The beginner’s mind

“…the open mind, the attitude that includes both doubt and possibility, the ability to see things always as fresh and new…is needed in all aspects of life.”    —Shunryu Suzuki

One of the best things about having children is watching them learn about their world. Every day brings something new into their lives, a new sensation, a new sight, a new experience. Sometimes when they are restless I take them outside and lay them on the freshly fallen leaves and they are suddenly still. I imagine the flood of perception washing over them, how the blades of grass must tickle the back of their necks, how the leaves crinkle when they move. I imagine what the tree’s canopy above them must look like, branches silhouetted against a cloudless sky.  They are taking it all in; all else is forgotten.

How is it that part of what it means to grow up seems to be loosing that freshness? Must it be so? Shunryu Suzuki didn’t think so. I don’t practice Zen Buddhism, but I do appreciate my babies’ everyday reminder to keep my mind open to what the day brings. When I do, I enjoy myself more. And my bread is better. I listen to the dough, and I am content to wait. On days that I forget to do this, the bread is part of a routine that I have performed hundreds of times. My mind is elsewhere, unable to notice the cues beneath my fingers. Most of the time it still works out, but that is not why I do what I do. I love remembering that I will never be a master of this process. So, thank you Sam and Hazel for the daily reminder!

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Order now for Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday because it celebrates family and food, two things we value highly. Every year we pull out all the stops to celebrate the harvest and our community. Last year we had so many people descend on the farm we set up a long dinner table in the bakery! We want to include you in the bounty, so we are taking orders for pickup on day before Thanksgiving.

IMG_8406Last year we had some special requests for mini butter croissant rolls, so this year we are offering them to everyone! We have also added bulk pricing on pastries and larger bread loaves to make it easier to feed your family.

THANKSGIVING MENU

  • Multigrain sourdough ($7/small, $12/large)
  • Country white sourdough ($7/small, $12/large)
  • Corn rosemary sourdough ($7.50/small)
  • Sesame spelt ($7.50)
  • Danish rye ($4.50 half, $9 whole)
  • Farmhouse sourdough ($7)
  • SPECIAL: Mini butter croissants ($23/doz, $12/half-dozen)
  • Butter croissants ($3.50/ea, $20/half-dozen)
  • Chocolate croissants ($4/ea, $23/half-dozen)
  • Almond croissants ($4/ea, $23/half-dozen)
  • Apple-walnut tarts ($4/ea, $23/half-dozen)

Your orders will be available for pickup at our farm, at the Lexington Farmer’s Market, and at Basic Necessities in Nellysford on November 22, 2017.

To place your order, please email us at littlehatcreek(*at*)gmail.com with “ORDER” in the subject line, and indicate:

  • Where you want to pick up your order
  • Which products you would like

We will write back to confirm and send you an invoice to pay via PayPal. Please note that the order deadline is Saturday November 18. Please email with any questions you may have!

We are looking forward to sharing the products of our kitchen with you!

Heather, Ben, Sam & Hazel

 

 

Gratitude falls like leaves on the lawn

wk13_3mo

Good morning. I am sitting, sipping coffee and gazing out the window at our frosty fields. The chill winds the night before last deposited scarlet maple leaves on our lawn, forming a red carpet as if to formally welcome the coming of winter. I appreciate the changing of the seasons for the sense of renewal that it brings. This year especially, the last burst of color on the hillsides is juxtaposed with the fresh new life of Hazel and Sam, our twins, who are only just starting their journey of life. Fall for me is also a time to reflect on the hustle bustle of the summer and feel intense gratitude for the customers that supported us through another growing season. The genuine joy on so many of your faces, meeting Hazel and Sam for the first time, and welcoming me back after a long absence, fills my heart with happiness and love for what I do. It is not enough to make delicious bread and grow great vegetables, we must also deliver them into appreciative hands, meeting our community of eaters face-to-face, and learning little tidbits of their lives.

So thank you for being there for us. During my pregnancy and recovery, this blog, and our newsletters, fell silent. But I never stopped thinking of you, and of thoughts I wanted to share with you. I am hoping that I will be able to, every once in a while, pick up my metaphorical pen again to help you stay connected as our markets wind down. In my next post, I’ll tell you of our winter plans–where you can find our bread and pastries, and what our little family hopes to do to fill our time in the off-season.

Until then, be well, stay warm, and soak up the bright colors of change.

 

We are hiring a full-time farm intern

General description: Little Hat Creek Farm is a 5-acre diversified vegetable farm and wood-fired bakery located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. 2017 will be our fourth season of selling at three farmer’s markets and through a 20-25 member CSA. We grow about 50 different annual vegetables on approximately one acre, we keep chickens for eggs. and we grow a few perennial fruit crops. In the spring, we also sell vegetable, herb, and flower seedlings for gardeners. Our growing practices, which include cover cropping, crop rotation, plastic mulch, and hay mulch, are geared towards promoting soil biodiversity and maximum nutrition. We avoid the use of chemicals. Our pastries and slow-fermented sourdough breads are mixed by hand and baked in a wood-fired oven. We strive to include as much local flour and produce from our farm in our baked goods as possible. While our wholesale business continues to grow, we are primarily focused on direct-marketing our produce and baked goods to our customers. In addition to ourselves, you can expect to work with another full-time bakery worker, and additional part-time workers from time to time. This is a full-time hourly paid farm position.

Skills desired: You are a good fit to for this position if you love making and sharing good food and if our farm+bakery business model excites you. You get pleasure in seeing (and eating) the fruits of your hard work. You want to learn more about what it takes to run a successful farm business, and how to grow nutritious and delicious food. You are a self-starter who can anticipate tasks and you work well independently and with others. You take pride in performing routine tasks quickly and efficiently while attending to detail, and you are able to problem-solve on the fly. You are punctual, able to safely lift fifty pounds, and able to meet deadlines. You are comfortable driving a van on mountain roads and have a clean driving record.

Duties: You will be responsible for routine farm tasks like seeding, watering, planting, harvesting, sorting, weeding, and mulching. You will be expected to help keep the greenhouse and packing station tidy, including washing flats and harvest containers. You will assist us at our busy farmer’s market stand, help us pack our CSA, and help manage our laying hens. Additional duties may include post-harvest processing like pickling, jamming and drying; egg-washing; deliveries; helping with production, packaging tasks, or cleaning tasks in the bakery.

Duration and Hours: You will work 30-40 hours per week starting in May or June 2017. The start date is negotiable, but we require you to commit to stay at least through the end of August. Beyond that, we are open to the possibility of extending the position through the end of October. Most weeks, your hours will not exceed 50 hours per week. We strive to keep your hours regular and predictable, with early morning start times required on market days.

Meals: You will have free access to unsold farm produce, eggs, bread and pastries. Should you live on the farm, you will have access to a shared kitchen and bathroom.

Compensation: $8/hr, plus trading privileges at market and free access to unsold farm produce, eggs, and baked goods. A room in our house is available for $150/mo rent (including internet and utilities), with access to a shared bathroom and kitchen. You will receive training in marketable skills, including how to grow nutritious and delicious vegetables, and how to start and run your own business. You will also have access to the logic behind everything we do. We make a point of sharing the details of our farming, baking, and business practices, so we encourage you to ask about all aspects of starting and running a business like ours. And because there are many ways of doing things, we also take you on visits to 2-3 other farms and bakeries over the course of the season.

To apply, please send a resume, cover letter, and three current references to littlehatcreek@gmail.com.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Your farmer and baker,

Ben & Heather

crew-2016

Our 2015-2016 crew

Subscribe and save 50% off of your first order!

We want to keep our oven hot this winter and keep you in the wood-fired baked goods you know and love. But we need your help! Create a new subscription by December 10 and use the discount code SIGNUPDRIVE50 to receive 50% off of your first order! That’s on top of the 10% discount you get just for subscribing.

How to sign up
To get started, go to our online store. When you select a product, say, chocolate croissants, you will see a few choices, shown above. If you choose “one-time purchase” you generate a single order for the next delivery date at full price. The discount code doesn’t apply. If you choose “Subscribe and Save”, you get 10% off of the retail price of the croissant, and the discount code applies to your first order. You may opt to get your croissant every week or every other week.

Continue adding products to your cart, choosing whether you want them just once, every week, or every other week. (Yes, they can all go in the same cart.) Then, at checkout, select your delivery day and location (see options below) and put in your credit card information (or select our invoice option). You will also be prompted to create an account. We require an account because this allows you to manage your subscription.

Managing your subscription

Once you have your subscription, there are several changes that you can make. You may place vacation holds, swap out products, add or remove products from your subscription, or change quantities. To help you navigate these options, we have created this step-by-step guide. If you have additional questions, please see our FAQ, or reply to this email.

That’s it! We look forward to baking for you!

Click on this interactive map to view our pickup days and locations.

 

New pickup location at the Rockfish Valley Community Center!

We have added a new pickup location in Nelson County!  As of Nov 12, you can get your wood-fired bread and pastries at the Rockfish Valley Community Center on Saturdays, during opening hours. If you have an existing subscription, and would like to switch to this location, please contact us, and we will make the change.

Happy eating!

Ben and Heather

A new way to get bread!

After a couple of months in the works, we are thrilled to launch our new wood-fired oven subscription service! You tell us what you want us to bake for you every week, and we will deliver to a location near you in Nelson County, Charlottesville, and Lexington. We initially conceived of this service as a “Community Supported Bakery” share similar to Pannier Bread Company‘s share (Heather’s first bread-by-bike business), but wanted more flexibility. We think this oven subscription retains the philosophy of a CSB while offering you the ability to fully customize your subscription.

When we fire the oven, we want to make sure the heat produced by the wood we burn is put to good use baking bread and pastries for our community. By subscribing to a weekly bake, you support us by making it worth it to us to fire, because we know that many people are going to benefit every time we bake. You also help us predict our flour orders. Our most important flours are shipped directly from small mills, and we often need to know four weeks in advance what we will need.

In return for your commitment, we will give you 10% off of the retail price of our products!  You can either “set it and forget it”, or you can customize your subscription. If you know you always want the same loaf of bread every week, you can set up your subscription once, and guarantee yourself that bread for the coming weeks while never having to lift a finger again. If you prefer to switch it up, you can access your account and change types and quantities. Another improvement on the CSB is that you can also place your subscription on hold if you go on vacation.

Ready to get started?  Go to our store!

We look forward to baking for you!

Bakery/shed 5: Closing in

You could say we’re in the home stretch of this project now. Here’s what has happened in the last month or two.

The plumbing and electrical were roughed in.

Big red trucks came, replaced a pole, took down a pole, ran a new service and buried the electric to the house–bonus!

Ben moved lots and lots of gravel around.

We couldn’t excavate close to the oven, so in a feat of masterful framing involving strange angles, our contractor connected it to the building with a little interior alcove.

The foamers came and made it look like it snowed upside-down in there.

The doors and windows closed it all in.

Then the sheet rockers came and made walls appear.

And Ben took on a second full-time job as our painting subcontractor.

Now the exterior siding is going up, the interior trim is getting put in, the HVAC is installed and the building is energized.

It won’t be long now!

The farmer’s market season opens!

Come find us this morning (Saturday April 2) at the very first 2016 Charlottesville City Market (7 AM to noon) and at the last winter market at the Rockfish Valley Community Center (9:00 to noon).

We have beautiful plant starts for your garden, fresh spinach and wood-fired breads. And, we also are introducing hand-laminated croissants and scones, fresh from our brick oven. Quantities are limited, so get there early!

Looking forward to seeing your friendly faces!