Just a quick update that we will not have our self-serve farm stand open this Sunday, 8/22. We will be at the Manassas farmer’s market tomorrow (8/21) as usual from 8am – 1pm. We plan to resume the farm stand next week, 8/29.
Hope all are well and hope to see you at the market tomorrow!
We find ourselves at a time of the year when we’re just turning the crank each week. Not much going on in terms of big infrastructure projects or big planting / harvesting efforts. Here are some highlights:
The hoop house started to produce last week. Not sure if I mentioned this elsewhere, but after building the thing and getting tomatoes planted, we suffered some losses due to potentially a number of factors:
We initially didn’t have the trellis lines in, and had some windy days, so the tomato stems rubbed against the edges of their respective weed blocker holes… damaging (in some cases killing) plants.
We used a leaf-heavy compost that we had not used before on top of cardboard, and, in hindsight, this may not have been the most nutritious soil for the plants.
We eventually replaced lost plants with some of the garden starter plants that we were selling at the market. And we got the trellis strings up and started training the plants up them. So we recovered, but the effective result from those initial issues is that the hoop house in general is producing a little later in the season than we would’ve hoped (by maybe 2-3 weeks?)
The combo of high heat, lots of sun, and lack of rain has a good portion of our salad mix plants bolting (attempting to flower and make seeds). Bolted lettuce is generally more bitter tasting than non-bolted, so we try to avoid harvesting from bolted plants. But the overall result with salad mix is that we’re starting to see lower yields as we get further into July. Last year, we had really low salad mix production during August and September, so we’re anticipating continued loss of production… but hopefully not quite as bad this time around. We’ve started experimenting with shade cloth over some of the beds to see if that helps with the bolting, and we’re going to play around with overhead (sprinkler) irrigation in the coming weeks vs. drip tape… which will hopefully keep the plants cooler due to the evaporation they’ll get from wet leaves.
Elissa’s foray into baked goods continues. She’s tried a number of different items at this point and gotten some great feedback. I believe the lineup for this coming Saturday will be coffee cake loaves and small sugar cookies with sprinkles.
We’re continuing to setup our roadside self-serve farm stand on Sundays from 9am – 2pm. If you miss us at the Saturday market, feel free to swing by on Sunday. Address is 10218 Lonesome Road, Nokesville. Aside from eggs, we usually have a little of everything at the stand. If we won’t be able to do the farm stand (or farmer’s market) on any given week, we’ll be sure to post on our website and Facebook and send an email… but otherwise, you can assume that we’ll do both Saturday farmer’s market and Sunday farm stand.
This weekend is going to be a hot one! Hope you can come by!
We direct-seeded field peas into our upper garden on March 30. Since then, the peas have grown, flowered, and started producing seeds. So we decided to terminate via mowing, and then cover with a silage tarp so that the upper garden would be zero maintenance and ready for planting whenever we eventually decide to make use of it. Enjoy!
We’re in full main season swing at this point. Everything is growing and needs to be harvested yesterday. Finding a spare moment can be challenging. But seeing folks each week at the market is a nice reward.
Some of the things going on these days:
Our farm refrigerator (a chest freezer cycled on/off to keep it at fridge temperatures) died late winter / early spring. We’ve been freezing milk jugs filled with water in our main house freezer and then cycling those into the powered-off chest freezer… such that it’s effectively a large cooler. This has gotten us through, but the time has come to bite the bullet. We clicked “buy” on a brand new chest freezer (larger one), which will hopefully arrive this coming weekend. You might ask why not just buy a refrigerator? Well a chest-style unit is what we desire, for one, and I can’t recall finding a refrigerator in that style. There are fridge-only upright units, but if memory serves, they might be more expensive than these chest freezers. I’ve given serious thought to building a large refrigerator, but lumber prices are quite high these days and I would also prefer to spend time doing other things. But building a larger fridge is probably on the todo list another year or two from now.
After populating our hoop house with tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant, we suffered substantial losses (mostly with tomatoes). We believe there were a number of factors at play… transplant shock, wind rubbing stems against weed block fabric holes, overheating due to plant laying on black weed block fabric, inadequate compost. We’ve backfilled some of the losses at this point with other starters that we had originally intended to sell at the market. We will likely fill the remaining holes in the next week or two with additional plants (either more tomatoes or some peppers that we started inside). So a bit of a rough start in the hoop house, but we’re reacting and trying to salvage our summer crop effort. It’s looking like we’ll pull through with decent crops… though perhaps a little later producing than otherwise.
We have lettuce coming out of our ears these days. Our plan for this season was to sow (indoors) a batch of lettuce / salad mix every two weeks, and then plant into the garden at plantable maturity. Well, all of the batches we’ve planted to this point are producing lettuce in decent quantity. The result is that the garden as a whole is producing more lettuce than we can sell at the farmer’s market. We’ve actually been leaving some of the lettuce out in the garden unharvested, just to save on harvest and wash/pack labor. As a contrast, last season, we had a huge slump in lettuce production during August / September, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we have something to bring to market during those months this year.
The pea cover crop that we had going in the upper half of our garden started to flower and produce seeds (peas in pods), so we decided it was probably time to terminate it. (Probably want to terminate before it goes to seed next time.) So that got mowed down and covered with a tarp this past weekend. We’ll eventually figure out what, if anything, to plant in that upper section of the garden.
All for now. Hope everyone is doing well now that school’s out and the official start of summer is days away. Hope to see you at the farmer’s market one of these Saturdays, but if you can’t make it Saturday, we will have our self-serve farm stand setup every Sunday from 9am – 2pm at the front of our property (10218 Lonesome Rd, Nokesville). As usual, if there are any weeks where we won’t be attending the Saturday market or won’t have a Sunday farm stand, we’ll let everyone know via this website, Facebook, email, etc. Thanks!
It was a chilly and wet farmer’s market today, but we want to thank everyone who braved the weather and made the trip out. We plan to have our farm stand open tomorrow (Sunday, May 30) from 9am – 2pm, rain or shine. This will be the third week of our farm stand experiment. Our address is 10218 Lonesome Road, Nokesville, VA 20181, and the stand will be up at the front of the property just off Lonesome Rd. The stand is self-serve / honor system, but text / call Derek at 571-243-9415 with any questions, etc.
It’s looking like we’ll have plenty of lettuce mix bags, some salad mix bags, microgreens trays, garden starters, potted herbs, and a couple of Elissa’s baked goodies (carrot cake cupcakes and vanilla bean scones). We sold out of eggs today, so we will not have any eggs available tomorrow. Thanks and hope to see you!
One of our big projects this spring has been to get a 50-foot hoop house built in time for planting summer crops (tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant). It was definitely a learning experience! We tried to record what we could via time lapse. Please enjoy and hope to see you at the market soon!
Hey all! We had a great day today at the market and wanted to thank everyone who came by to see us! The weather this weekend has been / continues to be fantastic. With spring fully underway, we’ve been finding ourselves with more product than we can sell at the Saturday market. So we wanted to try a self-serve / honor system -type farm stand at the front edge of our property in Nokesville. The address is 10218 Lonesome Road, Nokesville, VA 20181. This will be tomorrow (Sunday, May 16) and we’ll aim to have it open for business from 9am – 2pm.
We intend to have most of the same sorts of items that we have at the farmer’s market… salad / lettuce mix bags, “gem” style head lettuces, microgreens, garden starter plants (tomatoes, lettuces, chard, kale, beets, etc), potted herbs. However, we will not have any eggs at the stand tomorrow. For payment handling, we will have a drop box for cash (exact amounts, please) or Venmo is an option (@DerekPennington). If you have any questions at any point, call / text Derek at 571-243-9415.
If you didn’t get a chance to come by at the market today or if you did but just can’t get enough Pennington Market Farm, feel free to swing by tomorrow! And while you’re at it, pay a visit to our farming neighbors Sunshine Honey Farm a little further down Lonesome Road at address 10725. They have rolls, cookies, jams, sauce, and lots of farm fresh eggs at their self-serve stand.
The spring / summer Manassas farmer’s market begins this week! The Thursday market starts April 8 at Harris Pavilion from 8am – 1pm (we will not be attending the Thursday markets). And the Saturday market starts April 10 at the commuter lot across from Baldwin Elementary from 8am – 1pm (we WILL be attending the Saturday markets, as always).
With the start of this new market season, we’re debuting our new “loyalty cards”. These are more or less standard gift cards… but with some incentives built in. Basically, if you choose to get one of these cards, each time money is added to the card, we will put an additional X% onto the card. And that percentage increases in relation to the amount of money added. The overall point being to encourage and reward customers who buy from us again and again. To simplify the point-of-sale mechanics, we’ve narrowed the deposit amounts to the following setup:
Some of you may remember that we used to have a loyalty program where we had a check-in sheet out on our table, and you’d check the box by your name each time you made a purchase…. When the pandemic hit, we couldn’t have “public use” pens out on the table, and tracking who was buying and who wasn’t (not knowing everyone by name) proved to be cumbersome, and we were hesitant to advertise it to newcomers, etc. Beginning April 10, this new loyalty card program effectively replaces that old check-in sheet program. We will have the cards available for anyone who wants to get one, and then you can use for any future purchases, adding money (via cash, check, credit, or SNAP tokens) per the above amounts as desired. We should note that, like most gift cards, these cards will not be redeemable or refundable.
Looking forward to starting the spring / summer market! We’ve been busy at the farm gearing up for the season. We have a 50-foot hoop house in the works that we’re hoping to complete before tomatoes go in the ground late April / early May. Planning to do cucumbers and eggplant in there, as well. And we’re experimenting with a cover crop of peas in the upper half of our garden. The peas will theoretically add nitrogen back into the soil as they grow, and then we’ll likely till them in later in the summer to make way for fall plantings. A lot going on!
A big thank you as always to all of our customers. We hope to see you at the market soon!