News and blog

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 6/9/2010 5:44pm by Gayle Ganser.

I have to apologize for my lack of entries through May. It seems as soon as May hit we went wild at the market. Its a great predicament to be in but alas my new website has suffered with few if any updates and blogs. So what has happened over the past month? Plant season has been and continues to be a great succcess. We have been very busy, people have been very happy with their choices and selections. I think I have single handedly designed several hundred containers and gardens for my customers. This is a service we have grown into over the years and love. It is so much fun to create new designs. We grew so many neat things this year it makes it easy to come up with new and creative ideas. Our selection is still great, although we are out of certain varieites. Herbs were a big hit this season. It is the first time I have ever sold out of all my culinary thymes and sages. I guess people have discovered our wonderful selection. We'll have to grow more in 2011.

Major transformations have occured here at the farm through May. We have gone from bare, covercropped fields to beautifully planted rows of lettuce, spinach, beets, tomatoes, peppers, melons, squashes, peas, beans and more!!! Steve and the crew have been very busy. With the nice weather they have been in the fields every day. Thankfully today we received a nice steady rainfall. Steve has also finished planting our quarter aacre cutflower bed. In a few weeks I will be cutting zinnias, snaps, ageratum and the like for fresh bouquets at the store. We have also been picking asaparagus the entire month, we will finish up this week. Strawberries have been deeeelicious. It was lots of work covering through the frosty nights in May but well worth it. They are as sweet as sugar. So much to come in yet. Once it starts it seems to snowball. We look forward to every new crop to be harvested.

Will try to keep up more frequently. Hope to see you all in the market sometime soon.

Posted 5/2/2010 6:40pm by Gayle Ganser.

It's hard to believe its already Mother's Day week. When we start to plant in the greenhouses in February everything is geared for Mother's Day. Hanging baskets are going to be beautiful. I will be bringing them to the store this week. We have fuschias, petunias, calibrochoas, begonias, impatiens and so many more. We have great gifts for mom. Herb baskets and gift certificates. Let's pray the weather holds out.

The farm is coming along. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the greenhouses that we tend to forget about the farm. Right now we are picking wonderful asparagus everyday and rhubarb several times a week. THis past week we spent to nights covering the new strawberries which are in full bloom since we had frost warnings, Tuesday and Wendesday. No damage and they look beautiful, as long as the deer don't discover them. The PA sweet onions are looking good as well as the spinach and lettuces.

Steve just plowed for my cut flower bed. Our cut flower selection during the summer is unsurpassed. Its a must to stop in and take a bouquet home for yourself or your sweetheart!!! We usually start cutting sometime in June and then continue till frost.

Happy Mother's Day to all our mothers. Hope to see all of you soon at the store.

Posted 4/26/2010 11:40am by Gayle Ganser.

We are now in our third week of the 2010 season at the market. It has been up and down with the weather. Some days are beautiful and busy others are dreary and slow. We are hoping for the weather to break and stay nice so we can bring in more annuals and tender herbs and vegetable plants. The tables are filling very quickly with perennials, herbs, hardy annuals and cole crops. Early tomatoe varieties are in, plus geraniums and some tender annuals. This week we will really start to fill up in anticipation of Mothers' Day, May 9th. Look forward to seeing some great new things in all categories. Everything is looking beautiful!!  Our asparagus is coming in much stronger and soon we will have some local lettuce, spinach and scallions. You have to check out our new pottery. This years theme...COLOR. They are greeat, bright oranges, pinks, greens, blues and yellows. Lots of fun for the garden. Hope to see lots more of all of you soon.

Posted 4/19/2010 6:52am by Gayle Ganser.

Opening week at our market was lots of fun. Multiple reunions with customers always a joy to see everyone. Overwintered perennial sale a big hit. We will continue to keep these plants on sale but we are going to start bringing in new stock. So for all of you interested in lavenders, thymes and the like, I will have more in by this weekend.

We are just waiting for the weather to break for good to start filling the whole sales yard. Many people have called about tomatoe plants. We grow around 45 to 50 varieties, including many heirlooms. I will try to post these on the site so you can research them before you buy. Presently we have lettuces, broccoli, caulifower, red and green cabbage, kale and parsley.

We've cut a bit of asparagus. Congrats to the few customers who had the joy of getting it. In time we will be picking plenty and offering it at the store. Again, spring is a time for patience.

Also received the new pottery order on Friday and got most of it out on the shelves. Some great new items. New thing for gardens this year, Hot colors. Wait till you see them. Bright oranges, yellows and greens. Really cool.Great ideas for admin assistant gifts and Mothers' Day.

Hope to see more of you at the store as the weeks progress.  We have beautiful things just waiting to come in. And lots of goodies already there.

Posted 4/10/2010 5:42pm by Gayle Ganser.

What an interesting day. We hosted a  county extension new farmer workshop at the farm today. Eighteeen new or want to be farmers convened at the farm to learn about greenhouse management and seed starting and transplanting. Everyone was great and  I believe we all learned something from the hands on workshop. Tianna Dupont from extension ran the class which started at the Lehigh County Ag office in the morning and then finished at our farm. When everyone arrived they first enjoyed their packed lunches in our backyard amid all the cats, curious dog and my cute Donkey Noah. Then it was on to the workshop. Steve first started with grenhouse management. The hows and whys of or greenhouse structures. Tianna then did a session on making your own soil mixes which was very interesting, since we buy our mix. She also showed them how to make soil blocks for starting your seed in. These were very interesting and something I was not familiar with. Next we split the group and  Steve covered seeding techniques with Tianna while I went over transplanting. Everyone had a hand in it and I think we all had fun while learniing some new things.Although we are a bit tired, it was a great day. We love being able to help other people who have an interest in agriculture. We hope all who attended enjoyed the experience as much as us. Thanks Tianna for asking us!!

Posted 4/8/2010 5:20pm by Gayle Ganser.

Spring Oh Glorious Spring, happy you are here. Although the temperature seems more like summer, the signs of spring are all around us; red winged blackbirds, robins, spring peepers, toads in the pond. Of course other signs of the season can't be missed either, plowing the fields, transplanting tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse and re-opening for the season at the market. I always wonder if it is truly worth closing at Christmas only to re-open in April. The amount of work to clean, restock, schedule and organize seems overwhelming at times.Although,  I guess I would miss cozy winter days by the coal stove. The past two weeks have been crazy busy.  The greenhouses are now virtually overfilled. We keep moving plants to and fro to make more room and also to harden them off(kind of hard when it is 70 degrees at night). Still planting more potted annuals for those beautiful summer containers we are all yearning to put together. Also transplanting perennial seedlings, and  boy have they grown with this heat. Have some great interesting varieties this year again. Some of the old and lots of the new. Vegetable plants are going to be great. Lots of new tomatoe  varieties, including some neat heirlooms. And of course our usual great selection of peppers, squashes, melons, eggplants and more. We will have lettuces and cabbages for opening week. More will follow as we near the frost free date. 

Please stop in next week. We open Tuesday the 13th. Again we start with our overwintered perennial sale. All of last years varieties offered at last years prices. Great affordable way to build your perennial selection. Also pansies, primrose, mountain pinks, and much more. We will be serving up goodies on Saturday and Sunday(17&18) to welcome everyone back. Look forward to seeing familiar and new faces!                       

Posted 3/22/2010 11:56am by Gayle Ganser.

Early spring is a busy time at Eagle Point. We have recently opened up all four greenhouses. That also means heating all four greenhouses. Luckily this past week has been warm and sunny and heating has been minimal. However, we are now entering a cooling trend and the heaters will be running again. Such is March. Seeds, plugs, cuttings and bare root stock started arriving early February. We delayed starting till the first of March to conserve on heat. Now we are full swing. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the houses fill up. You start with one tray and before you know it there isn't any room to even walk. This past weekend we finished planting up bare root stock. These are the larger items such as, bleeding hearts, sidalcea, verbascum and the like. We also planted two varieties of Tree Peonies, red and a red/white bi-color. Should be beautiful. This year we are also trying Banana plants for bold accents. They are very small now, hopefully in a couple of months they will be big and beautiful to put in your containers. Steve is also finishing transplanting of the marigolds. Always a big seller, marigolds give you your money's worth in the garden. Tomatoes and peppers are on their way. Little transplants will soon be ready for the garden. Fieldwork has started too. Yesterday Steve tilled for the onions. They should be arriving anyday to be planted. Everyone will be surprised to see a new color pallette at the market. Steve and Mark worked extra hard to paint the interior walls to match our color scheme of yellow, barn red and light green. It looks great. Bright, sunny and fresh!! Too much to be done at this time of year: the market, farm and greenhouses all biding for our limited time. This is what makes life fun and interesting. I am very grateful I have the stamina to get it all done. Although Steve and I do fall asleep very early these days!!! Its either lots of hard work or old age!! Its now back to the greenhouse, the soil and planting.

Posted 2/22/2010 12:54pm by Gayle Ganser.
Small farms today are direct marketers and as such are in the business of relationship marketing with each customer that buys products from the farm. The customer is not at the CSA pickup, farmer's market,  or on-farm market because it is easiest or cheapest food source -- they are there because they respect the farmer, want to support the local economy, and feel that their dollars are spent on a worthwhile endeavor. Every chance you get as a farm to interact with your customers should reinforce the connection to the land and make the customer feel like they are doing a good thing by patronizing your business. This is a very difficult task for a busy farmer. I challenge you to take your relationship marketing into the 21st century and start a blog on your farm website.

I'm sure some of you are unclear on the meaning of the term "blog". It is a rather fluid term that is a shortened version of "weblog." In my mind, it signifies a webpage that displays content of varying lengths in chronological order and invites readers to interact in the form of comments. Often, blog postings are categorized or tagged by topic so that users can navigate through related blog entries by the tags, such as "farming challenges" or "farmer's market." Blogs take many different forms from personal, public diaries to political commentary to blogs that are published by businesses themselves. This is the most popular form of content generation and information retrieval on the Internet today and the very website you are looking at right now, Small Farm Central, is a blog-style site. If you have heard of the term "Web 2.0", blogs are big part of the Web 2.0 movement.

Your farm should blog because it is an easy and time-effective way for you to get your story out to customers. Repeat customers come to you because of the relationship that they have with you and a blog is a perfect way for you to start and augment the real-world interaction that you have with the customer. Granted it does take some time, energy, and thought to produce effective blog posts that communicate the farm experience, but that post will easily be read 100s or 1000s of times over the life of your blog. That works out to be an extremely time-efficient way to build a consistent and faithful customer base. Customers that read your blog will be more understanding of blemishes or crop shortages because you can explain the exact cause of the problems. This becomes a story that they can take home with their produce and they will feel more connected to the farm and the food if they know some of the challenges that went into growing it.

The complaint I hear the most is that farmers don't have time to be writers as well as producers. Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo dedicates one afternoon every two weeks to writing six blog articles. He then releases one each Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. There are other techniques of course too: get a trusted intern to write an article each week, find a very enthusiastic and involved customer who will volunteer to write a blog article every once and a while, or just commit to posting a short update once each week. There is no right way to write or schedule your blog, but post on a regular schedule and write with passion because passion is infectious.

At this point, if you are considering a farm blog, start reading a few established farm blogs and get some general advice on how to write blogs. I have discussed some aspects of blogging at Small Farm Central in Farm blogging isn't always literature, but this is and What I learned during an interview with Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo. Blogging will be a topic that I come back to over the next few months because I believe it is the core of any modern farm web marketing strategy.

Some farm blogs to get you started:
  • Eat Well Farm Blog : recently discussing problems with the Med Fly and how they are certifying their packing shed as Med Fly-free.
  • Life of Farm Blog : this blog is sponsored by the Mahindra tractor company. Perhaps the writer got a free tractor for writing the blog?
  • Tiny Farm Blog : wonderful photos and at least a post a day.
  • Rancho Gordo Blog : this popular blog receives 300-500 unique visitors a day (which is impressive for a farm website) and even helped the author secure a book deal.

Read about the process of writing a blog and more:

Spend the next few weeks reading farm blogs and exploring some of the resources listed above. Then when you think you know enough about blogging to start, you will probably want to go back to Hosting Options to get your blog online. Not coincidentally, the Small Farm Central software contains all the features you need to get your blog (and farm website) up and running within a few days. I know that not very many farms are taking blogging seriously as a marketing tool, but I have a strong feeling that every serious farm will have a blog in five years.
Posted 2/22/2010 12:54pm by Gayle Ganser.
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