Early Bird Special 2018!

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Fresh salad greens, ripe juicy tomatoes, crisp baby carrots, juicy blueberries, and pungent basil feel a long way off at this time of year.  When managing snow and firewood are your daily chores, the summer’s bounty seems a far off dream.  Even though we won’t be tasting much fresh produce from the soil until May or June, there is a lot of planning and preparation that needs to happen now to make things grow when the temperatures rise.  Seeds, plants, potting soil and amendments all need to be paid for in advance of the growing season too.  Here’s where aspiring CSA members come in…

Sign up for a 2018 CSA share and pay in full by February 28 to receive a free June share!

That’s right, you save $40, help us buy seeds, AND get to check sign up for a full growing season of fresh veggies, fruits, and mushrooms off your list.

We offer June 1/2 shares, small and large shares that run July – October, and NEW this year, a Medicine share.  For all the details, pricing and photos of the shares members received in 2017 visit our CSA page

Sign Up Now! Click Here

We also welcome early sign ups, even if payment is not possible until later.

or contact us with your questions 

by calling:  Rebecca Beidler and Jeffrey Ellis 802-755-6336

by emailing: peaceofearthfarm@myfairpoint.net

or via snail mail (checks can be mailed here as well):

Peace of Earth Farm

43 West Griggs Rd.

Albany, VT 05820

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Building Soil, Decreasing Erosion, and Making Productive Garden Beds with Wood?

IMG_6147We’ve been slowly terracing the hill behind our house over the past 7 years in order to turn an unproductive hillside into prime gardening space. In order to build soil and improve water holding capacity, while using resources available to us on site, we’ve used a process called hugelculture. Simply put, hugelculture takes a mound of old wood, covers it with other materials that will compost in place, and lets it all break down over a long period of time, while still growing plants on the surface layers of soil.

October 7 1-4pm we’ll be offering a workshop on Hugel Terracing

The first section of workshop we will talk about the process and look at the different terrace beds we have built over the years. See for yourself how well the process has worked, and learn from our mistakes. We’ll talk about other ways that the same process could be applied to other terrain (like flat ground) and with other building materials (wood chips, spent hay, mushroom spawn…)

The second portion of the workshop we will build some new terraces. This will involve digging holes, setting posts, moving logs and brush, so come prepared for physical work (sturdy shoes, gloves, whatever you need to stay dry and comfortable)

Pre-registration for this workshop is required. We will cancel the workshop if we don’t meet a minimum of participants. $10-$20 sliding scale fee for participation. To register email peaceofearthfarm@myfairpoint.net or call 802-755-6336

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Taste and Tour

IMG_6374.jpgSeptember 9, 1-4pm All are welcome to stop by for our 5th annual open farm and tasting event.

We’ll have a tour of the farm starting at 2pm, and ongoing sampling of garlic, tomatoes, and perhaps some other seasonal produce.  You may think garlic is garlic, but there are surprising differences when you get the opportunity to taste different varieties in succession, and it’s kind of fun.  Which variety will come out on top this year?  Only your tastebuds will tell.  We’ll have garlic, other veggies, and perhaps some mushrooms for sale as well.

We love to talk about our farming practices and plans.  Come see and taste what is in season.  If you are coming back again- see how perennials have matured and what new ventures we are trying.  Visit the animals on pasture, and check out the ups and downs of no-till garden management.   Bring your curious minds, palates, and friends.

Peace of Earth Farm is at 43 West Griggs Rd. in Albany, VT

you can find directions here or give us a call 802-755-6336

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The 99% Market, Sharing Fresh Veggies with the Newport Community

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For the past two years, Diane Peel of the NEK 99% community group has faithfully picked up CSA shares from our farm.  Later that day the two large shares would be divided up into smaller units and offered at a free table outside the NEK 99% gallery for anyone looking for some fresh produce.  The table is always staffed with a volunteer to help with veggie identification and prepping tips, as well as recipes. img_2041.jpgWe love to hear where the produce is ending up.  An elderly woman who wants enough cucumbers to make a small batch of pickles.  Kids who love the snap peas.  For many people this may be their only source of fresh vegetables for the week, no matter how small.

When we have an overabundance of a well received veggie we are happy to donate extra to the project.  At the same time we really appreciate that the NEK 99% raises funds each year to purchase shares from us.  It makes our time and labor feel valued, and our need to earn a living respected.  I like to say that the project “feeds two birds with one seed”, we get income, and many people have access to some fresh veggies.

This  year, the NEK 99%  has raised funds for one large share, but they would love to purchase another large share.  They will be raising funds at a yard sale this Saturday May 27, 8-2pm on School St. in Newport, VT.  Go support them and the veggie project and check out a myriad of other yard sales at the City Wide Yard Sale event.  I imagine you could also just drop by and give them a donation as well.

For more information about all the other cool projects that the NEK 99% is involved with check out their newsletters or follow them on Facebook.

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New Greenhouse for Starts

IMG_4703.JPGWe are happy to have a new tiny green house for starting plants in, just outside the house.  Though we have two larger hoop houses, they are both a good distance from the house and we’ve never felt justified in heating them.  We’ve always started our earliest plants inside the house under lights, until the weather gets warm enough to put the least temperature sensitive starts (like onions, lettuce, spinach) out into the hoop house.  We really feel like natural sunlight produces much better, stockier plants than those under lights, so we are happy to be able to get them out in the sun early now.

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We retrofitted a greenhouse frame that originally had a pre-fab thicker cover.  We framed out the ends, making one solid end wall, and covering the rest with plastic.IMG_4622We originally planned to put in a wood stove, with the pipe coming out through the solid end wall.  My parents offered us a quartz electric heater for free, so we decided to give that a try instead.  We’ve also added some barrels filled with water to store and release solar heat overnight.  They seem to help keep the heat more even.  The little electric heater is just used at night to keep temps above freezing.  We’ll see how our electric bill is affected, and maybe switch it out for a wood stove next year if necessary.IMG_4612We’ve even have nifty ski pole window props!

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Early Bird Special

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For some, this time of year means curling up by the fire, eating comfort food, trying to absorb a bombardment of political news or perhaps reading a good book.  Others may be dreaming of the spring to come, or planning their next adventure.  We are doing all of the above, and also putting together our seed order for the coming growing season.  If you are dreaming of fresh vegetables, fruits and mushrooms that could be on your plate, this is a great time of year to sign up for a CSA share.

In order to help pay for those aforementioned seed orders, we are offering an early bird special to anyone who signs up for a small or large CSA share and pays in full by the end of February 2017.  Payment by February 28 will get you a free June share, valued at $40.

The full description, pricing run down, and pictures of all shares from 2016 can be found on our CSA page

We also welcome early sign ups, even if payment is not possible until later.

If you are curious about where we order our seeds from, check out this post from last year for a variety of links to some great small seed companies.

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Mushrooms in Review

IMG_2877.JPGWe first started growing Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms on logs in the spring of 2015.  This past summer we finally tasted our first home grown mushrooms.  We are pleased to have had some success, but also know that there is much more to learn.  By far our biggest fungal project has been inoculating birch logs with Shiitake spawn, we now have 200 logs.  We had tried three strains of Shiitake (Jupiter, West Wind, and Miss Happiness), and so far only the West Wind has fruited well.  Jupiter and Miss Happiness are cold weather strains, meaning they should want to send out mushrooms in the Spring and Fall when cued by appropriate temperatures.  So far we only harvested a few in the late fall, though they were nice and big.  Some of the logs have Turkey Tails growing on their ends, so they may have been taken over by other spawn.  We’ll wait and see if these logs produce in the year ahead, perhaps they are slow due to the dry summer conditions.  In general we are learning that we probably need to intentionally water our logs on a regular basis and can’t rely solely on the rain.

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The strain that did produce for us (West Wind) is conditioned to grow in a wide range of temperatures and requires the logs to be soaked in advance of their fruiting.  We were thinking that the soakers sounded like a lot more work, but so far their increased productivity and regularity seems quite worth while.  We harvested enough to eat a lot, dry a little, and include them in our CSA shares a few times.  img_1888Hopefully this coming season with twice as many logs fruiting we can start to sell them.  We’ve now established that the Shiitakes will grow on Birch, the follow up question is how many years will they keep producing?  We also realized how much humidity plays a role in the size and quality of the Shiitake that fruit.  Our first mushrooms picked during a hot and dry period were cracked and smaller (but still delicious).

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We will play around with watering techniques and perhaps using some fruiting blankets to hold in humidity in the future.  With more confidence in our ability to get some Shiitake to grow, we hope to inoculate 200 more logs this Spring.

100_8017.JPGIn 2015 we had inoculated some stumps with Oyster mushroom spawn as well.  For the oysters we just used the stacked cookie method (layering sawdust spawn between chunks of log).  This was pretty quick and easy to do, but it felt like it used a lot of spawn compared to the drill and fill method used for the Shiitakes.  The cookie method also seemed to allow the spawn to dry out more easily.  A few of our Oyster logs did fruit in the spring, but the dry conditions limited growth.  Little black beetles also proved to be a challenge.  It appears nearly impossible to grow outdoor Oysters without a beetle infestation.  We’ll keep watching to see what our little cluster of logs does, but we don’t have plans to gear up in outdoor Oyster production.

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We also tried a new variety of mushroom that likes to grow in compost and heat, the Almond Agaricus.  We just tried one bag of spawn placed in the soil around a section of tomatoes in the hoop house.

Sadly, we didn’t harvest any Almond Agaricus, but the tomatoes in that section did grow really well!  I had held onto the spawn longer than recommended before planting and it was a bit blue, so perhaps that is to be blamed.  The area was watered by the same drip tape keeping the tomatoes hydrated, but I expected it needed more regular soaking than we kept up with.  We’ll have to try again.

And finally, King Stropharia, also called Garden Giant or Wine Cap.  These tasty edibles often come on their own in wood chip piles and we have harvested them here and there in some of our flower and forest garden plantings.  This year we intentionally bought a couple of bags of spawn and introduced them into wood chips along our older asparagus plantings.  img_3069img_3068img_3066The asparagus beds were full of grass and in need of a real overhaul, so we weeded, laid down cardboard, and covered between the rows with wood chips, and around the plants with hay mulch.  We didn’t finish this until September, so we won’t have results on the Stropharia production until next year.  Our hope is that they will produce in clusters and eventually spread out through all of the asparagus planting on their own or with our help.  If nothing else, the asparagus should be a little happier.

We move into a new year of mushroom growing and experimenting with an attitude of gratitude and curiosity!

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