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Dreams Really Do Come True…

Dreams Really Do Come True...

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We moved to Southern Indiana almost 5 years ago now and boy has it been an adventure. We knew it would take a while to get the farm off the ground…we figured because I was the one with all the degrees I would work full-time for a few years to support the startup cost of the farm and then we were sure I would be able to be home farming with Larry. For 4 years I worked as a nurse, dietitian and lactation consultant for the WIC program…I would work 40 hrs per week for WIC and then ~20-30 hrs on the farm. We are now farming our 5th season here at Eastward Gardens and starting this June God has opened the way for me to become a full-time farmer. Wow! DREAMS REALLY DO COME TRUE! We have experienced so many ups and downs starting this farm and we have learned so much about faith, perseverance, our strengths and our weaknesses. Since being home full-time so many amazing things have happened….

Flowers: I have always wanted to grow flowers and thanks to a lot of help and support from my mother and our neighbors we have had a very successful year of growing flowers. This year we grew dahlias, zinnias, gomphrena, celosia, lilies, cosmos and sunflowers. We are adding daffodils, ranunculus and anemones for next year and we are so excited to see what the Lord has planned for us next season. The flowers have been such a blessing and I am so thankful for the opportunity to grow and share them this season.

 

IMG_0121IMG_0205Onions: Well let’s just say, after farming for 3 yrs in Seattle area with amazing soil and then 4 yrs in SD area where the soil was also very rich in minerals, we thought we had a firm foundation in farming. Once we started farming in Southern Indiana we realized not all soil is created equal. Year after year we would try and grown onions with no fruit for our labor to share, and boy was this a harsh reality for us. After much care working the soil, adding back needed minerals and microbial life we finally had our first onion harvest! Hurray! This is such a testimony of restoration…if we care and nurture the soil it can be restored back to health!

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Head Lettuce: We also struggled with getting nice big heads of lettuce over the years and this Spring was our first harvest of head lettuce…and boy was Larry happy! We love lettuce!

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Two Tents at Market: For about the last 2 months we have added a second tent at the Sunday Rainbow Blossom farmers market and we have had our best farmers markets sales by a long shot. My mother and Larry’s mother have been very involved in the farm this year which is another DREAM COME TRUE for me! The main reason why we moved back home was to be close to family. This is the first year that our mothers have been so involved and we are filled with joy when we see them on the farm and helping at market. My mom often says how much she loves the fresh air and digging in the dirt.

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Most of all what I love best about being on the farm full-time is getting to spend every day with my best friend. God has truly blessed Larry and I with this farm. We pray we can be good stewards of this land…. that we can continue to work the soil in a way that brings life and vitality to each seed planted. Farming is not just about growing healthy produce….it also has so much to do with character development. It is in the most difficult times that your true self is revealed…. and yes farming may be one of the most difficult jobs I have ever had, but it is also by far the most rewarding! I am so happy to be a full-time farmer… it truly is a DREAM COME TRUE!

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We Plow the Fields and Scatter the Good Seed on the Land

Google Maps pictures from last Spring

We Plow the Field and Scatter the Good Seed on the Land….

But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand! These are lyrics to one of my favorite hymns. It seems Larry and I must be continually reminded that we must do our part, but the rest is in God’s hands. We have had a challenging spring! It started out with much rain and difficulty getting into the fields. We lost a potato crop to excess rain and we were late in many of the spring plantings. Now we are well into the heat of the summer and we have had very little rain…this is good in many ways because we can get much of the plantings completed that are well over due! Larry worked hard transplanting squash, cucumber and melons today and with that accomplished he will direct seed the next round of salad mix! In other ways the small amount of rain we have had the last few weeks becomes a challenge because Larry then has to spend much more time moving irrigation around in the fields to make sure the plants are getting the water they need to grow well. It seems farming the past few years has been a journey of extremes in weather and unfortunately, I do believe, this is something that will continue to be a challenge in the environment we are living in today. We know that these challenges grow us in so many ways and we are thankful for all the growing pains we are experiencing!

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Although we are extremely thankful for our 2 new greenhouses we purchased at an auction last fall, tearing them down and rebuilding them for this season was also a major challenge. As you can imagine the time that goes into to this, it did make our planting of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers a bit late. We are thrilled to have a “real” starts house and a place to plant peppers and cucumbers to protect them from the weather extremes and know that, even though they may be late, it will be worth it in the long run and expect to have a much bigger harvest. The new 120X30 foot greenhouse is housing 780 tomato plants and we are super excited about the potential for many more tomatoes to enjoy this season. Just yesterday at market someone asked about out tomatoes and shared with me that they think, “we have the best tasting tomatoes.” Larry works hard to choose tomatoes that have the best flavor and they are grown in a passive greenhouse with lots of love… and the rest is Gods doing! So if all goes well we will have a bounty of tomatoes to share with you all this season!

God always takes care of us…sweet potatoes arrived in the mail about one week ago and God sent our good friend Chris to help us to plant the 1500 row feet the very next day! This is a first that the potatoes were planted so quickly after arrival and they are already setting new leaves and look amazing! Praise God for His previsions!

 

1500 row feet of sweet potatoes planted!

1500 row feet of sweet potatoes planted!

Sweet Potatoes putting on new leaves!

Sweet Potatoes putting on new leaves!

Potatoes planted after the heavy rains are doing well and look healthy!

Potatoes planted after the heavy rains are doing well and look healthy!

We are very excited to share we will be adding 5 new CSA members from Jasper Indiana to our 2016 CSA program.  As many of you know we primarily sell our produce at farmers markets, to restaurants and through our CSA members in Louisville KY where Larry and I grew up as children and where we met (Louisville Skate Park) as adults. We have many ties to the City of Louisville and are very excited to be developing new relationships with our neighbors and friends in Indiana. We desire to serve our local Indiana community as well as our local Louisville Kentucky community and are thrilled to have this opportunity (Thanks Molly) this coming farm season.

Are CSA will be starting June 19th and we look forward to the next 20 weeks of sharing in the harvest with each member! We have also started attending the Rainbow Blossom Farmers Market on Sundays 12-4 PM and will be at the Phoenix Hill NuLu  Market in the next few weeks on Tuesdays 3-6PM.

Larry and I feel so blessed to be stewards of Eastward Gardens and we believe that with faith and perseverance this land will be restored back to the edenic state that God has intended for it to always be. We are working very hard to provide you with produce that has never been sprayed, has no GMO cross contamination and is grown using Veganic principles. This is a true labor of love and we look forward to seeing what God has planned for Eastward Gardens.

 

Love,

Your farmers Larry and Michelle (Mikey)

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Skateboard to Tractor

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It has been an exciting year for us on the farm filled with lots of ups and downs! Farming is indeed a refining process. The trials and challenges grow us closer to our creator and foster a faith and trust in God like no other. We praise God for the refining and pray each day that we grow deeper in our dependence of Him for providing our every need.  1 Corinthians 4:5

We had a rainy and wet Spring which caused some crops to do well and other to fail. When crops fail it is always a difficult thing to watch…after hours of hard work prepping, planting, weeding and nurturing a crop you can imagine how disappointing it can be when they do not flourish like they should. One of the best parts about small scale high diversity farming is when one crop fails another may do exceptionally well, hence the ups and downs we experiences on the farm.

Early this Summer we had a good friend Brian Dunne photographer at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. come out to film our farm and I have included this short clip below for you to enjoy! We are so grateful for his talent and love for supporting small scale farming and appreciate all he has done in supporting Eastward Gardens this season! This was encouragement to us after such a difficult Spring!

We are extremely excited to share that we are ending with an amazing Fall filled with surprises!  The salad mix, kale, cabbage, broccoli, radishes and turnips are still growing strong and we have lots of sweet potatoes to share with the local food co-op Rainbow Blossom located in Louisville KY. One of the biggest surprises was the purchase of  two new greenhouses.

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Many of you already know the story, but for those who do not I will share it again…The Lord sent several messengers to tell Larry and I about an auction about 10 minutes from the farm. This was the first auction Larry and I have ever attended and we purchased these two greenhouses for $5,500.00. One is 100 X 30’ and the other 60 X 24’. As you can see one has a vented top, they both have a rollup side, doors and there are fans and doors on the back walls also. One will be our new starts house and the larger will be our new tomato house. Larry had about 2 weeks to break them down and with the help of  Roots Underwood Farm he managed to get them down in about 2 1/2 weeks. This purchase will definitely change things on the farm for next year. Having a real starts house will be a luxury and with the new tomato house we should be able to double our tomato production. Praise the Lord for His provisions!

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We can’t thank you enough for all your love and support…without you we would not be here! We love our family and community so much and realize how important providing clean, nutritious and fresh food is to the betterment of your mental, physical and spiritual health. We are blessed to serve you and continue to grow in a knowledge of what Gods original plan was for us on this earth. We praise Him for all the beauty that is around us here and invite each one of you to come visit us soon at Eastward Gardens!

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Sincerely,

Your Farmers-Larry & Michelle

 

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Hard Work and Happy Hearts!

Wheel Hoe!

Larry and I are super excited about the Spring plantings and wanted to give you an update about how things have been going! We can see improvements and it seems as if all of the mineral amending is working! We are moving in the right direction in so many ways this season. We will be at the NuLu Farmers Market this Tuesday which is about one month earlier than last year. If you are able to come by and say hello we will be there from 3-6pm every Tuesday this season.  Our CSA will be starting in a few weeks as well and we are thrilled to be offering a 20 week CSA  share this year! We also hope to be at the Rainbow Blossom framers market in the next few weeks…progress, progress, progress…

 

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Being a small family farm takes a lot of long hours and hard work. Larry continues to learn new ways to save time and be more efficient with his work. Ever heard of a Wobbler? This is a way to irrigate that is less labor intensive for Larry to move around the field. We typically use drip tape and will continue to use it on many of the crops like eggplants, peppers, melons, cucumbers, and squash. However, the Wobblers work great with the onions, the direct seeded beets, carrots, salad mix, radishes and turnips.

Wobblers in Action!

Wobblers in Action!

This is the first year we have ever used landscape fabric on the field. This allows for more heat for the crops that love heat like peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers and squash. More heat means bigger plants with more fruit. It also keeps the weeds at bay which is another huge helper for Larry and keeping up with all the other areas of the farm that need weeding.

Transplanting Peppers and Eggplant

Transplanting Peppers and Eggplant

 

I surprised Larry with a wheel hoe for our 10 year wedding anniversary which honestly has been one of  best purchases we have ever made. The efficiency is amazing! It now takes about 1/3 of the time to weed…the only question we have is why did we wait so long to add this to our cultivating repertoire.

Wheel Hoe!

Wheel Hoe!

Lastly, Larry encouraged me to finally get on the tracker and work the ground…thats right for the first time ever! This is also a big part of his plan in saving time on the farm. He is super excited to be able to say, Michelle can you go till while I …fill in the blank here….

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We continue to be amazed with all the support we have had in the past and that we have received this season. We recently received a donation that will help us to finish several large projects on the farm and continue to receive support from family and friends close to home and across the country. We can’t thank all of you enough for believing in our work here at Eastward Gardens. We look forward to the harvest and sharing it with you soon….

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Buildings and Bread….

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Sorry that it has been too long since our last post. Larry and I have been busy planning and preparing for Spring and are excited about the mild Winter we have had…we plan to start planting next week! The building is slowly progressing along and we wanted to give everyone an update on how it has been going. As you can see from the pictures the end is in sight! Larry has the cooler almost finished and we are looking forward to a season where harvesting will be much more enjoyable…having a cool place to store the freshly harvested produce will make a big difference in the way things operate on the farm.

 


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We have added a second farmers market that will be on Tuesdays in down town Louisville in the NuLu district and you can find details about this on the Find Us tab on the home page. We will continue to sell at the Rainbow Blossom market on Sundays…we miss our loyal Rainbow customers and can’t wait to see you all again soon!

We have  also started taking CSA applications and you can find the application by clicking on the  CSA tab.

I have had a lot of interest in my bread making this year and I thought it would be nice to have it available for all those who have asked. Feel free to call or email me if you have any questions about the process.


Processed with Moldiv

 

Processed with Moldiv

 

 Home Grown Yeast/Bread Recipe

Put one cup organic raisins and 1 3/4 cup water in a 4 cup mason jar with a lid on tight.
 
There is yeast  living on the raisins and yeast that you can catch from the air that will be eating on the sugar of the raisins for approximately five days. Every day, or until all the raisins are floating to the top, swirl the jar with the lid on and then open the lid to the air for about 30 seconds. Close lid again tightly. This process allows the yeast in the air to be caught and also allows for the bad bacteria that cannot live with oxygen to be killed. Do this every day for the five days.
 
Once all the raisins are floating to the top it is time to make your bread. At this point you have to commit to making your bread! To start strain the liquid from the raisins and then you add flour to the liquid until it becomes a paste like consistency. I use freshly ground whole-wheat flour. Then put the lid back on not tightly just kind of laying it on top of the jar. You’re going to now wait until that doubles in size, it usually takes anywhere from 1 to 2 hours depending on the warmth of your home.
 
I will usually start grinding my wheatberries sometime before it’s totally ready and I’ll get started in the process. This is a wet yeast so it makes a very heavy dense loaf my bread recipe makes five loaves plus one pizza crust.
 
 Bread recipe:
 
8 cups of warm water
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup black strap molasses
8 teaspoons sea salt
20 cups of flour (plus or minus a couple)
1 cup oat flour
1 cup sesame seeds, ground, I like to use the brown sesame seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds, ground
 
I start with adding the warm water, molasses, olive oil and sea salt. Then I slowly add about half the flour, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and the oat flour. Once this is all mixed well together I add my yeast once it’s doubled in size, use the whole amount. Then I will add enough flour to make the right consistency for bread making.  If you’re not experienced a bread making it is usually when the bread is still slightly wet but not sticky.
 
I have a large Hobart mixer that can handle this amount of ingredients. If you’re using a smaller mixer you’ll probably have to half or quarter this recipe.
 
The reason why I enjoy this bread so much is because it is not a sour bread. I believe God lead me to making this yeast. The way that the bread and the yeast are  made does not allow for bad bacteria that causes souring. You may be familiar with the old tradition of saving a mother yeast starter. This process is similar but different. The main differences are that we are using the whole amount every time and starting over fresh every time with new raisins a new water. I believe that this helps the bread to be a sweet bread instead of a sour bread. This is recommended for better digestion.
 
Another thing that I do believe is important is to let your bread sit for 1 to 2 days after baking before eating.
 
All of the seeds we have ordered are in and we can’t wait to start planting! Larry will be attending a Soil Summit meeting this week and will return to finish up the last touches on the building, amend the soil where we will be planting this season and start the planting of onions, leeks, brassicas and then tomatoes, peppers and eggplant and then…well it will be full steam a head!
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 At least for Larry and I!

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A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words…

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IMG_3670Life on the farm has been very busy since our last post. Larry has been working so hard to build a wash station/walk-in cooler, while farming and preparing for the fall and winter seasons. We have been going to the Rainbow Blossom farmers market every Sunday and have really enjoyed seeing our faithful customers week after week. Our Salad mix has been our biggest seller and we are so thankful to God that we have had the Spicy Salad Mix and the Not-So Spicy Salad mix consistently to share.

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Here is a time-line of photos showing the progress of the wash station/walk-in cooler. It has been so amazing to watch its development week after week! Larry has built many skateboard ramps…this is his first time ever constructing a barn/building.

 

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The roof in scheduled to go on, with the help of a fellow farmer friend that we met at the farmers market, on Tuesday. We are so excited  to share the pictures with the pretty new red roof!

We have had so many challenges and even more blessings on the farm as we continue to press ahead. We received a phone call form a close family member that he was impressed by God to help us to purchase a van for our farm. What! help us buy a van…we can’t afford that right now! Was our immediate response….just a few weeks after the call we were packing up our Subaru for market and could not fit all of the produce along with the tables and tent for market. This was confirmation that we were hindering a blessing that God was trying to pour out on us. So without further ado…meet the new farm van!

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Other exciting news on the farm….This is the first time we have ever grown sweet potatoes and, well I guess you could say it was a success…

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Other fun farm happenings…processing…processing…processing!

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Larry and I both have grown so much as a family on this farm the past two seasons. This is the first time that we have worked on a farm knowing that we are building with the intention of staying. What a blessing this experience has been and we would not be on this farm without the support of all of our friends, family, customers and loved ones. This is a picture of my sister and her four children at market.

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Lastly, we want to end with a picture of the elk farm that is adjacent to our farm…this is the time of year the the elk bugle and we enjoy the daily music coming form theses beautiful animals. Only God would place us on a farm in Southern IN that neighbors an 800 acre elk farm. We are thankful for this beauty and for the opportunity to serve our community with fresh, clean, nourishing produce! Sincerely, Your Farmers The Lesher’s

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The Sower and The Seed …. Life Lessens in Farming!

Well, our last post was in April and now it’s almost the end of July….this is definitely an area we need to improve upon! We are so excited to share some pictures of what has been happening on the farm and we are Praising God for the progress that has been made regarding the soil and the growth of the plants. There is a marked difference between last years growth and this years! The beets, kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels Sprouts are growing so much better this year. The melons and Winter squash also are showing signs of better growth. This was no surprise  to us due to the restoration that has been done to the soil thus far. The soil amending that we did is without a doubt working! Amazing that when plants are given the nutrients they need to grow, they thrive. And when humans are given the nutrients they need to grow,  they thrive…so much to learn from this incredible life work we have chosen.

Happy Brassicas!

Happy Brassicas!

Yes we have made a lot of progress but we still have a long way to go. We have plans for amending the other half of the field and adding cover crops  to help with building the much needed organic matter that our soil is lacking.  This has been such an adventure in faith….believing that things will work if we do our part and if we trust God is in control.

Other happy news is that we stared going to farmers market 7 weeks earlier this year than last..although we were still about 4 weeks late. We love the framers market and are so grateful, that even with little to bring, there are many loyal customers who are supporting us. We had some of those loyal market customers out to the farm this month, which brings Larry and I such joy…sharing food with our community is a big piece to the puzzle of building  community based  agriculture! Remember you are always invited to come out to the farm…we love visitors!

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Farmers Market Friends Visiting the Farm

We are cultivating much more with the Allis Chalmers G this year as well. Larry had three sets of mounting brackets fabricated for the G which will eventually make this process even easier. With the new brackets we will not have to change the sweeps around with each change in bed/row system. This method of cultivating is much quicker and much needed when trying to build a farm with a limited amount of hands. We are so pleased to report that we have been able to keep up with the weed pressure, for the most part, this season. Amazing what a good tool can do for your productivity.

Cultivating With The G -click here to see!

The starts mix soil recipe given in our last post has now been trialed with some changes made.   More peanut flour (nitrogen) and TN Brown Rock Phosphate (phosphorus) was added and we are happy with the newer results. We had good germination but the plants were not growing at the speed they should have been. This is were the miracle of life comes in, although the plants were stressed when we transplanted them into the field, they are now happy and beautifully growing! Theses changes seem to be the right adjustment because the plants are now growing much faster and look healthier and less stressed. Creating your own starts mix is no small endeavor. Every day we are learning new things and continue to be humbled in this process!

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Last but not least, Larry has been working very hard to juggle farming while building a walk-in-cooler and wash station. It stared with the pour of a 25X30 ft concrete pad…no small feat! We had several family members, friends and even a neighbor come and help with the pour! And now framing and putting on a roof pretty much solo…and keeping up with all the farming that needs to be done. The completed project will be the next post along with some CSA news…Lord willing!

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We will end with a few more pictures of the blessings…so many to be thankful for!

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Musk Melon

Musk Melon

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

We can’t thank you enough for all your support and prayers!

Sincerely & with love,

Your Farmers

The Leshers

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Happy Spring!

Well it has been a long time since our last post and for this we apologize. It has been a long, cold winter and we are so excited that Spring is finally here.

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All the soil amendments are finally on the fields and the planting has begun. Larry has created a soil blend that is “Veganic” and seems to be working well thus far. This was no easy task! When I asked Larry to share about his experience with making our starts mix he said, “Nothing in life is as easy as it seems, and if it is, you have not asked enough questions.” When you farm using the CNG standards and you need to create a starts mix, the first place you turn is the OMRI list. You might be asking, what is the OMRI list? It stands for Organic Materials Review Institute. While this is the highest standard out there, you will see that when you take a closer look you may find that not all the things allowed would be desirable to have in your food system… if you could avoid it. You will find things on that list such as peanut meal, soybean meal, cotton seed meal, fermented corn meal or how about blood or bone meal…side note… that may contain bovine somatotrophin, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow). If you are looking for nitrogen that does not come from a GMO plant, peanut meal sounds really good, until you realize that peanut meal comes from conventionally grown peanuts grown overseas that are used in the oil manufacturing industry.  That they use chemical surfactants to draw out all of the oil of the peanut and then you get this, so called, organically approved peanut meal… and what do you really have? Is that something you want to put in your fields? Not us! How can that be, you might ask yourself. Just take a moment and find out who are the folks that approve all these so called organically approved substances. Take a moment and ask Mr. Google who they are. You might be very surprised to find that two out of five he does not even know. So what do you do? You ask the Lord to guide you into all truth and He will lead. After much research and prayer we found a source for organic food grade peanut flour that was grown in the USA. And this is just one ingredient of a long list. Be of good courage and just take it one ingredient at a time. Think about this thought, as a society we generally do not even talk about what we put in our mouths let alone all that is going into the  fields where produce is grown….Deep thought…I mean this in a literal sense. So let me share with you our starts mix recipe.

Click to Download

Starts Mix Recipe

  • Blend dry fertilizer then let mellow for 2-3 weeks.

Dry Fertilizer

Organic Kelp Meal – 1.5 quart
Green Sand – 1.5 quart
TN. Brown Rock Phosphate – 1 quart
Organic Peanut Flour – 4 quart
Organic Alfalfa Meal – 1 quart
Organic Sprouted Chickpea Flour – 1 quart
Humic Acid – 6 Tbsp.
Mycorrhizal – 6 Tbsp.

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  • Blend liquid fertilizer recipe together

Liquid Fertilizer
Warm Water – 1 gal.
Sea – 90 – 2 Tbsp.
Organic Molasses – .25 cup
Fulvic Acid – 6 Tbsp.

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  • Blend base with dry fertilizers, and liquid fertilizer according to portion, let mellow for 1-2 weeks.

Base                     portion            portion            portion         portion
Coir                          7.5 gal.                15 gal.                 30 gal.              60 gal.
Course Sand            5 gal.                  10 gal.                 20 gal.              40 gal.
Soil                          2.5 gal.                  5 gal.                  10 gal.              20 gal.
Compost                   5 gal.                  10 gal.                 20 gal.              40 gal.
Dry Fertilizer          .5 gal.               1.25 gal.             2.5 gal.               5 gal.
Liquid Fertilizer        .5 gal.                1 gal.                 2 gal.                 4 gal.
Total Portion    20.25 gal.     40.5 Gal.           81 Gal.          162 gal.
Cubic yard        .12 cu. yd.       .23 cu. yd.       .47 cu. yd.     .93 cu. yd.

    

Now to share a little about the soil amending in the field. There is a lot of debate about how to amend your soil even in the organic and/or CNG community. But the reality is most farmers do not even know how to read a soil analysis. That was us not long ago. Not understanding how to read a soil analysis leaves you.. well it’s kind of like a doctor who can’t read a blood test. How can you treat a disease without knowing what is causing the problem. Understanding what the soil analysis means allows you to make purposeful applications verses a “shot gun” approach that is more scattered and haphazard. Now that we fully understand what our soil was deficient in we have been able to make  purposeful and methodically adjustments. We believe that the food grown from this years field will be the most nutritionally rich food we have ever grown. We are so excited to share this healing food with all of our friends, family and customers. The  last amendment to go down was gypsum. Now the planting can begin. First potatoes,  then peas. After that the rest, well….we will post more again soon!

   

Happy onions and tomatoes in our new starts mix! Praise the Lord!

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What Did We Learn Our First Season? It’s not over yet.

 

 

Well it has been a while since our last post, and this may have been the most educational year in my 8 seasons of farming.IMG_0985

What do you do when it seem everything is working against you? Trust God is in control and that He will not give you more than you can handle, get up and put one foot in front of the other and do what you can. Things have a way of working out so long as we do our part… a lot of people have gotten really made at me for saying that. Let me explain, it may not work out like you want it to, but if you are looking to learn something, than trials are one of the best teachers. This year started out with all the onion and leek starts dying, then the starts just were not growing quite right in the starts mix… so surely the direct seeded plants would work better? So we thought, but they would germinate then just sit there. Not the way we had hoped to start our first year on our first piece of land  purchased.

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Not all was bad… God has a way of encouraging us when we feel down! I grew the best carrots I have ever grown, in a place where…so I have been told…that  no one can grow good carrots. Then the ever-bearing strawberries, that other local farmers said would not work, made the most delicious berries my mom ever tasted, go figure God is good! Michelle, and I met at the Louisville skate park some 10 years ago and so one night we thought we would go and play around down at the park, and well Michelle rolled her ankle making me a lone farmer for the next six weeks. After she was just about back to being on the farm again we where in a fifty five mile an hour head on collision, which ended up with Michelle having a dislocated wrist with three fractures.

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After they reduced the wrist then put two screws one pin and one wire in her wrist then ongoing rehab….things are defiantly not back to normal. The food in the field did eventually take off and that would have been great, but you have to be on the farm not at the hospital to tend to all that produce. IMG_1013

So we have had quite a wild season on/off the farm this year. In spite of all this we have learned a lot about soil science, perseverance, and Trust In GOD! IMG_0980

We have been blessed to meet some great folks at our farmers market at Rainbow Blossom.

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So all in all this will be a great start to the great adventure of learning how to grow in grace, By Gods grace.

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Major Learning Curve… Getting Better Every Day

This is now the third state that we have farmed in and we honestly hope that this will be the last. Building a farm is no easy task. With each state has come new and unique challenges… But this one by far has been the most challenging. This comes from not having tilling equipment in the Spring to get the ground ready, the fact that there was no infrastructure (green house, fence, wash station, cooler ect.), no cultivating equipment and we are having to build relationships with the markets, coops, restaurants  and our new community. Oh and did I mention that it’s been pretty much Larry solo lately because I hurt my ankle skateboarding about 4 weeks ago. While facing all of these challenges has been quite daunting at times, it has also been a great joy as we learn so much about agriculture, life and our characters. For we know that the Lord never gives us more than we can handle. 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it1

In this growth process we are also trying new things. One of the most exciting is that we have decided to try farming using “Veganic” principles. We have always tried to use as little animal products as possible. But since we have come to a piece of virgin land we felt it would be an opportune time to remove all potentials for GMOs or any such contaminants by removing all animal products from our farming practices. In South Dakota we pretty much did this, with the exception of the bird and bat guano in the starts mix. It has been a major task finding a starts mix without a “charge” albeit animal product in it, especially here in Indiana. With no other option in sight we have been building our own from scratch. Small scale CNG farming is rare in Indiana and finding raw materials has also been difficult. However, not impossible! I am happy to report that we have come up with a starts mix that follows  “Veganic” principles that is doing well. We have starts in the green house that are flourishing and vibrant. We will keep you updated on how this process goes.

Okra

Okra

Starts

Starts

We have also decided not to use peat moss in our starts mix this year related to the fact that this is not a quickly renewable resource. This challenge has been unique because there are really no other alternatives…except for coconut coir. The major trade off here is that it is shipped from India. When we visited South Africa to study sea water agriculture we learned that they have been using coconut coir for a long time as a growing medium for their hydroponic systems. As we have been using it we have discovered that it retains water much better than the peat moss and it does not become hydrophobic as it dries.

With the limited amount of hands on the farm Larry is having to rely much more on mechanical cultivating then ever before. We have purchased a set of beet knives for the Allis-Chalmers G. This is a mechanical cultivating tool used for close cultivation. It has a  long, flat vertical face that runs parallel to the row that protects the crop by preventing the dirt from damaging the plant. While a thin, flat sweep runs horizontal under the surface of the ground on the other side of the vertical face from the plant pulling out the weeds. Because the sod was spaded and tilled for the first time this year we have had some minor issues using this tool. But never fear it just keeps getting better every day. The more we farm the land and nourish the soil the easier all of these things will get.

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We want to continue to thank all of our friends and family that have made it possible for us to start our ministry. From our families making it possible to live on this farm and for coming out to help…to our friends in South Dakota…last month Janet and Richard and this month our good friend Jed helping with the green house. Oh and we cant forget our loyal long time friends Matt and Jeremy. We truly love you all and thank you for supporting local agriculture!

 

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  We praise God every day for this beautiful farm that He has given us!

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Full Swing Ahead

We have been so busy on the farm the past few months that time has been flying by. We can’t believe it is already the second week of June. Well, we know we are undoubtedly behind in updating you all on what has been happening on the farm…so here we go!

Larry and Richard, completed the deer fence around the entire 16.5 acres. This took three solid weeks and did set us behind a bit with planting. However, it is definitely keeping the deer out and protecting the little plants.

We have been working hard planting strawberry plants….what seems like forever! We have planted a total of 1500 with about 600 to go. The best part is that we had some old friends stop by to help with the planting. Matt and Larry go back over twenty years and Jeremy close to that. One of the premier parts about relocating to Southern Indiana is the fellowship we are having with friends and family. We know life is busy. We are so grateful that our friends and families have taken time out if their busy lives to spent time with us on the farm. Your help has been priceless.

Michelle (Mikey's) mom watering on left and Jeremy, Trish and Matt on the right

Michelle (Mikey’s) mom and Big Larry on left and Jeremy, Trish and Matt on the right after planting hundreds of strawberry plants.

We have now transplanted all of the zucchini, summer squash, melons, cucumbers and winter squash in the field. These plants were started in April with the help of both of our moms and Janet our close friend from SD, and have been living in a small greenhouse…as you can imagine they were so happy to go into the ground.

Larry and the Winter Squash

Larry and the Winter Squash

Larry has also direct seeded carrots, beets, turnips and radishes, salad mix, spinach…with much more planned for the weeks to come.

There are also many more plants growing in the greenhouse that are ready for transplanting now…cabbage, kale, broccoli, head lettuce, chard, collards, peppers, purslane, herbs, kohlrabi , cauliflower…to name a few.

Samantha Head Lettuce

Samantha Head Lettuce

Purslane Babies

Purslane Babies

A 30 X 50 ft greenhouse was delivered last week for Larry and I to assemble that was an anonymous donation. Construction started on Friday and today we had help from Larry’s mom, Dalton his nephew and Kim, a good friend of the family.  As soon as that is finished we will be planting the 1200 + heirloom tomato plants that have been living in our house for months. Praise God!

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We are so thankful for this beautiful farm that the Lord has given to us to be stewards of. Here are a few pictures of some of the fun times we have been having on the farm. My nephews Lucus and Nico playing in the dirt, our friendly turtle friend, some killdeer eggs and the latest picture of the green house construction. If you are any where near the farm, please stop by any time. We would love to show you all the exciting things that are happening here at Eastward Gardens!

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Thank you all for your love and support! Until next time…

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2014 CSA now available

To download an application Click here

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ask for Larry or Michelle

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500 Italian Ranunculus transplanted today! We are so excited! I know these beautiful flowers are going to bring many smiles and much joy to our farmers market customers this spring. These flowers are a precious reminder of God's sustaining power. #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #whywegrow #iloveflowers #iloveranunculus #italianranunculus #ranunculusOne of our goals her at Eastward Gardens is to provide our community with farm fresh greens all year round! Praise the Lord things are looking amazing in the greenhouse right now! #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #whywegrow #ilovegreensWe planted 1,000 Narcissus bulbs this morning before farmers market... I am so thankful to be on the farm full time! It is a dream come true to work with Larry planting flower bulbs! We planted 500 Replete and 500 Petite Four. I can hardly wait for March! So thankful to God for all the blessings. #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #ilovenarcissus #repletedaffodils #petitfourdaffodils #iloveflowers #ilovefarmerlarry #whywegrowWe wait for these amazing WATERMELON RADISHES all season! So thankful for the harvest! #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #ilovewatermelonradishesWe are super excited about this... these are Ranunculus corms after they have soaked for 4 hrs. They then go into a mixture of vermiculite and coconut coir that is moist for ~10 days. After 10 days they will have sprouted roots and then we will plant them. In March we will have beautiful Ranunculus to share with our community! So thankful to God for all the beautiful flowers He has created! P.S. These are Larry's favorite flowers! #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #eastwardgardens #veganic #iloveflowers #ranunculus #iloveranunculusWe harvested our first row of Murasaki sweet potatoes yesterday and they look AMAZING! This one large tote is ~1/4 of the way into one bed (100ft beds)...only 775 ft to go..and yes we are hand digging all of them 😅! We are going to have a lot of Murasaki sweet potatoes this year! They are by far our favorite here at Eastward Gardens and we are so grateful for the harvest...don't worry he will smile as soon as I cook some up for dinner😊. #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #ilovesweetpotatoes #marketgardening #heissmilingontheinsideFun and fast arugula harvest on a brisk October morning...so thankful for the weed free beds! Larry used tarps in this area before seeding which drastically cuts the weed pressure down. Thanks so much #bountifulblessingsfarm and #farmersfriendllc for all of your support!!! #eastwardgardens #quickcutgreensharvester #marketgardening #farmlife #smallscalefarming #tools #cng #veganic #certifiednaturallygrownOne of the perks of living the farm life... lots of roasted bell peppers for this winter! Praise God for the bounty! #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #ilovepeppers #iloveroastedpeppersDid you know that every green pepper picked is an unripe pepper that will turn a color? At Eastward Gardens we never sell green peppers ... they are harder to digest and have not reached their fullest nutritional potential… Food for thought! So thankful for these beautiful red bells! #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #nofilter #ilovepeppersThe flowers have been such a blessing this year! I love creating the bouquets for market and how unique each flower and each arrangement is... so fun! #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #iloveflowers #ilovedahliasPicking peppers with Monty by my side....so thankful for the peppers this year! #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #catsofinstagram #farmcatYesterday at NuLu @phoenixhillfarmersmarket ... so much to be thankful for! #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #iloveflowers #ilovedahliasFor those of you who do not know I (Michelle AKA Mikey) am officially a full-time farmer! We have been working towards this for many years... DREAMS REALLY DO COME TRUE! See my new blog post at eastwardgardens.com. God is so good! #eastwardgardens #nofilter #veganic #certifiednaturallygrown #cngPerfection! #eastwardgardens #ilovedahlias #nofilter #cng #certifiednaturallygrownThis is from this morning… We had the best ever flower sales at @rainbowblossomky farmers market today! I literally sold out of flowers by 12:15 and market starts at noon. What a blessing! Thank you fellow flower lovers!#eastwardgardens #iloveflowers #ilovedahlias #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #nofilterTime to transplant some lettuce! Thanking the Lord for a wonderful germination! #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #veganicFall harvest has begun and we are so thankful for all that God has provided! #eastwardgardens #cng  #certifiednaturallygrown #veganic #toeverythingthereisaseasonWow! Thank you God for creating such amazing colors! #nofilter #eastwardgardens #cng #certifiednaturallygrown #iloveflowersBest Farmers market ever! Thanks @rainbowblossomky for supporting local agriculture and thanks moms for all your help! We are so grateful for the harvest and for all of our loyal customers! To God be the glory! #eastwardgardens #certifiednaturallygrown #cng #veganic #farmersmarket #supportlocalagricultureOur biggest cherry tomato harvest to date....Showers of cherry tomato blessings at Eastward Gardens today! #certifiednaturallygrown #cng #eastwardgardens #veganic #sungold #blackcherry #pinkprincess #nofilter #ilovetomatoes