News and blog

Welcome to the blog
Posted 5/31/2010 8:03am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Shareholders,

   We have planted out almost everything from the greenhouse.  Things look great this year!  This certain red lettuce actually looks so good that the rabbits will not let it alone.  The peas have flowers, so next week hopefully we will have snow peas.  We have a few sugar snap peas already.

   If you have never cooked with rhubarb, here is a simple way to prepare it.  Chop the stalk into 1 in. chunks.  Cook in a pot wil a little bit of water until the rhubarb is soft.  You can add strwberries if you want a bit of color and sweetness.  After it is stewed, you can add sugar or honey to taste.  I love to eat it just like this.  Some folks eat it with a biscuit, use over ice cream, or crumble oatmeal, brown sugar, flour and butter for crumbs. and sprinkle over stewed rhubarb.
    Don't forget that you can eat the bulbs and the stalks of spring onions. (Geat in salads, soups, with pasta or potatoes)  Let me know if you have trouble figuring out what to do with anything.

       This week's share will include:  strwberries, apples, radishes, spring onions, lettuce heads/salad mix, rhubarb, asparagus.

     We had a steer butchered on May 20, but it isn't quite frozen yet, so if you ordered any steaks, you may not get them until week 2.  We have ground beef in one and half pound packs.  If you order ground beef you will get these packs.  Ed Breckenbill is out of smoked sharp cheddar right now, but we will get some the next time we order.
   Please return all berry cartons, egg cartons, jars, etc (even rubber bands are helpful).  You can wait until you empty the containers and then return them.

    Rmember th drop offs:  Gangplank Marina - Tuesday very early
                                       DOT - Tueaday 7:30am-2:00pm
                                       Columbia - Thursday 2-6 pm East Columbia Library, Cradlerock Way
                                       Westminster - Saturday 8-12noon downtown Westminster
                                       Gaithersburg - Saturday 7:30am-1:00pm 128 Goucher Terrace
                                       Bethesda - Saturday 9-1pm Cedar La U U Church

  Wednesday drop offs:  NGS- drop off 12:15pm
                                   NLC - drop off 12:45pm
                                   826 25th St NW - 1:10pm
                                   Calvert Foundation - 1:40pm
                                   NIH 5635 Fisher Lane - 2:15pm
This is our hopeful time schedule.  After the first week we will see how things go and make changes if needed. 

Looking forward to see everyone this week! 
Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country produce
Posted 5/17/2010 10:32am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
  Welcome to the 2010 CSA season.  If you are getting this email, you should be expecting to pick up a share on June1, June 2, June 3, or June 5 for the first week of the season.  If you don't think you should be picking up this week, let me know.  For some this is a new experience, for others it is a continuation of fresh fruits and vegetables. 
   Gregg, Oliver, Mark, Lydia, and Virginia have been busy planting out hundreds of tomatoes, pepper, squash, and cucumber plants last week.  The fruit looks good.  There might not be as many sweet cherries or apricots as last year, but the plums look better.  It is hard to predict why these fluctuations happen each year.  If the spring is too cold, the trees don't flwoer, if it is too chilly and overcast the bees don't pollinate the flowers, and there are some years that a tree just decides to take the year off and not produce any fruit.  who know!
   We want you to get the most out of the fruit and produce that you get.  We have some simple preparation tips on the website.  Remeber that you do not need to create a dish based on a vegetable ( for example: asparagus)  Asparagus is delicious raw, lightly steamed, or grilled - no other ingredients necessary except a little butter or loive oil and salt.  Preparing simply will give you the best flavor and nutritional value - and it is simpler.
   Logistics:  All folks getting their shares on Tuesday at DOT or Gangplank Marina, Thursday at East Columbia Library, Saturday at Cedar Lane UUChurch in Bethesda, Saturday at 128 Goucher Lane, Gaithersburg, or Saturday at the Westminster Farmers Market will pick up coolers each week.  You will bring back an empty cooler and pcik up a full one.  If you choose you can put youritems in your own bags and just leave the cooler with us. 
      Folks getting shares on Wednesday at NGS, NLC, Clavert Foundation, NIH - Fisher Lane, or Kennedy Center(25th st NW) your produce will come in a box with your name on it.  You can take the produce and leave the box in the designated drop off spot or you can take the box with you.  Please return the bos before the next Wednesday pick up.  I will be in touch with each of you regarding the actual drop off spot.  NGS will be the same as last year.

    Extras:  you can order extras weekly by sending us an email AT LEAST one day before delivery day.  You can pay for the extras at the market with csah, check, or credit card(If over $15.00)  If you pick up on Wednesdays orat the Gangplank Marina, or Gaithersburg you can order items, we will put them in your share and at the end of each 7 week session we will send you a bill by email and you can send us a check by mail.

   We will have our own fresh, free range eggs all year.  Our chickens are young and laying prolificly.  We will have our own hormone-free grass fed beef available.  We are having another steer butchered this week so we should be stocked with all cuts of steaks for a while.  We will also have our own sweet butcher bologna.  We put a whole steer in bologna so the bolonga is Lean and delicious.  Butcher bolonga is stored in 4 in round cloth bags.  we sliced it thinly and put it in 1/2 and 1/4 lb pakcs to sell.
     We also sell butter from Apple Valley Creamery The butter is from hormone-free pasture fed dairy cows.  We will again be offering Ed Brekenbill's cheese.  Ed has a hormone-free pastured dairy in Chambersburg, PA  He makes all of his cheese at his farm.  He adds no additivies, only raw cow's milk, vegetable enzymes, and sea salt.

Let us know if you have any questions.  See you in two weeks!  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce


Eggs $4.00/dozen
Butter $3.50 for a 1/2 lb block
Ground Beef $3.50/lb   sold in 1 lb packs

Following items sold in packs of 2  weight varies
Filet Mignon $13.99/lb
del Monaco  $9.99/lb
New York Strip $9.99/lb
Sirloin tip $9.99/lb
Sirloin   $9.99/lb
London Broil $9.99/lb

Honey Butcher Bologna $7.99/lb Sold in 1/2 and 1/4 lb packs
Sweet Butcher Bologna  $7.49/lb sold in 1/2 and 1/4 lb packs

Following items sold in packs approx wieght 4-8 oz each weight varies
Goat Goulda    $12.49/lb
smoked Cheddar $9.49/lb
sharp cheddar  $9.49/lb
Smoked jalapeno  $9.49/lb
Cheddar  $8.48/lb
Farmers $8.49/lb
Baby Swiss $8.49/lb
Italian  $8.49/lb
Posted 5/4/2010 2:07pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Shareholers and Friends,
 The countdown is on!  By May 15 we will be planting all our tomatoes, peppers, egg plant, summer squash, and zucchini.  We are cutting tons of asparagus and lettuce, Our spinach is coming on slowly.  The shell peas, sugar snap peas, and snow peas are looking good.  This year the shallots look great (compared to last year).  We are picking spring onions and radishes.  The rhubarb is very thick.  Last week we had a single stalk that weighed over 1/2 lb.  We should be picking red beets in a couple weeks.  Our chickens are laying heavy, so we have plenty of eggs.  We are actually selling some at market because there are so many.  All the fruit looks great.  Strawberries have lots of flowers.  Our berries are later then Maryland or Virginia because we are further north.  But hopefully we will have berries by the first week of June.
     Gregg has planted some unusual winter squash, watermelon, muskmelons canteloupe and of course prickly pear seeds in the greenhouse.
    If you could not find our website for a couple of weeks, we are back up and running again.  Please have all subscription forms and payments in by May 15 for the first session which starts May 31.  It will take us awhile to organize the names and locations.  We will send an email May 17 to discuss pickups, coolers, extras, and other things.  Let us know if you have any questions.  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
Posted 4/29/2010 4:00pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
    Even though the CSA does not start until June 5, we will be selling fresh produce and fruit at the Cedar La Universalist Unitarian Church every Saturday from 9-1 beginning this week.  So if you would like to meet us and you would like to buy some fresh asparagus, lettuce mix, rhubarb, hopefully radishes.  We will also have our apples (Fugi, Pink Lady, Braeburn, Cameo).  We will also have our Eva potatoes.  Eva is the white potato variety that we grow. It is a Pennsylvania exclusive potato.  We will have red beets next week and spinach as well.  Things will begin to really take off in the next three weeks.  So check back each week for new items.
   Drop in this week and say Hi.  We will also have many varieties of jams (made from our own fruit), honey, hormone-free pasture- raised beef, hormone-free cheeses from the Cheese Haus in Chambersburg, PA.  Ed Breckenbill is the owner of Whispering brook Farm.  He makes all his cheese right there in Chambersburg.  The list of ingredients are refreshing: non-pasteurized milk, vegetable enzymes, and sea salt.  We will also have our own strawberry-rhubarb pies, strawberry pies, banana bread, pumpkin bread, and zuchini bread.
   We look forward to seeing you there.  Gregg and Louise Keckler -- Orchard Country Produce
Posted 4/29/2010 3:45pm by Gregg Keckler.
Our website is back up and running.  We meant to TRANSFER our domain name to a new host and instead we deleted it!  It  took them awhile to forgive us for this transgression.  I have promised to pay for damages and they have finally relented.  So you can go to  and check us out and download subscription forms, etc.  We hope to have all forms and payments in by May 15, especially if you would like  to sign up for the first session.  I will send a more extensive email in early May about what's happening and by May 20 if you are signed up for the first session you will get email about drop offs, extras, coolers, and other stuff.  See you then!  Let me know if you have any questions.  Gregg and Louise Keckler -Orchard Country Produce
Posted 4/14/2010 2:49pm by Gregg Keckler.

We are grilling asparagus every day.  The heat last week really brought it on fast.  We planted out lettuces and spinach on Monday.  The sweet onions have arrived in the mail today, so Friday we will be planting almost 3000 onions.  We have over 600 tomato plants looking good in the greenhouse. Louise

Posted 4/1/2010 5:39pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Friends and Shareholders,
    The weather is beautiful!  We have about 2 acres planted with lettuce, carrots, radishes, peas, snow peas, snap peas, red beets and spring onions.  We will be planting more peas, radishes and beets this week.  We have planted seeds for tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, arugala, head lettuce, kohlrobi, kale, cilantro, eggplant, and fennel in the greenhouse.  We also have new potatoes planted.  We will be planting the Evas this month and Gregg is going to try some fingerling potatoes.  We will also be planting the sweet onions by the third week in April.

    All the grapes, blackberries, black raspberries, pinks, yellows, and purples are pruned.  We are still working on the red raspberries.  We also sorted all the apples in the cooler.  There are a lot of Fuji and Pink Lady.  There are some Cameo and Braeburn as well.  This month Gregg will spray the fruit trees with copper for scab and he will spray for the 3 stages of bloom.  Apricots are in white bloom right now.  Two years ago we lost all the apricots because there was a frost during their bloom, but this year looks good so far.

    Welcome to new folks!  We hope you will enjoy our vegetables and fruit this year.  We are always trying a few new things to add to the standard fare.  I hope you will notice that I put on the website a listing of all our markets and drop offs.  I also finally wrote a bit about size of shares and samples from last year.  This year we will take pictures of the shares and put them up as well.  We still have openings at each market or drop off spot.  The DOT - Tuesday drop off and the Thursday East Columbia Library drop off are filling up fast.  So let us know if you want to get into either of these.

    If you are a Wednesday pickup just write your business in the delivery space on the subscription form - NGS, Calvert Foundation, or Fisher Lane.  If you would like a Wednesday delivery at your business, just get a total of 8 shares for the drop off and we will add you to the list.

    In May I will send specfic emails for each drop off to let you know when, how, and where.  I will also send everyone an updated list of "extras" that we sell.  You can order extras anytime by sending us an email and we will include them in the next delivery.  If you pick up at DOT, Columbia, Bethesda, or Westminster you can pay for your extras when you pick up.  If you pick up at NGS, Calvert Foundation, Fisher La or Gaithersburg we will keep a running total and at the end of each session we will send you a bill and you can send us a check.

   I do hope you can get out and enjoy the birds and plants budding.  We have a wood stove chimney at the back of our house.  Several years ago in order to keep rain from going down the stove pipe, Gregg took an old license plate, bent it into an arch, painted it black, and screwed it into the existing pipe.  This year we have a flicker who loves to sit on the chimney and peck on the license plate.  He sounds like a jack hammer if you are outside and if you are inside he sounds like a telephone ringing.  He does this for one hour beginning at 8:30 am and again at 5:30 pm.  I guess he enjoys sounding different than all the other flickers.  He is definitely taking all the paint off the license plate.  Enjoy those Birds!   
   If you have any questions or need any information, please let us know.  
                                           Growing for you, 
                    Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce 
Posted 3/25/2010 4:00pm by Gregg Keckler.

Today we finished pruning, transplanting, cleaning up all the black, pick, purple, and yellow raspberries.  Gregg and Oliver planted radishes, carrots,  and some direct planting of lettuce.  We have arugala in the greenhouse about 3 inches tall.  We have over 1000 tomato seeds started, head lettuce, kohlrobi, peppers. 

   On Monday Gregg and Oliver planted red beets, peas  and spring onions.  The man who plants our potatoes for us has planted all the little reds and he is trying to get the white Evas is between rains.  We are planting the little fingerling potatoes as well. They also finished pruning all the fruit trees.  Gregg is getting ready to spray the first blossoms.  Beleive it or not the fruit trees are beginning to blossom.  Spring is here!

We are hoping to get the red raspberries and blackberries  finished by the weekend.  Louise

Posted 3/19/2010 1:57pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
  Thanks for bearing with us.  We have found a great location for our farm stand in Bethesda.  It will be easier for folks driving in to park.  We will be located at the upper parking lot of the Universalist Unitarian Church on Cedar Lane in Bethesda.  For those of you who were walking to pick up your shares you might need to drive or take the bus.  If you signed up already and this new location will not work for you on Saturday mornings from 9-1pm.  Please let us know and we can reimburse you. 
   For those who have been waiting to see where we would locate, I hope this will be a good spot for you.  We will be setting up our farm market stand there to sell things just like at Woodmont Triangle.  We will have several large signs on Cedar Lane and also on Beach and Cedar.  If you live in this neighborhood we would appreciate it if you would tell your neighbors about the farm stand.  We are hoping to build up a buyer base in this area.  The church folks were very cooperative and are looking forward to us being there.  Many of their staff are signing up for CSAs as well.  We will be selling our beef and Ed Breckenbill's cheese there as well as eggs and butter (if there is enough). 
      I will be changing this information on local harvest and also on our website, but I am not able to change the subscription form because it is a pdf and we cannot seem to find it as a word document.  We are working on it,  

Let us know if you have any questions.  Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
Posted 3/17/2010 11:39am by Gregg Keckler.


   We are finalizing plans for the Bethesda farm stand site and CSA drop off.  I will know for sure after Thursday.  I will keep everyone posted.

Now for plantings.  The leeks look good.  The arugala is up about 1 inch.  Lettuces are coming up.  The peppers including hot peppers are sprouting.  Gregg planted cabbage, kohlrobi, kale, and eggplant seeds this week.  Gregg is tilling the ground right now, hoping to dry it out so he and Oliver can plant spring onions tomorrow.  Next week -TOMATOES.

  Spring is coming.  Hope everyone is ready!  Louise