Friday, October 30, 2009

Bye Bye Willow!!!!!!

So, feeling rather nostalgic tonite. Tomorrow is not only the last main season market day of 2009 (Bayview only, sorry Coupeville!), but Willow - one of the fab three Willowood Crew this year - willing be leaving us this Sunday to pursue new adventures in farming. Wah! Wah! Wah!

Willow came to Willowood Farm via a coffee and chocolate farm in Hawaii where she had been interning (I'm still not sure why she left...Coffee? Chocolate? Hawaii?????). She was looking for a farm in western Washington to gain local experience as she hopes to start a farm soon somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
Discovering a farm named "Willowood" seemed fate. It was literally, calling her name! (Willow has suggested I get her a sweatshirt with just the word "ood" so then she could be "Willow-ood." Ha. Ha.).
But when she and I first talked, I had to be upfront about the name thing. Not only was my farm name also hers, but, um yeah, our dog's name is Willow too! And yes, we've had a fair bit of confusion on that issue. However Willow (the person), has gotten to recognize the different tone of voice I use for Willow, the dog. As in, "WWWILLLL-OOOWWW stop freaking barking! It's just a hiker/hunter/garbagedriver/UPSman/neighbor/apparently nothing???? So STUFF IT!" Usually Willow (the person), figures out I'm talking to Willow (the dog), because I tell her to stop barking. That's the big clue. Meanwhile Willow (the dog), keeps barking because she now has learned to pretend she is deaf (except apparently when discussing the possible procurement of bone-flavored treats). Willow (the person) also is very alert to possible discussion of treat procurement, her preferred, however, being chocolate flavored.
So, somehow, we worked it all out. Dogs barked, seeds were planted, cabbage was harvested...It was all good. Until now. When she is leaving. Wah-wah-wah!
But...I AM excited for Willow to get busy pursuing her dreams of starting her own farm with her mom. Not to get all sappy and what not...But young enthusiastic, energetic and SMART people like Willow are what the future of a local, sustainable, healthy food system is ALL about...
And I know Willow will be "kickin' it" and coming to visit lots (she better!), so we'll get to see her plenty. Since Willow (along with Kevin and Elizabeth), will all be at the Bayview Farmer's Market tomorrow for a "going away" market day we hope you will come stop by for a quick visit! I know Willow would love to see all the friendly faces we've met at Bayview this year. And yes, this is THE LAST Bayview Market of the main season (yet to come, the Bayview Holiay market but that starts Thanksgiving weekend). And yes, in typical "Bring the Abundance" Willowood Farm fashion, we will be coming loaded with all sorts of goodies for you to stock up to get you through the long, no market winter weeks! Here's the short (long) list...
- Gourmet potatoes loose and in 10 lb bags as discounted price for winter storage!
- Loads more garlic and still plenty of seed garlic (I plant into mid November so not too late!)
- Cabbage, cabbage, cabbage! Three kinds for all your sauerkraut fantasies!
- Lots of nice fall bunched greens. Raab, collards, mustards - all tastiest this time of year!
- Spinach and arugula bags!
- Last of the season's head lettuce (and we've had quite the year of head lettuce!)
- Brocolli side shoots - yummy!
- Gorgeous cauliflower
- Dry beans - Rockwells and several other kinds as well this week!
- Winter squash and yummy pie pumpkins!
- Decorative gourds and mini pumpkins
- Other stuff I'm forgetting!
And on a final note, since it will be Halloween and all, the Willowood Crew will be dressing up in accordance. Check out this hilarious spoof to get a clue on our costumes for the day!
Hope to see you there!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, October 24, 2009

From Bean to Bean...Saga of a bean grower.

We've been looking at a lot of beans lately. And doing all sorts of interesting things to said beans to get them ready for market and sale to our loyal, bean-loving public. That said, I thought it might be interesting to go through a quick log of the "bean tasks" of the seasons as we have taken them from seed to plant to seed again! Bear with me, this is kinda long, but I think it gives a good idea of what a smaller farmer goes through to bring a crop to market (and remember this is just ONE of the 100+ crops we grow at Willowood Farm...) So here goes -
Nov. 2008. Save seed from 08 crop to plant in 2009.
Nov. 2008. Leased 3 acre field from neighbor. Need more room for beans for next year.
Nov. 2008. Cultivating in green manure (reseeded barley crop), will let field set fallow for winter for weed control
April 25 2009. First disk of new field.
May 15 2009. Second disk of new field.
May 25 2009. Planting beans! Using new tractor mounted planters - working great! Plant about 1.5 acres total!
June 1 2009. First bean plants up! Rockwell's are up first - they alway's are!
June 6 2009. Hmm...Field has germinated very patchy. Some places up great. Others not at all. Why? No rain since week before we planted. Seed that had a bit more moisture in the ground germinated, spots in the field that were a bit drier - the seed is just sitting there not doing anything! Rain predicted later this week?
June 12 2009. Still NO RAIN! Can't wait for mother nature! Sprinklers!
June 13-July 5 2009. Constant moving the sprinklers (watering 1.5 acres of beans on regular home style overhead sprinkler is a lot of sprinkler moving!).
July 10 2009. Okay, now all the beans are up. This will cause problems later however, as about 60% of the crop came up when it should, all the rest later. This means double work on weed management and we will have to harvest 2x as well. Oh well. At least they all came up!
July 12. Weed, weed, weed. Get the field done once, start again!
July 20th. Some signs of halo blight. Worse in some spots that others. Probably due to having to overhead sprinkle to get seeds up (beans don't like overhead water...). Trying to combat the problem by spraying with compost tea. Two applications of 55 gallons of spray.
Aug. 1. Weed, weed, weed again!
Sept. 1. Earliest beans are starting to get "shell bean" ready. This is when they came be shelled from pod and eaten fresh! Yummy!
Sept. 25. Rockwells and Arikara's (well, the plants that came up early), are ready to be threshed. Pull up and windrow in the field.
Oct. 1. Bring out the combine to thresh Rockwells. (SWEAR WORD INSERTED HERE!). The combine is splitting about 50% of the beans! Perhaps because they are so dry because so little rain this summer????? GRRR!!!!
Oct. 2. Bring all the Rockwells, Arikara's into barn to thresh through hammermill. Slow process, but we need beans for Farm Tour!
Oct. 3. Thresh Rockwell's through hammermill. Clean through seed cleaner. Place through second screen to remove any split ones (hammermill splits some too). Bag and tag about 50 bags of Rockwell beans! 5 people on this task, takes about 5 hours (25 hours total!).
Oct. 7. Dad's home! Can he fix the combine so no more splits...Ordered parts.????
Oct. 9. Dad think's he's fixed the combine. Nope...still splitting. Although not as bad (probably 10 to 15 percent). We decide to do some more Rockwell's because I'm sold out almost already!
Oct. 12. Bring in ALL the bean plants from the field. Wet weather predicted. Many, many trips with truckloads of beans. Thank goodness our barn is the size of multiple football fields!
Oct. 15. Dad ordered another new part. 10-15% splitting is still not acceptable! Those beans are A LOT of work!
Oct. 18. Parts in! Combine works now! No splitting! Yee-haw!
Oct. 19. Lots of wet, wet weather lately. Even inside, high humidity has soaked into pods of unthreshed beans and they are wet! How to dry this many beans?????
Oct. 20. Dad decides we should thresh anyways. Better to get beans out of wet (humid) pods than leave them in. More wet weather predicted.
Oct. 21. Brain storm! Dry wet beans in the clothes drier! Go to Wal-Mart for big laundry bags! It works. Just will take a while, a LOT of beans to put through the drier!
And now you are up to date! Hope you enjoyed the trials and tribulations of growing dry beans in the Pacific Northwest!
And if you want to buy any of these beans, we will be bringing Rockwells and Black Garbanzo bags to the Bayview Market TODAY! And don't forget today is the fun and wacky Mutt Strutt/Apple Tasting at Bayview Farmer's Market and Bayview Farm and Garden. Lots of fun fall-time activities including pumpkin painting and fun stuff! Willowood Farm will be bringing all sorts of great fall feast items including a huge selection of gorgeous heirloom pumpkins and winter squash, decorative gourds, loads of storage bags of potatoes for fall and winter, awesome garlic and still great seed garlic (not too late to plant!), head lettuce, spinach bags, arugula bags, stir-fry bunches, raab bunches, cabbage for making coleslaw and sauerkraut...And the list goes on and on!
Hope to see you at market today!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring - VEGETABLES!

It's raining, it's pouring - VEGETABLES!
So, it appears it might rain today ...(wa-ha-ha...). But we are loaded up and ready to go with a large and lovely selection of fall harvest time veggies for your enjoyment. SO...assuming it isn't a huge lake in the Bayview Farmer's Market set-up area, we will be there and we would sure love to see you!
So, haul out the raincoat and umbrella and come down and see us. I promise, you won't be any wetter than we are!
We will have the following selection at the Bayview Farmer's Market (sorry folks, Coupeville is done til next spring!).
- Prebagged mixes of mesclun, two kinds of gorgeous baby spinach, and arugula!
- Cabbages, cabbages, cabbages! 3 kinds to fulfill all your sauerkraut and coleslaw fantasies plus we will be offering a reduced price on quantity purchases AND a how-to primer on making sauerkraut! It's easy! It's cheap! It's healthy! DO IT!
- A nice selection of fall head lettuce
-1 lb bags with recipes of Rockwell Beans (our local famous bean, featured in the Pacific Northwest Magazine!)
- 1 lb bags with recipe of Back Kabuli Garbanzo beans (authentic Indian chickpea!)
- Kohlrabi (a little zest to add into your sauerkraut, coleslaw creations!)
- Gourmet garlic - food grade and a great selection still for seed garlic (it's not too late to plant, I haven't even started yet!). And beautiful garlic braids as well!
- Taters, taters, taters. Loose by the pound, 2 lbs bags and 10 lbs quantity bags for storage.
- Winter Squash and Pumpkins. A great selection of tasty, beautiful squash and pumpkins.
- Decorative gourds and ornamental corn.
- Broccoli raab bunches (Martha Stewart LOVES it!)
- Beet thinnings bunches and loose beet bottoms
More stuff I'm forgetting...

So come out and stock up! There is still LOADS OF LOCAL FOOD available, you just have to brave the weather to come get it. How brave are you????

P.S. Thanks to Thom Hall for these fabulous market photos!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Festival Time!

It's festival time! Today is the annual Coupeville Harvest Fest at the Coupeville Farmer's Market. Giant pumpkin (and other overly large veggies) contest, and a harvest relay race to raise money for the Gifts From the Heart Food Bank with silly games like udder pulling, pumpkin bowling and grape squeeze. Check out some more information here -
Willowood Farm will be there of course, and in force! We are loading up the Prairie Bottom Farm wagon to the brim with food, with the help of our friends Wilbur and Julieanna at Prairie Bottom Farm.
Afterall, this is THE Coupeville Market to stock up on the bounty and we will make sure we will be providing it. A truckload full of winter squash, another truckload full of 10 lbs storage bags of potatoes (offered at reduced pricing), ornamental gourds, mini pumpkins and ornamental corn for fall decorating, bags of Rockwell Beans and Black Kabuli Garbanzo Beans, loads of gourmet garlic including 1 lb net storage bags, a great selection of seed grade garlic for planting your own, a late planting of sweet corn...And then all the still wonderful fresh veggies - head lettuce, mesclun mix, radishes, broccoli raab, cauliflower, cabbages, chard, parsnips, summer squash, cucumbers, and more!
We also will be bringing a nice selection of all the goodies to the Bayview Farmer's Market as well, for those who don't want to make the drive north and who missed the big booth set-up last week during the farm tour! So come see Mikey at Bayview, he'll be holding down the fort there for us. And if you live Greenbank or south, don't forget to sign up for Mikey's great Whidbey Green Goods fresh local food delivery service if you haven't already! The Bayview market will be over the end of October but Mikey will keep on bringing you great, local food - including Willowood! - and deliver it straight to your doorstep!
We hope to see you out and about today. It's going to be a great harvest-time fall day (farmer's paradise, as far as I'm concerned...).