the family

Leaving Frog Bottom

Posted by Lisa on November 14, 2012
autumn, Frog Bottom Farm recommends, Richmond, the family, the farm / 12 Comments

Big news tonight. After many many months of number crunching, brainstorming, research, heartache, hope, and deliberation, we have decided to leave Frog Bottom. Ali has accepted a farm manager position at Keith’s Farm, a certified organic vegetable operation about 65 miles west of New York City. He and the crew will tend to vegetables on about the same acreage as we do here at Frog Bottom and sell them at the Union Square Greenmarket in NYC.

We considered all kinds of changes in hopes of keeping our farm: more pigs, more chickens, a bigger CSA, a smaller CSA and more markets, renting land for beef cattle, even starting a micro-dairy. But in the end, the smaller changes to our model didn’t seem big enough, and the bigger changes seemed too risky. Our vision for our family has always been to earn a living wage from full time farming, without supplementing with off-farm income, and we just couldn’t find a way to do that here.

This was a very, very difficult decision for us to make. When we bought our farm, we certainly intended to be here for the long haul. It probably goes without saying that we love this land – its gentle hills, the Eastern red cedars and black locusts and sycamores and wild persimmons of our windbreaks, the tiny south creek and the bigger west creek, the hawks and woodpeckers and cardinals that keep watch as we hoe carrots, plants beets, pick cucumbers, squoosh potato beetles, wash eggs, scratch a pig snout, wipe sweat from our eyes.

We also love this part of Virginia. With its warm summers and mild winters, it has a fantastic climate for growing vegetables. It is strange indeed to think of a summer without homegrown okra or a fall without homegrown sweet potatoes – things that don’t grow well up north. But we’ll adjust to that, we hope – we hear we’ll be able to grow greens all year long in New York, and at least half this farm family is excited about parsnips.

What is stranger and much sadder to think about is farming without y’all. It has been our honor and delight to get to know our market customers and colleagues and our CSA hosts and members over the last four years. You taught us how to make a mean caponata, and you joined us for a crazy pickling party when the cucumbers threatened to take us over last year, and you made us pickled eggs and hot sauce. You told your friends about us. You wrote about us on your blogs, and you invited us on your radio programs, and you shared our food with your neighbors. You welcomed us into your schools, your churches, your driveways, your front yards. You watched us grow from an earnest family of two to a young family of three. Every Wednesday and every Saturday, you made us love our work all over again.

There are some really wonderful things happening around local, seasonal foods in Central Virginia. Please support them as much as you are able.

A few more details, and then some photos from what has been one of the most pleasant, stunning falls in our recent memory.

We’re here through the winter — at least through March, and probably into April. Come find us every other Wednesday 4pm-7pm at the Farmers Market at St. Stephen’s, every other Saturday 10-noon at the South of the James winter market at the Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts, and at the special pre-Thanksgiving Carytown holiday market this Sunday, November 18, from 11 to 3. We anticipate having carrots, sweet potatoes, several kinds of greens, occasional other vegetables, pork, and eggs. We’ll have all the exact dates up on our farmers market page soon.

For sustainably grown produce from small family farms in the Richmond area, we recommend without reservation our friends at Tomten Farm, Crumptown Farm, and Broadfork Farm.

Finally, if you’re ever in New York City on a Saturday between late May and Christmas, please come on over to Union Square and say hi to Ali. It will make his day.

DSC_3570

DSC_3522

DSC_3682

DSC_3887

DSC_4243

I really really REALLY love kabocha squash.

DSC_4421

DSC_5343

DSC_4923

DSC_4623

It’s good to be busy.

Posted by Lisa on August 03, 2012
Frog Bottom Farm recommends, summer, the crew, the family, the farm / 2 Comments

Vegetables love the sun and so it’s no coincidence that during the year’s hottest weeks, we really begin to feel the heat as well. It’s good to be busy.

DSC_1064

DSC_1092

DSC_1095

DSC_1026

DSC_1110

DSC_1135

DSC_1504

DSC_1580

DSC_1141

DSC_1267

DSC_0636

DSC_1233

DSC_1231

DSC_1589

DSC_1336

DSC_1202

DSC_1702

Lately, we are …

spending lots of time taking water to the chickens and pigs :: eating as many tomatoes as possible (we love them on sandwiches with homemade mayo, slow-roasted and tossed into a frittata, braised with the summer’s first okra, in ratatouille, and eaten out of hand while our ALMOST! THREE! year old digs and digs and digs) :: washing eggs (more and more every week) :: eating outside almost every night (and putting our bug spray to work!) :: happily banging elbows around our ever-messy kitchen island on the nights when the mosquitoes are just too fierce :: honing our pie skills with peaches from our family tree and dreaming of a small orchard for the farm :: hoping it’s not too late to order this year’s batch of Cornish Rocks :: basking in the ease of several weeks now with no poison ivy rash :: absorbed in a new read :: feeling humbled, challenged, and reassured as we learn that even the children of farmers are particular and strong-willed eaters as they stretch and grow :: delighting in all the noises the pigs make, and in how fast they can move :: smiling as our market tables grow more bountiful each week :: watching the pollinators all around us and wishing we’d planted more sunflowers :: bookmarking lots of recipes :: digging just a little deeper in our knowledge of the wild edibles and medicinals on our farm, like purslane and chicory and plantain and chickweed and burdock, and feeling quite in awe of all we have yet to learn :: hoping hard for a bountiful crop of storage vegetables :: picking, washing, sorting, loading, delivering :: sleeping hard :: feeling grateful

* * *

We would love to hear some of the things filling your midsummer days. Leave a note in the comments if you like!

(Turns out we did a similar photo-heavy post around this time last year. Have a look!)

In the meantime (photos from late summer and early autumn)

It’s been way too long since we posted here. We hope to get some good stuff up quite soon. In the meantime, have a peek – or a long leisurely look, really! – at late summer and early autumn here at Frog Bottom. Click on any photo to see it bigger, if you like.

A sip to drink

Maternal instinct

Green stuff for the fall

Okra

Happy pollinator

Squash pick

Potluck tents

Farm tour

Meeting and feeding the pigs

Layers on pasture

How to hold a chicken

Eat these eggs!

Cabbage and crew

Washing kale

Beets to the truck

Coming soon: Soup! A cookbook giveaway! Our plans for 2012! Thanks for your patience.

Learning to juggle

Posted by Lisa on June 20, 2011
CSA, cucumbers, goats, spring, the crew, the family, the farm, tomatoes / Comments Off on Learning to juggle

Well! It’s been nearly a month since our last post here.  Looks like our big plans for more recipes, cookbook giveaways, more interviews, an easy-to-use recipe index, and discussion forums are taking some time to implement.  We’re still learning to juggle the start of the CSA season and life with a toddler.

Things have been busy over at the farm Facebook page though!  We encourage you to check in there regularly to share your recipe ideas, get ideas from other CSA members and market customers, and enjoy some more snapshots of our farm season.  You don’t even have to have a Facebook account!

We hope to be back later in the week with some tasty ideas for using cucumbers.  (In the meantime, our “How to be cool as a cucumber” post should help.)  And until then: some photos from the last month.

DSC_8362

DSC_8437

DSC_8451

DSC_8467-1

DSC_8477

DSC_8524-1

DSC_8649

DSC_8547

DSC_8559

DSC_8585

DSC_8734

DSC_8793

“In spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

Posted by Lisa on May 27, 2011
CSA, spring, the crew, the family, the farm / 3 Comments

And boy, do we!  We smell like dirt plus some.

We used that Margaret Atwood quote right about this time last year, and we’ll probably be saying it to ourselves again come June 2012.  Our farmers market season started a few weeks ago.  Our CSA starts next week! And the story all spring long has been rain rain rain. So in between thunderstorms, we scramble and sweat to get as many beds tilled, as many seedlings planted, as much compost spread, and as many rows weeded as we possibly can.  It’s kind of hard to believe Eric, Shannon, Tim, and Ali, along with James, Josh, Troy, and Matt, are still standing.

We have lots of fun plans in mind for this space this season: more interviews, more (and better organized) recipes, a monthly cookbook giveaway.

But for now, there are tomatoes to stake.  And chard to pick.  And lettuce to wash.  And two trucks to load. So I’ll let the pictures do the talking, and we’ll see you here again soon!

(One small piece of business: the CSA starts next week, so if you or a friend has been thinking about joining – you’ve still got time! Sign up here.)

DSC_7297

DSC_7779

DSC_7869

DSC_7866

DSC_7757

DSC_7923

Just wanted to underscore both points.

DSC_7947

DSC_7887

DSC_7396

DSC_6723

DSC_7970

The chard (that the deer haven't eaten, grrrr) is lookin' good!

(Do you know you can click on any of these pictures to see them large? Kinda fun.)

Fall comes to Frog Bottom, in pictures

Greens greens greens

Red Russian kale

Collards

Chard

Inspecting

(It will be) cabbage

Picking collards

Overhead irrigation

Arugula!

Hakurei turnips

Digging sweet potatoes

Grubbing sweet potatoes

Looks like this grasshopper isn't singing the autumn away

Broilers

Pulling plastic

Surprise baby chicks!

Last week month in photos!

Posted by Lisa on August 17, 2010
farm get-togethers, farmers markets, goats, irrigation, last week in pictures, summer, the crew, the family, the farm, tomatoes / Comments Off on Last week month in photos!

We’ve watered, planted, picked, noshed, tended, toured, tidied, milked, mowed … and not posted a whit of it here!  Here’s a peek, and we aim to get back to these weekly photo glimpses of farm life starting now.

Transplanting

Planting peppers

Tomato pick

More tomato pick

Chicks!

Farm tour at the potluck!

Everyone's favorite job -- pulling up used black plastic mulch!

Pulling up drip tape

Winter squash, coming along

Setting up at market

Farmers Market at St. Stephen's

Our little tomatomonger

Our reasonably peaceable kingdom

Lulu says hey.

Look whos' back in town and planting beets!

Last week (or so) in pictures

Posted by Lisa on July 12, 2010
chickens, garlic, greenhouse, last week in pictures, potatoes, summer, the crew, the family, the farm / Comments Off on Last week (or so) in pictures

Our apologies for the light posting ’round these parts — and to anyone who’s had a hard time reaching us — over the last week or so.  Half this farm family was out of town for several days.  The other half, along with our wonderful crew, had their hands quite full under early July’s blazing sun: picking, washing, sorting, picking, loading, mowing, picking, irrigating, staking, picking, weeding, seeding … and picking.  All hands are back on deck, so check in here at the farm blog often for news and recipes and a couple new features as well!

And now, the last week (or maybe two) in pictures!

Katie and some stalks

Miles and lots and lots of garlic!

A fragile peace

Have you hugged your garlic farmer today?

Getting ready for fall carrots

Hitching up the plastic layer

Preparing potting mix

Watering the fall brassicas!

Summer in the barnyard

One potato, two potato...

Cucumbers

Posted by Lisa on June 22, 2010
cucumbers, recipes, summer, the crew, the family, the farm / Comments Off on Cucumbers

Sticky cucumber harvest

Here at Frog Bottom last Friday:

Miles and Katie and Shannon and Ali hunched over the cucumber rows, plucking the mature ones from the undersides of the vines and filling their buckets for the weekend farmers market and CSA pick-up. It was a sticky sticky day, like all the days have been of late.

I ate my first cucumber salad of the season: two or three cucumbers halved lengthwise and sliced, minced scallions, minced parsley, olive oil, lime juice, feta cheese, salt and pepper.  Easy, fast, and unbelievably delicious.  We eat some iteration of this salad as often as possible during the summer!

And Arlo tried his first cucumber.  Tasty enough, he decided, but also really fun to squish between your toes.

* * *

Last July we wrote a post called “How to be cool as a cucumber” — definitely worth another look during these sweltering first days of summer.  Hie thee!  Learn a bit about the cucumber’s origins, learn about the different varieties we grow, and get some recipe ideas, including our go-to cucumber salad recipe, easy fridge pickles, and even a cucumber cocktail!

Shannon shows off an Asian cucumber

(Here’s Shannon showing off an Asian cucumber.  It’s a bit funny looking, to be sure, but it’s our favorite. Read all about it!)

Last week in pictures

Posted by Lisa on June 14, 2010
last week in pictures, spring, the family, the farm / 3 Comments

Arlo loves watching the harvest

Another friendly reminder that farming is hard on your back!

Transplanter travails

A scallion is a good plaything

First potatoes of 2010!

Ta da!