Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stock up the pantry at the last Bayview Market of the year!

Well this is it folks.  The last main season farmer's market of the year!  (Not to forget, there are 4 Bayview Holiday Markets - indoors no less - Willowood will be attending starting Saturday, Nov. 26th).
Nonetheless, this is the last chance to come shop an outdoor market and be overwhelmed by our amazing loads of food!  Once again, we have two vehicles packed to the brim with fresh from the fields goodies (note for 2012 - MUST BUY DELIVERY TRUCK!...).
And as the season spasmodically winds down (still on the "to do" list -  fields to turn over and plant to cover crop, a 3/4s acre of garlic to plant, a greenhouse to cover with plastic and winter greens left to be planted...), I've been reflecting a lot on the past growing season.  It's been a good one.
Dad discing the to-be potato field in the spring
* February, March and April started out with us raring to go.  Lots of plans made, seeds started.  Experimental first-year winter greens planted in the greenhouse.  Cool weather kept things growing slow, slow, slow but we kept plugging away.
* May is usually a month of rapid exploding growth.  But this past May was markedly cold and amazingly wet.  We received in one day in May the entire amount of rain we normally get for the whole month.  Fields flooded (a very unusual occurrence on our sandy-loam ground).  At least two (maybe three) whole days spent sump-pumping water off the flooded garlic field.  Lost our first bif rotation of mesclun, arugula, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli to saturates fields.
* June - Slowly warming up and drying out.  Desperately worked to get in the time critical crops - dry beans and winter squash.  New plantings of greens.
* July and August - the insanity kicks in.  Lots of crops to harvest AND to plant.  Garlic!  Bugs and assorted diseases try to gain a foothold.  We fit back with flower-based bug sprays and lots of compost tea!  Long days, little sleep.
* September - Turned the tide.  Start to enjoy the "harvest" as main crops start to finish.  Plant for winter and fall.  Tomatoes!  Summer squash anyone????  Please?????
* October - Serious harvest time.  Dig potatoes.  Dig potatoes.  Dig potatoes.  (We ended up with about 4 tons of potatoes in storage!).  Winter squash comes out of the field.  We ever so happily watch the summer squash plants DIE!  Dry Beans!  Pull them, put them in the barn, dry them, thresh them, dry them again...
Sabrina cleaning spring garlic for market
And that gets us to right about now...the end of October.  When you write it all down it doesn't seem like that much, does it.  Hah!  Well, I can tell you it was a lot.  10 acres of veggies is well...a freakin' crazy amount of work.  Nonetheless, I can happily say we had THE BEST year ever.  The best crew, the best crops, the best sales, the best customers.
A big thanks to all of you reading this right now who were a huge part of our success!  Thank you! And a huge thanks to my great crew this year - Kevin, Janiece, Blake, Jen, Ben, Kate, Sabrina, Lauren and most especially - my Dad!
Now...that I've said all that...down to what really matters - what we are bringing to market today!
* Potatoes!  Loose and 10 lb bags.  10 lb bags are $12 2 or more and your price goes to $10 a bag!  Last market special ONLY!
* Dry Beans!  We will have Rockwells, Tiger Eyes, Arikara and Barn Floor Mix beans.  (Black Coco, Peregion and Cannelini aren't quite ready yet...).  For every 4 bags at full price you get a 5th bag at 1/2 off!
* Onions!  We have a large selection of gourmet onions and 5 lb net storage bags for just $7.
* Garlic!  Loose garlic plus 1 lb bags of garlic for just $8!  A $2 savings and a Last market special ONLY!
And then we will have our usual assortment of winter squash, pie pumpkins, cabbage, mesclun, arugula, kale, chard, collards, tomatoes, kohlrabi and etc....
 Plus...all purchases of $60 or more get a FREE GIGANTE KOHLRABI!
My normal appearance during the summer (well really most of the year!)
So...hope to see you at Bayview today!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Filling up the larders...

NOTE - For those of you waiting and wondering about "Endless Summer"  (an off-season order off the list/come pick it up local food service put on by several Coupeville area farms), we expect the first list to go out next week with first pick-up on Oct. 29th.  In the meantime, Willowood Farm will still be at the Bayview Farmer's Market Saturday Oct. 21 as well as Oct. 29th.  Also, don't forget to sign up to receive Whidbey Green Goods email of local food selections delivered to your doorside for residents south of Coupeville to Clinton.
Now back to our regularly scheduled ramblings....

One of the best things about farming is the connections to the seasons and the annual cycle of that earth-sun thing (astronomy not being my strong suit).  Having once a few lifetimes ago, primarily worked an office job where my days where delineated by fluorescent lights, manufactured air and temperature control, I have found that working outside, in tune with the seasons, creates a harmony that resonates well with my soul and well being.
Okay, who am I kidding.  What it really means is this time of year I like to eat big, creamy, hearty and filling things...Squash Soup!  Chili!  Mashed Potatoes!...and then sleep a lot under lovely thick blankets.
Rockwell Beans - what's not to love?
Lucky for me, the offerings of the fall (soon to be winter!) season neatly dwelves right into my cravings.
Winter Luxury Pumpkin Pie; Red Kuri and Peanut Butter soup; Delicata Squash and Chard braised with honey and butter; Carola Potato Hash Browns; Maris Piper Mashed Potatoes; German Butterball Roasted Potatoes with Rocambole Garlic; Rockwell Beans Baked Beans; Tiger Eye Bean Chili; Braised Cabbage; Sauerkraut; Honey Braised Kohlrabi; Kale and Collard Greens; Roasted Red and Golden Beets; Braised Torpedo Onions...and the list goes on...(notice how I started with dessert!).
Having grown veggies now on Whidbey Island for a season or two (okay 13!), the cool thing I have discovered is that with proper storage of a few items - onions, garlic, potatoes, winter squash and dry taking advantage of our generally mild winters that allows me to "overwinter" hardy greens in the fields - kale, chard, collards, cabbage, beets, carrots, parsnips, brussel sprouts, family's diet can continue to very fresh, very local and very seasonal. 
For those of you who may not have 10 acres of vegetables plus a barn the size of a football field to store the goods in, it is still relatively easy with a bit of planning to keep your family in a selection of local goodies.
#1 - Store stuff.  If you have a garage, cellar, shed or outer room that keeps in the 40s to mid 50s without freezing you can keep potatoes.  Make sure to keep them out of the sunlight.    Winter squash, onions and garlic all prefer a bit warmer/drier temperature.  Low 60s is best for those.
#2 - If you don't have kale/collards/chard or other hardy greens in your garden (and it is too late to plant them now, fyi, you need to start them in July!), seek out your local farmers that do and the local off season markets.  (I.e. Endless Summer pick-up list, Whidbey Green Goods Delivery, the Bayview Holiday Market starting Nov. 26th). 
#3 - Don't forget your dry goods.  Dry beans, local grains.  These are all critical components of the winter time diet.
#4 - Keep asking at your local grocery stores - hey, where's the local food?  (The Goose, the Star Store, Payless and Red Apple Prairie Center are all starting to carry more of a selection of local food but let's face it...they could use A LOT more!).
The food is available, it is out there, and with more demand, more farmers and more farmland growing local food, we will be available to survive our winter seasons with a growing selection of healthy, locally grown food.  It's a growing movement! (pun intended!).
And now...on to the really important stuff, what we will have to stock up your pantries TODAY AT THE BAYVIEW FARMER'S MARKET:
*  Potatoes galore - including 10 lb net storage bags at a discounted price.
* Lots of garlic - including 1 lb net bags at a discounted price
* Winter Squash and Pumpkins
* Dry Beans!  Three kinds this weekend...
* Locally Grown Grains - Emmer, Wheat and Barley
* Braising greens - kale, chard and collards
* Kohlrabi - big and little!  Make kraut, braise it, eat it raw
* Cabbage
* Mesclun and arugula bags
* Onions - all kinds including 5 lb storage bags
* Leeks
* Celeriac
* Beets
* Head Lettuce (last of the season until early spring!)
* And more stuff I know I'm forgetting....
Hope to see you at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, October 15, 2011

And the harvest keeps going and going and going....

People keep asking me - so Farmer Georgie, you must be about done for the year? 
Um...actually...not really.  We've got gobs of food and loads of work left to do!
Yesterday we have our 2nd big potato harvest party.  Brought in another, close to 4000 or so lbs of potatoes.  And we have about one more days worth of potato harvest still to go.  So yep, we've got taters!
And winter squash!  I set two of the interns, Kate and Sabrina, to finish harvesting all that was left in the field.  It seemed like a rather poor winter squash year this summer and all, the squash didn't seem so prolific.  Nonetheless...they STILL harvested 3 truckbed loads of winter squash.  Those big ole winter squash leaves can hide a lot of squash under them! That's in addition to the about 2 truckload beds we already had.  I was quite surprised when I saw the big piles of squash in the barn. 
Garlic.  We'll we've got plenty of food garlic left for all the garlic lovers to enjoy.  And even a bit more seed garlic if you haven't gotten yours planted yet (not to worry, we haven't started planting ours yet either!  Hopefully next week...).
Tonda Padana, an Italian Pumpkin
And then there are the dry beans...The Rockwells and Arikaras are done.  Dried and threshed and even somewhat cleaned and sorted.  But...we've still got Tiger Eyes, Peregions, Black Cocos, Cannellinis, Barn Floor Soup Mix and a few new trial varieties to go.  Yikes! 
All that food to be harvested and sold is of course, in addition to cleaning up, seeding cover crop and generally "putting the crops to bed" for the winter.  Oh, and did I mention we are building a new greenhouse right now?
(Sometimes I wonder why I feel so busy and then I just go read what I wrote in this blog and I remember, oh yeah...).
So where, do you ask, do you find all this lovely fall food for purchase? the Bayview Farmer's Market!  We are bringing the whole squash, potato, bean and garlic (plus more!) show to the Bayview market today and for the next two weekends.  (The Bayview Farmer's Market runs til the end of October). 
And then...starting I believe that last weekend in October, we will start the "Endless Summer" produce list.  What's that?  Well, it's a collaboration between Willowood, Rosehip Farm and Garden, Prairie Bottom Farm and a few other farmers to offer a list of great fresh local seasonal produce.  Email goes out, you order, we pick and pack your order (first come first serve) and you come pick it up on Saturday at Rosehip Farm and Garden in Coupeville.  If you are reading this via facebook and not on my email list, make sure to send me a note to get added.  Only those on the email list get the Endless Summer list!  We typically run the Endless Summer list through sometime in December, depending on weather on how much food we have.
Anyways, back to the good stuff....Here is what we will have at Bayview Farmer's Market today!:
* Winter Squash & Pumpkins - Delicata, Sweet Dumplings, Sweet Meats, Queensland Blue, Spaghetti, Red Kuri, Jarradhale, Winter Luxury, Blue Ballet, Speckled Hound, Tonda Padana, ButterNutter...
* Ornamental mini pumpkins - so cute!
* Potatoes - loose and 10 lb bags of Yellow Finn, Carola, Mountain Rose, Purple Majesty, German Butterball, Maris Piper.  Fingerlings as well!
* Garlic - assorted varieties for food and planting
* Mesclun and Arugula bags
* Radishes!
* Beet bunches
* Onions - including 5 lb storage bags
* Shallots
* Leeks
* Cucumbers
* Tomatoes (some of the last!)
* Basil (definitely the last!)
* Peppers
* Chard
* Kale
* Collards
* Celeriac
* Head Lettuce
* Kohlrabi
* Cabbage - Late Flat Dutch and Italian Purple Savoy
* Dill
* Salad Onions
And Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods is bringing some corn, broccoli, mushrooms and plums!  Yum!
Hope to see you at market!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, October 7, 2011

Coupeville Harvest Festival - The Biggest Market of the Year!

This week has been all about the harvest.  Picking, washing, packing and bagging.  Rinse, stretch out the back, and repeat.
Since last Saturday we've handled over 5000 lbs of potatoes, several hundred pounds of onions, probably close to a 100 lbs of garlic, easily a 1/2 ton of winter squash, 500 plus lbs of dry beans (with loads more to come) and then assorted multiple loads of salad greens, kale and chard bunches, beets, cauliflower, cabbages, collards, kohlrabi, peppers, leeks...I'm sure I'm forgetting several things!
This is the time of year when all the work, the sweat, the worry, the sleepless nights (too many of those!) comes to fruition in the beauty and the bounty of...the harvest!
And if there is anywhere we like to really pull out the stops and show you what that means, in an overwhelming visual display of produce produce and more produce, it's at the Coupeville Farmer's Market Harvest Festival.  Which happens (eek!) tomorrow!
Yes, we are bringing a seriously frightening amount of food for the big market tomorrow.  Enough to fill not one, but TWO squash wagons.  Fun! Fun!
What, exactly, you may ask...are we bringing to the Coupeville Harvest Festival tomorrow?  (And for your Bayview folks, we WILL have a booth at Bayview, but it will be scaled down as most of our crew, and our market tents!, will be in Coupeville.  Not to worry, however, we will be back in full force at Bayview the following weekend).
From Willowood Farm
* Rockwell Beans (first of this years crop!)
* Arikara Beans
* Winter Squash and pumpkins including:  Winter Luxury pie pumpkin, Sweet Meats, Jarradhales, Speckled Hound, Queensland Blue, Spaghetti, Shamrock, Red Kuri, Sweet Dumpling, Tonda, Gauleux D' Eysinnes, Blue Ballet Mini Hubbard plus ornamental mini pumpkins for decorating
* Potatoes - loose and 10 lb bags of Carola, Yellow Finn, Mountain Rose, Purple Majesty, Maris Piper and German Butterball.  Net bags of fingerling and baby mixed potatoes.
* Cabbage - Late Flat Dutch and Italian Verona Savoy
* Kohlrabi - BIG ONES!
* Romanesco Cauliflower
* Purple Cauliflower
* Head Lettuce
* Arugula bags
* Mesclun Bags
* Collard Greens
* Japanese Turnips
* Onions - including loose Red Torpedos, Italian Tondas, Ailsa Crag Sweet Onions, Copra cooking onions, Red Marble Cippolini and Borrettana Cippolini.  Also 5 lb bags of many of the onion varieties.
* Shallots
* Peppers
* Basil (last of the years crop!)
* Celery
* Celeriac
* Food Garlic - loose food grade and 1 lb bags for storage
* Seed garlic - for planting!
* Garlic braids...
And there is always something I forgot....
But that is not all, because our good friends and neighbors Prairie Bottom Farm are ALSO bringing loads of food from their farm, including:
* Loose red and golden beets - perfect canning!
* Cucumbers - in multiple flavors
* Lettuce Mix
* Dill
* Kale
* Chard
* Salad Onions
* And then all their crazy amounts of winter squash and pumpkins including...Blue Hubbard, Marina di Chioggia, Eastern Rise, Sweet Mama, Burgess Buttercup, Acorn, Carnival, Long Pie, Howden Pumpkins, Delicatas and more Jarradhales! 
So, we hope you are sufficiently impressed to come check it out tomorrow.  According to the weatherman the sun will be peeking through the rain holding off.  A great day to check out the market, all the fun activities - including a silly Harvest Relay raising money for the Gifts for the Heart Food Bank and the Giant Pumpkin weigh off -  and load up on lots of fabulous local food.
See you at the markets!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Harvest time is in the air...(and in coyote stomachs!)

ANNOUNCEMENT - Next weekend is the huge Coupeville Harvest Festival (and last Coupeville market of the year).  We are not sure yet...but it is possible we will not be at the Bayview Market because we will have the entire crew in Coupeville.  If you have not attended to the Coupeville Market, this is the one to do so.  If you are NOT blown away but the HUGE amount of produce we bring there then well, I'll retire my farmer hat.  It's serious food time folks with loads of food for stocking up for the winter.  Plus you can see giant pumpkins, zucchinis and watch my fabulous interns participate in the Gifts of the Heart food bank relay race fund raiser.  Good times and Good Food!  Now, back to the regularly scheduled program...
I know it's harvest time of year.  Not because we started threshing dry beans (woot! woot!), or that yesterday we cut and harvested a truck bed load of winter squash or that today we plan to dig about 10,000 lbs of potatoes...But how do I really know that it's the harvest time of year?  Because the coyotes keep trying to harvest my chickens/ducks/geese/turkeys! 
Last night I heard them yip-yip-yipping outside of the Poultry Palace and since two nights previously I had found two piles of white feathers and missing young turkeys, I was motivated to act.  So at 1:30 in the morning I jumped into my truck and started paroling.  I finally saw two of them trotting from our property behind the barn.  The chase was on!  And while I admit, I didn't not actually end up injuring or maiming a coyote, I would say that I put the fear of God (or Georgie!) in them. 
You see, the adventures never end when you are a farmer! 
10 lb storage bag of taters - great for fall and winter!
Meanwhile, today's adventure is - markets and potatoes!  That's right, we have a big crew digging potatoes today.  In fact, if you want to venture by the farm and check it out and pick up a few potatoes, feel free to do so.  We will be digging from approximately 10ish til probably around 5 or so.  We hope to bring in about 10,000 lbs of potatoes.   Cool taters, huh?
And while the crew is digging, we will have others at the Coupeville and Bayview market of course, including bringing 10 lb storage bags of potatoes!  And lots of other goodies of course, including...
From Willowood Farm
* Potatoes - 10 lbs bags and loose potatoes
* Head Lettuce
* Mesclun bags
* Arugula bags
* Food and seed grade garlic
* Winter squash
* Kohlrabi
* Cabbage
* Summer squash
* Beets
* Kale
* Chard
* Onions galore
* Leeks
* Roma Beans
And more!
From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm:
* Spinach
* Cucumbers
* Corn
* Green beans (actually yellow and purple but you get the idea)
* Dill
* Salad onions
And Mikey from Whidbey Green Goods will be there peddling figs and mushrooms as well...
Gotta run now, time to load up the market van!
Thanks for your support of local food!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie
P.S.  We just threshed the first of the dry beans yesterday, we expect to be bringing those to market starting next weekend!