Elliott Family Farm

  (Grapeland, Texas)
Small Fresh Market Food Producer
[ Member listing ]

With or WIthout

Much discussion going on in Washington DC about too many things. Somewhere in all the fray is the Farm Bill, still entangled with the food stamp issue. I am not going to come down on either side of it on this blog. It does, however, affect planning.

Planning is essential, and low margin crops require careful planning. Private insurance is more expensive than Federal Crop Insurance, but if you are going to use it, your approach needs to be carefully screened. Your risk tolerance will be tested. As well, the Food Safety Act, will begin to dictate what we can and cannot do, often in conflict with the National Organic Standard. We could end up raising animal feed.

We are at a crossroads. Do we continue to be a small scale organic grain and flour miller or do we go with the path of least resistance, farm more land, and sell crops to Cargill? We have a plan in place and an alternative or two. The plan we continue to work is to remain small. It is our intent to grow to suit our market in the low to no gluten flour sector. (Is there such a sector?) We want to sell more rye flour and more grades of it. We cannot raise rice where we are, but we have sources for organic rice. Most other cereals we can raise with ease.

We are not too cozy with amaranth, as we already have a wild amaranth infestation. Our neighbors would be very upset if we encouraged it. On the other hand, it is growing in popularity and... it is a weed. A summer weed. We seem to have no trouble raising those.

In the meantime, the grain drill is waiting to be painted and reassembled. Rye four is selling slowly, but we knew that would be the case, We continue to build a local market. Hoping for wetter winter weather this year. The fall has started out well in that respect.


Whole Grain Rye Flour

Elliott Family Farms announces our fresh ground whole grain rye flour made from rye raised organically on our farm! It is available in 2 pound bags on the farm or via US Mail. If you use the mail order option, and buy two, they ship for the same shipping price as one. The flour has a wonderful flavor and texture. We us it ourselves and have a scrumptious Whole Grain Rye Blueberry Pecan Muffin recipe we have pinned on Pinterest. http://pinterest.com/pin/420875527647341999/

In the Fall we hope to premier our Native American Cornmeal.

Those who are waiting for peas, we hope to have some in a couple of weeks. We have gotten some much needed rain recently.



What a difference a year makes!

What a difference a year makes! Moisture has returned to these parts and our pea crop is doing ok. We hope to harvest between May 19 and May 23 for the first crop of the summer. If moisture stays with us we will replant and harvest again 60 or so days later.

There are a few 1015 onions that got a late start and hopefully they will come on and make as well. This is probably the last year we will attempt root crops. We need to simplify our operation and intend to sell the carrot harvester. It is a 1964 Scott Viner in good working order. We are asking $5000 for it if anyone is interested.

Our focus will be strictly on peas and beans. Hope to see you on harvest day. Check our Facebook page for updates. Elliott Family Farm on FB


Dry Dry Year

2011 has been a very dry year. It has been very challenging to attempt farming. The word is that produce crops are failing all over East Texas or have already failed. The only bright spot on Elliott Family Farms has been sweet potatoes. We planted them in out of desperation, really.

All our southern pea varieties failed, and it is really bad when it is too dry for peas. Sweet potatoes require less water than peas, a fact that I was not totally aware of when a friend suggested that I plant them. It was late. Generally they are planted in June these days. My grandfather, however, planted them as late as July and August before, Texas being a hot dry place anyway.

I was able to locate Beauregard Sweet Potato slips at Mathews Ridgeway farms in Wynn, Arkansas. It was late in the year and they maintained their beds another week until I could get there and pick them up. We bought 24,000 slips of which we planted 6000 and a neighbor planted 18,000. The neighbor did not provide sufficient water so all his plants failed.  We had an 80% survival rate and were able to peg the runners up and down the row to cover the smaller skips.

We used organic materials to control pests and a liquid organic fertilizer to boost growth. The slips were planted on various row widths from 40” to 60”. We like the 40” row best with plant spacing at 12” to account for some death loss. We used disc hillers to make the beds initially throwing up a 16” bed then running the rotary tiller over the top to further condition the bed and knock it down to 12”. 

The crop is doing well and will hopefully pull us through this year.  We need rain desperately. We will be harvesting the sweet potatoes in November around the 15th.  If we do not get rain, winter cover crops fava beans and English peas will be delayed or not planted. We are seeding sweet onions for sets in October for January transplanting. If we get no rain, we will sell the plants.

Pray for rain.

We are reselling used mechanical harvesting equipment and have several machines available. Brands include Oxbo/Pixall, Byron and Chisholm Ryder. We also have continuous shellers, reefers trailers, and grading equipment for beans and peas available.


Turnips Greens and Turnips Available Now

We have turnip greens and turnips available now until after the weekend. Be advised, we may sell to entire lot to a restraunt chain. There is a deal in the works.All inquireies are welcome. We try to serve the local patron first.


March Update

English peas podded early. Too much heat. We are switching to an old heirloom Wando next season. On the other hand turnips are doing nicely. Most folks in tis part of the world prefer the greens rather than the turnips so we will be harvesting both.  The plan is to follow both crops with southern peas in April.  Top Pick Pinkeye and Top Pick Cream the first cycle. Later on we will plant Top Pick Pinkeye and Zipper Cream. We also intend to plant Vardeman Sweet Potatoes for the summer.

We have some Brandywine Red tomatos that will be ready for transplanting in a couple of weeks, some nice yellow squash, and a few very hot Hanebero Peppers.

Wish I had better news on the green peas. That is farming.



It seems as though Google has the location of the farm messed up. I went to Google Maps and repaired it but it has to be reviewed before the changes will be made, hopefully at the end of business today.


Baby Turnips, Turnips and English Peas

I have been posting some baby turnip recipes on the Facebook page, Elliott Family Farm, and a few on the Dallas Farmers Market page.  We have a good crop started and barring any bad weather, it should develop nicely.

Baby turnips are sometimes thought to be a specific variety of turnip, and some are used more often than others. In reality, they are simply immature turnips. I do not yet use a precision seeder; I use a JD 71 Flex planter circa 1980’s. Bottom line, I over seeded. Once that is done one must thin the crop by hoeing or by pulling the extra plants up by hand.  These baby turnips have a use and some people really like them. They tend to be sweeter and tenderer than mature turnips and may be used in salads and cooking, hence, the recipes.

We need more friends on Facebook and we need word to get around.  We love the Dallas Farmer’s Market but we love selling the produce straight of the farm even more!  Baby Turnips in March, Turnips and English Peas in April. We will have plenty!


Late Winter Update

Much has transpired since our last entry. Frost came early and killed the peas. The dry weather returned and cover crops would not germinate. In Texas dry weather is always a factor, even though East Texas receives an average of 32 inches of rainfall a year. With this in mind, we started drilling an irrigation well.

We also learned of the passing of a good friend in Shreveport, LA over the summer. Benny Lessman owned a produce market in Shreveport for many years, a place started by his father, Marvin some 40 years ago. Benny did a lot of business in this place. He farmed about 400 acres nearby, in Bossier City and supplemented his inventory buying from local farmers and from the Dallas Farmers Market.  His heirs decided to close and sell the place and all the equipment. If any of you are interested, they are asking about $495,000 for the store. It is a good location. One can still sit in the parking lot and in 15 minutes count at least five cars come to check and see if the place is open or is going to reopen.  There is demand for fresh produce.

I bought some of Benny’s equipment; the1978 model Chisholm Ryder Multi Density Bean Harvester, a Thompson Industries continuous bean and pea sheller, a winnowing unit, a vibratory sorting table and a grading table.  We also took a trip to Grant, MI and purchased a Scott Viner carrot harvester. We are now capable of growing and harvesting much more than beans.

We are designing a greens head for the Chisholm Ryder capable of harvesting leafy greens and head lettuce. Hopefully next winter we will be in the specialty greens business utilizing floating row covers and drip irrigation.

Today I planted English Peas and purple top turnips. We should have greens and small turnips when we thin in 30 days and mature turnips and shelled English peas in 60 or so days.  Become our friend on Facebook   and watch our blog here. Things are coming along.


Tropical moisture brings new life to Indian Summer!

 Good rainfall the last couple of days and on our well drained East Texas hills, this will bring the last session of purple hull peas to fruition. Those of you who did not get any, or need more, there will be some for the fall. We decided not to plant green beans, rather to let the peas come back volunteer, and come back they have. Other than a couple of small seed plots, there will be peas available.

We are nurturing a new variety of cream pea that we expect to have in quantity late next year. We are very excited about this pea, since it is a bush type of a locally popular pea. We hope to have seed available in a couple of seasons. 

We are proceeding with planting our white mustard green manure cover crop for the fall, and we will be doing soil tests every so often to appraise its effect. We still plan to plant English peas to over winter, and perhaps some fava beans. Most likely we will mix some fall turnips and some rutabagas in there as well.

In the garden, we are going to experiment with row covers in order to get a better start on tomatoes and peppers.  We do not grow these crops in huge quantities, so it is a good test case. The container garden from last year did not meet our expectations. I firmly believe in the soil, not hydroponics, greenhouse plants etc.

Diversification plans proceed as fertility and soil structure improve. Since we are looking at root crops, and how best to scale that project up, we are interested in a one row root crop harvester. Various grading equipment may be needed. Along that line, we are looking for a Pixall Vibratory Sorting Table and an even feeder to augment our bean and pea business.

That is all the news for now. Feel free to contact us. Purple hull peas only thru October.   


End of the Summer Southern Pea Seaon

The summer pea season was fast and furious. We picked sold and shellled a record amount of peas right on the farm. On farm response was so good, we didn't take anything to the Dallas Farmer's Market. Folks were buyng peas straight off the back of the picker.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and that is especially true with a crop season. We are thankful for all the folks who came out to the farm. We are grateful for your support.

The hot summer sun has returned and the rain is gone for now. It is doubtful the peas will recover for another picking. On that note we proceed into the fall. We still have not decided whether or not to do a green bean crop. There is still time to decide. We are going to grow a fall seed crop of a new variety of pea. It is an improved old time favorite. As far as we know, we are the only ones to have this cultivar in East Texas. We aquired a sample from USDA and we are working on a larger quantity from other seedsmen. We need enough saved to support a fresh market enterprise.  

More good things to come.


Harvest Update

Harvest time was very busy. I didn't get to give the updates I wanted on the harvest due to problems with internet service. I will be posting a video soon. We had lots of new customers come to the farm. SO many, in fact, that we did not go to DFM. Most everything was sold straight off the picker. This is our prefered venue. We shelled 60 bushels in a one bushel sheller, not including the 14 quarts we put up of our own.

There may be more peas before the fall, we are mowing the entire place and tilling part of it under. If we get adequate rain we will follow this crop with green beans, Probably Contender beans. If there is demand for Kentucky Wonder (bush type) we may plant some of those. Remember when you contact us we will give you an aproximate harvest date. It is up to you to contact us near that day to confirm.

If we cannot contact you, and sometimes we cannot after repeated attempts, we will have to skip over your name. Orders are filled first come, first served basis.

Again, we thank all of you who came to see us.


Pea Day Accellerated

Hot summertime Texas weather and good moisture have combined to give us peas a coulple of days early. The harvest started yesterday and will continue until tomorrow. Plan to come see us no later than tomorrow, and preferably today. We have sold lots of peas so far and we have plenty more in the feild.

We appreciate all of you who have come out and supported the farm. We will continue to offer the best possible naturally grown produce we can grow. I wold linger abit butn I must get back to work. Again, thanks to all!

Sam Elliott


Elliott Family Farm featured in East texas Farm and Ranch News

The farm and our oldest son, Nathan has been featured in East Texas Farm and Ranch news.We are very proud of both our children. They work very hard on the place and are a credit to their ancestors.The artical tells a bit about what we do and how we do it. The pea crop is showcased in some very nice pictures. For more recent pics of the crop visit us on Facebook.

We believe we raise a superior product and we love the fact that no chemical inputs were used. That is what sets us apart from most everyone else in the area. Our organic methods, though they took time to implement, have yeilded benefits far beyond our expectations. It is our hope that the community will support our efforts by purchasing our product.

Our contact information is in our profile.Please feel free to call us if you want peas. They are available, shelled or unshelled. Picking date is still on or about July 29. We look foward to serving you. The link to East Texas Farm and Ranch News is:



The Rain Came Down and the Crops Came Up

The rain came down and the crops came up. God is good. We are going to have a bumper crop of southern peas. These pinkeye purple hulls are wonderful. We think they are far better than BVR or Quick Pick and certainly yield better. Harvest date should be July 28 or 29.

This year’s crop is absolutely outstanding. Better yet, it was done organically. We are not yet certified organic, but we made major strides this year. Our plan is based around cover crops and organic fertilizers based on sea kelp and bone meal. As we move forward we will continue to monitor our soil fertility and base our crop rotation on the needs of the soil. Our goal is the best soil health possible, producing healthy plants that resist predation from disease and bugs.

The results of our effort are a beautiful healthy crop. Please visit our farm photo album linked below. Anyone who thinks organic is puny and weak needs to see this.


We are not a CSA, we are a truck farm that sells locally to individuals and businesses. We like to attend the Dallas Farmers Market with our produce as well. We hope to be there the last weekend of July with fresh shelled product. We look forward to seeing all our friends there. Please make note of our Facebook page as well, become friends with us, and pass it along to your friends.






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