Sunday, April 22, 2012
It is amazing how time flies when you are working in the garden, or fields. Steve has been so busy ramping up for Hollow Pumpkin's 2012 Summer/Fall C.S.A. that there has not been much time for anything else. All the work pays off and the kick off of our Summer/Fall section is just around the corner. Assuming all goes well and as planned our members will begin receiving newsletters and important information and updates within the next four weeks.
The weather, of course, has been unusually helpful in early growth. Now that it has cooled down some we are seeing a tad slower growth. Steve has been walking around shaking his head a lot these days. Though the warm winter and spring has made it possible for many farmers to plant early, it also is confusing as to what to do in the coming years. We are scratching our heads and asking ourselves is this warm weather going to be a pattern or a passing cycle? Will Ma Nature play a prank on us just when we get used to warmer climates and throw a frost at us? Many if not all farmers who have been farming for a long time depend on weather patterns to plan their planting throughout the year. Steve is such a farmer and so he has been amused and a bit confused about the weather. I just tell him that Ma Nature is keeping you on your toes and dusting off some of those cob webs you've grown over the past 35 years. We all must have a sense of humor when it comes to farming, weather and, as sad as it is, possible global warming. Zones are changing and we all must adjust to it while we change our behaviors to more sustainable ones for the earth.
We are excited about the start of Hollow Pumpkin C.S.A. 2012 Summer/Fall harvest and we are looking forward to meeting all of our new members and seeing all of our loyal veterans. Please stay tuned for more updates coming soon and thank you for your support!
Happy Eating to All - Hollow Pumpkin Farm
Thursday, February 16, 2012
On Wed. Feb. 15th 2012 Hollow Pumpkin C.S.A. made it's final distribution of shares in the first of what we hope will be many years of our experimental season extension harvest here in Southern Illinois. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the great folks who joined up to participate in this experience. For us, it is all about feeding the community in the most nutritious, organic, healthy, environmentally friendly and cost effective way. It is all about our members and keeping the farm alive to serve the community.
Southern Illinois is unique in many ways. It is not California, where the weather is perfect for growing almost year round and, it is not the east coast where the Community Supported Agricultural movement in America began. The mid-west has been slow in hopping aboard this endeavor, though, we are the most bountiful region of America in many ways. And Southern Illinois sits in a slightly precarious position in the region where it comes to weather and soil and mentality. It is fun watching this area grow and spread it's agricultural wings beyond the conventional practices of our predecessors which has been so deeply ingrained into this region's psyche. It is a slow yet necessary process. This process cannot be achieved by any one entity alone.
Hollow Pumpkin farm would like to thank the Neighborhood Co-op Grocery in Carbondale Illinois for allowing us to use their wonderful healthy environment to distribute our C.S.A. shares during this winter harvest as well as our summer and fall harvests. All of the employees at the C0-0p have been extremely helpful and friendly and the folks in the produce department are the best! Hats off to Francis Murphy and Kristin Pass for having a great vision for this regions local and healthy food movement.
Steve and I will now turn our attention to the spring, summer and fall. We are looking, once again, to increase our membership, this year to 35-40 members. Steve has been busy planting seeds and cleaning up the fields, mending fences and planning, when possible, for improvements as we go forward into Hollow Pumpkin's 35th year as a farm and 4th year as a C.S.A.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
How did this happen? We have been so busy working on the experimental winter harvest that when we finally took a little breather we remembered that Hollow Pumpkin Farm has now entered it's 35th year of existence. Steve has been specializing in healthy organically grown produce for 35 years!
Running a farm is a bit like being married. There are joys and disappointments, a lot of hard work coupled with laughter and fun, plenty of responsibility and you must be in it for the long haul.
Steve came to Southern Illinois from New York in 1977. He was an elementary school teacher in the Bronx for a brief moment when he decided he wanted to go back to the land. Prior to his arrival in Illinois, he gained experience working on a farm on the east cost. After a while, he looked in the papers and found this plot of land was available to buy. When he arrived here on the farm there was a condemned house on the 16 acre property. He and his family lived in that house with no plumbing for the first six months. They took showers outside and used an out-house for their bathroom. That out- house is still in existence and is still used on occasion. Steve wasted no time and began planting the first year. He planted just enough for he and his
family to eat that year as he gained more knowledge about organic farming and Southern Illinois. He began to sell his produce in 1978.
To give you a perspective of the time period: There was no Internet as we know it in 1977. The world wide web was not in existence until 1992-1993. In 1977 the type of computers that were available were the Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Translator), and the Apple II (If you remember those you are old indeed!) There was no real organic movement in this part of Southern Illinois at that time. Steve was, indeed, a pioneer in the field. There was no such thing as a C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture) in America until 1984. A lot has changed in 35 years.
In 1980, Steve put his first hoop house up. In 1996 the old condemned house was torn down and the new house was erected.
In 2009 Steve and I started Hollow Pumpkin C.S.A.. We are now beginning our fourth year of the C.S.A.
Toward the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 we put up the second hoop house thanks to a grant for season extension. We have begun to open up all of the farmable fields on the 16 acre farm. (There are 9 farmable acres.)
Steve has lived through many changes in this region. He has seen agriculture in this region dwindle in comparison to when he arrived - and now is seeing a renewed interest with the push towards a healthier more local food supply. He has seen the weather patterns change dramatically. He has seen exponential increases in deer populations and insects some of which are not so friendly to the farmer. He has seen lady bugs go away only to be replaced with the lady beetles which bite and smell when they die in your house. He has also seen his children Jesse and Samantha, grow up and get married to lovely people, Ashraf and Stacy. Now Steve is a proud grandpa t
o three grandchildren, Sammy, Eman and Asher. Sammy is the oldest of the three grandchildren and he seems to have taken an interest in what grandpa Steve does.
Through the years Steve has continued to gain knowledge of what works and what does not work in this region in regard to growing produce organically. He is continuing to learn and experiment as
new information about organic agricultural practices grow.
Steve could not have done this alone. In the beginning, his family was an integral part of the farm. Much credit for the early formation of this farm goes to, not only Steve, but Rosalie Fulia who supported Steve's addiction to farming. His two children helped on the farm too. Like most farm families, children are responsible for doing farm chores. Neither of Steve's children became farmers, but both of them have a deep understanding of the importance of a clean food supply and what it takes to achieve that. They still come out to the farm on occasion and help their father. Since that time,
many a friend and volunteer has come
to help and support the farm. Steve also has taught many of the volunteers about organic farming and some of them have carried on the tradition. Rachel Pfaff is one such volunteer. She now lives near Batavia, IL. and is growing her own and then some, raising chickens, goats and keeping bees! She is a great example of what keeps Steve motivated. It truly takes a village.
Today, we have grown from a 12 member C.S.A. to a 29 member C.S.A. and we are looking to add a few more(6-10) for this 2012 Summer/Fall section. We are beginning to add season extension to our vocabulary and action packed schedule. We will continue to grow our winter C.S.A. season extension each year and we are very thankful to our C.S.A. members who are taking this experimental ride with us.
We have always included a small percentage of work for share C.S.A. membership and we will continue to do so in the future.
Steve has been a member of the Carbondale Farmers Market since 1978 and has been selling his produce to the Neighborhood Co-op, Arnolds Market and many local shops for, what Steve says
is close to 30 years.
Steve has been donating produce to Good Samaritan for as long as he can remember. He has donated to the food pantry and continues to be dedicated to getting healthy produce to the under served populations of this region.
Wow, it is amazing when you look at where you have come from. I have only been here, but for a
small portion of this ongoing journey. I arrived here 4 1/2 years ago. I fell in love with Steve very early after we met. I must admit, I fell in love with the farm as well. I decided that I wanted to assist Steve the
best way that I could. Since I am just a city kid from Chicago, I
decided that my skills were needed for the business end of the farm and that Steve should dedicate his time to what he does so superbly, and that is growing the best darn produce in these here parts!
There are more photos for you to take a look at in this post. I hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the history of Hollow Pumpkin Farm. Here's to making more history now and in the future! Happy and healthy eating to all. -Fran
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
We originally scheduled our experiment with season extension to begin on January 11th 2012. However, Steve had to rethink that start date due to the amount of rain we had toward the last half of 2012, the timing of planting and the slow growth of the vegetables in the hoop house. So, we did two things, we cut back on the amount of membership we would take in for this particular experiment and we began in December of 2011. Our goal was to see if it was possible to provide a fair variety of high quality produce in the Southern Illinois region in January and February when this area is lacking in local organically grown produce. The weather is the determining factor in this experiment. Hoop houses help, but they still cannot prevent frost damage from occurring unless, of course, a farmer wants to keep a wood burning stove going 24/7 which is near to impossible if that farmer wants to get anything else done. The other issue, that is of importance to winter vegetable growth, is the amount of sunlight or lack there of. As the days are shorter in the winter months so is the amount of sunshine the plants are exposed to. The lack of longer hours of sunshine is a huge contributing factor to the very slow growth of the plants. We are certainly learning, and we have been able to provide some very good produce to our members. The variety is, of course, lower than it would be in the spring and summer and it is also trickier as we move into January and February. So we are not quite done with the experiment yet. We have three more distributions.
The reason for writing this post is to let everyone know that we will be reassessing how we will be achieving season extension for this year. Because of this reassessment our information about the 2012-2013 Winter/Spring section of the C.S.A. is yet to be determined and we will be working on getting everyone more current information soon.
We felt that it was necessary to conduct this experiment to learn what the possibilities were. One of the things we pride ourselves on is being able to provide what we say we are going to provide. We never want to overextend ourselves and find that we are letting our membership down. We are very grateful to the folks who are participating in this experiment and we are thankful for every one's patience and understanding as we go through these experiments to learn more about this regions possibilities for continuous sustainability. Ultimately, that is our goal!
In the mean time, we are taking memberships for the 2012 24 week Summer/Fall section of the C.S.A. If anyone has any questions or would like to come and visit the farm, please feel free to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, January 6, 2012
Happy new year to everyone. We are at our half way point in our season extension experiment. So far so good. The weather has been unusually warm for January in good old Southern Illinois - at least during the day time. Most of the produce we have been distributing in our Winter/Spring share bags has been produce from the Fall such as oriental greens: Bok choy tat soi and senposai. There has been napa cabbage, chard, broccoli, turnips, fennel, parsley and, of course, sweet potatoes. Most of these items can be stored for a while. Sweet potatoes need to be stored at 50 degree temperature or higher and should be stored in a crate or a paper bag, never plastic. The greens, broccoli, cabbage and turnips will keep in the refrigerator.
For the next three distributions we may be adding kale, and we hope carrots. If the warmth holds out the carrots may size enough. It is a wait and see moment folks. there are veggies Steve planted but have refused to size like beets, and there are things we planted that just did not work out, like parsnips and items we usually plant but did not have time to this past year like leeks. We will try for next fall, winter an spring to bring some of those things back.
We are learning, bit by bit, what to do and what not to do so we are pleased that the experiment is working so far. We encourage feed back from our brave Winter/Spring section participants! We also want to thank them for allowing us the opportunity to learn and grow and hopefully serve the Southern Illinois community all year round in the future! Well, at least most of the year.
Here is to a very prosperous and healthy new year to everyone! Happy eating.