Kid’s Week

unnamed (2)We had an enthusiastic team of 8th and 9th graders join us at the farm last week to help with our daily chores and preparing the farm for the fall. We weeded, watered, painted and repaired the fence, dried basil as a seasoning, and made raised herb beds for an herb garden. The kids especially enjoyed using the power tools and painting! While we worked I spoke with our visitors about food justice and the importance of healthy, nutritious food in Adam’s County. The children were not surprised that there is a great need for food assistance in Adam’s County because they have been helping with the other assistance programs in the area, such as the homeless shelter. I was impressed by how mature the children were- especially while discussing serious issues. We were grateful for their help and we also had a lot of fun!


Community Support

FullSizeRenderThis past week has been very difficult because of the passing of one of our beloved community members. Through this difficult time it the farm has been particularly important as a haven for community support and love. The children have been particularly special to the farm. Their bright spirits light up the farm in the evening. Death is such a difficult thing for a community to shoulder and it leaves so many reeling from the shock. At this time our need for each other is the highest and we recognize how important it is that we have relationships with those around us. Although I have not been personally experiencing grief, people who I care about very much have been. My heart aches for them and I almost do not know what to do. At the farm I know my role is to be there- to be dependable, to help where I am needed, and to fill in some of the cracks where pieces are missing. I once read that the most important thing to do for someone who is grieving is just to be there for them. That is what I can offer. That is what the farm can offer. The farm is a place where memories will live on and a place that will be there when people need somewhere to go. I thank my lucky stars that the farm can provide that for people. It was built out of love and continues to be a place of support.

The Hidden Costs of Food

Have you considered how much energy is used to produce your food? I certainly hadn’t! Here are a few facts about our food:

1.For each pound of beef, a gallon of oil is used.

2.For each pound of steak, twenty-five hundred gallons of water are used.

3.For 10 pounds of healthy grain that is fed to a cow, only one pound of meat is produced.

4.Around the world, an acre of rainforest is chopped down every minute. Millions of grasslands acres are lost each year to feed and graze cattle.

5.Ground water has been poisoned in 17 states due to factory farm run-off. This run-off has polluted 35,000 miles of America’s rivers.

For these reasons, it is better for our environment to eat vegetables and fruits, particularly those that are grown on farms that use sustainable farming practices (like ours!).

Sources: Also, World Bank Report 2324, Livestock Revolution. 12/01.

Iowa Sierra Club publication: Article-2.htm (Pollution from Animal Factories: The Cafo Record the Cafo Threat).

The Oil We Eat, Harper’s Magazine, 2/2004, pp.37-45

Ecological Integrity: Integrating Environment, Conservation and Health (Island Press, Washington DC, 2001), David Pimentel

The U.S. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (1999 Report: Contribution of Animal Agriculture to Meeting Global Human Food Demand)


What’s Growing in Our Community Garden This Summer?


We are about half way through a very successful summer growing season at the Painted Turtle Farm! The tomatoes, beans, eggplant, zucchini, and raspberries are just coming in and the Bok Choy, Joi Choy, and lettuce are on their way out. We have a ton of kale and basil- so much that we had to start selling the extras (which has been very successful)!  The rain has been very beneficial to the plants! I realized that we never made a post about what has been growing in the garden this summer, so I thought I would get you up to date:

  1. In the first few rows we have: cilantro, zinnias, a spring lettuce mix, carrots, beets, and potatoes
  2. In the middle of the garden we are growing (have grown): Joi Choy, Swiss chard, broccoli, purple cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, carrots, basil, red cabbage, red lettuce, kohlrabi, curly kale, Thai basil, & green and purple beans
  3. On the back side of the garden we have: squash, watermelon, white and red onions, garlic, and more beets, thai basil, Joi Choy, Bok Choy, & curly kale
  4. In the raised beds we have planted and grown: carrots, asparagus, tomatoes, rhubarb, radishes, and arugula
  5. Around the hoop house we are growing: green and yellow zucchini, squash, sunflowers, zinnias, and tomatillos
  6. And in the hoop house we have: eggplant, tomatoes, jalapeños, and bell peppers

Almost all of the vegetables have been bountiful!  The flea beetles have eaten the arugula and they munched on the Joi Choy, Bok Choy,  and eggplant. We were able to save the eggplant, Joi Choy, and Bok Choy but we were unable to harvest the arugula. We also had bitter greens, broccoli, and cauliflower this year. Despite picking these crops early, some of them were so bitter that they were difficult to use. With everything else doing so well, however, we certainly cannot complain!

Thanks to the wet weather and the many helpful hands in the garden, the Painted Turtle Farm continues to grow and prosper.

Baby Hannah’s First Visit to Painted Turtle Farm

Elizabeth Weller, our farm expert, recently had a baby! Baby Hannah visited the farm late last week. Her eyes were barely open but she smiled most of the time we were out there (a natural!). Seven pound Hannah turned one month old the day she came to visit. As Elizabeth took a look at the farm, Erin was able to spend time holding Hannah and rocking her. Elizabeth was very pleased by the way the farm is coming along! She recommended that we start planning our fall season by ordering new seeds and prepping the hoop house.

With all the rain we have been getting it has been difficult to keep the water out of the hoop house. We will need to investigate ways to keep the mold down and drain the water away from the structure (particularly in the winter). If you have any suggestions please comment on this post! Another difficulty we have been having is an infestation of flea beetles. Despite spraying the plants with a natural beetle deterrent, the beetles are munching on our greens, Joi Choy, and eggplants! One of our farm advisors recommended we try diatomaceous earth. Has this worked for anyone? Do you have advice? Thank you!

What is food justice?

Food justice, as defined by Nikki Henderson, the Executive Director of People’s Grocery, is  “… the belief that healthy food is a human right, so everyone has an inherent right to access healthy, fresh food. Access is a mixture between location, affordability, and cultural appropriateness. Food justice is important for everyone because food is culture. Food is your family. Food is part of how we communicate with one another; it’s a way we share our love. Being able to enjoy and prepare food that actually nourishes the body and keeps us healthy is connected to our ability to stay sane as human beings.” The right to food is a complex and controversial topic. Food justice is not just about the present state of our food system but also encompasses the history of food injustice. Slavery is one of the main issues that has spanned throughout the history of food production, and continues today. Food production has never been just. When we create a more sustainable and fair food system we support a network of fair trade, personal health, education, and individual empowerment.