Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's a New Season-- Time for a New Logo and a New Crop

Check out our beautiful new logo! Chelsea Bay Dennis designed this for the farm last year, based on our lovely, hand-painted sign made by Andrea Moreno-Beals many years ago (the wooden sign you see at our farmer' market stall every week). You may have noticed this logo on our facebook page. Next step: rubber stamps. Whoa. watch out! ;) Season update: Seed orders have mostly all arrived. The things I am most excited about this year are Lutz Winterkeeper beets- giant storage beets with luscious greens, Roman Candle yellow paste tomatoes (back after a few years' absence) as well as the lovely array of other heirlooms- Ananas Noire, White Tomesol, Rose de Berne, Chocolate Stripe, Green Zebra (and so many more!), flowers (expanding the cut flower operation), and CORN! We are going to attempt to grow corn this year- no, not sweet corn (see below for thoughts on sweet corn), but flour corn, and possibly popcorn. Jess and I had the good fortune last month of traveling in Arizona and New Mexico, in search of sun and warm weather. We found the sun, but the heat eluded us (a record-breaking cold front moved in just days after we did- haha!). It was a fantastic trip, and one of the highlights was visiting Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson. They are an organization that preserves native and historical agricultural crops of the desert southwest, by growing out and selling the seeds. We went nuts in their shop, purchasing obscene (for our bioregion, anyway) amounts of chiles, amaranth, gourds, sunflowers, squashes, and CORN varieties like Chapalote, Hopi Greasy Head, and Glass Gem (see pics below). Did you know you can now buy seeds of Teosinte????? (One of the wild ancestors of domesticated corn) That changed my world a little bit. How much more exciting is that than the availability of Roundup-Ready corn?!! (Answer: infinitely more exciting, for me) We also happened to be there the night of a talk by a farmer from Oregon: Anthony Boutard who owns Ayers Creek Farm and wrote an inspiring book called Beautiful Corn. . Long story short- we became smitten with the idea of growing corn again. I've grown corn before, sweet corn and popcorn. From a financial perspective, it does not make much sense to grow sweet corn at the scale we're at here- it takes up a lot of space, time, and fertility for a small return (per acre). And there is a LOT of delicious, if non-organic, sweet corn available in the area already. So up til now I've vetoed corn as a Birch Point crop. However, corn as a GRAIN, instead of as a fresh vegetable, makes a lot more sense on this scale, which is the point Anthony Boutard made in his talk and in his book. Flour corn and popcorn can be picked and shelled by hand, do not require a combine, can be stored in a barn (provided animals are excluded), and can provide a much higher-quality corn meal than store-bought corn meal. Our neighbors Nick and Sara, who work at Pleasanton Bakery and also farm on Birch Point Road (their farm is called Loma Farm), have been growing and milling flour corn for a few years now, and their blue corn meal is exquisite. (Try the blue corn meal scones at Pleasanton!) I am so excited to follow their lead! So look for flour corn (possibly milled into cornmeal or corn flour) and popcorn to round out Birch Point offerings late this season. Thanks for checking in- I look forward to growing food for you again this season!