Thursday, December 29, 2011

My goal for the farmers market.

Two years ago, I wrote a grant that, among other things, allowed Piedmont Farmers market to hire a full time manager. Last year the market paid her from reserve funds. Long term, they will have to generate more income to mantain a full time manager. There are three things they need to do to keep hiring a full time manager. One is to generate more vendor fees. I have written a grant to build a new building that should attract and retain new vendors. Second is to develop a repeatable iconic fundraising event. I have done that through the Harvest Gala. The final thing I will work on this year is donations and sponsorships.

Busy Part 2

The other project that I worked on this fall was our local farmers market. Here is a picture of the outside of the current building. The part to the right was build in 1988. I was involved in that project right after I was hired. The part to the left is a result of my grant writing efforts in 1999. I started working that year to be in a position to get additional grant money. I helped develop $100,000 worth of matching funds in 2007 and this year I wrote $150,000 worth of grants for a total of $250,000 to build a duplicate building right beside this one.

What kept me so busy this year?

One of the things I was doing this past six months was developing a fund raising event for the local farmers market. With lots of help, we had an event with live music, local food, live auction, silent auction, door prizes, educational exhibits and demonstrations.

Here is a pumpkin that was carved for the event.

I can't believe the year is almost over

You haven't seen many post because of a hectic work schedule. I finished the year by inoculating some more mushroom logs. Here is the set up with an electric drill, hot plate for wax, and inoculation tool. (If you were following all the rules, the logs should not be laid on the ground. ) I am using the tail gate as a work surface for the logs.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Here is a picture of my high tunnel built earlier this year

I had the conduit bows on hand. I purchased some wood for the lowest purloin to attach the plastic and also purchased the plastic. The gross receipts for the first 10 days of harvest was higher than the amount I spent building it.

High Tunnel harvest

Early season tomatoes from my high tunnel. Note the normal size ink pen for comparison.

Farmers market.

A few shots of produce I raised and sold this summer. (I just picked and sold the blackberries.)

Some kids are harder to raise than other kids

He has totaled 7 cars. He washed 1/4 mile downstream during the first wreck and broke his neck in 3 places after he was thrown 20 feet from the car in his last wreck. He got two skull fractures when he jumped on a gang. (I know it is normally the gang that does the jumping, but this boy is a little different. He stopped his truck to rescue somebody, putting 3 men on the ground after taking the blow to the head.) He has been struck by lightning and knocked unconsious by a live electrical wire (it is possible the fall restarted his heart) and had his nose broke when a guy tried to rob him (he fought him off with a box cutter). So I was happy to see him get married. I hope it will be a turning point. If you have difficult kids, enjoy them while you have them. Sometimes it works out.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Road building 3

This is my driveway. (I think this was a public road as early as 1903, but my neighbor and I hold the deed and the title search company claims its legit.) This area shows proper crowning with adequate ditches on both sides. It has been regraveled about 3 times since 1989 and is due another layer soon. Obviously landscape fabric wasn't invented in 1903, so a good road is possible without it. My preference in the future will be to use landscape fabric when I want a good road. (Sometimes road sort of develop without planning. I can't promise that won't happen.) Also see post Road Building 1 and Road Building 2. For some real information go to this booklet.

Road Building 2

These 3 pictures show a situation where in 2003 a person started to build a road without landscape fabric. This can be done. In fact, the majority of rural roads were done this way. It takes several years, additional layers of gravel and ongoing maintenance to make it work. In this case, the individual put in the first load and then changed their mind. The first picture is the way the surface looks today. By now a second and third layer should have been placed on top to give you a good aggregate surface. The second picture shows the gravel that was originally dumped on the ground and the third picture shows the gravel soil interface. If this road was travelled frequently, the gravel would get pushed down and the red soil would mix upward. So option 1 is to use landscape fabric followed by one layer of gravel. (See pictures in Road Building 1 post). This should give you a road with less ongoing maintenance although it isn't carefree. Option 2 is to use large gravel to get a base, followed by several more applications of gravel layers. Also see Roadbuilding 3 post and this

Road Building 1

The picture to the left shows high quality woven landscape fabric on my property that was crossed repeatedly with emply logging trucks on the way in and loaded logging trucks on the way out. (The mulch wasn't present when the logging trucks were using this route.) The rut occured because this area wasn't crowned and held water which eventually led to this small dip. Still there is no tearing from the fully loaded trucks. The picture above is the back entrance of a former Class 3 dairy barn (Roughly 1940 to 1970) that has been used for horses (Roughly 1980 to 2000) and then equipment (2001 to present). When a cow or horse stands in a dry barn and then exits during wet conditions, the dry hoof picks up a little wet dirt and moves it away from the entrance. This eventually leaves a large hole. (One of my friends claims we can't rule out the possiblity that all dairy farmers looked for a hole and built their barn so the cows had to walk through it, but I really like my theory better.) About 2001 this hole was covered with landscape fabric and then gravel. The first picture shows the intact fabric in the bottom of the hole. The fabric has limited the gravels trip downward and has limited the red dirts movement upward. No additional gravel has been added over the past 10 years. Contrast this to the picture in the Roadbuilding 2 post. I figure if I am going to do build a good road the right way, I will use a fabric under the initial gravel. However, there is rural road building expertise in the Natural Resource Conservation Office if you wish to get an expert opinion.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hot Links for Vegetable Gardening Class.

Here is the post harvest handling link referenced in class
Here is the Home Vegetable Gardening Guide referenced in class
Here is the web site for weed identification mentioned by Wendy.
Here is a composting site
This site was mentioned during the crop rotation presentation, however the specific article from Fall 2010 is no longer available to the public.
Here is a place to sign up for quarterly newsletter that I help edit.
Here is a portal to the Extension vegetable references on the internet
The Cabarrus County Cooperative extension website (with access to the Ask an Expert link)

My direct email

Again I pulled my maple sap collecting equipment by Feb 1. I rinsed it before storing it. I am calling this year's harvest about 5 gallons. My wife cooked some down until it was the consistency of corn syrup. It started crystallizing aroudn the edges almost immediately. She then used part of it for a pecan pie. Without a doubt this was the best pecan pie I ever ate. I am not sure what she did with the rest of the syrup/sugar. I cooks one small batch down to the sugar stage. I ate it as candy so it didn't get counted a part of the 5 gallons.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Willow Oak.

This willow oak was increasing in diameter at the rate of 2 inches per year. I hated to cut it, but it was shading my persimmon trees and I valued them more.

Interesting Frost patterns

Here are a couple of pictures of frost patterns on my truck. These are natural. I think this is the first time I have ever seen anything this extensive.

2011 Maple Syrup harvest

This year we had a snow on Christmas night and I tapped my maple trees the next Monday December 27th. The first week there was a huge sap flow. I had over 3 gallons of syrup before the date I normally tapped my trees. I now have over 4 gallons total and hope the trees will continue flowing after this cold snap. I have heard that northerners call it a sugar snow when the snow is on the ground and the sap is running heavy. I am fairly certain it is the weather conditions and not the snow that makes the sap so prolific during that time. Here is the stove I use. I have it in an outbuilding because the house can't stand that much moisture. Out of 40 gallons needed for one gallon of syrup, I boil down about 38 gallons outside and then finish boiling off the last gallon inside. I have to boil it all day on the stove, but that is so much simpler than building a fire to boil it.