Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rain, rain and MORE RAIN!

So what's a farmer to do when it's raining an inch and an half and you have market the next day?  That's an easy one!  You get wet!  Really, really wet!

This is Dan.  One of the farm's interns this year.  He is working on putting up a plastic greenhouse.  Our first one!  Right now, I think he is thinking - "If this darn thing was only finished, I would be dry instead of SOPPING wet..."

Here's Lydia, another of the farm interns.  Planting lettuce starts.  Lydia discovered that apparently "waterproof" slickers are only waterproof, up to a point...

And this is Matthew, the 3rd Willowood Farm intern, picking peas.  Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of him earlier when we he was wearing a garbage sack.  He looked like a garbage monster in the pea patch. Grr!!!!

And while this rain, rain, rain means Farmer Georgie won't be planting her 3 acres of dry beans today (sigh), we like to look at the good side of things on the farm.  One good thing - well, we really did need the rain!  Things were quite dry out there.  Second good thing - despite the rain and thanks to my intrepid crew, we STILL have loads of veggies picked and waiting to come to my brave and stalwart market customers who we know will venture out, umbrella's in hand, to find the local veggies.  It's a team thing, this locally grown food and farming...We grow and bring you the food, rain or shine, and you come and buy it (fingers crossed) even when the weather is less than "market friendly..."
Or so we hope.  And for those of you who do brave this gray and muddy day, you will be rewarded accordingly with the following yummies at the Coupeville and Bayview markets:

From Willowood Farm
- Peas, peas, peas!  At both markets!  We understand peas sold out WAY too fast last weekend at Coupeville, so we are bringing the goods this week.  Delightful, dwarf grey sugar peas.  Sweet, tender, yummy!
- Head lettuce, head lettuce, head lettuce!  The Willowood Farm famous head lettuce is back and in abundance.  Big, beautiful.
- Green onion bunches, young and tender.
- The very last of the giant yet amazingly good radishes!
- First picking of tender baby Japanese turnips!
- Fabulous spinach bunches and bags
- Mache
And more...
From Prairie Bottom Farms
- Baby beet bunches
- Chard bunches
- Kale
- French Breakfast radishes
- Lettuce Mix (Coupeville only)
- Spinach!
And more...
So we hope to see you there, rain or shine!  We'll be there.  Soggy, wet and wonderful!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lots of food, lots of photos!

It's been so busy here on the farm I've hardly had time to put together two thoughts over than "weed, water, pick, plant..."
So I thought I would just include a bunch of photos in today's postings rather than try to address all the joys and tribulations of farming in a blog posting.  And photo's are always good, right? So here goes...

This was from potato planting day.  Almost a month ago, actually.  We planted over 1000 lbs of seed potato, about an acre and a half!  Yikes!  The plants are just starting to poke up through the hills right now...Don't you like our high tech method?  Get lots of volunteers, drop potato in row.  Voila! Potatoes planted...

 This is Dan, one of the farm interns, plowing in a field.  I hate to brag but...don't I got some good dirt?

A lovely few rows of head lettuce, which will be coming to market today!

And I think this might be my favorite photo in quite a while.  The juxtaposition of dirty hands, weeds and pink painted fingernails!  A classic!

And now, because I know you are all are just dying to know, here is what we will be bringing to market today (and watch out folks, we have LOTS of food today!)...
Coming to the Coupeville AND Bayview markets...
From Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie
- Head Lettuce, head lettuce, head lettuce!  We will have over 100 heads at each market.  Lots of varieties and offering some great deals.  Not to mention RECIPES! is a link for ideas of "other than salad" uses for lettuce (I love the soup idea!).
- Radishes.  These guys are HUGE this week.  But amazingly enough, sweet and crunchy all the way through.
- Arugula bags.  Because you can never have enough arugula.
- Mache bags.  One of our new favorites, ask for sample if you've never had it!
- Hot Red Giant Mustard bunches.  Fabulous stir-fried!
- Tatsoi bunches!
- Some gorgeous Redbor Kale
- Garlic scapes! I'm always excited about garlic scapes!  This is the first picking of the year, expect to see LOTS of them over the next month.
- Peas!  Yes that's right, Peas!  I will only be having them at Bayview however, as we have a small picking and I hear Linda from Rosehip has a bunch of peas at the Coupeville market this week.
From Wilbur and Julieanna at Prairie Bottom Farm
- French Breakfast radishes!
- Gorgeous Red Chard bunches
- Scallions bunches
- Spinach - Red and Green!
And I know we have more stuff I'm forgetting as it's early and I haven't had my coffee yet...But let's put it this way, we've got a packed cooler and it's all for you!  So hope to see you at the market today...
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hankering for a salad?

'Cuz we've got all the fixings!  Salad type that is...

One of my favorite things about growing stuff, is how I can explore the great diversity of mother nature within a topic.  Huh?  Well, take lettuce for example...We have planted this year about a dozen different varieties.  They are a palette of contrasting colors, textures, shapes and yes, even taste.  Butterheads, French Crisps, Oakleafs, Deer Tongues, Romaines - and them combinations of all the above.  There are literally 1000s of lettuce varieties, from very old heirlooms brought over to the United States in the late 1800s by Mennonites (Amish Speckled, we grow that one too!) to new breeding lines developed by our favorite organic seed breed, Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds in Williamette Valley.   Two of our standout favorites- Flashy Butter Oak and Blushed Butter Oak, both lettuce "cousins" from the same breeding lines yet very different in appearance and flavor, come from Frank's work to develop new lettuce varieties suited for organic growing systems.
Fascinating stuff!  And so tasty too...

Of course the sad part of modern day agriculture and, our usual grocery store options, is all the bounteous options that mother nature provides? Down to, well if they are REALLY pushing the envelope, four choices.  Green leaf, red leaf, romaine and butterhead/bibb.  Don't even attempt to ask the actual name of those grocery store varieties, most of those types, bred for the all important "ability to ship and hold well" don't even have names - just numbers!  R45-K.  Or something fabulously appetizing like that.
I don't know about you, but I'm bored already!

But that's the great thing about being a small farmer and marketing directly to my customers.  I am not locked into an contract to grow 10,000 heads of "red leaf" lettuce for 30 or 40 cents a head.  Instead, I can plant staggering crops of 2000 heads, comprised of 12 different varieties, that come maturity,  look like mother nature had a quilting bee in my fields.

Gorgeous! And fun.  And I've said it before and I'll saying it again...if you aren't having fun farming well believe me, there is NO REASON to be doing it!

But lucky for you all, I LOVE farming!  It's a treat everyday to go outside and tackle the latest problems, enjoy the successes, reap the bounty!  And I especially love bringing the harvest to you!
So on that note (notice my clever transition!)...Here's what we will be bringing to the Coupeville and Bayview markets today!

From Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie
*Head Lettuce (if you didn't get that from above...).  A nice selection of many of our favorites.  But don't worry if you miss us this week, we will be into loads of head lettuce over the next several weeks.
* Mesclun bags (great mixed with the head lettuce, btw!)
* Arugula bags
* Mache bags.  If you have never tried mache, come try a sample.  It is a delightfully sweet, nutty and hard to find specialty green.  A real spring treat! (And we have recipes!).
* Braising greens - mixed bunches
* Giant Red Mustard - this one is HOT! Fabulous with fish!
* Broccoli Raab (I hear Martha S is a fan...)
* Tatsoi bunches (since so many of you asked for them last week)
* Radishes - loads of them again!  In all the colors of the rainbow.  Great with your lettuce/mesclun salad!  Plus we have some great recipes for pickled and roasted radishes!
* Purple Baby Pac Choi

From Prairie Bottom Farm
* Spinach - red and green!
* Napa cabbage bunches
* Walking onion bunches
* Overwintered scallion bunches
* Young Walla Walla bunches
* Wild Arugula bunches
* Chard bunches
And more....

Hope to see you all at market on this beautiful island day!

Farmer Georgie, having heaps of fun...
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, May 8, 2010

May Madness!

May is that time of year when the farming madness REALLY starts to kick in and this past week has been no exception.  There are so, so, so many things that need to get planted during the month of May, meanwhile, we are busy trying to keep on top of the harvest, weeding and bug-control of the crops we planted in March and April.   I admit, I do love hard work...So, there is a part of me that "thrives" on the crazy 12 hour, work until the sun goes down, days.  Afterall, I can sleep in January!
But what really drives me is that I know the more we can get down now, the more rewards we reap come "harvest time" in the fall.  Anticipating the bounty, I guess...Or maybe this is just because, it's what I do!
Meanwhile, we are already reaping a lovely "spring" bounty of early and overwintered crops.  And, we are bringing them to market today!  Both Coupeville AND the Bayview market!
From the fields at Willowood Farm:
* Mesclun bags
* Arugula bags
* Spinach bags (Bayview only)
* Mache bags
* Baby butterhead lettuces (Coupeville only)
* Broccoli Raab bunches
* Giant Purple Mustard bunches (these are the HOT horseradishy ones that have a devoted following...)
* Baby Pac Choi bunches
* Braising Green bunches (a mix of yummy greens suitable for stir-fry or braising)
* Garlic Green bunches  - they smell SO good!
* Radishes

From our busy friends one mile across the prairie, Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Parsnips
* Red Bordeaux spinach
* Green savoy spinach (Coupeville only)
* Parsnips!
* A few beets!
* Overwintered scallion bunches
* Walla Walla green onion bunches
* Chard
* Chives
* Rhubarb
And, appearing at the Bayview market only, Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods will be bringing lettuce mix bags, a whole heck of a lot of plant starts, and some other special goodies!
So we hope to see you at the markets today!  10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for both of them.  Look for the tractor and wagon set-up in Coupeville, and at Bayview our booth should be down at the Basil Cafe side of the market.
And, btw, if you are interested in volunteering on the farm and getting to experience a bit of the joy (madness) for yourself, we love having volunteers on Tuesday - our main "get it down" project day.  Simply email me at and we can talk more about the details!
Thank you for your support of locally grown produce - it makes the madness all worthwhile...
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Farming - what a crazy, wet, windy and FABULOUS job to have!

As I type this post and get ready for market day while pondering the ominous grey clouds and a weather report for rain, rain and rain PLUS wind up to 37 mph (seriously????), I remember what a true privilege it is to farm for a living.

Lauren and Lydia hoeing garlic....

No, really!  I've worked an "office" job (or two) and I can tell you that I would rather take a wet, windy, miserable day outside and day than one cooped up in artificial air under fluorescent lights.  Blech.  Call me crazy (and many do!), but being outside is what I'm all about. 
So no matter the weather, Willowood Farm will be there on market day bringing our goodies to our loyal customers who are brave and stalwart enough to chance a bit of rain or wind and come see us.  Because, well, that's what we do!
And since I know you folks are all itching to see what we are bringing, here is the list for the Coupeville Farmer's Market today...
(SOUTH END FOLKS - ONE MORE WEEK TIL WE ARE BAYVIEW!  However...Anza from Maha Farms is bringing a selection of Willowood Farm goodies with her to the Tilth Market today, if you want to check that out!).
From Willowood Farm
- Mesclun bags
- Arugula bags
- Broccoli raab bunches
- Giant Purple Mustard bunches (hot and horseradishy!)
- Tatsoi bunches
- Baby pac choi
- Radishes
- Mixed braising green bunches
- Garlic Greens
- Peregion and Rockwell Beans

From Prairie Bottom Farm (Wilbur and Julieanna will be gone at History Day competition today - go Wolves! But they brought over a nice selection for Georgie and crew to sell today...).
- Green and Red Bordeaux Spinach
- Parsnips
- Chives
- Walla Walla scallions
- Baby Napa Cabbage bunches
- Wild Arugula bunches
And of course Sara's famous pies...
On a funny note, I recently came across this YouTube video and just LOVED it.  Although I'm afraid to show it to my tractors, I know they will be jealous.  My 1956 Farmall is particularly good at well-timed back-firing and I have a feeling she (all tractors are she's!) would love a chance in the spotlight...
 Tractor Rocks the House (Barn)!
Hope to see you at market today!
Farmer Georgie, wet, wind-blown and fabulous!
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie