farmers market

family, farm news, farmers market, holidays, new year, travels

2011: Year of Inspiration, Motivation, and, most importantly, FUN!

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Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011! 

Well, howdy do! We’re caught up in the spirit of the new year around these parts. Saturday we’ll begin having more than 10 hours of daylight (10 hours and one minute, to be exact) and that means things will begin growing again. Most of our produce has been slumbering beautifully and cozily under our low tunnels and row covers. 
Yesterday we were rewarded for all of our care and attention and love for our hens and roosters with our first little brown egg. Th e chickadees are 5 months old and it’s about the right time for them to slowly begin laying eggs, although the lack of daylight also slows down their production. We got our second little brown egg this morning. Ben and I are planning on making a little ornament out of our very first egg by hollowing it out with two holes on each end. We’re so proud of them, you’d think we layed them ourselves!! 


Since all of the plants in the ground are currently hibernating, we’ve been spending most of our working time planning. Ben is planning Spring and Summer crops so we can order seeds. We went through the seed catalogs over the holidays and we’re pretty pumped about all the awesome veggies we’re growing. We’re going to have a few trial-run half rows this time around too. Ben has also been looking around and talking to folks for and about tractors. At the moment, we have the walk behind. We’d like to expand our production a bit more this year and we’d also like to have the efficiency the tractor affords. We’re hoping to get implements that are potentially capable for use for horse or mule farming someday in the future – maybe when we “retire” :). By the way, if you’re interested in that type of thing, definitely check out the Small Farmer’s Journal. It’s hard to make a decision one way or the other, because the system you choose is often difficult to get out of…In addition to the farm planning, I’ve been doing some academic planning as well. This semester I’m studying for the preliminary exam for my main area, globalization and social change. At the end of the semester, I’m taking a 24 hour written exam, answering three comprehensive questions in 10-12 pages each. That means I’ll be prepping for that feat for the next 16 weeks. Today, with a friend and colleague, we wrote up a plan of action and a study schedule. It feels pretty awesome to know what we’re doing in the next few weeks – all around. In addition to all of this planning, Ben and I have also decided to designate Sundays aa FUNdays, and we’re vowing to keep working throughout the rest of the days of the week so that we can reward ourselves with a full day of leisure one day of the week. As farmers and students (and also as a distance education instructor), it’s particularly difficult to separate work and home and to ensure work isn’t being done all of the time. We need our FUN time! We’ve also taken to taking walks on the acreage (350 acres). There are plenty of woods, a creek, and a beaver pond. It’s vast and gorgeous out here – even in the dead of winter. This Monday, Ben, Charlie (the dog), and I went for a stroll and pine cone collection walk. I brewed us some tea and put it in our nifty new large size and portable tea/coffee mugs, we bundled up, and we went to gather. On our walk, it began to snow. It was quite nice indeed. The snow did get a bit harsh at the end and we were a ways from home, so we decided eventually to cut through the woods and make our way through the bramble. It was quite the adventure! 

We also went on a Boxing Day Blizzard adventure when we went to visit Ben’s family for the holidays. We spent time all around the state and I even got to go ice skating on a frozen pond! Apparently that’s old news for New Englanders, but for a girl who has spent most of her time in the South, that was quite the scary and exciting fun day…actually night.It was a combo skate party, ice skating, Christmas Eve eve celebration. 

Here’s Ben with his parents at the dairy farm in Middleboro.

And here are a couple of Ben and I in the snow on the farm. 

The farm house. 

Charlie having fun with all the snow. 

Ben’s mom with her grandson (and Ben’s nephew). Isn’t he adorable?!

When we came back from Massachusetts, Ben and I were happy to attend market. We hadn’t been to market for almost three weeks!!! Here are some pictures from last weekend’s market and some from the farm. 
 Everything is grown with love!

Here’s a close of the said “magical” mesclun mix:
baby arugula, mizuna, baby tat soi, flat leaf parsley and curly parsley – YUM!

The winter spread 🙂

With Ben.

With me.

Assorted lettuces up close and personal.

Purple top turnips, real baby carrots and Hakurei turnips.

Kohlrabi and watermelon radishes.

We sold out by 10:30! 
We would love to bring more, but since things are slowly moving along here, given the hibernation of winter, it’s going to be a little while before we’ll have two tables full again – but it’ll be here before we know it!

Well, this is the sunset. 
Thanks for stopping by. 
Good bye for now and good night.

Happy New Year to you!
From: Patricia Parker and Ben Shields

Cary Magazine, farmers market

Extra, Extra!

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Hi y’all! We had a good day at market today. We almost sold out of everything by 9:30! And that was the case for quit a few of the vendors today. I guess the gorgeous weather brought out more folks than usual. We also found out today that we were pictured in Cary Magazine (click here to read the article). We’ll have to buy a couple copies (for ourselves and for our folks, of course). We weren’t interviewed for the article, but that doesn’t really matter much. We’re just glad they featured the Western Wake Farmer’s Market (and we’re also glad they put our faces in there too!). Well, I’m keeping it short today. I’m still working on a writing marathon. It feels like I’m never going to be finished with these papers, but that’s the way it goes. Soon they’ll be handed in, I’ll have the class I teach grades in, and we’ll be heading out to the farm – to live. And I can finally contribute more of my time to working in the dirt :). Have a good rest of the weekend and for the mamas out there, have a Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow!

Patricia & Ben

farmers market, ramblings, strawberries, wind

Pictures from May 1st Market

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I realized that I’d forgotten to post the latest pictures from market. Y’all may or may not want to see them (if not, move on down for more useful recipes) :).

Ben holding the tent down. It was a little windy last Saturday. We hope to have weights by next Saturday.

So, we tried the “sustainable farming” board (recall, it’s illegal to use the term “organic” if you are not certified organic – that includes saying that we’re “non-certified organic”). It’s completely understandable that farmers who are certified don’t want others to use the term. They pay good money and have to deal with quite a bit of bureaucracy to gain their certification. However, it does seem fairly unreasonable not to use the term “non-certified organic”. Regardless, we are still working through this. It seems that this sign actually generated more questions that the one from market the prior Saturday. I think we’ll keep trying – but may stick to the one from last time. Please let us know if you have any ideas or recommendations for dealing with this. 🙂

I have no idea what I’m doing here or why I’m looking away. Either Ben snapped a few pictures while I wasn’t paying attention (because there are numerous pictures like these), I rarely look straight forward, or I was being silly striking sideways poses. This was the first time I wore my hair down at market. I don’t think I’ll be doing this again any time soon. It wasn’t too hot for it, but I don’t think hair and edibles really mix ;). I’m fairly certain none went into the produce, but I certainly don’t want to risk it! (I can see Ben grimmacing about that last statement now, “Patricia, don’t tell people there might be hair in their produce. Just let it be.” Whatever 🙂 farmers’ markets are all about transparency, right? 😉

We realize other vendors sell their strawberries for $1 less per quart than we do. However, we have been making a real effort to let folks sample the berries and determine for themselves whether they think the berries are worth the extra $1. I don’t think we’ve won everyone over – which is certainly not the goal. Part of our philosophy regards an emphasis in cooperation among farmers (as opposed to competition) – so, if folks prefer the other berries, well, that’s good for small farmers overall. 🙂 BUT, we still say, give ours a try. I am convinced we have the best berries in town. I’ve never eaten any as sweet as these (and I grew up picking strawberries in the summers)…I’ll leave it at that ;).

Okay. This will be the LAST blog for a bit. I’m overdoing it. And if you’re wondering why, it’s because I have writer’s block (for school) and I need to get SOMETHING on “paper”. Thanks for bearing with me (and acting as my muse – my papers are about farming).

Good night!

CSA, farmers market, pictures, strawberries

Time Flies

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Hi ya’ll. It feels like the weeks are flying by! Before we know it, it will be SUMMER. Ah, summer. And then there will be so many different beautiful tomatoes, amazing summer squash (the flying saucer squash is my favorite, but I’m a sucker for all squash), eggplant, hot and sweet peppers, okra, green beans, sweet smelling herbs, rainbows of flowers…cue “Summer Breeze” :).

But in the meantime, I have great news. The waiting is almost over. Strawberries are on their way! I’ve been looking forward to eating strawberries since the end of strawberry season last year. There’s nothing quite like farm fresh strawberries. Strawberries so sweet, they taste like they’ve already been dipped in sugar (which, I confess I did as a kid eating strawberries from the grocery store). I don’t know if anyone else is as excited as I am, but I can’t wait to eat strawberries, especially in a yummy mixed greens salad. Mmmmm hmmm.

In other news, this weekend marked our third week at market. It was a gorgeous day to be out. I feel so lucky that going to market is completely unlike “going to work”. It’s easy to get up in the morning to go spend a few hours surrounded by awesome people, great music, beautiful colors, and good food.

Well, as usual, I have a few pictures to share.  I hope you’re enjoying this gorgeous weather as much as we are. Have a fantastic weekend and week. Thanks for stopping by!


Hey Y’all, So I’ve been busy with the farm and market, working every day! We will be starting CSA pickups in a week on Tuesday, April 27th. Saturday pickup at market will start on Saturday, May 1st. March was colder than usual, which slowed growth on everything. Come April, daily temperatures shot up into the 70’s and 80’s, which has helped. April has been dry though, counteracting the higher temperatures. CSA share sizes will be on the smaller side for the first 2 or 3 weeks as we wait for crops to mature. Don’t be alarmed, we will offset the smaller shares later when other crops come in.

Expect strawberries, lettuce, spinach, tatsoi and other delectable produce the first weeks of CSA, with sugar snap peas, scallions, bok choi, broccoli, carrot and cabbage in addition later in May. We will have recipes for you if you need some inspiration. We can’t wait to get the CSA started!

We have mowed our cover crop of rye, vetch and clover to feed the soil and the microorganisms in the soil. Way down the page below the pics Patricia posted are a couple pics of the crop and Farmer Tom mowing it down. Soil health is the foundation for healthy vegetables, which is part of the foundation of healthy eating and being!  Your health begins in the earth!

Check the online store for availability, which is fairly slim this week. We will have Tuesday online order pickup at our house and 1911 NCSU delivery on Wednesday. Remember to have your orders placed by Monday evening.

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store-

Current vegetable availability includes:
Mesclun Lettuce

Eat Well and Be Well,

Ben weeding strawberries…

Lettuce in the field…

Ben weeding strawberries…

Heirloom Deer Tongue lettuce…
Charlie Parker, happy to be at the farm…


Ben and our friend Tarah at the second week of market, being silly…                                                                      

Beets in the field…

Ben in the light…

Our market stand…

Close up of our cover crop of rye, vetch and clover…

Larger view of the cover crop…

Farmer Tom mowing the cover crop…
farmers market, friends, fun

First Day at Market

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Hello all,

We had a phenomenal first day at Western Wake Farmers Market. We couldn’t have asked for better weather or a better crowd of farm supporters. We sold out of nearly everything! We met some new friends, all wonderful people. Some old friends come out to see market to say hello or lend a hand (special thanks to Tarah, Emily, April and Tom and Theresa of Double-T Farm). Overall, it was a beautiful and wonderful day. We are elated to be there and thankful for it all.

The availability of vegetables is in a lull for a few weeks while we wait for our main spring crops to mature. Stay tuned for upcoming crops.

We have scaled back Tuesday online produce order pick up time at our house for the next few weeks. The Tuesday  pickup time is now from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. We will also change the Tuesday online produce order pick up location to our CSA pick up in 5-Points later in April when our CSA starts. That is across from High Point Village off Whitaker Mill Rd. The address is 1911 Bernard St, Raleigh NC. 27608.

This coming Tuesday, April  6th, we plan to have produce pickup at our house, 604 Sasser St., between 5:30 to 7:30 pm. The next NCSU delivery will be Wednesday, April 7th. Remember to have your orders placed by Monday evening.

A few of you occasionally may have trouble placing orders. Please make sure you receive an automated confirmation email a few minutes after you place your order. If you do not receive this email your order was not placed and we will not receive it. Please try again or email us your order to or call Ben @ 919-800-8898. Also, we do not accept online payments, e.g. PayPal. We only accept payment of cash or checks at pickup.

Purchase of vegetables is made through our online store-

Current vegetable availability includes:
Mesclun Lettuce

 Be Well and Eat Well,
Ben & Patricia