Friday, October 9, 2009

On humanely and sustainably raised meats.

We are trying to stick with our dedication to eating local humanely and sustainably raised meats. It has cut back our meat consumption quite a lot. But no one here is complaining. We did raise two pigs a couple of years ago but haven’t raised our own meat since then. I guess we are so caught up in raising vegetables that we just haven’t had time. We depend on our neighbors for meat and eggs. I can't wait to read this book....

I'd like to compile a list of questions to ask when eating out regarding the sourcing of meats. Please feel free to comment and add to the list.

I know at this point after reading the article in the New York Times that we are going to avoid ground beef in restaurants alltogether, unless we know where it comes from. We only cook local neighbor-raised beef here at home but when we go out we allow Hattie, our 5 year old, to order hamburgers. Guess I will have to do a little explaining to her.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pasture-Raised Poultry for sale!

We here at Downing Hollow Farm are taking orders for pasture-raised chickens. Email us here for details.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September Update: We have a Twitter feed, and new recipes posted at our blog!

Happy September! A few notes:

1. For quick updates on what we're doing at the farm, please visit our new Twitter feed, at .

2. Looking for tasty dishes to create with your produce? We've posted some recipes up on our website: . Eggplant Bruschette, Fingerling Potato Salad, Cherry Tomato Preserve, and more!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Harmony is back!!

Harmony checks in with this blog entry:
My internship was over in mid-June, but after a brief vacation to visit my friends at Hendrix, (and a mini-road trip to Hot Springs with Caitlin), I'm back! It's hotter, but there are some exciting things that are happening...
Alex and the kids are in Nebraska visiting relatives for the 4th of July. The house has never been quieter! Caitlin has been on a mini-vacation going to visit Oxford, Mississippi (Faulkner is the big lure here) as well as Beale Street and Graceland. (Caitlin please come back! Planting tomatoes is not as much fun without you!) The other interns, Ed and Rachel, are about to leave for their westward journey, on to a farm that grows 30 acres of fruits and vegetables in Colorado! For July, Lori's brother is coming in and so is one of their friends from New Orleans. Caitlin and I are plotting how to get free rides on his motorcycle.
Today Lori and I planted a ton a tomatoes and are currently getting ready for tomorrow's market. I felt like a dentist as I extracted a bunch of rocks. We added some amendments that are delicious to tomatoes: fish emulsion, manure, bone meal, lime, peat moss. Oh! And two farmers delivered four gigantic straw bales today! I've never seen anything like them!!
Yesterday I planted a bunch of beets and some green basil and lovely Red Ruby (purple) basil. I worked late into the night preparing new seed homes for fall produce. Anticipate some lovely Red Orchid Chicory!
For dinner appetizers I made lovely Afghan dumplings called Aushak. They were on a bed of garlicy yogurt and had a side ginger, coriander, beef sauce. We got the beef the day before from Doug and Claudia Kalmer, our neighbors. They have 9 cows right now.Thanks ya'll. We were especially jealous because they have a ton of tomatoes and ours are not quite ripe yet. At the Memphis garden, we are getting beautiful ripe tomatoes but the squirrels are taking bites! Luckily, Doug Kalmer gave us a small, very potent vial of fox urine that should temporarily keep away those squirrels.
There are a few other projects in the works. We are getting a green house soon, so we'll be doing some construction. Also, I found this book called Circle Houses. SO COOL!! So, we're going to make a yurt. Alex favors the ascetic ones; I like the the woven branch ones. Well, whoever builds it gets to I guess I get to choose! Alex and Lori are pretty gung-ho about any side projects I want to do while I'm here. The ultimate goal is a stone, outdoor shower. Of course, Alex and I disagree on the design...but again, whoever builds it decides... Anyway, there are enough big stones in the creek. I'm going to try to get Caitlin excited about it so she'll help me haul the big ones.
In produce news:
Alex's corn is taller than Hattie and the first harvest will be sometime this week. (He's very sad to miss it because the corn crops are like children to him.) He said the trick to harvesting it is when the little corn ears fold down a little.
My beans are beautiful. BEAUTIFUL! I planted them seed by seed in May and now they are ready to eat! Really pretty Merveille De Piedmonte.
The swiss chard and lettuces are on their way out. Cucumbers are ready to eat!
So long for now,

Friday, June 5, 2009

Time just speeds along this time of year. You turn around and plants have grown a couple of inches in the blink of an eye. Soon we will see our kitchen tables fill up with tomatoes. Already it is time to say "so long" to intern Harmony Hudson as she will be returning to Conway Arkansas to work the summer and start her senior year at Hendrix College. Great things will be in store for her enthusiastic and pioneering spirit, no doubt. We have been getting to know the newest intern Caitlin from Montreal and talking about summer plans. Still waiting on a couple from Chicago coming this Sunday. We shall see. But what is most striking is how much willing help and curiosity this whole farming adventure has brought our way. The Downing Hollow Urbagrarians, who my sister Sue thinks should be renamed the Sharecropper Sisterhood, have been building a wonderful garden at our house in Memphis. That garden has a 100 tomato plants, 30 plus peppers and just as many eggplant. There are rows of French heirloom bush beans and pole beans, as well as lots of cucumbers and squash. Not to forget the fingerling potatoes and a nice row of melons we are training up a trellis to conserve space. Just got to get some okra in somewhere!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter is always a magical time for our family. Trying to figure out how that Easter bunny gets around without being seen is an all day affair for our kids. Being on a farm, it's pretty common to stumble across animal burrows in the ground. Of course you never see the animal cause he's scurried off further down into the lower chambers. So a rabbit hole is a curious thing. After all, Alice did tumble down into one. We've been keeping an eye on the same one in the garden for a couple of years now. But this year, Henry noticed a new hole in the ground on the other side of the garden fence... the grand entryway to our smorgasbord of tender lettuces. Henry and Hattie do what they always do when a guest is coming, in this case a rabbit, make handmade cards to give to the newcomer. They use words like" I love you Easter Bunny" written in scented magic marker all over. Henry stuck his card down the rabbit hole.
Later, the candy filled plastic Easter eggs entice them through the yard, across the creek, up the bank and through the garden gate. The card is gone and an egg dyeing kit is in it's place. Afterwards, Henry takes all the dyed eggs and stuffs them down the rabbit hole.
This picture of my family reminds me of a modern day WPA Walker Evans photo.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Planting Fingerling Potatoes

Despite the approaching freeze, we worked hard to plant some of the fingerling potatoes the UPS man brought yesterday. Interns Eva Brewer and Paul Oliver are helping Alex and I sheet mulch the walkways and plant taters every foot which then get covered in straw. It's a great system where as the potato vine grows and leaves out, we add more and more wheat straw to hill them up. Then you pull the straw back around 90 days later, you find clean little fingerlings ready to harvest. I'm loving this
no till method. I'm also crazy about this pic of Paul's dog Scout with Alex in the background. Wonder who is bossing who? Scout is the biggest baddest Chocolate Lab with a sweet heart. He makes our mixed breed Boxer Mickey look like a chihuahua.

Little Miss Unpredictable has played a good trick on us again. We thought is was a time of Spring Mayflowers and Dogwoods but Surprise Surprise! Just when you thought it was safe to go into the garden and plant.....mid twenty degree weather is in the forecast for us here in Downing Hollow and throughout the Midsouth. Tuck your plants in and make a pot of chili, it's gonna get cold! I hear laughter in the forest from all the cute little wood sprites....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Beets for Obama

All day I've been thinking about that South Lawn garden. A little over 1,000 square feet, what a grand thing it will be. But no beets. Obama is not a fan of beets. And I'm sure he has had ample opportunity to taste them in the most fabulous ways in the most fabulous of restaurants.
In honor of that up and coming famous organic garden, I've been potting on little beet seedlings, hoping that it will all work. seedlings and Michelle's vision. I know that people are sitting up and taking notice. Look!! They're turning ground!!!
Imagine what fun the White House kitchen and garden staff are having right now!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Seed starting afternoon

We had a great afternoon at Sue's house starting seeds with CSA workshare friends. We demonstrated the soil blocking technique that Elliot Coleman talks about in his books. Best of all, we started a worm composting system that Sue had researched and learned about from friend Andria Lisle.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thinking about the living soil, reflections on wounding a toad with my BCS tiller

This is turning out to be a promising growing season for us. First, we have a possible 5 interns. One such fellow, Paul Oliver, is visiting almost every week and cranking out some serious dedication to the soil. He's been hauling horse manure from the local stable as well as our stable and lurking in the back alleys of Savannah Tn collecting huge sheets of cardboard that the local furniture stores throw out. If you wonder what this is all's called lasagna gardening or better yet, sheet mulching. It is the organic gardeners reason for living! Building soil fertility and at the same time conserving water and eliminating weeds.
When you till or plow your soil with either tiller or tractor, you destroy the soil structure, killing it's animals and it's ability to sustain growth. Most old timers these days plow, disc and till the soil to a powdery mess. When you use permaculture ideas you should be able to reach down and take a handful of your soil and it should crumble nicely like a rich chocolate brownie, hopefully with a couple of worms falling out. So when you choose a no-till method, your options are to lay biodegradable materials down like newspaper with soy-based ink or brown cardboard and mulch with spoiled hay, wheat straw, wood chips or leaves. Then all you have to do is pop a hole in it with a trowel and sink your little transplant right down in there. Happy plants don't attract mean old pests. Ladybugs maybe!