Growing vegetables free of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and GMOs in Skull Valley, Arizona.


FIND US AT LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS:

Winter Prescott Farmers Market -- Walgreen's parking lot at the corner of Gail Gardener & Willow Creek Road -- Saturdays 10 AM - 2 PM -- November -April. Our farm will be here again starting in February 2015.


Summer Prescott Farmers Market -- Yavapai College parking lot -- Saturdays 7:30 AM - 12 Noon -- May 10th - October 25th

www.prescottfarmersmarket.org

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Flagstaff Community Market -- city hall parking lot, unde the solar panels --Sundays 8:00 AM - 12 Noon -- May 25th - October 12th

www.flagstaffmarket.com

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Want to stop by and pick up veggies from the farm? Please give us a call before you come!

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Contact Us: Reach us by email at rabbitrunfarmAZ@gmail.com or by phone at (928) 235-2044 or find us on Facebook

Monday, December 12, 2011

Exciting Winter Farm Updates! Really!

First on the agenda:
Winter Rains!
We couldn't be more happy with this ideal moisture -- rain last week, then, ta-da, more rain! Matt seeded the cover crop last week, just before the first rain. We've already seen some sprouts on the peas. Last year we were lucky enough to have enough moisture from the winter through early summer for the cover crop to depend solely on precipitation. So far, we're off to a good start this year, but only time and weather patterns will tell!

Second:
Eggs!
The ladies are still shelling out beautifully, despite the dark days and cold nights. We opt to let them lay by natural light, without supplemental lighting, even in the darkest of seasons. This allows their bodies to rest as needed during winter and have more energy when spring comes. They love the absolute freedom of winter roaming -- there's nothing in the garden they can destroy -- and there's plenty of grubs and delicious bugs hiding just under the soil in their winter sleep. You can find our eggs at the Community Supported Agriculture Store in the Prescott College bookstore building, or served up at the Crossroads Cafe. We still have eggs available for direct sale -- I bring them in town once a week at least, so just email or comment on the blog if you're interested.

Beautiful, perfect-size egg collecting basket handmade with willow and sumac by Jessie.

Thirdly:
Winter work!
The seed catalogs have arrived and we're already knee-deep in Matt's least favorite job -- winter planning. He'd rather be out shoveling manure, I'm sure, which fortunately for him, is an acceptable excuse. I'm making lists of lists, scribbles and charts. Every picture of every pepper in those catalogs looks so attainable. It's so easy to look at those pictures and think about what we're going to plant, and forget all the work in between the seed and fruit. But the thrill (and sorrow? learning? addictive nature?) of farming is "in the stars" -- weather, unforeseeable critter predation, realization that the day is only 24 hours long, and we do have to fit some sleep in there...

Fourthly:
Birds!
This is my personal pitch for birds. Winter is the time when there is time to simply observe. I encourage every one of you to embrace this season for bird watching, because you can get to know your winter neighbors intimately due to the sheer ability to see them easier -- a backdrop of clean snow, bare branches, and delicate winter lighting. To see how hardy these little souls are will make you thankful for your house of warmth, and that you don't have to scratch the ground like the Spotted Towhee for food.

Spotted Towhee (in spring?)
picture from wikipedia

Thanks for reading, that's all for now!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October Greeting

Well I admit I fell of the blog canoe this summer, into the swirling current of "things to do." Aside from harvesting, weeding, and attending markets, we've been corralling turkeys & chickens, battling bobcats, javelina, & gophers, doing the"fall clean-up," and pickling, canning, and preserving for winter. There's been a little resting in there too! The dark mornings are helping us to sleep a little more, and the early evenings surprise us when there's no more light to work in.

We got a frost last night at the house, and it got down to 33.5 at the farm! The frost was spotty, and if the weather warms up next week, we may have more peppers, okra, tomatoes & eggplant to spare!

Pickled Okra

Three more Prescott Farmers Markets left for the season!! It's the last month to stock up on local food! Just because the markets are over doesn't mean you have to stop enjoying local food, grown by someone you know!

-Storage crops like onions, winter squash, pumpkins, and root vegetables are a simple way to go. Onions and garlic store well in a cool, dark place with low moisture & good ventilation. Winter squash will store for months on the counter top. Carrots and beets will keep for months too if they are topped, patted dry, and put in a plastic bag in the crisper of the fridge. The taste and texture will undoubtedly still rival the store carrots!

-Dry sliced tomatoes in a dehydrator or on a screen in the sun with cheese cloth over it. Dried tomatoes can be whipped up into a quick sauce by simmering in water on the stove, and adding water and spices until desired consistency is reached.

-Fresh herbs are so easy to dry, and so much more pungent, that you'll wonder why you ever bought the crispy, weak stuff at the store! Just hang in small bunches in a place out of direct sun with adequate ventilation, then store in jars when dry!

Thanks for all the support this season, and we hope to see you at the last markets of the year!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Future of Food: Perennial Grains

Weeding the "wheat plot" as we call it yesterday morning reminded me that I have not yet shared another aspect of what we do with our time out here on the farm. Our little farm in Skull Valley is participating in a nation-wide trial of perennial grains for the Land Institute in Kansas. We're on the map!
The Jenner Farm Director, Tim Crews, has devoted many years to investigating perennial grain crops, and gave us the chance to learn about this new research. We received paper bags full of spindly wheat clones in the spring, direct from Kansas. The aim this year was to establish the plot, and further research will continue next year. Established it has become! From one thin blade of grass, we now have clumps of wheat.

Perennial wheat showing delicate yellow pollen in mid-July.

I have very little experience with the ins and outs of perennial wheat, but here's the gist: Perennial grains are unlike our current annual agriculture in that a farmer does not plow them under each year, but rather leaves the plants in place and continually harvests from them each year. Perennial grains mimic nature's tendency toward perennial plants. Benefits include lower fossil fuel use, from eliminating the yearly plowing, and lessened soil erosion.
For further explanation of this research, click here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

On Weather & Friends




Squiggly Leek Flower

On Weather July is cranking out the heat! The thermometer at the farm read low of 42 and high of 99 this past week! While I have seen a few tomatoes setting fruit, these extremes are sure to test their adaptability. Tomatoes usually are darn comfortable once the nights are consistently above 50. Clouds are building today, with them comes humidity that will hold a few degrees of warmth in its slippery grasp when the sun downs.

Have you noticed when you talk with a farmer, or over hear two farmers chatting, that the weather tends to dominate the conversation? Whoever told you it was dull to make idle talk about the weather sure never grew a garden! For us, weather changes our plans, both for good and bad, and always humbles.
Last week we had a good series of monsoon rains at the farm. Two beds of white onions rotted in the field because we didn't have time to harvest before the rain hit. The only thing worse than a rotten onion is not knowing it is rotten until you stick your thumb into the slimy skin (and maybe rotten potatoes). This week, the dry nights have been cold, causing the kale to take on a delicious-coming-of-fall flavor despite it being high July. Sweet greens for lunch!

On Friends
We had a bizarre week last week, in beauty and chaos. First, I must thank Caleb (twice!), his mom, and Becca for making the trek from Flagstaff to our petite acre. It means a whole lot to us to have people acknowledge, and be interested in what we do out here. You all were lucky to visit on calm days of no travesty.

Second, I must thank neighbors Brig, Willie, and James for visiting on the crazy day. After an unsuccessful rental of a push rototiller, Matt rented a tractor-mounted tiller to clean our old beds get new ready for much belated planting. With a 24-hr rental window, it means get as much done as possible, and hit no stumbling blocks. Well, as it goes, Matt ran over a 20-foot stick of rebar (1/2 steel) that neither of us saw in in the field. "Sucked it up like a string of spaghetti" as Matt put it, all the way around the tiller axle. With daylight waning, we needed to return it in the morning in good condition, and this was definitely a stumbling block. With a fire ban in effect, torching it free was not a good option.
As it goes too, Brig and Willie are on the volunteer Skull Valley Fire Crew and just so happened to have on hand a big bolt cutter! Matt, Willie, and James worked together to get the rebar unspun in no time, tiller undamaged. Whew! How strange that chaos and order go along together, leapfrogging one another with their unannounced fear and joy.

Before the storm last night!

Friday, July 8, 2011

What's Fresh this week:

Red & Gold Beets

Carrots

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Sweet Yellow Onions

Garlic

Leeks

Swiss Chard

Cabbage

Summer Squash

Squash Blossoms

Green Onions


From the Field: Now is the time to get fall crops in, even though those cool golden days seem far away. There have been some setbacks for us in getting our plantings in on time this season, but we have been planting feverishly this week, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks.

With seeds in the ground, we wait nervously for how well they will germinate, and once up, if they'll survive the ants and gophers.

Matt and I are both excited about what we're learning along the process of starting a small farm: what tools we need to make the job easier; more accurate timing for succession plantings; and varieties that work well here for example.

Our earliest potato variety, Purple Viking, is starting to yellow and die back, signaling the harvest is near! Matt loves these all-around potatoes for their funky purple and pink swirly skin, and delicate pure white flesh. Keep an eye out for them in the next couple of weeks!

From the Kitchen:

Simply Roasted Veggies
You can roast any vegetable in the oven for a sweet, soft, outrageously delicious dish. For all roasted dishes, I usually put the oven at 350F, and set the timer for 30 minutes. I find a baking dish or cast iron skillet works best, fill it with chopped veggies, and drizzle olive oil over all. I will work the oil onto all surfaces by stirring with a spoon.
Go simple with just a pinch of salt, or get creative with spice mixes, such as cumin and Italian parsley, or rosemary and tarragon.

After 30-40 minutes, I check the softness after that, looking for veggies soft enough to poke a fork into, but before they start to burn.

-Try sweet yellow onions, either quartered or small ones whole with carrots and beets. They'll only make you cry because of their sweet, mellow flavor.
-The brilliant sweetness of leeks comes out when roasted. Just slice them in inch-long sections, swirl them in olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried sage.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's Fresh this week:

Red & Gold Beets

Carrots

Cauliflower

Broccoli

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Curly & Lacinato Kale

Baby Chard

Swiss Chard

Cabbage

Summer Squash


You may notice that I am including two new sections in the weekly email/posting: "From the Field" and "From the Kitchen." This organization was not my brilliant idea, but borrowed from Keppers Pottery & Produce blog, a small farm in Wisconsin that is run by the daughter & son-in-law of two of our regular customers in Prescott. Their website is great to surf around and see what other small farmers are doing around the country: Keppers Pottery & Produce.

If any of you come across other great small farmer's websites please share them with us, as we love to see what other farmers are doing!


From the Field: A warm week it has been! We planted our peppers and some eggplant out this week, and they couldn't be happier in the heat. We are growing four varieties of sweet bell peppers and three varieties of spicy chilies.

We have harvested all of the garlic, and it is curing in racks inside. "Curing" is the drying process where all the green leaves help dry up the papers between the bulbs. Proper curing helps garlic keep longer, peel better, and avoid molding.

This morning we harvested the first few of the TONS of dry onions in the field. These too need curing before clipping the dried tops and roots for the market.

I have been continually hilling the leeks with straw, and we should have some within a few weeks. Hilling blanches the shaft, creating the sweet, desirable white part.

We have also been hilling the potatoes, which have begun flowering! Potato flowers are beautiful and fleeting. They signal that the plant has begun to form tubers underground.

From the Kitchen:

We've been enjoying fresh goat cheese this week, from Settler Valley Ranch (available through the Prescott College CSA or a herdshare agreement with Tanya). We've been putting it on everything, but here's a little recipe that I like to make.

Balsamic Beets, Chard, & Red Onion, topped with Goat Cheese:

1 bunch red beets

1/2 bunch Swiss Chard (or you can use the beet greens instead)

1 Red Onion, thinly sliced into rings then halved

3+ cloves minced garlic

Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 cup Goat Cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

Put whole or half beets in a steam basket until skins slip off, or peel before hand. Steam until just tender.

While they beets are steaming, cut the chard into bite-size pieces, slice the onions, and mince the garlic.

Place a little butter or olive oil in a sauce pan and simmer onions until they are light pink and sweet. Add garlic & enough balsamic vinegar to make it saucy.

When the beets are tender and cooled enough to handle, quarter them and add to the pan.

Beets should be soft enough to poke with a fork, then add the Swiss chard.

Cover the pan with a lid to steam the chard just until it turns bright green, then remove from heat.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

Before serving, add a few dollops of goat cheese on top, so the heat melts it ever so slightly.

YUM!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's Fresh this week:

Red & Gold Beets

Carrots

Green & Red Head Lettuce

Green & Red Butter Lettuce

Salad Greens

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Curly & Lacinato Kale

Baby Chard

Swiss Chard

Cabbage

Spinach

Summer Squash


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pictures!

I could say a lot about what we have been up to lately, but I'd rather just share some recent pictures!
Lacinato Kale
Domer the chicken debates the virtues of arugula

Bunching Beets
Fresh harvested garlic
More to Come!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Congratulations Kimi!

Last month, Matt and I were hurriedly leaving the house and realized that Kimi was GONE. Kimi is the only farm animal who has been bestowed a name, so she has moved up a rung in the beloved animal rank. Her disappearance was disconcerting.
We looked around the yard and in the trees, but there was no sign of her. We thought maybe she had mistakenly wandered off, which was unlike her, and sadly gotten munched. Coyote? Bobcat? However, we found no tell tale trail of feathers. Raven?! No, she is at least 12 pounds, that would be a desperate and beefy raven. She seemed to have pulled a Houdini disappearing act, so we resigned ourselves to feeling like bad turkey parents.
The next morning, Matt heard a small purring noise, the sound Kimi makes when she's happy and content, coming from the horehound patch right behind the house. Kimi had cozied up, right under our noses, to hatch her eggs.

We are happy to announce our first Farm Born babies! Kimi the Royal Palm Turkey is the content mama of four and counting baby chicks. Let's hope they make it though the first few weeks, when turkeys are the most prone to dying. Once they get a little bigger, turkeys are pretty hardy and don't drop dead easily.

Just sleeping with their mom.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What's Fresh This Week:
Broccoli
Salad Greens
Spinach
Radishes
Green Garlic
Sweet Spring Onions
Swiss Chard
Curly Kale & Lacinato (Dino) Kale
Beet Greens
Incredibly Sweet Salad Turnips

Thanks again for making last weeks' market great! Here's a picture taken by Jan Marshall of the mid-market spread:We'll be in Prescott on Saturday, and at the opening day of the Flagstaff Community Market on Sunday! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What's Fresh at Rabbit Run Farm this week:

Broccoli
Curly Kale & Lacinato (Dino) Kale
Swiss Chard
Red Romaine Head Lettuce
Green Bibb Head Lettuce
Green Garlic
Bok Choy
Beet Greens
Spinach
Salad Greens
Spring Onions
French Breakfast & Cherriette Radishes


**Find us at the Prescott Farmers Market this and every Saturday at Yavapai College -- 7:30am-12 Noon.
**We'll be at the first Skull Valley Farmers Market, behind the Skull Valley General Store, from 8am-12 Noon this Friday. This market runs the 1st & 3rd Fridays and Saturdays of the month.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Return of the Markets!

Greetings! This was the first week of the Prescott Farmers Market! Thanks to all the great folks who turned out for the inaugural day. Lots of vendors, fresh veggies, garden transplants, live music, hot food, and more to come!

Matt is the meanest radish-stacker this side of the Mississippi:



This past week at the market from our farm:

Salad Greens
Spinach
Swiss Chard
Radishes, French Breakfast & Cherriette
Broccoli
Green Garlic
Red Romaine Head Lettuce
Green Bibb Head Lettuce
Beet Greens
Bok Choy
Baby Bok Choy

I will be posting what is fresh from the farm each week, before the market so stay tuned.


There is so much happening, I think this might turn into a long post!

Not an aphid here nor there! Chopping an immaculate Bok Choy for supper last night:


Green times at the farm:


Ladybug larvae, our friends, are moving into the garlic patch. Not only fabulous lookers, their diet includes aphids and other pests.


Also, baby chicks have arrived! They are a little under one week old in this nap time candid:



Keep reading next week for a list of what we're harvesting! Also, it's the first week of the Skull Valley Farmers Market, so you'll find us on Friday in the grassy yard next to the store.
Again, thanks to all who made the first market a success!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Longer days, warmer nights

Look at how tall those onions are getting!! After a spring snow, and now warmer temperatures, the onions are setting pretty.


We have been planting as fast as we can, though it's hard to keep up with the rapid growth of the seedlings in the greenhouse. Each plant has an optimum time for planting out, and we monitor the plants by their root growth, leaf size, and stem sturdiness. The idea is to have uninterrupted growth, so that the plant doesn't stagnate in the cell. We just planted out some swiss chard, cabbages, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, parsley, and head lettuce.


Green stems of garlic in the foreground, then radishes, arugula, spinach, and cabbages receding.


Matt plowing up the agroecology study plot field:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Projects and Many Thanks!

The onions are in the ground and growing! This year we started half of our onions from seed and the other half we purchased as plants from Dixondale, a Texas onion farm. Thanks to everyone that helped us get beds ready and the onions planted: James, Chris, Ethan, Ron, Claire, Sara, Jaclyn, Breanna, and Catherine.



Bees have arrived at the farm! We owe a huge thanks to our neighbor & master beekeeper, Tom, who invited us to help him remove these bees from another neighbor's wall. We carefully removed as much comb and as many bees as possible and transferred them into this hive. They are now happily buzzing around at the farm, enjoying the Cottonwood blooms. We will be learning about beekeeping as we go along this year, and will update with exciting bee news!

Matt checks on them after the move:


We are building a seed starting greenhouse too! Between planting, bees, animals, and everything else that occupies us, we have been making progress on the greenhouse. This is where we will put our seedlings after moving them from the house. Help from Chris, James, Brian, Breanna, and Ron has been much appreciated!

Chris stretching plastic:


Matt and Chris making teamwork look cool:


I will be posting more spring plantings soon!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sprouts!

Snow fell on Skull Valley two weeks ago, leaving with us over an inch of precipitation!


The moisture has coaxed the cover crop into sprouting!


The garlic is happy under the snow too -- the straw that we mulched with slows the melt rate. To the right of the garlic is radishes that we seeded before the storm, and now we have sprouts!


Look for more updates on new growth!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Early Season work

A week of unseasonably warm January weather tricked us into getting back to work! Actually, it really is time to start onion and leek seeds, as well as cabbages, kales, and broccoli. As this is our first season at a new farm, we will be going though another big learning curve with figuring out when is the prime time to set out certain crops. We are at nearly the same 4500' elevation as we were in Paulden, though the topography of this valley makes it somewhat warmer. Mesquite grows well here, a plant we didn't have in Paulden, a sign that there are more frost-free days here.

Matt starting onion seeds


The weather called for a possibility of rain last Sunday, so we scrambled to prep some of the fields to plant a cover crop mix. We are at the farm as care takers, and part of that job entails work for research plots as well as our own veggies. The Prescott College Agroecology department provided the seed, and we did the work for prepping and planting the fields. Here is the step-by-step process that took us from left over weeds to fully seeded and praying for rain:

After mowing:


After discing:


View from the top:


Hand broadcasting seed:


We then disced the seed into the soil, and hope for rain! Though we didn't get any rain the day we wanted, the seed will wait until prime conditions arrive.

Thank you for continuing to read about our farming adventures! We will be posting more regularly now, as the days grow longer and the growing season lifts its sleepy head!