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01 Meet the Farmer: Mark & Teriz Chuljian, Sonlit Meadows Farm

Ricky Seiler Mark Chuljian Teriz Chuljian



  • January 14, 2021
    10:45 AM
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So I want to at this time introduce this is a brother and sister team and yet their whole family is involved my understanding little bit about kind of that as we move forward but this is Mark. They are with sunlit Meadows farms and we'll get to know them a little better they're going to pick up that microphone right in front of them and we'll get started but before we facially. Father God we are once again now to privileged to be here in this. Time that we live in. This whole conference was a bit uncertain for a period of time and I just feel like it's a true blessing to physically come together to talk and discuss about various aspects of country living and farming and today I just pray that you be with with Mark and say help about their journey so far in the market garden space and how it's working for their family and things that they're learning along that journey these bless them and. As we're here today we pray in Jesus' name amen All right so our 1st question is give us a little overview of how how did you or maybe you could give us an idea of like who all is involved in the farm. Family Sam point and how you decided to what inspired you folks to get involved in the whole market gardening concept or the farming concept. Ok so. It's all it's our whole family that that's involved some of us in different aspects like my brother I think does more the blueberry business and my sister and I do more well do the flowers and we also work on the rest of the farm but and then Mark is the one that's kind of heading up the market garden. And how did you what got you interested stimulated gave you the idea of actually getting involved in a and a farm life I mean where you were you've ever since you were little kids did your parents have a farm where you raised on a farm is that kind of How about happen well we weren't raised on a farm but we always had a. Family Garden and we more or less helped with that area and then but I'm for me I've always been like a tract farm and it's always been interesting to me so did you feel like there was there was a point in time where your family collectively had this kind of thought or inspiration or this pivot point where Ok we're going we're going to get a little more serious about this Was there a point in time like that so we kind of it wasn't a real definite point although we cut at one point we kind of got more and we were living. In what we still live in middle Tennessee and we bought a farm not sufficiently I mean we we weren't specifically on the farm with the intention to go full time into farming but after we bought that farm it kind of you know we started farming growing some stuff there and then after you know we were selling some of the stuff at a farmer's market but it wasn't like you know and then we then we went. It was actually. Before. We moved onto the farm. With. Full time farming and then we came to. All those different things together. So I see you have a map here up on the screen is a I think it's the arrows pointing to pretty much where you're farms located Ok How was it that you decided to go there was that something you're passionate sighted Was that something you guys had any influence on or why why there well we lived at wild. Until the time then we moved in 2009. And while we were living there is when we bought our farm and the reason we bought our farm we did. A lot about what you just you know when you were there it's not like you moved halfway across the country and said we were looking in Tennessee looking in Tennessee in the we decided to see was a place right. You know a lot of people go about there were different ways to do that so how much land are you oh my that's not encouraging pictures this is this your current property or was this a previous property is part of why we are where we are now I see where you guys got rice farmers at the time or. That was. From. Yeah. Bought out by another Ok. When we were there we were. There we were gardening out there and after. All that was the work I think. Happened about 3 times a year as well as other times. Well it kind of put out with. The did now I'm just curious and I was so when you moved to your new property did you check to see how much it flooded at the new property before you before you invested in there yes we did yeah I'm sure you know sometimes honestly this is something that is you really want to think through if you have not bought land do not assume it's always going to look the way that it looks when you're there looking at it rain and lots of rain and lots of water has has an amazing impact on places that you just don't realize So it's very important to understand you don't want this type of thing going on it doesn't help in the whole garden experience right now Ok so tell us a little bit now about your current farm How long have you been there how much land are you currently growing on give us a give us a little introduction to the farm which you Ok so that right there is a rough outline of the property and. Kind of pointer you. Know I don't think we do but anyway there you can see the creek running through the one the one that's going from top to bottom yes last Butler Creek between. Then there's another creek comes so right there between the property line and the creek. Is where we have our market. And actually there's another picture Ok way should we take a look at that and yeah. It's not. All right so who is who are the who's a little kid there on the right with his hand up. That's who I see who's a girl the tall girl in the middle with the beautiful smile on her face. Ok very good now you but you aren't living on this property at that age. Right Ok Ok very good Ok go ahead I guess they're not quite. Ok no problem but so with that there were we have Ok so you can see there on the picture on the map. We're growing so the market garden there that bigger the big the big blue rectangle lock Ok is about one and a half acres and then the other 4 smaller spots where we grow strawberries we grow about at this point we're going 4000 plants now you're still those 4 if I remember you telling me earlier that those 4 spots you rotate the strawberries you know every season to a different spot is that it so gonna for your crop rotation and in rotation with them we grow watermelons so we can if you're feeding them and so that those are one 3rd of an acre each but we don't hold and we are only growing about a quarter acre with strawberries in the point because we can't take more. So you said the block the the bigger rectangle there you said was an acre and a half Are you growing that full acre and a half at this point time Yeah well not during the winter but in the summer we are Ok so you have production going on that full acre and a half I wouldn't say we're we're. Probably we're not real intensive there but we're trying to get a little more in the right way so it's not like. You know it's not her so this list looks more like a little more detailed of the so the the one the 2 the 4 the 3 on these bigger that's your strawberry area right and then you have down here I take it this is where you're more your market garden areas here and you have it looks like you have this laid out in a certain kind of grids or something like I see one a one b. tell us tell us what that's about so we rotate each year we have a plan a detailed plan of where each crop is going to go this is actually our only our 2nd year on this the Syfy layout we had the plots longer before. We decided to put in a permanent irrigation system so we really had think through our putt Yeah so so we rotate from want to say if tomatoes are going in one way or nice in one way and one b. this year then the next year they're going to go in. So we just kind of moves works this way and then. You're going to move to one and one b. the next year I say in tell us a little bit about this particular say like 3 b. What is the dimension what what is that you call that it was not a client what do you call that a plot Yeah I mean it's 14210542 then to each plot how many beds do you actually have and each quad. We put $1230.12 and Ok so you have with the beds are 30 inch wide they're 100 feet long and they have a 12 inch walk walk pathway in between each 30 inch bed is that right Yes Ok now are our beds are not permanent so. You know that's that's that's a general idea but right so they're not raised beds you know anything like that but you pretty much when you go out to plant at them you're having a 30 inch bed how do you how do you determine I mean you just kind of like I add or do you string on or what do you do with the beds usually are not permanent you have to lay off every time but usually. We use a tractor quite a bit as we have it yeah we are just I don't think you have more than one truck we have one bigger tract a couple small ones and so I'll just usually when I'm going to lay off some rows you know we're going to plant some say we're going to plant brassicas I'll go out and I put in. Just an old wooden stake I'm a straw for them and each row and I just sight down them and just drive straight out I see so when you are laying out the bed are you are you actually telling head or do you undercut it or how do you what do you are you shaping it anyway so not really maybe you wouldn't really call it bad but anyway well what usually will do is we'll take a tractor with a little bit big for that size of plot but we have a larger tractor with larger equipment to go with it so we'll probably plow the whole most of the plots we'll do a whole plot or half a lot you know at one time. And so for stuff like that it smaller things and so. The whole area and then we have a small tractor little thing on it that we used to mark off the roads and we use it mark off the beds and that's kind of how you market off Ok do you do you both farm full time or do you have other other jobs outside the farm that you actually work at. It's pretty much full time for. Working on stuff like. Yeah by the way there is is a person who's a brain child of which she has a you know she worked with a number of people that helped lay out the entire program. The entire programming for this entire conference so she has been very very very busy I hear her voice inside of our home a lot when she's talking to my wife and it's like she's like she's like my wife's wake up call in the morning it seems like there's 10 she's coming in. But they have been they've been amazing because he with this whole this whole coverage so how about you Mark are you from your full time on the farm or do you work at work is anybody on your family do that outside job that helps support the farm or anything that you know now is that been that way for how long it's been that way for since 2000. And 15 started Ok so about last 5 years or so Wow Ok how many people actually work on the farm full time part time I know that in your family you can't your mom and dad younger brother you both have a brother or sister there's 6 of you so are all I mean does it does everybody have the same it sounds like there's a variety of things going on here you guys do flowers it sounds like but how much as everybody pretty much involved in the farm and some aspect so everyone's involved we're probably a little overly diversified Yeah. I guess but I like you know growing. Things like. What I have here now is that part of the market garden I mean do you sell wheat and corn I mean soybeans on. Not really a farmer's market that kind of stuff to sell there what do you do with all that. Do you guys do is a homestead to me is that something you do for that you use personally or we use a lot of it and. I am not a good marketer so I haven't sold it. But you apparently like to grow. Bread Ok all right Ok very good about. When we have. You know something like that we make it so you guys are pretty ingenious in regards to creating tools and things out of that you know that takes time but on the farm so it's not like it's. Right there like everybody so what Yeah Ok so that's that's a little that's a little different I mean than maybe from some of the farmers we move might talk to but if it works for you that's great Tell us let's talk a little bit about your whole water situation I know you have some creeks it looks like you've got a lot of creeks around there oh what's this. Now this is want to this is part of the market farm Yeah so this is those plots that are like one a one b. Yeah it's kind of the middle section Ok And there you can see this is kind of. Growing there and we're kind of we're not we haven't done much winter growing so we just had some greens and carrots there Ok And there you can see the packing shed and yeah that's. Greenhouse So do you can you go back to that last. Tractor so I see you're like you're discounting or plowing here or something is that something you do pretty much every time you open a field for the season pretty much we have a lot of rocks and. We have a lot of rocks so if you can't just pull of this crew field and turn it up because of all the rocks it just won't cut it and so any time the fields been you know sat over the winter with a cover crop on it or whatever yeah. I pretty much have to pull a chisel plow through to soften it up and then pull the disc Wow it's anybody else have rock issues where they're at Yeah yeah now I heard you guys are working on some type of rock project rock removal project so that's one of our equipment and I are going to go out of our equipment building projects this winter so we're we're we're building a machine behind the track to take rocks out Ok so if you haven't used it yet no it's not finished Ok so maybe next year we'll get an update on that perhaps maybe so. I know it's a big issue for some folks So tell us a bit about the irrigation I want to know where you where do you get your water from oh oh well we'll come back to that Ok this is like we have the green and we're just going to show some the greenhouse and packing shed so this is the greenhouse and that's last spring it is sometimes it's like a little later than this is it was just how do you actually heat this house yeah we hate it when the hardy here which we have a picture of somewhere here there's the packing shed Yeah the hard heaters later I'm Ok this is our packing shed which we built. 3 years ago now when you say a package shows this inside of it yeah that's Ok So Ok so this is like your wash house and Ok Before that we're using an old barn which was. Ok here's the education Ok very good Ok so you can see I guess you can't quite see everything on there but you can see those blue lines along the plots there home right here so those are that's a 2 inch irrigation line a p.v.c. we've buried about that was last we did that we put that in last winter and then between each set of plots and there's a bar a valve box. These little these little things here yeah I thought it might be a picture that somewhere in here. And that water all comes from the well we have a good well it's off the map but it's over there and that that does all those it does prospecting for the strawberries drip irrigation for the strawberry water for the packing shed. Across last about a creek and up to our blueberry patch. Talking about irrigation just for a 2nd I mean do you you said something about drip. Do you is that what you primarily uses like drip tape so we or how do you side with you're going to use one of the other Ok good yeah you don't want to see that so we use. We use a fair amount of drip it depends you know some plants don't like water it can be beneficial to them and so depending on what the crop is when you drip or we use overhead and we used. Inside our tunnels what we're using now we have 3 tunnels we use those mini wobblers up there on the left. And then out in the field we have those Magonet sprinklers up there at the top they have performed better for us with our pot size they work really well the wobblers I think our water pressure is too high for them and so they don't they don't they're not even a tent and they're not very uniform so we're really liking those Magonet and. So out of left is a larger Rainbird we used to. Do you have a certain rule of thumb I know you mentioned just a 2nd ago you use drip on certain you know do overhead on certain Do you have a kind of a rule of thumb on which plants you do that with and with plants you don't. We're not real consistent but like stuff like tomatoes we don't we never overhead irrigate them. They don't like you do that with drip Yeah well. Drip drip them because it takes too much. I don't like water on humidity imagine that must be somewhat of an issue probably in your part of the country you know becomes an issue. You know a lot of rain sometimes in the summer so can we go back to the sea starting house. Can you tell us a little bit about what percentage of. What percentage of plants do you actually start in a season starting like in these little soil blocks here are these trays and then Why how many do you do you direct seed anything for the market garden area I know you maybe direct say things like your stuff like that but what do you do in the market Gard How much do you direct seed versus actually seed you know get to transplant transplant that out into the field most of it we start in the green house but things like green being most of our corn and. We're getting more into doing our cucumbers and squash in the greenhouse to cut down the time in the field. So pretty much all the other things you start in sometimes like all the greens most every now and then will do some directly to it like turning green something like that in the field but most of it. So I ask I watch I'd like you to give us a couple ideas couple pointers that you feel like are helpful and regards to when you just teach start water a couple things that you do that you feel like help you have successful seed starts that get them to good healthy transplants before they before they before you put them out to feel that there's something Ok has worked well for you. Oh well you know that stuff Ok Ok yeah those are so can you go back to that just met. You know that when they're Ok these are so block makers and you just you have we make our own so a block mix I think a lot of most people don't but we do we figured out exactly how much we so out of problem with our plant doing well but he carefully went through and figured out what we need to add and now they do great. I sound like one of the reasons Yeah there's another reason why they do better so these those little ones hanging in the middle are the mini blockers and then the taller one is a 2 inch blocker and the many blocks fit inside the big block or has these little devils in it that are the shape of and size of the little box and so you so once they get so here's the little box and then when they get like that you just plug them into the 2 inch block and they so you're going to transplant shock or anything right so you're starting off and little well do you start some things in little blocks and some things are just starting big blocks where you start everything in little blocks and transform into big blocks Yeah well smaller seeds we start and the little blocks and then bigger seeds like squash or corn start. Ok and then we also use internet half blocks for things like. Green onions Yes All That Is it sounds like maybe 90 percent of what you grow at least maybe in the market garden would be you transplant out you start as a seed and then you transplant. I don't know if it's quite 90 percent but it's it would be a majority of this is pretty high Ok And one other thing about the little blocks is that when we start them if they need to be in a controlled environment for germination we used a small box. Because I take up less space. And I take it this has something to do with that yes so this is our controlled environment that we made last. Winter and it's really made a difference. It's just the old bun pan rack that we bought and then we insulated it and put. I think well that up a stainless steel pen in the bottom with water and it has a hot water tank element in it right yeah and. We had to have it's not just straight in there we had to use a pipe so that it wouldn't heat the whole pan up at once kind of we figured that out after the fact and then we just it's just steam heated so what temperature do you typically keep it in there do you have a sense well it has a thermostat. Depending on what we're starting like greens like it like 85 degrees and you typically have to leave them however is like it really warm some things like it more like 70 and a lot of the flowers that grow in the fall that we start in the fall we set it more like $6.00 to $5.00 so it's a lot cooler for those do you find that. I mean with the with that with the idea of seed starting like that do you find that it's you got to stay on top of that I mean like Germany in there and you leave a mentor along and they get kind of a leg up on you or or how do you yeah you have to check it every day at least so we're also get one point you actually crawled out of the German and put it into the seat I mean the moment it actually just the moment that's probably. A little bit of a challenge for us to figure out exactly the right point because if you wait too long then there really are. Leggy Yes but if you take him out in the Navy Germany slowly it's a fine line but you find that this has made a big difference just in the germination yeah overall yeah I would think that that's a that's a good case. Let's Is there any of the pictures you have regarding the Ok what is this is that there is just the same thing you can see some small box inside and there's the thermostat on the site Ok gotcha very good where did you find that did you just find it somewhere or that that the germinate or area or what the German the heater thing that you guys we found it was a fun panoramic Yeah you know what yeah whatever so we found that on. Facebook because I think Facebook marketplace Craigslist one of those places like comes in handy doesn't it now this is the heater I take it for the seed house yes that's the here for the seed house and before that we just had a old wood stove inside of it and it we would keep it above freezing but we didn't keep it a real consistent temperature and we put that on put that in Africa put that in the difference it made was a lot more than we expect as far as getting good transplants. Are you know our tomatoes and peppers and stuff like that just that way better be able to keep it you know above 60 or whatever it is this you heat this with wood so that's a what that is it's it's basically a furnace it's a water jacket 1st with an it's a non pressurized system so you. Fill it with wood and that when you can burn anything in there you know you can cut a tree down and stick it in there the same day and burn it and you know you know you know like. If you're if you run out of wood and you need that night you just got a tree down the road and. So that's just that's the people and of course we will try to get it farther and we just want to tell you stick the whole tree in there we want you to chop it up into pieces yes I don't. Know Yes so you can throw some pretty big logs in there and that thing's big enough so we can fill it up. In the evening and it will keep it warm in the greenhouse all night till the next morning when it's 15 degrees outside and wow when do you actually typically start your 1st seeds for like this when you're when you're Because you guys primarily grow right spring summer Yeah I mean generally do you think as we get back from and I'm going to start Yeah Ok so right I'll get back to start that's when you get it going Ok very good what about soil fertility tell us if you I mean this is a big topic it's a huge topic but can you give us just a real grief synopsis of kind of what your thought processes in regards to helping build fertility saw fertility in your in your beds and things so for soil fertility were were basically following that Albert method and we're not we're not strictly organic so we don't use the sprays and that's what most of our customers care about chemical sprays like fungus sides and insecticides So we're getting as far as that goes but for fertilizers and stuff we use at this point we use you know we use your from for nitrogen if we need it and. We're in where we live our phosphate levels are very low yours is very low but we're 60 miles from a phosphate mine so we could just drive up there and put it on a tractor it's cheap so that's what we use for that that's organic certified organic as that of Tennessee Brown Wroclaw so yeah yeah that's that's yeah that's Ok so use that for phosphate for potassium and magnesium we mostly use Ok Maggie or Tassie magnesium sulfate and you get that from where and we get that from the co-op. In the next county over there's a lot of Agriculture and they have a lot of products like that Ok. And so are you are you doing some type of soil testing to know what you're supposed to be doing yeah the work we're doing soil testing not as much as you. Are trying to do like you know at least sample once a year for the market garden gotcha and then you feeling that that's an area that you would you feel like things are going pretty well in that area are you what are you hoping for differences or want to have been seeing happening in that space I think we well we've we've seen some improvement but we need we're not we're not totally there yet so we we have quite a bit of room for improvement there Ok good do you currently You mentioned about the seed house that you have where you start your seedling do you have any other kind of season extension structures that you use like low hoops or high hoops or tunnels or just tell us a little bit about that he said These don't these are just actually when they still had tomatoes in them but. In the spring we got these tunnels about 2 years ago and this spring was the 1st time we used them to really extend our tomato season we planted plants that really think. April the 1st of April dead of waiting all the way till May 10 so that was really good and it also helped. And those tomatoes kept going a long time so now could you tell us a little bit like why did you did you make those yourself or did you buy them sometimes they're those are from farmers friend so you go Ok so that those are things like that we actually got a grant that paid for them Ok so tell us a little bit about that when you know you got a grant that. We applied for this grant from. And and r.c.s. right in are so yes and they pay for they pay a certain amount per square foot and it doesn't matter for really cost that much and so they paid for their feet exactly what it was I think it was about one and a half tunnels that they paid for and they require you to put up that many square feet of an approved structure. But they give you a flat price for that so that was enough for us to buy. These tunnels here the cost is about half of what they were what they calculate for so I think so we were able to get like twice as much is so if someone in this room was interested in looking at it like a grant like through the n.r.c. Yes where do they go to learn about that I think you would probably go to your county extension office or you're there maybe a local in r.c.s. office in the same probably be in the same area same building or whatever so yeah good difference every state has its own rules as far as it's a it's a national program but every state is different so you just have to check and see what they approve and require in your state. Excellent So now do you have any idea using any other type of season extension do you have any like low hoops or do you floating row cover those types of well Ok it's mainly with the flowers I guess because they're not actually harvest like those ones I knew that I took that picture like a week ago and so there's a lot of flowers it's not like a little wire Hooper what kind of who goes there wire hoops with. Just to keep the wind off of the flowers they're kind of just sitting there dormant until next spring in the early What is this you have over the top of it it's fleece sleeze or whatever you call it but Ok oh no cover Ok. So you primarily use that with the flowers. Over our care to keep so that. We can leave it in the field longer and the reason why you're doing that with the flowers is that just gives them a jumpstart or protecting their what they're what you call cool flowers healthy than flowers and so we start in the fall and it's fires that would not thrive if you start in the spring if you start in the fall they do and then in the bigger tunnel that's a caterpillar tunnel 2 and. Kill a center right now. We're kind of learning on I mean we've we've done well with the nominees there in one Kilis are still I think they're going to do better this year anyway where did you get the little wire hoops or is that something you made a purchase. We got those from. It's in Kentucky Western Kentucky Ok. Do you have I know I asked you guys think about a particular Oh well there's a care. Is there something you'd like to say about those carrots they look wonderful they're really sweet. Now when did you grow those that you grow that a spring summer to where you just picking those in the fall. We planted them in August and we've been harvesting them since the end of October I think and Ok and then it we need to get them all out of there pretty soon because they're going to start growing again although it's a good time to lose flavor Yeah so it would help if you have a particular tool that is one of your most is the other probably that's the tomatoes in the tunnel this spring Ok. So Ok. Ok this is my favorite mantel at the moment which I paid $5.00 for I paid I think $5.00 to make it. It's all it's all hope we use these onion knows that we buy for like $10.00 from a local Handel factory Yeah and they eventually break off and so he just took a piece of stainless steel and welded it to the end and you know I have a colon here how I want to do with it and then oh it works really well for cultivating small we and it's easy on your hands do you have one blister to mark or did you just let her go I didn't but if I had to and I'm not sure what might is the reason those holes break that was because of all the rocks Oh that's a rock thing and yeah yeah mostly you have about a power tools or some kind of engine based power tool or so that tractor there is probably our favorite or. It's kind of a big firm out to power tool right but we use it for just about every Or you know what is that that was building our packing shed and we used it with the wall down because it was a wall that was a little too big for us. To her self so I magine you do some crazy things with that tractor don't challenge you. Yeah yeah well. I know that some people say you know about the idea of not having a tractor you know a lot of the small farms don't have a tractor but you know tractors a lot different tool than just going in and doing something on your soil Yeah comes in handy a lot of ways if you have a front end loader on there are some different implements or there's just no way in this stuff yet for. Tell us a little bit about one of the crops that you personally enjoy growing because I know you grow variety but what is it to pay those well I'm not I enjoy growing tomatoes I'm not sure which one is my favorite but I like going a lot of really very nice not was it this was the 1st year was it last year you said it was the 1st year you actually did them inside of a caterpillar Caterpillar tunnel Well we did I'm inside a caterpillar tunnel this was our 2nd year but it was the 1st year started early there oh I see and then. Right so you try all of those and do you find that they didn't make that big a difference for the tomatoes putting on the Caterpillar. I mean did you feel like like wow it was a big game changer for us it was it was a lot better than outside you know because I mean like the summer turned out to be a really West summer I mean off and but yeah you know the humidity 70 or 80 percent every day and it rains 2 or 3 times a week tomatoes don't like that. So the tunnel really helped but the humidity is still an issue inside the tunnel even if you keep the rain off you know it's so humid that the leaves get way anyway even if there's no rain yeah he still had some disease yeah yeah Ok let's see what's our next saying we want to talk about. Approximately how many different oh oh I'm sorry I'm so in my favor I'm sorry but my favorite I'm sorry yes you and your sister are pretty big into the flowers same as that yeah. Now how well we're going to do this in just a 2nd but I'm just curious how many different types counting the flowers Well I mean I guess you could put flowers in one category but how many different veggies you are you guys growing a typical year so right you wise I'm afraid I didn't. Probably would be a good guess. 20. And that doesn't count as a drop so it doesn't count that we the soybeans No I don't that doesn't count for I yeah. It might be more because you know we grow we grow quite a few different kinds of quite different kinds of lettuce and that doesn't count that one cow So talk to us a little bit about market what how you grow the produce Now what do you do with it after you have it give us a little idea of what you're doing the different channels that you're using to tactfully sell your produce Ok so I wouldn't say that we went into this with the best marketing plan and we definitely has been probably a big part of our success. The success that we've had. But. So right now what we're we've done we've done farmer's market the whole time. We started doing c.s.a. is about 3 years ago I think we started really small and then the year 2 years ago we did a few more and then last summer we did about $32.00 which was we didn't feel like we should extend beyond that but we're hoping to do more this year and then we have our best market right now is that a y.m.c.a. it's actually a farmer's market but the y.m.c.a. wanted a farmer's market at their place and so several different farms participated Is this a y.m.c.a. market. Yeah. I bet it is are you doing anything the c.s.a. the Farmer's Market to that that nature is there anything else that you're doing in regards to market so any other any other aspect so you have the c.s.a. you have the farmer's market are those your 2 primary channels or is there something else you do now I know you guys told me something about strawberries earlier oh yeah tell us a little bit about I wish we had a picture of this because it was really amazing this spring and it's always really fun when Starbreeze come in because our neighbors just come out of the woodwork that's when we really deal with our local neighbors. And this spring with Kobe going on people just love the opportunity to interact outside and so we have there is a picture in my phone died so it's irretrievable but I take a picture of like we had just a bunch of cars you know like I don't know 10 or 12 cars waiting we'll just be picking and they go again and we pick and they actually come to your farm for this this isn't something that is hard to make it off the farm. Because people buy in so fast they can tell us how that works you have that available a certain day other we have to they just show up any time they want to know where we pick 3 days a week you have to pick consistently or you're in trouble so we pick Sundays Tuesdays and Thursdays rain or shine basically. And so they just notice show up on Sundays Tuesdays and Thursdays or how do you how do you get that word out to them about that basically word of mouth they know what or they stop by and they will tell me when we're going to be nice and then times we just say Ok we're not going to we're. We're going to be taking them to Florence on this day so we're not selling them and then they just come to wait. But that's if I remember right when talking to you guys a little earlier you kind of start your whole season off for strawberries right so tell us a little bit about how long your season actually runs you typically do strawberries when do you actually start doing the strawberries the strawberries start in late April and continue through May And so since the strawberries take so much time picture for that has a different place. We don't start we haven't started our farmer's market until June which is really late but strawberries are really big source of income so so you start off with strawberries then you move into your farmer's market your c.s.a. that really typically starts running around June and that runs and tell what time frame be authentic member September so you do see essays and farmers' markets in essence from June to September and then we keep then. Then we sell some. Ok there's the stock based we sell. As sometimes we take some stuff to town later well like you were mentioning to me you showed a picture of your mom with some carrots that were in the fall that's well after September I guess right we have so what do you do with those carrots we just offered to our customers let them know we had them and they ordered them and we delivered them to one of our drop off point Ok So that was just kind of a one time thing or we've done not 2 or 3 times Ok and that and they'd show up just to get carrots while so there's still quite a few that yeah that's a that's that I think if we push them a little more we could sell a lot more have you guys decide to do anything with any kind of stores or restaurants or anything of that nature so we've tried a few restaurants we haven't had. Any real success except with one restaurant that they basically found us at the farmer's market at a different farmers' market we used to go to and started buying from us. And now it's basically I think the top restaurant in town and now any time we have produce you know we will never come well usually once a week we send them a list of what we have and they order and we deliver to them what would what are they typically interested in what type of produce do you typically find the restaurant interested in well we really basically just have experience with this one restaurant but he buys just about I think just about everything we grow really yeah he's not like these shots that move on you know. He's a he it's his restaurant and he really likes buying from our farm and so we just text in the list that. Lets us know what he want he said yeah was it impacted at all with the whole Kogut situation this year didn't really seem to affect him much if back to him some so we didn't have as many orders part of the season he had to close down a couple of times because. After you know because some of his employees got coated but. He's brilliant he's really busy with catering now so I businesses picked up for Him How about with your veggies I imagine is going to be a safe assumption that you're strawberries are your number one seller in regards to over the do you make more do you sell more strawberries dollar wise than anything else or is there something else in that position as far as food yeah we sell we sell the most on strawberries and the other veggies are I don't know for sure but I think our top crops we like tomatoes and. Purple hope I'll be Ok some of those this last year we did the best we've ever done on summer squash so that was a big crowd pretty big Stuart we're kind of we were amazed how much we how well we did with that yeah I mean our our biggest single item that was students is the blueberry nursery so that's the biggest single incoming the blueberry nursery tell me a little bit about that I haven't heard about the blueberry nervously what's out about so the. Nursery is something we've been doing for probably about 20 We've been doing it probably 22 years I think Oh my so that we started that well for you were born basically not quite right. But so we started that when we were at Wildwood when it was about the time Isaac was born and we've been doing that ever since so we've grown more last but now as a blueberry nurseries that's something where you're growing blueberry starch Yeah so you sell the starter I want to be very plants and I do cattle class and some people may have been to so we grow up we start blueberry plants from Cutty we start our own cuttings and part and sell them in 6 inch pots they're just like a regular blueberry plant you would buy it at Lowe's or wherever although they're How do you nicer than those plan how do you sell them I'm just curious how do people know you have blueberry plants most blueberries we sell off our farm we advertise on Facebook marketplace and or. And so here I think I think it's because of coke But anyway they've been quite popular this year so we've sold all they're selling faster than normal I think so they come to your farm and buy right their own on at the farm yeah so we'll sell some we sell some directly to people sometimes for wholesale some we sold as many as 2 or 3001 personally in 11 day and wow. All right so we're running close to going on time but I have just a couple more questions here so if you if you were to start the farm experience over again knowing what you know today what would you what would be. Anything you do differently. I guess have a better plan. We were we were having a lot of fun and we. Plan a little more I would say. Try to learn as much as you can from other farms. And I mean did you do that at all I mean did you find yourself or did you kind of bootstrap and just try to figure most of this out by yourself how did that work where we've learned. We didn't learn we learn from dicing and it's mostly. What we figure out ourself and from what we learn here. So just kind of on the ground experience so to speak as well as we talk to other. Farmers stuff but that's not so much. Other aspects so we have some people here in the room that are interested in maybe even getting into market gardening what would you say would be a good 1st 2 or 3 steps for them based on your past experience. And that's a good one yes I think it would be very helpful to apprentice on a farm I think you can save yourself a lot of mistakes. And get. Point making it a lot. And I think that that mark sounds like a pretty good advice. Just curious to know I think I may know one of these perhaps what you've shared with me before but what would you say are 2 that are 3 of the biggest challenges you still currently face on the farm we have. Share with us well maybe one of our biggest challenges and I guess we to begin with we were trying to grow more some things like we did really well with watermelons for example for a couple of years until the beer in the that and so we the deer one of our biggest challenges although in our market garden we've kind of had to leave off some of the other stuff because of them but in our market garden we've been able to keep them out of that how do you do that well I'm not sure we have an electric fence around the market one wire angels help us and the deer stay out of that for the strawberries what. We use really yeah but 5 wires. I don't know I had 10 wires around the apple orchard and it wouldn't keep them out of there so so high. I mean was it a high fence Yeah like 8 foot Yeah they go through it and so you go through it or go over it through it through it yeah if they if they want to stuff bad enough sometimes they'll just go anyway. And so I know I know Josh over here deicing or has a house have you done your talk on. Your next one Ok very good but there are a challenge for us but then probably another challenge. Is how the rocks are a challenge because if you want to you know. Row or a bed of broccoli say with all the rocks there probably takes several times long to hoe it is if you can have rock so they they present a challenge. I think that's a pretty big challenge you have an. Do you share with us as your last and then we maybe if we have just a couple minutes for a question tonight where do you where is your vision in regards to where you feel like the board's lead in regards to the farm in the future where would you like to see things if you could you know 2 or 345 years from now we probably we haven't. Discussed this enough probably as a family but I think for Personally I'd really like to see it become. Enough of a success so that it can be a. Good witness you know and also so that we can financially have a success so that we we can be able to go I would really like you. And your mission trip or something like that so to support that kind of thing you know there's any thoughts for me on that. Well I just I really like the aspect that we with interaction with our customers is just like our mission field where every market is a mission trip and so we you know we must flee we're not we're not giving them literature a lot we mostly make friends but we've had. One of our customers in particular asking us a lot about the about what's happening and about Bible questions and. Some others just really there oh like we had one lady and she's I mean I guess I just I really like that direction of the farm in that line of missionary work you know. In some ways I know that if you were here in the previous talk by John deicing or he you know the thing about the farm in a way it's like evangelism is kind of built into the experience right you know like oh we need to go vandalize right it's like. It's like hand in glove it's like a right there. It feels like a kind of living it every day yeah yeah that's so encouraging Ok we have just a couple minutes is anybody in the audience have any questions for marketeers Ok yes I hear so the question is the gentleman in the audience is are you interested in or have any plans of making the farm like in the sense of like a little training center or somewhere where people can come and apprentice and and learn learn kind of how to do this any thoughts on that well at this point right now I don't think we're prepared that. Ok. So the question is a very very tough question might be but for it the question is is how do you deal with a family member who wants to have more time outside of being engaged in working in the garden wants to play all the time but they need to be part of the team to help make the make the garden farm work fair enough Ok very good for you guys have any suggestions on that is that an issue for you guys at all no not really. I don't know are you talking about young children Yeah Ok. So I think the main thing is to make it fun and just then. The experience don't say Ok you have to go with that but make it like part of your life. Just like we're going to cook together we're going to clean the house together we're going to garden together it's just part of the way you do things was that I mean was that ever an issue for you growing up I mean you got to have been family garden and stuff for a while I mean I mean was there ever issues where Mom or Dad had to say Mark Isaac you guys it's time to have that's so I guess I think when we were younger the garden was fun but sometimes we didn't actually get that much do that much to help I don't think we just had fun out there so yeah probably an interesting question one more question before we break and Yes Yes So the question is. About strawberries How do you decide which ones to grow do you propagate him yourself or you purchase them from somewhere which varieties do you kind of go after so we grow Chandler which is what basically everybody else grows in the area it's probably the best overall variety for our area for for growing in the way we grow as annual crop and we buy our tips and start our own plugs you know. Where do you get the tips from for the strawberries we order I'm from a company that's I guess based in North Carolina they come from Prince Edward Island. That's everything comes from friends out of Iowa as I don't know I just know a lot seem to come from I guess I supposed to be disease free up there or something or less disease that's now these issues. Oh very good well it's time to end our class Thank you very much terrorism mark in the good to go good job I mean there's there's a lot to it and we only have an hour to cover it so but we sure appreciate you being here and sharing it about your current journey your family's journey sunlit Meadows fire so thank you very much. This media was brought to you by audio 1st a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermon leader visit w w w audio verse or.


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