Winter Farm Share – Week 6

Here’s our mini-share for week 6 of the winter season.  Sign up now for our Spring/Summer 2018 season!

Blessing Falls 2018 Winter season Week 6 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Cilantro, Beet greens, Brussels Sprouts, Lettuce, Broccoli, Carrots, Cabbage, Kale, Spinach

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2018 Austin/Round Rock Area Farm Share CSA with Home Delivery

Blessing Falls LLC grows natural, safe, healthy vegetables and fruit using organic methods and practices and delivers the harvest throughout the greater North Austin and Round Rock area, including Pflugerville, Hutto, and Taylor. Our family farm was established in 2010, each year adding more garden space and different varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, berries, and animals.  Partner with us and enjoy the health and taste of natural produce in your weekly farm share conveniently delivered to your home or workplace. Grass fed beef, and pasture-raised eggs from organically fed hens are also available with your weekly order.

“Community Supported Agriculture”, or CSA, means farmers and supporters partnering together for the sake of healthy, nutritious food. Some farms call this a weekly “farm share” or “veggie basket” program.  Supporters join as members, paying the farm expenses early in the season when costs are highest. As the crops mature, all members enjoy sharing in the harvest. This community of farmer and members benefits everyone – costs and risks are shared and none of the harvest is wasted but goes directly to waiting members as soon as it’s harvested. You may think of it as a subscription to fresh, natural food. Costs are paid early and the bounty is enjoyed every week. Click here to join our CSA now or continue reading for all the details.

Season Schedule

Spring/Summer Produce: 14 weeks April 6 – July 6

Fall/Winter Produce: schedule to be determined

Eggs and Beef are available every week

Weekly Shares

Members decide if they want a full share or just a half. The full share works well for 3 to 6 adults/teens, while the half share works best for couples and families with only young children. To give you an idea, here are four full shares from a past CSA …

Two Full Shares from early and late Spring 2016

Two Full Shares from early and late Spring

Two Full Shares from mid Summer 2016

Two Full Shares from mid Summer

For more examples, see our “CSA at a Glance” showing shares from every week of harvest during a previous season.  Note these are all Full size shares, with Half size shares generally having half as much produce each week.

The harvest varies throughout each season. Here’s what we’re planning this year:

Spring: asparagus, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, radish, Chinese cabbage, fennel, red and green cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, mizuna, spinach, carrots, cilantro, peas, beets, onions, dill, cucumbers, yellow squash, blackberries, zucchini, green beans, dandelion greens, bok choy 
Summer: onions, dill, cucumbers, Swiss chard, Carrots, yellow squash, tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, green beans, cantaloupe, jalapeños, basil, various winter squash varieties (spaghetti, acorn, butternut), eggplant, watermelon, okra, bell peppers, pumpkins

Delivery/Pickup

We’ll deliver your weekly share to your home or workplace in the north and east greater Austin area including North Austin, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Hutto, and Taylor.  No need to meet us at a specific time and you do not need to be home. If you won’t be home or don’t want to be interrupted just leave an ice chest and we’ll deliver your produce between 9:00am and 5:00pm on Friday each week. If you’d prefer to pick up your share, we have 3 convenient pick-up sites in Round Rock and Pflugerville where you can pick up from 4pm until 7pm Fridays.  You can also pick up at the farm between Taylor and Elgin. Most items you’ll receive will have been harvested within the previous 24 hours. Some are harvested the same morning we deliver so your share is as fresh as possible.

Cost

Our price has stayed the same for several years.   We’re pleased to again this year offer a full share at just $36/week and half shares at $24 per week. Home/workplace delivery is $5 per week and there’s no charge for picking up at any of the regular sites. You can mail us your check or go online and pay with your PayPal account or any credit card.

Early signup discount offered through February 23.

Ready to Join Us?

Simply fill out this form and we’ll get right back to you with a confirmation and details on how to make your payment.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Where exactly can you deliver?

Our current pick up sites are located at the farm (east Williamson county between Thrall and Elgin), Rise Martial Arts in Pflugerville (convenient to North Austin/Wells Branch and west Pflugerville), Blackhawk/Falcon Pointe (convenient to east Pflugerville and Hutto) and central Round Rock.  More may be added depending on the locations and schedules of members who join.

Home or workplace delivery is available in these areas:
Round Rock: zip codes 78664, 78665
Pflugerville: zip code 78660 west of Weiss Lane
Hutto: zip code 78634 south of University/Chandler
Taylor: within Taylor city limits

Am I guaranteed plenty of produce each week? What if crops fail?
Our goal is to deliver an abundance each week, so that you have plenty and even some left to share with friends and neighbors. However, the harvest can vary according to weather, insect pressure, etc. It could even fail due to a hailstorm or other uncontrollable events. (For example, In 2016 we had a severe thunderstorm with high winds and hail.  We had to delay the harvest a couple weeks to let the garden recover and then we resumed deliveries and extended the season for two weeks so everyone received all the shares they paid for.)  If the harvest is low on a given week, it will usually bounce back the next. A cold front or storms can affect the harvest but it usually comes back strong. If harvest lags significantly, we’ll supplement shares with healthy, safe, natural produce we’ll buy from other local farmers we know and trust. If we were to have a ruinous failure affecting the whole season such that we are unable to continue harvesting, we will credit your undelivered shares toward the next season.

Can I pick and choose what I receive in my weekly share?
Members do not choose specific varieties for their share but will receive an assortment of whatever is ripe for harvest during the week. We’ll make sure you have enough of a particular variety so you can prepare a whole dish with it. We focus on growing the usual, typical, mainstay vegetables and also some that may be unfamiliar. We publish recipe ideas each week and have more ideas from previous seasons. We trust you’ll enjoy the adventure of trying a few new things each season. In the rare event that you receive something you don’t like or can’t use, please share those with friends.

What other farm products are available?
We have farm eggs and grass fed beef you can add to your weekly produce share.

Can I visit the farm?
Certainly! As a valued member and partner you are welcome to come see your produce as it grows, along with the farm cattle, chickens, pigs, and milk cow.  During May we’ll have an open farm on a Saturday (date TBD).  You’re welcome on other days too – just contact us first so we can be sure we’re on the farm that day. You can always come pick up your share at the farm Fridays at 1pm, even if you are normally receiving deliveries, and have a look around while you’re here.

What if I’m not home to receive my delivery?
20150122_184519_resizedSimply leave an ice chest near your front door or some other designated shady spot. A medium sized 48 quart chest with a couple freezer packs or frozen water bottles will hold a full share, eggs, and beef and keep it cool all day and possibly even overnight.


If I am out of town for a week, can I skip my delivery or pickup?

Since the produce harvest keeps coming and cannot be stored more than several days, we cannot skip or defer CSA produce shares. We will gladly deliver your share to an alternative address within our delivery area. Your share could be a welcome gift to a local friend or you could have them pay you for it. We can also donate your produce share to a community food pantry.
Since eggs and beef are more easily stored and preserved, we can defer delivery of these. For example, if your weekly order includes a full share of produce, 2 dozen eggs, and 2 pounds ground beef then we could deliver the produce to a friend and keep the eggs and beef. When you return the following week you’d get 4 dozen eggs and 4 pounds of ground beef. So you would not lose any eggs or beef you’ve paid for. Of course, you can have us deliver the eggs and beef to your friend – your choice.

How do members and the farm stay in touch?
In addition to the farm websiteFacebook page, and Instagram we’ll email our members weekly reminders. The email will remind you of your day of delivery and give more details on the items in that week’s share. To contact us you can simply reply to these emails or contact us through the website or call the phone number we make available to all our members.

More questions? Just let us know. When you’re ready to join us, simply fill out this form and we’ll get right back to you with a confirmation and details on how to make your payment.

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Winter Farm Share – Week 5

Here’s our mini-share for week 5 of the winter season:

Blessing Falls 2018 Winter season Week 5 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Carrots, Baby Beets/Greens, Cabbage, Broccolu, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Cilantro, Brussels Sprouts

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Winter Farm Share – Week 4

Here’s our mini-share for week 4 of the winter season:

Blessing Falls 2018 Winter season Week 4 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Scallions (green onions), Cilantro, Carrots, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Cabbage, Broccoli

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Winter Farm Share – Week 3

After another blast of arctic air last week, the lettuce and Swiss chard are in pretty bad shape.  Most everything else looks OK, a bit burned in some cases but recovering OK.  Here’s our mini-share for week 3 of the winter season:

Blessing Falls 2018 Winter season Week 3 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Beets, Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Kale, Spinach, Napa Cabbage shoots/thinnings, Broccoli, Cilantro

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Winter Farm Share – Week 2

Here’s the mini-share for week 2 of the winter season:

Blessing Falls 2018 Winter season Week 2 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Kale, Broccoli shoots, leaf lettuce, Cabbage shoots, Spinach, Cilantro, Broccoli (center)

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Winter Farm Share – Week 1

The garden survived into January!  The first 3 days of the year temperatures were continuously under freezing, with 16 degrees as the low on the final day of the cold spell. Most of the chard, lettuce, beets, radishes took a pretty good beating but are bouncing back.  Cabbage, broccoli, kale, cilantro, spinach look great.  Waiting to see how the brussel sprouts and cauliflower turn out – still waiting on them to mature for harvest.

We actually had a share last week but didn’t get a photo.  It was a lot of lettuce, chard, broccoli, and cabbage we picked before the freeze.  Here’s this week’s share:

Blessing Falls 2018 Winter season Week 1 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: buttercrunch lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cilantro, radish, spinach, beets, kale, broccoli shoots/thinnings

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Pasture Raised Pork Available – Spring 2018

Red Wattle pigs at Blessing Falls Farm

January 11 update: in less than 24 hours, our Spring pork has been claimed and reserved.  Please contact us to be placed on the waiting list.  Thank you!

Our heritage breed, pasture raised hogs were born in summer 2017.  We expect them to be ready for processing in May of this year. These are the Red Wattle breed and have been raised with full time access to our pastures where they can graze, root, run, and just lay around – to be a true pig. They are kept in with electrical fencing which we move regularly to give them access to fresh grass. Pigs cannot live on grass alone so we supplement their food with conventional (non-organic) hog feed.

As with our beef, our pigs are free of antibiotics, synthetic hormones and implants. These are not vaccinated and have had no drugs of any kind. They are handled gently, never hit or abused in any way. They were born a few miles away on a local farm that practices these same humane, natural, sustainable methods.

Pigs naturally raised on pasture at Blessing Falls

Pigs naturally raised on pasture at Blessing Falls

We expect these to weigh around 250 pounds at processing. We’ll sell them by the half or whole. A half should give you about 60 pounds of packaged pork in your freezer. You can have it processed any way you like, including cured ham and bacon, pan and link sausage, along with pork chops, ribs, roasts, hocks, lard, etc.  Our price is $4.50 per pound (plus processing costs paid to the butcher), based on hanging weight. A half hog’s estimated hanging weight should be around 75-90 pounds. When your half is ready, you’ll pick up directly from the butcher – at either their main shop in Westphalia (15 minutes east of Temple) or from their Hutto shop for an additional convenience fee. For more on processing costs and hanging weight vs. live or packaged weight, see details on our grass fed beef. The processing costs are similar to beef though hogs yield a higher percentage of packaged pork vs. hanging weight than beef does, typically about 75%. You’ll get even more usable pork from a pig if you can use the feet, lard, head, and organs.

Half Hog from Spring 2017. Hanging Weight was 87 pounds

Packaged Cuts from half hog, Spring 2017, hanging weight 87 pounds

We have a limited amount of pork this year. You can reserve a half with a deposit of $80, or a whole with a $160 deposit. Just contact us and we’ll get back with you regarding the deposit details.

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Fall Farm Share – Week 13

Here’s our share for the last week of 2017 – the 13th and final week of our Fall season.

Blessing Falls 2017 Falls season Week 13 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Dill, Carrots, Kale, Butterhead Lettuce, Lettuce Mix, Chinese/Napa Cabbage, Traditional Cabbage, Broccoli, Spinach, Cilantro

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Fall Farm Share – Week 12

Here’s our share for week 12 of the Fall 2017 season

Blessing Falls 2017 Falls season Week 12 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Cabbage, Lettuce Mix, Bok Choy, Dill, Cilantro, Radishes, Carrots, Broccoli, Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard

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Fall Farm Share – Week 11

Since it snowed last week, it seems we’re past the fall season.  However, we’ll stay with the Fall season designation through the end of 2017.

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 11 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Head lettuce, Cilantro, Beets, Radishes, Carrots, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Chinese/Napa Cabbage, Lettuce mix, Kale

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Fall Farm Share – Week 10

Here’s our Fall season week 10 ‘mini’ share:

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 10 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Radishes, Swiss Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Spinach, Butternut Squash, Dill, Cilantro, Butterhead Lettuce, Broccoli

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Fall Farm Share – Week 9

Here’s our Fall season week 9 ‘mini’ share:

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 9 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Carrots, Chinese/Napa Cabbage, Beet Greens, Spinach, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Kale, Swiss Chard, Lettuce Mix

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Fall Farm Share – Week 8

Here’s our Fall season week 8 ‘mini’ share:

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 8 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Dill, Cilantro, Beet Greens, Spinach, Broccoli, Mizuna, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Kale. Lettuce Mix

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Review: Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables

The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables is the sequel to Ben Hartman’s 2015 book The Lean Farm. Ben is a successful market garden farmer based in Indiana. His first book details his methods for achieving a profitable farm through reducing farm waste, increasing labor efficiency, and high productivity from staff and employees. The first book is aimed at those who can successfully farm and market high volumes of market crops but are struggling financially due to high costs and long hours. I enjoyed the first book but it was somewhat frustrating since it was low on farming details and focused on combining steps, reducing space, etc. I wanted to know more about how they actually farmed – seeding methods, crop choices, preventing weeds and pest damage, packaging the harvest and so forth.

This new book answers those questions and more. From planning your growing calendar, to bed preparation, composting, starting seeds, transplanting, weed management, and customer sales this is a fairly complete guide to successful farming. This shows how Ben and his team achieve the abundance that they must manage “lean” in order to make a profit and support their family and several employees. Several case studies on some of the more important crops really bring everything together so you can envision how the growing AND the “leaning” work in practice.

Throughout the book, Ben reminds the reader that this is not a how-to book but rather should help develop a mindset to look for ways to continually improve your farm. Aspiring farmers can see what works for Ben specifically in enough detail so they can make the transition to developing a successful “lean farm” in their own community. Consider this book along with Jean-Martin Fortier’s 2014 book The Market Gardener as the two bookends in your essential small farm library. Both farmers have similar approaches and scale but there are many differences and few redundancies in the books. Any small farm grower would do well to extensively study both these successful farmers and develop a plan that will work for your own farm. Jean Martin is in Quebec while Ben Hartman is in Indiana so Ben’s book may reflect seasonality that’s common to more American farms. I am longing for a third book “Market Gardening along the Gulf Coast” that would detail success in Texas’ challenging long, hot, dry summers amidst invasive Bermuda grass.

 

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Fall Farm Share – Week 7

Here’s our week 7 share for the fall season:

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 7 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Bok Choy, Butternut Squash, Cucumbers, Cilantro, Dill, Swiss Chard, Butterhead Lettuce, Broccoli, Radishes, Kale, Spinach

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Fall Farm Share – Week 6

Here’s our week 6 share for the fall season:

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 6 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Cucumbers, Bok Choy, Spaghetti Squash, Cilantro, Kale, Dill, Butterhead Lettuce, Leaf Lettuce Mix, Swiss Chard

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Heritage Wheat and Grain Experiment

We’re experimenting with heritage grain plantings. We have 4 different wheats (Turkey Red, Marquis, Sonora, Red Fife) and 1 rye (Danko) from Barton Springs Mill in Austin. We’re planting in two different field conditions and will monitor the growth, insect pressure, and harvest amounts to see what would be the best grain and what conditions are required for growing heritage grains annually on our farm.

On November 7, we planted in our normal vegetable garden area and in the field. Most were sown and tilled in. We planted one section in rows to simulate how a grain drill might plant the wheat.

All sections were fertilized with cottonseed meal and soft rock phosphate. Cottonseed meal was applied at a rate of 250 lbs/acre which amounted to 2 cups for each of our rows. The rows were all 35 feet long and 4 feet wide for 140 square feet total.. Soft rock phosphate was applied at 140 lbs/acre which is about 10 ounces (by volume) on our rows.  The cottonseed meal is a natural source of nitrogen.  Our fields and pastures also have a healthy amount of burr medic, a clover-like legume which will fix nitrogen in the soil naturally. Soft rock phosphate is a natural source of calcium and phosphorus.  The garden soil was tested in September and pH was found to be 6.8.  No major mineral deficiencies or imbalances were found.  The field area was garden area about 3 years ago and was amended/balanced at the time.  It has not been recently tested but is expected to be similar to the tested garden area, as all were amended at the same time.

For the plantings in our prepared garden, we applied fertilizers, sowed seed and tilled to mix it in. For most rows we used a tilling depth setting of ‘3’. For one row of Turkey Red wehat we tilled at ‘2’ (which is deeper than 3) and for another row of Turkey Red we tilled at ‘4’ (more shallow than 3). For plantings in the field, we tilled the area twice – one lengthwise and the other at a 90 degree angle. We then applied fertilizer and sowed the seed and tilled a third time to mix it all in. All these tillings were at the deepest possible setting, which was ‘2’ – any deeper and the tiller would bind.

All seeding rates were 1/2 pound per row which works out to 150 lbs/acre. The ground was moist from rain a week ago. No water was applied after planting but we’re expecting rain tomorrow.

Grain Planting Layout Field/Garden - November 2017

Turkey Red Wheat
Danko Rye
Marquis Wheat
Sonora Wheat
Red Fife Wheat
Turkey Red Wheat
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Turkey Red Wheat
Danko Rye
Marquis Wheat
Sonora Wheat
Red Fife Wheat

For the part of the garden that will not be planted until spring, we sowed oats as a cover crop. No fertilizers were applied in this area.

Here’s a look at the planting.  We’ll post updates as the growth progresses.

First tilling of open field, next to normal garden area

First tilling of open field, next to normal garden area (at left)

First field tilling complete, adjacent to garden area

First field tilling complete, adjacent to garden area

Weighing seeds for planting

Weighing seeds for planting

Fertilizer - cottonseed meal and soft rock phosphate

Fertilizer for first row – cottonseed meal and soft rock phosphate

seed sown, ready to till

Seed sown/broadcast, ready to till (click photo to see detail)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds in the row, ready to cover

Seeds planted in the row, ready to cover

Final row of grain planting, sowing oats for cover crop on the rest

Final row of grain planting in garden, sowing oats for cover crop on the rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second tilling on field section, crossways from first tilling. Planted garden area visible at top

Second tilling on field section (finished on right), crossways from first tilling. Planted garden area visible at top

Field area fully planted, 3rd tilling to incorporate fertilizer and seed completed. Each row has a different type of seed.

Field area fully planted, 3rd tilling to incorporate fertilizer and seed completed. Each row has a different type of seed – see table above.

Heritage Grain seeds from Barton Springs Mill

Heritage Grain seeds from Barton Springs Mill

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Fall Farm Share – Week 5

Here’s our share for week 5 of the fall season

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 5 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Cucumbers, Spaghetti Squash, Carrots, Chinese (Napa) Cabbage, Yellow Squash, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Mizuna, Kale, Lettuce, Green Beans

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 5 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Cucumbers, Spaghetti Squash, Carrots, Chinese (Napa) Cabbage, Yellow Squash, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Mizuna, Kale, Lettuce, Green Beans

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Fall Farm Share – Week 4

New for week 4 of the fall season: spaghetti squash, lettuce.  Here’s the “mini-share” for this week.

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 4 "Mini" Share. Clockwise from top left: Mizuna, Bok Choy, Kale, Lettuce, Jalapeno, Asian Eggplant, Lemon Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Cucumbers, Yellow Squash, Zucchini

Blessing Falls 2017 Fall season Week 4 “Mini” Share. Clockwise from top left: Mizuna, Bok Choy, Kale, Lettuce, Jalapeno, Asian Eggplant, Lemon Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Cucumbers, Yellow Squash, Zucchini

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