Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Weekend Counselor Orientation

This Memorial Day weekend on Saturday, the counselors for this summer attended an orientation acquainting them to the farm.  Some of them had never been a counselor here before, some had, but all had a good time.

About to Start the Tour
We started out by being introduced to the flower and herb garden, and then the chicken coop.  Doug and Tristan pointed out the identity of some of the plants as counselors-to-be explored.  Doug also pointed out one danger of the garden is that the dividers surrounding the plots are often home to fire ants, so don't walk on them too much (keep that in mind if you're ever there, dear reader).  One man called Justin was extremely impressed by the fresh asparagus.

Fresh, Garden Asparagus
A few counselors-to-be explored the chicken coop, but not before learning a little bit about the circle of life.  A mysterious animal had killed one chicken in the night as it has a few other nights recently.  It fed itself just like we feed ourselves on other animals.

Memory Eternal
Next, we learned about how the counselors should take the children to put food waste into the compost pile.

Tending the Compost Pile is Very Important
Lastly, we went to the field so that the counselors-to-be could learn their duties in regards to taking the kids to the field to pick things and weed.  They also picked and cleaned some kale and garlic for them to eat later.  We concluded by looking at the blueberry and red blackberry patch and the apiaries.  I asked the counselors-to-be to send me any stories or pictures they wanted on the blog.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Arkansas GardenCorps and Training New Counselors!

Monday, May 23, Arkansas GardenCorps came to our farm for a meeting.  They toured the farm and helped us weed, plant beans, form rows, and hill potatoes.  "Hilling potatoes" is when a farmer piles dirt up around a potato plant that is 20-60% mature.  This is meant to encourage the growth of more potatoes, since they are tubers (essentially parts of roots) that need soil to grow in.  Also, if sunlight touches a potato while it develops, it becomes inedible.

A farmer hilling potatoes in Queensland, Australia (source)

Tristan Odekirk, one of our regular workers, actually came to us from Arkansas GardenCorps, so we were happy to have them here.  In case you do not know, gentle readers, this is their self-description, from their website:

"Arkansas GardenCorps is an AmeriCorps program hosted by the Childhood Obesity Prevention Research Program at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute in Little Rock, Arkansas. The mission of Arkansas GardenCorps is to promote the use of school and community gardens to provide nutrition education with the purpose of reducing childhood obesity and to increase environmental awareness and sustainable agriculture practices in Arkansas communities. Members assist Service Sites across the state of Arkansas with the following objectives:

  • Development and maintenance of school and community gardens
  • Garden-based nutrition education for youth and adults
  • Recruitment of volunteers to support sustainability of gardens
  • Increase access to fresh produce grown in gardens"
Tristan With His GardenCorps T-Shirt

We may have more information to give you on this great organization later.  In other news, on Wednesday, May 25, Camp Mitchell started training people to be camp counselors.  They will be living  at camp all week, and at some point they will be given a farm orientation.  It should prove exciting!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Quiet Week

Not much is going on this week, just "making sure everything stays alive," as Americorps volunteer Ttristan Odekirk says.  That means a lot of weeding and monitoring crops.  Yesterday, Tristan and Lauren weeded most of the field.  Often, unwanted plants and clover left over from the winter grow around our crops and in between the permanent rows, so we use hoes to quickly cut the weeds off from their roots before they can seed and reproduce.  Otherwise, the weeds could compete with the crops for nourishment and potentially choke them out.

Sharpening the hoe is always important!
We needed to pay special attention to the side of the field that in starting to produce crops (the left side). It took a few hours, but the crops are safe for now! 
Weeding the Permanent Rows
Gotta get in between those plants!
And in between, of course.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Meanwhile, Back at the Farm...

Grace Episcopal Church of Siloam Springs, AR came up for a parish retreat. We were able to provide salad greens and radishes for the salad bar.  The kids of the retreat enjoyed visiting the chicken coop, looking for eggs, picking up the chickens, and feeding them scraps of lettuce and watermelon from the kitchen. We also got to build cob with the kids, which was awesome! They made some great cob for us, but they also had fun!  The kids ended up playing and dancing in the mud -- completely covered in clay --  and turning the water hose on each other to get cleaned off.

The cob wall is getting higher and higher!
 The Petit Jean chapter of Extension Homemakers Association helped us buy an egg incubator.  We put 6 eggs in it this week.  The egg incubator will help keep the eggs at the best temperature to hatch on time.

Exactly what it says

Incubating Eggs

Luckily we were able to harvest and market a lot of lettuce at Petit Jean Farmer's Market this Saturday, and in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  The Farmer's Market is the first Saturday of every month at 1039 Win Rock Drive, Morrilton 72110.  On most other days the owner of the venue, Ed Martzof, sells honey and cheese there.

Just look at it.

It's only $2 ;)

Not everything is positive here at the farm, however.  This hot weather  we've been having is worrisome for us. Lots of late spring veggies that typically mature around this time will start to "bolt" if hot weather comes too soon. Bolting is when a vegetable like radish, cabbage, turnip, spinach, lettuce, or arugula stops making tender, leafy greens.  The leaves get tough and bitter, and the plant puts up a thick stalk that flowers and seeds. We are unable to sell it at this point. Here is a picture of a row of Chinese Cabbage starting to bolt up with yellow flowers:

Bolting Lettuce

May your table be blessed with bounty till we meet again!

The CMAP Team

Friday, May 13, 2016

Calling for Submissions from Farm Fans!

 Hello, Farm Fans!

We appreciate your support so much that we want to hear more from you!  Your blog post submissions would greatly enhance our website, so we would like to see pictures and stories from you about farming, agriculture, faith, and food, or just from good times you've had at the farm!

We at CMAP have also decided that it would be prudent to make an easy, electronic way to donate to us, so you can expect that in the near future.

Soon to be digital and free from hassle!

Just a reminder: if you have an RSS reader, which you can download free, you can subscribe to our RSS feed by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page that says "Subcribe to: Posts (Atom)." 

If you do that, you can read our posts, along with others, in a one-stop news feed, much like a Facebook news feed.  RSS feed buttons normally look like this, for future reference:

From Lauren's Blog

Introducing Lauren

We have a new intern this summer!  Lauren Goff be our Blog Manager until September, updating this blog weekly and heling us with other factors in our online presence.

Lauren Goff
She is currently a senior Creative Writing major and Linguistics minor at the University of Central Arkansas.  She does not have much experience at all with agriculture, horticulture, or vegetation and animal husbandry in general.  However, she is positive towards environmentalism and wants to learn about ways to grow sustainable food!

She is running a personal side-blog about what she learns about agriculture, and occasionally how she ties it to Christian spirituality.

We look forward to her contributions this summer!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

April Farm Update

The Seasonal Field

April Farm Update

Greetings Farm Fans!

This month has been very exciting. All the sowing, bed prep, compost spreading, bed making, and transplanting that we have been doing since January is starting to pay off. We are taking our first baskets to the Petit Jean Farmer's Market on Saturdays, and our first CSA shares go out in just a few days.  Both the CSA and Farmer's Market crops are going to consist of lettuce mixes, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, asparagus, parsley, oregano, pac choi, and perhaps radish.


Alas, the blueberries are still not ready (yes, I know).

This month we have seen a lot of volunteer help up here at Camp Mitchell:

  • We've had lots of help planting onions and placing row cover from youth groups at St. Peter's Conway and St. John's Fort Smith.

Youth Group Volunteers
    • Harold Hedges and the Camp Mitchell Volunteer Corps. continue to come out the first Saturday of every month.

    Volunteer & Pulled Weed
      • The Physics club from University of Central Arkansas came up and helped build another hydroponic pond!

      New Hydroponic Pond
        • The Extension Homemakers here on the mountain top helped us to get our hands on an incubator so that we can hatch some of our chicken's eggs this summer!

        Our Chickens
          • We hosted two families who wanted to come up and learn about cob building. They helped us put another layer of cob on our garden shed.
          Mixing Cob

          Someone's Excited!

          We couldn't have done it without y'all! So I dedicate this photo of our compost pile to you. It is covered in seedlings of last year's sunflowers, moonflowers, tomatoes, and squash.  Something you may not know is that anything that sprouts in your garden that you did not plant is called a "volunteer," so all of the plants growing in the compost are volunteers as well!  Just as the volunteers help the farm prosper, so do the volunteer plants in the compost.

          Volunteers in the Compost Pile

          Happy farming and joyous dining to all,

          The CMAP Team
          Camp Mitchell Agricultural Project