Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rain or Shine

Russian Quince in bloom
                                 Market List;

    Celery, Scallions, Egyptian Walking Onions, SuperFood Salad Mix, Spinach, Pak Choy for stir fry, Radishes and TomatoPlants      Sorry, still no lamb

Tomatoes for the 2017 Growing Season

Mortgage Lifter, Paul Robeson. Moscovitch, Lemon Boy, Early Girl, Striped German, Yellow Topaz. Black Brandywine, Pink Girl, Hungarian Heart, Arkansas Traveler, Purple Carbon, Pork Chop, Sara Black, Sugar Plum, Chocolate Cherry,

Amish Paste, Black From Tula, Cherokee Purple, Golden Jubilee, Gold Metal, Sweet Carneros, Barry's Crazy Cherry, Green Zebra, SunSugar, Caspian, Black Trifele, Vintage Wine, Plum Lemon and Yellow Pear.


Thanks to everyone who reached out last week in response to the family issue that we were having. Also thanks to everyone who showed up at market even though the forecast was terrible. Many of the vendors said it was a decent market even though it rained. Which is not much of a surprise considering how loyal the customer base at Tower Grove.

We'll see you Saturday at the park. Hopefully there will be a small 5 hour window of relief.

God's blessings on you and yours,

TTFN

Sam and Bill



Thursday, April 13, 2017

And So We Begin




 Market List;
Celery, Scallions, Egyptian Walking Onions, SuperFood Salad Mix and Tomato Plants
Maybe some Garlic Ramps. Not sure yet if we have enough to bring.
Sorry, we are still low on Lamb. We will have a bit of organ meat but no real cuts for a couple of weeks yet.
Tomatoes for the 2017 Growing Season
Mortgage Lifter, Paul Robeson. Moscovitch, Lemon Boy, Early Girl, Striped German, Yellow Topaz. Black Brandywine, Pink Girl, Hungarian Heart, Arkansas Traveler, Purple Carbon, Pork Chop, Sara Black, Sugar Plum, Chocolate Cherry,
Amish Paste, Black From Tula, Cherokee Purple, Golden Jubilee, Gold Metal, Sweet Carneros, Barry's Crazy Cherry, Green Zebra, SunSugar, Caspian, Black Trifele, Vintage Wine, Plum Lemon and Yellow Pear.


There are a few more varieties that we are keeping just for fruit offerings at Market like Chestnut Chocolate, Thai Turtle Egg, Abracazebra just to name a few.  
Some varieties will not be available until next week.
Hard to believe that we are beginning our 12th season at Tower Grove market much less that the season is beginning again.

Slow Food gave us a very nice grant this year for growing Food Plots for the St.Croix sheep. The idea is to improve our pastures by way of planting cover crops, field grains that are NOT corn and soy, for instance, Rye, Barley, Oats, Milo and  Peas, Turnips and Peas for protein and bulk. In order to plant all on a rotational basis, Slow Food St. Louis gave us the funds for a 10 row crop seeder. As usual, Rusty helped me pick it up. I really don't know what I'd do without Rusty. We really lucked out moving in next to he and his wife. Maybe some of you know that Cortney who has worked for us for the last 3 seasons is his granddaughter and the above girls are of course her little sisters.
So we went and picked up the seeder and our order of approximately 380 LBS. of  seed. Fifty each of Organic Barley, Winter Rye, Oats, Crimson Clover, Cow Peas and Buckwheat, another 50 of a mix of Annual Rye, Groundhog Radish, and Crimson Clover and some smaller bags of other mixes of some the above things mixed with Field Peas.






Another unexpected plus that came along with the seeder was the rack that it came in. You can see it in the background and it just screamed "potting bench".

Am I right?

                 As it figures, we got a test plot planted and then it rained for 2 weeks.


Finally on Wednesday, we loaded the seeder up and started planting. We used a cooler and mixed large feed scoops of everything that we had ordered and then poured it in and mixed it again. The only thing that we aren't planting is the cow peas because the weather is a bit iffy yet and they like it hot. The plan is to plant all 6 of the pastures...and then rotate the sheep between pastures one week on each planting behind them so that when they get back to the first pasture it has been growing for 6 weeks. Turnips and radishes planted at the beginning and end of the growing seasons. That's the plan anyway.

So Rayven's sister Jade came out this week to help me out. It's really cool to see these kids begging their mom to come to the farm and work and they do work. Rayven last summer and Jade now. No whining or crying about stuff. They may not be pros but when they do mess up, they just go back and do it again without an attitude. They really want to know how to grow things.







Jade has planted onions this week, kept the beds watered, labeled plants, helped keep the animals watered too.      Oh, and we went swimming too in the lake today and YES it was cold.



Future Food Growers above!

So that's a lot but not all of the news. One more thing, April 1st we have been on the farm 17 years. We snapped this pic


And so we will see you Saturday at Tower Grove. We just got word that the bathrooms are still not operable so be prepared.

God's blessings on you and yours,

TTFN

Sam, Bill, Jade and Rusty's crew

Oh yes, and the Russian Quince is blooming!




Thursday, March 9, 2017

Weird and Wonderful Winter

Market List
Winter Salad Mix featuring, Mache', Red Mustard, Kale, Chickweed, Pak Choi leaves & flowers, spinach, lettuce, beet and Pea Shoots.
Free Range Duck and Chicken eggs 
Lamb in a limited amount
Celery Stalks

It has been an usual Winter. Unseasonably warm, only doing one market but still lots going on here at Sunflower Savannah.
For instance, this is Huey our new dog with Cortney's sisters (and our future employees at the Market). We totally love Jubilee but in finding her, it was brought to our attention how difficult it is becoming to find Livestock Guardian dogs which have not been ruined by being played with to the point that they don't want to be with the animals. Also Jubilee is only a year old and still very playful. The sheep do not appreciate this and so she was pretty lonely. She would try and try to get them to romp with

her, but they just weren't having it. She is great with all the animals, sheep are one thing but finding a young dog that is good with ducks, chickens and geese is a whole other ball of wax. from the time that she got here at 6 months old, she never once looked at the fowl. That being said, she was moping around here wanting someone to pal with. So we were inspired to get a male companion for her to both keep her company and hopefully bring us some pups that she can teach to do the same things she does so well.



So Shelley from Whetstone Farm and I did some talking and then we did some trading. That's how Huey came to live with us and keep Jubilee company. He is a big lover, hopefully on all fronts. Good with the sheep, protective at night and letting everybody do their thing...including happy Jubilee.

Now, the newest news is our newest Slow Food grant. This year Slow Food St. Louis picked out a handful of farmers that had been successful in their previous grant projects and asked them how they could make one of their projects more efficient. After much deliberation, we thought that maybe getting our St. Croix Ark of Taste lamb to you more quickly would be the a vast improvement. As you know, our sheep are almost entirely on grass and hay and after a dry fall as we had this year and 2 years ago, there is very little forage for a decent size flock. The project this year involves planting food plots that both improve our soil as well as providing more nutrients for hungry sheep. Our food plots will consist of Rye, barley, oats, Crimson clover, field peas, sunflowers, turnips and vetch. we plan on rotating the flock between pastures that will be fed by the clover, peas and vetch which will in turn help to grow the Rye, barley and turnips. In order to make this happen Slow Food St. Louis has provided us with a 10 row crop seeding drill. We're very excited about this. We'll keep you posted on how this goes.
And speaking of lambs, we have a lot on the ground already. Here is a picture of some of our St. Croix lambs including our first set of St. Croix twins.

We will be at the Montessori School at 1618 Tower Grove Avenue on Saturday for the Tower Grove Farmers Market. Lots of Duck eggs this time.

TTFN,

God's blessings on you and yours,

Bill and Sam
the sheep, lambs, Jubilee and Huey


https://www.gofundme.com/sunflowersavannah-year-around
Citrus project
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Friday, February 10, 2017

Finally Back to Market

Saturday at the Montessori School on Tower Grove Ave                                                                                                                                                              


Market List;
Winter Salad Mix w/Spinach, Mache', Pak Choi, Kale, Mustard and Lettuce
Free Range, Non GMO Chicken Eggs,
Onions,
Smoked Tomatillo Salsa,
Pecans and Pickles- but not together
3 varieties of Granola
Grass Fed Lamb

I've been very busy, sowing trays, ordering seed, potatoes and onions and working on our Slow Food Grant. This week I managed to find some time to pull some of the stuff  that I froze last summer out and made more Garlicky Chili Sauce and some jam that I call Summer Sweetness. It has grapes, wild and prune plums, strawberries, cherries and raspberries. It's delicious, tastes like what you would put into a cobbler. The ducks have started laying but so far, we only have a few eggs from them. I will bring them tomorrow.
Cortney and I are looking forward to going to market. It has been 2 months since we have seen your hungry, local food loving faces. The Market is from 9-1  but you know we will be there earlier.
God's  Blessings on you and yours,

TTFN

Sam and Bill

https://www.gofundme.com/sunflower-savannah-year-around
Citrus project
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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What we have been Doing


So it has been awhile since there has been an actual blog. It has been an event filled time off. Firstly Bill's mom Bessie who was on hospice since last winter died the 10th of January. It was a long stress filled time but we managed to keep her home until the end.
Almost immediately my dad went into the hospital. He is home now recovering.
We've had sick sheep, pregnant sheep and some new lambs. This is Belladonna's new ram lamb and yes he is as small as he looks.

We have 13 more sheep that are due to lamb in the next couple of weeks. Several of them are the St. Croix sheep that Slow Food gave us a grant for 2 years ago. The green stripes are marking the sheep who have yet to deliver. It makes for a lot of trips to the barn to make sure everyone is faring okay.




Even with all of this going on, we managed to get more done to the greenhouse. Our final wall of the greenhouse has been finished with sliding glass doors. We found our last set on Craigslist last weekend. So now all the side walls open up for ventilation and are more efficient in transmitting light.











                                        This end is the greenhouse side of the structure a 12x12 space that was the first section that we built. We used semi clear corrugated plastic roofing to make the walls. It worked, but they were not very efficient for keeping the heat in or for light. Now that this end is done, we are working on Solarizing the entire thing. The other end is our High Tunnel where we planted the citrus.


This was a pic that we took early December immediately after the installation of the infrared heat cables were installed. The trees are all still alive but were stressed from the -5 degree temps that we had here We had them covered along with the heating the soil.

Along with this, we are still eating tomatoes that we pulled from the High Tunnel. This picture was taken Sunday and posted on Twitter and Instagram.                                           So it wouldn't take much more to have fresh tomatoes year round.                                                                                     On that end, Dana Roark, mother of Rayven who worked here all summer started a Go Fund Me account called Sunflower Savannah Year Round, for the purpose of collecting what we need to make the high tunnel more efficient and Solar Powered so electricity is not necessary. We still need the Power Station, Pex tubing, Solar Panels, and we want to put a more air tight cover over the whole thing. Remember this was part of a Slow Food grant project. What it will take to make this work in a sustainable manner would also make it possible to produce other crops during a much longer season extension.
Here is the link; https://www.gofundme.com/sunflower-savannah-year-around

You can also Follow us on Twitter @SunflowerSavannah and Instagram  SunflowerSavannahfarm
The Instagram is a private account but just make a request.

For 2017 our goals are to start food Plots for the sheep using organic ground covers and root crops that will feed the sheep and the soil as well as loosen it. we're hoping to get the lamb to market more quickly this way.
We have started seeds and greens already. Bringing back some tomato favorites and of course there will be some new varieties. Keeper varieties from last year are thanks to Mike Brabo of Vesterbrook Farm cleaning out his seed box; Cherokee Green and Arkansas Traveler. I am also going to try Bradley as it is also one of the Original Arkansas tomatoes. We'll see which one we like best. Let us know if there is any special varieties that you'd like to see at the market.

So that is some of what we have been up to. Let us know what you have been up to.

God's Blessings on you and yours,

TTFN,

Sam and Bill

Angelica- How many lambs do you think are in here?





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Friday, January 13, 2017

Wintery Weather

As many of you know already, the Tower Grove Farmers Market has been cancelled for tomorrow. We are iced in here at Beaufort. Sheep are all snug in the barn and we cannot get anywhere. Pretty bummed out as I have not seen you all since early December. Soon it will be Spring again but for now we are still dreaming over our seed catalogs.

God's Blessings over you and yours,

TTFN,

Bill and Sam

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays to All

To all of you who made the year bearable, who made our service a gift, Bill and I wish you a Peaceful and Joy filled holiday time with your loved ones.

God's Blessings on you and yours,

TTFN,

Sam and Bill

Friday, December 16, 2016

December Tomatoes

December Tomatoes

It's been very cold but still lots of tomatoes, Pak Choi and greens. The heated soil cables are keeping the greenhouse at least 12 degrees above freezing even at such continuous low temps.
Around us, other farmers are now starting to try it.
Unfortunately I have no where to go with these lovelies. At this point Schlafly is still saying that there is no longer space for me unless someone cancels. This has been hard dealing with this as I don't know whether to prepare or not and just to be frank, this has kind of hit me where I live. Not only financially because many of you know how Bill and I live separately because I care for my dad who has dementia while Bill works out of state at a job that provides insurance. The farm is what we depend on to fill in the gaps. Also, it's hard to start over with a different market when so many of you follow the Tower Grove and Schlafly Markets so faithfully. Basically I would have to leave you- those who depend on us to provide the clean, nutritious food behind. Growing and providing clean food is literally a calling for me. I have finally gotten to the point of having extended season produce but now it doesn't have value. Some are saying to me, "join our buying club" some are saying "Farmers Markets are out of vogue now, they're only entertainment" or  "just find a different way to sell your stuff". In fact, that's pretty much the message from this Market, "find another venue, find a different market". Really? After years of this being the only Market in St. Louis which focuses on Farmers who grow everything they bring, suddenly this doesn't matter? They always been know for supporting their farmers and strongly backed by Slow Food. I know this, I have been one for 12ish seasons. Now I am not. I guess we are being forced move on.
The problem with this of course is that not all of you will join these clubs or be able to get to the new market. This matters to me but it seems to others, not so much. Suddenly the food is not important, the way the food is grown is not an issue.  Me, I love the joy of introducing someone with a new food source, be it Slow Food duck eggs, a different amazing Slow Food tomato variety, lemon cucumbers or an old thing like my grandmother's pickle or pickled peppers recipe or Pecans from the place that I was born. Each thing, perfect in it's time. You can't get them regularly, each thing is in it's own season, available for what seems a moment. Our Cayuga duck eggs are only about 7 months of the year, the Lemon Cukes only 3. Even December tomatoes aren't ripened the same way as the ones hanging in the 80 degree garden. That's what fresh is all about and I love being in touch with all of your faces when it's introduced to you.

For those of you who ordered eggs, I have almost 2 dozen. But again, without a venue- I'm at a loss. I'm going to reach out again and see if I can set up outside where some of the vendors set up at the Thanksgiving market. I'll let you know if anything changes.

God's Blessings on you and yours,

Sam and Bill



Thursday, December 8, 2016

Reuse to Renew

We will be at the Montessori School for Tower Grove Farmers Market
1618 Tower Grove Ave
Market List:
SuperFood Salad Mix,
Pecans, Pak Choi

Lots of Holiday gift ideas for 5 -7.00.
A bag of Granola or a Jar of Jam will fit perfectly into a stocking. Pickled Hot Peppers or
Salty Dill Pickles will make you a Star during the office Secret Santa exchange.
Don't forget Hanukkah is soon also.


So this is a picture of the Citrus taken yesterday after several nights in the Low 20's. The trees are fine in their heated soil and have even put on more fruit. Last night's temps were in the teens with a wind chill of 5 this morning so I threw a frost blanket over them and had a space heater as a back up. . The trees are still doing fine. Whew it's cold already, I hope it's not a sign of what is to come.

We've had a guy here for awhile now, working for room and board. Another Bill and he's quite the carpenter. Not so crazy about Farm work, for instance the Citrus project. He does his share but he'd rather be fixing stuff. For years, we've been salvaging barn wood, flooring and old windows for the day that we could fix our barn. The barn, around 100 years old is in decent shape structurally but aesthetically- not so much. While it is serviceable, all the walls are missing boards and windows. He just redid the doors you see pictured. Two weeks ago, the other Bill and the trusty Rusty who scored us some tin, covered the back of the barn with said tin. This week, both Bills put windows in the back and this side and replaced boards. If you look closely, you can see which boards were replaced. I have spent several hours sorting out the wood so it will be easy to see what works as we go.  



So other than pulling in all of our greens and celery and transplanting into the greenhouse, that's about it for this week. Soon we will be talking about a new Slow Food Grant as that's another work in progress.

God's blessings on you and yours,

TTFN,

Sam and Bill ...and Bill

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Slow Food Citrus Project and More Market Changes

We WILL be at Schlafly this Saturday!

Market List;
Cherry Tomatoes, some Slicing tomatoes.
Missouri Pecans
SuperFood Salad Mix- 2 mustards, chickweed, kale, mache', 4 lettuces, beet, spinach, chard and sorrel.  
Tomatillos
Non GMO Free Range Eggs

It's time to start thinking about Christmas and Hanukah gifts. Those - "I don't know what to bring to the office party" for  Secret Santa presents or Pot Lucks.
We have a lot of unique ideas for these situations. Garlicky Chili Sauce and Pickled Hot Peppers for those who you love who like it hot. Cherry Serrano Pepper Jelly and Smoked Tomatillo Salsa for that party dish sensation that will also slip right into a stocking-I would leave it in the jar for that purpose though. In any case, stop by for some suggestions.


Last weekend was slated for our Citrus Slow Food Project. The gist of the project was to use radiant heat cables to warm the soil enough to raise the temperature in the High Tunnel to make it possible to produce Citrus.










In the Long run, we intend to make this entirely Solar but now for now we are using a combination of electricity, water and passive solar.

First we marked off the spot and scraped off any weeds.

The area to be dug was 8X4X3. This doesn't sound like a lot until you start digging. The first foot deep was easy as we used a tiller to loosen the dirt so it would be easier to lift out. After the first foot it was pure Missouri Clay. Which makes sense because as many of you know, our lake comes from a Clay mine that was opened in 1948. This was enough for the first day. We were all sore from the digging anyway.



On Saturday, we laid in a large piece of Blue Board Styrofoam and on top of that, hardware cloth or as it is sometimes known, "rabbit wire" and then the soil heating cables.


Our original idea called for "water boxes" lined with pool liner but instead we used sealed barrels filled with water. You can see one of the barrels on the corner of the picture. The cables heat the water in the barrels and then the cables will shut off after it reaches a certain temperature under the soil. The purpose of the water in the barrel is to conserve and slowly release the heat after the cables shut off. This keeps the heat from running all the time and maintains an even temperature for a longer time period. In the photo on the right, you see Tek Foil; which basically is bubble insulation made with aluminum foil on one side. It's made to reflect and contain heat.
After the barrels were filled with water and placed in the hole, the Tek Foil was folded over to make the heat radiate in the pit. Now here, we might have made an error that perhaps could be a bit more efficient if we had put the Tek Foil under the entire project and around the sides. Still...


After we buried the water tanks and filled the pit, we began planting the Citrus trees over and around the site, and yes I was involved in all of this, but someone had to take the pictures.  


As you may remember, we received the trees on March 31st. I ordered 5 Meyer Lemons and a Dancy Tangerine. I already had a Satsuma orange and a Lime Kumquat that I kept in the house. I had this idea about Radiant heat flooring in the soil and then I read about a couple of other projects being done that were very similar. When I started reading up on how to install it, I found soil heating cables being sold in Greenhouse catalogs for less cost, that's what we went with. Except for digging the hole it was pretty easy.
Really the whole thing took about 7 hours. We turned the cables on and waited. At first it didn't seem like it was doing anything. Yesterday, on the 4rth day, it seemed as if the soil was warmer but I wasn't completely sure. I need to get a new soil thermometer to gauge difference between the soil over the pit and in other sections of the high tunnel.
The trees didn't even shock from transplanting into the cool soil, after 5 days, they still look like this;

Thus far we only have had 7 Lemons but this was with the trees still in the pots over the summer and pot bound. They bloomed 5x and are still in bloom now.
This morning when we went out to the Greenhouse about 8, the air temp was 60 degrees. In case you didn't know last nights overnight temp was 32 and yesterday the high was 43.
So it's early days yet but it 'seems promising. If you look in the pics, you can see my tomato plants in the background.

We'll see you at Schlafly on Saturday.
For all of you who posted and emailed in support. Not sure if it was what turned the tide but I know a lot of you responded. Thanks so much.

God's blessings on you and yours,

TTFN

Sam and Bill





    


Thursday, November 17, 2016

2016 Thanksgiving Market at Schlafly



Market List

Celery- That's right I said it! Pesticide Free Celery
Pak Choi
Egyptian Walking Onions
Coriander bunches for seasoning or decoration
Fresh Dill bundles
Shelled Missouri Pecans
Cherry Tomatoes


We did not get a frost so we will have some slicing tomatoes for a bit yet. There will probably be one on Saturday but we shall see.
There is a some lamb but sure not as much as normal for this time of year. Ironic as we have had so many lambs this season but the boys sure are growing slowly. We should have some for Christmas though.

I understand from the new Market Master (Mistress?) that we will not be in our normal spot that we have been in for the last
10 years, but will be on the patio instead. I will miss being by Ozark Forest Mushrooms but hopefully there will be more room out there.  








We decided to name the lamb Quince after what I think are the prettiest of the Spring flowers and of course the focus of one of our grants.















Don't forget to stop by our booth to stock on the Pecans that we get from my hometown in the Missouri Bootheel.
Mom spent the day shelling after they were picked up from the Cracker.

It seems to be a particularly good crop. Maybe not quite as moist as it is a dry year but nice, sweet and plump pecans. This year they will be packaged in 11 oz. as well as 1 Lb. bags.


By the way, this beautiful light Golden color is how you tell this year's pecans from last. The Pecans that are showing up in Wal-Mart and your Chain Groceries are dark brown and are from last year. The color deepens as they cure.

So we'll see you on the Patio Saturday. Next week we are off for Thanksgiving,
then we will be back at Schlafly and next Tower Grove at the Montessori School and then Schlafly again for the Holidays market. Don't forget we have lots of 5-10.00 items for those office parties, Hanukkah and Christmas Gifts. 

God's Blessings on you and yours,

TTFN

Sam, Bill and Bill


Happy Jubilee













Friday, November 11, 2016

What Happened While I was Gone



Market List; Salad Mix, Pak Choi, Tomatillos, Rainbow Cherry Mix Tomatoes,
Some slicing/salad tomatoes.
Lamb bones still on sale and stew meat
Non GMO Eggs and I have garnered enough tomatoes to do a small batch of Famous Salsa

The formatting is not working right on BlogSpot today so if it looks off...

Thanks to everyone who sent me condolences for my Aunt Carlotta, my dad's oldest sister. I really appreciate it.
Since I talked to you all, we had a couple more lambs born. This one above is Chrysanthemum's first lamb. It's a little ewe. As you know, we name all our sheep after flowers and sometimes farm stuff. I named this lamb Passion for of course the Passion Flower.
Another darling colored ewe was born last Sunday thanks to our black ram Indigo, we have never had one this shade. She is so beautiful that I haven't settled on a name yet.
I thought of Apricot, Saffron and Quince, I even considered Jersey as she looks just like a little cow. What do you think?

I got quite a bit of canning done this week, Smoked Tomatillo Salsa and Garlicky Chili Sauce but today I am picking almost everything in the garden except the smallest stuff that won't be affected by frost. We have not been hit yet but there is a strong possibility tonight. It's a shame as our tomatoes as well as tomatillos are gorgeous and loaded. That's the way it goes this time of year.
Last week, one of the Bill's put up another glass wall in the Greenhouse. Now I can pick tomatoes from the outside without walking in the beds.

We have one more 12 ft. wall to do to be all glassed in on the greenhouse side. So if anyone is getting rid of sliding glass doors, we need 4 more.

Tomorrow we will be outside. It will be cold so bundle up. There is a lot of good stuff still at the market for healthy eating as well as those holiday gifts. Next weekend we will be at Schlafly.

God's Blessings on you and yours,

TTFN,

Sam and Bill and Bill







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