ARCHIVE - 2017


I say this every year but the season has flown by and hard to believe it is the last CSA pickup.  What a difference this cool, super rainy season was from last seasons heat and drought.  Absolutely it makes for some challenges when growing food but it also reminds me every year of the value of diversity in planting many different crops.  Last season my potato crop was pitiful – this year unbelievably abundant.  The strawberries did amazing this season and so were the radishes while the beans and squash struggled with all the rain.  The diversity in small farms is the opposite philosophy of our industrialized mono-crop food system.  Hmmm.     

While the sweet potatoes will continue to grow until frost, CSA member Joyce and I dug 15 pounds of fingerlings to bring to the last pickup.  If you get a chance to stop by the garden we planted at the library in early July you will see sweet potatoes taking over the parking lot.  Believe it or not all those vines in that garden came from one sweet potato that got missed while digging last seasons crop. 

Farm Food Favorite: Sweet Potato Greens & Fingerlings!
Greens – Cut stems into one inch pieces and sauté in coconut oil for 5 minutes.  Cut leaves into one inch strips and then add to stems.  Sautee another 3-5 minutes, add salt and maple syrup.  Enjoy!

Fingerlings – Roast with coconut oil in covered dish on 350 until soft.   Enjoy! 

This was a transition year for me at Ladybug Farms – moving to a new pickup site at the Rock House and expanding to a second pickup in Rabun County at the Library – I have thoroughly enjoyed both locations!  A new combined farmers market at the Northeast Georgia Food Hub has seen an influx of new customers – and the many hands-on cooking classes and demonstrations continue to bring food to the forefront for many folks.  And on the farm a baby donkey, a tinyhouse and an eclipse celebration – what a year! 

I could not do all of this without the encouragement and support of many folks and I thank each of you for your participation in the 2017 Ladybug Farms CSA.

Until next season…


Well of course the buzz this week at Ladybug Farms was the Eclipse!!!  It was a total pleasure and honor to share the farm with a crowd of 100+ folks from Georgia Organics, Hannah Solar, GWT2 Energy, CSA members (Joyce, Crowe, Barbara and kids in eclipse viewing mode) and friends. 
To me the essence of a farm is community and that day was the ultimate testament of that belief.  A total celebration with perfect weather, a delicious farm picnic lunch prepared by CSA members Jenny
and Mr. Wilson of Fromage fame and just a feeling of joy, delight and wonder permeated the air.  Perhaps the biggest surprise was near to totality all the pinholes in the barn roof created crescent moons throughout the barn – it was truly spectacular!  Many of us in Rabun County were so lucky to witness this historic event, and I hope that wherever you were it was a grand experience. 

Coming down from that celebration required a few days rest but I am back in the saddle again and this week planted a row of winter radish, beets and carrots and prepared a row for transplanting the bok choy, lettuce, kohlrabi and more.  Surprisingly the radishes have sprouted with zero rain – thanks to all the moisture in our air each evening.  All the Butternut Squash have been harvested and are curing in the barn.         

Farm Food Favorite: Butternut Squash Pizza!
Peel Butternut Squash and cut into discs.  Roast in oven on 350 for 20-30 minutes until just beginning to soften.  Remove then add toppings of cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms or ???  Return to oven just to melt cheese and Enjoy! 

Until next week…


Hard to believe but I started the fall seedlings this week.  Lettuce, Bok Choy, Chicory, Kohlrabi and Kale seeds were planted in flats in the greenhouse and I noticed the first sprouts peeking through today.  It seems the tomatoes are about at the peak of production this week – unusual as the 20 different varieties usually ripen in stages but this year they seem to all be ripening at once.  We harvested the Spaghetti Squash this week and they are now in the barn and will make an appearance next week.  The hay was also cut this week – 100 square bales went into the barn.  A big shout out thanks to CSA member Jim and also to John Michael for jumping in and helping with that big task.  If we continue to get rains we will likely get a third cutting of hay – that would be the first time that has happened in my nine years at the farm.        

This weeks Farm Food Favorite is the Flageolet Bean.  Considered a specialty in France it is actually the interior shelled bean of the Selma Zesta Pole Beans that we had earlier this season.  You can google it and find several recipes such as a Salad with the Flageolet Beans, Carrots and Rosemary.  The traditional French way is to enjoy with tomato sauce and lamb.

Farm Food Favorite: Flageolet Beans – French style!
Make your red sauce with tomatoes and garlic and while simmering on stove add shelled Flageolet Beans.  If including with lamb brown the meat first and then add to sauce and beans.  Simmer until meat is tender.  Enjoy!       

Until next week…


With all the rain this season I’ve trellised more crops than ever before.  The usual tomatoes, peppers and pole beans have all been trellised but this year I’ve added to the trellis and/or staking list crowder peas, cucumbers, zinnias and dahlias.  The idea is to keep plants from lying on the ground, falling over (which happened to a few plants in last weekends windstorms) and increase air flow.  Pictured are two trellised cucumber plants in my greenhouse that just started producing this week.  Commercial growers produce a lot of cucumbers in this manner.  In the greenhouse I am experimenting with beds that also have arugula – it will be in the share this week

Farm Food Favorite: October Beans!
October Beans are an old time bean that can be eaten in one of three stage – green bean, fresh bean or dried soup bean.  We’re at the fresh bean stage so you can shell these beans for a beautiful pink and white mottled fresh bean.  Simmer in salted water until tender and then add to sautéed garlic and kale   Enjoy!       

Until next week…


Trellising luffas and tomatoes, moving donkey and goat fencing, weeding/weedeating (always) and preparing rows for a midsummer buckwheat cover crop have been on the agenda so far this week.  The later summer field is coming along nicely with the first blooms on the okra and the first crowder peas are making an appearance.  We picked 25 pounds of Selma Zesta pole beans last week and another 20 pounds yesterday.  Mom has turned her kitchen into a canning bean factory, the food Bank flash froze 20 pounds for the upcoming Solar Eclipse celebration at Ladybug Farms (look for that official invite to arrive in your inbox this weekend) and we still have lots of fresh beans to eat!  The peppers have been slow to get going but are showing signs of coming to life.  Still lots of potatoes to dig – has been a beautiful potato crop this season!     

We have CSA member Karen to thank for this weeks Farm Food Favorite…

Farm Food Favorite: Cornbread and Cabbage!
Sautee an onion in butter until beginning to soften.  Slice up cabbage and add to onions.  Sautee until cabbage and onions are carmelized.  Optional – add in fresh sausage at same time as adding cabbage.  Enjoy with Cornbread!   


Some warm, sunny days this week and the tomatoes have responded by beginning to ripen.  Oh Happy Day!  Karen and I worked to put out the drip irrigation on two of the three fields this week.  There is a nice crop of summer lettuces that I want to keep going and the 85 degree days make it challenging for lettuce and cucumbers without irrigation.  I am so grateful for the rainwater gravity flow irrigation system I installed in 2010 through a grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer program.  It continues to perform well and feels really good to irrigate with rainwater and off-grid! 

We had a great turnout at last Saturdays Farm Tour.  One young boy said it was "the best farm ever".  When I asked him why he responded "because he got to pull a carrot out of the ground and it was Purple"!  Super cute!!!  I was also most excited to discover this week that everything in the small vegetable garden we started at the Rabun County Library has sprouted – okra, pumpkins, sunflowers and even the sweet potato and marigold transplants are hanging in there.  Karen and I were talking this week that vegetable gardens should be everywhere where people eat food– at schools, hospitals, prisons to name a few.  In our fast-paced world it can be so rewarding and grounding to garden – one of my favorite quotes “to watch something grow is good for morale, it helps you believe in life”.        

Farm Food Favorite: Caprese Salad! 
Slice up your heirloom tomatoes.  Add a basil leaf and slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each tomato slice.  Grate black pepper and drizzle olive oil on top.  Enjoy!   


More dancing among the raindrops this week as we worked to weed, hoe and harvest.  A few dry moments during the week allowed me to do some pruning on the tomato plants to maximize air flow.  Especially important given the wet days we’re having.  Minutes after CSA member Joyce arrived this week to help, it started raining, again.  We decided to tidy up the greenhouse and plant arugula in the raised beds, as I planted the ginger and turmeric in the outside fields for the first time this season .  The last couple of years it has gotten too hot in the greenhouse for the ginger and turmeric so we’ll see how it does in its new location.

Two things that have done extremely well with all this rain are the potatoes – more really nice red spuds that Karen dug today – and I am thrilled to include my first beautiful cabbages in our CSA harvest after years of trying!  Coleslaw, sauerkraut or just plain cooked cabbage – yum!          

Farm Food Favorite: Refrigerator Pickles! 
Use your cheese slicer to quickly cut up your cucumbers into thin slices.  Put in a container with apple cider vinegar and some chopped up dill.  For your fresh onion lovers, you can also chop up an onion and add.  New cucumbers each week – just keep adding to the vinegar.  Enjoy!   

Until next week…


It has been wonderful to see the sun this week!  The first sunflowers bloomed and a few cherry tomatoes are just starting to turn color.  The Cherokee Purple tomatoes are always the first slicers to turn but still no color on them yet.  With all the rain last week I missed the waning moon window to harvest onions and garlic, so we went ahead and harvested this week even though we are in a new moon cycle.  About 600 onions and 800 garlic were harvested by myself, Karen and her daughter Eileen who was visiting from Charleston before heading to Vanderbilt this fall for a Nutrition Program.  A bit of digging but we had fun.  I try to plant and harvest by the moon cycles but sometimes the weather (or at times my too full days) call for adjustments.  Even so I find working with the moon rhythms very comforting, as I feel plugged into a rhythm much bigger than me.

I was not sure what to expect with the onion and garlic harvest given all this rain but for the most part the crops look good.  All are now in the sunroom curing which takes about three weeks.  A proper curing of onions and garlic means they will be good for eating throughout most of the winter.  With our cool, damp nights it is always a trick to cure root crops but I’ve had good success once I built the solar sunroom. 

Farm Food Favorite: Grilled Monster Onions! 
Slice a large onion into rings and add butter.  Wrap in tinfoil packet and place on grill for about 45 minutes on low heat.  Can also be done in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Enjoy!    

Until next week…


It has been a hectic week trying to play catch-up from being gone up in DC last week (more on that trip later).  All this rain put the weeds into overdrive so we have been weedeating between the rows, thinning and hand weeding the beans, squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets and more.  In the last several years I have hay mulched all the squash but am hesitant to do so this season with all this rain.  I am already seeing signs of mildew on the squash plants and it is much too early in the season for that unwelcome visitor!

So my trip to Washington DC the last week was to join with 40 other farmers, dairy owners and beekeepers from across the country to voice our concerns with the proposed Bayer/Monsanto merger in meetings with several congressional offices.  The merger is being evaluated by the Department of Justice and there did not seem to be much awareness or concern among many of the congressional staffers we met with.  Contrast that with a recent poll of 1500 registered voters in the US that said 90% were either concerned or Very concerned about this merger.  Hmmmmm.  We have a lot to do to educate folks on the significant implications this proposed merger has on the health and security of our food system and I will be working on this important initiative more in the upcoming months.          
Farm Food Favorite: Kohlrabi 
(say Hi to Karen who is a big help at the farm this season!)

I’ve been making fritters with several different vegetables lately including zucchini and squash.  But the original fritter I made was from the Kohlrabi and I thank CSA member Margie for this great idea.  Remove leaves from kohlrabi and use carrot peeler to lightly peel rougher areas of kohlrabi.  Grate and then mix with egg and flour (I use about ½ cup for a large kohlrabi).  Saute in coconut oil for about 6 minutes each side until browned.  Enjoy with spicy mustard or horseradish dip.  
Mexican Kohlrabi Coleslaw
Prepare and grate kohlrabi as above. Also slice kohlrabi leaves into small strips and add to grated kohlrabi.  Optional to add grated carrot.  Toss with vinegar and add chopped up Cilantro.   Salt to taste and Enjoy!   

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10 am until noon in our new pick up location at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


I read a most interesting quote that I’d like to share with you all…  Today we eat for entertainment or convenience but not for nutrition.   I’ve been thinking a lot about that quote lately.  It rings true for me with respect to our culture and busy lives (mine included!) but also the different choices one makes when eating for nutrition – three balanced meals each day, making time to cook and eat, staying hydrated with plenty of good water.  It takes effort indeed and the result is good health. 

Among the many raindrops of the last week we managed to transplant the last of the Lettuce seedlings, plant the Okra and October Beans and tie up the tomatoes.  Not yet done are the pole beans to string, more potatoes to hill and Winter Squash rows to mulch with hay.  There is never enough time to get it all done so I just re-prioritize daily, sometimes hourly depending on the weather, and do the best I can.  And yes, each night I do sleep well! J   

Farm Food Favorite: Kale Chips
I like to use the Dinosaur Kale with its rough texture for making chips.  Preheat oven to 350.  Cut Kale into 1 inch strips, lightly brush olive oil onto baking sheet and rub kale strips until coated.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and bake in oven for 12-15 minutes until crispy.  Enjoy 

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10 am until noon in our new pick up location at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


I came across this quote in one of my favorite magazines, The Sun.  With 200 strawberry plants at Ladybug Farms, this is not my experience but the quote spoke to me and I wanted to share with you all…
Strawberries are too delicate to be picked my machine.  The perfectly ripe ones bruise at even too heavy a human touch.  It hit her then that every strawberry she had ever eaten – every piece of fruit – had been picked by calloused human hands.  Every piece of toast with jelly represented someone’s knees, someone’s aching back and hips, someone with a bandanna on her wrist to wipe away the sweat.  Why had no one told her about this before?  
Alison Luterman, What We Came For

With most of the planting done for the summer season we’ve made a lot of progress this week by staking the 75 heirloom tomato plants, hilling the first two rows of potatoes and thinning the radishes, beans, squash and more.  Still have the okra and crowder peas to plant but the focus has definitely shifted from planting to maintenance and harvest mode. 

I wanted to highlight two vegetables this week in an easy to make dish:

Farm Food Favorite: Radish Greens & Garlic Scape Pesto  
Cut up the Garlic Scapes into ½ inch pieces, remove tops from Radishes and puree together in a food processor along with Olive Oil and Salt.  Use on pasta or a crusty bread with cheese – Yum! 

I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10 am until noon in our new pick up location at the Rock House Park.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next week…


Time has flown by since starting the first greenhouse seedlings of 2017 on March 2.   And so, here we are, 12 weeks later with the first delivery of the season from Ladybug Farms.  It is springtime at the farm, the greens are in abundance and they have loved all this rain from the last several days.  After eight years of struggling with strawberries, I finally have a crop to be proud of.  Strawberries top this years Dirty Dozen list compiled by the Environmental Working Group of crops with highest pesticide use.  Nothing but sunshine and rain on these delicious berries and I hope you enjoy each sweet bite!       

So much has happened since last fall.  The highlights include the arrival of Louie the kudzu and privet eating goat and his guardian donkey Lola and then just three weeks ago the birth of baby donkey Belle.  In February I received a huge honor by being selected to receive a tiny farmhouse built by UGA students and funded by Georgia Organics.  The house arrived in April and I intend to offer overnight housing and Adult Farm Camp later this season.  On the not so good side, last falls’ wildfires were a serious threat to the farm with controlled burns up to the edge of the farm.   Mom and I evacuated the animals and many of our belongings and hoped for the best.  In the end the numerous Forest Service and local firefighters kept us safe.  I gained a healthy new respect for the power of wildfires from that emotionally and physically draining experience. 

I was re-reading some old posts and came across this first delivery of the season post from 2010.  “People ask me often, “farming - don’t you just love it”?   I guess I’ve reached the point of saying “some days yes, and other days it really sucks”.  That’s the truth.  But as I hear about 100 mph winds in California last week (where 70% of our country’s organic food is grown), oil spills washing ashore in the Gulf of Mexico or 50 year floods in nearby Tennessee, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of local food and small, family farms and in many ways feel privileged to be a part of this growing grass roots movement.”  Still as true for me today as 7 years ago.  But now I’d have to add the importance of the nutritional value of eating healthy, local, in season food as perhaps the biggest contribution of all made by small organic farms.           

So thanks to each of you for helping to make this possible and I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the CSA pickup from 10 am until noon in our new pick up location at the Rock House Park.  A special thanks to CSA member Stephen and the Clayton Garden Club for making this new location possible.  Please bring a bag for your goodies.

Until next SEASON!

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