Photo bug

We have a fantastic team assembled this year.  Yesterday at dinner we were listing the impressive attributes of each unique crew member.  Since quitting the intern scenario, we have hired four folks for part time work.  Then we had an application from a gal that is in Blacksburg while her husband earns his doctorate at Virginia Tech.  Yi-Ling’s visa prohibits her from being officially employed, so we send her home with flowers and vegetables in exchange for her labors.  We have also sponsored her to take an online photography class.  Here are a few of her shots in the first few weeks of study.

Bridal bouquet close-up – photo by Yi-Ling
Bridal bouquet photo by Yi-Ling
The ingredients – photos by Yi-Ling
wrist corsages, photo by Yi-Ling
Bert harvests snapdragons – photo by Yi-Ling
Jesse at work with the microgreens harvest – photo by Yi-Ling
Bri at work transplanting – photo by Yi-Ling
A greenhouse full of poppies – photo by Yi-Ling

A spring-like newsletter

We are back to work at the farm tending the seedlings and encouraging the first salad crop of the season.  In addition to farm chores, we’ve added some other items to our to do list. Here are some things we want you to know about.

First up on the calendar is a time change for the Wednesday market. The Blacksburg Farmers Market Wednesday version runs April to October and in 2017 the time will change to 12 to 6 pm.  Come downtown to grab lunch and fill up your bags and backpacks with delicious goods to cook throughout the week.  Your Saturdays are busy.  Sometimes you don’t have a chance to shop for fresh meats and vegetables what with the hiking, biking, soccer games, and more.  Eat like you want to — local, healthy, fresh, and sustainable.  Shop on Wednesday.  Working at the office?  Stretch your legs and walk a couple blocks.  It’s one of the great things about living in Blacksburg. What do you do with stuff that needs to stay cold?  Let me know, I have a small cooler and ice pack for you.  We’ll be back on Wednesdays as soon as the harvest can support it!

April 17th is a Masa Monday dinner at Glade Road with a silent art auction to benefit the SNAP double value program at the farmers market.  Join us to help fund the connection between low-income families and the people that want to feed them.

Next up on the Calendar is a Gala Fundraiser at Doe Creek Orchard for the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership, Saturday, April 22nd.  Stonecrop is donating the flowers that will serve as centerpieces for your fantastic dinner created by The Element Catering. Enjoy time with your community members working for those that would love to be part of our world.  Think about attending!  Details here!

We’re hiring!

Stonecrop Farm announces seasonal farm positions for our 14th year of growing.  We are looking for one full time and several part time people to join the team.  We are especially seeking folks looking to work with flowers — harvest, arrange, and design.  If you have horticulture or agriculture experience or if you have artistic skills and are ready to get dirty, contact us.

Call Gwynn or Bert at 540-599-0839.

Responsibilities
Participate in all daily routines and responsibilities including: •Seeding, seedling care, and transplanting of all crops
•Weeding, feeding and tending both vegetables and flowers
•Harvesting, washing, and packaging vegetables for market
•Harvesting and processing stems and bouquet making
•Co-managing the farmers market stand
•Assisting in the assembly, packaging and installation of wedding flowers

We’re looking for folks with
•Attention to detail
•Open minds ready to learn and handle feedback
•Enthusiastic customer service skills
• Stamina to do physical work in all weather conditions
•Ability to work independently and with a team
•Efficient, quick work habits

We’ll provide:
•Hourly rate commensurate with experience
•Daily farm lunch
•Plenty of vegetables and flowers
•Part time or full time hours starting as early as April, but flexible with school schedules

Winter work

img_6660 It’s that mystery time of year.  That magical time of year when farmers aren’t around so much peddling their produce.  And we are asked what we do with all this winter.

All year long I make a list of winter goals — projects I hope to accomplish when the farm does not  ask for so much of my time.  Goal number one was accomplished in early December when Bert and I renovated our mudroom.  We moved into this house that Bert built us eight years ago and have often talked about how to finish that room, but this time we did it.  And it’s such a beautiful space now with it’s new-to-us-pulled-out-of-someone-else’s-kitchen cabinets and the beautiful French country blue walls.  So beautiful that we are keeping it really clean and really tidy.  It’s delightful to enter the house through the mud room door now.  And it’s required because it is so muddy outside.

And we went away.  Time off spent at the house just gives me time to complete desk work.  Time away from the computer and the desk makes us stop working.

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The holidays came and went and once again I didn’t send you, my friends and family, cards.  (Please know I have the best of intentions.) Then we promptly got back to business.

Bert is renovating the small greenhouse we refer to as the seed house. It’s where we start all of our seeds and nurture the plants until they are ready to transplant.  And it’s where the microgreens grow to fruition.  It’s the only heated space we have, and it hasn’t been enough space in the last year or so.

While he is rewiring and renovating, I’ve been meeting with brides and writing up contracts for the beautiful things our team will create over the course of the year.  And today we announce the details of the 2017 Flower Share Program.  Maybe one of these bouquet subscription programs are just right for you or someone you know? Find out more about it here.  Next up we’ll talk about how to be a member of Team Stonecrop.

Your more-likely-to-stay-in-touch-when-it’s-winter farmer,
Gwynn

Late summer dahlias with blue salvia
Late summer dahlias with blue salvia

Kissing July Goodbye

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As a child I dreaded August.  The thrill of summer vacation had faded.  It was just hot, humid Kentucky, and school was coming on fast.  This year August presents promise and hope that it hasn’t before.  It’s been a challenging July here at Stonecrop, and I am thrilled to tear that page from the calendar and wad it up.

The crops that we lost due to the herbicide residue in the supposed organic compost would have been harvested in July.  We didn’t have enough harvest to go to market three weeks in a row.  Our intern walked out on us in July.  We even had to buy flowers from a local grower for a Saturday’s worth of weddings.  And for all the days we put in  — our family and our awesome crew — we just couldn’t catch up.

But we’re building the dream team in August.  Our farm crew is some of the most optimistic and happy folks I have ever had the pleasure to weed with. They bring diverse backgrounds, experiences, and insight to the hillside, and it is a delight and a challenge to match their skills and interests to the many tasks that await us each morning.  Daughter Zoe has joined us in the design studio to create some pretty amazing bouquets and wedding work.  My partner Bert is the best.  He has an amazing gift for analysis and even if I don’t want to hear what went wrong, he’ll present the case for improvement and strengthening that we need.  And the crops are coming on strong.

We started pulling onions to dry last week and they are beautiful.  We are harvesting the best cucumber crop on record — blemish free, non-bitter, crisp, and juicy.  We are gorging on them and hope you love them as much as we do.  The tomato plants are loaded with healthy leaves and big, green fruits that will carry us into the fall.  The dahlias that were planted in the beds that were amended with the toxic compost are strong and tall and gorgeous.  Harvesting them is a joyful game of trying to pick a favorite.  The lisianthus that started their precious lives in potting soil laced with that garbage compost are starting to flower despite their initial setback.  And the feedback we’ve had from the last few weddings and all the personnel involved has been so positive and encouraging, it gives me the energy to get refreshed and renewed for the next batch of celebrations.

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Farming is so much like acting.  You give forth so much energy in your performance and the energy you get back from your colleagues and the audience nurtures you for the next night on stage.  I look forward to returning to farmers market in August to add to the collective nourishment I get from my family and my farm team.  And I thank our tremendous brides, grooms, their families, and our fellow vendors for getting us through July.

Hello, dear August!

Locally and sustainably grown flowers and vegetables