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Monday, May 28, 2007

TerraCycle Sued by Miracle Gro

If you do not already know Scott's, a multi-billion dollar company with ties to Monsanto, is suing a small company called TerraCycle that makes tea from worm castings and packages the tea in recycled 2 litre bottles.

They have a blog that explains where Terracycle is coming from.

Many people have been going out to Wal-Mart and buying Terracycle even if they would not normally use the product. As well as boycotting all Scott's products. This is a good thing but this boycott probably is not doing a lot of good (especially if no one is contacting Scott's Miracle Gro and elling hem they are being boycotted) because people who would be supporting Terracycle's cause likely do not buy Miracle Gro et. al.. So this does nothing to Scott's bottom line.

I was talking about this with my husband and another organic grower at a farmers market about. My Husband (who used to work for the K-mart Corp) said if you really want to hurt Scott's (and Wal-Mart) go buy some Miracle Gro (best if on sale) and return 30 days after purchase (the elapsed time will make these corps assume hey have made real sales). Be sure to buy some Terracycle and use it, it's a good product.

What this action does is artificially boosts MG sales so Wal-Mart starts ordering more MG (thinking sales are up). When the MG you bought is returned, that will go back on the shelf, causing an overstock. Soon Wal-Mart (if enough people do this) will start ordering a lot less MG because of all the returns and slow sales and Scott's bottom line will be impacted.

Imagine what could happen if just 1,000 people did this or better yet 100,000 people buying, say, $1,000,000 ($10 per person) of MG product or even $10,000,000 ($100 per person) or 1,000,000 people buying $100,000,000 of MG and returning it all around the same time for a refund.

Wal-Mart is hurt by the restocking costs it must absorb and slower MG sales (which if sales got slow enough MG could be removed from Wal-Mart shelves altogether).

Imagine what could happen if just 1,000 people did this. 1,000 people buying $10 worth of MG and returning it nationwide (or world wide). Better yet, 100,000 people buying, say, $1,000,000 ($10 per person) of MG product or 10,000,000 people buying $100,000,000 of MG and returning it all around the same time for a refund. And "spending" ten bucks is good but what if we all "bought" $100, or more, of MG products and returned them a month later. The more we "spend" the greater the impact

If we all do this and got just one other person to also do this the impact would be noticed. And if our friends get their friends to join in it would be come a movement and we would soon have the TerraCycle massacree (with a nod to Arlo Guhrie). And maybe, just maybe, Scott's Miracle Gro will drop it's suit and let this wonderful grassroots company alone.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Chicken Meltdown

These are not nuclear chickens.

We had a chicken crisis this morning. Eugene came busting in the house after going out to feed he chickens this morning and declared that we were out of chicken feed. I asked if we were really out of feed or is this another exaggeration. He said we had about 10 pounds left plus what ever baby feed we have (50lbs). This was serious because we feed all organic non GMO feed to our meat birds and it generally takes 4 to 7 days for he organic farm ha makes our grain to get an order ready. If we do not use his feed we will be faced with going to TSC and buying medicated grain milled with GMO corn and soy and we will not use that crap. It is important that our pastured birds get high quality, GMO free, antibiotic free, locally raised and ground feed

Right now the oldest pen eats about 15 pounds a day and the younger pen eats about 7 pounds (but eats more and more each day) so we have enough feed to last maybe 3 days for both pens. Not a good situation at all.

So Eugene calls up the Filbruns to order more feed and gets the machine and leaves a message (they have not called back). A very calm message as if we really don't have a feed crisis going on and it's okay if they don't call back for a week or more. This is after freaking out on me about the feed. I guess, if they don't call back tonight I will call back and leave a more frantic message or better yet get a real person.

I pour us some coffee and we sit and get calm. Eugene says that the older birds seem big enough to butcher. I say I will call up the Kings and see if they can change our appointment from next Thursday to this Thursday (tomorrow). So at 7:15am I call them up and talk to Marlyn King and she says okay we can bring them up a 9am. Great, one problem solved

Now this means we do not have to feed the older pen after 9am as we find the meat quality is better if they fast the last 24 hours of their lives (they get fresh water and pasture, but no grain) and the Kings say they are much easier to clean without a bunch of food in their crops and stomach.

So we have the feed crisis put on hold for a few days AND we will have fresh pastured chicken in time for memorial day sales, a nice TV Bonus. Especially since I sent out an email newsletter Monday saying we would have birds in time for memorial day because I misread the calender and thought, for some reason, May was a week longer than it is in reality making memorial day a week later.

After the crisis was over Lauren, a woman that has been apprenticing all spring, came out as scheduled and we hoed/weeded about 10 beds in the already hot at 9am sun. Eugene dealt with irrigation, helped with weeding some than prepped several beds and planted one of them in potatoes.

After that we ate lunch at 3pm and took a much needed nap. After I am done here I will start on making a curry and riata for dinner.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Farm Diversity

Eugene has just come in from looking at things in the market garden and informs that the green beans are up and the zucchini is beginning to flower, Huzzah!

We should have fresh basil in a week or so as well and soon the peas will be blooming and the garlic will be scaping (like any second) and finally we will increase our diversity of food to harvest and eat/sell. It won't be soon enough for me.

Don't get me wrong I love salad greens but when that is basically all you are harvesting it gets a bit boring (wow did I just call beautiful and tasty heirloom lettuces and spring mix boring!? Yes, I guess that is what happens when you have had salad pretty much 2 times a day for the past 2.5 months)

Cracoviensis Lettuce

Granted, for the farmers Market in Oxford this past Saturday I did harvest green red onions and pac choy along with a lot of lettuce- 6 kinds; Cracoviensis, Lollo Rossa, Marvel of Four Seasons, Butter Crunch, Simpson Elite and Antares bronze Oakleaf-and spring mix

Antares Bronze Oakleaf

We opened the store this past Thursday, May 17th. So far business has been slow but we have done some business which did not occur for several weeks after opening last year. What a difference a year makes. I almost missed the first two customers because we were out planting the last 1000 onions of the year and that had us about 800' from the store and behind a small rise. We noticed people milling around the store as we walked towards the buildings. I guess when the store is open the both of us cannot be so far away if we want to make sales. This will take a small amount of adjustment which will be made easier the more customer traffic we get.

At any rate, we got there before they left or even got upset. Sold some lettuce, chard seed, Lakota squash seeds and radishes (we have about as many radishes as we do lettuce) Shame I am not a great radish fan, I like them in salads and I have created a nice radish slaw recipe that uses pounds of them (this will be used, probably in the next 10 days or so) But I do not often eat them raw with salt and/or beer. I am glad we seem to have a lot of cusomers who are radish fans and especially like the d'Avignon french radishes we grow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We Got Rain

After several weeks of hot, bone dry weather we had some severe storms roll through our area last night giving us over an inch of rain.

The storms made Nate very nervous as they always do. He alternated between sitting on my foot and pacing around whining.

We got lucky as the storms were just winding up as they passed over us and got much worse when they hit Dayton, OH and points east. We got some good 40mph gusts but no hail and no 'nados. So no harm, no foul and in the morning a lot of happy plants.

This is a good thing as we find ourselves short of irrigation supplies and the few beds were have been irrigating with drip tape have caused a constant wet spot around the font. This leak is not good and Eugene feels he must dig a hole and see if the pipe has come loose or if it is just the pressure valve malfunctioning because of all the back pressure caused by running low flow drip tape for 10 hours at a stretch. Now if we are entering into a wet period this will all be moot because we will not be running irrigation very often.

Reality (NOT) Shows

Things I get sent via email. Today it's a casting call

The CW network (formerly called The WB & UPN) seeks REAL FARMER / RANCHER to STAR in network romantic reality show

Ideally our Farmer/Rancher will have REAL farming or Ranching experience such as working a farm/ranch, been in the rodeo circuit or even an heir to a ranch/farm empire.
The guy needs to be:
AGE 23-30
Confident both in real life and in his environment.
Must be in decent shape, have a good-ole-boy attitude and able to charm the ladies.

If you or someone you know fits this description, the CW Network wants to hear from you.

Please email us immediately with the following information:
Contact information: email, phone numbers
How they fit description: rancher/farmer/cowboy
What experience they have on the ranch/farm
PHOTOS: 5-10 showing: face, body, at least one with the shirt off, anything showing them on the ranch/farm.

Now I am neither Male, unmarried or under 30 so the CW has 3 strikes with me. Another vehicle to further exploit Farmers. Though I am sure it will pay the farmer they use well by small town standards but merely a pittance by Hollywood standards.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Boulder Belt Newsletter

Before most Farmers markets I send out an email newsletter to the 300+ folks on my boulder Belt email list telling them about what's going on out here on the farm and what we will have at the farmers market. This has long been one of our main forms of marketing. In the beginning the email list was small and ineffective (because there just were not enough people on line-this newsletter has been going out most weeks during the season for over 12 years) but over the years it has grown and I find if I send out an email newsletter we generally do $100 to $200 more in sales than if I don't. So it is very much worth the time and effort to write one and send it out.

Below is this Tuesday's (today's) edition


This is a busy week for us at Boulder belt, marketing wise. Not only is there the Tuesday uptown Farmers market tomorrow from 4pm to 7pm in the memorial park in Uptown oxford but we also will be opening up our farm store this Thursday, May 17th from 9am 'til 7pm and will be open every Thursday, Friday and Sunday 9am til 7pm until we run out of fresh home grown produce and pastured poultry (likely some time in November). Our farm and store are located a 3257 US 127 just one mile north of Eaton at the top of he hill (if coming northbound) or 3 miles south of he I-70/US 40 interchange just before you come to the hill (if coming southbound).

We are excited about the coming season out here we have made some major improvements to the store (most of which you won't notice, like repairing the electrical system and moving our refrigeration into the store building) to keep our food fresher and to better serve you.

Locally grown foods is a growing buzz word. By buying local you can save more energy use than if you shut down all your power in your house and drove a Prius. Buying local dramatically lightens your carbon footprint and the food is fresher and tastier to boot. When you buy from us at our store you can be sure the food you buy and eat did not travel more than a few hundred feet before it was sold, not a few thousand miles. When you buy Boulder Belt produce at the farmers market it has traveled 29 miles, again far less than coming in from California or China.

Buying local has so much going for it, but you knew that already...

On That note here is what we will be bringing to market tomorrow. If you want to know what we have at the store (we have more items at home than we bring to market) check out

Spring Mix-This has been so good and beautiful to boot. We eat some every day and we are not tired of it yet, after 2 months, it's that good. We care about you our customers and not anonymous shareholders like all the corporate entities supplying most of our food in the US. This means we take great pains to make sure the bagged greens you buy from us are not tainted with nasty critters like e-coli or salmonella. Not to mention, the freshness of our produce which is hours old, not weeks old.

Lettuce-We have wonderful lettuce and many different kinds of heirlooms his week. we have the jewel-like French heirloom marvel of 4 seasons, Nancy bibb, Simpson green leaf, the delightful Lollo Rossa and another French heirloom Cracoviensis. We will have bags of mixed heads available

Radishes-We have the French heirloom D'avignon.

Strawberries-We have local, organically grown berries in May. these are coming out of one of our greenhouses

Cilantro-We have some very nice cilantro this week.

Chives-great for dips or topping a fresh soup

Garlic Chives-like chives only they taste like garlic, not oniony. If you are craving garlic these are a great substitute until he garlic scapes come in in June and the garlic is harvested mid July

Garlic powder-We are out of fresh garlic until July but we have a lot of our wonderful and powerful garlic powder.

Catnip-dried catnip for your feline's pleasure. we harvest our catnip at the height of its' potency and than gently dry it. Our kitties, Navin and Trina are nutz for this stuff (which makes bagging it interesting if they are in the room)

Dried herbs-we have basil, dill, sage, parsley and oregano this week.

That's the short list. We may find we have other items to harvest that we will be bringing to market tomorrow afternoon. The only way to find out is to come by the market in the Memorial Park from 4pm 'til 7pm tomorrow evening.

Hope to see you at the market or at our Eco-Farm Store. Thanx a zillion for your support

Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Eaton, OH

Friday, May 11, 2007

Birthday morning

It was a beautiful morning this morning so I took some pictures of chickens

You Say It's My Birthday...

That's right it is my birthday today.

My 44th, I'm middle aged fer sure fer sure.

Started the day with farm work. We have a farmers market tomorrow morning so this morning I was harvesting lettuce, strawberries and spring mix by 7am so the greens did not get damaged by the summery heat and I did not get damaged by picking berries in a hoophouse that can easily get 120˚F on a nice hot sunny day such as this by mid day.

The bed of spring mix I harvested this morning

After harvesting I wen in for some breakfast-Eugene made us eggs (locally grown pastured beauties), fried taters (the last of the 2006 crop) and toast. After breakfast I washed greens for an hour or so. After washing greens I was going to take a break but instead got involved neatening up the yard. Eugene was weed whacking around the store, signs and flowers and I got into following him around moving objects so he could get at the grass and weeds better and hand weeding in areas where a weed whacker might behead an iris bloom or peony bud. That took a half hour and left he yard looking MUCH better.

Took a break out of the heat and ate lunch. Noodled around on the web for a hour or so than decided I was was high time go out to the store/packing shed to put labels on produce bags and bag up lettuce, arugula and spring mix. So I did that for a couple of hours. Now I am blogging and waiting for Eugene to come in so we can enjoy the strawberry daiquiris I made a few minutes ago waiting for blogger to load.

After that we are going out to dinner somewhere and will also pick up some cat food. Than home and to bed early because tomorrow is an early 4:30am call.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Crunch Time

We are going into our crunch time so post will likely be few and far between until mid to late June. we have two markets going now, a store to open (and an electrical system to fix before that happens-but by the end of today most of that should be done.) thousands of seedlings to get into the ground by mid June (this means prepping 50 or so beds, setting up irrigation, laying ground cover/landscape fabric on those beds before anything is planted). Harvesting for all our markets pretty much daily. Maintaining the market garden beds (folier feeding, hoeing, hand weeding, mowing) and dealing with 150 chickens each and every day (feeding, watering, moving chicken tractors/fencing, etc..). It's a lot to do for two people with a bit of help-we do have Lauren coming out several half days a week and our buddy Wyatt has been helping out with our electrical issues and today will be bringing out his BCS tiller to help us get more beds ready to go.

And to top it all off my iMac seems to be nearing it's end, slowly. Or maybe it's just my browser (Mozilla) getting rilly funky, I dunno.

The keyboard has lost it's "T" so typing is slow and laborious. Hey if anyone has a keyboard I can use until I replace his 'puter it sure would help me out.

But it looks like the garden is gonna be very productive, the chickens are growing well and we are getting a lot of new customers, suddenly (nothing like a hundred scary food issues from the industrial food stream to get folks thinking about eating locally)

Monday, May 07, 2007

It's Farmers Market Season Again

We had our first market of the season and it was the best opening market we have ever done, by far. We harvested 3 to 4 times more than we ever have in the past and we sold everything we brought except 3 bunches of chives (which have never been a good seller for us but have sold better his year than at any time in the past). It was a good feeling to go home with empty coolers (except for milk, eggs and meat that we picked up at the market) and pockets full of money.

The market was not a busy one but we were the only produce vendors at the market and we had aspargus and lettuce, among other things, making us very popular. Our fresh produce sold like hotcakes.

Met "Wine Deb" (of Key West wine and garden blog) which was fun. Heard the sad news that Don E's wife had suddenly died two weeks ago than ranb into Don, he looked so sad. At the end of the market I was invited to the 29th (30th?) installation of St Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast.

It's good to be back