Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gloryseeds - Solar workshop - March 31st

Hey GA MTN Growers,

Gloryseeds asked me to help spread the word on this really cool innovative project that they've completed. This dedication and I'm guessing a brief workshop is free and open to all. Not sure if they'd like an RSVP but their e-mail is below. Kim and Larry also have a moveable high tunnel, drip tape irrigated beds, a foam based walk-in cooler and some other cool ideas. Highly encouraged for your schedule.

Justin, the dedication of the Solar panels will be at Glory Seeds on Sat. March 31st at 11:00am. Food and drink will be provided. James Marlowe, CEO will be here to discuss solar possiblities. I will try to attach press release, please invite anyone interested.

Thanks Kim and Larry
2528 Rickman Airfield Rd
Clayton, Ga. 30525

Justin Ellis
Soque Lover Gardens
706-499-2261 (cell)
Organizer for
Georgia Mountain Farmers Network

Monday, March 19, 2012

Woodland Gardens Tour recap

Woodland Gardens

February 27, 2012

It was 3 weeks ago today that about 17 of us went down to visit Celia Barrs and Woodland Gardens to learn everything we could about how she uses her greenhouses to maximize her production. There was a ton to learn here's a quick snapshot:

Haygrove Tunnels - great for tractor work, summer house, not great for winter. 20x100 and 13ft high.

Raised beds on the whole farm - she has heavy clay soils and she wants them to drain.

High Tunnels - permanent beds, work by hand, never walk on the beds. Use organically approved compost (poultry based) and alfalfa meal for nutrients, feather meal on long crops like tomatoes. P is high so mainly applying N. Do cover crop but have to manage by handwork, and must take the heat so focus on buckwheat and millet. Replace plastic every 5 years on average due to loss in light transmission. Make sure water moves away from houses, the side beds will still stay wet, and in winter can slow growth down.

Pest Control – aphids get out of hand when you don’t open your house a lot, or too high N. In general the more healthy your plant is the less susceptible to pests, but for things like tomato fruit worm we use Bt. We have vegetable weevils in the winter, goes after asian greens, carrots, arugula, spinach. For that we use Entrust which is Spinosad. Only have to spray once, tend to do later in the day b/c they do most feeding at night. Yellow margin leaf beetle, comes in May. Loves asian greens. Just stop growing them that late.

Greenhouse Planting Cycle – direct seeded in the winter, carrots, beets, arugula, spinach using an Earthway seeder (except carrots by hand). We thin carrots to one inch, beets to 3” so they’ll grow uniformly. Carrots in winter take 3 months. Arugula 6 weeks, Bok choy 4 weeks, beets 2 to 2.5 months. Lettuce will be going outside really soon. Plant less and less in houses in mid-march and phase out to prepare for tomatoes. Lettuce can take a frost (especially with row cover when really young). Always use new drip on tomatoes to reduce soil-borne disease pressure. Sterilize other things with hydrogen peroxide dilution (3-4%). We plant small amounts all the time. Lettuce and carrots get planted every week. Beets and arugula every 2 weeks. Rotations, we’re often back to the same family within about a year. Very intensive. Carrots may go, lettuce, bok choy. We never go right into the same family. Tomatoes yield dramatically higher in the hoophouse than outside. Never do broccoli or cauliflower in a house (takes 3 months and too much space for too little yield).

Flowers – Do cut flowers in summer outside. Only grow highest value in the greenhouses, redunculus and freesia.

Income – She strives for $100 a month on a 45 foot bed. If carrots take 3 months (should yield $300). Labor is biggest cost, with 5-6 employees paid at $12 an hour. Uses Quickbooks to do all the invoiceing. We make the most money off of tomatoes, lettuce and arugula.

Specific Crop Tips - I see a lot of people struggle with carrots (good tilth and even moisture during germination is key). I like arugual and lettuce outside starting in April. Keeping the rain off of tomatoes controls a lot of stuff (outside). Manage tomatoes in hoop houses. They’ll grow fast. Have trellising system figured out, you’ll want to prune cause you’ll have too much vegetative growth, want to have good airflow, and pollination is a factor too. We hand pollinate our tomatoes in the center of the houses. Beans are not a super high value crop. Pole beans yield better, and easier to harvest. People in Atlanta don’t like pole beans (but chef’s love ‘em). I do rattlesnake, and northeaster.

There was a whole lot more discussed....so Here’s a link to the full 1 hour and 45 minutes. Download it and listen on your i-pod if you do that kind of thing.


Apologies for the buzzing towards the end. If I was too far away the antenna microphone didn’t pick up.

Please make suggestions for farm tours you’d like to do in the future. They’re pretty fun right? Mark Tuesday, April 24th for our next Tour at Taylor Creek Farms.

One more plug. Take a look at the website and scroll down to this specific post with the Georgia Mountain Farm Tour outline. This will give you a pretty good idea of what this idea is about. I’m slowly starting to ask around who would like to participate and have their farm featured on this tour. Your ideas are highly encouraged. For instance there may be advantages to having 8-10 farms featured on Saturday and another 8-10 different farms featured on Sunday. That way you guys can actually visit each others farms. The bigger jump we have on some of this planning by our April meeting the better.

Thanks folks,

Justin Ellis

Soque Lover Gardens!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Georgia Mountains Farm Tour

Georgia Mountains Farm Tour
Here’s the very beginnings of ideas for a GA Mtn Farm Tour. If you're interested in where this idea came from check out this link. They've been doing these awhile.
To be determined but June 23rd or June 30th would be good.
NC does both Saturday and Sunday. That format has appeal.
Times of the tour are proposed as 1-5 PM
Tour would include 10 or 20 farms from throughout our region. Farmers would receive visitors of the tour, give brief tours, and are encouraged to sell their products to visitors, and talk about other local markets. Visitors pick which farms they want to visit using a guided brochure and arrive at different times between 1-5pm. Each farm would need a few volunteers to direct people to parking, etc.
The tour is open to all with an interest in local foods, so a combination of customers (majority) and farmers and gardeners (wanting to learn about different practices).
We would charge for the tours with a portion going to the Farmers Network and a portion to SRWA (for organizing time)
There’s several options:
· Charge $25 per car (same as Carolina group) or $25 per individual (too high). The carpool approach encourages people to bunch up which is good for building local food scene community.
· Or charge $30 or $35 and give each carload a $5 or $10 certificate to Locally Grown or Simply Homegrown (good way to promote these markets)
How you know they paid
When they drive up they should be asked to flash their BRAND NEW bumper sticker that we’d have made especially for this event. Make this the launch of a new bumper sticker (more effective than button like in Carolina’s) that can help promote long after the event – could also be a magnet. Would advertise Local Food in the Georgia Mountains.
How Many?
· Just guessing - Expect a minimum of 50 cars to participate, maximum of 100 (but who knows)
· Each farm might expect a minimum of 20 cars, maximum of 60
How Much?
Income from tickets would be:
· $1,250 (for just 50 tickets sold at $25)
· $2,500 (for 100 tickets @ $25)
If we charged more and gave a certificate that would be pass through money that we’d hand to Simply Homegrown and NE GA Locally Grown.
We should try and get at least 2-5 sponsors at $100 each. Any ideas?
Who is hosting this event:
· Georgia Mountains Farmers Network
· NE Georgia Locally Grown
· Soque River Watershed Association
You could have one to three lunch hosts where people could stop before or during the tour and have a special meal prepared with almost all local ingredients from local farms.
· Lake Rabun Hotel,
· someplace in Clayton,
· Copper Pot Restaurant.
That’s all we can think of for now
White County
Sharon Mauney
Glen Cook
Habersham County
Ronnie Mathis
Linda Lovell
Steve Whiteman
Ed Taylor
Green Way Garden
Rabun County
Sid Blalock
Chuck Mashburn
LadyBug Farms
David Taylor
Old School Garden
Stephens County
Taylor Creek Farms
If I left you off, forgive me, and let us know you’d like to participate. The more the merrier.
Soque Lover Gardens
706-499-2261 (cell)
Organizer for
Georgia Mountain Farmers Network

Possible Activities for a Growers Network

Hey Growers,
Here's our brainstormed list of possible activities for a GA MTN Growers Network from our very first meeting at Sid's back on January 25. We did the sticky dot voting so take a look at how the priorities shook out. We'll do this again in several months to make sure more votes get counted, activities are refined, and our priorities might also change now and then. All and all a pretty good list of ideas.
Possible Activities for a Growers Network
or what would you like a Growers Network to accomplish?
The following ideas were offered by local growers.
· Cooperative Marketing efforts (8 VOTES)
o Example- Develop systems for bulk deliveries to ATL area, restaurants, etc.
· Coordinating Bulk Orders (7 VOTES)
o To increase availability and reduce shipping on amendments, supplies, seeds, potatoes, onions)
· Share up-to-date Contact Lists (6 VOTES)
o That includes other farmers, but also restaurants who buy local, local suppliers, technical experts, etc.
· Host Farm Tours (5 VOTES)
o Specifically for GROWERS (focused on sharing information)
· Acquisition and Sharing of Equipment (5 VOTES)
o Such as compost tea sprayers, bed shapers, others?
· Obtaining or Producing Organic Feed (5 VOTES)
o It is difficult and costly to obtain organic feed easily.
· Organization of Crop Mobs (4 VOTES)
o Labor assistance. Bringing volunteers to your farm to have them work on a project or weed for an afternoon.
· Create Forums for more frequent Farmer Communication (3 VOTES)
o Possibly launch a Yahoo Group or website so that we can post information for each other to see.
· Developing Marketing as a Group (2 VOTES)
o Co-branding regional products like a logo, identity
· Organizing specific and technical workshops (1 VOTE)
o Bringing in experts from other areas
o Increase customer base / awareness

We’ll try and add to this list at the meeting (and future meetings) and then pick things we think are most important or that we’d like to work on now! Think about what you would like to add.