Those of you who know me, probably know that God has given me a love for the people of East Africa. Since 2010 I have been blessed to go on 9 evangelistic mission trips to Rwanda (1), Uganda (2) and Kenya (6). Throw in a Christian camping ministry trip this past April to South Africa and it adds up to 10 trips across the pond.
Now, for the first time, I have an opportunity to go on an agricultural mission trip to an orphan village in Mbira, Uganda. Our church (Long Hollow Baptist) helps to support the orphanage and this will be my 3rd trip there, but the first time I will be focused on helping the missionaries and staff enhance their farming activities.
Suffice it to say I’m both excited and nervous. Excited to be going back and seeing everyone, plus it’s a great opportunity to take what I’ve learned over the past 3 years farming here and hopefully use this experience to help the village become more sustainable. On the other hand, it makes me very nervous to be the “farming expert” on the team, given all that I don’t know!
The primary focus on this trip will be to install an irrigation system. Doing so will allow them to grow crops year round, even during their “dry” seasons. Currently they are blessed to have a good well, but no way to efficiently move the water from the well to the crops. Installing a solar pump with drip irrigation lines will help improve the yield on their existing food crops. It will also give them a chance to raise cash crops, such as strawberries, to help support the work of the orphanage and school, while at the same time saving valuable water.
Our trip is scheduled to depart January 26 and between now and then, I could use your help on a couple of things. First and foremost, I would love to have a team of prayer warriors on board with us for the trip. If you are willing to commit to pray for our trip, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add you to my “prayer warrior” email list. This way I can email you with specific prayer requests, both before we leave, as well as while we’re in the field.
Secondly, the cost of this trip will be approximately $2,000. The good news is this is the least expensive trip I’ve ever been on to Africa, as we got a great deal on the airfare. The not as good news is this is still not an insignificant amount of money for an “old” farmer. If you feel led to help financially with the cost of the trip, it would be greatly appreciated. To contribute, click on this link and it will take you to the Long Hollow mission page. Scroll down until you come to the Uganda section and click on the “Give Now” button next to our trip listing. From there simply follow the instructions and you can make your contribution securely online.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I know it’s a little more personal than what we typically talk about, but we do consider you a part of our farm family and this is what families do. They share their lives with each other.
Thanks again for being a part of ours and Merriest of Christmas’ to you and your family!
Last Friday we began “recycling” our oldest egg layers. These birds were over 2 years old and had served us (and many of you) well, but it was definitely time for them to begin moving on.
Now I know some of you may be asking, just exactly how do you recycle a chicken? Well, we send them off to our friendly processor and they come back to the farm as “crock pot” chickens!
Back in the good old days, Grandma would call them stewing chickens. That’s because Grandma knew the older a chicken was, the tougher it could be if not cooked properly. So she simply put the bird in a stew pot all day long, knowing it would be nice and tender by dinner time.
Today, crock pots have replaced stew pots in most of our homes, but the concept is still the same. Low and slow makes for a tender, tasty “crock pot” chicken. While there are tons of crock pot chicken recipes out there, I thought I would share this one with you. It’s very simple and gives you great flexibility in how you use the pulled chicken once it’s cooked. Quesadillas? Check. Enchiladas? Check. Chicken salad? Check. Any other chicken dish you can think of? Check!
As most of you already know, our egg layers are raised on pasture and fed non-GMO feed just like our meat birds. This means you get all the positive health benefits of an all-natural, pasture raised chicken without all the negatives associated with confinement raised birds. All in all…a win/win!
Beginning today, we will have crock pot chickens available for sale ($3.49/lb). To get yours, you can stop by the farm most anytime, or visit us tomorrow (Aug 31) at the White House Farmers Market or Saturday at the Hendersonville Farmers Market.
Thanks and we look forward to seeing around the farm soon!
This season marks our 3rd year as a vendor at the Hendersonville Farmers Market. Since it was our first market, we are definitely invested in it being the best market it can possibly be.
What you may, or may not know, is that we are now 1 of only 2 “producer only” farmers at the market. This means the two of us are the only vendors selling exclusively what we grow. As a result, we can tell customers exactly how something was grown, when/how it was harvested and what, if anything, has been sprayed (only organic certified in our case) on the different crops.
Unfortunately some of the other vendors try to be all things to all people. They call themselves farms, but do not grow a great majority of what they sell. Instead they go to auction houses, or regional distribution centers, to buy the produce they turn around and resell. In effect they are buying from commercial farms (probably not local) with no idea how the produce was grown. As long as they are upfront and honest about where their produce comes from, we have no complaints. We learned the first year that people wanting the least expensive “grocery store” produce, with no concern for where or how it was grown, are not our customers. Where we have an issue is when someone is less than honest about where their produce comes from. We feel this hurts the credibility of the market and places those of us who are selling only what we grow at a significant disadvantage.
When visiting a farmers market, whether it’s the HFM or another market, don’t be afraid to ask questions of the farmer before buying. How was it grown? Can we come and visit the farm? When did you harvest this? These are all valid questions and ones we enjoy answering, as we love talking about what we do and how we do it. In addition, be aware of what produce is in season here in Middle TN. If you don’t see it at a producer only vendor’s booth, chances are pretty good it was trucked in and not from around here.
We believe strongly in our slogan, “know your farmer, know your food” and think you do as well. Just know we appreciate you guys and love working hard to provide you and your families with healthy, all-natural produce!
Cage free…vegetarian fed…free range… Ever wonder what these terms really mean? Check out the video below to find out:
“Know your farmer, know your food” is something we say a lot around here. Given the amount of deceptive/vague labeling on store bought food, we believe knowing exactly where your food comes from is the best way to ensure natural, healthy food for your family.
As we kick off our 3 rd year of all-natural farming, I thought it could be helpful to share some past educational posts, as well as a couple new articles to help our friends and customers become more intentional when buying food for the family. Here’s a short list that you will hopefully find helpful:
As most of you probably know, we sell whole, pasture-raised chicken (more info) here on the farm and at the Hendersonville Farmer's Market. We've made the decision to only sell whole chickens because we believe utilizing the whole bird allows our customers to get the biggest bang for their buck.
Of course when we tell this to potential new customers, we hear things like "how do I use a whole chicken", "there's only 2 of us", "we only eat white meat" or "how do you cut up a whole chicken". I must confess, all of these used to apply to us as well. However, now that we've learned how to maximize the whole bird, we love it and hopefully you will too!
To help you get the most out of your next whole chicken, here are some helpful tips and recipes:
Recently the Nashville Farmer’s Market was in the news when the announcement was made that this spring they will revert to being a “producer” only market. In other words, only the people who actually make, raise or grow the products they are selling will be allowed to have booths.
The decision has been both applauded and derided, depending on perspective. Local farmers who sell at the market are 100% in support, as are customers who want to buy directly from the farmer growing the food. On the other side are the “resalers” (wholesale produce suppliers) who have been selling at the market for years and the customers who prefer convenience and year-round produce availability.
I posted the article from The Tennessean on my personal Facebook page, as well as our farm page, and received numerous well-stated comments from both sides. As I thought about replying to each one, I realized it made more sense to write this post and explain in more detail where I land in this debate. Obviously, as a local farmer, I have a dog in this hunt, so it’s only fair our customers (and potential customers) know exactly where we stand on this issue.
Let me start by giving a couple of definitions of what is a farmer’s market:
In both cases the emphasis is on farmers selling directly to customers. This is why farmer’s markets were started. To give local farmers a cost effective way to connect and sell directly to local customers. As a new farm starting out last year, selling at a local “farmer’s market” was critical for us. It gave us exposure to new customers that we otherwise would not easily have gotten and a number of those customers have continued to support us through the winter.
While definitely a win for us, participating in this market also taught us some valuable lessons. Unlike the direction the Nashville market is taking, our market is not a “producer-only” market. In other words there are produce vendors there who are “resalers” and do not grow what they sell. Some are very open about this and others…not so much. As the season went on, these are the lessons we learned…
That being said, I would definitely like to see full disclosure from all the vendors at our market. Did you make, raise or grow the products you’re selling? If not, be up front and tell people where they came from. It’s pretty obvious when the bottom of the mug says “made in China”, but not so much when it comes to produce. I believe full disclosure helps even the playing field and gives the local farmer (like us) a fighting chance to be successful at market.
The next time you’re shopping at a farmer’s market, and in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask where that produce came from and how it was grown. It’s your right as a consumer to get an honest answer before spending your hard-earned money. For those of you who really care about where the food you’re eating comes from, we have very simple advice for you… “Know your farmer, know your food.”
We would love to hear more from you and what your thoughts are on this topic. Please feel free to share in our comments section.
As someone new to “commercial” farming, I must admit I did not know a lot about GMOs when we launched our farm last year. However, over the past year I’ve learned enough to realize the use of GMOs is a very complex issue, with the discussion driven by passionate people on both sides who know a lot more about science than I ever will.
For those who may not know, GMO stands for genetically modified organism.
Dictionary.com defines a GMO as "an organism whose genome has been altered by the techniques of genetic engineering so that its DNA contains one or more genes not normally found there. Note: a higher percentage of food crops such as corn and soybeans are genetically modified."
Basically it’s inserting genes from one organism into another in order to accomplish a desired outcome in the host organism.
My intent with this post is not to try and persuade you to believe one way or the other, but to simply raise awareness. I want to encourage you to do your own research and make your decisions based on what you believe is best for you and your family. To help kick start the education process, here are 3 links I would suggest you read:
This past Saturday we hosted our first annual spring open house here on the farm. The weather was beautiful and we had a great turnout, including a girl scout troupe from Donelson. I think it’s safe to say, a good time was had by all!
Here are just a few pics from a fun day…
Thanks to all who were able to join us. If you weren’t able to make it, no worries. Folks are welcome to visit anytime and Lynn is already planning the fall open house!
In my last post, Where Do Eggs Come From?, I talked about how important we believe it is for kids (and adults) to know where their food comes from. To help with this education process, we are delighted to have folks come out and tour the farm. Gives us a great opportunity to show people around and share what we’re doing.
Unfortunately we know not everyone lives close enough to be able to stop by for a visit, but no worries. We’re still here to help. The author of a farm blog I follow, Righteous Bacon (gotta love that name), has written a book called The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen. The Kindle version is only $4.99 and would be a great way to help educate younger kids on where their food really comes from.
In addition to the book, another great resource to use with children comes from the Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom folks. They’ve developed a curriculum, complete with lesson plans and activities, to go along with the book. Here’s a link to it. Definitely something that can used in the classroom, or by home school parents.
We hope these are some helpful ideas and remember…Eat fresh, eat local!