Friday, April 30, 2010

Save the Date: Vintage Virginia Wine Festival

Unfortunately I can't find a full image of the supercute logo for the 2010 Vintage Virginia Wine Festival, but here's at least part of it, ha:

The festival is happening June 5th & 6th in Centreville, and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe is headlining the Saturday night music line-up. I saw Karl Denson play in 2002 when I was lucky enough to work at the Newport Jazz Festival, and he was great then, and so I'm sure he'll be great in June.

More info on the festival from their site here.

I had my first foray into Virginia wines last weekend when I had a couple of friends in town, and we visited a few vineyards. We were all pleasantly surprised with what those Blue Ridge grapes are up to, and so get yourself to Centreville if you can.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Farm Happenings

This week on the farm has included -- transplanting fennel, lettuce and parsley; spotting peppers, cilantro and dill; getting the plastic down and mulch all set for the tomatoes; weeding the cabbage aaaand welcoming a cat to the farm! The cat's name is pending, but her cuteness is firmly intact. Pictures to follow.

In flower news, the irises are blooming in central Virginia::

-- and on an unrelated note, I've decided that Madison County and its bridges might just have to step aside and let Nelson County and its beautiful barns have their day in the sun::

Peaceful, no?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Via Ashley: Eat Local Prints

A WWI poster from the US Food Administration::

available here.

And a sweet reminder from Claudia Pearson's etsy shop that eating a Walnut & Chocolate Rugelach can also be a agriculturally thoughtful act:

Thank you, Ashley!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ear Candy: The Black Keys

New Release Brothers from The Black Keys being released May 18th. Check out Next Girl and Tighten Up heeeeere.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Via Cotty: Doo Nanny

ohhhh mannn --- this is all sorts of beautiful. Twigs as windows, rusty bedsprings as wall decor and a art/music festival organized by the creator of this dreamy cabin? In rural Alabama? yesssss.

Get the details and the rest of the slideshow here because my computer is running out of juice.

Love it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today on the Farm: Soft & Cuddly Edition

The baby ducklings have arrived! And they're adorable!

I especially like the little guy in the top left standing on top of the feeder. I feel like it's a duck maneuver that can basically be understood as "I came for the starter feed, but I stayed to party."

This lady was very excited for her close-up:

The ducks arrived via USPS from Iowa, and the Bertonis had picked up the peeping package by 8am. The ducks are a mix of Blue Runners, Fawn and White Runners, Khaki Campbells, and White Pekins.

The female Runners and Campbells should start laying eggs in about 5 months - just in time for their egg production to slow down with the shortening length of days, and then once Spring 2011 comes around hopefully they will become Mama ducks and get excited about tending to their nests.

The White Pekins are being raised for meat, and are already a little bigger than the other breeds.

In less fuzzy, but equally exciting news, I had some Martha's Vineyard visitors on the farm yesterday! My lovely friends Meredith and Emily came with their friends Kelly and Dawn, and it was so great to see them. Meredith is starting up Singing Frog Farm in Leesburg, VA specializing in fresh cut flowers and heirloom vegetables -- super excited for her, and to get up there and see it for myself.

I forgot my camera, but we drove by this pretty vista before going to get dinner, and I was lucky enough to drive by it again today with camera but without their lovely faces:::

Other happenings on the farm have included::: seeding carrots and parsnips; mice digging up the recently seeded sunflowers and having a feast; mice being strongly discouraged from continuing previously stated activities; replanting the perennial garden with lupine, sage, seeds from Kathryn's brother's wedding, and guerrilla style seed planting/ tossing of coriander and dill; Lochsa the dog killing a rat and snake; planting the potatoes; seeding beets; transplanting some dill; seeding fennel; spotting black eyed susans; making really long lists; continuing to make really long lists; ok fine I'll stop, but I do love me a good list.

And I will end with a picture of beet seeds, because in their funkiness they add to my rock and roll beet dreams:::

Photo by Angelina Williamson.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When & If

If you're in the market for a boat, I'd go ahead and start your looking here::

:: or better yet - steer your friend who is looking for a boat in this direction.

When & If is a 63 ft Alden Schooner that was orginally built for Gen. Patton to sail around the world "when and if" he survived WWII.

I'll be available as crew for you. Don't worry.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Read Your Vegetables

After taking a silly-long time, I finally finished Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this past weekend::

I'm going to pass the buck on a proper-style review, but I will say that it is totally delightful, and encouraging. The NYT has more to say here.

Reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was also the push that I needed to order the goods to make mozzarella at home and then enjoy it on top of the homemade pizza crust made from a recipe in Kingsolver's book -- and really, when was the last time a book led you to making your own soft cheese? (...besides maybe when you checked out Ricki Carroll's Home Cheesemaking from the library last week. If you haven't given it a look yet, I'll also add that it's pretty fantastic.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ear Candy: Dr. Dog

Dr. Dog released a new album a couple of weeks ago::

Hope you enjoy the single Stranger here

Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

This Week on the Farm

Lots of yummy things got trans-planted this week -- chard, beets, and cabbage -- and some of the potatoes got in the ground as well.

Saturday was all blue skies and springtime at the Charlottesville City Market, and we had those beautiful radishes in the photo above, arugula, mizuna, spinach and plenty of plants waiting to go in your garden for sale.

Hope everyone had delicious, fresh meals this weekend!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nelson County Coffee

Recently found a new way to spend my morning getting to know my neighbors: locally roasted fair trade, organic coffee made by the Trager Brothers.

So nice to meet ya'll. Let's hang out again tomorrow at breakfast.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Beets are the Rockstar of the Vegetable World

I came to this conclusion yesterday afternoon while transplanting beets. And it's not just because it's a crafty homophone paired up with a musical word... although that certainly doesn't hurt.

My beet-as-a-rockstar claim is based largely on these two points:

#1 - The band The Beets from the Nickelodeon show Doug and their cartoon smash hit "Killer Tofu" :::

.. also worth noting that you can get your Beets gear right here. You can layer it with a Camp Annawanna t-shirt and be the 4pm-5pm Nick-Kids lineup from 1994.

#2 - Beets' role in Jitterbug Perfume.

Michael and I were talking about Tom Robbins yesterday, and he was even saying that Tom Robbins started writing fiction after seeing The Doors live. Jim Morrison --> Beet as Muse. Badda-bing.

But there's more to the beet that just it's pop-culture standing. It's Latin name, Beta Vulgaris, gives some hint to it - it's just a sexy vegetable full of intrigue and high levels of anti-carcinogens. It can also sometimes turn your pee pink. I tried, but I couldn't quite come up with the rock-n-roll tie-in for that one.

The Herring Net - Winslow Homer

The life I have chosen gives me my full hours of enjoyment for the balance of my life. The Sun will not rise, or set, without my notice, and thanks.
- Winslow Homer
A letter to his brother Charles

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Your Own Backyard

Looking for a farm near you?

Check out and get yourself some of whatever is fresh near you.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Today on the Farm

Weeded the strawberries and raspberries. Planted cabbage.

Planting the cabbage got me thinking about making sauerkraut. I've never done it, but my friend Chrissy makes her own and it pretty much blew my mind/ changed my life when I had it for the first time. Really I'm just hoping mine will be half as good as hers is.

Here is a recipe by Ellix Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation, to maybe get you excited about making your own, too.

cabbage photo by Jeremy Noble

Ear Candy: The Givers

If I've talked about music with you recently, then I've probably suggested you check out the Givers.

Look at those faces. They won't let you down. Take a listen here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yesterday on the Farm

Friday on the farm included harvesting kale, spinach, sorrel, mint, sage, and garlic chives. Next up was planting the rest of the broccoli, spotting basil and tomatoes, and then packing up the truck for the Charlottesville City Market.

Speaking of the market, if you were one of the lucky, smart, beautiful local farm supporters who picked up some of Appalachia Star's kale earlier today and are thinking about how you'd like to use it, I would consider using some for kale chips or get yourself excited for basil season by warming up with kale pesto. Maybe even get wild and throw in some of that sage and spinach - yeeehaw!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dream Travel: Azove, Benin

My friend Meredith is currently living in Benin as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Here is her neighborhood, and then her dog Taco:

And the moon over Azove:

Photo by Rebekah.

I would for sure let Meredith do the planning, but would want to visit the Fetish Temple in Abomey that sells things related to practicing Voodoo, and maybe Pendjari National Park.

Mostly though I would just want to hang out with Meredith for a week in her world and meet Taco.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Today on the Farm

Seeded 6 varieties of squash in flats. Seeded green clover as a cover crop in the rows of the onions to keep the weeds down. Planted 4 varieties of broccoli (including Blue Wind, Romanesco, and Calabrese). Transplanted tomatoes from an open flat to a flat with individual cells, which will heretofore be referred to as spotting. And then started enjoying the rain - which is still falling on grateful plants and farmers alike.

Happy Almost Birthday Tommy J

Thomas Jefferson's birthday is coming up April 13th...

...and so maybe I'll have to drive by Monticello and plant a few seeds along Route 53 in his honor.

Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.
-Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1785

And Monticello is having a b-day party. Fife and drum corps included.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Welcome to the World, Asparagus! (...asparagus beetles feel free to leave at any time.)

The Asparagus has started shooting up, and is looking pretty delicious:

Above: Kathryn with this morning's asparagus yield.

The asparagus should be good for the eating for about the next 10 weeks.

Also springing out of winter hibernation, the asparagus beetle:

Not nearly as yummy steamed as the stalks they feed on. If you see one near you, go ahead and squish it.

The flowers on the Red Buds (Circis Canadensis) are also blooming, and it's such a great contrast to see the smattering of purple against the lime green that's crawling up the mountains:

Other happenings the past couple of days: planting a few rows of kale and a row of salad greens, weeding the spinach and radishes.

Happy Wednesday!

A Partial History of My Stupidity

by Edward Hirsch

More from Poetry Everywhere.

Bluenose II Rebuild

Word on the wooden boat circuit is that Bluenose II is being rebuilt this winter, and, well - it's true.

You can watch the rebuild from webcams that have three different angles on the project here, here, and here.

The province of Nova Scotia is funding a 14.4 million (Canadian?) dollar construction project with 3 shipyards collaborating to get the job done.

I know that 14.4 million dollars is a lot of dollars. And there are a lot of ways to spend that money, but I'm proud of Nova Scotia for providing the funding and jobs and keeping the boat alive.

Bluenose II's homeport is Lunenberg, and she is a replica of the original Bluenose which was built in 1921 as a fishing and racing vessel. Bluenose was built after Esperanto out of Gloucester defeated the Nova Scotian schooner Delawana for the International Fisherman's Trophy. Bluenose held the trophy for the next 17 years.

Way to spend some cash money, Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Farm to School

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution has been really great the past few weeks:

-- and I love that he started in schools with school lunches. If you're interested in seeing what is happening in your state to get local produce into your kids' (or your neighbor's kids) lunches check out the map here from the National Food to School Network.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Today on the Farm

Well, first I guess a mini farm-in-review:

Harvested spinach, kale and sorrel for the Rockfish Valley & Charlottesville Farmer's Markets. Seeded radishes, tatsoi, mizuna, mustard greens, and spinach.

Went to the Rockfish Valley Farmer's Market and sold what had been harvested Friday as well as some seedlings for mizuna, broccoli, and kale.

And on to TODAY! For starters, I now have my camera back:::

This is up the road from the farm. Not bad, Blue Ridge Mountains. Not bad at all.

Todays doings included planting the last of the onions, and weeding the strawberries --

-- which are starting to flower, and so I started to wonder about how strawberries get pollinated, and found a helpful post here and here. Short answer? They're hermaphrodites, but require some sort of assistance - bee or some other insect or the wind. Bumble bees are reported to be better pollinators than honey bees or hand pollinating if you're trying to grow them inside, according to this study from Cornell.

If the flowers don't get pollinated they will produce irregular fruit or no fruit, and I was actually a little surprised that even irregular fruit would still be created. Sorry for using the passive tense, Mom.

We also transplanted some tomato seedlings from an open tray where they were all in a row sharing soil to trays where they each have their own little soil-cell.

And here is where they'll be growing up strong and green (next door to these guys - their lettuce neighbors):

And in other news: I am absolutely loving working at Appalachia Star. A friend pointed out to me that last week I was only writing about what I did, and not how I was liking it, and so I'll add that I'm feeling really good about being here and really happy to be working outside and helping some wonderful folks grow food.

Via Ashley: Knitting Graffiti

I love it when people send me great things. Like this from Ashley:

Yarnbombing in Philadelphia. Love it.

Ear Candy: Loudon Wainwright III

Big thanks to Josh for getting me hooked on this song, and to Cotty for reminding me of its greatness:

yep. Time to start scouting Nelson County for the best place for a post-work swim.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Via Julia: Kombucha Nation

yesssss - Julia sent me this Kombucha discussion between Snacktime and Meatball from

Including the too true confession for which so many of us have shelled out $4.50: hippie drinks might just taste better in yuppie packaging.

Dream Travel: Trogir, Croatia

I could use some Adriatic coast and medieval streets in my life. Enter stage left - Trogir, Croatia:

Photos by Sandro Mancuso.

Trogir is an island connected to mainland Croatia via bridge, and has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1997. Founded by Greek colonists, Trogir is packed with palaces, towers, and a well preserved castle - all of which are still enclosed by city's walls which were built in the 15th century.

Show me some cevapcici and raznjici with an oceanview - yesssss.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Today on the Farm

72 and sunny. Planted onions. Watered onions. Watered the seedlings in the hoop house.

Photo by Marcie Brooks-Smith

It's nice being on the mountainous side of Charlottesville now and watching the trees start to flower at the base of the mountains and continuing to move on up.