Welcome Shareholder’s to the Farm!
Introduction: To begin with Mark and I (Peggy) would like to say thank you for sharing this season with us here on the farm. This is a very special place as you soon will find that over the past 12 years we have farmed using organic methods that reach far beyond what the USDA standards are now. This little farm has feed over 35 local families through our CSA program each season and our on-farm market as help to supplement fresh, locally grown, organic produce, free-range eggs, honey, herbs and beautiful cut flowers to hundreds of our neighbors that aren’t shareholders but stop by each Saturday morning during our season. It is quite an accomplishment considering the size of our suburban farmstead. A true testament of how smart sustainable organic agriculture not only is the key to our future but is the only way to save this planet and the health and well being of our children. This is a job as farmers we take very seriously and we are over the top passionate about. The main idea we want you to grasp being a shareholder here on the farm is that this is YOUR FARM…You make of and this CSA experience what you bring forth. If you feel too intimidated to cut flowers or snip new herbs to try then you are missing the whole concept of how this farm’s CSA program works. Bring your kids…bring your friends…spend some time during your pickup to explore the farm and just slow down and take in all of Gods grace and beauty for this is a place of freedom from all the trappings, packaging, marketing and nonsense we as people contend with everyday. We call this slow food…real food…healthy food for not only your body but for you soul and senses. We want you to feel at home here on your farm, to Mark and I you are heroes for you have taken a big step leading by example demonstrating for your local community how important it is to save our green spaces that make Tennessee a beautiful state instead of a line of strip malls and thoughtless building. Instead you invest in our local family businesses that highlight our states history and natural resources, a stand to keep your local dollar in this state where your children go to school and you spend your life, you now have fresh food security for your family that doesn’t depend on the system or stats quo. So take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for you can now color outside of the lines:)…lets get this CSA season started!
About the Farm & Farmers: This is a third generation family farm that comprises of 38 acres (6 )of which are in production growing crops from vegetables to flowers. We have beehives, chickens and our barnyard animals. We grow blackberries and strawberries as well as shitakii Mushrooms. Most of the crops are planting into raise beds the are 4 x40 ft. We prefer the raise bed system for a couple of reason the main one of which is limiting the aggressiveness of Bermuda grass growth. The second reason is that this is an intensively planted farm where 3 seasons of crops maybe planting into 1 bed. Most of the planting beds have more then one crop growing at one time throughout the seasons. We use no plastic mulch (plasticiculture) for it is not recyclable in the state of Tennessee once used so it ends up in the land field where it will remain for hundreds even thousands of years. Not what I would call organic, nor sustainable. Because we plant so intensive we have to have control over the soil’s nutrient levels and ph. This is all done using compost that Mark makes though out the year from our farm animals and spent crops. Mark and I started Madison Creek Farms in 2000 growing mostly specialty cut flowers for the local fresh floral markets. In 2002 our son Lucca was born at the time we were the largest specialty cut flower farm in the state for field grown flowers. All grown organically which was unheard of at the time. I come from a farming background my father was a farmer and my mother a blue ribbon winning organic gardener. Mark is from Pittsburgh PA. then onto Mt. Hope W.VA. before severing our country as a veteran in Vietnam in 1970. We both are songwriters and met while we both were staff songwriters for the largest publishing company in Nashville Sony Tree Publishing. You will hear me from time to time talking about touring or preforming and there will be weekends where I am off the farm on tour. That is my life B…I still tour and perform which is part of my love making music. The farm slowly moved into more vegetable crops then flowers over the course of the last 7 or 8 years mostly due to the demand as well as the economy after 2007. We have always grown vegetables along with flowers but it seemed that with opening the farm to the public in 2008 we needed to invest more of our resources in that area. Although we still grow several thousand flowers each season along with the vegetables and herbs…I am a lover of fresh flowers…they feed my soul and are like a feast for the eyes. They also feed those honey bees that make the Flower Field honey in late June…that is AMAZING! Our CSA program we began in 2006 starting off very small with 15 shareholders to present around 35-40 shareholders. This is a hands in the dirt kinda farm. All work here in the crops are done by hand no big machines…no hydro coolers or conveyor belts or ice washers. We have a small farm crew which are like family we employ each season some of which return to work at the farm season after season. This is a family farm and it is our belief and goal here on the farm to keep our energy and input levels low depending on hard work not machine work that compacts the soil killing our natural living microbes we work so hard to build. We have no desire to replicate the farming models of conventional high energy using agricultural farms. Not even the big organic ones. Our farm is about a lifestyle…about how we want to live…slow, connected, and above all giving back. It is the good life.
The CSA: Timing…well welcome to world of farm because we are entering Mother Natures time zone. In other words we are always waiting for crops to be ready around here. Most springs our first pickup is mid to late April and that seems to be the case in part this spring. Although I will add that this has been a not at all typical spring for us with record high heat and no winter at all. So these cool weather crops are taking there time waiting to see if they get a break. So it may end up being a late April pickup. You will find we don’t try and do too much in the way of forcing our crops before their time. It almost always ends up negative for both the farmers and the crop when we do. Bugs and low yields aren’t something that keeps this farm rolling. Over the course of the next couple of weeks we will be keeping our shareholders up to date on pickups and what it happening in the field.
* If you are on Facebook …we update our farm’s Facebook page a lot…so head there to get the latest news. If you are not a Facebook user you can always check the farm’s website and scroll down to our Facebook window to see what we have posted. So bookmark the farm’s website.
Once the season does kick in and the crops are ready spring is one of those season to really relish…it is also fleeing so you may find at some point in May you will have a couple of weekly pickups instead of bi-weekly. Just remember to always check our Facebook or website Facebook window for updates and schedule changes.
Now…I want to introduce April who is a fellow CSA shareholder and a writer that will be helping me this year with the newsletters. I ask her to send me a little bio so you all can get to know her…ps..your gonna love her!
April is a single mom, writer, blogger, pseudo homesteader, and southern trained chef at the heels of her grandma. That’s the ‘professional’ description anyway. But really she’s a simple girl from rural West TN who grew up poor but loved by her grandmother. Those two things helped shape who she is today. Her goal is to teach everyone that there are small things they can change or improve about every day life that will have enormous impact on your spiritual life, your family, your health and the world around you.
“Live simple so that others can simply live.”
Along these lines, she mindfully cooks from scratch making delicious, healthy food that nurtures your mind and body. She takes joy and great pride in knowing that each dish and choice she makes in the kitchen produces almost zero waste and gives back to the Earth. You don’t have to have above average income and large grocery budget to make the same choice for your family. You can start making little changes in your choices today to ensure the best quality food for your family while on a budget and not let anything go to waste. That’s why she joined the Madison Creek Farms CSA during the 2011 Spring Season. And to hear her tell it, she will always be a member of our little valley farm community. She comes here to breathe in deep, recharge, and get back to center for a few hours every week. It’s her added CSA benefit, free therapy, flowers, and people who care about you!
News from the farm By April Patel
And spring has sprung again, and gone…?
This year it seems we skipped right over spring with temperatures in the field already hitting 97! I fear we might have a short lived greens crop this spring. And that my friends, would be a tragedy. We need cool spring weather for lettuce, peas, broccoli, and all the other cool weather plants.
One of the vegetables you will see repeatedly in your CSA basket this spring and fall is kale. Kale is a wonderfully delicious green that is a nutritional super food powerhouse. Kale is high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese and fiber. Kale comes from the same family of green vegetables as cabbage, and is jam packed with cancer fighting, eye healing, organ protecting, detoxifying, immune supporting, and cell building properties. Kale chips is a recipe that even greens skeptics have learned to love.
Speaking of bountiful spring greens, let me give you a quick tip that will come in handy this season and it’s just two little words that will make a huge impact on your CSA enjoyment, salad spinner! This is the single most important tool for any CSA shareholder to have in their kitchen. You will be getting tons of greens this spring and again this fall. Without a salad spinner to help clean and dry all these greens, you will not be a happy camper come pick up day.
Washing by hand can be done but it’s a lengthy process that leaves your fingertips very wrinkled and your nails very weak. Trust me. I speak from experience. My first CSA season I went a good month, to a month and a half with no salad spinner. And now I have two. I loved the first one so much that when I seen another on sale at Goodwill one day I snatched it up and made my life double easy on pick up day!
Things move pretty fast here for a few months in the spring. One week the field is bare and the next, not so much. These two pictures were taken two weeks apart. From here on out, the transformation will be more dramatic each pick up until summer.
For you new shareholders, whether this is your first CSA experience or you are transferring from another farm, let me just say that Madison Creek Farms is a community farm. This is your farm. You are the backbone of the farm and the slow food movement. We emphasize sharing and connecting to each other, and where and how your food is grown. First timers, don’t be afraid to ask questions on the farm, join in conversations about different items you’ve never tried, and interact on the Facebook page.
The CSA is about slow food, community food, and being intentional about food choices for your family. A lot of thought and planning has gone into the crops we grow on the farm. There is a food heritage carried on each season that is part of our DNA. If you go with it and not fight it, you will benefit so much more. That is why eating in season, locally, and trying new things is the cornerstone to a successful growing season for you and for the farm. The program is about taking risks not only with weather and crops, but with food you normally wouldn’t try.
Our CSA is a slow food adventure. Thanks for coming along on the ride!
Thanks April, Y’all be sure to check out April’s Blog and her new ebook… An Apple a day wisdom