May Snapshot: How much did it cost?

Hey friends!

My garden is a little weedy and a few vegetables need to make it to my refrigerator after an intense week….Vacation Bible School and a home remodeling project happened simultaneously, but it is well.

Even when I’m exhausted from the busyness of life, a retreat outside usually gives me the perspective change that I need. There is serenity in tying up tomato plants covered in small green fruit while watching the bees flock to each bright yellow bloom, even pulling weeds is gratifying. I enjoy the business of food. 😉

There are new surprises everyday……some challenges, mostly joy:

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This garlic flower is unique and dear to us.

My husband brought home a bulb from his grandmother’s garden a few years ago, long after she passed away. It had reseeded itself through the years in the rocky mountains of West Virginia. The beauty of this robust plant reminds me of her each time I pass by…..enduring and true.

Here is our May breakdown:

Nature’s Promise Farm = $23.50 (Asparagus, Mushrooms, Broccoli)
Bard-Roc Farm = $20.50 (Honey, Sweet Potatoes)
Country Pantry = $58.02 (Oats, Spices, Local Beef)
Trading Post = $187.26 (Local Honey, Homemade jam, Oats, Bulk Spices, Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes, Gouda Cheese, Coconut Oil, Beef)
Lasaters = $28.31 (Coffee)
Giving Thanks Farm = $325.77 (Chicken, Beef, Pork, Eggs)
Food Initiative = $12.00 (Strawberries)
No. 9 Farm = 106.50 (A whole lot of Strawberries!)
My Neighbor = $18.00 (Eggs)
Milk Share = $21.00 (6 gallons)
Grand Total for May = $800.86

This was our biggest month of the year thus far and for good reason – STRAWBERRIES! We’d been looking forward to this harvest for months. I froze a reasonable amount for the winter months and ate the rest leaning over the counter with 4 other happy faces nearby…May was sweet!

You can find the information for each one of these sources under the Community Resource Guide.

Have a great week!

Lisa

April Snapshot: How much did it cost?

Hello friends!

Building relationships with local farmers has been a huge blessing of going Unchained. We are beginning to know their stories and learn of their triumphs and challenges by investing in a small piece of their lives….the struggle of unsuspecting temperatures with little rain, the perfect time to harvest bee pollen, or even walking through how to send a photo message on a new phone. I didn’t have those experiences in the Publix check-out lane. 😉  Investing into our local community has truly been a learning experience that we have treasured….a glimpse into a slower way of life that has been long forgotten in our fast-paced culture.

Mr. Don Walker ~ Bard-Roc Farm

Mr. Don Walker ~ Bard-Roc Farm

The Clarksville Downtown Market is kicking off this Saturday. I encourage you to visit your local farmers this weekend. Ask about their growing practices and their favorite way to cook the produce they offer. Pick up some bright asparagus, crisp greens and sweet strawberries while they are abundant!

Here is our April breakdown:

Nature’s Promise Farm = $28.00 (Asparagus, Mushrooms, Eggs)
Bard-Roc Farm = $48.00 (Honey, Cabbage, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots)
Country Pantry = $34.73 (Wheat Berries)
Trading Post = $109.00 (Local Honey, Homemade jam, Oats, Bulk Spices, Asparagus, Gouda Cheese, Coconut Oil)
Lasaters = $28.31 (Coffee)
Tennessee Grass-Fed = $265.00 (1/4 cow divided by 3 months)
Giving Thanks Farm = $173.90 (Chicken, Pork, Eggs)
My Neighbor = $18.00 (Eggs)
Milk Share = $42.00 (13 gallons)
Grand Total for April = $746.94

You can find the information for each one of these sources under the Community Resource Guide.

Have a great week!

Lisa

Unchained Dinner Menu ~ April

Hey guys!

April has been an interesting month on the Unchained Journey. We’ve conquered the hardest few months of a harsh winter, but we haven’t quite reached the abundant variety of spring just yet, but almost!

I’ve been waiting patiently for my favorite spring vegetable to gain a footing and reach for the sun through the wet, dark earth, and it’s finally HERE!

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These beautiful bundles were found at The Trading Post where they were cut from a local farm earlier that day. My heart rate increased as soon as I turned the corner….this is exciting news! Before this year, asparagus was a weekly staple in our diet, like apples and bananas. 😉 So, I’ve been waiting all year to eat this crisp vegetable again.

Did you know that once an asparagus bed is firmly established, it will produce for 25 YEARS?!  However, asparagus season is not lengthy….so we made contact with Farmer Steve at Nature’s Promise Farm to pick up as much as he can provide us with this week! We’ll be eating it in just about everything in the coming weeks!

Unchained Dinner Menu ~ April

Day 1
Beans & Cornbread

Day 2
Spaghetti & Tomato Sauce

Day 3
Good Friday! First Seder with the Perry Family!

Day 4
Meatloaf & Turnip Greens

Day 5
Roasted Chicken & Sauteed Greens

Day 6
Frankfurter & Potato Soup

Day 7
Sweet Potato & Egg Hash

Day 8
Chicken Tacos

Day 9
Chili & Cornbread

Day 10
OUT!

Day 11
Chicken Soup

Day 12
Beef Stew

Day 13
Zuppa Toscana

Day 14
Spaghetti & Meatballs

Day 15
Chicken Pot Pie

Day 16
BBQ Chicken & Sweet Potato

Day 17
Shepherd’s Pie

Day 18
Beef Burgers & Coleslaw

Day 19
Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew

Day 20
Breakfast for Dinner – Pancakes!

Day 21
Asparagus & Wild Onion Soup w/Biscuits

Day 22
Chicken Taco Casserole

Day 23
Cornmeal Dumplings & Turnip Greens

Day 24
Wild Onion & Egg Pizza

Day 25
Beef Stew & Roasted Asparagus

Day 26
Spring Pot Pie

Day 27
Chicken & Spring Vegetable Soup

Day 28
Radish Green Pesto & Noodles

Day 29
Beef Tacos

Day 30
Sweet Potato Soup

“For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” –Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Lisa

March Snapshot: How much did it cost?

Happy Resurrection Day!!

This post is a little late…but the planting season is here! I’ve spent much less time indoors over the past few weeks tending to our bottle lamb, our new puppy Annie, as well as, planting for spring and tending to warm-weather vegetables indoors. It’s a dawn-to-dusk scramble….in an enjoyable kind of way!

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We’re a few days into our 4th month without shopping at a grocery store for our Unchained Challenge. We’re harvesting greens from our own cold-frame and our hens are in full-swing after a winter of rest. However, I am struggling to find a balance between meal prep and outdoor responsibilities during such a busy season. I don’t see this easing much as planting moves to weeding/harvesting, but I am looking forward to expanding our menu options.

4-week-old heirloom tomato starts

Repotting a 4-week-old heirloom tomato start

Here is our March breakdown:

Nature’s Promise Farm = $40.00 (Baby Kale, Mushrooms, Eggs)
Country Pantry = $47.86 (Wheat Berries, Honey, Spices)
Trading Post = $102.73 (Local Honey, Homemade jam, Schlabach’s whole wheat noodles, Oats, Bulk Spices, Butternut Squash)
Lasaters = $22.08 (Coffee)
Tennessee Grass-Fed = $265.00 (1/4 cow divided by 3 months)
Giving Thanks Farm = $173.90 (Chicken, Pork, Eggs)
Tiffany, My Neighbor 🙂 = $6.00 (Eggs)
Milk Share = $47.50 (13 gallons, yogurt)
Grand Total for March = $705.07

You can find the information for each one of these sources under the Community Resource Guide.

Have a great week!

Lisa

Seed Starting 101

Hey guys!

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, spring is just around the corner! If you haven’t picked up any vegetable seeds, you still have time! We source from Seed Savers Exchange, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. All of these companies have Non-GMO pledges while offering an immense selection of heirloom seeds. Before you start browsing, start with a list of what you are looking to grow. Seed shopping is a lot like buying homeschool curriculum at a conference….you can get easily lost in the fresh textbooks, bright lights and possibilities and end up with 4 years of Rosetta Stone Italian and 25 varieties of tomatoes. Trust me! 😉

So how about a snapshot of my seed starting process?! It’s not super secret or special but in case you are a newbie, it may be helpful!

Here is our setup again. This is positioned on a south-facing window.

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First, I number my flat and mark a triangle in the corner for positioning. I jot this on a calendar – Flat 10: Rows 1-5 America Spinach, 6-10 Mustard Greens.

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I use a sturdy container to hold the seed starting mix. That contraption is a soil blocker, but you don’t need that….a 72-cell flat is just fine.

photo(3)This is important…..moisten your mix before you fill your flat! You’ll get the feel for this, I like to add water until I can form a loose ball, not muddy but a little more than damp.

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Now, you can mix this well and start to fill your cells. With the soil blocker, I just press down firmly…

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And release on the tray. Each block has a small indention for the seed. Fancy, I know….

photo(8)Time for seeds! You can use your pinky finger to indent or the eraser end of a pencil….both equally effective. I only drop one seed per cell….some people sow two.

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Lightly cover the seeds with your seed starting mix and press down gently. Cover with a dome lid until germination occurs and then uncover. If you have lights, keep them within a few inches of the newly sprouted seedlings. Check on them daily to be sure they aren’t drying out too much between waterings.

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Bonus! Here’s what I use to organize all of those seed packets…

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Happy Planting!

Lisa

Lying in the Bed you Made

Garden beds are a hot topic!
On our little farm, it’s the foundation of food. Like all foundations it should be strong, functional and stand the test of time.
We are religious about the no-till farming method! Now am I saying we worship a planting style or even the earth or plants? Of course not! We worship their Creator, and by caring for what He has given us, we have another avenue of worship.
Green Pepper Seedlings (2014)

Green Pepper Seedlings (2014)

If you look around the world, there are many examples of the devastation we can cause by growing food irresponsibly.  Near where we grew up in Southern Maryland, there is town named Port Tobacco.  It’s on a small creek and most of the year it is nothing more than a swamp.  What’s interesting is that this used to be a bustling port that carried Maryland cash crops out onto the Potomac and into the Chesapeake Bay. However, because of erosion and the silting in of the river, nothing remains but a few historic buildings. The great dust bowl of the Midwest is another well-documented example of us squandering the rich and fertile ground that God has blessed us with.

While living in Hawaii, we loved visiting the North Shore of Oahu. The land was truly created with love and the community there is vibrant and alive with activity.  One of our favorite routes is locally known as “Snake Road.” It starts out in pineapple fields high in the valley, but as you wind down the twisty road you pass the experimental fields of Monsanto and Pioneer. Then, the Pacific opens in front of you in all it’s splendor.  During the rainy season, polluted agricultural run-off from excessive plowing often fills the crystal blue water, heeding warnings to surfers and swimmers to temporarily avoid the area. Even in paradise we have found a way to literally murky up the waters that we have been blessed with.

Having these experiences, I knew that we couldn’t ignore them and just do what’s always been done. We are called to do ALL things to the glory of God, certainly this would include the very foundation of our nutrient source. I searched, looking to find a way to care for the earth that God has given us as a foundation for our physical survival….something to express the love we have for our Savior.

Farming God’s Way.

In a gist, Farming God’s Way or what is now known as Foundations for Farming is the story of a man who was on a similar search for foundational farming but who had way more experience with farming than I did! Through the work of Foundations for Farming, the lost have been pointed toward Christ and whole African countries set free from food dependence. I would highly encourage you to read the Foundations for Farming Manual to learn more about farming and discipleship!

How do we do it?
Using the oak and hickory leaves native to our land here in Middle Tennessee, we lay down about 12-14 inches of leaves. This is placed directly on top of lawn, field, or old beds. Blood meal or other high-nitrogen manure can be spread before the leaves are placed to add nitrogen to the soil. This is especially important if your garden is now a lawn. On top of that we lay branches and twigs….similar to the forest floor, this alters the wind blowing across the bed and keeps the leaves in place.  When it’s time to plant in the spring, the soil underneath is rich and moist like the earth in the forest. We supplement the soil with organically prepared compost each subsequent season. Diligent care will ensure healthy plants and a bountiful harvest. God has given His creation as an example….we just need to look around and see Him in it.
Summer Beauty ~ No-Till (2014)

Morning Glory ~ No-Till (Summer 2014)

Cliff 

What We’re Growing

I seed start almost every vegetable…even those that are typically direct sown. It is more time-consuming, but I can easily control watering needs and track germination rates this way. Plus, I can get a jump on the growing season. It just makes sense to me…so Cliff endures the mountain of plants that line the walls of our bedroom (it’s the brightest room in the house) before it is time to transfer them outside.  I love him! 🙂

This year, we’re making a bigger push for cool-season vegetables. We are trying a few new varieties of heirloom vegetables this year but most of these are tried and true. As you can see from the wide-variety of tomatoes. They are my favorite thing….there really is nothing better than a tomato warmed by the sun. Is it June yet?

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Summer 2014 ~ Harvest

Spring-Planted, Cool-Season Vegetables:
Beets – Detroit Dark Red, Colorful Beet Mix
Broccoli – Calabrese, Early Green
Brussel Sprouts – Long Island Improved
Cabbage – Copenhagen Market Early, Early Jersey Wakefield
Celery – Tall Utah
Collards – Georgia Southern
Kale – Lacinato, Red Russian, Dwarf Blur Curled Scotch
Leek – Blue Solaise
Lettuce – Waldmanns Dark Green, Red Romaine, Forellenschluss
Mustard Greens – Mild Mustard Mix
Peas – Suttons Harbinger
Radish – Salad Rose
Spinach – America, Bloomsdale
Swiss Chard – Perpetual Spinach
Turnip – Purple Top White Globe

Warm Season:
Cantaloupe – Honey Rock, Delice De La Table
Cucumber –Boston Pickling, Marketmore
Okra – Clemson Spineless
Pepper – Poblano, Jalapeño, Bull Nose Bell
Spinach – New Zealand
Squash – Butternut, Pattypan, Long Island Cheese, Spaghetti Squash
Tomato – Black Krim, Amish Paste, Italian Heirloom, Fox Cherry, Purple Calabash, Costoluto Genovese, Matts Wild Cherry, Big Rainbow, Mortgage Lifter, San Marzano, Mountain Princess
Watermelon – Moon & Stars

 

Moon & Stars Watermelon

Moon & Stars Watermelon

Lisa