolutely astounding!  More than 300 visitors came to our farm during the tour!  Folks of all ages and from all over the Piedmont came out to see our farm and the 4 others participating in the event.  Billions of blackberries headed home with guest, snowcones were slurped, sunflowers were planted and tours - both hayride and walking -- went on nonstop!  We couldn't have pulled off this effort without the stellar volunteer work of our wonderful farm friends:  Annette Helsabeck (market tent), Sandy & Orville Woodard (Welcome tent), Kirsten Dowell (snowcone queen), Lisa Menafee and Andy Cromer (turmeric & ginger demo and sunflower planting), Jen Garrison (hay ride master & sign-maker extraordinaire), and Bill & Jeanne Talich (fantastic photography).  We owe a HUGE debt of thanks to these wonderful friends!

Let's let Bill's pictures show you a bit of the day's events:

Picking blackberries  Three baskets full  Lisa talking about tomatoes  Jen leading the tractor-hayride tourTasty snowcone  Plant marker for kid's sunflower garden

As you can see, it was a lot of fun!  The Stokes News did a very nice story on the tour and all of the farms featured -- thanks to reporter Diane Blakemore for covering the event! 

Thanks to all of you who visited and we hope you'll come back!  There is talk of another farm tour in the fall.

Other Farm Doings

It did take us a while to recover from the weekend but once we did, we got back into gear planting some fall crops.  The former garlic field is now filling up with okra, sweet potatoes, green beans, pumpkins and winter squash!  Matt, Chris & Ray readied the field earlier in the week by shaping beds and laying drip tape and yesterday we got to planting.  Check it out!

Ballet for two tractors - putting in irrigation line  Annette, Chris & Cheryl after planting  Ray covering the beans

Market Updates

Find us under the purple tent at Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem (Saturday, 9-noon) and King Farmers Market at the YMCA (Wednesday, 11-1). We will have the first of our cured garlic -- Inchelium Red, Music and Lorz Italian!  There will be lots of French Red Shallots, Tomatoes, Cabbage (Caraflex - a European favorite), Swiss Chard and Blackberries (VERY FEW this week) -- all Certified Organic!  We will also be sampling Yam's Jam Sweet Potato Cheesecake and will have special pricing on Yam's Jam Sweet Potato Butter. 

We are happy to hold an item for you -- just let us know no later than 9 p.m. the day before market (Friday evening or Tuesday evening).

Sunday is National Ice Cream Day!  I'll bet gelato or sorbet count too.  Ciska at Cafe Gelato made a killer black raspberry sorbet from our black raspberries -- check out her cart at Cobblestone or her store on Reynolda Road!

Cafe Gelato black raspberry sorbet

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

Posted 7/10/2015 8:19am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

It's Blackberry Summer here at the farm!  Blackberries, blackberries, BLACKBERRIES!!  Our Triple Crown berries are really outdoing themselves this year - both in terms of production and flavor.  Lots of people are getting their first taste of a REAL blackberry -- sweet, juicy and amazing -- and they keep coming back for more!  We'll have lots of berries at market this week and will be hosting another Pick-Your-Own on Sunday with our farm tour (more info below).

Last Sunday's PYO was terrific -- nearly 20 parties picked 110 pounds of fruit!  And pickers ranged in age from about 18 months to well, we won't say!  Check out these cuties before they got to taste the berries -- they were a bit more purple after being in the field!

Cute kids at pick your own blackberry day

We have been getting things done around here in addition to blackberries.  The peppers and tomatillos went into the field (better late than never!) and we got work done on the ginger and turmeric.  The garlic field has been cleared, disked and fertilized and is almost ready for the sweet potatoes, okra, pumpkins and winter squash.

Chris checking Ray's dibbling for peppers

We had some help with a few of the tasks on Wednesday when a group of youth from the YMCA Camp Hanes' Leadership-in-Training (LIT) program visited the farm.  They helped fertilize and hill the ginger and turmeric in the greenhouse and moved some of the turmeric to its new outside home (thanks Matt & Chris for leading this task!).  They also harvested strawberry tips and planted them in seed trays (the beginning of the 2016 strawberry crop!).  Oh, and they also got to pick some....BLACKBERRIES to take back to camp!  Thanks so much to Alex, Addie and the LIT crew for including us in your adventures!

Planting strawberry tips    LIT campers with their handiwork

Farm Tour!!

One of our big tasks this week is to get ready for Sunday's Northern Triad Farm Tour.  The farm is far from perfectly manicured and lush but visitors will still get a chance to see what an organic, working farm is like in the middle of summer -- a bit weedy, dry and in-between crops but there will still be lots to see -- like BLACKBERRIES!  We'll be doing both walking tours and a hayride tour of the place.  A tour is a great opportunity to ask questions of the farmers that you might not normally have time to do at market -- bring us your questions!

Just a reminder that the tour is Sunday, July 12 from 1-5 p.m. In addition to us, there are 4 other farms in Forsyth, Stokes and Surry Counties:  Buffalo Creek Farm & Creamery in Germanton, Minglewood Farm & Nature Preserve in Westfield, Truffles NC at Keep Your Fork Farm in King and Yellow Wolf Farm in Walkertown.  This free tour gives you a chance to go behind the scenes of 5 very diverse farms.  In addition to the guided tours here, we'll have pick-your-own BLACKBERRIES, snowcones, seed planting and more!  For more information check out our Facebook page or get directions here.  We will also have flyers at market.  Spread the word!  Here's a scene from last year's tour:

Planting sunflower seeds at last year's Farm Tour

Market Updates

Find us under the purple tent at Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem (NOTE:  Hours go back to normal this week -- 9-noon) and King Farmers Market at the YMCA (Wednesday, 11-1). There will be lots of Blackberries, Fresh Garlic, French Red Shallots, lots of Tomatoes, and Swiss Chard -- all Certified Organic!  We will also have our gorgeous Stargazer Oriental Lilies - a bouquet on a stick! 

We are happy to hold an item for you -- just let us know no later than 9 p.m. the day before market (Friday evening or Tuesday evening).

And -- in case you missed it -- today is National Teddy Bear Picnic Day (I know, how did you miss that date in bold on your calendar?!)  So grab your favorite bear and head out under the shade or twilight for a tasty picnic.  Summertime living at its best!

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

Posted 7/3/2015 7:18am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

Welcome to July! Although, I must admit that this morning doesn't feel very July-ish.  Cool, foggy and damp.  Perfect conditions for blight. :-(  How is it that farmers can take a perfectly lovely day and turn it into a bad thing?

Lots of things going on as usual!  The blackberries are bursting into ripeness so we are picking like crazy!  Before the rains hit yesterday afternoon, we already had 85 pints of berries in the walk-in cooler.  Look for them at Saturday's market!

Blackberries in walk-in for market

Pick-Your-Own Blackberries!

Since those berries are really coming in, come out to the farm and pick-your-own!  We'll be open on Sunday, July 5 from 1-4 for picking.  We provide picking trays but bring a container and cooler to carry your treasures home.  Blackberries are $4.50 per pound and they are Certified Organic AND No-Spray.

Other Farm Doings...

Tomatoes are also getting a lot of attention.  Ray has been working on pruning and trellising the field tomatoes -- they are looking good and will be much happier after a "haircut" and another line of trellis.  We think we are on track to be seeing production by the end of the month.  Unfortunately the tomatoes in Raz House (our high tunnel) aren't faring as well.  Blight moved in and is quickly taking the plants down.  Late blight is caused by a fungus, Phytophthora infestans.  Phytophthora in Latin means "plant destroyer" and plant tissue dies quickly. We are harvesting lots of tomatoes as quickly as possible and then we will be destroying all of the plants and sanitizing the house for a couple of weeks.  Despite the fact that the plants look terrible, we are getting a lot of beautiful fruit (and they are perfectly safe to eat).

Boxes of tomatoes for market

Last week we told you about the bees coping with the heat and looking for water.  Well, no sooner than "Send" was pressed on this newsletter, I got a call from Ray saying that we had a swarm in the blackberries!  Maybe they were also looking for a new home!  When you find a swarm, you drop everything else.  Here are a couple of pictures from the event -- it was very exciting as Ray quickly and calmly worked to capture the swarm and give the girls a new hive.  We posted a video of the capture and put it on our Facebook page.

Swarm of honey bees in blackberries  Ray removing the swarm of bees from the blackberry canes  Placing the bees in the hive box  Bees in their new home

Farm Tour!!

Don't forget that NEXT weekend -- Sunday, July 12 from 1-5 p.m. -- will be our Farm Tour.  Come visit us and 4 other farms in Forsyth, Stokes and Surry Counties.  This free tour gives you a chance to go behind the scenes of 5 very diverse farms.  We'll have a wagon tour of the farm, walking tours, pick-your-own blackberries, snowcones and more!  For more information check out our Facebook page or get directions here.  We will also have flyers at market.  Spread the word!

Market Updates

Find us under the purple tent at Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem (NOTE:  Different hours this Saturday ONLY, 8-11 a.m.) and King Farmers Market at the YMCA (Wednesday, 11-1). There will be lots of Blackberries, Fresh Garlic, French Red Shallots, Tomatoes, Black Raspberries,  Swiss Chard, basil and Allium flowers (last week!) -- all Certified Organic!  We will also have our gorgeous Stargazer Oriental Lilies - perfect for your Holiday table!  You can also order Organic Sweet Potato SlipsAnd don't forget the jam! 

Stargazer Oriental Lily

Celebrate your Independence this weekend from tasteless, factory-farmed food -- Make it fresh and local and Organic! 

Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

Posted 6/26/2015 7:11am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

I goofed.  Numbers are very important to us here at the farm and I seemed to have a wrong one stuck in my head.  Instead of planting 35,000 cloves last fall, it was more like 25,000 (don't you round to the nearest 10,000?).  So when I tell you that our harvest was 23,867 bulbs, the difference isn't nearly as big between what was planted and what was harvested.  It's actually a pretty great return.  But given that we had our Garlic A-Team planting last fall, it's no surprise.  It feels SO good to have the garlic harvested -- a full 3 weeks ahead of the usual time.

Empty garlic field    Happy harvesters    Ray putting seed garlic in the Tobacco Barn hammock    

Now that all of the garlic is out of the ground, we are busily trying to get it trimmed, graded, cleaned and hung in the barn (we have garlic tucked into every nook and cranny that we can find right now!)  Here's where you can come in!  We'll be hosting another Crop Mob on Monday, June 29 starting at 9 a.m. to handle those tasks!  This work is quite pleasant -- sitting under the shade of the Tobacco Barn or in the Yam Barn with the fan blowing.  And Monday's temperatures are supposed to be very pleasant (mid-80's!!).  We need about 8-10 volunteers to help us blast through -- are you available to help?  We'll provide lunch, music and pleasant conversation!  You'll be helping us move through an important part of the garlic harvest.  Please let us know if you would like to be part of the Mob -- either respond to this email or call 336-994-2517.

Cleaning garlic

Yes, it has been a dreadfully hot week here at the farm.  Humans and critters have all been laboring under what feels like a hot, wet wool blanket with temps in the upper 90's (2 days were 100+).  The honey bees have also been trying to cope with the heat.  They have been hanging out on their porch a lot and searching for water anywhere that they can find it.  Heard them buzzing around this knot in a tree -- thought that maybe they had swarmed but they were just looking for water.  Ray helped them out by putting a container with water just outside their hive -- have to keep the girls comfortable!

Bees hanging out on the hive    In search of water

Farm Tour!!

Mark your calendar for Sunday, July 12 from 1-5 p.m.  We have joined with 4 other farms in Forsyth, Stokes and Surry Counties to host the first Northern Triad Farm Tour!  This free tour gives you a chance to go behind the scenes of 5 very diverse farms -- it will be a lot of fun for the whole family.  For more information check out our Facebook page or get directions here.  We will also have flyers at market.  Spread the word!

Market Updates

Find us under the purple tent at Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem (Saturday, 9-noon) and King Farmers Market at the YMCA (Wednesday, 11-1). There will be lots of Fresh Garlic (Red Toch and Chesnok), French Red Shallots, Black Raspberries, Blackberries, Swiss Chard, artichokes, frissé, Allium flowers (last week!) and beautiful Oriental Lilies -- all Certified Organic!  You can also order Organic Sweet Potato SlipsAnd don't forget the jam!  Heads up on the Old Salem Market for next week -- market starts EARLY (from 8-11) due to Independence Day activities at Old Salem.

Stay cool and keep smiling -- this sweltering heat is about to break!  Until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

Posted 6/19/2015 8:20am by Cheryl Ferguson.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!

There's only one word that describes this week.  Garlic!  (I'll bet you thought I was going to say "Hot!") Yep, garlic has been on our minds, hands and backs as we have harvested, trimmed, sorted, cleaned and hung some of the 35,000+ bulbs that await us in the field.  The crop is looking good and many of you have already tasted the results with our fresh garlic that is available at market.

Garlic harvest is not a simple task.  We have developed methods and tools over the years to make it easier -- like the undercutter bar on the tractor -- but it is very time-consuming and detail-oriented.  Growing the number of varieties that we do (24 to be exact), you can't casually pull garlic out and throw it all together in a pile.  We want to know how many of a variety that we've harvested (and frequently by source of seed) and then keep the variety together for curing and sale.  There's lots of counting and labeling.  But those of you who know us, probably aren't surprised by that, right? ;-)

We have been blessed with a group of terrific volunteers that have come to our rescue along with our great team members, Jen, Chris and Matt.  A special thanks go to Sandy & Orville Woodard, Annette Helsabeck, Sally Hirsh and Jack Stack for helping us bring in the garlic!  These folks were absolute Rock Stars coming out to volunteer on the hottest days we have seen this year!!  Mil Gracias!

Take a look and see what a grand time we had!

Harvesting garlic  Matt pulling samples as Ray undercuts garlic bulbs    Jen & Annette harvesting    Annette cleaning Chesnok    Sandy hanging Elephant garlic in the Yam Barn    Monday's "Mob"

The sweet potato slips we told you about last week are doing great!  Check out the vigor of the plants -- and these great roots in just 2 weeks!  We'll be taking orders for slips at market starting this week.  Now is the time to plant sweet potatoes!

Sweet potato slips in tray   Sweet potato slip roots growing out of tray cells

Berry Update:  The later variety of black raspberries is starting to ripen as are the blackberries!  We hope to have them available soon.  As a reminder, we are not open for pick-your-own days on an ongoing basis.  These are special events that we plan based on berry availability and our other farm schedules.  We don't want to disappoint someone who is planning to come out for a picking day only to find that we are not open for PYO.  We will always announce these events in this newsletter, on our website, on Facebook ("Like" us if you haven't already!) and our phone message.  If you don't see something in these locations, we do not have berries available.  We appreciate your understanding!

Market Updates

Find us under the purple tent at Cobblestone Farmers Market at Old Salem (Saturday, 9-noon) and King Farmers Market at the YMCA (Wednesday, 11-1). There will be lots of Fresh Garlic (Music and Chesnok), garlic scapes (last week), Black Raspberries, Swiss Chard, artichokes, lamb's quarters, frissé, Allium flowers and garlic granules -- all Certified Organic!  There MAY be a couple of additions and surprises on the table as well -- you'll just have to stop by and check it out!  You can also order Organic Sweet Potato SlipsAnd don't forget that Dads Love Jam -- Father's Day is Sunday so surprise your Dad with one of our tasty jams!

This weekend marks both the Summer Solstice  -- the longest day of the year -- and Father's Day -- a great confluence of two bright spots!  According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, the timing of the summer solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. This year, it occurs exactly at 12:38 P.M. EDT on June 21.  It is also, coincidentally, the best time to see a conjunction -- the triangle of the crescent moon, Jupiter and Venus in the western sky near the horizon around 9 p.m. on Saturday evening.  For more information on this celestial event, click here.

Happy Summer!  And until next week,

Cheryl & Ray 

USDA Organic logo

Certfied Organic by QCS since 2010

Watch Us!

Ray talks ginger with Lisa

Check out the terrific feature that Flavor, NC did on Plum Granny Farm!  You can view the episode at http://video.unctv.org/video/2365069548/  They did a great job showing our garlic, ginger & berry production - plus a few other surprises! We are paired with Chef Jay from Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen who makes some wonderful garlic recipes!  Enjoy!

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