Tag Archives: farmers markets

How Covid-19 is Affecting Us & Our Farm

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When all this craziness started my first thought was “Oh no, they’re going to close down the market.”  We sell at the OKC Farmers Public Market every Saturday and a huge chunk of our income comes from there.  At first, I didn’t think too much into anything else.  I didn’t truly understand what was coming.  A week or two later and I began to realize this was serious.  People were dying.  Stores were out of everything.  And people were stocking up on our chicken and beef products like crazy.  We have not only been receiving orders on our online farm store, but through text, Facebook, & phone calls.  We were overwhelmed by all of the support for our little local farm.  But at the same time, we were running out of inventory.  We only have 2 chicken houses, which can hold around 350 chickens each.  We schedule our processing dates months in advance and only have the capacity to take chicken to the butcher about every 5 weeks.  We were trying to figure how to to raise more chickens…which is still in the discussion phase.  We also ran out of beef.  We only started raising beef (for resale) a couple years ago and are still in the early stages of growing that side of our business.  We didn’t plan on taking any to the processor until late summer, but we have one that will be going this week to help with inventory.  It’s exciting and a little overwhelming too.  We love that people are starting to realize local farmers are more reliable and that they are getting the community’s support right now.

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Pasture-raised chickens

In the past couple weeks farmers market has leveled off a bit and has been up and down some.  I think people are more afraid to get out.  The market is doing a great job at enforcing both vendors and customers to comply with cdc guidelines.  We wear gloves and curbside pickup has been encouraged. Most customers are wearing masks.  They are not allowed to touch anything on our tables, and only we can bag their items.

Unfortunately, our restaurant sales have completely stopped and one of our regulars in OKC had to shut down for the time being. I’m concerned that this will negatively affect our vegetable sales since we sell a lot of produce to restaurants.  Hopefully our local deliveries and farmers market will be an outlet for them, as long as market continues to stay open, which is a concern of mine.  My heart hurts for the local restaurants in our community.  We know a lot of the owners and chefs personally and this has been so hard for them.

But we are still farming hard.  We spent the entire day yesterday planting and making more beds for more veggies to go in.  We want nothing more than to be able to offer local and nourishing food to the people of Oklahoma during this time of crisis.  We’re not going anywhere!  We’re making adjustments and changes as needed and I think we are all in new territory…but at least we’re in it together.

Personal Life:

When this first began I was just thankful that we live so far away from everything.  We are already very isolated living 30 minutes away from the closest town.  We raise our own food and we are mostly self-sustainable. We already homeschool our daughter so we’re good to go in that regard.  But as this has continued it’s getting harder.  Eden and I go to story time at our local library every Thursday and that’s canceled.  Dance class is cancelled and I had to tell Eden her recital will not be happening next month.  When we do have to go to the grocery store, I go in and leave Eden and Chad in the car.  Eden throws a tantrum every time because she loves to go into the stores.  She’s been staying at her Nana & Papa’s on the weekends because we don’t think she should be going to market right now.  Every time we tell Eden she can’t do something she asks if it’s because of “the sickness.”  It’s funny, but not funny.  Her little 4 year old mind just can’t comprehend the situation.  We’re trying to add in some extra fun things, including a hike and camping trip on the property later this week!

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Oh ya know…just painting our door for fun! 

I’m trying to not let fear have a hold of me.  I’ve stopped watching the news so much.  It’s scary to think that a loved one could get this virus and die.  It’s overwhelming to think of all the elderly people across our nation locked in their homes so lonely.  And the medical staff working so hard.  All of this is unreal.

But this small local farm is still here, planting and feeding animals daily, and our family is doing the best we can with our current situation to keep on keeping on.

 

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.    ~ John 14:27

 

 

Your Guide to Farmer’s Market: What You NEED to Know!

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Growing up in North Texas I had no idea farmer’s markets even existed. I knew you could sometimes find roadside stands with old people selling fruits on the way to Dallas, but my family never stopped. It wasn’t until I was in college in Shawnee that a professor told us about the one in town. My husband ended up managing the farmer’s market in Edmond two summers ago, and then last year we sold at the Shawnee market. I have not been able to be very involved until this year, where we sell in Cleveland. We were accepted to the Stillwater Market, where we know we could sell more and make more money. However, it is very important to us to sell as locally as we can, and to the people in our community: where Chad grew up, where our children will grow up, and where our home is. We want people to have access to good quality homegrown food. We know you can go to the local grocery store or Wal-Mart, but you do not know the farmer who grew that tomato, what chemicals were used, or how far it had to be shipped to get there.

I am only saying this to get you thinking. Most towns have a farmer’s market, and if yours does not I bet there is one close by. Hard working farmers are growing fresh produce in your own back yard because they understand our food crisis and want to give you the opportunity to get good food right where you live. Please go and support them.

Two Important Things I Think You Should Know:

1). Farmer’s Markets are meant to be for locally grown and handmade items ONLY.

  • If you see a watermelon at your market in May, that farmer probably did not grow his melon but bought it from a packing house or auction (yes they have those). Another clue is if they are still in the printed cardboard boxes he brought them in.
  • Ask questions such as, “Did you grow this?”, “Where is your farm located?”, and “How many years have you been producing?” They may still lie to you, but be aware that there are people who buy at auctions and packing houses and resell for Wal-Mart prices or less at your local farmers market.
  • What’s the problem with that?
  1. For one, you have no idea who grew that tomato, where it came from, or what chemicals were used on it. Technically, you’re not buying local.
  2. Secondly, by buying from a reseller you are taking money away from the actual farmers at the market by not buying his/her produce or not waiting for it to come into season.
  • If you see a farmer there that you know is growing his/her own produce, please support them. Wait until their produce is in season before purchasing it, instead of buying from the reseller.

(Side note: I have no problem with people who resell produce. I would and have bought porter peaches from them before. But a Farmer’s Market is meant for local produce/items only. Most farmer’s markets in the state have guidelines and rules, which do not allow items into the market that were not grown locally. There are many other locations to resell produce other than at the farmer’s market. Also, it is important to note that a person reselling produce must have a license from the health department to do so, plus all people selling at the market must have a sales tax permit as well. These are also questions to ask your local farmers/resellers)

2.) Why are Farmer’s Market Prices so expensive?

  • A Farmer’s Market is NOT Wal-Mart.
  • Farmer’s spend hours upon hours planting seed, weeding, fertilizing, etc. etc. etc. Now that I work from home farming, I see first hand how much work goes into it. Yes, we sell our green beans for $4.00/lb. If you do not think they are worth that much, please come plant the seeds, keep them watered, keep them fertilized, and pick them one by one and tell me how much they are worth.
  • Farmer’s spend a lot of money on seed, fertilizer, tools, water, heat for the greenhouse, and not to mention the big items, such as a green house, cooler, tractors, etc.
  • If a farmer is growing his own produce, he/she cannot afford to sell it as cheap as Wal-Mart. Most of the farmer’s you see at your local farmer’s markets make their living off of one or two market days a week.
  • Wal-mart grows their produce in Mexico to avoid paying living wages for their labor, local farmer’s provide most of their own labor and when they do hire labor, they compensate their workers handsomely (there are strict department of labor regulations on how farm labor must be compensated).

I hope this helps you better understand the importance of farmer’s markets, what to look for to make sure your getting locally grown items, and why prices are higher than store bought produce.

Thank you for supporting your local farmers. Doesn’t it feel good to know and put a face with the farmer that grew your food?!

 

 

Our setup at the market this past Saturday!

Our setup at the market this past Saturday!

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Life Update

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Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written a post on here. One of these days I’m going to consistently post what’s going on here at the farm.   It has been insanely busy that’s for sure. Chad’s family has always told me how crazy busy this time of year is but until I lived here during the summer months I had no earthly idea.

Recap (June till now)

For starters, this year is a little off because of the lack of rain and then pretty constant rain there for a while. While the wheat harvest should have been over and the soybeans going in the ground, they were both going on at the same time so it was all hands on deck. During the month of June, Jake (Chad’s brother) and Danny (Chad’s dad) were combining the wheat and planting soybeans like crazy people. Chad was doing the same for the neighbor, which for the most part left me at the farm to take care of our almost 2 acres of vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers, plus all the animals. It was just a little crazy!

I was also kind of put in charge of VBS with another lady from church. I did tell them I would help and was so glad I did, but I had no earthly idea how much of the wrong time it was to volunteer during the middle of June. As I am trying to adjust to summer here at the farm, the first weeks of farmer’s markets, and being able to help move farm equipment at the drop of a hat, I was also planning for VBS and trying to schedule meetings/times to decorate with the nonexistent schedule I had to work with. I think that has been one of the hardest things about being on the farm. There is no schedule. You never know what will happen or when you will be needed and no matter how tired you are or how bad your migraine is or how important you think what your doing at the time is, you have to go and help whoever needs help. It’s definitely teaching me flexibility, but whether I’m learning or not is another story (ha ha).

Storytime:

So VBS was on a Thursday and Friday evening and Saturday morning. And of course it was literally during the busiest week we have had so far. Those of you that have participated in VBS know it’s a lot of work. But on top of that, I had to get everything picked and organized for market, which we do on Fridays. Chad was combining wheat for the neighbor so it was my job to basically do it all by myself. So I’m trying to get everything picked and it is so hot and I’m running out of time because I need to get to the church. And then Chad’s brother comes and gets me and says he needs help pulling a calf. Oh my goodness…for one I’ve never even seen that done, and for two I do not have time for this! But it had to be done so without complaining we took care of it and things ended up fine. Needless to say, I did miss VBS that night, but luckily my amazing church family swept in and took care of everything. Now, it’s normally not that crazy…but almost.

Farmer’s Market Update:

The Farmer’s Market in Cleveland is going well. We knew it would be slow, but it’s important to us to sell fresh produce to the people of Chad’s hometown. The market has had its ups and downs, but it’s getting better each week. We made the newspaper last week too! So now that the market is getting advertised more we are hopeful more people will come out. And the newspaper lady (who we appreciate so much) came out to the farm yesterday and is doing a story on us for the paper next week! We are going to be extra famous! Ha ha! We are also 2 weeks into our buying group where we take orders in the middle of the week and deliver orders into town. We are really excited about how it’s going, plus it helps us find a home for all the veggies that are ready early in the week that won’t make it to Saturday market.

Garden:

We have definitely had our challenges with garden, and there are days where tears are shed and I want to throw in the towel, but we are not giving up. We have a very severe grasshopper problem. I grew up in north Texas so I know what grasshoppers look like but I have never seen anything like this! They are everywhere! Now I understand how pharaoh felt in Egypt…well no I don’t because after all those grasshoppers I would have freed the slaves right then. They are not only gross, but they are eating everything! We have planted several things recently to watch the grasshoppers kill every single plant after they’re barely up. I had a raised bed of chives and oregano that had been doing really well for weeks and when I woke up yesterday every single plant was completely gone. I don’t cry about it anymore because it’s almost become the norm. We’ve tried chemicals, sevendust, and we just got our grasshopper bait in the mail yesterday so please pray it works! We did get 1.67 inches of rain this morning! We are praising God like no other! We are still in a serious drought and have not been getting enough rain so that’s a constant worry we have when it comes to not only our crops but the entire farms’ livelihood. So praise God for the rain and pray he send lots more.

I’m learning everyday that farming is not easy. It has its challenges, but it is so rewarding.   And though we are just two people we have hope that we are changing the food system little by little and making people aware of the importance of buying local.

And a quick shout out to everyone who has supported us this year: Thank you so much! We could not do this without you!

 

My normal: no makeup, crazy hair, denim shorts, and boots!  Who woulda ever thought?!

My normal: no makeup, crazy hair, denim shorts, and boots! Who woulda ever thought?!

Posing with our setup at the farmer's market

Posing with our setup at the farmer’s market

 

 

 

 

 

 

7500 Too Many

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I can’t believe it’s been two whole months since we moved out to the farm.  I feel like I’ve always lived here.  Before we moved here we did all our vegetable growing in the backyard of our rent house in the middle of the city.  And to be honest I helped very little, went to very little farmer’s markets, and complained a lot.  I just didn’t understand why all of sudden Chad wanted to be a vegetable farmer.  I knew he grew up on a pretty large farm and his dad and his grandpa and probably his great-great-great grandpa were farmers, but Chad was going to be a rock star in a band when we got married in 2010.  And I was raised with two parents who got two paychecks each a month to pay their bills.  Getting lump sums of money a few times a year was not ideal for me at all!  And when you are just starting out farming that lump sum is close to nothing.  So I just didn’t understand why Chad couldn’t get a “real” job and make “real” money.  (And yes I said these things…all the time.)  I wanted to be supportive, but I had no desire to live on a farm in the middle of nowhere and pick veggies and weeds in the hot summer heat with bees flying around my head.  Needless to say, I was not supportive at all and made both of our lives miserable.

So when we decided to move out to the farm I was very nervous.  I knew Chad would be farming a lot more than he ever had and what was I supposed to do?  Well let me tell you that over the course of the past year something happened inside of me.  I have no idea what changed my heart or my attitude but I slowly began to appreciate what Chad wanted to do and even more I wanted to help him!  Though I was still a little nervous about moving out here, I was so excited about where we were going as a couple and as farmers.  I even wanted to help him a little!

It’s actually turned into me helping him a lot!  And I’ve become passionate about it.  I’ve even decided to start growing cut flowers to sell at farmers markets.  And I have a vision and I have dreams about my cut flower business.  Who have I turned into?!

You’re probably wondering what “7500 Too Many” is all about.  Last week Chad and I planted 7500 onions by hand.  If I ever hear anyone say farmers don’t work hard I will literally punch them!  I don’t think I have ever been so tired and sore in my life after last weeks planting, but the crazy thing is that I enjoyed it.  I felt like I had done something important.  Not to get all hippie on you, but I felt one with the earth.  I was barefoot on my hands and knees planting real food for real people.

I think I’m doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.  But come back to me in the middle of the hot summer heat with bugs flying around my head.

Update: Since I wrote this post an hour ago Chad sent me this text while at an agricultural conference in OKC:

Chad: “I’ve picked up some stuff for you today.”

Me: What?!

Chad: “Some farming opportunities that are especially for you.”

Me: “Sweet action Jackson!”

Chad: “Who woulda thunk that I married a farmer haha.”

OnionsOnions