Monday, July 27, 2009
Having lived in the St. Johns area of Portland for years, it has been exciting to become a part of the newest neighborhood farmer's market. Over the past year, community members have met to plan and coordinate the St. Johns Farmer's Market. On July 11th downtown St. Johns was filled with neighbors coming out to support the local vendors.
At Red Truck Farm, preparation for our first farmer's market began back in the cold winter months as we poured over seed catalogs and spreadsheets to plan for the 2009 growing season. Would people like the white wonder cucumbers? Should we grow head lettuce? Do people eat as many beets as we do? Is St. Johns full of Kale lovers? Having grown for restaurants and New Seasons Market in our past season we had feedback from those customers on what varieties and crops they wanted to get from us this year. Assessing the demand of a community was a bit more challenging. Wishing we had a crystal ball, we did our best with what we had and sent in the seed orders, prepared the fields, started the seedlings, and put plants into the ground.
The new farmer's market led to many other preparations that were new to Red Truck Farm. We borrowed a 10x10 tent from Jason's mom, bought folding tables, dug up some table clothes, pulled out hand made quilted placemats (a wedding gift), collected various baskets and bowls from around the house, created experimental displays with our yellow harvest bins, and spent an evening painting our first farm sign.
From now until the end of September we'll be spending our Friday evenings harvesting produce to bring to the market. So far, the first three weekends in St. Johns have gone well and we appreciate the support and interest in our farm. The best part of doing the market is getting to meet our neighbors in the community and talk to folks about favorite recipes and vegetable growing tips. With all the energy we put into the farm, it is exciting to see people come back each Saturday with stories of the week's meals and questions about the chard in the garden. Many thanks to our St. Johns customers and the volunteers who have made the market happen.
Monday, July 20, 2009
On July 12th the long awaited garlic harvest commenced at Red Truck Farm! Last fall we put in our first planting of garlic. As the leaves from the red beech tree on the farm fell, Jason raked and piled them high for mulch in the garlic beds, and watched as our babies survived the cold and snowy winter this past December. We planted four varieties, three hardneck and one softneck, and all produced well enough. After pulling the plants we constructed drying racks out of old gates and plastic pots we found in the old barn on the farm. Now, we're eagerly waiting for the garlic to cure and are anxious to get it to the market and into our kitchen to see which varieties end up being our favorites. In addition to selling this new crop for us, we will also save our own seed for next year, adding to the pepper, tomato, and bean seeds that we have already been saving over the years.