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Posted 3/21/2014 2:18pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!  It's Spring!
The arrival of this important date has probably never been more anticipated than it was this year.  Gloomy wet and cold days seemed to be the unending norm, and as a farmer they required much patience....something that we need to learn from our dog Gesti (here at the window with her beloved blue stick waiting for us to come in and play)!

Ggesti at the window

Thank goodness the arrival of Spring has been more than just the turning of the calendar -- the past couple of days have been gorgeous!  Even our tiny little peach tree shares our enthusiasm over the sunshine and warmer temps!

Peach tree with blooms

We have taken advantage of the nicer weather to continue our building projects.  The raised bed construction has continued -- we finished up the giant rhubarb bed by the greenhouse and added our "Demo Gardens" near the parking and PYO check-in/out area.  The Demo Garden has been a longtime plan for us -- we wanted to be able to have different plants growing there for our visitors to see during PYO and other on-farm events.  It may be a bit of a Noah's Ark of the plant world but it will be able to give you a good idea of where some of your food comes from without having to hike over all of the farm!  We know that 2 of the beds will have the plants from our Kids Garden Kits as well as the Three Sisters Garden (squash, beans and corn).  Hopefully our younger visitors will like those!  Here are a few pictures:

Rhubarb raised bed  Elliot & Chris working on Rhubarb Bed  Prepping the demo garden area  Demo Gardens

 Later this afternoon we will be planting the first of our onions (they didn't arrive last week)!  Alisa Craig, Walla Walla, Pumba and Desert Sunrise will be the first varieties (all large sweet onions) and we'll be following them up with the first of the bunching onions.  And just a pitch for the Allium Adventure Club -- we still have spaces for the journey and you'll be the first to get goodies in May!  Don't forget to check out the website for more information (http://www.plumgrannyfarm.com/allium-adventure-club) and sign up TODAY!  We are sure that you won't want to miss this grand adventure!  Memberships are available for both 15 and 30 weeks.

We averted a disaster with our bees.  During the terrible windstorm last week, one of our hives was knocked over -- we're not sure if it was the wind or, more likely a confused deer.  Ray found a bunch of comb on the ground with a big ball of bees.  He was able to put it back into a new hive body and resettle them.  Here's what it looked like after all of the crossbars were picked up:

Bee hive after the crash

The good news is that Ray visited the hive this morning to see how it was doing and if he could find the queen.  The hive was doing great!  At least 10,000 bees and a very healthy queen!  Here's a picture -- can you see the queen?  She's in the lower left corner of the photo -- getting ready to lay an egg!  Needless to say we were very happy!

Bees from the WellBee hive

Get out there and be (bee?) happy too!  Revel in the sunshine, gather daffodils and rejoice in the beauty of Spring!

Talk to you next week. 

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 3/14/2014 3:17pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

It's Friday, Farm Friends!
Happy almost St. Patrick's Day -- and almost Spring!  What a happy thought both of these are!  When I think of St. Patrick's Day, I always think of the lucky 4-leaf clover.  Here's a farm take on something that looks pretty lucky to us:  a tray full of tiny four-lobed bok choy plants!

Tiny plants in tray

Even though the low was 25 degrees last night, there is definitely a feel of Spring in the air.  Our yard is full of dozens of robins, cardinals and red-wing blackbirds, and the goldfinches are starting to put on their summer color.  The peepers in the pond are singing their hearts out every night (even more when it's warmer) and the bees are starting to be more evident when we are outside.  And the farmers are out a bit more too!  Here's Jen covering the first planting of sugar-snap peas -- we got 400 feet each of peas and radishes in the ground the other day!  Tomorrow we will be planting the first of the onions.

Jen covering peas Woodworking projects have also been on the schedule.  We are making new cross-ties for the raspberry trellis and are building several raised beds.  The first one will be for rhubarb!  This should make everyone happy that has been asking us to make strawberry-rhubarb jam!

Ray & Emma cutting trellis cross-barsSpeaking of jam, we just took a load to the new Good Food Growers Market in Kernersville yesterday!  Check them out during their Grand Opening tomorrow (3/15).  It's a great store that will feature local produce, jams, baked goods, plants and garden supplies.  Stop by and say "Hi!" to Angie & Kari!

The calendar is starting to fill up!  We'll be at Cobblestone Farmer's Market Pop-ups on April 12 and 26 in the parking lot of Mary's Gourmet Diner.  And we have our Plum Granny Farm Spring Open Greenhouse on April 26 and 27.  We are also planning our farmers market participation -- we'll be at the Old Salem Cobblestone Farmers Market (starts 5/3) as well as the King Farmers Market (starts 4/30).  More information to come but get these dates on your calendars now!

Talk to you next week.  Happy Pi Day and Full Moon Sunday!! And don't forget to smell the flowers!Ajo and the daffodils
Cheryl & Ray (and Ajo too!)

Posted 3/7/2014 6:11pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!
 
Another day, another...snow??  Sheesh!  I guess March really did roar in like a lion with 2 winter storms this week.  I love winter as much as the next person (probably more than most, actually!) but this is starting to really get old!  I am taking comfort in the fact that tomorrow and most of next week that the temperatures are supposed to be in the 60s Time to get those peas, radishes and onions in the ground!!

We did take advantage of the 2 semi-decent days this week to get the rest of the blackberries pruned.  Here's Chris and Elliot showing off their handiwork!

Chris & Elliot display their handiworkWhile we were in the blackberries, we gathered LOTS of volunteer Triple Crown blackberry and black raspberry volunteers.  These will be potted up and available for sale this spring!

Black raspberry transplants in waitingSpeaking of spring sales, mark your calendars for April 26 and 27!  We'll have our first Plum Granny Farm Spring Open Greenhouse event those days!  You'll be able to get certified organic transplants of tomatoes, peppers, herbs as well as a variety of fresh spring greens (Kale, lettuce and more!)  We'll be sending out more information but we wanted you to get those dates on your calendar!

And even though spring feels light years away right now, our friends, the bees, let us know that it is just around the corner.  Check out this great picture that Ray caught -- notice the yellow balls on the bees' legs?  That's pollen!  Bees gather pollen from flowers for their protein.  Flowers this time of year? They must be gathering pollen from some early maple trees!  There is hope for Spring and some strong hives!

Bees entering hive with pollen

Talk to you next week.  Think warm and dry weather!!

Cheryl & Ray

 

Posted 2/28/2014 2:46pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!
 
Know what the most common word in the farmer's vocabulary is -- well, at least the polite words?  Weeds!  Weeds are something that we have to deal with year-round on the farm.  Even in the winter, we must spend time getting them out of the fields.  This week, we spent many hours on hands and knees getting weeds out of the raspberries, blackberries and asparagus.  Weeds are more than just annoying plants that you don't want in a particular planting.  Weeds can dramatically impact the production of a crop.  Ray found a NC State study on the impact of weeded versus non-weeded raspberries and it showed that weedy raspberries can actually cut production to zero in a season!  And that study didn't include common weeds that we have like grasses and morning glories!  Sigh...no shortcuts in this business -- next up is the garlic! 

Emma and Chris in asparagus bedEmma and Chris walking out the asparagus beds that they just weeded.

Speaking of garlic, the garlic is doing very well.  The cold temperatures have done some damage, but the spring and the bulb garlic is popping up nicely!  A field walk last weekend gave us some reassurance!  There is a green fuzz on Ruth's field -- and we were so happy to find out that it wasn't weeds!

Spring garlic in late winterThe seed ordering and seeding continue.  Another flight of onions went in and we are starting to seed peppers, eggplant and tomatoes.  It is always so gratifying and amazing to see the first little push of green coming up in a tray.  Here is an Italian Heirloom artichoke.

Artichoke seedling in tray

We got some great news this week for the Allium Adventure Club!  There will be a couple of products that we will now be able to provide the Club members -- such as scape pesto and shallot vinegar! These are exclusive products for Club members that we won't be bringing to market.  If you haven't been able to check out the website, take a moment now!  We are offering a huge array of allium products that will allow you to take a virtual tour through the whole spectrum of onion, shallots, and garlic -- I'll bet we'll surprise you with the variety and breadth of selection -- and sheer fun and value of the experience!  Sign up now before your chance for the adventure slips away!

Allie the Allium Adventure Club Mascot

Talk to you next week.  Updates to come on spring markets.

Let's see if March roars in like a lion!

Cheryl & Ray

 

Posted 2/21/2014 10:32am by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Happy Friday, Farm Friends!
 
What a difference a week makes!  The snow is gone and the rain and thunder are here!  Sounds like Spring, huh?  Even the crocus  are beginning to wake up and smile.

Early Crocus bloom

We are moving into full-tilt seeding mode around the farm.  The seed orders are starting to come in (can't believe we ordered 25 pounds of sugar snap pea seed - but that's what the plan calls for!!).  Packets upon packets await our busy hands and seed trays!

Some of the seeds for this year's planting

The ginger, turmeric, and galangal (Thai ginger) have also arrived and we will start the 4 week presprout with them today.  We put the pieces of ginger and turmeric in a shallow tray filled with coconut coir and put them into our heated milkhouse which is a terrific germination chamber.  The seed looks much better this year than it did last year -- so keep your fingers crossed for a great season.

Ginger and turmeric seed

Another crop we are planning is potatoes.  As many of you know, we had a complete crop failure last year.  We are optimistic for this year and decided to make the harvest a bit less drudgery.  We rarely buy new equipment but learned from many other farmers that there is a great Italian potato harvester could make things better and more cost-effective.  We research things pretty thoroughly and based on that, we bit the bullet and got this little number.  Here's Ray with the Checchi-Magli SP-50 Potato Lifter!  We are excited!!  Think POTATOES!

Ray and the SP-50 Potato Harvester

 Thanks for the great response to our Allium Adventure Club!  We've gotten some GREAT questions and comments from folks.  Registrations for the Adventure are now being taken -- please spread the word!  Check out the information on our website!

Allie the Allium Adventure Club Mascot

Talk to you next week.  Hope you have a wonderful Card Reading Day (who knew?  but you have this card from us to read, right?)!

Cheryl & Ray

 

Posted 2/14/2014 3:02pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Just a reminder that you're receiving this email because you have expressed an interest in Plum Granny Farm -- you either signed up at a market or on our website.  We are glad to have this brief opportunity to share some news of the farm with you!  If you no longer wish to receive these weekly newsletters, please see the "unsubscribe" information at the bottom of this email.

Happy Snowy Valentine's Day, Farm Friends!
 
It's been an interesting couple of days around the farm!  The snow was been more intense and longer lasting than we really expected.  We had snow for more than 24 hours and had over 11 inches -- haven't seen one like that in a long time!

Plum Granny Farm sign in snow

With the snow and sleet, one of our major concerns was keeping the load off of the greenhouses.  The heated greenhouse had us most concerned because rounded roofs tend to have more snow build up which can cause collapse.  We started the heater to raise the internal temperature to encourage melting.  Happy to report that it worked!  Unfortunately several farmer friends were not as lucky as we were....a crushed greenhouse is a very sad sight.

Greenhouse with lots of snow

Even with the snow, we have things growing in the greenhouse.  Here are some onion seedlings that we are getting ready for the Allium Adventure Club! 

Watering Onion seedlings

There's also a lot of kale, lettuce and endive in the field.  We did a count on Monday and it looked pretty good for a mid-March harvest.  Kinda hard to believe that now, though!

Field of dreams - and kale!

If you need a burst of spring, we have our wonderful potted paperwhite narcissus at Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery in Germanton and Let It Grow Produce in Winston-Salem.  The heavenly fragrance will be a great boost on these cold and sometimes dreary days.

Thanks for the great response to our Allium Adventure Club!  Check out the information on our website!

Allie the Allium Adventure Club Mascot

Talk to you next week.  Hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Bee Mine Valentine

Cheryl & Ray

 

Posted 2/4/2014 12:21pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Happy Tuesday, Farm Friends! Welcome to February!
 
Last week was a busy one!  We got all of the raspberries and blackberries pruned and cleared the canes. That is a record for us!  Now only the black raspberries, grapes and apples are left to prune.  Hopefully those will be done soon (if it ever stops raining!)

The greenhouse is almost ready to fire up.  Thank goodness we shut everything down before it got really cold -- the cost of filling the propane tank is over $1,100 and when the weather's really cold it can take less than a month to run through it (Yike$).  To conserve heat (and propane), we have made a cozy little room within the greenhouse for starting seedlings.  It's about 1/4 of the greenhouse and we even lowered the ceiling to trap as much warm air as possible.  Here's what it looks like as Elliot and Cheryl try to figure out how to hang the side curtains:

Building Greenhouse germination room
Speaking of warming...thinking about warming your sweetie's heart for Valentine's Day?  On Saturday, February 8, come see us at Buffalo Creek Farm and Creamery in Germanton from 10-2 for a very special Valentine's event.  We'll have our heart's delight and lovingly made raspberry, blackberry and strawberry jams for sale.  In addition to the jam, we'll have some lovely and fragrant potted paperwhite narcissus.  And Buffalo Creek's goat cheese is out of this world and pairs great with jam!  Quite nice gifts for your sweetie!  Stop by and take care of your Valentine’s Day shopping - locally!

And finally, last week we left you with a teaser of some good news to share -- well here it is!  We just launched a new program called the Allium Adventure Club! The club is for those of you who absolutely LOVE garlic, onions, shallots and all things allium!  It's our version of your neighborhood book club -- you'll get a weekly (or biweekly) bag of organic delights and we'll guide you through a tasty adventure in the world of allium!  No other farm in the country has anything like this -- so join us on a very exclusive (and yummy!) trip through the land of our favorite genus -- Allium!!  More information and applications are available on the website!

Allie the Allium Adventure Club Mascot

Talk to you next week.  Here's to enjoying six more weeks of winter!

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 1/27/2014 1:19pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Just a reminder that you're receiving this email because you have expressed an interest in Plum Granny Farm -- you either signed up at a market or on our website.  We are glad to have this brief opportunity to share some news of the farm with you!  If you no longer wish to receive these weekly newsletters, please see the "unsubscribe" information at the bottom of this email.

Happy Monday, Farm Friends! 
 
It's time for our break from e-newsletters to end!  Even though we have been off-line for a while, we have been quite busy getting ready for this new season.  Winter gives us the opportunity to reflect on last year's crops and to plan for the new year.  Maybe because of our backgrounds, we are BIG believers in whiteboards, flip charts, and Excel spreadsheets.  It was a very happy day last fall when Cheryl found a 5' whiteboard at ReStore at a great price!  Our living room looks like a scene out of a project planning meeting for the space shuttle - that is if they had a dog curled up on her bed!

Planning the season

The results of all of this planning will be more crops, more on-farm events and better outcomes in the field.  We know that weather and pests and weeds will trip us up -- but with a strong plan, we will be more ready to respond.  But the great thing about farming is that at the beginning of every year it is sort of like being a baseball fan (especially the Cubs!) -- on opening day, we are gonna win the pennant!

The cold weather has been a challenge but welcome.  We have seen the lowest temperatures that we can remember (or many other folks around here too) -- it was 2°F on January 6th! The good thing about it is that many of the pests that have been able to overwinter will not be able to survive - very good news!  Also our raspberries and garlic enjoy a good cold winter.  So see, there is a bright side to these frigid temps!

The polar vortex hasn't kept us out of the field though.  We have kale, endive, lettuce and chard under low tunnels.  This week we are mowing the raspberries and last week we put straw on the shallots and the spring garlic to insulate them a bit more.  Here's Elliot blowing out the straw and Chris wrestling with raspberry canes:

Blowing straw on Spring Garlic in Ruth's fieldChris with raspberry canes

We'll be back in touch next week.  We have some really exciting news to share!

Looking forward to another great partnership in 2014!

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 12/19/2013 11:11am by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

OOPS!  Forgot to put the time of our event at Let It Grow Produce on 12/21 -- we'll be there from 10-1!

Happy Thursday, Farm Friends! 
 
Hard to believe but this is our last farm newsletter of the 2013!  We have enjoyed keeping you in touch with the farm -- the good news and the sad -- during the year.  We really appreciate you letting us pay a virtual visit.  It really does feel like a conversation because so many of you tell us so!  We also are very grateful for your support at markets, restaurants and here on the farm.

Trimming the Plum Granny Farm sign

As the calendar moves closer to the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve, the pace for Holiday shopping quickens!  Here we have been busy boxing and shipping jams to send far and wide for Holiday giving!  Our office looks somewhat like a gift wrapping/shipping store gone haywire (think Martha Stewart without a maid!)  We really do enjoy putting gifts together for you -- we are honored when you want to share a bit of Plum Granny Farm with your friends and family.

Market Updates:
This Saturday will be our last off-farm opportunity of the season.  We'll be at Let It Grow Produce (4825 Country Club Rd in Winston-Salem) on Saturday, December 21 for a jam tasting and sales.  Three Sisters Artisan Bakery will also be there with their yummy breads and other baked goods.  What can be better together than jam and bread?!  Stop on by and take care of your last minute Holiday needs!

Here's what we'll have on Saturday: 
  
      -- Powdered and Granulated Organic Garlic (new varietials available!)

      -- Garlic braids  (only 2 remaining!)

  
      -- Jam Gift Boxes  --three of our gift-sized jams all packaged up and ready for giving! 

       -- Lots of jam (Old Fashioned Raspberry, Old Fashioned Blackberry, Raspberry-Baby Ginger. Raspberry-Chipotle, Raspberry-Cranberry, & Baby Ginger-Strawberry-Mint)
      
      -- 
Raspberry-Chipotle Molè Sauce! 

Hope to see you on Saturday!  You can always contact us if you'd like to have an item saved.  We also welcome folks to come by the farm - but please call us to set up a time so we'll know to expect you (336-994-2517).
 

Make the most of this beautiful Holiday Season!  We'll see you in 2014!

Cheryl & Ray

Posted 12/12/2013 1:51pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

 

Just a reminder that you're receiving this email because you have expressed an interest in Plum Granny Farm -- you either signed up at a market or on our website.  We are glad to have this brief opportunity to share some news of the farm with you!  If you no longer wish to receive these weekly newsletters, please see the "unsubscribe" information at the bottom of this email.

Happy Thursday, Farm Friends! 
 
We got a very exciting package last week -- one that had been anxiously awaited for over a year!
PGF new jam labels
Our new jam labels!!!  We are so excited to have these now - makes labeling the jam so much easier (not to mention giving us waterproof labels!). We worked with a terrific designer, Betty Faulk Hastings, who was VERY patient and super creative. Yay!!!  Come take a peek at market!

As we move into winter, we are starting our annual planning process.  We'll keep you informed about some of the changes that we have planned for the next season as well as some new opportunities.  Lots of great things in store for 2014!  We think you'll like them!

Market Updates:
This Saturday will be the last Cobblestone Farmers Market Pop-Up of the year.  It will be behind the Millennium Center (5th and Trade) from 10-noon. Don't let the predicted rain discourage you from coming out to shop for Holiday goods and produce from some fine local farms and producers.  We'll be on the covered back deck so we'll be nice & dry!

And just to put a bug in your ear for next weekend, we'll be at Let It Grow Produce on Saturday, December 21 for a jam tasting and sales.  More info next week!

Here's what we'll have at market on Saturday: 
  
      -- Powdered and Granulated Organic Garlic 

      -- Garlic braids   

  
      -- Mistletoe

Our new jam gift boxes were a big hit last week -- three of our gift-sized jams all packaged up and ready for giving!  They are specially priced at just $14.  And we'll even ship them to friends and loved ones for you!  How's that for service?   (Shipping charges will apply)

Gift boxes of jam

In addition we'll have lots of our 7 fruit-forward varieties of jam as well as our yummy 
Raspberry-Chipotle Molè Sauce! 

Hope to see you at market!  You can always contact us if you'd like to have an item saved.
 
Enjoy the sun and stay warm!

Cheryl & Ray

Wait List Opportunities Available for PlumFresh Memberships

UPDATE!  We are currently taking reservations for our waiting list as all of our subscriptions are Sold Out.

Would you like to get a box of delicious, Organic food every week?  Do you like to cook?  Do you want to ensure that your family is getting the freshest and safest food available?  Check out our PlumFresh Harvest Subscription program!  It offers you incredible flexibility without big upfront charges.  For more information, click here.

Our Online Store is Ready to Serve You!

Our online store is fully stocked and waiting for your orders! Click here to go right to the shelves.  You'll find our popular fruit-forward Jams (regular and gift-size jars), Garlic Powder and Granules as well as our new Ginger Powder and Lavender Sachets!  

Do you want the latest news from the farm? How about the opportunity to reserve items for pick-up at market? Join our mailing list for our "Plum Granny Farm Weekly Update"!




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Certfied Organic by QCS since 2010

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Watch Us!

Ray talks ginger with Lisa

Check out the terrific feature that Flavor, NC did on Plum Granny Farm!  You can view the episode at http://video.unctv.org/video/2365069548/  They did a great job showing our garlic, ginger & berry production - plus a few other surprises! We are paired with Chef Jay from Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen who makes some wonderful garlic recipes!  Enjoy!

Flavor NC logo

 

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