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February Farm News!

Posted 3/2/2015 4:01pm by Gregg Keckler.

Dear Folks,

We hope you are enjoying the winter time.  It looks like we are still in the middle of winter here in south central Pennsylvania.  We have about 5 inches of snow on the ground and temperatures in the 30's.  But today was very sunny and a lot of melting going on.  With the melting of course we get the mud! 

Juan and Oliver have been cleaning up our new property.  The elderly couple will still be living in the house until September, 2016, but we are using all the barns, sheds and the land.  Oliver and Juan are cutting branches from trees, trying to pull willows from the pond banks, and cleaning out some of the sheds.  We have a load of chicken manure coming this week for the fields. We are also going to be planting strawberries there this spring.   Thanks to all who helped us with this purchase.  You have saved us a lot of interest money and have given us new vigor to produce good vegetables and fruits for you!  If you would like to help with any other capital projects in the future, send us an email and we can send you information about how you can help.  We will be having another capital project coming due in August of 2015.

Gregg is still making jam and applesauce.  He is getting ready to plant kale and red beets in the high tunnel for early vegetables for the first markets.  Gregg has been planting seeds in the greenhouse to get things started.  This month the greenhouse should be going in full force.  Gregg has his calendar out calculating when things need to be planted in order to have them ready to be transplanted to the fields so that they will be ready to pick in time for the CSA.  This is very fun and exciting to plan.  Some things he plans well and other things do not always work.  trial and error are some of the best teachers!

Thanks to all who have signed up for the CSA in February, we are just 5 short of last years totals for this time last year.  We are hoping for a large sign up in March.  Please do not put it off.  Sign up today.  For folks at businesses, try to encourage people to sign up early.  If you have a business or neighborhood that would like to get a drop off for the 2015 season, please let us know and we can send you a flyer to send around.  You need to have 6 shares ( any size) for a drop off to your location.


We are going to be having only one work day this spring, Saturday, April 11, 2015.  Please let us know if you intend to come for this day.  We will provide a lunch and a tour and a wonderful day in the sunshine (or rain) smelling the earth and feeling the gentle breezes!  We are hoping to plant blackberries that day and also onions and peas.

We will be getting our first batch of broilers on the first of April.  We will also be getting another 50 layers in April.  We now have 5 nice sized hogs.  They weigh about 120 lbs.  They are having a great time digging holes in their bedding, playing in the hay and eating, of course.  We have four feeder steers right now.  We should be getting about 3 more before May. 

If you know of any location, not a market, but a location where we could set up for a farm stand for the 2015 market season. please let us know.  We are searching diligently for a good spot, with visibility and parking for a new farm stand location.  We would like to have it in northern Virginia or DC or Bethesda-Rockville area.  Please let us know if you know of a church parking lot or a business location that would be available for use on a Saturday morning. 

If you are new to the CSA - we will be sending our monthly emails until the last week of May. Then we will send out an email telling everyone how the drop offs and deliveries will be handled.  We will also be sending out emails weekly throughout the CSA season letting everyone know what to expect in the boxes for the week and also information about purchasing extras.

We have watched a DVD called Symphony of the Soil this winter - Thanks Ilga!  This has really gotten Gregg started on compost tea.  I have always enjoyed composting, but mostly on a small scale.  Gregg is planning to take this to a larger scale this year for use on some of the fields.  We have been in contact with Nic, our soil specialist who is giving Gregg and Oliver advice on ways to help, not just the soil chemistry, but also the microbe health within the soil.

We are looking forward to the spring time!  It is hard to believe that NGS Farm Stand will be starting the 21st of April;  St. Luke's will start on May 2;  DOT market will be starting May 5;  East Columbia Library on May 7; and Westminster Farmer's Market will be opening on May  16th.

ALSO NEW drop off location.  We will have a drop off location in Silver Spring at a private home located at:       Silver Spring.  If this would be a convenient spot for you to pick up, just choose this location from the choices on the CSA sign up.  This is a Friday delivery to this location.  This might be a good option if you would be on your way home or even before you leave in the morning to get to work.  Let me know if you have any questions about this drop off. 

By the way, we still have a lot of eggs and apples.  If anyone would like to may a trek to Pennsylvania to stock up on eggs and apples, please let us know.  We had several groups come up this month to visit and pick up some things.  It was great seeing everyone and selling some eggs too :)  Let us know if you have a questions or concerns that we could help you with.


Gregg, Louise and Oliver Keckler

orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm, Inc