Category Archives: Farm and Garden

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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Taylor Farmers’ Market Tomorrow!

Chard, Radishes, and BeetsWe had another successful distribution today at the Powerhouse.  Tomorrow, we will be at the Taylor Farmers’ Market from 8AM-noon with fresh produce, so please come out and join us!  At the market, you can enjoy great music, have your pick of delicious fresh produce ranging from eggs to spinach, sample freshly made bread, and browse the large selection of arts and crafts.  If you can’t make it out tomorrow, then no worries because it will continue every Saturday until October.  For more information about the market and Plein Air community, please visit their website at

Tomorrow at the market, we will have several varieties of lettuce, beets, chard, mustard, mizuna, turnips, spinach, cilantro, snap peas, new potatoes, and radishes.

Featured recipe to utilize some of our produce:  Tossed Salad with Citrus Dressing


4 cups torn fresh spinach
4 cups torn leaf lettuce
3 medium navel oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 tablespoons thinly sliced radishes

½ cup orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon pepper


  1. In a salad bowl, toss the spinach, lettuce, orange sections and radishes.  In a blender, combine the dressing ingredients; cover and process until blended.  Serve with salad.  Refrigerate any leftover dressing.


Also, the farm will be hosting its first-ever summer camp this summer!  More information about dates and how to sign up will be coming soon.

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Organic Oxford

This summer we enjoyed visits from students of all ages, from two to twenty-two, and hope to continue much more of this in the coming months as we excitedly embark on our second year of sustainable agriculture here in Oxford while encouraging ongoing enrichment in all of our lives – that which occurs both inside and out of classrooms, from books as well as places and people. If you are a teacher, or know of one, who may be interested in visiting Yokna Bottoms, having us come into your class to talk with the students or perhaps starting a garden or composting program of your own at the the school then shoot us an email at – we’d love to help connect our next generation with the land they live on!

Two students who visited with us this past summer recently shared the fruits of their labor and we’d love for others to have an opportunity to see it as well. For a project in a New Media class, Ole Miss graduate journalism students Lindsay Jordan and Dani Ligato created an interactive blog to raise awareness about organic food and sustainable living in Oxford, MS.  You can check it out at here. Many friends of the farm are featured, from Shannon Adams and co. at Honey Bee Bakery to Liz’s Farmer’s Market store on North Lamar. While this just touches on the numerous individuals, businesses and organizations that are working to make our community a greener, healthier and more sustainable one to live in it is a refreshing take on ongoing efforts in a positive direction that are worth applauding.

Also, thank you to Daniel Morrow (orchestral director of Music In the Hall), for a recent post on where he shared some of his favorite things about 2010 (including us!). We are happily humbled to be featured in the same list as Tom Franklin and Edward Sharpe ;-)

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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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Weekly Update, Oct. 4-10

Hello, Hello & Hello Again!
 “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”  ~ Thomas Fuller
And so, cool becomes cold in the time it takes for a day to pass. Out comes the winter wear, the sweaters and flannel sheets. Thankfully, the first frost of the fall held off graciously for Sunday’s dinner – which brought several hundred guests from all over the South (and some from as far as Colorado, Vermont and California) out to the farm to experience an exceptionally gorgeous Mississippi Autumn afternoon and a truly incredible meal arranged by several local chefs and organized by John Currence of City Grocery. It was invigorating to see so many people appreciating local cuisine and these talented culinarians being complimented for their fresh, healthy choices garnered primarily from our bountiful region.
The chill that hung in the air as the sun set Sunday night sunk into the low-sitting bottomland Monday morning when we got up at sunrise for a our ritual garden yoga and we hardly made it through meditations before our fingers had gone frozen and our toes lost sensation. Deep breaths will have to be taken indoors until spring rolls around again. We saw the OIF crew off with hot cups of coffee and wished them luck on their road trip – next stop Dallas. We hope they’ll decide to include us in next summer’s tour!
This was a particularly early frost, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any fall tomatoes as ours were just beginning to flower and even hung a few little green globes that will now become fertilizer for next year. So, too, has our second round of winter squash succombed to the cold (with the first round a casuality of hot-weather insect booms). Notes taken and lessons learned. And, finally, it looks like we’ve picked the last of our peppers. Come visit us at the market this weekend to get the last of those colorful and spicy capsicums! However, the broccoli, chard, onions, turnips, collards, cauliflower, lettuces and all of our other fall produce looks to be thriving. Once it begins to come in, it will do so in a rush so be sure to visit us on Fridays (except for this week) at Tallulah’s in Oxford or at the Taylor Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. 
Outstanding Evening
Thanks to everyone who attended and assisted with Sunday’s Outstanding in the Field dinner out at the farm. We had a great time getting to meet so many wonderful people, thoroughly enjoyed the food and the wine and are excited about the possibility of similar events in the future at Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm. Be sure to check out Friday’s Oxford Eagle for some photos and an article on the event! Special thanks to the OIF crew and to John Currence and all the other great chefs who really made the night! Visit our blog (see below) for a few photos from the evening, with more to come … 
Upcoming Events
Oct. 23 ~ First, be sure to mark you calendars for our next drum circle of the fall season on Saturday, October 23 beginning at sunset and going into the evening! The moon will be full and the bonfire will be higher than ever as it is sure to be a night perfect for dancing, drumming and huddling close!
Oct. 31 ~ Come visit our table at The Powerhouse for the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s Healthy Halloween family fun day before heading out with your children to fill their bags and buckets with sweets!
Cultivating in the Classroom
We were stoked to host RebelQuest this summer in conjunction with The Ravine, and are excited about some possible partnerships in the works with local schools at every level – from elementary to university. If you are a teacher, or know of one, who may be interested in visiting Yokna Bottoms, having us come into your class to talk with the students or perhaps starting a garden or composting program of your own at the the school then shoot us an email at – we’d love to help and connect our next generation with the land they live on! Campus or classroom gardens are a growing phenomena and just what Mississippi schools need – so plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.
This Week’s Harvest
Since the majority of what we had ready to pick for fall produce went toward’s Sunday’s dinner (lettuce, radishes, onions as well as some remaining sweet potatoes), we will not be setting up at Tallulah’s again this Friday but only be at the Taylor Farmer’s Market Saturday with what vegetables we do have – including the final harvest of our productive peppers! We look forward to the next few weeks when the rest of our fall harvest will be rolling in and we can share with you some of these beautiful greens and root crops we’re growing! For now, come see us on Saturday at the market for a little of what we have below. Remember, unless you were a shareholder at the end of the season all produce now is being sold as the CSA is finished for the year. For shareholders you are entitled to two free distributions at your discretion anytime during the fall. Anyone wishing to join as a CSA shareholder next season, stay tuned for enrollment in early 2011!
- Bell Peppers
- Jalapeno Peppers
- Hungarian Wax Peppers
- Bannana Peppers
- Cayanne Peppers
- Habenero Peppers
- Anaheim Chili Peppers
- Sweet Potatoes
- Okra
- Radishes
- Mint, Rosemary, Basil and Oregano 
Featured Recipe: Grandpa’s Raw Sweet Potato Chips
We didn’t have to look long or far for this one, an incredibly simple idea of what to do with those small-sized sweet potatoes we have left. Touted by Alison’s own father, Boyd Mason of Pascagoula, MS, this is the best (and only) way to enjoy your fall Mississippi sweet potatoes. Let us know if you agree! For those looking for a light and healthy snack or an easy appetizer when entertaining, try Grandpa’s Raw Sweet Potato Chips!
- 5-10 small sweet potatoes
- salt
- pepper
- appetite
First wash the sweet potatoes under warm water to remove any remaining dirt. Slice as thin as you can get them (the thinner the better). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste (recommended twice the amount of pepper to salt). Enjoy!
In and Around Town
Big week running into an even bigger weekend in and around Oxford. Hopefully, you were able to catch some of the great lectures today at the Overby Center Auditorium of the Ole Miss campus for discussions focusing on issues race, gender, ethnicity, generational identity, inequality and institutional history for this year’s Day of Dialogue (final talk concludes at 4 PM). Tonight, check out Music in the Hall, if you haven’t already had the opportunity to do so, for some of the area’s best live music in an intimate setting just off the square. This week’s show includes Cary Hudson, Star & Micey, and The Minor Adjustments and kicks off at 7 PM ($5 for members, $10 at the door). Tomorrow, laugh it up with Oxford’s only comedy troupe – LaffCo – performing at The Powerhouse at 9 PM or drop by Proud Larry’s for the Hwy 61 Blues Museum Benefit. Not enough music festivals around for you? Well, here is another you won’t want to miss! This weekend, drive just north of town for Foxfire Ranch’s Fall Festival Friday-Sunday – we hope to be there late Friday evening to groove with Silas Reed & Da Books and Zephyr Ellis. Also this weekend is the commencement of Southern Star Yoga’s Healthy Living Workshop – check it out to learn about how you can make small changes to your diet and lifestyle to be a healthier person. As if that isn’t enough for your weekend wanderings, Saturday is jam-packed with things to do – from the Dash for Hash 5k on campus to the Blessing of the Animals at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Want to go for a weekend drive? Head north out to Sardis Saturday morning to help out with the Sardis Lake Clean-Up Day or drive South to visit us at the Taylor Farmer’s Market and listen to local legends Adrian Baron Robbins, Kelley Norris and Marlena Jarjoura. Not enough? The First National Bank of Oxford is hosting the County Fair on the Square Saturday from 10 AM – 2 PM right in the middle of it all! How to unwind after all that fun? The weekly Bahai meeting, Get Inspired!, has moved from Wednesdays to Sundays so stop by 534 Hwy 6E for an informal gathering of those practicing or interested in learning more about this religion at 3 PM – bring a poem to read, an instrument to play or just your ears to listen. Call Susan at 816-9959 for more information. Finally, in honor of National Coming Out Day, the Sarah Isom Center for Women & Gender Studies will host a panel discussion titled, “Coming Out Faithfully: Faith, Religion, and Sexualities,” at noon Monday, Oct. 11, in the Faulkner Room in the Archives & Special Collections on the  third floor of J.D. Williams Librar yon the campus of the University of Mississippi. And if you missed Tom Franklin on NPR earlier in the week discussing his new novel  “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter”, check it out on the NPR website.
Keep on growing …
In love,
Doug, Alison, Daniel and Sophia
Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm, CSA

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As Summer Becomes August …

We now know that August is a season of transition at Yokna(patawpha) Bottoms Farm. The weeks of hot weather brought an end to produce from most of the crops we planted in the spring (okra and peppers the exception). The slowdown provided an opportunity for a brief vacation and I attended the Rocky Mountain Folk Festival in Lyons Colorado. I camped along the St. Vrain River (see header for pictures of carins in the river) under a Golden Eagle’s nest in the cliffs of the caynon wall. The mild, dry days and cool nights were a welcome relief to August heat and hummidy.

Back on the farm, the a combination of hot weather and insects (cucumber beatles and squash bugs) destroyed most of our Winter Squash and Pumpkin crop. This is our first major failure in the bottoms and our first setback since some of our spring crops failed to thrive in the boxes near the house. While we are disappointed we are not discouraged. The last spring planted crop to come is sweet potatoes which we started harvesting this week. It looks like we will end up with about 800 pounds of sweet potatoes. Last week we planted fall tomato seedlings and this week we are planting onion sets and nearly 400 cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard, and lettuce seedlings. We are also excited and getting ready for our big Outstanding in the Field event on October 3rd. Here a couple more pictures from the Rocky Mountain Folk Festival and from around the farm …

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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

Lightning Bugs, Blackberries and Another Month Gone By …

We’re looking forward to seeing you all this weekend, either in town on Friday at the Oxford Community Garden or Saturday at the Taylor Farmer’s Market. Be sure to reply via email by noon on Friday to let us know when and where you will be picking up your share. Remember, if you are out of town or unable to come by yourself you can have a friend pick it up for you. Also, we wanted to remind everyone that the month is coming to a close and those of you have not paid for the month of July or put in your required five hours must do so by July 1. If anyone that is a labor shareholder wishes to switch to a financial shareholder, or vice versa,  just let us know.  We will be sending out an email soon to let everyone know what their status currently is (re: number of hours worked and/or money paid). We are also in the process of filling out our paperwork to register as an LLC, which will make many things easier – such as opening a bank account and finally depositing all of your checks! If you are or know of a lawyer who would be willing to look it over for us pro bono, we would be very gracious (in the form of cucumbers, perhaps?).

The garden is looking great, despite the lack of rain we’ve had the last several weeks. We’ve been hard at work keeping the squash bugs and tomato hornworms at bay, while continuing to clear land, plant and maintain what we’ve got growing now … which means lots of weeding and watering! Come by and see the progress we’ve made if you haven’t been in a while. We’re sure you’ll be surprised.

The trails to the bottoms are filled with bushes of ripe blackberries waiting to be picked! Come by and take a walk (especially late afternoon/early evening when the midday heat has subsided some) and pick til your heart’s content. There are even more for the brave souls who are willing to make their own trails through the briars - for that, I would definitely recommend pants.

Finally, we’d like to thank all of those who made it out for the first of many drum circle bonfires at the farm this past Monday, the Summer Solstice! It was a clear and surprisingly cool night for June and no bugs bothered us much. We had a great time and enjoyed music by amateur and professional musicians alike. Be sure not to miss the next one …

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Filed under CSA, Farm and Garden, Yokna Bottoms