Tomato Madness – peak of the season

Heirloom tomatoes at season's peak

Heirloom tomatoes at season’s peak

With names like Podland Pink, Gold Medal, Black Cherry, Opalka, Green Grape, Zelta Gaelis, Matt’s Wild Cherry, Lime Green Salad, Cherokee Purple, Homestead 24, Chocolate Stripes….my mouth waters when I gaze upon these beauties. It’s peak of season for these old-fashioned heirloom tomatoes. We have over 60 varieties planted out on the farm – many of our tried and true favorites, and always a few new ones to explore.

Come to our booth at the Pinecrest Gardens Farmers market tomorrow (9-3). Buy yourself an assortment. Enjoy the amazing variety of colors, sizes, shapes and flavors. Take note of which ones you’d like to grow for yourself next fall. We’ll be selling the starts in October at our second annual GrowFest! event at the Redland Fruit & Spice Park.

In the meantime, munch upon these yummy jewels now, because pretty soon they’ll be done for the season.

See you at the market!

8th Annual Farm Day

Open House at Bee Heaven Farm

Come to the country * Fun for the whole family!

Sunday, December 23rd,  11:30am – 3:00pm

* Hay Rides and other Activities *

For all the kids at heart

* Farm Market *

locally-grown seasonal organic produce, dried tropical fruit, raw farm honey, heirloom tomato and veggie starts, and other goodies for sale

* Live Music *

 with local singers Jennings & Keller

www.jenningsandkeller.com

*Food*

Chef Keith Kalmanowicz’s

Love & Vegetables Community Pop-Up Café

featuring fresh from the farm food, lovingly prepared & served buffet-style for an exciting eating experience

A suggested donation of $10 (or whatever you can afford-more is always welcome-anything is appreciated!) helps to cover food costs and provides support for our farm internship program

Your donation includes a raffle ticket for door prizes

Extra raffle tickets available @ 5/$20

Directions: from southbound on US1, turn west (right) on Bauer Drive (SW 264th St), & go approx 5 miles. The farm is 1/3mile west of Redland Road (SW 187th Ave). Look for the farm sign & flags. Please angle park on the swale.

…around the farm the past few weeks

Preparing the rows for planting – after we form the beds with the tractor, we add fertilizer and level off the tops. If our soil was a couple of inches deeper, the bedder attachment would have done this for us – it almost does it in some of the deeper soil areas (6″-8″ mounded). Pretty good for our “shallow, Krome gravelly soils”, as the USGS labels them.

IMG_5486Here I’m documenting what’s being planted in the rows. This is good farming practice, and is required recordkeeping for organic certification. Why? These kinds of records allow the farmer to keep track of what’s planted where, so s/he can maintain a rotation plan for the crops, helping to keep crop-specific pests and diseases minimized, and prevent excessive soil nutrient depletion.
IMG_5499

The baby Lacinato Kale plants are coming right along, with their drip irrigation delivering water right to the root zone of the plant, where it is needed.

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These D’Avignon French Breakfast radishes are popping out of the ground, ready to be harvested. Yummy!

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Just a few weeks later, here’s those kale plants last week, nearly ready for first harvest as bunches. Look for some at the market on Sunday, and soon in the CSA shares.

IMG_5955farm pictures courtesy of Marian Wertlka-RedlandRambles.com

 

Proud to announce: Rachel’s Eggs ranked 4th by Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute recently updated their Organic Egg Scorecard. Our certified organic Rachel’s Eggs have been ranked 4th among over 120 farms across the nation, with 2160 of a possible 2200 points and a “5-egg” rating (2001-2200): “Exemplary”—Beyond Organic!

Here’s the link to their latest report; http://www.cornucopia.org/organic-egg-scorecard/

click here to see OUR scorecard, with 100 points in 19 of 22 categories!

Our assortment of heritage breed hens rotate around our farm’s avocado grove in their chicken tractors, a bottomless pen designed to keep them safe from predators. They’re moved at least twice a week to fresh pasture, where they scratch around for goodies. They’re supplemented with certified organic, soy-free, non-GMO feed. During the wintertime, our eggs are snapped up as add-on egg shares by our CSA members, with a waiting list. Between mid-April and October, when the CSA isn’t operating, anyone can purchase our eggs though our ‘summer offers’ program.

Our other local organic egg producer, PNS Farms, who we mentored a few years back, has a 5 rating as well, with 2120 points out of 2200. Our CSA members also enjoy their eggs.

it’s time to plant, isn’t it?

We had been waiting, it seemed like forever,  for this extended rainy season to slow down enough to plant our CSA and market crops. We started our usual batch of heirloom tomato seedlings to sell (and to plant), and planned on having an expanded selection of other crops as well ready for our annual seedling sale. But the weather was not cooperating. The tomatoes did great, as did many of the hot peppers and some of the eggplant, revealing their tropical origin. Other crops like chard, kale, basil, cilantro refused to germinate well, between the extreme heat and humidity.

Now that the rains have stopped and the temperatures have cooled down, it’s like we’ve entered another world. Veggie plants are growing nicely, animals are frisky – and growing thicker coasts – have you noticed? Hmmmm…..

Missed GrowFest! 2012? Here’s a second chance to get your seedlings…

seedlings

What: Heirloom tomato (and other) seedlings for sale, and a few other goodies plus Rachel’s eggs, smoked eggs, Fruits of Summer dried fruit mix, honey, the new book Field to Feast, feed for your plants…

When:  THIS Saturday, November 3rd

Hours: 10am-2pm

Where: at the farm  (note the farm is not normally open to the public, so if you miss out, please don’t come another day-your next chance will be Dec 2nd when we return to Pinecrest Gardens market)

Directions to the farm: go West on Bauer Drive (SW 264th St) to Redland Road (187th Ave). CONTINUE on Bauer Drive across the intersection, for 1/3 mile.  Look for the flags and signs. Watch for a 7′ coral rock pyramid on your left (driver’s) side. You’re here! You’ll see our farm sign hanging on the fence. Park along the swale, and enter by the West gate, on the gravel driveway. Proceed all the way to the big metal building at the rear. (don’t bother asking for the address-you won’t get here with it-trust me-just follow the directions above. For you GPS addicts, look for zip code 33031-1787, and FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ABOVE!

See you there!

…aaaand, we’re BACK!

After a dormancy approaching 2 years (really? really!! time flies!), I realized it’s time to crank up this blog again – just in time for the new season.  We didn’t REALLY fall off the face of the earth. We’ve continued to send out emails, and have been active on Facebook, with some Tweeting thrown in from time to time, but I know that a number of our fans don’t “do” Facebook, not everyone is on our email list, and many don’t appreciate being bombarded with constant emails. So, I’m brushing off the rust, oiling the gears…ready to blog it!

Lots of things have happened in the intervening months. It’s the cycle of  life on a farm – preparing, planting crops, weeding, harvesting, selling, delivering, removing, recharging, then starting all over again. And in between each one, there’s weeding, dealing with unexpected stuff – sometimes good, sometimes not – more weeding, and in the summer, mowing and mowing and mowing – oh, and weeding! Then somewhere in the mix, throw in a crop of baby chicks to replenish the flock, after decimation by coyote and feral dogs… yep, life on the farm is NEVER boring.

Bee Heaven Farm collage

Last year on the farm

We saw new markets start, and others die out. The Homestead Market at Losner Park and the Overtown Market on 10th Street did not return in 2011-2012, and were sorely missed. But the slightly less hectic pace let us concentrate on the Pinecrest Gardens Green Market, where we had a great season. We’ll be back in Pinecrest in December.

Last year we started using Farmigo’s  CSA software system. We’ve fully automated our CSA enrollment process and are now able to offer more flexibility with share options and payment plans. In the summertime, when the CSA isn’t running and we don’t sell at the farmers market, we’ve always had a prepaid system (open to anyone) to order seasonal summer items – mainly tropical fruit. We implemented Farmigo’s webstore functions for this, and expanded our summer pickup locations to include the Upper Eastside Market, where our more northerly customers could pick up their orders without having to schlep down to Joanna’s Marketplace in the Dadeland area or to the farm in Redland. That’s worked out really well!

Our CSA options expanded last year, with the discovery of locally-grown Sem-Chi certified organic rice right in the Clewiston area barely 100 miles from the farm, and the debut of local salt farmers Midge & Tom with their Florida Keys Sea Salt. As more local organic (or pesticide-free) producers come online, we continue to develop additional stability and more variety in the shares.  We’re always looking for new crops, too. We have an amazing opportunity in South Florida to explore tropical food crops not available in the rest of mainland USA, and we’re all about that! Of course, Mother Nature always has the last word.

…see you around!


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