Author Archives: junipinyon

Announcing two new plant sales locations

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We start thousands of seedlings every year in our greenhouse; this year is no exception! Many of them are destined for our fields, but nearly half of them are grown specifically for your gardens. We choose tried and true varieties of vegetables and herbs for our garden starts, grow them up ecologically in our wonderful new potting soil from Vermont Compost, and sell them in their prime. Buying plant starts is a great way to kick start your garden, grow successions of things like zucchini and lettuce, and to try several varieties at once. We think about seeding in February so you don’t have to! And we are always happy to pass on tips or help you with your garden planning, so come with questions!

You can find our plant starts at the following local plant sales:

We look forward to seeing you there!

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March is greenhouse month

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In mid-February, right after my birthday, Ben gets the greenhouse started. Every Monday, he seeds a new round of flats. The flats are germinated in the house, either in a cool guest room, or in a closet we have newly outfitted with a space heater and metal shelving. Some seeds, like tomatoes, germinate best in the heat, others, like lettuce, in the cool. Once the first seed leaves show themselves, the flat gets whisked out to the greenhouse where the sun shines. We heat the greenhouse, but only barely; we want our plants to be hardened and ready for chilly spring conditions, so we only heat enough to keep the nights in the forties.

We’ve started longer term crops, like the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant that won’t be ready until July, as well as some of the first crops that we plan to have in our first CSA share, like lettuce, kale, and the gorgeous napa cabbage you see in the photo. The weather forecast says it will be staying a bit warmer at night early this week, and so we plan to transplant that napa into the field. Also going into the field early next week are carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes.
We’d like to share a few other highlights from our crop plan with you. Last year, we increased the area planted in tomatoes, which allowed us to really load up the CSA shares with tomatoes for a few weeks in late August and early September, so we plan to repeat that. Another change we made last year that we plan to keep was our switch from bush beans to pole beans. Pole beans have better flavor, are more productive, and are easier to pick. We think those positives outweigh the only downside of the time we have to spend setting up and taking down the trellis. We delivered far more beans in the shares last year than ever before, even as we had less area planted in beans.

New this year, we’re trying for some fall broccoli. Even the best broccoli farmer I know says that there’s only a 70% chance of broccoli every year, but we found the space to give it a shot. Another new crop this year is celery, which we’re looking at as sort of an experiment. From what we’ve read, Virginia’s climate is borderline too hot for celery, which takes a long time to grow but prefers cooler weather and plenty of water. We made some irrigation improvements last year, and we found a space for it close to the edge of a field where it will receive some morning shade, which may help it keep cool. So if we get some celery or broccoli that we like the looks of, they will make it into our CSA  share, and show up at market!

It is not to late to join our CSA!  Bring the fruits of our labors into your home, and sign up now–we would love to have you!

We are hiring a full-time baker!

We are looking for a full-time bread and pastry baker to join our 2018 team! We are a growing farm-bakery in our fifth year. This position is paid hourly and starts April 2, 2018. Apply now by sending a resume and cover letter to littlehatcreek@gmail.com.

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General description: Little Hat Creek Farm is a successful small diversified vegetable farm and wood-fired bakery. 2018 will be our fifth season.  Our weeks are structured around preparing to sell at three fast-paced farmer’s markets and delivering our CSA. We use ecological farming practices on one acre of annual vegetables and a small fruit orchard. Our bakery specializes in naturally-leavened breads made by hand with local flours and hand-laminated croissants. Our 5’x7′ wood-fired oven is housed in a climate-controlled bakery building on the farm. In addition to our retail sales outlets, we also wholesale bread and pastries to stores and restaurants. Our team includes one full-time farm employee and one part-time bakery employee in addition to Ben, who manages the vegetable side of things, and Heather, who manages the bakery.

 

Skills desired: You are a good fit for our team if you love making and sharing good food and if our farm+bakery business model excites you. You may have some experience making bread, but most importantly, you are interested in being in charge of firing an oven and making sourdough breads and croissants from start to finish, including selling what you make at a farmer’s market. At the market, you will take pride in presenting the week’s produce, enjoy interacting with customers, and be able perform mental arithmetic in a fast-paced and exciting environment. You are a self-starter who can also perform routine tasks. You are organized and consistently attentive to cleanliness. You are able to work 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 enjoy interacting with customers, work well with others, but are also content to work alone.

Duties: You will be responsible for the overall daily production of our bakery. This includes mixing, shaping, and baking bread and pastries, dishwashing, oven and firewood management, ingredient restocking, and general cleanup. You will also be expected to represent our farm-bakery at one farmer’s market. Heather will train you, and assist you with production on the busier days. You may be asked to help train and supervise part-time employees. We currently fire the oven and bake two days a week, but this may increase as we take on new accounts. Occasionally, you may be asked to participate in other farm activities, including greenhouse work, harvesting, mulching and weeding; post-harvest processing like pickling, jamming and drying; and deliveries.

Duration and Hours: You will start work Monday April 2, 2018. You must be available to  to continue working through October 2018, preferably through December 2018, with the possibility of continuing part-time through the winter. Your working hours will not exceed 50 hours per week and will generally be during daytime hours. Your days off are flexible within the framework of our weekly schedule.

Housing: We have housing available.

Compensation: You will start at $7.25/hr until you are trained, or for the first month, whichever is shorter. After that, we pay $8/hr, with the possibility of another raise after four months. We pay monthly. You will have unlimited free access to unsold farm produce, including eggs, bread and pastries.

You will receive training in marketable skills, including but not limited to:
-managing a large wood-fired oven
-making pastries and naturally-leavened bread on a commercial scale
-adjusting recipes to account for weather and ingredient variation
-handling food safely
-processing fruits and vegetables
-selling farm and bakery products at a busy farmer’s market
-successfully growing a small local food 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 starting and running a business like ours. And because there are many ways of doing things, we also try to take you on visits to 2-3 other farms and bakeries over the course of the season.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Ben + Heather

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Be a part of our 2018 CSA!

IMG_9254.jpgIn December, when the seed catalogues start arriving in the mail, I begin to think about the coming year’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program. Managing a CSA properly means planning for a diverse assortment of crops in each box. We don’t want to deliver a box with 10 pounds of summer squash in it and nothing else (though there are weeks when I could do that!). Of course, summer squash is one of the “anchors” of our CSA, along with tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, so we attempt to plant and harvest continuous successions of these anchor crops. So when I peruse the seed catalogues by the woodstove, sipping my morning cup of coffee, I am searching for a few untried but promising varieties of each important crop to add variety and keep things interesting both for me and our CSA members. And every year we like to try a completely new crop. In 2018 we are excited to try our hand growing celery and black-eyed peas.

By choosing to join our CSA program, you choose to support our farm in the winter, when the most important work is mental, rather than physical. In the summer, we pay back your investment in our farm with the fruits of our physical labor. But winter is the time for mental labor, as I look over the 2017 field maps to plan the 2018 maps, deciding what the landscape of tomato stakes and bean trellises will look like.  And when I am imagining the shape of the coming season, you become part of my mental landscape as well. I am motivated by the thought of you opening your box, marveling at some variety of radish you have never seen before. I love thinking about you sharing the fruits of our labor with your friends and loved ones.

Our CSA runs for 19 weeks, from June through October, and is available for pickup on Wednesdays in Charlottesville, in Lexington, and at our farm. Please visit our CSA page for more details and to sign up now!

Special orders for the week before Christmas–including more Stollen!

We were taken by surprise by your enthusiastic response to our Christmas Stollen! We can only make so much at a time because we are a tiny bakery, so we quickly sold out for the Dec 16 delivery day.

But we know many of you, especially those of you in Lexington, never had a chance to order, so we want to offer it again. Please remember that quantities are still limited! We will also bring cookies and a small amount of stollen to the RVCC and Charlottesville markets on Dec 16, so get there early if you missed out on this weekend’s round of ordering.

Next week, the pickup dates and locations are:

Please see below for the full menu and ordering instructions.

SPECIAL HOLIDAY MENUall orders will be packaged in a clear bag with ribbon–ready for gift-giving! Cookies are sold by the pound (see photo above for an example of 1/4 lb bag).

  • Christmas Stollen (sold in 1 lb increments at $9/lb–a whole stollen is 4 lb, or $36)
  • Orange-anise biscotti, with toasted almonds ($20/lb)
  • Cinnamon-almond stars, painted with a meringue glaze ($25/lb) *gluten- and dairy-free*
  • Chocolate-rye drops, with smoked salt ($20/lb) *wheat-free*
  • Gingerbread snowflakes with bourbon glaze ($20/lb)
  • Kamut shortbread with candied rosemary ($20/lb) *wheat-free*
  • Kamut-hazelnut thumbprints with candied cranberry ($20/lb) *wheat-free*
  • Mix of all cookies except biscotti ($20/lb)

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

  • When and where you want to pick up your order
  • Which products you would like (including the quantity)

We will write back to confirm your order with your total. All orders will be COD, so please plan on bringing cash or check to market, or a check to Lexington when you pick up. Please note that the order deadline for all three locations is Saturday December 16. Don’t hesitate to email us with any questions you may have!

Happy holidays from our family to yours!

Heather, Ben, Sam & Hazel

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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!

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

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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

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Our 2015-2016 crew