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Farm news - January

Posted 1/17/2015 12:13pm by Gregg Keckler.

Dear Friends  and Supporters of the Farm,

   We hope that you are enjoying your winter months.  We are doing some much-needed repair projects and new construction.  Gregg, Oliver and Juan have put a new high tunnel that will be very fun to work in this spring.  We are hoping to have some early greens and veggies for the very first markets of the year.  Gregg is already envisioning how everything will work and look in this high tunnel.  We know that you will benefit from the early greens and we will not feel so guilty at the first markets when we have nothing to sell but asparagus.

   Speaking of asparagus, the field that we plants with 10,000 asparagus roots last year is looking very good.  Nick, our soil specialist who helps us to get our soil in optimum condition took some samples and he was pleasantly surprise at how much better the field is doing.  Last year we added tons (literally) of calcium and chicken manure.  Now we are working to improve the bio-mass of bacteria (the good ones) to improve the aeration of the soil. 

Our main and most important tractor, the Kubota, went in for serious heart surgery at Christmas and we are hoping to have it back by the end of January.  We did get all the plastic out of the fields before the tractor went to the shop. 

Juan is pruning trees; Oliver is doing general clean up and repair; Gregg is making jam and canning applesauce.  This week Oliver and Juan will be butchering some two year old layers.  So we will be starting out the market season with stewing chickens. 

We are overwhelmed with eggs right now.  We are trying to sell them at the house, but everyone around here has chickens of their own.  We are taking them to auction every Tuesday just to get rid of them.  If you would like to make the drive up here to stock up on eggs, let us know - We will give you a good discount for the drive.  Eggs do keep very well, the ones you buy in the stores are usually between two and four months old.  

The New Farm

We struck the first deal in our two part deal about purchasing another farm.  We negotiated and purchased a nine acre farm with a house and many outbuilding and a large pond.  We are still  working on the deal for the 17 acres of adjacent land.  The land is not being sold by the same person as the farm.  We have not yet reached an agreement, but we are only about $12,000 away.  So hopefully before the end of February we have that finalized.  Thanks to all who have helped us with these purchases by loaning us money.  We really do appreciate you support.  If others could and would like to help us, let us know and we will explain how you can help.

Spring Work Days

We are planning Spring Work days and Visit the Farm days.  We will let you know more particularly about the details in February, but we would like to hold a work day in late March and another in April.  We will see how the weather seems and how soon we can get into the ground.  I know that Gregg and Oliver have been talking about a lot of blackberry bushes and strawberry plants for sure.  I know that there are gooseberries to be transplanted and many other things. 


Animal News

We have also got some new pigs that are growing very well.  There are seven in all.  They are smaller so we have them together, but we will be splitting them up soon, since they are growing so fast!  We added two new feeder steers to the mix and we will be getting a few more of them later in the winter.  We will be getting 50 new pullets in April and the usual 100 meat chickens in early April.  We may also be doing our own turkeys again this year.  

CSA for 2015


Thanks to all who have already signed up for the CSA.  Now is the time to sign up.  You can sign up by going to the website www.orchardcountryproduce.com and go to CSA Experience. You can pay when you sign up with your credit card or you can send us a check.  If you would like to sign up for all three session - spring, summer, and fall you will automatically get a discount of 6% when you sign up.  If you would like to save 4%  send us a check instead of using a credit card.  So if you sign up for all three session and send a check for the amount before May 15 you can save a whopping 10%!



If anyone would like to have a drop off spot for a CSA delivery for the 2015 season, please let us know.  We would be glad to work with you about getting a delivery set up for your location.  You would need to get at least 6 shares (any size) for a delivery. If your business would like to have a CSA information session with Gregg or Oliver during January or February, please let us know. 

We are also looking for more apartment complexes to have CSA deliveries.  If your community or building would give us a chance to work with them, please let us know and we will contact the right people in the complex to get a delivery set up.  Sometimes if residents do the asking it helps to get us a opportunity.  Please keep us in mind.

We MAY also be looking for a new Farm Stand location for a new Saturday market - probably in Northern Virginia - not too close to Fort Hunt Rd.  We do not want to compete with ourselves!  If you know of any locations with good visibility and possibility, please let us know. 

We intend to be back at Westminster Farmer's Market, St Luke's Farm Stand, East Columbia Library, NGS Farm Stand and DOT Farmer's Market.

We are also hoping to be making deliveries to all the same locations as last year.


River Park

Gangplank Marina

11408 Newport Mill Road, Silver Spring, MD 20902  NEW

Flats 130

77H Apartments

Senate Square Towers



The Wyoming

Peace Corps


International Baccalaureate

Navy League Building

Columbia Plaza

Calvert Foundation


Blue Labs

Smith Group


DC Department of Health



Family News

If you are associated with facebook you saw our family photo from Christmas.  We love seeing you folks throughout the year.  you usually do not see all of us, but that picture should help you to keep us in mind as your farmers!  As you probably know we have seven children - Oliver and Stuart are the only boys - they were standing on either end of the back row in the picture.  We have five daughters.  Each of the girls were sitting in front of their husbands.  In order- Lydia, Katie, Martha, Sarah (almost married) and then Virginia ( not married).  Tamara  (Stuart's wife ) was on the end.   Sarah is planning a March wedding for this year. So we are gearing up for it - before markets start for us and before The Twirley Top opens for the year.


Whew!  This was a long letter!  I hope that you were able to read it through to the end!  Let us know if we can do anything for you or if you have any questions about the farm.  Thanks for your support! 

Gregg, Louise, Oliver, and Virginia Keckler

Orchard Country produce and Fruit Farm, Inc