Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Closing Time

The semester is already almost over. Finals are coming up. The holidays are just around the corner! And Howdy Farm is still very active!

I've made it a responsibility of mine to tidy up around the farm each day that I'm there. We often have new volunteers or people who don't know where everything goes and so things get left or put in random spots all over the place, so in order to keep things neat, I gather and return the shovels and bins and trays and more. I found these cute signs in the shed and put them to good use.

I've also assigned myself the job of organizing the shed. It's sort of not very easy to navigate through. 
I think once I put in a few good hours, it will be much neater! So far I'm just gathering things that are the same and putting them together. I'll stick around next semester to get it super organized with labels and such.

I've also been leading volunteers more often and advising on what they can help with. I've helped with seeding and washing, bundling, and packing produce for market.

I'm actually pretty sad about this semester ending- it's been a good one. But I'll still be around the Howdy Farm next semester for sure! Come check us out if you haven't already.

Christina :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Market Days


Things on the Farm have been pretty busy as we have multiple markets and even a business we are supplying for. Recently, I've been helping prep for each market by cleaning out the coolers, harvesting produce and herbs, washing and bundling produce, and packing it all up to be sold at the Farmers Markets. Here's some of the things we have been harvesting: peanuts, napa cabbage, bok choy, mustard greens, kale, chives, turnips, butterhead lettuce, rosemary, and much more. It's cool season now so we're going to have greens, carrots, and radishes popping up!

The peanuts were part of a student's research project. They grow in the ground and they have nitrogen fixing capabilities especially when innoculated with a nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This replenishes the soil when the plants are mowed and tilled into it. We had to pick the peanuts, sort through them, and package them.
We sold "green" peanuts which means that they are raw. To be consumed like peanuts at grocery stores and sporting events, they need to be roasted and salted. They can also be boiled and made into homemade peanut butter.

Kale is a fan of the cold weather and has been growing great lately! We have been harvesting leaves to sell to the new Juice Joint on Northgate to be used in their juice. It's full of vitamin K, vitamin A, dietary fiber, and protein. 

We've also been dehydrating herbs such as rosemary and basil to sell in shakers. They smell great! It takes about 24 hours to dehydrate though.

The semester is coming to an end and I'll surely miss my internship at the Howdy Farm!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Studying Ag Around the Country


The past two weeks I've had the opportunity to go on a Road-trip for class credit! The class is called Perspectives of Agriculture and we went through the southern states up to Washington D.C. and back through Kentucky and Tennessee. On this blog post, I'll talk about things that are relevant to farming and landscape!

We talked with Captain George Ricks, the President of The Save Louisiana Coalition. He informed us about the erosion of the land in Louisiana. He said that one of the factors is run-off form nitrogen fertilizers used up north. That is something to think about when using fertilizers. 

We went on a tour of Auburn University and something I noticed is they had lettuce in their landscape! I saw this again in Atlanta, Georgia. 

We went on a tour of Yon Family Farms in South Carolina. They are located in the Central Savannah River Area which is well known for peaches. Yon Farms, however, is an Angus farm. They grow their own grasses for the cattle to eat. 
The pictures above show their Round-up Ready Alfalfa. 
The Farm also buys rotting fruits, vegetables, and bakery waste from local grocery stores and they mix it up in a giant vat and turn it into a slurry for the cattle to eat. 
They said that they are in an ag-friendly area. Their soils are sandy loams and red clay. They use nitrogen fertilizers. They have a competitive water supply- most of it goes to the peach growers. They were very environmentally friendly!

In D.C., we had a meeting at USDA. They had edible landscape outside of their building. Basil, sage, thyme, greens, and more! It was nifty. Under-secretary Michael Scuse talked with us and he even shared information about his farm. He said that he's tried 3 types of insecticides but now doesn't use any because they weren't very effective. 

In Kentucky, we volunteered at the National FFA Convention. I helped with the Landscape/Nursery CDE one day and was surprised at what the students were expected to know and be tested over, especially identifying diseases. It's important to know what's bugging your plants! I should brush up on my knowledge. 

In Ethridge, Tennessee, we visited an Amish community. They work as farmers first and tradesmen second. They do farming with horses or by hand. They use urea nitrogen for fertilizer for their crops. Tobacco is a cash crop that they grow, but vegetables are their #1 cash crop. They catch rain water for animals and irrigation. Here is a picture of their small-scale row crops. 

Overall, I was delighted to see all sorts of new plants that don't grow in the Houston or College Station areas. It was a super fun and full of awesome experiences but I'm glad to be back home. :)

Christina :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lately, on the farm.

So much has been going on at the Howdy Farm! We're starting a Northgate Farmers' Market on Tuesdays from 4pm-7pm in the Methodist church parking lot. We will still be having Howdy Farm Shop Hours on West Campus on Thursdays from 1pm-5pm each week. To prepare for these markets, we've been planting lots of crops such as cilantro, fennel, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, and much more.

Rotting pumpkins are being donated to us from local pumpkin patches for us to compost so we rake hay to cover them to mask the smell and help them decompose quicker.

The peanuts are almost ready for harvest. We've began collecting herbs to put into shakers. Dill was our first one! We've been collecting seeds from plants that near the end of their life cycle so that we can plant them again next year. Enjoy this picture of me removing seeds from jalapenos...

The Howdy Farm (S.A.S.A.) organization is up and kicking as well! They will be going on a trip to Austin to visit many farms and gardens, including the U.T. Micro Farm.

Come out and volunteer Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1-5pm! There's always something to do! (weeding.)

Sorry for how random everything is but that's how it goes on the farm!
Thanks and Gig 'em!
Christina :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

It's Fall!

Recently at Howdy Farm,
I made a binder for our Community Supported Agriculture program. People can pay $10 and buy things from HF with a tab and each week they can get free herbs.
I planted collard greens, cauliflower, and marigolds with the other interns and volunteers. I've weeded. I transplanted chives so they could be moved to a different bed.
I've worked the market at the Farmhouse. Shop hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1-5pm!
I've made sauteed zucchini with veggies from the farm!
A few other interns and I set up irrigation tubing for the landscape plants in front of the Farmhouse. It took a few hours in the hot sun but we felt so successful afterward and learned an important gardening skill. 
I've done other typical gardening things like fertilized tomato plants, watered, swept, raked, weeded some more, and played giant Jenga!!
I lost. But it was fun!! I also painted another sign and made a huge mess on myself and everything around me. 
Everything is growing along great! The plants are loving this transition weather. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Growing, Growing, Gone

This week on the farm, we finished painting the signs! We "prettied" them up. :)
Also on Monday, we picked peppers and sorted them to be sold at our shop!

Jalapenos, wax peppers, habaneros... We sell them for $2 a pound! 
On Wednesday, I moved seedlings and cucumber and tomato plants from the greenhouse to the covered shady spot behind the Farmhouse. 
The guys also built a funky contraption for the tomato and cucumber plants to grow on. I attempted to dig holes for it, but it's definitely not a strength of mine. I don't weigh enough nor have many muscles...
I also weeded beds with a nifty weeder tool. Today in my Garden Science class we learned how to compost and I think it's so cool that I've been part of the process already. We compost our own soil at Howdy Farm and there's a way to do it where it doesn't even smell bad! I'm getting excited about sustainable agriculture. :) At the Farm today I seeded and planted romaine lettuce, onions, spinach with my fellow interns, harvested Basil seeds and pulled up old plants, and also worked at the market. 
I really need to practice counting change... It makes me happy to be out at Howdy Farm! Hours go by so quickly! 
I ended up buying a few sweet potatoes today.
I made a sweet potato casserole and it's safe to say that it'll be gone pretty quickly. It's so yummy! 
What a fun week :)
Y'all take care!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Things are Growing Great!

I've been keeping busy with Howdy Farm, 4 days a week!

This past Wednesday, I helped pull up the rest of the sweet potato bed. The guys brought out a push tractor to turn over the soil. Another intern and I shoveled the dirt into rows.
Something I've learned at HF is that you can't be afraid to get dirty. Because you will get dirty. We then seeded the rows with orange and purple carrot seeds, turnips, and beets. This bed is called the root bed because it's a raised bed with plenty of room for storage root vegetables to grow in.

On Friday I helped paint signs!
This isn't the finished product. Don't worry. 
I also noticed that the radish seeds that I planted started to grow!!!
I'm so excited!!!

Correction to Monday's post: I mistakenly called a plant a cucumber plant but it was actually a squash. There are both squash and cucumber plants in the same bed and they flower in similar ways. 

This is winter squash.                                                 This is a cucumber.

You can purchase these foods at our Howdy Farm Market! Tuesdays and Thursdays 1-5 pm.

Christina :)