Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Caught in a nap.
When the weather is bad and snow and ice are all around, seems like all you want to do is lay down with a good book, a good movie, a good blanket and nap. Our early winter storm brought out that quality in me last week. Today however was different. With temps hovering around the 30 degree mark I took the day to play outside.

I warmed up first by baking a pecan pie (Uncle Jim's favorite) for supper and at least moving my body along to Richard Simmons Sweatin' to the Oldies (I'm not coordinated enough to call it dancing) and then dressed up warm and went out to play.

I spent most of the day outside and had a great time. I took all the Halloween decorations off the shed and replaced them with sleds, evergreens, and I even put up the lights. Water was dripping down my arm and back as the snow on the roof melted but it was clean fresh water and I didn't mind. As the sun began to get very low in the sky, I decided to go out back and make sure the grill would light. We're having some BIG pork ribs Unca Jim brought with him from Wisconsin and although I started them in the oven we want to finish them off on the grill. You have to take advantage of every day like this you get in ND - don't ya know!

As I stood by the grill to make sure it was going to stay lit, I noticed one particular little downy woodpecker who seemed quite disturbed. I knew it wasn't because he was hungry as I had filled the bird feeders with suet just two days previous. I didn't pay too much attention to him until I looked over towards the suet tree (that tree that Barry pruned to within an inch of its life so we could move the house in and now all the stump branches work well as suet hangars) and there she was.

At first I thought she was hurt or ill as she certainly was breathing but she wasn't moving. I even said 'hello' to see if she would fly away. Her friend was flitting around chirping quite excitedly and I didn't want to get too near her but I was really curious at this point. After snapping these few shots of her I cautiously reached out and tapped the tree beside her. She pulled her head from under her wing, opened her eyes, which were kind of foggy at first but soon cleared to ebony balls, and ruffled her feathers to put the down all back into its neat smooth lines. She hopped around the tree a little then up to a crevice for a bit of snow for a drink.

Wow, I thought, another lesson from the gardens. Winter and cold brings on a natural desire to sleep your life away. Even as friends call and invite you to "Come out and Play" we sometimes drift into a deep slumber. As my gardens sleep through the winter, I too want to hibernate away until spring brings us all alive again. But just as the little Downy Woodpecker concluded her drink - she heard the calls of her friend and flew away for a little play before the sun set. I need to remember to do that too. Getting out in the winter might be tough, but its worth the effort when you have someone who cares about you, wants to spend time with you and will help you to fly away to great places. Hope everyone remembers to take joy in the winter- it's the seasons that we live that help to make us seasoned.

On another note - my cold frames with fresh lettuce, onions, mustard and leeks have made it through the first batch of cold and snow just fine. The Flashy Trout lettuce didn't take the cold as well as the Freckles but it still looks promising for a December harvest. Today, with a balmy 30 degrees outside, the inside of the cold frames was 55 degrees. It was overcast and not particularly sunny or I'm sure it would have been much more.

The day I brushed the snow off of them the outside of the boxes was actually sweating - at 18 degrees outside it was 35 inside. I can tell the buttercrunch lettuce has taken a freeze but there is also mache in there and that will freeze, thaw, and be able to be eaten so I'm not too worried.
Hope everyone has friends to call them when they need to go play, a warm place to stay inside when the weather gets bad, and a garden to plan for spring!


Friday, October 17, 2008

It's been a long while since I had the chance to blog! Here's why, I've been really busy working with the ND Dept. of Agriculture and many other FINE sponsors to travel ND and do some local foods meetings.

We had a great time and met a ton of wonderful people. We even ate local foods at each of our meals which was fabulous. In the end though I got more than good food - I also got very inspired to keep doing what Barry and I have always done - trying to stay local.

Did you know that more than 13,000 kids in North Dakota are undernourished? Did you know that to feed all the people in ND that are hungry or concerned about their ability to have food on the table would mean increasing all the reserves in all the food banks until they were at least DOUBLE what they are now - or to around 9.1 million pounds of food?

Fifty percent of North Dakotans have a chronic illness, 12% have diabetes and 77% do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Diabetes health care costs in ND alone are over $209 million.

If 1/3 of all ND churchs found just 10 volunteers each and each volunteer planted 8 tomato plants and each plant produced 15 pounds of tomatoes that were valued at $2 a pound - they could provide ND food banks with $1.7 million worth of food! Just this last week my mother told me that her Christmas present to me was a contribution to the Great Plains Food Bank - I'm so happy! What a great way to support local foods.

Other ways include participating in farmers markets, school gardens, and CSA's. We've just started a CSA in Bottineau at the college. For more information on that please call Kirsten Moseng at 701-228-5649. School gardens are also a great way to get younger people - who are especially at risk for many health/diet related diseases involved in living better. And last but not least- all of these things contribute to a better economy in our communities and a better quality of life. For more information contact the North Dakota Department of Agriculture - Sue Balcom - she's really fired up!

PS - I've eaten one or more North Dakota/locally produced meals every day for the last 10 days and I feel great!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's been a while since I last wrote you anything, a sign of a busy season. The Produce Party 2008 went off without a hitch and everyone had a great time. The wind came up a little bit in the afternoon but all was well.

Since then I've been teaching at WomanSong in Grand Rapids, ND, hosting some family from Washington state that I haven't seen for 20 years or so, working hard at my REAL job for MSU-Bottineau, and actually taking a night or two off here and there.

Fall is my favorite season and the time that I start to wind down. I know that there is still plenty to do, however I don't feel the urgency to do it that plagues me the rest of the year. We called it quits for the season with our customers this last week. The cold weather and rain really got to the Basil and the quality dropped below my standards so that was the end of delivering to Grand Forks and Minot. We still have some great stuff for sale here at the farm and might consider taking flowers to the Cando market if our schedule allows but otherwise, our season of selling is over. If it weren't for the cool weather and rain we could have gotten another two to three weeks out but I won't sell things that don't look great and the Basil doesn't look great.

Fall is a wonderful for exploring too -- look at what I found in the woods this week:

It's a nice little cup bearing clavaria mushroom, perfectly edible, always beautiful and a forest floor dweller. Sometimes great things come in small packages.
I also have taken a little time for myslef and the dog. Ida and I went to doggie class in Grand Forks for the first time today. We had a blast. She did pretty well for a beginner and will learn quickly. Her nose is what will get her in trouble though, within a few minutes she had sniffed out every tennis ball, dog toy and treat in the arena - what a girl! Wish us luck as we practice her new skills. Barry just came in and said it was break time (like I've been working so hard I need a break). Remember, you can always email us through our web site with comment, questions, or to book a time for a class or public presentation. It's never to early but sometimes too late!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy,

Seems this last week my saying has been "I'll just slip on my cape and tights and take care of that for you". We've been up to our eyeballs in herbs and customers, classes and cooking, tours and geocachers, weeds and grass.

We've had a lot of fun though. We had an excellent cooking with herbs class last week with a few new faces added to the mix. The food, of course, was wonderful and everyone had great questions and a good time. Today we are preparing for a garden tour and luncheon with more great food made with our own fresh herbs. We've had some rain here lately so the herbs are loving it and they look fabulous! Our customers will be very happy.

The last two weeks at the Grand Forks farmers market have been our busiest ever. It really shows that people are changing the way they cook and eat. The media coverage regarding eating local doesn't hurt either. I saw on the news last night that our new customer, Rhombus Guys in Grand Forks, won first place in a pizza tasting contest - hurray for them! I wonder if our fresh herbs were on their winning pizza? We also saw another of our good customers on TV, Chef Kim Holmes of Sanders 1907 in Grand Forks, as he worked to hold a benefit for violence prevention. The benefit was at his restaurant and featured local celebrities as wait staff working for tips to benefit the CVIB. Congrats to all and we hope you raised a lot of money - again, I hope our fresh basil was in the great pasta that Chef Holmes is known for.

We've had our share of tours lately with two large busses last week and this week we are awaiting the arrival of a family of 6 who are on a learning based vacation. They are coming to us all the way from Florida and will be with us for three days and three nights. We'll have great fun meeting this new family and getting to know them.

I'm also trying to prepare for our annual Produce Party. Be sure to keep watch on the web site as August 30th approaches. We'll post our agenda for the day and hopefully highlight some of our special vendors and presenters. Remember, we're always looking for more produce vendors so if you have a little extra to share - come and join us. Booth space for new vendors is $20 and for returning vendors $10. Last year every vendor was very happy with their sales for the day and definitely made thier money back. In fact, we've become so good at drawing a crowd that this year we will have vendors from farther away than ever. Booths have been reserved for vendors from Grand Forks, Minot, Bottineau, Rugby and of course the local area. Be sure to join us won't you?

That's all that I have time for now - gotta run and put on my cape and tights and take care of our customer orders for Minot - Miracle Mart Dakota Square, Marketplace Foods, Miracle Mart Arrowhead, 10 North Main and a few more orders yet to come in!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Would You Like Some Cheese with that whine?

This past week I got an email from a friend of mine in Wisconsin. He is farming for market and grow produce for his family's eating and works very hard at the land just like we do. He was just getting a few things off his chest - like how hard farming is. (This is the first year he has had to do the farm work by himself, in the past he's had help). I read his email and thought how much it sounded like us - it's true, farming is hard work but that's what winter is for recuperation.

When it comes to whining - or wining as it may be - we had a GREAT wine class this week at the farm. Greg Kemple and his family from Maple River Winery came to help us out. They brought 9 of their great wines for folks to sample as well as some other tasty North Dakota products such as four kinds of cheese (Tomato Basil, Horseradish, Garlic, and Brie), chokecherry honey, chokecherry fudge, Luna Salsa, and other great stuff. We had made some herb appetizers - actually Boy made them - and between the food, the wine, the great weather - it was a perfect night - a wonderful time was had by all. We had a big class of about 30 people but no one went away hungry. Greg was great at answering questions and the Maple River Wines proved why they are award winners. If you get the chance, check out their wines on their web site: http://www.mapleriverwinery.com/, in your local liquor store, or at their store in Casselton ND. Thanks Greg and family for an absolutely perfect night - nothing to wine about there!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Geocaching success!

This week we finally got our geocache all set up and posted. For those of you who do not know about geocaching, it's like a scavenger hunt using a GPS unit instead of a treasure map. There are hundreds of people around the county getting into this new sport. I was surprised when I went onto the ND Tourism web site to update our information to find that even they had added geocaching to their list of possible activities for North Dakota.

Once posted to the geocaching web site (http://www.geocaching.com/) I began to receive weekly updates about other geocache's hidden in North Dakota. It was amazing to me the large gatherings, events, meetings, and the number of possible cache's to find in the state.

Geocaching goes something like this: if you have a GPS unit, you log onto the web site. Building an account is free and you don't need an account to look for coordinates in an area to find. Search for the area/region where you are traveling, where you live, or where you would like to search for your new 'treasure'. The web site will give you the first coordinates of the cache and even a map to help get you started.

There are several kinds of cache's. Some are just a simple set of coordinates, some give you a coordinate to find and there you will find the clues or coordinates to another location. This is called a multi-cache. The gardendwellers FARM cache is a multi-cache with 4 locations to find before looking for the real treasure.

The treasure at the end of your trail will be a waterproof box of some kind which you will have to look for - thus the treasure hunt aspect. In the box will be a log book. As a finder, you are expected to sign the log book and leave a note. There will also be instructions in the box. Some boxes contain trinkets. If you choose to take a trinket from the treasure, you are expected to leave one as well. These trinkets can be small toys, key chains, pins, whatever small treasure a person has. Our box, like some others, contains a camera and the instructions to take a photo of yourself having fun in the garden, then leave the camera for the next geocacher to also take their photo.

This is a fun, inexpensive (although the cost of gas is high right now) family or individual activity. No purchases are ever necessary and no fees are ever charged to go geocaching - you just have to find the treasure.

Once you've found a cache, you are invited to post your find on the web site - let everyone know how many cache's you've found, how fun it was, and what a great activity it can be. I encourage everyone to at least check out the web site for more information. You never know, you're next vacation may include a treasure hunt!

Happy searching!


PS - the first to find our cache (gneis) were from Grand Forks ND. They snuck in and out without us even seeing them and did it within 24 hours of us hiding the treasure! I knew they had found it as I received an email from the geocaching web site that informed there was an electronic log posted to our entry. What a great surprise! Way to go gneis!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

North Dakota's weather gets a lot of bad press, but in all reality our weather is the best in the Midwest. Currently we are experiencing 70 to 80 degree days with 50-ish nights. we've had some timely rains, just enough to keep the dust down and make things grow. The above photo shows the beautiful rainbow (a double actually) that graced us after the last rain.

The winds have been excellent for flying my kite and the evenings have been great for campfires and relaxing. Our weather is also great because you can see it! Other states and other places have trees, high-rises, structures, things to get in the way of seeing your weather. It's great to watch the clouds roll in, the lightning flash across the sky, the rain roll over the prairies, and yes of course the rainbows. In the winter we enjoy northern lights and all year long the night skies are filled with star and often meteors and falling stars.

Ultimately, our weather is really a balance, and that's what life is all about, balance. You have to learn to lean into the wind so you can enjoy sitting back to watch the stars. Take time this summer to truly enjoy our North Dakota weather.
Fair winds
gardendwellers FARM

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why do we do this?

Some times you wonder why you do things. I don't oftne wonder why we have gardendwellers FARM. At the FARM I can be anything - a child, a caretaker, a healer, a mother, an explorer, and adventurer or a teacher. In the garden I can be relaxed. I can be stressed, if I want to and I let the weeds get the better of me. I can be creative, imaginative, and knowledgable. I can even be stupid if I want to. There are times the garden teaches me things. Many things.

A week ago I was weeding (oh really, aren't I always weeding?) and as I weeded I was thinking about a particularly troublesome situation that I had been in . I was taking my anger out on the weeds, which in itself is good therapy, but it wasn't helping much. I felt myself getting more and more agitated the more I thought about the problem. Then, out of nowhere I was showered with light pink petals falling from the sky. I looked up just in time to see the flowering crab beside the garden send another shower of feather light petals my way. Just a breeze at the right time of senescence in a flowers life? Yes, most likely. But I got the message - let go. I had to let go of the problem and move on. I get it. The rest of the weeding was quite pleasurable.

Tonight as I was weeding - again - I was wondering why we are organic. It would be so much easier on me if we used chemicals to do the weeding for us. The beds would look much cleaner - not to mention my fingernails would too. As I weeded along the row of parsley filled with ash seedlings, grass, and lambsquarters, I noticed someone watching me.

This is what I saw. Mr. Toad had made his home right under the young parsley plants and was quite happy just waiting for his next meal. Maybe a tasty bug of fly.

Then I got the message again - we are organic because it is good for our gardendwellers. It is good for the toads, frogs, birds, bees and others that live here and share our garden with us. It is their home too and they don't want it contaminated. I got it.

These are only two of the lessons I've learned in the garden and if I just take the time to listen, my garden schools me on many things every time I enter it. I just need to 'get it'.

Come out and play with us in the garden -- see what lesson it has for you.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Places to go, People to see

This past weekend was a busy one for us. Barry and my mother stayed at the FARM and hosted the spouses of the ND Fire Fighters who were attending the annual convention in Devils Lake. They all had a great time even though it is early in our season and the weeds are still high and the crops just starting to poke through the ground. Just goes to show there's always something to do here. The ladies were a little short on time - so many things to do in this area - so Barry didn't even get to tell them about our 'You Learn' center, the vending machine where you can purchase self guided tour maps, projects, histories, and other great things to do on the farm.

While Barry and Mom led the tour at home, I was up at the International Peace Gardens helping with their Gardening Boot Camp. Since 1923, the International Peace Garden has been a unique tribute to the peace and friendship between the people of Canada and the USA. The Cairn in the Peace Garden states, "To G_d in his glory, we two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live we will not take up arms against each other."

When I arrived Doug Hevenor, the Director there, was leading the group through the gardens explaining the many changes that are to come in the next couple years. I'd really like to commend all the folks at the gardens for the work they do. The upcoming seasons will be difficult ones. The maintenance at the gardens has been neglected for many years. The neglect came from a lack of funds, not a lack of caring. That's one thing I know about all of the workers up there, they care VERY deeply about the gardens. Time and the elements have taken their toll on the parts of the garden we all love the most - the formal gardens and pools. Doug is doing his best to find funding to make the major renovations and repairs necessary to bring the gardens back to its glory but finding money is no easy task. Once the funding is in place, the destruction and construction will begin and that's not easy either. The gardens will be under construction for a couple years at least. This means the view of the formal gardens will not be the same for a while - but that's a GOOD thing. It will be fun to watch the progress and being interpretive gardens, this gives the folks at the International Peace Gardens a chance to talk about renovation of a garden, how to fix what time and temp will do, what types of maintenance and preventative measures will be needed as they move forward and also preservation of some of the most valuable and important historic parts of the gardens. It will be a great time to tell the story of the gardens, the great people and plants that have come before and how it will be preserved for the future. I think it is very important for visitors to understand what is going on. If you do not understand you could go to the gardens and be disappointed because it doesn't have that finished regal look you are used to - but if you go understanding that they are trying to set the stage for the future and tell the story of what deer, moose, and mother nature can do to a garden you will be more appreciative of the work they do.

Speaking of work - all of the grounds and buildings get maintained by a very small staff on a limited budget. The young people I met this weekend that work at the gardens have no formal training in horticulture but they are doing a bang up job and working their little hearts out. Let's give them a big thanks when you visit.

With gas prices the way they are - and looks like they will stay that way - it's time to stay home - home in ND I mean - and visit some of our own treasures. The International Peace Gardens are one of America's finest spots. Even without the gardens, the Peace Chapel, the Peace Poles, the Peace Tower, the 9-11 Memorial Site, the Game Warden Museum, Masonic Auditorium, Historic Civilian Conservation Corps Lodge and the many other spots to see at the garden will make for a great vacation spot. If you haven't been there, GO NOW. If it's been a while since you've been there, you owe it to yourself to GO NOW. If you're not from ND and have never heard of the IPG - learn about it and plan it as part of your vacation. It's well worth the trip. Check it out at: http://www.peacegarden.com/.

PS - you do need to show your credentials when coming back from the gardens so please remember to take your passport OR your drivers license and birth certificate with you.

Monday, June 02, 2008

History Lessons

History lessons come in all types. This past week we had to remove an old elm tree from the FARM. Since we did not have equipment large enough to remove the tree, we asked the Mayor, Paul Christensen, to use the city equipment to remove it for us. He gladly came and toppled the big old girl. It took a few words of encouragement (?) and some patience on his part but she fell with a mighty thud. By the time Barry and I got over to where the tree had fallen, Paul was counting the rings to guess the tree's age. The tree was about 107 years old.

This summer Churchs Ferry will celebrate its 125th Anniversary on June 27th and 28th. That means this elm had to have been one of the first inhabitants of the city. It's sad when you see something that has lived so long be taken out by such a little bug. Dutch Elm Disease has destroyed so many trees in North Dakota and has been devastating to many of our community forests. Unfortunately we are now facing the same with Ash trees as the Emerald Ash Borer works its way ever closer to our ND borders.

I'm sure this tree was home to many birds, had many children playing in and around its branches and gave shade for many picnics and outdoor activities. I like to imagine its history - and it will be fun to hear about the rest of Churchs Ferry history as we celebrate this month. Won't you come and join us in our celebration? Watch our web site for a posting of events. We'd love to share it with you.

See you June 27th and 28th!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Things are picking up!

We sure have gotten busy in the last week or two. I think this summer will be a fun and fast ride for us. First, we had reporters from the Fargo Forum - we were featured in an article that ran in the May 25th edition. They did a great job and we had a lot of fun hosting them. We even got photos of Barry in the article!

The rhubarb harvest needed to be delayed until the weekend of May 30-June 3 or 4th as although the calendar said it was Memorial Day - the rhubarb doesn't read calendars. As far as the rhubarb was concerned it is right on schedule. We'll work on harvest this coming weekend so that means stretching exercises for all of us in preparation for the big harvest. Mom has already started harvesting little bits from the field and has made two pies already. I'm sure we'll have our fill of rhubarb goodies during harvest. She always feeds us so well - thanks Mom!

We're also gearing up for a great summer of classes and tours. Our first tour is booked for June 7th when the spouses of the fire fighters attending the convention in Devils Lake will come out for the morning and see what we've been up to. Other private and public classes and tours are scheduled throughout the summer so we're looking like a real happening place in the next few months.

Yesterday I got the seeds in the ground. I was hoping to plant the perennial herbs out today but with a chance of frost tonight I think I'll hold off. Speaking of herbs - we were able to harvest a bit of lemon balm which our new bar owner Kat featured at her Grand Opening on Saturday. She specialed the gardendwellers Tea (a long island iced tea made with rhubarb juice and lemon balm) and it went over smashingly. Kat had a great crowd for the opening of Kat's Korral and we were really happy to have another business in Churchs Ferry. Best of luck to Kat!

All summer the ND Tourism Division will be sponsoring a Saturday segment on KFGO featuring ND Tourism attractions. We'll be calling in on at least one show but everyone should give a listen and learn all of the great things to do in North Dakota. With gas prices so high, it is time to explore what's in your own backyard. And by the way - check out our schedule of classes on the 'come out and play' page of our web site. You'll find plenty to keep you busy in our backyard!

We'll see you all soon - I'm off to do some weeding.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spring? - Not yet, but close.

We're all getting a little antsy for spring. The cold wind has kept us from working outside as often as we would like and there's only so many games of scrabble you can play on yucky days. It's been great to have some extra help around here so we're well ahead of the clean up schedule just sitting and waiting for ground temps to go up and nighttime weather to stay well above freezing.

One sure sign that spring will really come is the rhubarb. It's already starting to pop up nicely and Barry has done his part to weed the forgotten ones.
The trees are starting to bud and I'm sure the nanking cherries and juneberries will be in bloom soon.
We think we have some people willing to come and help us out over Rhubarb Harvest (Memorial Day weekend) but we have to make the final phone calls. Remember, any and all help is welcome - but then again so are observers and visitors. May will be here before we know it!
Hang in there - spring is almost here!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Congratulation to JoAnn Rodenbiker, the winner of our email drawing for a gardendwellers tote bag. If you weren't in on the contest, its most likely because your email address isn't in our distribution list. Send us a quick note via email to be sure your address is on our list so you don't miss out on possible future offerings and notices.

The snow is almost gone and now the work begins. With the nice weather this week we've started doing the spring clean up. This is where having our son home will really come in handy. We've been without our 'free' help for a couple years and we really missed it. I made a list yesterday of things that needed to be done, it had 22 things on it. Of course, one of them was keeping our little dog Ida busy so she would leave me alone while I work. Now that I work from home she's determined to make sure I don't miss a break or lunch time and that plenty of playing ball is involved in those breaks.

Yesterday I seeded the snapdragons, sweet annie, anise hyssop and some salvia. It's kind of late I know but our snapdragons are always blooming before we're ready for them so this year I held off. The first round of herbs that were seeded weeks ago are now ready for transplant and the mobile greenhouse has made its first two trips outside. True signs of spring.

On Saturday we had our first class of the spring in the classroom. We had an 'Artists Spring Cleaning'. There were four artists that brought their projects to work on but mostly we just shared stories and laughed. It was potluck and everyone brought food so by the end of the day our tummies and our souls were full. It was great to share laughter and good ideas with friends. Thanks to Joan Youngerman, Deb Carlson, Kathy (Klang) Benson, and Karon Nelson for sharing the day with us.

We look forward to many more classes this spring and summer and hope to see all of you here!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another Churchs Ferry landmark gone.

On Friday, March 21st, another Churchs Ferry landmark disappeared from the landscape. The Copeland farmstead - remaining buildings anyway - were burned down. As I understand it the old buildings will be replaced by new grain bins. A sign of the agricultural prosperity of the past year I suppose. I know it is for the best but I can't help but be a little sad. The old barns were very picturesque and made a great photo opportunity in the fall. On the bright side, it will hopefully eliminate the confused tourists we've had in the past who thought the the farmstead was gardendwellers and would eventually use their cell phones to call us and say "where are you?" The Mayor and City Council had warned us the buildings were to be burned and told us that we could salvage what we wanted from the buildings before the fire so we did do a little scavenging. We brought home some sturdy wood pieces that will become raised planters and a bed frame to make a bench. Also in our loot was a few old window frames we will use to make a shade structure for the farm and a cold frame for our own use. All in all I guess progress is good but I still can't help but look for the great old barn when I round the corner onto Walker Ave. (old 281) and head north. I know the care and sweat that went into building that barn and can't help but think about all the eggs from the chickens in the chicken coops and by the way - we also found a tin sign 'A 4-H Leader Lives Here'. Having been involved with 4-H myself and through my son, I know the pride that sign embodied at one time, the volunteer hours and community involvement that it represented. This wasn't just a few old buildings, it was a home. It was a home full of love and caring. Hopefully the replacements, although not as pretty to look at, will some day signify a prosperous agriculture in North Dakota and be as meaningful as what is now gone.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It seems the winds of March are unsure about which way to blow. The snowbanks in the front yard have been rearranged several times like the sands of a desktop play thing. Inside, the seedlings have been started and the first of three temporary greenhouses has been made portable and put up. The seedlings are very happy, Barry is happy because it is not outside so we aren't trying to heat it from 20 to 70 - only from 50 to 70 and I'm happy because they aren't in my bath tub like last year.

The web site now has a new look, in time for the upcoming season. We're hoping to get some feedback from viewers. If you are looking over the site and have any input or find errors, please let us know. The web site is another thing we do by ourselves so almost everything is changeable.

Tomorrow I will speak on a panel discussion at a tourism conference in Devils Lake. It's going to be a lot of fun and as I understand it, they have a pretty good number of people attending. Then this weekend I am speaking in Wahpeton, next week in Bismarck/Mandan, and the following weekend in Beulah. March will fly by and take us to April when it will be time to plant more seedlings and wish spring was much closer. Take care all,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What a week and weekend.
The past several nights we've been working on finalizing our 2008 schedule. It's a lot of work to coordinate calendars, examine past classes, line up other speakers, and examine costs to set prices but finally I think we have it complete. We are still waiting to hear from one other possible presenter but othre than that - the classes are out there and ready for registration. What a nice feeling.

I'm not one to get spring fever but this year it seems to have grabbed me. I can't wait to get outside and play. Speaking of which - that's kind of our new slogan here at the farm - 'Come out and Play'. We hope that everyone will take time in one fashion or another to join us this summer for a play date. With the completion of the classroom and some great opportunities with other companies, we're really looking forward to the possibilities this summer. Now all we have to do is get the seeds ordered.

I know, I know - we're kind of behind on the seed order. We know WHAT to order - it's just the when to find the time thing. This last summer we were lucky enough to get another greenhouse (thanks Mom!) so we'll be able to double our growing room. It's just another small temporary house but it still opens lots of options for us. Barry has been reading up on greenhouses, hot houses, and cold frames and is seriously looking at ways to extend or get a jump on our season. They might not happen this year but I'm sure some where down the line he'll build or construct something that will help us serve our customers for a longer period of time and will keep jack frost at bay for even a few weeks.

We're very proud that this Saturday (Feb. 2nd) in ND and Friday (Feb. 1) in other states, Market to Market has decided to re-broadcast the Churchs Ferry piece they filmed last spring and aired for the first time last fall. The reporter, Nancy Crowfoot, said they had great response about the piece so they decided to run it again. Great timing for us - let's hope it sparks the interest of a lot of possible visitors for this summer. We'd love to see them all! It's great fun having people show up at the farm from all over America. Meeting our visitors is one of the best things about this job.

Thinking ahead to summer - this year is Churchs Ferry's 125th Anniversary Celebration. We'd love to put together a calendar that we could have available on our web site but we only have about 6 photos of Churchs Ferry from times gone past - anyone who reads this and has a photo of our great little city and would like to share it - please let us know. You could scan it and email it to us with a description if you have it or give us a call and we'll figure out how to get it from you. Hope to hear from lots of people on this - wouldn't that be fun?

Anyway - right now it's 50 below wind chill and freezing outside, think I'll just go look at another seed catalog and pretend it's May.
Stay Warm!

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Year and new challenges at gardendwellers Farm!

Well, this new year has already brought about some interesting changes in our lives and that will affect our farm in a good way we hope.
I (Holly) have left Lake Region State College after 8 great years. It was a good run at LRSC but a new challenge awaits, one that I hope will benefit the farm as well as my well-being. I am now working for MSU-Bottineau as their Director for the Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture. It is our hope to raise $4 million to build a series of courses and greenhouses that will research organic and specialty vegetable production and its distribution in North Dakota. I don't know about you but I'm tired of the shriveled, wobbly veggies that land in our grocery stores from thousands of miles away - especially in winter. I'd love to see year round production of high quality veggies right here in the state, that would make us all a lot healthier.

My new job allows me to work mostly from home with a weekly trip up to Bottineau. In this way I should be around to move hoses, start watering, or give basic information to tourists this summer when our season on the farm begins. Hopefully working from home will be a great way to look after the well being of the farm and work on a project that means a lot to me at the same time. For now, the new job is keeping me busy. I am scheduled to be on the road to a variety of organic and farming conferences from now until the end of March. Please check out the calendar to see which conferences I will just be attending and which conferences I will be presenting at - they are getting too numerous to mention here.

Barry has also started the year out with a change. With the retirement of Bob Dennison from the Towner County Record Herald and the subsequent sale of that paper to Nordmark Publishing, Barry has been moved from printing in Towner at the Mouse River Journal to printing in Cando. He really enjoys not having to drive all the way to Towner (which he still does on occasion to complete printing jobs for them) and he says the people of Cando have all been SO nice to him.

As a part of the new changes, we will be getting satellite Internet. YEAH!!! I can't wait. What that means to you, our customers, is a new better designed web site. Thanks to our young IT department at the farm we will be bringing you an updated look along with the chance to purchase gardendwellers FARM items. We're particularly looking forward to being able to offer you calendars and useful items with photos we've taken here in beautiful Churchs Ferry. So check back often - the satellite Internet begins at the end of January and we hope to have the new site built by the end of March.

May your winter be a blessed rest in preparation for the spring into action of May.