ARCHIVE - 2010


Hard to believe but tomorrow is the final Cabbagetown CSA pickup for the Spring/Summer 2010 season. Congratulations – we did it! 4 months of me showing up on Tuesday evenings with a van full of produce. And 4 months of you all showing up each week to collect, cook and eat your home-cooked meals. We’ve grilled out, been rained out, hula hooped and more. We’ve demonstrated that food does indeed bring folks together, and I believe the CSA concept of Community Supported Agriculture has importance beyond the weekly delivery of fresh, organic veggies supplied by a local farmer. It is a way for non-farming folks to reconnect with the land and support a farmer that grows the food that supports them. It is an opportunity to slow down and experience the change in seasons as weekly deliveries gradually shift from greens to squash to tomatoes to sweet potatoes. And it is a way for each of us to reclaim our participation in a local food economy that does not rely on “big oil and the mega-industrial agricultural complex”. Participation in a CSA is a way for each of us to say “another way is possible” and I am proud of each of us for the commitment we’ve made these last several months and for the sense of community we’ve built.

So let’s celebrate tomorrow evening at CSA pickup. Plan to stay and grill out if you can and don’t miss the announcement of the Giant Sunflower Contest winners at 8:00 pm. And pull out your calendars now and save the date – End of Season Harvest Party at Ladybug Farms on Saturday, October 16.

Farm Food Favorites:

Sweet Potato Fries: Cut into 2-inch strips, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with ground red pepper (I also like Emeril’s southwest seasoning) and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until desired texture (soft and chewy or crispy). Enjoy.

Thank you again for your support this season and I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow at pickup from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the Stacks H Building patio.

Until next season,


I started today by adding to the Ladybug Farms seed saving collection. In the big picture of farm expenses, seed is a relatively minor expense and most small farmers prefer to order from reputable companies rather than save seed from their own crops. In years past I have saved the Cherokee Purple tomatoes and October Beans but wanted to save more this year. Certainly it adds to the sustainability of one’s farm to save and reuse seed from year to year, but I believe there are also benefits in terms of seeds acclimating to one’s weather and growing conditions. Red romaine lettuce, green & purple beans, soybeans, more October beans and buckwheat are all crops that were harvested today for seed. These will be added to the 3 varieties of tomato seeds harvested a few weeks ago.

CSA member Nicki admitted to struggling with okra, so am sharing below a few ways I enjoy our veggie friend okra. My favorite way of all is pickled okra but that requires several pounds to justify the canning effort. Have also heard okra is wonderful grilled but not yet tried it. Any okra recipes to share, please send to the CSA google group.

Farm Food Favorites:

Okra & Grits: Cut okra into small ¼ inch pieces, break open egg and scramble, dip okra into scrambled egg, then coat with grits and pan fry in olive oil or bake in oven until crispy. Enjoy.

Stewed Tomatoes, Okra and Corn: Cut up tomatoes and cook on medium high for 30 minutes, add cut okra and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. Add corn removed from cob and cook for 10 more minutes. Enjoy as stew or over bed of rice.

Until next week…


We often hear the advice to build diversity into our financial portfolios, but it is not so easy to see the role diversity plays within small, sustainable farms. In our modern grocery stores where everything is available 365 days a year, it is easy to each week select the same 3-5 items in the produce section that one is comfortable with. But with a weekly CSA share, members receive close to 40 different items throughout the season – some of which one might have never eaten much less prepared. The health value of including a variety of different seasonal items in our diet is that each item contains different vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. As a small farmer, diversity is one of the primary ingredients to business success. The dependency on the weather and its unpredictable nature pretty much insures that there will always be crop failures and successes each season. Growing a variety of different items is a way to reduce one’s risk of a crop failure wiping out one’s income for the season. In addition each of these items has different nutrient requirements and utilizes a variety of different vitamins and minerals within the soil, so incorporating diversity into one’s planting plan adds benefits to the soil and keeps the insects on their toes.

On a bigger picture, I can see why government subsidies are needed in our current industrial agribusiness model of megafarms that each grow only 2-3 different crops every year. A crop failure in this case would wipe out a farm financially for the season. These farms have over the last 30-40 years kept most of us fed, but the question remains if this model is best in the long term.

Farm Food Favorites:

Delicata Squash – Oven roasted: Cut in half (no need to peel), remove seeds and place face down in a pan and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes until soft. When done cooking turn squash face up and add small amount of butter, nutmeg and fresh herbs to top. Enjoy.

Delicata Squash Cookies: Slice into small discs (no need to peel), remove seeds from center, fill center with coconut, drizzle with honey and bake in oven at 350 for 12 minutes.

Until next week…


We’re heading into that time of the season where it gets really tough for many farmers. The crops start to wind down after months of planning and just plain hard work. The heat is exhausting, the hours are long and the insect pests seem to finally win. It is only natural that at some point things start to decline, but it can be hard to have the daily reminder as one walks into the fields each morning. Farmers have to “dig deep” for one last push before the growing season winds down and winter settles in. There are still crops to harvest, fields to prepare for winter cover cropping and of course, a fall crop to plant. I share all this with you to help you understand not just what I go through to grow food to bring to our weekly CSA pickup, but share insight as to what most farmers go through to grow literally everything we eat – 3 meals a day, 365 days a year. One huge appreciation I have developed over the last four years of farming is the tremendous admiration I have for my farmer friends who farm year round. They truly are heroes.

Farm Food Favorites:

Fall Pea Salad: Shell peas then steam/cook in small amount of water for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, add olive oil to peas and cut one stem of basil into ribbons and add to peas. Enjoy.

Until next week...


Hard for me to believe, but I planted the fall lettuce trays today. Getting a better handle on the fall planting crop - which is mostly greens - is something I want to improve on. Other fall crops like winter squash, black eyed peas, October beans, sweet potatoes and pumpkins were planted back in May/June and are coming along nicely. The 80 tomato plants (up from 40 last year) are producing in abundance these days. Mom has been quite busy canning, pureeing and freezing tomatoes and I have lent a hand when I can. I think next year I might scale back to 60 plants…

The cooking demonstration with CSA members Cory and Andrea (souse chef extraordinaire) at last Saturday’s market was a big hit, lots of fun and the food was delicious. I’ve attached a photo of Cory, mom and me taken at the market. We all agreed we would like to do it again.
Speaking of cooking demonstrations, CSA member Chris Aquino will be doing a Grilling 101 demonstration tomorrow evening at CSA pickup. Plan to stay, bring a beverage and learn from Chris how to start the charcoal grill without lighter fluid, grill cleaning tips, and then enjoy some summer grilled veggies like tomatoes, squash and potatoes.

Farm Food Favorites:

Sandra’s Red Sauce: Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in pan. Chop (by hand or in blender) one red onion and 4 cloves of garlic and add to olive oil. Puree 8-12 romas in blender (no need to remove skins) then add to olive oil in pan. Salt to taste. Cook down about 20 minutes (lid removed) and add basil last 5 minutes. Goes great on pasta, homemade pizzas and fish.

Until next week...


A welcome break – rain – twice in the last two days. Back in the day when I worked inside an office, parked my car in a parking deck and everyday “necessities” like central heat/ac and plumbing were a given, I never really paid too much attention to the weather. If it wasn’t 78 and sunny, it was an inconvenience, but not much more than that. Farming changes that. When you farm, you live by the weather. When it’s hot, you sweat – sometimes a lot. When it rains – you get wet. When it’s cold – you bundle up. I am constantly adjusting for the weather in the decisions I make at the farm. If the forecast is rain tomorrow, I harvest tomatoes and fruit sooner than if it was to be sunny. Rain splits the tomatoes and dilutes the sweetness in fruit. If it’s really hot and sunny, the cucumbers and squash grow twice as fast so they need to be harvested daily or they get too big. With such interdependence with the weather, it is impossible to know the answers, so one ends up going with intuition on many decisions. Not a bad thing, I think, as it keeps one in the moment.

I pulled the first crop of beans and squash plants this past week, as the plants were tired. It is always hard for me to pull out crops that are still producing (even it is one squash) but I want to get a cover crop of buckwheat planted to return nitrogen to the soil. I am still experimenting with “removing spent crops to the compost pile” vs. “tilling them into the soil”. It seems to vary by crop as to the best method, but I am still refining this practice at the farm.

This weekend CSA member Cory has graciously agreed to do a cooking demonstration at our local farmers market, the Simply Homegrown Market in downtown Clayton. Market goers will get to watch Cory prepare Heirloom Tomato and Sourdough Bread Salad and make Potato Gnocchi (from scratch) with summer vegetables. If you find yourself up in NE Georgia this Saturday morning, stop by.

Farm Food Favorites:

Edamame: Boil soybean pods in water for 2-3 minutes, Remove from water, Sprinkle with salt, Open the pod and Enjoy.

Until next week…


It’s been about 10 days since rain and none is in sight. There is a lot less flowering of new crops but overall things are holding up amazingly well with the gravity flow barrel system and a 1 or 2 time a week watering. But it does take a full day each week to water and Nothing replaces a good soaking from the skies. The lack of rain and hot daytime temperatures predicted for this week motivated me to complete installing the drip in the lower field this morning. I believe that many farmers overwater and that perhaps many even use water to push production. I can see why one would do this but my approach is somewhat different. I water to give the plants what they need to do their best and try to balance that with the philosophy that water is a limited resource to be used with respect.

The maintenance in the field this week included pruning and tying up tomatoes, removing crabgrass from the field (a never ending chore) and, as always, potatoes to dig. I had stored red and white potatoes over the winter in a potato cache dug in the ground. It was an experiment to see if I was successful with using seed potatoes from last year for this year’s crop. I dug up the first row of overwintered potatoes this week and was very excited to discover more potatoes! One of my goals at Ladybug Farms is to reduce my reliance on off-farm inputs and this is another step in the direction of a sustainable farming operation.

The wild blackberries scattered throughout the farm continue to produce in abundance, so we have decided to hold a Blackberry Picking and Cobbler Treat gathering this weekend at Ladybug Farms. CSA Members and friends are invited to come out this Saturday from 5-8 pm and help pick blackberries, dip in the creek and just enjoy time at a farm. We will have blackberry cobbler and folks are welcome to stay the night and camp. Please RSVP for directions and so we know how much cobbler to prepare.

Farm Food Favorites:

Summer Squash Chilled Soup: Saute 1 cup chopped carrot in olive oil for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup chopped onion and sauté another 5 minutes. Then add 3 cups chopped summer squash and cook until soft. Blend cooked ingredients then add 13 ounce can of chicken broth, tall can of evaporated milk and ½ tsp salt. Chill in refrigerator. Garnish with parsley (it really brings out the flavor) and Enjoy. Thank you CSA Member Joyce, for sharing her mom’s recipe.

White Pattypan Squash, Tomatoes and Basil: Cube squash, sauté with onion in olive oil until soft, add cut tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes more. Add basil last few minutes and Enjoy.

Until next week…


The field is going into overdrive right now. Many crops now require a daily picking for the produce to be at its best. It hit me this weekend how much food is coming out of a ½ acre of cultivated fields. It takes an entire day to harvest for the Tuesday 17 share CSA and one restaurant order, and another full day for the Saturday 5 share CSA and small downtown Clayton market. Each week 30+ pounds of green beans, 40+ pounds of summer squash, 80+ cucumbers, and not to forget the 600+ pounds of potatoes in the ground and ready to be dug. That’s a lot of food!

The farm routine has shifted from planting to harvesting and maintaining. Weeding, harvesting and curing root crops such as garlic and onions, plowing in what’s left of the spring crops and planting a summer cover crop of buckwheat to return nutrients back to the soil. The timing of when things are happening is different than last year – a full 2-3 weeks ahead – but the rhythm is still there.

I’d like to start periodically including some food storage tips in the weekly email. Much of last winter I enjoyed potatoes, green beans, pumpkin and kale I had grown the previous season. Back in the day before Publix and Whole Paycheck, folks had to put up food for the winter season when fields were dormant. Many of the suggestions come from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook or the book Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel.

Food Storage Ideas:

Blanch and Freeze Green Beans – Wash, remove ends and snap into desired size or leave whole. Bring pot of water to a boil, submerge beans (steamer baskets work great) for 2 minutes, remove from boiling water and submerge in cold water for another 2 minutes. Remove from cold water, pat dry and put in freezer bags. Enjoy in winter soups.

Until next week…


I planted the pumpkin patch today – always fun to watch it grow. I mound up hills, add a handful of compost from the pile where I stack residue from the field and plant 3-5 seeds per hill. Two varieties that are great for eating or for autumn décor – New England Sugar Pie and the beautiful Musque de Provence. Check out the attached from CSA member Jim who shared a pic of his pumpkin carving of last year’s Ladybug Farms CSA pumpkin. Today I also planted two pass-along heirloom seeds that were gifts from Rabun County locals – crowder peas that are a fall shell pea and more of the white Keener Corn for grinding into grits and polenta.

Last week CSA member Rita gifted me a quote on a piece of recycled paper that she made from junk mail... “If every US citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.” The quote was from Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (a book I highly recommend). As we are bombarded daily by horrific reminders of the BP gulf coast oil spill, the actions that each of us are taking by participating in a CSA are a pro-active response in a world where many often feel helpless and overwhelmed.

Tomorrow evening at pickup CSA member Liz will be doing a cooking demonstration starting at 7 pm of her Beet & Kohlrabi Soup recipe that was included in last week’s farm email. Bring a beverage and plan to stay for a bit, learn some soup making tips from Liz and taste the soup.

Farm Food Favorites:

Potatoes & Sage: Cube potatoes and boil in water until soft (about 15 minutes). In separate pan sauté sage in 1 tbsp. butter until crispy (about 5 minutes). Drain water, mash potatoes with fork and top with sage.

Until next week…


It has been Hot! Amazing how different the weather between this year and last year’s cool, wet days. On Friday I dug the first of the potatoes in 90+ degree heat, Saturday tied up the 80+ tomato plants for the third of five tiers and today it was another scorcher as I installed the drip system in the lower field. There are two 55-gallon barrels in the farm truck for watering the crops. I fill them up at mom’s well then gravity flow into the field. It works pretty well but is time consuming. The rains have been just enough up until now, but decided today to give a drink to most of the crops, as no rain is in sight.

The google group for the Ladybug Farms CSA is almost a reality. A big Thank You to Jessica who spearheaded this site, and also to Bernadette, Karen and Rebecca who helped along the way. There will be a calendar for signing up for CSA assist shifts and a place to post recipes. Cory shared the recipe for that delicious Lavendar Panna Cotta he shared at CSA pickup last week, so I will add that shortly and look forward to more recipes from you all too.

Farm Food Favorites:

Beet & Kohlrabi Soup – Check out the amazing recipe that CSA Member Liz created from last week’s candy-stripe Beets and Kohlrabi - . Liz is a foodie and nutritionist (among other talents) who writes for the Atlanta Cooking Examiner. Thank you, Liz, for the inspiration!

Until next week…


I’m here to tell you, it’s just not true. Bugs Bunny’s favorite food is Not carrots. Given the choice, he prefers beets! That’s right, each night he hops Through the carrots to Get to the beets. Every morning there are 6-8 beets unearthed from the ground and scattered throughout the beet row, beet greens gnawed to stems and left to lie in the field. But not to worry, there Will be beets tomorrow. Beautiful, Chioggia Beets that are red and white striped when you cut them open. And it is early enough in the season that the beet greens – one of my favorite greens of all – are still young, tender and delicious. Any doubt, just ask Bugs…

Much of the summer crop is in so the work shifts from planting to maintenance. Weeding the beds and tilling between the beds to give the newly sprouted seedlings maximum sunlight, constantly staking up the 80+ tomato plants, squashing the potato, squash and now bean beetles. In between those tasks, there is garlic to harvest and cure, potatoes to begin digging, bunnies to thwart and electric deer fencing to reinforce. There is never a shortage of things to do at a farm.

Farm Food Favorites:

Beets – Grate them raw and put on a salad, grill them whole or cubed (brush with olive oil), and beet greens are delicious with goat cheese and crackers. Enjoy!

Ladies, the guys are showing us up in the meal preparation and presentation department. I’ve included a photo from CSA member Jim, who after three years has finally decided to start eating his kale (bad news for his share partner Jess, a self-proclaimed kale addict).

Until next week…


Several days of gentle rains have been a welcome relief. Many of the seeds planted last week have sprouted, and today the day was spent weeding, weeding, weeding among rain showers. It makes for soggy work, but the weeds pop out of the ground after a good rain and the job is much easier.

CSA member Lorna was up at the farm this past weekend and was a big help with the hilling of 600 feet of potatoes. It takes about 3 hillings a season for the potato crop; this was the second. I used my “new” pony tiller to loosen up the soil between the rows, then we went side by side along the rows and pulled the soil up with large garden rakes. After 3 rows, Lorna was ready for a new garden task and “graduated” to squashing potato beetles. She was a trooper but did say she will never look at a potato the same way again… At night we did eat well from the garden, had a bonfire complete with s’mores and witnessed the most incredible firefly display. Thank you, Lorna, for all your help.

CSA member Cory got really inspired in the kitchen last week and prepared the most beautiful Red Curry Chicken with Yukon Gold Gnocchi using the farm fresh eggs, Sugar Snap Peas, Scallions and the Garlic Scape. Check out the photo – I think we’ve got a ringer in the crowd…

Farm Food Favorites:

Kohlrabi – what Does one do with this outer space veggie? A relative of the cabbage, I like to cube or grate it up and eat raw on a salad. You can also grate the leaves, add grated carrots and raisins for a crunchy salad. Steamed is another way to prepare kohlrabi. It softens the bulb but does lessen the slight horseradish flavor that most folks enjoy.

Until next week…


The scarecrow is back up as the corn has sprouted. The crows are infamous for attacking corn and crows are wary birds, so the scarecrows usually work for a few weeks until the corn is bigger. They are after the kernels and some folks say they can see the 1 inch tall plants from the treetops. Corn is THE favorite food of many critters including bears, deer, raccoons and crows. This is my first year with a corn patch and I planted two varieties. One is a popcorn and the other a special 22 foot “Hickory King” field corn called Keener corn. The Keener family lives in Rabun County and has been saving their corn seed for more than 100 years. I sent mom to the feed store to see if she could find some Keener corn seed. Lloyd at the feed store sent her to Mr. Bill Keener’s house – a small trailer up in the mountains. Mr. Keener, at 80+ years young, graciously gifted mom two beautiful, dried ears of corn – one white and one yellow – which yielded about 2 cups of kernels for planting two 80-foot rows. Field corn is different than sweet corn – starchier and crunchier and ideal for grinding into cornmeal, grits and for winter animal feed.

CSA member Cory came up to the farm yesterday for a full day of farmwork. He was out the door at the Stacks a few minutes after 7 and showed up at the farm ready to work a little after 9. We tilled with my new small tiller – a huge time and back saver; planted black-eyed peas, squash, 4 varieties of beans, transplanted lettuce and prepared beds for peppers, tomatoes and ground cherries. He was a tremendous help and we had big fun. Thank you, Cory!

Speaking of Cory, he and Andrea have raised the bar on all of us with the giant sunflower contest. Check out the altar next to their entries in the sunflower patch. Karen has also tilled up the lot next to her house on Tenelle Street (direcly across from the back exit at the Stacks) so there is plenty of room for more sunflowers.

Until next week…


It is push time at the farm these next two weeks. The first new moon after the last frost date means a busy, busy time getting crops in the ground. Okra, winter squash (yes, it grows in the summer), peppers, black eyed peas, chard, and a second crop of tomatoes are just a few of the things planted these two weeks. Keeping up with the weeding and mowing is yet another full time job, as the warm days, cool nights and periodic rain makes the weeds and grass grow overnight!

Farm Food Favorites:

For a quick, easy meal during the spring salad season, I like to keep a pot of cooked black beans or black eyed peas handy in the fridge all the time. I go ahead and wash the lettuce (and all the greens for the week) and store in loosely closed plastic bags with a paper towel, so they are ready to go. Top the lettuce with the beans/peas, some feta cheese and the cilantro dressing below. The lettuce, beans/peas and cheese also taste great in a wrap and the dressing brings it all together.

Cilantro Dressing: Put bunch of cilantro, vegetable oil, yogurt and honey into blender. Also great in a wrap with lettuce.

A big thanks to Cabbagetown Giant Sunflower Contest judges Lee, Karen and Jim who helped prepare the ground at the Stacks for the sunflowers last week. We will have seeds on hand at today’s pickup for anyone that would like to plant a sunflower.

Until next week…


We had the most delicious, gentle rain at the farm all yesterday afternoon. The rain is a welcome relief from the summer-like heat of the last several days and the cool temperatures that follow will give the lettuces, greens (and farmer) a break. Seedlings from turnips, radishes, beans, beets, carrots and more have recently sprouted, standing 1-2 inches tall in the field. Later this week the job of thinning the baby seedlings will begin, as plants need ample space to grow…

The pest pressure seems more than last year, or perhaps I am just noticing it more this year. Potatoes beetles showed up one month ahead of last year and this weekend the cucumber beetles were swarming all over the squash, cucumbers and zucchini. The goal is to get the plants big enough to withstand the pests. The transplants that I started in the greenhouse seem to be strong enough to fight the pests and I used garlic spray and catnip around the seedlings and then covered with cloth row covers.

The birds are everywhere at the farm again this season. Bluebirds, goldfinches, robins, redbirds, purple martins, doves and many more I cannot identify. The baby bluebirds chirp nonstop at a nest in the barn and a mama wren is setting on a nest of four, tiny blue eggs at a nest she built in the peach tree. Speaking of fruit trees, the peach and plum trees are covered with baby fruit right now. Last year’s May 17 frost meant a total of one plum and two peaches off the trees – we will see if this year is different. Many folks say you cannot have pretty stone fruits without spraying – so it might just mean jam, if we get any fruit.

Try to join us this wednesday eve at 7:00 as we prepare the ground and plant sunflowers in the Cabbagetown Giant Sunflower Contest. Everyone gets one free, magic seed to plant. We have a couple of sites at the Stacks and one in C-town.

Until next week…


Time has flown by since starting the first greenhouse seedlings of the season on February 15. And so, here we are, 10 weeks later with the first delivery of the season from Ladybug Farms. It is springtime at the farm and the greens are in abundance. As the soil temperatures warm (70 degrees seems to be a magic number), crops like beans and squash grow more quickly but there is still a 45-60 day seed to harvest window for most crops.

So much has happened since last fall. The highlights include planting a fruit orchard of 35 trees, being awarded a grant from the USDA to capture rainwater from the barn and chicken house to gravity flow into the field and just today, capturing my first swarm of honey bees – super exciting. On the not so good side, the 4 inch downpour of rain in 8 hours onto the freshly plowed fields resulted in a 3 foot wide gulley through the center of the lower field and the erosion of a considerable amount of beautiful soil (see photo from my friend Justin). That translates to hand digging ditches, diversions and water breaks (often during the rain) until a more permanent solution can be implemented after farming season winds down this fall.

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 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.

So thanks to each of you for helping to make this possible and I look forward to seeing each of you tomorrow at the first CSA pickup.

Until next week…