What's New in 2017

If there’s a theme to Harmony Ridge in 2017 it is ACCESS.  We want to provide all of you with better access to our farm fresh products through an array of buying choices.  Not only will the CSA and market be available to you, but we are offering a Buying Club and opening our barn market to you all every Saturday with complete access to our premium farm products.    

Let’s start with our 2017 CSA PROGRAM

We will continue to offer our CSA in 2017, as we have for the past 7 years, providing a weekly bounty of naturally grown veggies, eggs and fruit weekly for 12 weeks, from late May to mid August.  This program will be called ‘CSA Plus,’ and will be the sole CSA membership option we will offer this year.  Each week members will receive a seasonal variety of HRF-grown produce and eggs as well as a locally sourced product such as cheese, jam, honey and/or fruit.

Share boxes will be picked up at the farm between 5:00 and 7:00 pm on Thursday evenings or at Whole Foods in Winston Salem after 11:00 am on Thursdays. We will continue to use 3/4 bushel waxed share boxes and will exchange boxes each week as we have done in the past. During the program if you are away on vacation and miss a week we will permit you to double up another week or provide you with a market credit.  Membership in CSA Plus will be limited to 45 members to ensure maximum quality and service.  Cost is $675 for the 12 week membership – please see the attached form, sign up via credit card at the market or signup online here:   

2017 Buying Club Memberships

We will also continue to offer the Buying Club memberships we initiated last Fall. This program provides the flexibility to shop when you like, purchase as much or as little each week and choose from a range of produce and proteins.  The 'punch card' you receive upon purchase is presented at checkout and allows an easy way to shop at the market.  The card has no expiration and is good on all of our products other than bulk meat purchases, as they are already significantly discounted.

Buying Club memberships will be offered at two levels, BASIC: a $270 payment providing $300 credit (a 10% discount) and GOLD: a $500 payment providing $600 in credit (a 20% discount). 

Buying Club cards may be used by you or anyone you choose to designate. You may purchase as many cards as you like, and membership in both the CSA and buying club is welcome. Buying Club cards can be used for purchases at the Cobblestone Farmers Market or at our on farm Saturdaymornings. We will have a continuous supply of beef, pork, duck, eggs, veggies, and fruit as the seasons allow for you to choose from.

We heard you, and are striving to provide more access to our premium farm products in 2017 through an array of buying options.  Your support of our programming allows us to further our quest to build a sustainable farm model that enriches and nourishes our community. We hope you will continue to support our efforts in 2017.

Cheers,

Kevin, Isaac and the crew at Harmony Ridge

December at the Farm

Phew! Another CSA season has come to an end, and us farmhands can’t help but breathe a sigh of collective relief.  Like every year, we fretted through August and September over the Fall harvest – will there be enough variety to keep our members happy and enough bulk to keep our chef customers supplied?  Hot and droughty late summer conditions pushed back our planting schedule and stunted some of our early sowed greens, brassicas and beets.  But as the cool rains came in October, what appeared a weedy lot of nursery-sized veggie starts grew into a lush garden. 

The tenacity of garden plants never ceases to amaze me – as our farm has grown, so must the range of our attention – but inevitably parts of the many-acred garden must suffice on tough love alone. In August, dearth and decline seem to define the arc of the garden.  Times when you have to wonder if new life will return. Tomato plants streaked and spotted with virus, okra stalks growing ganglier with every bitter cutting, and forgotten runt onions with nothing atop to differentiate themselves from the ever browning overgrowth.  Bent over field hands pushing through another day of work more akin to scavenging.  Amidst this dismal and weedy scene, hopeful new ground is turned and aspiring sprouts hold on in the harsh light of long days.  Some of them make it and some of them don’t. 

This Fall we lost at least 60 percent of our beet crop and two out of three of our carrot crops.  Yet we are still harvesting them now in December.  What looks like too little in the eyes of a farmer tends to somehow suffice in the end. 

Many of the same crops that dominate the cool and wet Spring, also grow in Fall, but with an entirely opposite weather pattern through their lifespans.  Beets, for example, are direct sown in late March and so withstand frosty nights in their infancy and the hot June days of their maturity.  Fall beets are direct sown in August, withstanding the hottest and driest conditions, only to grow into a frosty November.  Difficulties persist on either track – cold to hot or vice versa – but persist they do.

As winter approaches we shift our primary focus from field to paddock.   Husbandry and its many facets becomes our primary occupation.  Kevin and Jeff have deftly managed this side of the farm all season and now as the harvest slows, they will have more help from the rest of us.  We are near completion on a woven-wire fence that will enclose nearly five acres of farmland.  The enclosure will allow us to integrate ducks and pigs into our cropping rotation, allowing us to passively manure our fields in Winter.  Our lonesome pitchforks will sit neglected in the barn, while we work smarter. 

Pigs are natural additions to the vegetable farm.  Not only does their manure amend the soil, their penchant for digging provides tillage and soil aeration.  Even so, it is what they seek in their digging that has perhaps the greatest advantage – weeds, especially tuberous ones.  There is no organic method for removing Johnson grass in a garden other than allowing pigs the opportunity to dig them up and eat them.  Johnson grass is the most noxious weed we deal with, especially at the Boiling Springs fields.  We hope this will be a bygone problem. 

Of late we have brought more pigs to slaughter then we have all season.  ___over the course of November and December.  They really seemed to have thrived in the cooler Fall temps and responded to all of the cull produce we have fed them.  Each pig has eaten loads of butternuts, sweet potatoes, turnip and beet greens, apples and collards.  We’ve also procured a wide variety of cookies from Salem Baking Company – for whatever reason they seem to enjoy these best.  When you combine all these goodies with consistent access to fresh pasture, pigs grow quicker and remain healthier and happier. 

In 2015 we increased our duck production by ___% in an attempt to keep up with growing restaurant demand.  Ducks take only 7-9 weeks to grow to 5lbs (our target weight).  Our Pekins spend their first 4 weeks indoors then move out onto fresh pasture for the remainder of their lives.  This practice is not common among poultry growers, as it requires more attention and effort.  We feel that allowing them fresh air and a varied diet is tantamount to raising a happier bird and a meat with superior flavor.  It seems our customers have been in agreement. 

We have set up a store on our website (link) that will allow you to stock up on our premium pasture-raised pork and duck.  Customers can claim their order each Saturday between 10AM and noon at our barn porch:  3835 Bowens Rd., Tobaccoville, NC 27050, big barn behind white brick house.  We will pair many of these meat pick-ups with a mini farmer’s market on the barn porch.  Please pull into the gravel drive immediately West of the paved driveway. 

To all of you supporting our family farm in 2015: 

THANK YOU!




What's New in 2015

Proteins
When we started the farm, we wanted to provide the highest quality eggs we could find. We quickly realized that in order to provide our members with a reliable supply, we would need to raise them ourselves. In 2013, we started a modest egg layer program to meet this demand. 50 turned into 150, 150 to 800 and in 2015 we plan on raising 1600 laying hens.

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We built a new henhouse for the new arrivals this winter, bought another egg washer and hired Kristen to help handle the load of eggs.  The new batch of poulets (young hens) arrives this Saturday.
We like to eat ducks, so last year we decided to raise a small number of pastured Pekins. They were so delicious that we have continued our program through the winter. We found a number of restaurants in Winston-Salem and Charlotte eager to feature them on their menus.  Next week, our first batch of 300 are out on pasture. You may buy them on the farm, at the Cobblestone Farmer’s Marketor at our monthly on-farm Meat Round-Up the first Saturday of each month, beginning May 2nd.  You may also enjoy them on local menus at The Honey Pot, Willows and 1703, just to name a few.

This year we are raising pastured pigs.  The first 6 will be taken to the processor in April and we will start selling our meat soon. We are excited about this venture as it furthers our objective to complete the circle of life, using our veggies to feed our pigs, using our pigs to plow and glean the fields and enjoying our own, pasture raised, antibiotic and hormone free pork.
 

Breaking New Ground

Three years ago we purchased a property for further expansion and up until now have used it mainly for our animals. Last fall we broke ground. The first four acres have been turned over, the first time this land has been farmed since it supported a tobacco crop way back when.

oldtimeyfield.jpeg

 

Smack in the middle of the largest field is a flat stretch of rich loam, which is a favorable mix of clay and sand. In these parts it is rare to find such a soft textured soil. To say we are excited is an understatement. We installed an irrigation system and think this will be some of the most productive land on our farms.


More Berries

We planted 300 blueberry plants in 2009 but discovered it is not enough. This spring we are planting almost 300 blackberry plants for production in 2016.  In addition, this Fall we plan to plant additional blueberry bushes for future production.
 

More Tomatoes

Any amount of steady rainfall can ruin this sensitive crop as we witnessed on a large scale in 2013.  As little as 25% of tomatoes grown in the field make it to our processing table.  Compare this with 90 percent of tomatoes grown in our hoop house. To meet demand, we have built another hoop house and this spring plan to grow even more.
 

We believe in local, naturally raised food and we are committed to growing as much of our own family's food as possible. Join us in providing your family with the same delicious veggies and meats through the CSA program, farmer’s market and by dining with our restaurant partners.

The Dirty Dozen

How Many Chemicals are Safe for Your Family’s Table?

Environmental Working Group (EWS) Announces 2015 Dirty Dozen

The EWS released their annual list of the most chemically contaminated foods we eat, known as the Dirty Dozen, calculates exposure rates of 165 various chemicals that are sprayed on our fruits and vegetables every year. Some of these chemicals are sprayed in the field. Many more are used in the processing of the food supply.

The Dirty Dozen for 2015:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Sweet peppers
  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Imported snap peas

 
For this year the EWS has concluded that nearly 100% of the apples, peaches and nectarines tested positive for pesticide residue.

The average potato has more pesticide residue by weight than any other vegetable.
Single samples of a grape and a pepper sample contained 15 different pesticides.
A single sample of cherry tomatoes, strawberries, peaches, snap peas and nectarines contained 13 different chemicals.

Leafy greens, Swiss chard and kale, two very popular veggies thought to be super foods, are particularly contaminated. In a 2008 test they were found to contain 51 different chemicals, with collard greens containing 41. Many of the chemicals found are highly dangerous substances. Some of them have been subsequently banned but many are still in use today.

While this is disturbing news for people who care about the health and safety of humans and the environment, there is hope on the horizon.

Many small farms are embracing a 'back to the roots' approach to growing food, eschewing chemical inputs for a soil based approach to plant health.

At Harmony Ridge Farms we believe that conventional chemicals have no place on our farm and since our inception, six years ago, we have used no conventional pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. Zero.

Crops such as Swiss chard, kale, onions, garlic, peppers, melons, lettuce, cucumbers, arugula, winter and summer squash and others receive no sprays of any kind.

The USDA organic regulations stipulate 20 different substances organic farms may spray on fruits and vegetables.
We only use three, all derived from natural substances and only applied as needed because we have worked to build up nutrient rich soil, virtually eliminating the need to spray our crops.
 
We could get far more production with additional sprays, however we feel that the additional work is worth the effort to produce a healthier, cleaner plant.

We pride ourselves in producing and sourcing clean produce, safe for you and our family to enjoy. Even the fruit we source locally are low spray varieties, the cleanest we can get in this part of the world.

We want to produce a product that is safer for you and safer for the environment. We consider our produce to be safer alternative to traditional organic standards.

We invite you and your family to visit our farm this year and observe our farming methods. We want you to feel confident about serving our food to your family.