Our 2023 farmer’s market season is ramping down. The last market that we plan to attend will be November 18. There will be a market on the 25th, but we don’t plan to attend that one (weekend after Thanksgiving).
If we had to boil our 2023 farming experience down into one sentence it’d be that our hydroponic greenhouse lettuce experiment has been promising and scaling that up will be our farm’s top priority for 2024. We still plan on maintaining a healthy lineup of potted herbs and microgreens and plan on maintaining our flock of ducks and chickens (ie we’ll continue to have a limited supply of eggs). Currently on the fence about tomatoes next year… we’ll debate in the off season.
The Manassas farmer’s market has had some management changes over the past X months, and word on the street is that a new farmer’s market in Manassas Park will be competing with the Manassas market at the same day / time in 2024 (Saturday mornings). Our current plan is to stay at the Manassas market for the main 2024 season (April – November), but we may potentially attend the Manassas Park market in March 2024. We’ll keep you posted.
We hope to see you in the next couple weeks, but if not, we want to thank you for another great famer’s market season! Enjoy the holidays!
The market season is beginning to wane. Last main season market will be the Saturday before Thanksgiving, November 18. We plan to attend every Saturday between now and then.
Word on the street is that there will be no winter market in Manassas. The past couple years we’ve attended the tail end of the winter market as a way to ramp up for the spring season… we may attend the Manassas Park market in March 2024 if that’s an option. We’ll see how things go.
We’ve been working on scaling up our hydroponic lettuce for next season. We have a 100-foot long hoop house in the works intended for 100% lettuce (maybe some spinach, as well). Aiming to delve further into restaurant sales, but also have more supply for the farmer’s market.
Thanks to all of our customers, as always! Hope to see you one of these weekends.
With all of the weather moving in tonight…. wind, rain, cooler temps…. the Manassas market managers have decided to pull the plug on tomorrow’s market. So no farmer’s market Saturday, 9/23. We’re going to roll all pre-orders forward by one week by default, but if you have a pre-order and would like to do some alternative plan, please reach out and let us know.
Stay dry this weekend and we’ll hope to see you at the market on 9/30!
Our tomatoes are starting to color up, but we’re going to need probably one more week before we can bring anything to the market. So, our apologies, but no tomatoes at the market tomorrow. 🙁 But the plants are looking good in the hoop house and we’re hoping for a nice long healthy season!
Last year, the July 2 market was the first market of the year in which we brought tomatoes, so we’re maybe a tad behind that this year. One big difference this time is that we put a 20% shade cloth over the tomato house back in April. Last year we got what we thought was maybe “sunburn” on a big swath of our Supersweet 100s… and we wanted to avoid that this year, hence the shade cloth experiment. But the downside, perhaps, is this slower start to our season given the slight reduction in light. We’ll see if we can at least avoid that sunburn this time around.
Still cranking away each week on our hydroponic baby lettuce, microgreens, and potted herbs. We’ve been growing our potted herbs in a grow tent that we got this past winter, and they’ve taken well to that, so that’s been a nice plus. Also doing our micro basil in the grow tent.
We’ve been slowly getting the ball rolling on our next big hoop house project. We want to move our old lettuce hoop house (hoop house #2) up next to the tomato house (hoop house #1) and level out the ground there to better accommodate deep water culture pools… for more hydro lettuce next year. It will be a fairly major effort… want to get electric and propane lines run to it, and potentially extend it from 50 feet to 100 feet long. We’re hopeful that the added capacity will allow us to triple our lettuce production next year (give or take). Hidden Julles has proven to be a steadfast, reliable (patient!) customer of ours and we hope to give them more business as we go through this process of scaling up.
All for now! Hope you can swing by the market and see us tomorrow or sometime soon!
Some quick status on our tomatoes. One process tweak this year: We’re trying a trellising method called “lower and lean” which will hopefully make for a tidier hoop house across the season and more accessible plants for harvest and maintenance.
Hope to see everyone at the market Saturday, though looks like they are calling for a bit of a wet day. We’ll try to make the most of it!
First “main season” Saturday market of 2023 is April 8 and we’ll be there! From April 8 until just before Thanksgiving, the Saturday market will run from 8am – 1pm and be in the same location as recent years (commuter lot across from Baldwin Elementary). Hope to see you there!
We’re ramping up this week and next for our return to the Manassas farmer’s market. As the above table shows, we will not be attending the market on March 4 (though there will be a market that day). March 11 will be our first day back.
Stuff we will likely bring on the 11th: chicken eggs, duck eggs, lettuce mix (see image below), microgreens. Our first batches of herbs probably won’t be ready until sometime in April I would imagine.
As a heads up, we will be raising our egg prices this season to $4 / half dozen for chicken eggs and $5 / half dozen for duck eggs. We know these prices are historically high and yet eggs have consistently been our thinnest margin item over the years mainly due to the costs of feed for the birds (which have increased in price, as well). If you buy eggs from us consistently, one avenue to offset a little of the cost would be to utilize our “loyalty discount card”, which is basically a gift card, but we add additional money to the card based on how much you contribute to it. There is no identity information kept with the card (we don’t know which card is tied to which person, etc… similar concept to a cash payment). Anyway, feel free to ask us about the card if you’re interested or have questions.
Looking forward to next week! Please contact us between now and then if you’d like to pre-order anything for pickup at the market. Hope to see you!
Happy winter to all! Just checking in. We’ve been attempting to hibernate during the offseason, but is there really ever an offseason with farming? :-p Activity is certainly reduced, but we’re not 100% dormant… we’ve continued to grow lettuce inside in a grow tent and get batches over to Hidden Julles each week. And we’ve also been working on our new experimental hydroponic greenhouse that we’ve affectionately dubbed the “Nerd House”…
With this system, we have a shallow pool of water (about 6″ deep) with added nutrient solution. Floating on top of the water are trays of baby lettuce. The pool is sized such that we’re hoping to 100% replace last year’s in-ground lettuce output with this new hydroponic baby lettuce. We’re anticipating either a 3 or 4 -week grow time, depending on how finely we can tune the growing conditions. So that involves maintaining consistent air temperature and humidity, water temperature, light, water pH, and proper quantities of nutrient vs. water in the pool. And then at harvest time, we can run the trays through a mechanical harvester (specifically the Quick Cut Greens Harvester). Big picture, we’re hoping that we can do as much, if not more lettuce production this year vs. last… but with less labor.
On the egg front, we suffered fairly significant bird losses to predators back in November/December (lost about half of our flock over a 3-4 week period). We scrambled and tried a number of solutions, but what has seemed to be the answer is to lock the birds up at night in a coop, and then let them out in the morning. Up until this, we had just left the coops open to allow the birds free entry / exit… and our fencing arrangement had seemed a sufficient defense. We’re learning and responding as we go. We plan to replace the lost birds with ready-to-lay birds in early March so that we can ramp up production for the farmer’s market season.
And speaking of farmer’s market… Looking at the calendar, our current plan is to return to the Manassas farmer’s market Saturday, March 11. We’ll keep you posted as we approach that date.
Hope everyone is doing well! Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.