Category Archives: CSA

2012 Survey Results

We sincerely appreciate everyone who responded to our survey. We received valuable feedback that we are already using to plan for next year. We are proud to have successfully completed our third season as a CSA serving the Oxford community. We are growing as our local food system grows. While we have experienced many successes, we also have many things to improve upon. Following is a summary of the data from the survey. Please take a moment to look through it. We are pleased that we seem to have about 2/3 approval rating although this is far below our desires and expectations. We want all of our customers to be glad they are purchasing many of their vegetables from us and are committed to addresses the many areas of concern. In response to written feedback on 7 and 9, we have responded in bold italics. Finally, we want to emphasize that we always welcome and appreciate your feedback. (I attempted to attach some graphs for questions 1, 2, and 8 but I just can’t seem to get it to work. Numerical data is now provided.)

1. In your experience as a foodshare holder of Yokna Bottoms Farm, how would you rate:

-Overall Satisfaction:

Highly Satisfied                                    16    (40%)

Satisfied                                                     11     (27.5%)

In the Middle                                           9    (22.5%)

Unsatisfied                                                4    (10%)

Highly Unsatisfied                               0

-Quality of Food:  

              Highly Satisfied                                   24   (60%)

Satisfied                                                     12    (30%)

In the Middle                                           4    (10%)

Unsatisfied                                                0

              Highly Unsatisfied                               0

-Quantity of Food:

Highly Satisfied                                    19    (47.5%)

Satisfied                                                     12     (30%)

In the Middle                                           8    (20%)

Unsatisfied                                                 1    (2.5%)

Highly Unsatisfied                               0             

-Variety of Food:

              Highly Satisfied                                      6    (15%)

Satisfied                                                     17     (42.5%)

In the Middle                                           6    (15%)

Unsatisfied                                                9    (25.5%)

Highly Unsatisfied                               2    (5%)

-Distribution Process:

Highly Satisfied                                    11    (27.5%)

Satisfied                                                     15    (37.5%)

In the Middle                                           7    (17.5%)

Unsatisfied                                                6     (15%)

Highly Unsatisfied                               1      (2.5%)


2. How would you rate communications from and with the farm?

Mean Ratings (1 = Highly Satisfied; 5 = Highly Unsatisfied

Weekly Emails                                   1.85

Blog/ Webpage                                   2.0

Facebook Page                                   1.89

Personal Emails                                2.0

Phone                                                       2.14

3. What is you preferred method to receive food?

              Market –Style Distribution            22    (59.5%)

              Pre-Packed Box Drop Point               9    (24.3%)

              Delivery                                                          6    (16.2%)

4. What days would you like to see us distribute food? (check all that apply)

             Monday                                             11  

             Tuesday                                            16  

             Wednesday                                     11  

             Thursday                                         12

             Friday                                                 17

             Saturday                                           20

5. What times would like to see us distribute food? (check all that apply)

             Early Morning                              11

             Noon                                                    10

            Early Afternoon                             7

            Late Afternoon                             23

            Evening                                              14

6. How likely are you to purchase a 2013 foodshare from Yokna Bottoms Farm?

            Highly Likely                                 19 (48.7%)

            Somewhat Likely                          3 (7.7%)

            Somewhat Unlikely                     9 (23.1%)

            Highly Unlikely                              8 (20.5%)

7. What additional food crops would you like to see next year? See our comments in Bold Italics

“Maybe Broccoli and Edamame. We loved the Beets (wish there had been more) and carrots and greens. Is there a way to have more variety in the summer crops?” We learned some lessons from our Broccoli and Edamame problems this year and hope to have much higher yields in 2013

“yellow onions” We plan to plant more this year

“Sweet potatoes, winter squash” The deer ate our sweet potatoes this year but our new ‘Food Crop Protection System’ worked well during the fall. We plan to plant much more winter squash this season.

“Broccoli rabe muscadine grapes figs” We planted 6 fig trees this year and hope to plant muscadines next year. Grapes are tough in our climate.

“fruit” We are beginning to plan our orchards but it takes several years to bring fruit into production. Fruit will not likely be a large portion of our produce for several years.

“rutabagas” We will try

“more beets! parsnips (a royal pain to grow, yes); more mustards; and while not a crop, if you do eggs again, more eggs, because we never received any.” We will try with parsnips and mustards. Eggs were a ‘bonus’ this year with our first 25 hens. Next year we plan to have at least 125 laying hens and should be able to provide regular egg distributions.

“Napa cabbage, broccoli, spinach, peanuts, brussels sprouts, speckled butterbeans” We will try Napa cabbage, peanuts, brussel sprouts, and butterbeans.

“Potatoes (can’t remember, you probably had them), brussel sprouts, summer squash”

“Mushrooms, Blueberries, Avocado” We plan to add blueberries in the near future. We have been looking into mushrooms. Avocados will not tolerate a freeze and thus difficult to grow in our climate.


“sweet potatoes, maybe some fall/winter squash, if possible.”

“I would like to maybe see some more fruits (maybe berries of some sort).”

“Asparagras would be great, though it takes a couple years to establish. Maybe orach.” We are planning to start some asparagus beds this year. We will try orach.

“Zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower”

“maybe some asian veg that is hard to get around here (e.g., Asparagus Beens, Thai eggplant)” We will put these on our list for next year.

“Cantalope, zucchini, sweet potatoes, edamame, winter squash, green beans”

“tomatoes, lacianto kale”

“more squash, sweet potatoes, corn, more spinach/kale, less peppers” We told those peppers to stop growing but they didn’t listen–seriously, our pepper crop was beyond our wildest expectation and they just kept on producing. Nonetheless, for 6 weeks this summer we were the only farm in the area producing a variety of peppers and we appreciated the wonderful variety and quality of the peppers we grew. A problem was that our late summer Edamame, Summer Squash, Sweet Potatoes, and Beans did not produce a crop and thus our variety suffered. Corn is the one crop we are 0-3. For some reason, we struggle to grow corn organically with our soil conditions.

8. How would you prioritize areas we need to improve next season?

 Mean Priority Rating (In order of top priority to lowest; 1 = Highest Priority Preference, 9 = Lowest Priority Preference):

#1  Food Variety                                                  2.78

#2 Distribution Process                               2.93

#3  Communications                                       3.78

#4  Quantity of Food                                        4.44

#5  Quality of Food                                            4.85

#6  Types of Shares Available                   5.37

#7  Farm Events                                                 6.74

#8  Community Service                               6.78

#9  Educational Outreach                          7.33

9. Please provide any recommendations, comments, or concerns. (See our comments in Bold Italics)

“The spring and fall were awesome, and the summer was very good, I just wish the summer had a little more variety.” Summer variety and extending the length of harvest for each vegetable we grow is a primary area of focus next year.

“I graduate in May. Can I buy a share for only the months at the end of the school year?” Yes!

“none. it was good. I’ve had CSAs before (in a much much bigger city than Oxford) that supplemented with produce from other suppliers, so we’d occasionally get banans or something in our share. Not a pure share, I know, but the variety made using the share a little easier. Only reason I’m not buying again is because we’ve moved to Kentucky.” Thank you, we will miss you and good luck in Kentucky

“You do wonderfully in the educational outreach and community service areas. Could not ask for more there!” Thank you, we view this as an important element of our mission and goals.

“A later time for pickup so those who do not work a ‘normal’ work week aren’t at a disadvantage to those who can show up early (and grab the pick of the crops).” We plan to offer more delivery options next year including a continuation of our Tuesday distribution which started at 5:00 (we may, however, do a market style distribution on Tuesday–stayed tuned for details)

“We saw a big improvement in quality and variety of food from last year. We plan to purchase from your market booth next year because we are a 2 person household and were somewhat overwhelmed by the quantity this year.” We are thrilled to provide our customers food in whatever format works best for you.

“Thanks for all you do!”

“All in all, it was a great experience. I like the split distribution days.”

“I stopped picking up my share mid season for two reasons: (a) Fridays during the fall are just not feasible with all the football people coming to town and (b) I got sick of having nothing but peppers to choose from.” We appreciate your honest feedback. We did make some planning errors and made some critical mistakes in our field techniques. We acknowledge our mistakes and are committed to doing better in the future.

“Above list is not an indication that you need to improve – it’s just my order of importance. Enjoyed all the food this year and have signed up for next year. Thanks!”

“I didn’t answer question 8 because we’re pretty well satisfied. It’s more of a question of what not to change. Keep it as informal as possible and otherwise pretty much leave it as is. The quality and overall value are good, and so is access with two different days for delivery as well as being able to come to the farm.All in all, I’m a firm believer that change for change’s sake is never good.” Overall we agree and do not plan any major changes in what we are doing. Mostly our focus for improvement is based on the feedback we have received and we plan to make minor modifications in our field practices, distribution process, and communications. 

“My family and myself really enjoyed the spring and early summer crops. Toward the end of the summer, we got tired of peppers, egg plant, etc. Every watermelon we ever got was not sweet/did not have much flavor. The distributions seemed a little disorganized at times. As a person who works full time, there were many days that you were out of a particular veggie that I we like by the time I got off work to pick them up. Saturday distributions allowed me to get there a little earlier. I know this sounds like a lot of criticism, just hope it helps a little. You all have a great thing started that, with a little improvement, could be great. For the price, I think we might skip out next year because I don’t feel like we got our money’s worth the second half of the season.” Thank you for the  honest feedback. You are correct, during the first half of the season we had 13 regular distributions and two bonus distributions for an average of over 24 points. During the second half of the season (August 1-November 20), we had 13 distributions plus four bonus distributions for an average of 19.6 points. The primary cause of this was the loss of our Sweet Potato, Edamame, and late Green Bean crops. Regardless, this totals up to a possible 693 points (points equaled the market dollar value of the food we distributed) worth of food. This said, it is extremely important to us that our customers feel they are receiving a good value for their foodshare purchase and we are working hard and developing our infrastructure to increase our production.

“Thanks for this opportunity. It has been fun!”

“we love our food share. If there were some way to make a few choices for home delivery or box pick-up, we’d be happy to switch from market pickup” We will have more options available next year–stayed tuned.

How about a report on the Angel donation? No problem: We sincerely want to thank all who supported our Angel Share Program. Last year we received $850 of Angel Share Donations. The farm added another $425 in foodshare value. This amount provided two families a full share, 3 families with a 25% reduction in the cost of a foodshare. We also donated a foodshare to the Yoknapatapha Arts Council and appreciation of all that they do to support us, especially providing us the Powerhouse as a location to distribute our food. In addition, we donated almost 1000 lbs. of food to More than a Meal, Interfaith Compassion Ministry, and the Oxford Food Bank. 

“My favorite part of the CSA is being able to pick up during the week. I wish that you would offer the friday-style points distribution then too. It felt abritrary that I could choose by the point system on Tuesdays. I am out of town most weekends so Friday wasn’t a good option for me. I thought the variety and quantity of peppers was too much this summer, and I’d like to see more variety that time of year. I love the quality and quantity of greens in late fall. I would also like to see more herbs. The basil was great. Thank you very much for all your work. I really appreciate the food that you grow. We are considering also doing a market style on Tuesdays. We are also planning to grow more varieties of herbs.

“Really, the only problem that i had was the distribution process. I am happy to get great produce, but at the end of the day, I want everything to already be boxed for me. Also, I am moving away from Oxford. That is the only reason I selected highly unlikely to purchase a share. If I were still living in town, I would definitely purchase again if a different distribution process was in place.” We will be again providing the box option. We appreciate your support and will miss you.

“wound prefer pick up 4p or later during week. Food is great. Love the tomatoes, greens”

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This week at the farm…bees love watermelons!


Watermelons are finally here and our shareholders couldn’t be happier!  Did you know that a watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water by weight?  Last week at our distribution, Alex and Nicolas weighed one of our Georgia Rattlers at around 20 pounds!  The fruit is not only delicious, but is ultra-hydrating and contains large amounts of beta carotene, vitamin C, and lycopene.  As well, recommends watermelon as a remedy for kidney and bladder infections as well as bloating.

We grow several varieties of watermelon, including Georgia Rattlesnake, (pictured above,) Sugar Baby, Crimson, Stone Mountain, and the newer Moon and Stars variety, which has been around since 1926.  Its rind is dark green/purple and has many small yellow circles (stars) and one or two large yellow circles (moon).

Our apiary has been such a great help in pollinating our melon fields this summer.

Kevin carefully rescues a swarm from a nearby branch.

The apiary: Kevin keeps our bees happy and healthy so they can keep our plants happy too!





















Check out this video about how bees work!



Don’t forget our full moon drum circle this Saturday night (August 13) at the farm!  Here’s the event page with more details.

Also, Join us at Taylor Farmer’s Market this Saturday morning from 8-12 for local, organic produce, eggs, pork, gulf shrimp, breads, jams and jellies, pickled and canned vegetables, as well as beautiful handmade products and kickin’ live music.  We’ll bring the melons!

Keep growing!  Viva las locavores!

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A Garden of Garlic: A Treat For Us All

Hey, Ya’ll!  We have a real treat for you coming up at distribution and market this weekend: Gourmet garlics.  That’s right—GOURMET garlics!   Gourmet garlics have only been around in the US since about 1989 and are still quite rare and hard to find available for purchase. We are very happy to present and offer to you our abundant harvest of over 2000 bulbs! Be prepared to kiss white “grocery-store” garlic goodbye! Or, if not, these gourmet garlics will make a nice addition to your culinary pursuits and will certainly spice up your food and your life in new and tasty ways. We will have 5 varieties available including the following:

Ajo Rojo:  A long-storing, hot, rich, full-flavor Creole variety garlic . Creoles are among the scarcest of all garlics. They were Cultivated in Spain and spread through the travels of theConquistadores.

Early Italian Red: A rich, mellow, soft-neck Artichoke* variety garlic. This is an excellent all- around general use garlic and an excellent baker, richly flavored with light to medium pungency.

*The Artichoke variety of garlic includes the type we typically think of when we think of garlic, as that is what is sold in most  grocery stores in our part of the country. Many people are unaware that there is more than one type of garlic. That’s another reason we are so excited to have these beauties!

Applegate:  A superb, mild Artichoke variety garlic that is excellent for raw eating as in pesto or added as something crunchy to tuna or chicken salad (it’s that mild) or cooking where you want only the most delicate hint of garlic in your dish.

We hope you will come and check ‘em out, give ‘em a try, and let us know what you think!  

Yay for variety! Yay for garlic that keeps us well and healthy and makes food taste great!

–Amanda Margolis

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2011 Shares Now Available!

If you are interested in purchasing or learning more about food-shares for this coming 2011 season, please read below and contact us ( if you would like to recieve a Registration and Order Form. Remember, we’re capping the shares at 100 this year so there is a limited number available! Be sure to get your order form in by Jan. 1 and take advantage of our Holiday Discount and assure that you will be a part of the Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm family in the new year!
Mission Statement

Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm is a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. We are a community of individuals working together to produce locally grown food using sustainable agricultural practices, and to promote sustainable and organic agriculture as a viable agricultural system in north Mississippi. The Goals of Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm are to: 

1. Produce local food using sustainable natural agricultural practices.

2. Support sustainable agricultural farmers and artisans in north Mississippi (farmers, farmers’ markets, and local businesses selling locally produced products).

3. Serve as a research site for learning and developing successful organic agricultural practices within north Mississippi’s ecosystem, climate, and soil zones.

4. Provide educational services on local food and sustainable agriculture.

5.  Facilitate community life through cooperative production, service and celebration.

Community Supported Agriculture

Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm is a Community Supported Agriculture farm (CSA). A CSA is an organizational model for small farms common in the slow foods movement that provides small local farmers, usually organic, a steady income while allowing the farmer to share the risks and rewards of small-scale food production.


A Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm food-share for the 2011 growing season (May-October) is a portion of all food produced during the season. A food-share does not represent a share of ownership or commitment to the farm aside from your initial payment. Food-shares will be sold on a first pay, first to receive a share basis. Full payment must be received in order to guarantee a 2011 share. See price list on next page.

For the 2011 growing season, 70% of all produce will be dedicated to food-shares. Total food-shares will not exceed 100. Thus, one full food-share is approximately .7% (.007) of all food produced on the farm between May 1 and October 31, 2011, which we anticipate to be roughly $15-20 worth of produce per week. The remaining 30% of farm produce (in addition to any unclaimed food-shares) will be sold at local farmers’ markets as well as to local restaurants and businesses.

Two types of food-shares will be available for the 2011 growing season: Weekly Oxford Delivery and U-Pick. In addition, food-shareholders will have a choice between a full food-share (1 distribution/week), half food-share (2 distributions/month), or a quarter food-share (1 distribution/month). Food-shareholders in 2010 (financial or labor) will receive a 5% discount and there is a 5% discount for shares purchased prior to January 1, 2011. The price increase for half and quarter shares accounts for the cost of increased handling.

Weekly Oxford Delivery                                                                                                                       

  Base Price(after Jan. 1st) Estimated Points/Month* 5% Return ShareholderDiscount 5% Early HolidayDiscount 10% Early/Return ShareholderDiscount
Full Share $400 71.5 (16.5/week)** $380 $380 $360
Half Share $225 34 (17/twice  a month) $213.75 $213.75 $202.50
Quarter Share $125 17 (once a month) $118.75 $118.75 $112.50


U-Pick at the Farm

  Base Price(after Jan. 1st) Estimated Points/Month* 5% Return ShareholderDiscount 5%Early Holiday Discount 10% Early/Return ShareholderDiscount
Full Share $300 71.5 (16.5/week)** $285 $285 $270
½ Share $165 34 (17/twice  a month) $156.75 $156.75 $149.50
¼ Share $80 17 (once a month) $76 $76 $72


* One share is a subscription to receive .7% (1/100 of 70%, or .007)*** of all food that will be produced (harvested) on the farm from May 1- October 31, 2011. The way that CSAs serve to support local farms in a unique manner is that they help farmers share the risks and rewards of growing food sustainably. Thus, depending on the harvest, the total points per share may exceed or be less than the estimated total distribution. Actual point values will vary weekly based on the amount of available fresh produce from the farm. One point is equivalent to one dollar based on the market value of fresh, local, organic produce and may vary based on produce quality and market conditions.  The estimated point values are our target goal and estimated yields are based on last year’s farm production and planting plans for the 2011 growing  season (see below).

** Full shareholders will receive two extra distributions because there are 26 weeks during the 6 month season. 

***The remaining 30% of produce will be sold at farmer’s markets and to businesses.


Past Performance

Year Months Dollar value of full share Distributions Total Points Distributed/Share
2010 4 $200 16 (+ 2 Bonus) 214 (20 bonus)
2011 6 $400 26 ??? Our goal is 400!


Distribution: Distribution of food shares will be weekly. Those purchasing full shares should make arrangements for themselves or someone in their place to pick up produce each week. Half shares (2x per month) and Quarter shares (1x per month) are still encouraged to come each week, though anything beyond their 1-2 distributions must be purchased separately. Shares will be available for pick up at the farm or at locations in Oxford and Taylor, days/times to be announced. Weekly share allocations are determined by a point system based on the total amount of food available each week and the number of shares being distributed. The point system allows food-shareholders the opportunity to select the types of produce they want. Point value limits may be placed on certain items of produce in order to allow all food-shareholders the opportunity to receive a specific item of produce (heirloom tomatoes, for example); however, we may run out of some items during distribution. The farm attempts to avoid the use of plastic products as containers for food shares and request that shareholders provide their own containers for food distribution. Heavy duty Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm, CSA cloth bags are available to purchase for $12/bag on the CSA Order Form (see next page).  

Communication: The farm has a blog website (, a Facebook page, and an email listserv with a weekly newsletter for all food-shareholders and farm supporters. These resources will be used to provide continual information about activities on the farm and serve as a forum for information and discussion relevant to local, sustainable, food production.

Events: We will be hosting or sponsoring periodic events to support local artisans and growers, raise awareness of and promote the farm, build community, and as fundraisers to support the farm.

Community Service: In conjunction with our goals of supporting local foods and building community, we strive to be actively involved in community projects and efforts. In support of this effort, we encourage all food-shareholders to volunteer to support activities that promote local growers and artisans—ie, volunteer at local farmers markets, earth day activities, the Oxford Community Garden, and other activities and events in addition to volunteering at the farm itself. We will provide a schedule of activities and events through our communication services and post weekly work hours on our blog.

Angel Shares: If you would like to purchase an additional food-share to be donated at the farm’s discretion to a family in need, you will be able to do so at the bottom of our Order Form. For just 3/4 the cost of a full share, with the farm paying the difference, you can give a gift that is truly priceless this holiday season. Healthy, nutritious food is often difficult to come by for those with financial difficulties and with your help we can make sure everyone in our community is eating healthy! 


 Sample 2011 Order Form:

Item Price Quantity Total
Full Share Oxford Delivery $400.00    
Full Share Oxford Delivery, 5% Discount $385.00    
Full Share Oxford Delivery, 10% Discount $360.00    
Half Share Oxford Delivery $225.00    
Half Share Oxford Delivery, 5% Discount $213.75    
Half Share Oxford Delivery, 10% Discount $202.50    
Quarter Share Oxford Delivery $125.00    
Quarter Share Oxford Delivery, 5% Discount $118.75    
Quarter Share Oxford Delivery, 10% Discount $112.50    
Full Share U Pick at the Farm $300.00    
Full Share U Pick at the Farm, 5% Discount $285.00    
Full Share U Pick at the Farm, 10% Discount $270.00    
Half Share U Pick at the Farm $165.00    
Half Share U Pick at the Farm, 5% Discount $156.75    
Half Share U Pick at the Farm, 10% Discount $149.50    
Quarter Share U Pick at the Farm $80.00    
Quarter Share U Pick at the Farm, 5% Discount $76.00    
Quarter Share U Pick at the Farm, 10% Discount $72.00    
100% Cotton, Yokna Bottoms Heavy Duty Tote Bags $12.00    
Angel Share(s)  $300.00    

 Please call or email us (info. under the “To Contact” tab at the top of the page) if you have any questions at all. All forms and payment should be mailed to; Yokna Bottoms Farm, 26 CR 471 Oxford, MS 38655.

The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility.” ~ Wendell Berry

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Today at Tallulah’s!

Come visit us again TODAY

for your last chance to get

Fresh, Local & Organic Produce

from Yokna Bottoms Farm

Friday, 11/19 fr. 4:00-6:00 PM

Next to Tallulah’s Kitchen on University Ave.

*Also this week, we’ll have

local honey, homemade soap, breads, hummus,
butternut squash, herbs and eggs

from our Taylor Farmer’s Market friends

and will be joined by Native Son Farm of Tupelo, MS!


We will be back again at Tallulah’s for the FINAL TIME this Friday from 4-6 PM with even more delicious fall vegetables! Come early to make sure you get the best selection. In addition, it will be getting darker and colder sooner this weekend so we’ll once again have hot apple cider available to warm you up on the inside – but don’t be a silly kitten and forget your mittens! Come buy local and support fresh, organically grown produce that’s good for you, your family and your community! Help us spread the word by telling your lovers and friends to come on by as well! Need still more reason to come out?! In addition, some of our  friends from the Taylor Farmer’s Market will be joining us this Friday so if you are missing (or have missed out on) the TFM then come on by and say hello while checking out locally-made soaps from Cypress Lake, honey from Mardis farms as well as baked goods, hummus, fresh free-range eggs and more from Taylor Creek Farm as well as incredible veggies from Native Son Farm of Tupelo, MS.

This Week’s Harvest
We will be back at Tallulah’s this Friday from 4-6 PM as our fall produce is still going strong! Remember, if you were a shareholder current with their hours/payments at the end of September then you are entitled to two free shares this season if you’d like. However, anyone at all can come and purchase some of our freshly picked produce so please feel free to spread the word or come yourself even if we haven’t seen you in a while! If you ever get a hankering for fresh greens now is the time to come see us and get it while it lasts! For those that wish to have fresh, local and organic produce here in Oxford come by and show your support! Our collards are extremely high quality and a deep shade of green you don’t see in supermarkets, the cabbage heads are absolutely beautiful and our broccoli is breath-taking … and all of these can be on your plate just hours after having been rooted in soil. Straight from farm to table – can’t get any fresher than that!  
– Broccoli
– Cabbage
– Radishes (four different varieties)
– Spinach
– Collards
– Swiss Chard
– Kale
– Green Onions
– Mesclun Mix Salad Greens (Kale, Arugula & Assorted Lettuce)
– Turnips
– Mustard Greens
– Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce
– Fresh Herbs: Oregano, Mint, Rosemary, Cilantro 

Also, this week from Native Son Farms in Tupelo, MS you can pick up some of their wonderful produce as well, including; Red leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce, Lacinato Kale, Red Russian Kale, Mesclun, Asian Salad, Sweet Hakurei Turnips, Watermelon radishes, Rainbow Chard, Heirloom Beets, Baby Arugula, Savoy Leaf Spinach, Braising Mix, Napa Cabbage, Bok Choi and Carrots!

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Some Like it Hot; Sept 20-26 Weekly Update

For our friends who follow our blog but are not on our listserv, we’ve decided to start posting our weekly email newsletters. And so, enjoy …

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Hello, Hello and Hello Again!

 “Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will percieve the divine mystery in things. Once you percieve it, you will begin to comprehend it better everyday. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Today is an especially thirsty Thursday, as we’ve now gone several weeks without any drop of precipitation and have had to resort to constant watering in what should be a relatively wet time of the year. With new seeds and seedlings so recently nestled into their beds of dirt, they are at a fragile stage in development and such dry conditions would spell disaster if we didn’t help out nature a little with the hose and drip tape. Because of this, we are a little behind on fall planting (although we do have a whole lot already in the ground and growing) - broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and collards, turnips, parsnips, radishes and beets, lettuce, carrots, onions and kale. Just ordered our garlic today and hope to get those cloves buried before too long as well so they can settle down before the weather turns wintery.

With the onset of Autumn also comes the close of our first year as a CSA – with this weekend being our final distribution! It’s been great getting to know you all and we’ve had a lot of fun (and some frustration) learning the subleties of growing vegetables in North Mississippi (and still so much left to learn!). We like to think of you all as a larger part of the Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm, CSA family and without your support – be it through time, money, encouragement or resources – we would not be able to be here fulfilling what we feel is a critical need for our community … that being a healthy, organic, fresh and sustainable local option for your food source. See the end of the email for more details, but it is our hope that you continue to buy produce from us through the fall as our cooler weather crops come in. We will be at the Taylor Farmer’s Market each Saturday through October and at Tallulah’s every Friday evening until our vegetables run out (most likely mid-November). Please come say hello and see what we have available to buy!

With the Outstanding in the Field dinner just around the corner (Sunday, October 3) and a lot left to get done on the farm before then, we are going to have two upcoming work days and would love to see as many of you as possible out to help volunteer and get things ready with us. Also, if you haven’t seen our fall crops yet or been by in a while it may be a good time to see the changes Yokna Bottoms has gone through with the switch in seasons. The first will be this Sunday, September 26 from dawn to dusk – come anytime in between that is convenient for you. The next will be Saturday, October 2 again from sunrise to sunset. Please consider coming out and lending a hand, either for the full day or just an hour – every little bit will make a difference!

This Week’s Eating Well: Some Like It Hot!

 If you get the opportunity, pick up today’s copy of the Oxford Eagle to read an article we wrote for our monthly column featured in the Eating Well section of the Wednesday paper (don’t believe it’s up in the online edition yet). We took a look at those prolific peppers we’ve had so many of and what makes them so suitable to growing in our region … and so tasty on our plate.

Upcoming Events @ the Farm

If you have not done so already, check out our Outstanding in the Field dinner coming up on Sunday, October 3 at Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm, CSA right here in Oxford! For the first of it’s kind ever held in Mississippi, chef John Currence and friends will be throwing together some delicious dishes using as much local produce as possible – beginning right here in the garden! Tickets are not cheap, but the food will be fabulous! Be sure to tell your friends and pass it on to anyone you feel may be interested. Get your ticket today before they sell out!

 Its been a while, but our monthly bonfire drum circle has returned as we have reached the end of September (can you believe it?). The final full moon of the month will coincide with this year’s Autumnal Equinox TOMORROW, Thursday Sept. 23. This month the fire may actually provide some welcomed warmth with the cooler evenings we’ve been having as night and day become balanced once again. Beginning at sunset, come on by for some good music and good company and help us celebrate the turning of the seasons and the balance of nature with some homemade sweet potato desserts. Bring drums if you have them, bring drinks if you want them but be sure to bring your hands and feet ’cause you’ll definitely be needing them!


This Week’s Harvest

We’re getting awfully close to having some fall lettuce and other greens ready for you, but this weekend will be a little more of the usual suspects. Lots of Jalapeno peppers if you’d like to try the Jalapeno Popper recipe we ran in today’s Oxford Eagle or some of our other peppers if you dare try this week’s recipe below. Bonus points for anyone who brings Yokna Bottoms Farm produce prepared for this week’s vegetarian potluck! We’ve also begun to get in some more herbs as the weather cools to their liking, so pick up some fresh basil, rosemary, oregano or mint to add a little jazz to your meals this week.

– Sweet Potatoes (Beuregarde Orange and Bush Puerto Rico Yellow)

 – Okra

– Jalapeno Peppers

 – Bell Peppers

 – Bannana Peppers

 – Habenero Peppers

– Cayanne Peppers

– Long Beans

 – Basil, Rosemary, Oregano & Mint

 Featured Recipe of the Week: Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

If you haven’t tried this Southern staple yet, now is the time! And what better way then to make it yourself! We’ve got all kinds of peppers – habenero, anaheim chili, cayanne, pimento cherry, hungarian wax, banana and lots of jalapenos! You can make this jelly with any hot pepper you like, or a combination of them for a more subtle variation in fire, though we recommend jalapeno. It’s a long recipe, but very simple and very tasty on bread, toast or crackers with a little cream cheese, on a spicy PB&J or drizzled over some vanilla ice cream. Also, check out our recipe for Jalapeno Poppers and a little story about our relationship with peppers in today’s Eating Well section of the Oxford Eagle.

 Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

 15 Jalapeno peppers

2 medium or 1 large bell pepper (either red, yellow, or orange pepper)

1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar

 6 cups granulated sugar

 4 ounces liquid pectin

 Food coloring (green or red), Optional

First, sterilize your jars and lids by boiling for approx. 10 minutes. Remove stems and seeds (unless you want your jelly to be especially hot, then leave seeds in) from peppers and chop lengthwise. Definitely recommended to wear latex gloves when handling the peppers, as the oils can get on your skin and burn for hours. Put all peppers chopped into blender except for 5-6 halves to be used later. Add vinegar and puree. Pour puree into a large pot and heat on medium until the mixture boils. Continue boiling and stirring for 10 minutes. Be sure to put the oven fan on and may be a good idea to open some windows in the kitchen as well. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and sugar. Return to heat and bring to boil. Add pectin and food coloring and continue to boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off any foam that has accumulated on the surface of the mixture. Strain mixture into sterilized jars and add a couple of chopped peppers into each. Stir with a spoon and scew on lids. Let sit for 12 hours before moving. Gives you approx. 6 1/2 pint jars. Enjoy!


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Once again, we would like to take a moment to mention how much we appreciate all forms of feedback and constructive criticism. As we are novices to a large degree, we want to make certain our produce is of a high quality and thus we depend upon your reports back to know just how it’s holding up. We cannot always tell quality with some fruit such as cucumbers and melons without sampling them all. Thus, if we happen to give you a bad product let us know and will give you something free in exchange next week. So whether your veggies are amazing, just ok or don’t make the grade please let us know so we can fix what needs fixing and keep doing what we’re doing well!


Fall Produce Plan

With our fall crops just getting under way, it is our hope to continue providing food for your tables throughout the next few months. However, we will not be doing so as a CSA. What does this mean? We will continue to be present at the Taylor Farmer’s Market each Saturday morning until the end of the market season – which runs through October – and would love for you to come out and visit with us and the other vendors there where you will be able to purchase our produce and continue to support what we are trying to do. We will also set up with veggies for you to buy each Friday at Tallulah’s from 4-6 PM until our fall food supply comes to a close (probably sometime in November) for those living in Oxford and unable to make it out to Taylor. There should be plenty coming in for the next couple of months – onions, greens, cabbage, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, tomatoes, peppers and more! For all current CSA shareholders (those that have paid for and or worked for their share through September) we would like to show you our appreciation by giving you two free shares anytime during the fall. Of course, we hope you continue to come out more than just two more times to see what we have that week and buy a little something for your family and friends. We will open up shares for next season’s CSA sometime in early 2011 and communicate that via this listserv and local media outlets. Perhaps eventually we will be able to operate as a year-round CSA! If we all work together and decide this is something that the community needs, there is no reason it cannot happen!


Revised Information Packet

We’ve attached a revised copy of our Informational Packet (email if you’d like a copy) that was distributed this past year to all CSA shareholders. Some terminology has been changed to make it a little more clear as to what each person’s role and responsibility is with the farm. In establishing the farm as an LLC, our attorney has recommended some minor amendments to make clear that a “share” refers to a share in the crop produced and not the farm itself. Take a look at it if you get a moment. Hopefully you will consider joining again next year whether you were a part of what we did this inaugural season or did not get a chance to join. Some things will change, such as cost, as we expect to have roughly twice as much produce as well as more variety next year. A new information packet will be sent out in early 2011 explaining any changes and providing dates to sign up for next season. We plan on keeping everyone posted of changes and updates via this listserv. Please let us know if you have any questions or confusion whatsoever.


In and Around Town

As always, there is a lot to do in and around Oxford this week. Once again, for those curious about the Baha’i faith stop by 534 Hwy 6E for an informal gathering of those practicing or interested in learning more about this religion at 7:30 PM tonight – bring a poem to read, an instrument to play or just your ears to listen. Call Susan at 816-9959 for more information. If you haven’t visited the Strawberry Plains Audobon Center yet in Holly Springs, Friday evening may be just the time to do so and stay for their weekly Nature Reading from 6-7:30 PM (this week with guest poet Ann Fisher-Wirth). The Powerhouse will host Theater Oxford’s Ten Minute Play Festival Sept. 23, 24 and 26, including last year’s National Grand Prize Winner. You might also swing on over to New Albany this weekend for the Tallahatchie Riverfest Fri-Sat and some good food, art, music and a 5k on Saturday. For a little longer road trip, head on down to the Gulf Coast to experience the legendary ShedHead Blues Fest this weekend in Ocean Springs, MS. On Sunday, Oxford Community Vegetarians present this month’s vegetarian potluck. Come sample some of the best food you’ll eat all month! It will be even tastier if you’ve been out at the farm all day helping us on the first of our two upcoming Work Days to get ready for Outstanding in the Field. Finally, if you haven’t already done so be sure to pick up a copy of today’s Oxford Eagle to read our monthly article in the Eating Well section!

Keep on growing …


In love, Doug, Alison, Daniel and Sophia

Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm, CSA

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Mid-Season Progress Report

This is a mid-summer reflection and report on the first six months of Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm. I want to start by saying that we are now convinced that it is possible to grow, in north Mississippi, high-quality produce using sustainable agriculture practices (no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or defoliants used). This document is a report of progress based on our Purpose Statement:

Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm is a cooperative Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. We are a community of individuals working together to produce locally grown food using sustainable agricultural practices and to promote these farming methods as a viable agricultural system in north Mississippi.

We are working to: 

1. Produce food using sustainable organic agricultural practices.

2. Support sustainable organic agriculture and artisans in north Mississippi (farmers, farmers’ markets, and local businesses selling locally produced food, hand-crafted products, and art).

3. Serve as a research site for learning and developing successful organic agricultural practices within north Mississippi’s ecosystem, climate and soil zones.

4. Provide educational services on local food and sustainable agriculture.

5.  Facilitate community life through cooperative production, service and celebration.

As of the end of June, 2010, we have harvested over 350 lbs. of food including:

15 lbs of snap peas*

10 lbs of shelled pod peas*

20 lbs of garlic

25 lbs of collards*

50 lbs yellow squash

15 lbs of zucchini

10 lbs of assorted lettuce*

6 lbs of spicy banana peppers

1 lbs of jalapenoes**

200 lbs of cucumbers

20 lbs of green beans

10 lbs of okra**

5 lbs of tomatoes**

1/2 lbs of shelled purple-hulled peas**

3 lbs of eggplant**

Assorted herbs: lavender, basil, rosemary, oregano, and mint

* early season crop, all in.

** crop in early stages of harvest

All of this food has been distributed, sold, or preserved. During June, we sold produce on four Saturdays at the Taylor Farmers’ Market. In addition, we completed three distributions of between 30 and 35 shares. The distributed shares included:

(June 11-13, approximately 3 lbs.): Cucumbers (2-3 depending on size), yellow and zucchini squash (1-2), garlic, and a choice of lettuce or collards.

(June 18-20, approximately 4 lbs.): Cucumbers (3-4), squash (1-2), and a choice green beans or banana peppers.  

(June 25-27, approximately 5 lbs.): Cucumbers (4-6), squash or tomatoes (1), okra, green beans, or assorted peppers.

An estimated 90% of all June produce has been distributed to shareholders. The rest has been preserved (we blanched and froze about 10 lbs of snap peas and pod peas–we had one 4’x8′ box of each type of pea that produced wonderfully; however, there was not enough production to provide a worthwhile distribution) or sold at the market or the small amount at Patawphafest.

Our focus at the Tayor Farmers’ Market this past June has been to establish a presence and get to know the market and the market community. Each Saturday, we have managed to gather together a limited supply of produce and herbs, combined with our bags and Patawphafest tees, to have something to sell. We have sold between $25-40 of food plus a few bags and shirts in each of the four markets we participated in. We have also sold about 75% of the food we have taken to the market (unsold food has been rolled into Saturday afternoon and Sunday food distributions).

Currently, we have 3 1/2, 100′ x 50′ sections in production (17,500 square feet, less than 1/2 an acre) and are preparing the second half of section four to plant this week with pumpkins and winter squash. Recently, we planted three strips (100′ rows) with 350 assorted pepper plants donated through the Oxford Community Garden in section four. We are also preparing sections 5, 6, and 7 for fall planting this August and September.

Following is a status report on each crop beginning with Row 1, section 1:

Tomatoes (Section 1, Rows 1-5): We have approximately 250 tomato plants including 50 beefstake, 48 solar fire, 45 jubilee, 30 plum, 20 brandywine, 7 cherry, and 50 assorted heirlooms (Arkansas traveler, etc). We started about 60% of these from seed. We also purchased about 75 plants from the Lafayette High School FFA, 40 heirloom plants from Native Son Farm (Tupelo), and received a 10 heirloom plant donation from Jean and Kevin Robinson. The first heirloom varieties started turning about 10 days ago. The other varieties are just now beginning to turn.   The biggest pest so far in the tomato rows has been my dog Shivas. He loves ripe tomatoes and he is a sneaky little guy. While Shivas has actually only helped himself to about 4 or 5 tomatoes (it didn’t help that they were the first to turn!), we have also been removing some caterpillars. Our biggest challenge has been balancing the heat and watering. We watered heavily during the hot and dry spell during early to mid-June and are now noticing some cracking of the tomatoes as they ripen. While overall the plants are not as vigorous as we would like (mostly likely do to the soil), they are covered with green tomatoes, growing, and otherwise healthy. Next year, we plan to apply a little more compost prior to planting in addition to some mineral supplements to increase potassium and phosphate levels. We have also tried several methods of staking and trellising the tomatoes. The best method seems to be the Mississippi weave–two strands of twine anchored by vertical bamboo posts about every 8′ weaved around the plants.

Peppers (early planting) (Section 1, Rows 6 & 7): We planted approximately 200 pepper plants including 90 California Wonder Peppers (green bell, from our seedlings), 75 jalapeno (from our seedlings), 15 sweet banana peppers (from our seedlings), 12 spicy banana peppers (from pawn shop/feedstore), 3 cayenne peppers (from pawn shop), and 3 World’s Hottest Pepper (Habanero variety from pawn shop). Later, we replaced 9 bell pepper seedlings that did not make it with plants from the Oxford Garden Center. Currently, our peppers are some of the most vigorous and healthy plants on the farm. They got off to a slow start. Put out during the third week of April, they took almost a month to get going. The peppers like the hot summer weather. We have been harvesting from the 12 spicy banana pepper plants and some jalapeno. We intentionally harvested some jalapeno small in order to have some to distribute and take to the market. This week, we are letting the spicy banana peppers and the jalapeno grow larger. We should also start getting bell peppers later this week and we expect the peak of the bell peppers in about 2-3 weeks.

Snap Beans/Green Beans (Section 1, Rows 9 & 10): We planted Blue Lake bush beans in row 9 and Derby bush beans in row 10 during the third week of April. They were some of the first directly-sowed seeds to come up (along with the squash). Within a couple of days, we noticed that the new leaves were being almost completely eaten. The culprit was bean leaf beatles. Within a day, we started spraying with Neem oil and this helped. We managed to nurse about half of the plants back into healthy growth. In early May, we replanted where we had lost plants. These plants did much better and quickly caught up and even grew bigger than the early planted beans. We have learned to wait until May to plant beans next year. We started harvesting these beans during the second week of June. While we have harvested approximately 20 lbs of beans, we have been a bit disappointed. These beans have continued to suffer some insect damage and although they are bush beans, they could have used a little support (many of them have fallen over). Insect damage left some of the harvested beans covered with a few small black areas. My guess is that these are early damage to the fruit from bean leaf beetles that showed up as the beans matured. We viewed this damage as cosmetic and ate (they taste great) and distributed the beans. While the plants are looking a little ragged (after three weeks of heat, high humidity, and being picked through every other day), most are still alive and still producing. We are expecting to get an additional 10-20 lbs. in the next couple of weeks. Overall, I would guess that about 60% of the total snap bean crop has come from the Blue Northern variety.

Zucchini (half of section 1, Row 8): We planted the zucchini at the rate of two plants every 24″ during the third week of April. The plants emerged in about five days and grew rapidly. The plants were slightly yellowish from the start but the color improved towards the end of May. Just as they started to flower and set fruit in late May, we started noticing the squash bugs. We have fought these vigorously by hand squashing the bugs and eggs daily. At best, we have slowed them down a little. While the squash bugs have impacted most of our vine crops (yellow squash, cucumbers, watermelon, and cantaloupe), they have hit the zucchini the hardest. This has been our biggest disappointment so far although we continue to get 2-6 zucchini every couple of days and a few of the plants are hanging in there. We may still get another 10-20 lbs. We have learned from this and also learned many different methods of natural control that we are going to try next year. These include mulching with newspaper below the straw, covering the plants with a light cover until they start blooming, and companion plantings. We are also going to plant the seeds less dense. The plants where only one seed came up did better than where two plants were side-by-side.

Eggplant (Section 1, part of Row 8, and part of row 12): We planted half of row 11 and the plants did not germinate. We also planted nine seedlings from the Garden Center at the east end of Row 8. Later we got 12 Black Beauty seedlings from Native Son Farm in Tupelo that we planted at the west end of Row 8. Finally, Will from Native Son Farms left us several more Black Beauty seedlings after Patawphafest that we planted at the west end of Row 12. The eggplants got off to a slow start because of an ongoing problem with flea beetles (the conventional wisdom seems to be that eggplants will outgrow the flea beetles but it is taking our’s a while). They also do not seem to like the cool weather so they will be something we will not put out until after May 1 in the future. They are all, however, doing much better. They are setting fruit and we harvested the first five that we sold at the market last Saturday. We may not have enough plants for a full distribution but hopefully, we will be able to offer eggplant as an option in some of the upcoming distributions.  

Collards (Section 1, half of row 11): We started collards indoors in February and moved them into one of the raised boxes in early March. At first they grew well but around the middle of April they seemed to slow down (they were suffering from the poorly-prepared soil we put into our new boxes). During the third week of April, we decided to move them down to the bottoms. They immediately perked up and started growing well. With less than half a row of about 30 plants, we had several good pickings. We sold collards at Patawphafest and were able to include 15 one half pound bags in the first distribution. We are excited about these results and feel good about our ability to grow collards, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower in the bottoms this fall and next spring.

Yellow Squash (Section 1, half of Row 11): The yellow squash has also been heavily impacted by squash bugs although not as severely as the zucchini. I think the difference may be in the planting–we planted one seed every 18″ rather than two seeds together. Still, we are harvesting what we view as a well below-average crop and are going to implement the same strategies next year to combat the squash bugs as we are with the zucchini. Overall, however, there are many plants that are still relatively healthy and we are still harvesting at the rate of about 10-12 squash every couple of days. We may get another 20-30 lbs.

Purple-Hulled Peas (Section 1, half of Row 12 and Rows 13 & 14): Get ready to shell some delicious peas! Our peas that we planted in mid-April also started off poorly (another May 1 planting in the future) with poor germination (only about 10% of our initial planting–bad batch of seed) and bean leaf beetle problems. We replanted around the beginning of May, held the bugs off, and the plants have been thriving ever since. In mid-May, we had some space in Row 12 that we also planted with peas. We are just starting to harvest the peas and they are prolific. We hope to include some large bags (unshelled–the shareholders get to experience this fun, purple-hand-creating, activity) in the July 9th and 16th distributions.    

Sweet Corn (Section 2, Rows 1-4): We planted four rows of G90 sweet corn (we selected the “local favorite” as the variety we planted). From the beginning the corn was spotty with about half the plants growing well and about half yellowish and not as vigorous in growth. The health corn quickly grew to about 10′ tall and is nearing harvest. Unfortunately, the storms last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday blew several of the stocks over. This damage is minimal. We are now about 3-4 days from harvest and yesterday I noticed some critter damage (could be a racoon). We may get a small harvest of around 100 ears but we are wondering if corn is worth the time and effort? It takes up much space, is a heavy feeder on the soil, and it is almost impossible to keep the critters out of it as it nears ripeness. If we do corn next year, we may plant an entire section. We also could have planted the corn about ten days earlier than we did. Better and proper soil preparation may also impact the consistency and provide a more solid base to prevent the stalks from blowing over.

Pole Beans (Section 2, Row 5). The pole beans are growing like crazy but not setting any fruit. The plants are still healthy so we are hoping they may produce in the near future. We have no idea why they are not setting fruit. Given the amount of effort required to trellise them and the lack of production, unless we get some answers about the failure to set fruit, we will likely not plant pole beans in the future (or perhaps only a small amount to experiment with).

Butter Beans (Section 2, Row 6). The butter beans are doing well and covered with bean pods. We are estimating that they we will begin harvesting these next week with the harvest peaking in mid-July.

Okra (Section 2, Rows 7-9): Okra loves Mississippi! It appears that okra is going to be one of our best crops. The plants are vigorous and healthy. We have been harvesting for about two weeks but the harvest is just beginning (okra will continue to produce throughout the summer). The plants flower in the morning and we harvest the seed pod from the flower between 36-48 hours later. This means that our okra is small (between 1″-2″), tender, and delicious.

Cucumber (Section 2, Rows 10-12, and half of Row 13): This has been our most productive crop to date. We have harvested over 200 lbs of cucumbers and they are still coming on strong. Although this has been a good harvest, we believe we can do much better. The weeks of hot dry weather during June (just when the plants were prolifically setting fruit), mild insect damage, and poor trellising, have limited the production. Nonetheless, we are concerned that our shareholders may think we are not growing anything but cucumbers but we now know that they are a heavy early producer. It is time to make pickles!

Edamame (Section 2, half of Row 13): Soy beans also like Mississippi. The soy beans are healthy and vigorous (we should have planted more but we ran out of seed that we ordered and we actually could not find anywhere in north Mississippi that sold soy bean seed in small quantities). We currently have about 50 healthy plants and each one is covered with bean pods. We are estimating a harvest in the second half of July (it may come earlier) and looking forward to a healthy supply of Edamame to distribute and sell.

Mystery Bean (Section 2, half of Row 14): We planted a half a row of a variety of bush bean (large and flat–we had a pack of seed that we planted; however, we lost the pack after planting). These have not thrived but are setting fruit. The beans show heavy insect damage and have fed the compost.

Cilantro (Section 2, half of Row 14): Fortunately, Daniel disregarded my advice that it was too hot to plant cilantro (any fool should know that cilantro is warm climate plant and would like the heat) and planted half a row. The cilantro is growing like crazy and we are looking forward to an ongoing supply for market and distribution starting July 9th.

Watermelon (Section 3, Rows 1-6): Warning, please do not leave the door of your house open, or our watermelon vines may come in and take over. Our watermelon vines are growing everywhere (fortunately, we gave them plenty of space) and we already have a handful of melons that are football size (on the plants donated by Christine Bertz) and there are hundreds more smaller ones. We are hoping we may get one or two for July 4th. It looks like we may have at least one melon (perhaps more) for each shareholder and a good supply for the market.

Cantaloupe (Section 3, Rows 7-10): The cantaloupe is also thriving but behind the watermelon in setting fruit. It looks like this harvest will begin in late July.

Sweet Potato (Section 3, Rows 11-14): Sweet potatoes love Mississippi too (we lead the nation in sweet potato production). The entire south part of Section 3 is covered with sweet potato vines. These are a late summer crop that we will likely start harvesting at the end of August. Shareholders, we hope you like sweet potatoes because you may get more sweet potatoes than cucumbers.

Peppers (Late planting) (Section 4, Rows 1-3): In early June, some of the folks at Oxford Community Garden asked us if we wanted multiple flats of peppers that had been donated to them but that they did not have room for (they had planted what they needed). We try and plant everything that is given to us so we said sure, we would take them.  Daniel and some heat tolerant volunteers worked all day during three of the hottest days in early June to till, compost, and rake Section 4 to create a space to plant these peppers. We got the peppers planted and mulched and they are beginning to look healthy and grow vigorously. All they needed was to get out of the plastic 6 and 9 packs and into the rich soil with plenty of warmth, water, and sunshine. Amazingly, the peppers are different than the majority of the early peppers we planted and include red bell, yellow bell, habanero, cayenne, and assorted rare and unusual varieties. These should all do fine and by August we should be in pepper heaven.

Winter Squash (Section 4, Rows 4-7): Early this week we planted six different varieties of winter squash. Winter squash (as opposed to zucchini or yellow squash) is characterised by hard shells (think pumpkins) which allows them to be stored for 3-4 months. We are anticipating a September harvest.

Pumpkins (Section 4, Rows 8-14): We are getting ready to plant a large pumpkin patch in the remaining half of Section 4. We are hoping to plant this Friday, July 2, for a harvest beginning in late September.  

Fence Line: Last February we received a box of hundreds of packs of seed from Ferry-Morse seed company (they sent them to us and all they asked was that we send them some pictures of plants). We have been using as much of this seed as possible (tomatoes, peppers, collards, beans, butter beans, soy beans, cantaloupe, and much of what we planted in the boxes). After finishing our initial planting of sections 1-3, we decided that we would till and plant some of our remaining seeds along the inside of the deer fence. We added a little mulch but mostly we just tilled a single strip along the fence. So far, we have planted about 500′ of fence line. Many folks have planted and we let people select what they planted (with a few suggestions) so we are getting lots of surprises. We are also pleased that most of these plants are doing well. Planted along the fence we have gourds, yard-long Asian beans, Asian cucumbers, watermelon, cucumbers, and various cut flowers including a variety of sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, and giant marigolds.

In conclusion, we have learned something from everything we have planted. We also managed to find a good balance between the amount planted and our ability to care for the plants. With most crops, we have also developed understanding of how much production we can expect for the amount planted. We have learned ways that we may become more efficient and our initial plans are to plant about four times as much of our successful crops next summer (well, maybe not cucumbers!).

Fall planting: We are preparing three new sections for fall planting beginning in late July and running through October. We are going to plant fall tomatoes, collards, turnip greens, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, carrots, beets, and lettuce. A limited offering of fall shares will be made available in August.

Community outreach, education, service, and celebration: While we have devoted much of our time and energy to the production of food, we have also strived to incorporate all elements of our purpose statement into our farm. Following is a brief list of other things we have been doing:

1. Patawphafest: The purpose of Patawphafest is to spread the word about the farm, provide an opportunity for people to come out and view the farm, educate people about locally grown food, support local artisans, musicians and farmers, raise money for the farm, and to celebrate. Our original plan was for a benefit concert at the Big Truck Theater on Friday night, April 30th, followed by an all day event with music on May 1st. Fortunately, we were blessed with an abundant dousing of spring rain that weekend that did, however, interrupt our festival. Based on the weather forecast and firm commitments to the Big Truck Theater and to the bands scheduled to play, we made the decision to go ahead and have the Friday night benefit and reschedule the Saturday activities for May 22nd. A Tornado Watch, Severe Thunderstorm Warning, and Flash Flood Warning kept most people at home Friday night but about thirty of us got to see some amazing music. Pine Ross and Dread Clampitt were fantastic (the sound quality in the Big Truck Theater provided clarity to every note).  As a side note, Dread Clampitt’s new CD, Learin’ to Live came out in mid-May and Sam Bush plays on every track! Needless to say, we did not raise any money for the farm but as in all aspects of this farm, we had a good time and learned some lessons.     

The rescheduled Saturday festival was a huge success. Throughout the day about 400 people came out, we had craft-booths provided by the good people from the Oxford Makers’ Market, we had fresh veggies from Native Son Farm (Tupelo), Isis Garden Farm (Tupelo), and Yokna Bottoms, we had great local music from nine different acts, and lots of crawfish and beer. The sound was great and our improvised bi-level stage did fine. We also received almost a $1000 in donations.

Although we did not raise any money this year, we are encouraged by the support we received and are looking forward to the Second Annual Patawphafest in May, 2011.

2. Vegetarian Pot Luck: We hosted the Oxford Vegetarian Potluck in March. We plan to host this group again in the fall.

3. Drum Circles: During the summer and into the fall we are hosting monthly drum circles by the fire pit down under the oak grove. The first circle was June 21st and was a huge success. The schedule of upcoming circles is posted on the right column.

4. Oxford Community Garden: We are supporting the Oxford Community Garden. The Community Garden has been kind enough to let us distribute our shares at their site and we hope to collaborate in future efforts.

5. Taylor Farmers’ Market: We are committed to a full season of weekly participation in this market.

6. Litter removal: We have been working to clear CR 471 and 420 of litter (no small task). So far we have made two trips to the dump and to the recycling center.

So far, our community involvement and service has been only a fraction of our vision. Frankly, we have been spending most of our available time in the field; nonetheless, our commitment remains and we how to strengthen these and additional efforts as the peak growing season winds down.

Conclusion: As we enter the second half of our first growing season, we have mixed emotions. We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished but recognize the many obstacles that must be overcome if this farm is going to be a success. The reality is that this farm needs to be self-supporting in its third year. There is one thing we need to do to meet this goal: grow much more food (somewhere between 5 and 10 times as much as we are estimating for this year’s harvest). We are confident of our success in meeting this challenge and look forward to many years of providing fresh, tasty, organic, and local produce to people in the Oxford area. We sincerely thank everyone for your support.

A final note on the size and contents of shares distributed: Sadly, we have had a couple of shareholders withdraw because of the small size and content of the first three shares we distributed to date (June). While we appreciate the support of these shareholders and respect any shareholders decision to release their share, we do want everyone who participates in the farm to be satisfied with what we are doing and what they are receiving from the farm. Thus, we want to be clear that we will return all payments to any shareholder who is unhappy with the quantity, quality, or selection of produce we provide. We do, however, hope that all of our shareholders will understand that our goal is to provide each shareholder with somewhere near $200 of food during the course of the season! Clearly, the food included in the first three distributions was not worth $50. Part of the CSA model is that shareholders share the risk and share the reward.  We were a week to ten days late in some of our planting and our tomato and pepper seedlings were small. For plant health, we actually planted at the optimal time (but not for an early harvest). As a result, in June, we distributed what we had which was a lot of cucumbers and some garlic, lettuce, yellow squash, zucchini, snap beans, and okra. All we can say at this point is that more is coming; we will have to wait and see how much. Given this, we hope that all of our shareholders will hang with us through the rest of this season and then assess the value of what you received. We are still planting (pumpkins today, winter squash earlier in the week, and peppers two weeks ago) and we are optimistic that all shareholders will receive an ample supply of food from your investment. In closing, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by phone or email, or better yet, come out for a visit.


Filed under CSA, Farm and Garden, News, Yokna Bottoms