Saturday, April 28, 2012

6th Annual Pollinator Day Celebration in Pittsboro

I received this invitation through the Growing Small Farms list serve and thought I'd pass it along to all of you.  It looks like a fun and informative event!

Come join the Chatham County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension and the Chatham County Beekeepers’ Association for our 6th Annual Pollinator Day Celebration on Saturday, May 12, from 10:00 am til 2:00 pm on the lawn at Chatham Mills in front of Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro, NC. The purpose of Pollinator Day is to raise public awareness of the importance of the bees and other pollinators that are needed to produce 80 percent of our flowering plants and one third of our human food crops. The event is co-sponsored by Starrlight Mead.
We have a great program planned for folks of all ages at our event here in Pittsboro. All activities are free!
You can hear presentations about beekeeping – how to get started, equipment needs, management tips – from local expert beekeepers. Tour Cooperative Extension’s demonstration Pollinator Paradise Garden at Chatham Mills and learn how to attract and protect pollinators. From 10:00 am-2:00 pm, feel free to visit the display tables and talk with local beekeepers!
Watch expert beekeepers work an actual hive inside a bee cage (bees inside, participants outside!), see honey bees up close and personal, and get your burning beekeeping questions answered.
Ever tried honey wine? Co-sponsors Starrlight Mead will be doing a mead tasting and a mead making demonstration. Visitors can also visit the meadery where they produce their award-winning honey wines on the Chatham Mills property!
Visit our kids' tent with lots of activities for kids including a scavenger hunt, plant-a-pollinator-plant, beeswax candle making, face painting, Chatham County pollinator coloring books, and more! Watch “Bee TV” - park yourself in front of an observation hive and watch the worker bees tending to the queen. It’s mesmerizing!
We will be giving away native plants and gift certificates from local nurseries throughout the day, thanks to generous support from Niche Gardens, Mellow Marsh Farm, Cure Nursery, Big Bloomers Flower Farm, and Country Farm & Home Supply.
Visit the display inside Chatham Marketplace during the week of May 7.
For more details visit the Growing Small Farms website at

Thanks to the following local businesses for supporting our event:

We hope to see you there!

Volunteer Days April 29 to May 5, 2012

Thursday, May 3 from 8:30 to noon:  Plant more parsnips, prep a bed for sweet potatoes, weed the winter root bed and plant it in cover crops.

Friday, May 4 from 1:00 to 3:00:  Finish anything we didn't get to on Thursday, then add manure to the compost pile and lay down cardboard and wood chips in section D.

Pictures of the Week

Calendula and Dill, both of which you can buy at Tuesday Market, 8:15 to 8:45 AM and 3:00 to 3:45 PM every Tuesday.  Come check it out!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Emerson Farm Extreme Makeover

An enormous thank you to EWS parents Beck Kasimov and Zumrad Ahmedjanova for inviting the Outrageous NC 135 Leadership team from the Legacy Center course they were taking to come and fix up Emerson Farm.  Because of their interest in the farm, people came in from all over the country to work at the farm.  Amazingly dedicated and skilled members of our EWS and local Chapel Hill area community also worked into the night, down in the muck and in the pouring down rain to get the job done.  Below are just a few before and after pictures from this past weekend.  I'm hoping to have more pictures of the work in progress to post next week.  It was quite an event.  Thank you a thousand times to everyone who made these amazing changes possible!

This is our irrigation system before.  The pipes laid on top of the ground and were arranged in a crazy, piecemeal fashion.  They were constantly being tripped over and broken.  They were also an annoying obstacle for wheelbarrows and the weed whacker.
OK so the fact that there isn't much to see here is actually good.  The pipes are now laid out in a logical and organized fashion, thanks to the thinkwork of Bradley Dokter, which means that water pressure will be even across the entire garden.  Each spigot is at knee level so it is no longer a tripping hazard and the pipes themselves are nowhere to be seen!

High school teacher Strouse Campbell with the aid of EWS parent Zumrad Ahmedjanova (Kathleen's nursery) led a team of volunteers in building this beautiful chicken coop and run out of reclaimed wood and roofing from the various buildings that we tore down.  Pictured here is the back side of the coop from which we will be gathering eggs.  Chickens will be arriving soon.

This is what the greenhouse used to look like from the outside.  It's actually a real treasure, this greenhouse, as it is built into an earth berm which makes it more able to maintain an even temperature than the average greenhouse.  It's hard to really tell from this picture just how badly the building needed help...

This picture does a better job of showing how bad things were.  Here is a group of high school students clearing out the last of our things before demolition began.  You can't see it very well, but there is a hole in the roof on the right that is about 6" across and the cedar support pillars are rotted halfway through.  The building was still safe this year, but we weren't too sure about next year.

Here is the outside of the finished greenhouse.  All of the wood on the south side of the building (the side you can see in the picture) had to be replaced.  The old sheet plastic was replaced with clear plastic roofing which will last much, much longer and will do a far better job of protecting the wood beneath it.  The back side is now roofed with tin instead of rolled tar and there is a roof vent at the top to let out the excess heat in the summer.  Inside, they replaced the two cedar posts with 6"X6" posts set in concrete.  They even dug up along the base of the building and put in flowers!

This is a picture of our former storage shed.  I don't think I need to say much about why it had to go.  I think  "inefficient eyesore"  just about sums it up.

Though they worked around the clock to get all the paperwork sorted out for the building permit for the shed, the amazing NC 135 Leadership team was unable to get it quite quickly enough.  Because the permit didn't come through in time, they wanted to replace the old shed with two prefab sheds, but Keith Bartholomew (3rd grade parent and professional contractor) offered to build us something beautiful and more suited to our specific needs later if we could only wait.  So we decided to wait.  Here is the space left behind by the old shed.  If you didn't get a chance to help out with the big event this past weekend and feel like you missed out on all the fun, never fear...  We'll be having another work weekend to put up our new shed soon!

Stay Tuned
More pictures will be coming as they are shared with me.  Not pictured yet are an amazing portable trellis system, a 350 gallon rainwater catchment system, beautiful new signs directing people to the farm and more beautiful new signs to announce market day.

We'll also be doing at least two more big (but not quite sooo big) work days/weekends soon.  One to build a fence so that our beekeepers can move their bees to a dryer location, and one for the new shed once the permits and supplies come in.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Volunteer Days April 21 to April 28, 2012

Big Work Weekend This Weekend
This weekend is a big weekend for the farm.  Folks from the Legacy Center will be leading volunteers in rebuilding the greenhouse and 3 bay shed, building a chicken coop and run, reconfiguring and burying the irrigation pipes and doing a general clean up of the area.  If you are available, please stop by any time between 8 am and dusk on Saturday or Sunday and lend us a hand.  Thanks!!

Plans For Next Week
Tuesday, April 24 from 8:30 to 11:30:  We'll plant leeks, parsnip and ginger, weed the winter root bed and plant buckwheat as a cover crop on all the spots that have been left bare as we have harvested our bounty, and add manure to the compost pile.

Thursday, April 26 from 8:30 to noon:  We'll transplant zinnia, cosmos, aster, thyme and marigolds into the flower beds and finish prepping all three other flower beds for future transplants.

Friday, April 27 from 1:00 to 3:00:  We'll finish anything left over from Thursday and weed, feed and mulch the big perennial beds.

Picture of the Week

Just a few of our garden gnomes having a rest and nibble in the shade.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Big Farm Makeover and Celebration Coming Next Weekend

Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22 from 8 AM to dusk:  EWS parents Zumrad Ahmedjanova and Beck Kasimov (Kathleen's Nursery) have invited a team of people that they are working with through The Legacy Center to come and do some major projects at the farm.  Even as I write up this post, their team is obtaining county permits and finding sponsors and volunteers to help refurbish the greenhouse, replace the worst of the sheds, improve the irrigation system, build a chicken house with run and chicken tractor and do various other odd jobs on the property.  Come and volunteer for a few hours and help this amazing transformation take place.  

On Monday, April 23 from 3:15 to 5:15 we'll be celebrating the grand opening of all of the new improvements that were done at the farm over the weekend.  Everyone is welcome!

Volunteer Days April 15 to 21

Tuesday, April 15, 8:30 to 10:30:  Stir and spray the milk and honey prep, final prep of beds for oh so many different flower varieties that need planting the next week, weed, feed and mulch the big perennial beds.

Thursday, April 19, 8:30 to noon:  plant fennel, and a flat of basil, do a final prep of bed space for basil and stevia, weed, feed and mulch the sorrel.

Friday, April 20, 1:00 to 3:00:  weed, feed and mulch the spinach and dill, plant cover crop where the winter leaf bed is now empty, weed, feed and mulch the asparagus and parsley, weed the cilantro.

Sadly no pictures this week.  I hope everyone is enjoying the break.  See you soon in the garden!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Volunteer Days April 1 to April 7, 2012

Monday, April 2 from 8:30 to 10:30:  We'll transplant lettuce, chard and celery to their beds, move stevia from flats to bigger pots, prep bed space for fennel, and weed and thin the dill.

Tuesday, April 3 from 1 to 3:  We'll stir and spray the milk and honey prep to invite beneficial insects into the garden, and weed, feed, edge, mulch and trellis the raspberries.

Thursday, April 5 from 8:30 to noon:  We'll plant a few more rows of leeks, weed a space for sweet potatoes, and stir and spray fermented equisetum to prevent fungal infections in our plants.

There will be no volunteer day on Friday, April 6.

Pictures of the Week
Eight students came down from the high school to do their in-service at the farm this week.  Here are just a few pictures to show what they did.

First off they removed all of the old broken cement and bricks that used to line our fire ring and replaced them with beautiful stones in a near perfect circle.

While everyone else lugged debris and stones, Shay and Bennett rehung the shed door.  It had fallen completely off its hinges.

Then everyone carted dirt from the pile at the back of the garden and used it to fill in the dents and uneven ground where the compost bins used to be.

Stomping in the new dirt.

Yoon Ju and Brooke were called away from dirt stomping to pump up all the wheel barrow tires.

One of the boys noticed this heart shaped patch of clover right at the garden entrance.  Brooke and I lined it with wood chips so it would be easier to see in the photo.  The garden is full of love this spring!