Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Crackberry" Omelet

The Sunday morning market at Bernice Gardens does not start until 10 a.m. so time for breakfast is usually afforded me.  This morning my favorite way to fix my heirloom grape tomatoes a.k.a. 'Crackberries' is my choice.  I did not sell the pint that was picked this Friday with this mornings breakfast in mind.  It looks like we will have some fall "crackberries" so more will be at the market soon.

With fresh eggs from Rattles Garden and white cheddar from Honeysuckle Lane Cheese , one of our small jalapenos (diced) and a handful of crackberries whipping up this omelet is quick and easy.

Start the pan on medium heat and add a tablespoon of butter , the crackberries and the jalapenos   Sear them for just a few minutes then add the eggs.  

After a few minutes I flip the omelet and add the cheddar.  It took a few years before I learned how easy it was to flip an omelet, its all in the wrists.

I started some coffee and left this guy on the burner a bit long but but my taste buds will forgive me I am sure.  Breakfast is served and Bernice Gardens Farmers Market here I come!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

North Pulaski Farms CSA is finally here!

I am happy to announce that North Pulaski Farms will offer a Community Supported Agriculture Share program for the 2013 summer growing season. Running a CSA has always been part of my original business plan but I have been hesitant to do so because of my rookie status as a farmer.  Accepting money for a crop yet produced comes with a great responsibility and being a bit risk averse,  I wanted to wait until I had data on what I could produce consistently before I started.  Well I have a fairly good handle of what I can and can’t grow in central Arkansas organically and have enlisted two other organic farmers to help with a few items not on my plan.  My farm will be producing the vast majority of the crops to fulfill the CSA. Our certified organic blackberries will be an exclusive item for our CSA.  Laughing Stock Farms of Sheridan is planning to help with potatoes, ginger and selected herbs and Rattles Garden of Vilonia is planning to help with eggplant, squash and onions.  Working with other organic farmers is a highlight of what I do and I am very grateful for their support for this CSA.

We are offering a limited number of shares and half shares and have updated our website with further information on what, when and how.  Additionally we have added a few other features to our website that make it easier to find where to buy our produce, a resource page for new farmers and added a recipe link on our crops page that will eventually get populated with my favorite recipes using only local food.
As the 2012 season starts to slow down, I am once again revved up about farming and loving the wonderful people I have the privilege to work with.
Check out our updated website at

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cooking Greens

I am asked often how I prepare greens so here is how I do it.  I usually cook in large batches so I can have leftovers that I happily eat over and over every day until they are gone.  Anyone who likes greens will tell you they get better each day they sit in the fridge.
I started with 3 bunches of my Purple Top Turnip Greens,  5 slices of Freckle Face Farms Bacon, one of my Marconi Peppers, a handful of sliced Jalapenos that a friend grew and one of my Hickory Smoked Peppers.
I first rinse and soak the greens in the sink to remove any grit that may be on the leaves.

 Then I slice the marconi pepper, jalapenos, bacon and the stalks of the greens and sauté them with a teaspoon of sea salt for about 15 minutes on high.

After that I add the rest of the greens, a tablespoon of sea salt ,the hickory smoked pepper and add water 2 inches over the greens (you have to hold the greens down to guesstimate the water level) then boil at least 30 minutes.

The greens with a very slight hickory flavor combined with the mild heat from the jalapenos warm your taste buds.  Tomorrow they will even be better!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Till Next Year Westover Hills Farmers Market

Today is the last Tuesday at the Westover Hills Farmers Market in Little Rock.  This market has been a HUGE success for our farm and will be missed dearly.  While the 4 pm start time has usually meant hot temperatures, once the sun moves behind the trees it is a very pleasant place to be.  The customers stopping by after work on their way home seem to have appreciated the convenience of this location. Additionally bringing food closer to their home is a priority with this farm.  A special thank you to the Westover Hills Presbyterian Church for sponsoring this market.  Samson and I will miss these Tuesday evenings very much and next May can't get here soon enough.

Thank you to all the customers who shopped here this summer and thank you for buying Local AND Organic.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Goings On

This is the time of year where my summer crops are starting to slow a bit but my fall crops are starting to pick up.  Cool mornings motivate me to focus on farming and this morning was perfect for such activities.   After picking up some additional kale and cover crop seed, I am fast at it.  A month ago I started some kale seeds in Betty and they did not germinate so I put more in Fred this morning with higher expectations.   Kale and Turnip Greens are good sellers and tolerate the pests that still linger from the summer months.

Our first stage of Turnip Greens and Tatsoi are doing well and sold out quickly at Sunday’s Bernice Gardens Farmers Market.

Our last stage of Rocky Top Tomatoes is setting fruit and should start ripening up at the end of October.

While the spinach seeds started a few weeks ago are slow to germinate, the Gourmet Mix has popped up and should be ready with the last of the tomatoes at the end of October.  Can you say organic salad anyone?

I don’t know if the cucumbers will last until late October but they would be a nice addition to the salad wouldn't they?

Our fall Kentucky Wonder Pole beans are late due to poor plan execution on my part but in a few weeks these sweet tender beans should start producing.

Next week we will start transplanting these Romaine, Butterhead & Merlot Lettuce seedlings. Look for them starting in November.

Well now that I have this blog back online I hope to continue adding to it.  We are working on fixing the old one but until then we will forge ahead and keep on posting here, starting seeds and enjoying these cool mornings.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fishing with Bob

This last Tuesday while at the Westover Hills Farmers Market, retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Robert J Barnhill of Barnhill Orchards made my week.  After some years of me begging to go fishing with him, the self-described best cat fisherman in the world offered me a trip.  Bob has been one of my farming heroes since I became a farmer.  While we have different methods of growing and vastly difference political beliefs I have learned so much from him and have great respect for what he has accomplished.  Bob and I both are farming as our second career, me after a fairly successful bit in the online travel industry and Bob after serving our country in the Air force.  Bob won’t talk much about it, but he earned a Distinguished Fly Cross in Vietnam and his job used to be flying circles around the North Pole with a hot load of nukes waiting for orders to fly nap-of-the-earth into the Soviet Union, deliver his payload and bail out after they ran out of fuel.  While our first careers were vastly different, both of us had to use our brains more than our backs.  We both started our second careers in our late 40’s and figured farming would provide us a more care free and simple life.  
The fishing trip started out with picking up bait at Hopper-Stephens Hatcheries in Lonoke.
Now the catfish’s favorite food is bream, so we loaded up a few hundred bluegills for our bait.

 Bob’s Banana Boxes are just the right size to hold the bait bags.

Bob’s sons Rex (on my right) and John (on my left) are his usual crew for these trips.  Rex and John both have/currently served in the armed forces. Rex serving in the Army reserves and John recently retired from the Navy.  In this photo there are over 80 years of commissioned service (the Barnhills) and 6 years of non-commissioned service in the Army National Guard (me) represented.  I was appointed Fisherman Apprentice 2nd class.

Rex runs the day-to-day farming operations at Barnhill Orchards and I enjoyed talking about farming with him.  It’s no wonder that when we drove past this cotton field on the way to the river we paused to talk about it.  

We put in at an undisclosed location on the Mississippi and proceeded to motor up river.  Bob has piloted many craft but I can’t help but think this may be his favorite.

If I look like I am having a good time, well it’s because I was.  A Cuban Montecristo #3, fishing on the Mississippi and a beautiful day will bring on this grin every time.

John and Rex started setting the trotlines while Bob piloted the boat expertly positioning them just at the right spot and keeping the boat at the perfect angle.  It was immediately evident that these boys and their dad have been doing this for many years.

They let me have a go at baiting the line.  Now there is a very precise way to place a live bluegill on a hook so it will stay alive.  Catfish prefer live bait and it is critical for success to keep them alive on the hook.   After several attempts and a compliment from Bob, “Kelly you’re the worst baiter I have ever had”, I think I got it right.  Others might not have taken that as a compliment, but for me, it meant that I was at least on the list and that was good enough.

After setting the lines we retired to John and his wife Elins’s house and sampled some of Chateaux Barnhills Strawberry Wine with our dinner.  I have seen what Bob has brought back on his previous fishing trips and was excited about what the morning would bring.
John’s wife Elin was a gracious hostess for our evening.
The next morning we launched the boat and starting heading towards the lines.  The first line did not bring in any fish and I feared that I had screwed up on baiting the hooks and would have to swim back!
Fortunately the other lines started to produce some nice fish.

We pulled in well over 300 pounds of catfish and as you can see, the boat was weighted down.  The live well under the bench was full and so was the 350 gallon tub placed in the boat.

We transferred the fish into two 350 gallon tubs in the back of Bob’s truck and attached an oxygen bubbler to keep the fish alive for the ride home.

When we returned Rex and I started skinning and gutting the catfish and Bob worked on fileting them.
After a few hours of cleaning these brutes, it occurred to me that helping them clean the fish may have been one of the motivations for my invitation.  Another hour later and I had a fat sack of catfish filets, scraped and cut hands, stunk of fish and a big smile on my face.
I can’t even come close to sharing how cool this trip was on so many levels.  Sharing a family tradition passed down from father to sons, catching a shit ton of fish, sharing an experience on a river that countless before me have shared.   I continue to be humbled and awestruck at the small farm community and Bob and his sons are ambassador’s extraordinaire.

The World’s Greatest Cat Fisherman and my hero then said; “Well Kelly, you are now promoted to Fisherman Apprentice First Class”