Tag Archives: Community Supported Agriculture

Day 5: 2016 CSA signups are now open!

We are excited to announce that signups to our 2016 Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA) are now open!

Purchasing a share entitles you to 19 weeks of ecological produce from our farm and a loaf of wood-fired sourdough bread. We pack our CSA boxes with fresh fruits and vegetables that are picked at their peak, so that our members can experience the best our farm has to offer from the beginning to the end of the growing season. We also publish a popular weekly newsletter with farm news and recipes to help you make the most of your box.

To keep things interesting, every year we introduce a few new varieties. For 2016, we are adding carrots, beets, broccoli raab (rapini), as well as new varieties of tomatoes and squash. But we are keeping prices, pickup times, and locations the same! For more details on our CSA, please go here.

You can sign up by filling out this form. We sold out last year, so don’t dally too long. We look forward to welcoming you to our community!

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An emerging community of craft bakers

This last weekend, on our way back from the PA Association of Sustainable Agriculture Conference (PASA)–which was totally inspiring–we stopped in on the McGrath’s Brick-Oven Bakehouse in Mecanicsburg, PA.  The McGraths converted their garage into a small wood-fired bakery, using an oven very similar to the one we are about to build here at Little Hat Creek Farm. This is the most recent stop in a journey that has taken us to visit many wonderful bakers, all of whom serve to confirm our desire to serve our community and bake beautiful, living bread.

In December, Ben and I drove all over North America to visit friends and family.  Along the way, we met Tara Jensen of Smoke Signals Bakery outside of Asheville, who inspired us with her open-hearted energy and delectable apple pie. Next, after a detour to sunny California to visit Heather’s family, we stopped in on Eric Schedler of Muddy Fork Bakery in Bloomington, IN (Ben’s hometown), who showed off his brand new brick oven and bakery, rebuilt with lots of help from his community after a disastrous fire in March 2014. And then we visited Stefan Senders at Wide Awake Bakery in Ithaca, NY, who hand-built a beautiful and sophisticated rotating hearth white oven. We stopped and visited the oven I baked in while running my first business Pannier Bread Company. While researching our new oven, we have talked to bakers in Hudson, NY and Elora, Ontario. And then, last but not least, right here in our own neighborhood, we welcome Great Day Gardens and Living Culture Farm to the fold!

Does it seem like craft bakeries are everywhere? Not quite. All of these bakeries are less than five years old, and they are all wildly successful. The bakers vary dramatically in their backgrounds, but have converged on a passion for good bread and connection to earth and community that has resonated with us. And they share freely of their knowledge and experience, drawing us and others into their budding community.

It occurred to us, when we were back in the car, that there are more than a few similarities between this emerging community of craft bakers and that of organic-type farmers. They share knowledge, create community, steward the earth, and are obsessed with food! One important difference, though, is that there are far fewer bakers than there are farmers. The young age of these bakeries suggests that craft baking is where organic farming was maybe 10 or 15 years ago. If we imagine the PASA conference in the early 00’s, there would not have been over 700 farmers there, eager to learn more about growing sustainably.  Back then, the idea was still gathering steam — USDA organic certification only started in 1990!  Fast-forward 15 years, and as PASA approaches its silver anniversary, the sustainable farming community is, in the words of Brian Snyder, PASA’s Executive Director, “hitting its stride.”

We want to be around in 15 years when the craft bread movement hits its stride!  We will strive to make a meaningful contribution to that movement, by continuing to push the excellence of our baking, by sharing our experience, and by connecting with others.  Support your local baker and help us change the meaning of “bread”!

Winter is vacation time on a farm, right?

One might think winter is vacation time on the farm. Not much grows at arctic temperatures, the soil is frozen, and most farmers’ markets are on break. But as we’re discovering, farming is still a full-time job in the winter-time! Here’s a peek at what we’ve been up to.

We have hired a full-time intern, Ashley Wright, who will start the first week of April.  In May, she will be joined by a full-time volunteer Brenda Fisher.  We are excited to welcome these two gals to our farm!

Yes, its winter, but we are trying out growing lettuce in the high tunnel, which is a passive structure that collects heat from the sun during the day and protects the plants from icy nighttime temperatures.  Winter lettuce leaves are thick, because its growing so slowly, and their sugars are concentrated to help them survive freezing.  This is especially exciting because this is the first crop we have harvested that we planted ourselves!

We have assembled most of the materials for our wood-fired oven: firebricks for the hearth, red brick for the door, concrete block and gravel for the foundation, masonry sand, clay, sawdust, wood chips and, yes, plenty of beer bottles for hearth insulation.

We are nearly done with the oven foundation!  We’ve laid concrete block and have been filling it with a mix of rock that has been pulled from our fields where it likely landed in the 1969 mudslide, and gravel. The arctic weather delayed this work somewhat, but we still feel on-track for having the oven finished by April markets.

We are also building a smaller clay oven for the house, and to gain experience working with our materials.

We bought a tractor!  Its a 1982 Ford, 40 HP, with a loader, which has already been put to good use moving heavy stuff for the oven around!

We have planned our CSA and placed our seed order! This involves zillions of decisions–which crops? which varieties? how much space does it need? how much space do we have? how many transplants? how many plantings? when do we plant them so that we have vegetables when we want them? Yes, we have become best friends with Excel.

We are selling bread and vegetables in Charlottesville and Lexington.

Our CSA is about 60% sold out!  Thank you to everyone who has signed up so far!

We are planning Thorny-O, an oldtime music and dance festival that we are organizing and hosting on the Valentine’s Day weekend.  We’re looking forward to welcoming new and old friends to our lovely farm!

Whew, I think that’s it.

Our 2014 CSA is now open for sign-ups!

We are excited to announce that our 2014 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is now open for sign-ups!  Starting in June 2014, we will pack you a weekly box of fresh vegetables and wood-fired bread from our farm.  By participating in our CSA, you are giving your food dollars to your neighbours and making it possible for us to provide nutritious and delicious food to our community.  For more details please see our CSA info page.

Yes, there’s an early bird discount! Sign up and pay your $200 deposit by Jan 1, 2014 and get a $30 discount on your total price. That’s like getting one week for free!

Ready to sign up?  Click here to fill out our on-line form.

Thank you for your support!

Ben and Heather