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Posted 4/19/2011 8:45am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks, 
     
       OK, the tree planting day on Saturday was a WASH.  (literally)  We had terrible thunderstorms and road closings.  It was a rough day for tree planting.  So we have scheduled another day.  Unfortunately the trees will have to be planted before that - actually two- thirds of them were planted yesterday and rest will be in the ground today.
  
   On Saturday, April 30,  we will have a planting and transplanting day.  We have many raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries that need transplanted.  We also have tender little plants from the greenhouse that need to get into the ground.  There are also seedlings that need to go into plugs in the greenhouse,  asparagus crowns to plant and so many other plantings and greenhouse work.  
    
      So, if you are willing and you aren't busy that Saturday, let us know.  We will begin at 2:00pm.  We will provide a supper.  Definitely fresh asparagus will be on the menu!       

          Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce  
  
Posted 4/6/2011 7:27am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
     We are planning a tree planting day on April 16, a Saturday at 2:00pm at our farm.  If you would like to come and help, please let us know.  We would love to have you.  If you can not come that day, don't worry there will be other opportunities for planting other things later.  Thanks for your interest in growing, planting, and living off  the land. 
                 Gregg and Louise Keckler - Ordchard Country Produce
Posted 4/5/2011 3:16pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear CSA members and farm friends,
    
      It is a rainy April day.  Our greenhouse is chocked full of little plants just waiting for the right weather to get them into the ground.  We have at least five different lettuces, spinach, eggplant, many peppers, cabbage, kohlrobi, squash, zucchini, over 1000 tomato plants, several flower varieties, herbs, and others.  Last week Oliver and Gregg spent a few restless nights trying to keep the greenhouse heaters running during the rather cold weather.  We finally had to go out and purchase a reliable one.  A few times the little hot pepper plants were looking a bit chilled.  Everything is up and running again now.
     We have direct seeded peas, spring onions, garlic, leeks, and a neighbor put in all our potatoes at his place.  This month we are planning

     -to transplant strawberries
     -to transplant raspberries
     -plant over 200 fruit trees
     -plant 150 asparagus crowns
     -plant about 1000 summer sweet onions
    
Gregg will be starting seeds for winter squash, canteloup, watermelon and pumpkins.

     Many have inquired about helping to plant, etc.  We can certainly use the help.  If you have contacted us about helping we will get back to you about the best days to begin.  If others would like to come to help for a few hours or a whole day, that would be great.  Just send us an email.  We will work out times - any weekday and Saturday afternoons work best for us.

     Several folks have inqured about how to buy extras.  At the end of May we will send an email with all the extras and prices.   The extras list will be sent each week throughout the CSA season along with email  about the the fruits and vegetables that will be included in your share.  You can order extra items by sending an email each week letting us know what you want.  If you pick up at a market location, you can pay there.  If you get a delivery drop, we will keep a running total throughout the 7 weeks and then send you an email with the total and then you can send us a check.  This sytem has worked very well for a number of years.  Last year was the first year we had some folks who did not pay up in the end.  But we will give it another try this year and hope for better results.

     ATTENTION:  Remember April 30 is the last day to sign up for the spring session which begins in June.  Also April 30 is the last day to sign up for the whole season for $450/ half share and $750/full share.

     We are looking forward to the new CSA season.  It is our busiest time of the year.  The time just flies by!

    For those who have been following my health updates-I had my second round of Clindamycin IV in March.  My skin is much looser and I am developing wrinkles on my face! :)  Believe me that is a good sign.  I am moving better and I plan to be back at the Columbia market for sure and I am hoping to get to Bethesda as well.  If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease check out www.roadback.org.  They offer a workable nonconventional protocol that will give you hope.


PLAN AHEAD!  Markets start in May.
      
       DOT Market starts Tuesday May 3
       Columbia Market starts Thursday may 5
       Bethesda Market starts Saturday May 7
       Westminster Market starts May 28

We will have bedding plants (flowers, tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, melons, and squash) for sale at the first markets in DOT and Bethesda.   Can't Wait!   Let us know if you have any questions about anything and keep in touch if you would like to come up to work or visit.   Thanks for supporting us and having confidence in our abilities.  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
Posted 3/2/2011 7:20am by Gregg Keckler.
  • Dear Friends,

          Finally we are through the ice and snow of February and Spring is just around the corner.  All our trees are pruned except the three year old peach trees.  We began pruning raspberries and grapes this week.  We are getting a huge load of compost delivered to use between the raspberries and blueberries.  Oliver and Gregg sorted potatoes last week.  Daniel is putting barn siding on the upper story of the garage.  We are going to put used windows in the garage. (It has gaping holes where the windown should be.) 

          Gregg purchased most of the seeds for the year.  Our pantry has several 50lb bags of spring onion bulbs in it.  He also purschased over 250 fruit trees.  We are planning to raise some bedding plants this year namely flowers, tomatoes, and peppers for sale.  In the past we have only grown them for our own use.  We hope to have them for sale in May and June at Bethesda and DOT.
     
          Gregg purchased 50 turkey poults to arrive the first week of June.  We used to raise turkeys 20 years ago when our children were young.   Oliver ordered 100 chicks for arrival in mid-May.  He was able to purchase a chicken plucker this year from the money from last year's sales.  Thanks to those who bought his chicken last year.  Our chickens are laying very well.  We are selling some eggs here at the house.
       
          Projects for March:
    -Start flowers in greenhouse
    -Finish pruning berries
    -Purchase a few feeder steers
    -Purchase a couple piglets (end of March)
    -Clean manure out of the barn
    -Build crates
    -Assess poultry housing and build new turkey feeders
  • -Plow ground and dig holes for trees
  •  -Start seeds for tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, etc

    If you would like to help plant trees, asparagus crowns, onions, tomatoes and others throughout April and May,send us an email and we will see if we can work out days that would be conducive.  We could use help and you could visit and experience the planting season.


   Our family lives so much by seasons that we forget that many do not.  I am sure it is not easy when you live in the city, but make an effort to study seasonality in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Try to live and eat this year by seasons.  Asparagus harvest begins in April and through June.  Radishes, spring onions, lettuce from May-June;  snow peas from June - early July;  shell peas from June - July; starwberries from June - early July.  On our website we have a calendar of fruits and vegetables.  Check this out for a more complete listing.

      We are trying to provide you with fruits and vegetables that are common to the region.  Occasionally we have a bad year ie cherries last year, but that is part of the close relationship between the weaqther and the harvest.  We would like to see you start eating by the seasons.  Each week throughtou the 21 weeks of the CSA season provides a slight variation from the week before.  The differences in seasons change so subtly that before you are aware of it, you are eating summer fruit and spring is finished.  When you can get out into the open country, the changes can be felt, smelled, heard, seen, and tasted.  We hope to give you some of these expereiences this year during the CSA season.

   Paperwork Notes:
If you are sending us subscription forms and your pickup location is not listed, just write it in the blank.  Also if you are sending a check with the payment plan you do not need to resend the subscription form each time.  (save paper and ink.)
     Thanks to all who have sent checks so far.  We appreciate your faith in us.  If your business would like to get a delivery you need to get 6 folks to sign up from your location and we can arrange a delivery.  Email us if you are interested in a delivery to your business, organization, community, or  apartment complex.

Remember: Deadline to sign up for the spring session which starts in June is APRIL 30!  Don't procrastinate!  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce 

Posted 2/2/2011 8:54am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,

   Greeting on this icy wintery day.  We are finishing up the last of the jellies and jams for this year.  We have most of the fruit trees pruned.  There are just a few peach trees and five big standard trees to go.  Our goats are healthy.  One is expecting this spring.  Gregg and Oliver are planning where to plant things and how many seeds to buy.  They have been measuring off space for new fruit trees.  They are going to plant mostly apricots, plums, and cherries.  I would like a few nut trees.  I know I will probably not see most of the nuts in my lifetime (nut trees mature very slowly), but they will be producing well when Oliver takes over.
  
We are not just a sustainable farm with regard to the soil.  We are planning to have Orchard Country Produce survive for many generation.   That is why we are careful about protecting the soil, the water, and the trees that will outlive us.  They will be providing food and income for future generations.
    Projects for this month:
          Start seeds in the greenhouse for early red beets and some greens.
          Sort apples - feed all bruised and spotted apples to the cows, goats, and chickens.
          Finish pruning trees.
          Order seeds and trees.
          Build new portqable chicken houses.
          Repair wagons and other equipment.
    
     As many of you know we have attempted over the years to conserve, reuse, recycle, and replenish as much as possible.  We shred all paper for animal bedding which eventually gets composted and put back into the soil.  We beg all our CSA and market customers to return all jars, rubber bands, egg cartons, and cardboard, boxes.  We reuse them until they are hopeless then they are shredded.  Two years ago we  purchased 30 solar panels for the southern side of our 3 bay garage (shed).  This long term investment has kept our electric usage low.  We feed any unused or rotten fruits and vegetables to animals or compost it.  We collect rain water from roofs in tanks to distribute evenly as needed rather than having it cause erosion.  We also try to do companion planting to help with bug control and intensive planting to discourage weed growth.

    Your continued support keeps us always striving to do better.  Because you have invested in our local food farm, we are encouraged to keep on keeping on.  Thanks so much.  Thanks to all who have sent checks and are encouraging other to subscribe.  Your money sent now is enabling us to purchase the fruit trees now which will begin to produce in two or three years.
 
    If you like- check out the photos below.  (If I can figure out how to send them.  All my computer savy children either left home or went to college, so I am doing my best)   The pictures, clockwise from left, are of Missy, our elderly donkey, next our first grandchild: Tabitha Isabela Keckler Born 1/20/2011 to our eldest son and his wife.  The other photos are of our two goats, they really liked the camera.

     All the market pickups still have room for more subscribers.  The DOT market is about 3/4 full, so let me know, if you haven't already about signing up for DOT pickup.  Our Wednesday groups are doing well, there is a steady stream of subscribers for Wed drop offs.  The new Friday delivery route still has room, but we do have a couple community deliveries lined up.  Let us know if you would like to organize a group delivery for either Wednesdays in DC NW and  Bethesda, or Fridays in DC SW, Arlington, Alexandria, or any point along the 270 corridor.  Let us know if you have any questions.  Thanks, Louise and Gregg Keckler - Orchard Country Produce




Missy the Donkey

Tabitha

One of the goats

The Other Goat



   




Posted 1/3/2011 3:01pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Friends and CSA members,

    Thanks to all who have sent forms and checks in already.  This is by far the most checks received before January 1.  If you are planning to join our CSA this year, you may send us the forms and checks anytime between now and April 30.  We should have plenty of room for all.  The only day that has a serious limit is Tuesday.  So if you were planning to sign up for DOT pick up or delivery to Gangplank Marina, let us know.
    Businesses and neighborhoods in DC NW or Bethesda or locations along the 270 corridor wishing to organize delivery for Wednesdays, let us know as soon as possible.  You do not need to know exact numbers just a "yes, we want to participate"  will help us to organize and make room for new deliveries.
    We are also planning a Friday delivery to Alexandria, Arlington, DC SW and points along Rt 270.  Let us know if your business or neighborhood would like to get a delivery.  If you are new at organizing a CSA pickup at your location, send us an email and we can help you with sugggestions of how other groups have done it.
    We will still be having regualr individual pickups at:
 DOT - Tuesdays 7:30am-2:00pm
East Columbia Library - Thursdays 2:00-6:00pm
Westminster Farmers Market - Saturdays 8:00am - noon
Bethesda Farm market Stand - Saturdays 9:00am-1pm
Gaithersburg drop off - Saturdays 7:30am-1pm

     Farm update:   Our chickens stopped laying a couple of weeks ago because of the extreme cold and wind.  We are trying to keep their weight up so they will begin laying again.  Gregg is perusing catalogs,  planning what seeds to buy for this year.  He will also be buying new fruit trees for our second farm.  Gregg bought 2 milk goats which we are hoping  to milk for the spring and summer.  Goat milk isn't the most popular, but possibly some of you may wish to order it.  Goat milk makes excellent cheese.
     We are also purchasing some new calves (they are off milk.) since this year we will be butchering 4 big steers.  Toward the end of January Gregg and Oliver will begin pruning fruit trees, grapevines, raspberries, and blackberries.

   Family News:  Stuart and Tamara are expecting their first baby in January. Sarah got a great job which she enjoys in Alexandria, VA.  So she moved out and is living down there now.  Virginia is home from college in CA this month.  Martha and Daniel are getting married in October - so Katie is sewing dresses and Martha and Daniel are working on thei rold farm house that they recently purchased.  Gregg is making lots of jams and jellies for next summer.  Oliver and I are trudging through Trigonometry, biology and literature.

    Recommended readings:  Several years ago I recomended that CSA and Farmer's market folks might enjoy reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and The Ominvore's Dilemna by Mickael Pollan.  If you haven't read either of these books yet, please do.  This year I have read several books by Joel Salatin - owner of Polyface Farm in VA.  I first heard of him in Pollan's book.  He writes many books for would-be farmers, but two of his books would definitely be valuable reading for folks interested in local food and the fate of small farmers in America.  Everything I Want to do is Illegal - War Stories from the local food front and Holy Cows and Heavenly Hogs - The Food Buyers Guide to Farm Friendly Food.                 
    Salatin is a dramatic writer who doesn't take just one side of the political issues regarding local food, environmental issues, animal health, and prosperous farming.  Although he definitely writes from a socially conservative viewpoint, he describes himself as a environmentally conscious, morally conservative, liberatarian Christian.  His books will appeal to all of you regardless of political or religious persuasion because he is addressing an issue that binds all of us together: Local and Healthy Foods



Health update:  I (Louise) had my Clindamycin  IV for 5 days in December and I have gained back alot of strength.  I can stand up for almost 45 minutes at a time.  I do not take any naps throughout the day anymore.  I am able to type with all 10 fingers again.  Sometimes the little finger on the "a" key doesn't always work.  I am also doing a naturopathic Lyme protocol, since I have positive antibodies for Lyme's disease which are currently inactive.  In any case, I hope to be back at the markets again this summer.  I am still taking my anitbiotics faithfully.  Scleroderma is no joke!  If any of you are suffering from autoimmune diseases, be sure to get a Lyme test done as well.


     Let us know if you have any questions about our policies, practices or anything.  We are looking forward to seeing everyone again this year!   Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce

Posted 12/1/2010 8:38am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
      We hope you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are looking forward to spending time with family and friends during this month.  We have our website updated with the new subscription form.  We would like to get some updated pictures of our new farmland and also better pictures of the fruit trees.  The ones on the site are at least six years old.  The trees are alot bigger and have way more fruit on them now.  All the information is the same as last year, only the dates are changed to reflect the new year.

   New Ideas:  We are getting about 500 new fruit trees: cherries, plums, apple (Honey Crisp) and apricots.  Gregg is going to plant a few nut trees as well.  We will be planting them in the Spring on our new farm land.   Gregg and Oliver plowed all our gardens, the rented fields, and new portions of the new farm.  Now they will be ready for Spring planting. We plan to plant more melons and cantelopes on the new land.   We are planting about 100 more gooseberries bushes at the new place.  Gregg will also be buying 3-4 more feeder steers for the new pasture area.  We can never get enough beef.  Greg is considering trying to raise some turkeys for Fall 2011.

    Repairs:  Gregg and Oliver have been trying to fix our old barn.  One of the main beams rotted off the foundation over the hay barn floor.  So they have been jacking up the floor in order to put a new beam in.  All the coolers, tables, baskets, etc have been washed and sanitized with bleach and stored in the garage attic till next year.
     All the apples, pears, winter squash, pumpkins, and potatoes have been stored in the cold storage for the winter.  We sold the last of the red beets to a neighbor.  Our rented property has 14 Asian pear trees on it.  The owner wants to get rid of them so we will be digging them out and transplanting them on our new land.  The nice thing about Asian pears is that they do not need sprayed.  They are about 5 years old.  It shouldn't be too tough to get them out if we get all the son-in-laws here.

     Next year:  We are planning to keep the same delivery sites: East Columbia Library, Westminster, Bethesda (Cedar Lane), Gaithersburg, DOT and Gangplank Marina and home delivery to the Carlisle area.  We will still do Wednesday deliveries to businesses and neighborhood  groups.  If your neighborhood or business is located in Washington, DC NW or Bethesda or anywhere along the 270 corridor, we would be glad to make a group delivery for at least 6 share/stop.  We are also contemplating a second delivery day on Fridays to Arlington and Alexandria, VA and Washington DC SW.  If you are in any of these areas and would like to get a group delivery, let us know.  
    We will begin accepting subscriptions after January 1, 2011.  You can downlaod the form fron the website:  www.orchcountry.com , fill it out and send it to us with a check.  You may also do a payment plan if you like.
   We are starting to get excited about planting new seeds, tryping new items and firing up the greenhouse again.

    I (Louise) will be goning to Philadelphia his month for some antibiotic IV treatments for the scleroderma.  Keep me in your thoughts.
  Let us know if you have any questions.
   We wish you all a wonderful Holiday!  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
Posted 10/25/2010 11:05am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
    
For Everyone:  We are offering some specials on certain things that we have in abundance.  You may order any of these items for pick up at any market or for drop on Wednesday or at Gangplank.

Red Beets - $3.00/quart
Fall eating apples (a mix of Fuji, Braeburn, Pink Lady, Stayman, and Yellow Delicious)   $3.00/quart
                                                                                                                    $14.00/peck
                                                                                                                    $22.00/half bushel
Winter Squash - Acorn Squash $.75
                       Butternut Squash $.75
Neck pumpkins -(These make the best pumpkin pies)  small $3.00
                                                                        large $5.00
Cushaw Pumpkin - $3.00
Turnips - $3.00/quart

All these items will keep until Thanksgiving.  Apples will stay firm if stored in a cool place or in the crisper of your refrigerator.

For Wednesday and Gangplank we will add these items to the extras orders and we will send out bills after Wednesday delivery. All other market pick ups can pay when you pick up your order.

 All Wednesday pickups please have your boxes at the pick up site.  Our driver will be around to pick up  the empty boxes on Wednesday.

  Have a great Thanksgiving!  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
 Let me know if you have any questions about anything.  Louise
Posted 10/25/2010 11:02am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
    This is your last pick up for the DOT market and Gangplank Marina.   DOT pickups - Pick off the table week.  Please do not come before 8:30-9:00.  This will give us time to get the table set up.  Bring bags for your produce.  Half shares can pick $22.00 and full shares can pick $35.00.
     The DOT market will continue through November 16.  So stop back during the last weeks to stock up for winter and the holidays.

Gangplank:  Your shares this week will include:  baby lima beans, apples (Fuji, pink lady, and sun crisp), Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, Swiss chard, turnips, and finger potatoes.

For Everyone:  We are offering some specials on certain things that we have in abundance.  You may order any of these items for pick up at any market or for drop on Wednesday or at Gangplank.

Red Beets - $3.00/quart
Fall eating apples (a mix of Fuji, Braeburn, Pink Lady, Stayman, and Yellow Delicious)   $3.00/quart
                                                                                                                    $14.00/peck
                                                                                                                    $22.00/half bushel
Winter Squash - Acorn Squash $.75
                       Butternut Squash $.75
Neck pumpkins -(These make the best pumpkin pies)  small $3.00
                                                                        large $5.00
Cushaw Pumpkin - $3.00
Turnips - $3.00/quart

All these items will keep until Tanksgiving.  Apples will stay firm if stored in a cool place or in the crisper of your refrigerator.

For Wednesday and Gangplank we will add these items to the extras orders and we will send out bills after Wednesday delivery. All other market pick ups can pay when you pick up your order.

 All Wednesday pickups please have your boxes at the pick up site.  Our driver will be around to pick up  the empty boxes on Wednesday.

  Have a great Thanksgiving!  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
 Let me know if you have any questions about anything.  Louise
Posted 10/18/2010 11:17am by Gregg Keckler.
This is the last week of the Fall session and the last week of the CSA for 2010.  This year has had some good and bad returns.  Most of our ups and downs were totally related to weather patterns.  We hope you have enjoyed the fresh fruits and vegetables this year.  We are already thinking about next year.  We are planing to plant several hundred more fruit trees particularly cherries, plums, pears, and apricots on our newly purchased farm.  We also plan to raise more beef and better chicken next year.  On our new property we will have more pasture land and more hay fields next year.  We also plan top grow more and different melons, lopes, pumpkins, and winter squash.  It is great to have plans!


I wish you would remember me (Louise) throughout the winter months.  I have been ill for about a year with an auto-immune disease called scleroderma.  I am taking antibiotics and other supplements and vitamins.  The healing process for this disease is very slow.  I am aiming to see positive changes for next spring.  Considering that I have been out of the farming and marketing loop this entire summer, Gregg, Oliver, Sarah, and Virginia did a great job with help from Lydia, Martha, and Mark occasionally.  Katie and Ryan helped by supplementing our kale, chard, and peaches with theirs when we were running low!


We are doing things differently this week.  Bring back your empty coolers or boxes. BRING YOUR OWN BAGS!  Cloth bags are best.  It is your turn to pick off the table and make your own share.  If you have a half share, you can pick $22.00.  If you have a full share you can pick $35.00 of produce, fruit, bakery, honey, jam, etc.  If you wish you can use your share money for extras - bologna, cheese, eggs, butter,   If you do plan to get extras, please email us with your order.  



Folks have been inquiring about signing up for next year.  We need a few weeks to regroup, clean up, and redo our subscription form and reveal new dates.  By the 1st of December we should have our new information up on the website.  We will accept checks after January 1, 2011.  We will be in touch with everyone as the year progresses. 
      Keep in mind that the DOT market on Tuesday will continue through November 16th, Columbia market on Thursday will continues through November 18th, and Westminster and Bethesda Cedar Lane markets will continue through November 20th.  So make sure to drop in to visit and stock up on produce for Thanksgiving!!  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce