We’ve arranged to be a vendor at the Manassas Farmer’s Market on Saturdays! First day will be this coming Saturday, June 29th. The market runs from 8:00am – 1:00pm and is located in downtown Manassas in a commuter parking lot across the street from Baldwin Elementary School.
Our game plan for this coming Saturday is to bring about 9-dozen eggs (some duck, some chicken) and an assortment of microgreens. Hoping to have sunflower, pea, radish, kale, and buckwheat in both cut and live offerings (5″x5″ tray with soil). We have our canopy tent, folding table, company banner, business cards… we’ll see how it goes!
We got two nucs (pronounced “nukes”) of honeybees back on May 12. This is our first foray into beekeeping, but then again, most of these farming endeavors lately have been “firsts” for us. With the bee thing, this is 100% Elissa. She took a beekeeping class for a couple months earlier this year and scoped out and purchased all the necessary materials, etc. So far so good. Our understanding is that the bees will spend roughly the first year building up their hives and stocking them with honey… eventually generating surplus honey in the second year (ie more honey than they’d need to get through winter). So for now, we just make sure to supply them with sugar water (simple syrup) to supplement their pollen intake and do weekly status checks on the hives, like Elissa is doing in the photo, to make sure there aren’t any issues (mites, signs of swarming, etc).
Maybe a month or two ago, we heard about this website called The Fresh Harvest which is basically an online grocery store that focuses on selling locally-farmed goods. In this case, “local” is anywhere within some radius of Remington, VA (near Culpeper). So the deal is, customers do their shopping at this site online, submit their orders by Sunday each week, and then the orders get processed and delivered the following Thursday. There are a few standard delivery drop-off locations (I believe there’s one in Warrenton, for example), but you can also request the order be delivered to your door.
So we ended up contacting the company’s owner, Matt Coyle, and started a discussion with him. A few weeks later, our eggs are up for sale on The Fresh Harvest! So check it out, give it a try if you’ve maybe thought about shopping at farmer’s markets but haven’t had the time to get out to one, etc. It’s like Peapod, but local, small-business goodness.
Our largest egg on record came today, we believe from one of our New Hampshire reds. 111 grams! They typically lay some larger eggs, but this one is off the charts. To put things in perspective, this egg exceeds the USDA’s “jumbo” size category threshold by over 1.5x. In the photo above, the egg on the left is a standard store-bought chicken egg… 59 grams would put it in the “large” category.
Believe it or not, we actually log the weight and date of every egg we get from our ladies. We can use that data to help set prices and provide “use by” dates on packaging, etc. Our white bantam eggs typically fall in the “small” category, our brown eggs are generally “large” or “extra large”, and our ducks are typically “jumbo”.
Egg laying rate has really picked up over the past month or so with the sun staying out longer and temps starting to warm. Those red racks hold 30 eggs each… so, by my count, that’s 83 duck eggs (shorter stack) and 142 chicken eggs in our fridge. And more coming everyday! Contact us if you’d like to get some of these.
Still cranking on microgreens. We’ve been focusing on four different varieties:
black oil sunflower
…and playing with different quantities of seed, soak time, varying air flow, etc.
In the photo we have two batches of peas. Same start date/time, same soak duration (12 hours), same seeding density (60 g per 8″x8″ pie tin), same lighting, both bottom watered, both harvested at the same time (after 8 days of growth)… only difference was that the tray on the left had peat moss and vermiculite as the soil medium and tray on the right used organic potting soil. We got 118 grams of sellable product from the right tray and only 61 grams from the left tray. It seems the organic potting soil is the clear winner here.
We give the birds a few different types of food, one of which is birdseed. It appears to be a combo of black oil sunflower, striped sunflower, and maybe millet(?) So, in parallel with our microgreens efforts, we’re seeing if we can extend our birdseed supply by foddering it. This basically means germinating the seed and then letting it grow another handful of days beyond that. The shortness of the growth period is such that the sprouts don’t need any nutrients from soil and really don’t even need light. Basically just air, water, and reasonable temperatures (eg room temperature). So for little to no input costs (amount of necessary temp control would be seasonal) we can essentially double our supply of birdseed via this method.
The sample Elissa has in the photo was “harvested” this morning. It was originally 117 grams of birdseed, started germination on January 12…. and grew to 234 grams of fodder in the subsequent week. So, exactly 2x. Supposedly, the nutritive content is actually higher (I assume per unit weight), but I’d like to find some more info on that. The birds gobble it up pretty quickly.
First batch of microgreens ever, planted Sunday, December 2. Growing three trays on 3rd shelf up from the bottom. From left to right: arugula, sunflower, and buckwheat. Soaked the sunflower and buckwheat seeds for 10 hours or so before planting… arugula was planted dry. We’ll see how it goes!
Trays on shelf #2 are soil samples collected from various locations outside… to be sent to VA Tech for analysis. They’ll provide reports on each which will let us know what amendments we might need to make to our soil to prepare it for spring gardening.