Currently viewing the category: "Journal"

This morning there are Stanford researchers wandering around the farm with bug nets. They have been out several times this summer collecting data for a pollinator and pest study, to find out more about species interactions in agricultural landscapes. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

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For the past fifteen years or so, we (and CSA members) have been donating vegetables and fruit each week to a local food pantry called Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes. For years, Loaves and Fishes volunteer Bob Montague was the face of the food pantry program for us.

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At our Lewis Road property we have a very small pond that retains water throughout the entire year.

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As farmers we have to notice the little things—especially little things with voracious appetites like aphids, rust flies, and mites.

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We’ve had a lot of people ask us if we plan to have a blueberry U-pick this year and, sadly, the answer is no. Similar to many deciduous fruit trees, blueberries can enter into an alternate bearing cycle where they fruit heavily one year and very lightly the next.

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One of the consequences of a prolonged, wet winter is that our cover crops can get out of hand. Because the soils are too wet to drive the tractor on, we simply have to wait while the cover crops get taller and taller before things are dry enough for us to mow them down.

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Back when we first moved onto our home ranch here on Harkins Slough, we quickly realized that our 40 horse power Ford tractor, the one that had seemed so big when we first bought it, was no match for the amount of acreage and the heavy clay soils we would now be farming on.

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I’ve always been very fond of swallows. They are hard-working, industrious birds who are a joy to watch fly. When we first moved onto our farm here on Harkins Slough, almost all of the outbuildings, long in disuse, had innumerable mud nests about their eaves. 

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Those of you who have been faithful newsletter readers for a while know that we have been involved with the effort to transition the organic strawberry industry into using organically grown starter plants for some time now.

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Things are hopping on the farm now. We’re doing a lot of planting every week, and getting into the swing of harvesting more each week.

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lettuce transplantsWe are saying goodbye to Molly this week, which is a sad thing for us because she has done just an amazing job as our CSA administrator.

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fennel etcThe USDA has proposed imposing an Organic Check-off Program in which all organic producers would pay a percentage of their income to a federal program that would fund research and marketing for the industry as a whole. Think “Got Milk” or “The Incredible Edible Egg.”

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strawberry plants April 2017This “winter” just doesn’t want to go away—another storm is forecast for tomorrow. We are up to nearly 40 inches of rain this season, which is nearly double what we get in a normal year. This is how I imagine it is to farm on the East Coast, where they get rain throughout the spring and summer.  

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rainy harvest 4This first day of spring is being ushered in with yet more rain, making for a wet harvest day. Steve was on the tractor dawn to dusk through the weekend getting ground worked up and compost spread in advance of the storm. He wasn’t the only one. Some nearby farms have had tractors working through the night.

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Allis Chalmers G 2The National Weather Service reminds us that winter is not over—they are calling for a pattern change and chance of showers after the upcoming weekend.  But it has sure felt like Spring the last few days. We are in full production mode.

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cover crop 2017I hope you have all weathered the storms in your homes or are at least getting the relief you need at this point with a little sunny weather. It was a frosty morning here, maybe the coldest night of the year so far. We are seeing dry-ish weather in the near-term forecast and are jumping on the chance to knock down some of the cover crops at our Lewis Road property to prepare more ground to plant into.

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erosion5During a “normal” rainy season, if there is such a thing, the water in our neighboring Harkins Slough can, in places, turn the color of a cup of coffee with half & half mixed in.

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greenhouse 2017It is looking like we will soon be back into the wet and windy weather that has characterized this winter so far, but we are grateful for the brief sunny break that we are experiencing now. Combined with the longer days, it feels like we have turned a small corner of sorts in the stretch toward spring.

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alysyum in greenhouseJust as people resolve to make major changes in their lives at this time of year, these winter months give us the perspective to step back and think about the changes we want to make as a farm.

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vacuum-seederThe first week of the New Year is generally the time that we throw ourselves into preparations for the coming season with increased vigor—making seed orders, starting transplants in the greenhouse, and checking things off our long project list. This coming week is shaping up to be a very wet one. Between the storm that is expected here this afternoon and what the National Weather Service calls a “potent atmospheric river” event predicted for this weekend, we could get between 3 and 6 inches of rain here—a significant portion of the 23 inches that we get in an average year.

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bald-eagles-flying-croppedWell, I have to eat crow on my eagle post from last time. It has been pointed out to me that the young eagle has the white chest coloring of a 2nd year juvenile. We wanted it to be a new chick from this year, and we hadn’t seen last year’s juveniles in a long time, and it was flying with both adults, so we just assumed it was a new fledgling. But you know what happens when one assumes…

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bald-eagle-fledgling-closeupIn my last eagle report I noted that one of the bald eagles that had been nesting here on Harkins Slough since 2014 died, and that the remaining adult appeared to have found a new mate this spring. Our eagle-eyed daughter saw an adult flying with an immature just before Thanksgiving. The youth obliged by perching on a tree in our restoration area long enough for us to get a good picture. The young eagle is as big as his or her parents, but won’t develop the white head and tail for a few years.

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soilFrom the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN):

Healthy soils not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration, but also provide tangible benefits to farmers’ bottom lines, their communities’ health, and the wildlife around them. So wouldn’t it be great if the farmer you get your share from could get paid to improve their soil’s health? Thanks to new groundbreaking legislation, they can.

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yuma-myotis-batOctober is Bat Appreciation Month, and with the celebration of Halloween this week I thought I’d take a moment to share with you some of the awesome things I learned about bats while earning my degree at UCSC.

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rainbowHere atop our coastal terrace where our home ranch is located, there is very little between us and the coast to slow storm systems down as they come off the Pacific Ocean. For most of the day last Sunday it felt as if our house was in an enormous car wash—being buffeted by near-40mph gusts and driving rain.

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pumpkins-2016You are invited to the farm this Saturday, October 15, for our annual Pumpkin Patch! Choose your jack-o-lantern, cinderella (rouge vif d’etampes), and pie pumpkins (Winter Luxury) for the upcoming season. The patch will be open from 10 am to 2 pm.

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harvestinglettuce_mobileTwo bills were signed into law that will have dramatic effects on all agricultural businesses in California. The one most people are familiar with is the minimum wage law that was signed back in April that will result in a $15 minimum statewide by 2022. People outside of agriculture, however, may not be aware that another bill, with possibly larger effects, was also signed into law–AB 1066.

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turkeysupclose2When the gang of wild turkeys arrived on the farm last year they didn’t cause much trouble. They hung around the pumpkin patch and scratched around in the grassy edges. However, they have now become a major farm pest for us.

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cinderella-pumpkinsIt’s starting to feel like fall around here—warm and sunny. At times the sun is filtered through smoke from the Sobrantes fire, casting things in an orange glow. As with past Big Sur fires, because of the rough terrain, it will probably burn until the rains start later in fall, and our air quality will suffer as a result.

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elkhorn sloughAs I start planning out the cover cropping scheme for our farms this fall, I am thinking back to the workshop I attended last summer at Moss Landing Marine Labs concerning water quality issues in Elkhorn Slough.

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SIGN UP FOR CSA PROGRAM

When you join our CSA, you sign up with the farm to receive a share of the harvest during our 36 week season from mid-March to mid-November. In return, you get a weekly box of organic vegetables and fruit (and optional flowers) delivered straight from our farm to a pick-up site in your neighborhood.

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View our CSA Members Page

This is where you can go to find out what's coming in your box each week, find recipes, identify your vegetables with pictures, and view or print the current and past newsletters. Check here for the information you need to use your box to the fullest.

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