Spinella Farm

  (Waterford Works, New Jersey)
Life on a 100-year-old market farm
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Thoughts for Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dad and Anna were off this morning to Margate to open up the tail gate market there. It was threatening rain which we had gotten some of earlier in the day. But I think it will hold off for the morning which will help them. Margate can be very busy. The first day is usually hectic as all of the residents and vacationers have a pent up desire to buy fresh local food and so they come out in numbers. While I would like to be there with them, I have a few more days in the classroom to close out the year.

On the way to school this morning, I noticed that the mulberries are dropping off the trees. This is a sign of some delicious eating ahead. I love this time of year not only for the cultivated food we eat but the wild bounty that nature brings. Mulberries darken your mouth and if you eat them just right, they release a nice burst of natural sugar from their fruit. But you have to fight the birds off for the natural delicacies!

I like to take a few minutes and lick the nectar from the honey suckle flowers. When I was a boy, this was a rite of passage into summer. Again, there is not much so you need to enjoy every morsel you can taste. It is a lot of work for the honey suckle but it is worth it.

I recently asked someone at the Rancocas Nature Conservancy about a wild food festival. She loved the idea. The park, which is owned by Burlington County, holds a lot of different native foods. But the county is a little hesitant to have people walking about eating wild plants, some of which may give you a tummy ache. Anyway, I pitched the idea that professionals come in and harvest and that us mere mortals eat what is already prepared. Then they could give us a seminar on how to pick and prepare the wild food.

Interestingly, our farmers markets do not have one vendor who sells or prepares wild foods for sale. That gives me an idea for some day . . . 

 
 

Thoughts for Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It was a busy Memorial Day weekend but the weather was good and so was the company.

We had a banner day at market on Saturday. We were one of two vendors that had strawberries so we loaded up the pickup with as many flats of the sweet fruit as we could and did very well at a premium price. You don't mind paying a premium price when the product is excellent. The berries were excellent, trust me.

Planted some lettuce, hoping to catch everyone else going out with their lettuce as ours is coming in. Noticed that the Colorado potato beetles are in full swing. I'll talk about that tomorrow in this blog space as the little striped beetles and I have a long history together.

We sold out early in the market and were able to get home before 1 p.m. In addition to the berries and asparagus, I was able to cobble together some broccoli florets and package them in sealed bags. I blew it on the raising of the spring broccoli as the weather has been conducive to raising it but I didn't feed the heavy feeders enough to get maximum output.

Also planted the third planting of string beans. I put in some French muskmelons. Two years I had a nice crop but last year the deer and disease gave me a zero yield. Hopefully, those and the lemon cucumbers will produce enough to give us a good variety at market. 

 
 

Thoughts for Monday, May 19, 2014

We had a very successful beginning to our market season on Saturday at the Burlington County Ag Center in Moorestown. We sold out completely by noon although we had to stay for another hour or two so we talked to our customers who came a little too late to purchase anything. Better get there earlier next Saturday.

 We were able to offer asparagus, baby kale, baby arugula, baby spinach and spring mix. The market opened at 8:30; by 9:30 we were 90% sold out! Some of our new CSA customers showed up to pick up their baskets so it was nice to meet new faces. These people are really excited by this new opportunity. I hope we don't disappoint them.

Things are shaping up nicely in the market gardens. The second planting of potatoes is up while the first planting is close to being ready to hill. The garlic looks fantastic and I suspect we'll being seeing scapes soon. The new row of radishes came up nice and straight. It likes a little more warmer weather than you think.

I applied Norwegian seaweed extract as a foliar drench to the peas, garlic and potatoes. This is the first time that I have used this product so I will be watching to see how well it works. I was very happy with the Garrett Juice Plus but the cost for the size of my operation makes that product prohibitive.

 
 

Opening up of the season

We got off to a good start. It was not as busy at the Moorestown Farmers Market as in years past. I attribute this to the economy and the novelty of farmers markets plus a proliferation of other markets in the area.

We have established a clientele at Moorestown and so that base of people continues to provide us with strong sales. Most of what was on the table was purchased from our neighbors but our spinach and mixed salad greens sold out in a timely manner.

Our CSA was a much welcomed event for new and old members. We have 10 members this year. We look forward to serving them with quality fruits and vegetables and if Friday was any indication, we are in a good position so far.

 
 
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