Austin 2016 Spring CSA – Week 6

We continue to receive beneficial rains and so far the farm has been spared from severe weather.  A few more calves are expected, the blackberries are beginning to ripen, and our new pigs are settling in well.

Here’s what’s expected in our Spring week 6 shares:
(Shares may vary slightly depending on field/garden conditions)

Full Share: Chard (double portion), Radishes (double portion), Dill, Carrots, Beet greens (double portion), Cabbages (double portion), Broccoli or cauliflower, Kale (double portion), Mizuna, Onion, Lettuce or squash, Edible flowers or microgreens, Turnips

Half Share:  Chard, Radishes, Dill, Carrots, Beets, Cabbage, Broccoli or Cauliflower, Kale, Mizuna, Onion

(photo coming soon as we harvest/pack shares later this week)

Recipe: Try these beautiful baked beet chips!

Ingredients
3 medium-large beets, rinsed and scrubbed
Olive or canola oil
Sea Salt + Black Pepper
2-3 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped

Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place oven rack in the center of the oven.
Thinly slice beets with a mandolin (or a sharp knife), getting them as consistently thin as possible. They should curl a little when cut. This will ensure even baking and crispiness.
Divide between two baking sheets and spray or very lightly drizzle with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and the rosemary. Toss to coat, then arrange in a single layer, making sure the slices aren’t touching.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and slightly brown. Be sure to watch closely past the 15 minute mark as they can burn quickly.
Remove from oven, let cool. Then serve.

We also made Radish Greens Soup last week.  We simplified it by not using the food mill or straining it – instead we used our stick blender right in the pot.  Even our picky 8 year old loved it!

Find lots of other great recipes for this week’s veggies on our Pinterest page

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Austin 2016 Spring CSA – Week 5

Here’s what’s expected in our Spring week 5 shares:
(Shares may vary slightly depending on field/garden conditions)

Full Share: Chard (double portion), Lettuce mix, Mizuna, Radishes (double portion), Broccoli or cauliflower (double portion), Onion, Cilantro, Dill, Cabbage, Beet greens (double portion), Turnips or peas, Carrots, Kale, Spinach

Half Share: Chard, Lettuce mix, Mizuna, Radishes, Broccoli, Onion, Cilantro, Dill, Cabbage, Beet greens

Blessing Falls Spring Week 5 Full Share: Radishes, Swiss chard, turnips, beet greens, broccoli, spinach, lettuce mix, cauliflower, cilantro, dill, onion, Chinese cabbage, kale, mizuna, carrots

Blessing Falls Spring Week 5 Full Share. (clockwise from top left) Radishes, Swiss chard, turnips, beet greens, broccoli, spinach, lettuce mix, cauliflower, cilantro, dill, onion, Chinese cabbage, kale, mizuna, carrots

Here’s a good recipe for your greens and onion

One Pot Pasta

Ingredients
4 cups of water
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 sausage links, sliced into bite size pieces
3 sprigs of basil, washed and chopped
1 16 oz. box of pasta (we like penne)
1-2 cups of any combination of veggies you’d like to use (kale, chard, spinach, beet greens, mizuna)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a large pot except for cheeses. Cook on high heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender and water has cooked away, – about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cheeses and serve!

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Austin 2016 Spring CSA – Week 4

Here’s what’s expected in our Spring week 4 shares:
(Shares may vary slightly depending on field/garden conditions)

Full share: Spinach (double portion), Lettuce mix, Green cabbage, Radishes, Cilantro, Onion, Broccoli or Cauliflower, Kale (double portion), Mizuna, Beets, Swiss Chard, Head lettuce, Parsley, Carrots or peas, Pea shoots

Half share: Spinach, Lettuce mix, Radishes, Cilantro, Onion, Broccoli or Cauliflower, Chinese(Napa) cabbage, Beet greens, Swiss Chard

Blessing Falls Sprin CSA Week 4 Full Share (clockwise from top left) Parsley, carrots, cilantro, beets, broccoli, mizuna, lettuce, onion, Portuguese kale, lettuce mix, green cabbage, 2 bags spinach, pea shoots, radishes, curly kale, Swiss chard

Blessing Falls Spring CSA Week 4 Full Share (clockwise from top left) Parsley, carrots, cilantro, beets, broccoli, mizuna, lettuce, onion, Portuguese kale, lettuce mix, green cabbage, 2 bags spinach, pea shoots, radishes, curly kale, Swiss chard

Here’s a recipe idea using Chinese Cabbage, Mizuna, and Cilantro.

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Austin 2016 Spring CSA – Week 3

Here’s what’s expected in our Spring week 3 shares:
(Shares may vary slightly depending on field/garden conditions)

Half share: Lettuce mix, Beet greens, Portuguese Kale, Spinach, Chard, Mizuna, Green onions, Dill, Cilantro

Full share: Lettuce mix, Lettuce head, Portuguese Kale, Spinach, Chard, Green onions, Dill, Cilantro, Sunflower sprouts/pea shoots, Chinese cabbage, Broccoli or Microgreens or Peas, Parsley, Mizuna, Beets (double portion)

Blessing Falls CSA Spring 2016 Week 3 - Full Share

Blessing Falls CSA Spring 2016 Week 3 – Full Share

Recipe

Here’s one of our favorites. We’ve also made this recipe with broccoli or green beans as well as mizuna.

Chinese Turkey with Mizuna 

Ingredients 
1 lb. ground turkey
1 tbsp. Sesame oil
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp. garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. Soy sauce
1 tbsp. Rice vinegar
2 tbsp. Hoisin sauce
1/2 tbsp. Sugar
Half bunch mizuna, washed and torn into smaller pieces
1 tsp. Red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions 
Brown turkey with garlic and green onion in sesame oil. Add all other ingredients; cook over medium heat about 5 minutes until mizuna is just cooked. Serve over rice.

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Austin 2016 Spring CSA – Week 2

Here’s what’s expected in our Spring week 2 shares:
(Shares may vary slightly depending on field/garden conditions)

Half share:  Kale, Lettuce (double portion), Spinach, Chard, Cilantro, Green onions, Mizuna or sunflower sprouts 

Full share: Kale, Lettuce (double portion), Spinach, Beet greens (double portion), Cilantro, Green onions, Mizuna or sunflower sprouts, Broccoli greens, Pea shoots, Microgreens, Onion scapes, Chard, Dill, Asparagus or extra kale

Blessing Falls CSA Spring 2016 Week 2 - Full Share

Blessing Falls CSA Spring 2016 Week 2 – Full Share

Here’s a super easy, family favorite recipe! You can use your greens in this recipe and it’s easily adapted to include almost any veggie or herb! Add onion or onion scapes for some extra flavor too!

Sausage and Penne Pasta

Ingredients:
1 box Penne Pasta
1 package Eckrich sausage links
1 Tablespoon crushed garlic
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard or kale
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:
Cook and drain pasta. Meanwhile, slice sausage and brown in skillet with olive oil and garlic. Wash greens and tear into smaller pieces if necessary. Add greens to sausage a little at a time (they will cook down so you can continue adding more). You may need to add a little more olive oil as you add the greens. Add sausage and greens to pasta. Salt to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan after serving.

Here’s a note on using onion scapes:
http://eatingrichly.com/what-are-scapes-and-how-do-i-cook-them/

One of our CSA member families posted several recipes they enjoyed with last week’s share (see our Facebook page).  All recipes serve 2.

Greens w/ bacon & apple:
Swiss chard & beet greens
4 slices of bacon
1 Gala apple
1 small red bell pepper
1 small onion
Fry the bacon, drain it (not completely). Sautee bell pepper & onion w/ bacon. Add sliced apple, chard & beet greens, cook until greens are soft but not mushy.

Baked kale w/ garlic & parmesan
Kale
Olive oil (about 1 Tbsp)
1/4 c shredded parmesan
1/4 c grated parmesan
1/4 c minced garlic
Tear kale into small pieces. Toss kale w/ olive oil. Add garlic & cheese, mix thoroughly. Spread on cookie sheet (might want to use parchment paper). Bake at 400 until kale is crispy and cheese is starting to brown (15-20 minutes), stirring every 5 minutes (optional, but it does even the cooking).

Grass Fed Ground Beef & sprouts warm salad
Sunflower sprouts
Mizuna
2 green onions, chopped
8 oz grass fed ground beef
2 tsp seasoned salt (or other seasoning mix)
2 oz soft cheese (I used Laughing Cow, but goat cheese would work well)
2 Tbsp raspberry vinaigrette dressing (I use Ken’s Lite Raspberry Walnut)
Brown ground beef w/ your seasoning. Cut cheese and mizuna into bite-sized pieces. Toss all ingredients. Eat it immediately so you get the alternating hot and cold.

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Austin 2016 Spring CSA – Week 1

Work that began last October with the spreading of compost and planting of cover crops has now begun to yield an early spring harvest.  We’re grateful to have our first week’s harvest to share with Blessing Falls CSA members.  We’re thankful for the members continuing from 2015 and for the new members who have joined us for the first time this year.  Their financial support early in the season is critical to making our farm a success, since so many of the big expenses such as seed, irrigation supplies, fertilizers, mulch, etc. come due well before there’s anything growing in the garden!

Here’s what’s expected in our Spring week 1 shares:
(Shares may vary slightly depending on field/garden conditions)

Half Share: Kale, Green onions, Spinach, Mizuna, Beet greens, Swiss chard, Sunflower Sprouts

Full Share: Kale, Green onions, Spinach or lettuce, Mizuna, Beet greens (double portion), Swiss chard, Sunflower sprouts or Microgreens, Cilantro, Dill, Peas, Asparagus, Strawberries, Rutabaga or Kale Flowers or Daikon radishes, Broccoli greens
(Strawberries and some asparagus grown by our friends at Bernhardt’s Farm in Elgin)

Blessing Falls Farm - Spring 2016 Week 1 Full Share

Blessing Falls Farm – Spring 2016 Week 1 Full Share

Here are a few quick tips for the veggies you may not have cooked with before. Swiss chard is a favorite green of ours. It’s great fresh in a salad or cooked in a pasta dish. Beet greens are easily sautéed with a little olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Sunflower sprouts and microgreens are extremely versatile and delicious as a topping on salads, pizza, or almost any dish. Mizuna and broccoli greens add texture and flavor to a stir fry.

Here’s a super simple recipe for a Chinese Daikon Radish soup from Steamy Kitchen.

Ingredients:
1 pound pork, cut into large chunks
6-8 dried shrimp (optional)
2-3 dried scallops (optional)
One 2-inch piece of ginger, cut into chunks
2 whole cloves garlic
1 large Daikon radish, peeled and cut into chunks
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 tomatoes, cut into quarters
Salt to taste

Directions:
Bring a large soup pot filled with water to a rolling boil. Add pork and bones and let boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Remove pork and set aside. Drain and discard the water, clean the pot if needed. Fill the pot with new water to make the broth (approximately 4 quarts) and add in the pork, bones, shrimp, scallops, ginger, garlic. Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat to medium-low, or hot enough to just produce a gentle simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Occasionally, skim the soup of any fats or particles and discard. Add radish, carrots and tomatoes to the soup and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Season with salt (or fish sauce) to taste.

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2016 Austin 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 Austin area. Our family farm was established in 2010, each year adding more garden space and different varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, berries, and animals. For 2016 we’ve enhanced our garden soil with several truckloads of compost and we hope to have plenty of harvest to share with the greater Austin area. 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. 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 Schedules

In the greater Austin area throughout 2016 we plan 3 seasons:
Spring: 10 weeks March 28 – June 4
Summer: 10 weeks June 6 – August 13
Fall: 10 weeks September 12 – November 19

Note there is a 4 week break between Summer and Fall. By late July, we’ll have an idea of what harvest is available during this hottest part of summer and hope to offer 2016 CSA members a ‘mini-season’ during this period.

We’re planning a Winter season past November 19 and will have details on that during the Fall. It’s our intention to offer weekly shares year-round throughout winter and early spring in 2016/2017.

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 our CSA last year…

CSA Full shares from 2015, clockwise from upper left - Spring, Summer, Early Fall, Late Fall

CSA Full shares from 2015, top: Spring, Summer; bottom: Early Fall, Late Fall

For more examples, see our 2015 “CSA at a Glance” showing shares from every week of harvest.  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, micro greens, sunflower sprouts, red and green cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, mizuna, spinach, carrots, turnips, cilantro, peas, beets, onions, dill, cucumbers, yellow squash, blackberries, tomatoes, garlic, zucchini, green beans, blackberries, edible flowers
Summer: onions, dill, cucumbers, Swiss chard, Malabar spinach, yellow squash, tomatoes, garlic, cabbage, zucchini, green beans, cantaloupe, jalapeños, Italian peppers, basil, various squash varieties (spaghetti, lemon, scallop, acorn), eggplant, watermelon, sweet corn, pears, black eyed peas, okra, bell peppers, Thai peppers, sweet potato leaves, butternut squash, edible flowers
Fall: pumpkins, several varieties of summer and winter squashes, dill, tomatoes, eggplant, beans, sweet peppers, jalapeños, popcorn, okra, melons, Chinese cabbage, lettuce mix, mizuna, sweet potatoes and sweet potato leaves, radishes, greens, cucumbers, edible flowers

Delivery/Pickup

We’ll deliver your weekly share to your home or workplace in the greater Austin area – From Downtown Austin to Georgetown; Westlake to Elgin; Taylor to Liberty Hill and points between we’ve got you covered.  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 noon and 5:00pm on your scheduled day. If you’d prefer to pick up your share, Svantes Restaurant is partnering with us as a pick-up location where you can pick up from 4pm until 10pm Wednesdays or Saturdays. Corrective Chiropractic on Bee Cave Rd near 71W hosts a Wednesday afternoon pick-up.  You can also pick up at the farm or Redeemer Presbyterian Church. 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

No price increase from 2015 – our costs are the same as last year.  Weekly cost for a full share is $36 and a half share is $24. Home/workplace delivery is $4 per week and there’s no charge for picking up at any of the regular sites. We offer discounts when you sign up for more than one season and also for early payment. You can mail us your check or go online and pay with your PayPal account or any credit card.
We offer substantial discounts for those who sign up a month before a season starts.  The CSA sign up page is updated weekly to reflect the remaining weeks in the season and available discounts.

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?
The map shows our general delivery area – click here for a detailed interactive map. The north (green) and southwest (gray) sections shows Wednesday deliveries, the south (blue) shows Saturday’s routes.  Areas include:
Austin – South Austin, Rollingwood, South Congress, Westlake, Aboretum, Domain, Wells Branch
Pflugerville, Hutto, Coupland, Taylor, Thrall
Manor, Elgin
Round Rock, Georgetown
Cedar Park, Leander, Liberty Hill
Lakeway, Bee Cave
– Free pick-up near 71w & Bee Cave Rd, at Corrective Chiropractic
Areas on the map are approximate – if you’re near these, contact us and we’ll probably be able to work something out.

Our current pick up sites are the farm (located between Thrall and Elgin), Svantes restaurant in downtown Round Rock, Corrective Chiropractic on Bee Cave Rd, and Redeemer Presbyterian Church near the UT campus. More may be added depending on the locations and schedules of members who join.

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. In our 6 year history we have not experienced a large crop failure but it’s always possible. 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 that you can add to your weekly produce share. We offer baked goods and honey on some weeks and are planning to raise holiday turkeys to be ready in November. Our members will be notified when these extra items are available. Simply mail your payment, pay online, or leave it with your delivery cooler to cover the cost and we’ll deliver these when we bring your weekly 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, and turkeys. The 2nd Tuesday morning of every month we are open for members to come out and help with weeding, planting, and general garden chores – or just watch and learn if you prefer. You’re welcome on other days too – just contact us first so we can be sure we’re on the farm that day. When you visit, you can take home a bouquet of fresh flowers from the garden too.  You can always come pick up your share at the farm Wednesdays 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 afternoon 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 website and Facebook page, 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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2016 CSA Coming Soon

2016 CSA details will be posted soon!

2016 CSA details have been published!

Thanks!

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2016 Garden Officially Begins!

While field preparation is ongoing and one season overlaps the next with the planting of cover crops, soil tests, and so on, the season is kicked off by planting the crop.  We start many of our vegetables in a greenhouse.  About 6 weeks later, the small plants are planted in the main garden.  The first step in the planting is preparing the soil mix for starting seeds.

There are many good start mixes you can buy, such as Jiffy Seed Start Mix.  We’re starting about 3500 plants total for 2016.  This will require about 85 trays of plants.  Each tray uses about 1 gallon of starter mix.  So we’ll need 85 gallons of mix, or about 11 cubic feet. Making our own seed start mix saves money and allows us to add special ingredients unique to our farm.

Our seed start mix is 3 parts peat moss, 1 part plain compost, 1 part native forest floor soil, plus a light sprinkling of soft rock phosphate.  The forest soil is the secret ingredient.  We get it beneath the large hardwood trees that grow native on the farm.  Think about it – these trees have grown successfully for generations in the same conditions our garden will face.  They drop leaves every year which contain the minerals the trees have taken up from deep within the soil.  These leaves decompose and form a rich home for various fungi, soil microbes, worms, etc.  Mixing a little of this soil into our seed start mix adds these minerals and other wonders of the soil to our garden.  Over the years, our garden soil should become more like the surrounding forest – which has grown fine, withstood pests, and stayed healthy for centuries with no one intervening.

20151219_162824_resized

1) Main Ingredients – Peat Moss and Compost. I don’t recommend this brand of compost. It was very clodded so had to be screened before using.

20151219_163107_resized

2) Mix peat and compost, lightly sprinkle with soft rock phosphate. Bone meal is a good substitute.

20151219_171339_resized

3) Forest soil, screened with hardware cloth

4) Mix all in large wheel barrow

4) Mix all in large wheel barrow

Now we’re ready to plant.  Here are the first seeds just arrived for 2016.  Other varieties are on the way.

20151219_174620_resized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Market Gardener – Book Review

Having farmed on a small scale for over 5 years, I recommend The Market Gardener as the best book for beginning gardeners and farmers. Even if you only have a backyard garden, you’ll learn so much from experienced farmer and author Jean-Martin Fortier.  You’ll be inspired and encouraged when you see how much you can grow in a small garden. If you’ve been gardening a while, this book will give you many new ideas and help set a direction for excellence. If you love to garden but lament that it could never be a full time occupation, this is the book for you. A couple on just over an acre, with some part time help can make a comfortable income with these methods. It won’t be easy or immediate but it’s definitely possible.

This book explains the whole process – finding a market for your produce, selecting and preparing your site, minimizing costs, fertilizing, dealing with pest and weeds, harvesting, storage, and so on. We will adopt the book’s methods little by little over the seasons. You can do the same. Even starting with a small plot and hand tools, you can plan your way forward to more production, better soil, more nutritious produce, and a larger market. The world needs many more local, sustainable, profitable small farms and this book will be a great help to anyone interested in the field.  Our farm received a free review copy of the book from the publisher.  So impressed with the book, we bought another copy to give to a young, aspiring farmer who helps with our market garden.

More details and reviews on The Market Gardener

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