Friday, February 27, 2015

Celebrate National CSA Day and Hear Our Story



We are thinking Spring! Seeds are received and organized. Seed racks are up. Soil is being mixed. Crop plans and field plans and greenhouse plans are being finalized. Ready for Spring 2015.
2014 celery starts

National CSA Sign-Up Day
Tomorrow, February 28, is National CSA Sign-Up Day. We can't think of a better way to celebrate than, well, to consider joining a CSA!

Click HERE for a 2015 membership agreement

The thought of all the fresh delicious produce, aromatic herbs and brightly colored flowers of the 2015 CSA season is a great way to get through this last part of winter. If you are already a CSA member, you might even have some of the previous season's produce stocked away in the cupboard or freezer for a little treat of warm summer flavors.

Our farm share program, called Wildwood CSA, is open for a second season and We Are Growing! You can join our farm family and get in on the fun farm experience by downloading an agreement form on the CSA page. Just complete and mail it in along with the payment. Then, look forward to 20 weeks of fresh produce!

Click HERE for a 2015 membership agreement or visit our Wildwood CSA Page for more information.

Hear Us Speak Around Town
We do get off the farm sometimes! We have been enjoying talking at different community events this winter. About 50 people came out to the Kenan Art Counil last month hear about McCollum Orchards. It was so fun to talk with people who remember the farm in its heyday. We also presented our research on the Cornell Ag Extension Ethnic Vegetable Trials at the Empire State Producers Expo in January.

Don't worry -  you didn't miss us. We have been invited to speak at three upcoming events. Please come hear the story of our historic family farm and our efforts to revive it. We will share interesting facts from the family farm's history in Lockport, some highlights of our efforts to reclaim the old farmland and stately mansion, and share information about the Community Supported Agriculture farm share program for the 2015 season.

Thursday, March 5
Lockport College Women's Club
7:00pm

Wednesday March 25
Niagara Genealogical Society
7:00pm

Rotary Club
March Tuesday 12noon TBD

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Welcome 2015 CSA Members!

Hello! We are currently taking new members for the 2015 CSA farm share AND introducing a new farm name: Wildwood CSA. Our new farm name reflects the transformation the farm, and us farmers (The Woodbridges) have gone through the past few years.  Join us for delicious ultra-fresh farm produce and a fun farm experience each week.

Fresh Carrots

With a CSA membership, you will enjoy over 50 different types of produce throughout the season from the favorites like broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, to more unique crops like romanesco, turnips and chinese kale. Shares are done market-style where members choose what they want from the options harvested that week. You will also gain unlimited access to a large, acre-plus pick-your-own garden full of bouquet flowers, culinary herbs and other fruits and vegetables like snap peas, green beans, cherry tomatoes and hot peppers.

Our 2014 CSA was a wonderful success. Members enjoyed the diversity of the shares and the bounty. They loved the pick-your-own garden and visiting the farm throughout the seasons. We farmers loved the CSA, too. We enjoyed knowing our hard work in the fields was going to soon be delicious and healthy meals. We enjoyed swapping recipes and getting to know our farm community.

We look forward to the 2015 season already! This year, we will have more diversity in the shares and more flowers in the pick-your-own section. There are some new peas and beans I want to try, too. We also will add an Extra Greens Share for $75 for those who want an extra bunch of greens for juicing or lettuce for salads each week. Full shares are $525 and serve 2-4 people. We will start offering half shares this year for $295 serve 1-2 people. The season will run 20 weeks from mid-June to end-October.

To sign up, please complete and return the Membership Agreement and payment. Find the agreement to download on the CSA page or email us for one at mccollumorchards@gmail.com. Read more about on the CSA page and see lots of photos on Facebook.com/mccollumorchards .

Thank you and we look forward to a bountiful 2015!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Babies, Bridges and Broccoli



You know that saying, ‘If you want to make the gods laugh, tell them your plans’? They were talking about farming. Back in April, we were excited to get out into the new fields. In anticipation of the new CSA, a new farm stand at Delphi and a bigger Lockport Community Market, we tripled our plantings. We seeded more plants for just the spring crops – broccoli, chard, kale, cabbage, beets and carrots, to name a few – than our entire harvest in 2013. Even the cooler than average spring temperatures could not dampen our excitement. 
So many plants!
We just needed to fix what we thought was a minor issue of blocked old agricultural drain to help the fields dry quicker. The company guessed it was probably clay tiling used in the early 1900s. No problem: a quick replacement of new agricultural tiling (big plastic pipe with holes in it to catch the ground water laid under the field) would take no more than a day to install. Drier fields are worth the investment.
Well, this old farm had other plans in store. We discovered the hard way that the old farm property has an extensive network of French drains, which are long ditches filled with rock and capped with large flat rocks and covered with soil. They were probably first constructed in the 1830s when the farm was established. All by horse and human labor. Over the decades the drains collapsed or silted in and trapped water pooled up on the field surface. Between cold April rain showers we made several failed attempts to lay new ag tile. After conferring with several water specialists, we realized that cleaning out the French drains was the only recourse.  It took several weeks…and was costlier than expected. The drainage was finally cleaned out by May and the fields showed immediate improvement. But, we had lost a lot of time for planting.
Fixing French Drains

Also in April, we were dealt with illness. Chicken pox went through out household. The worst was that our three-month-old got it. We learned what all parents have before us: your world stops for a sick kid. We took turns and nursing her day and night through a six-day fever. Wonderful friends and family jumped to our rescue with everything from support and food drop-offs to watching her while we caught a nap to just cleaning the kitchen. We could not have gotten though it without them! Now, baby girl is fully recovered with just a few pock marks left over.
By the end of April, we were in a pickle. The carefully crafted field plan was out the window. The new fields that had been prepped for spring crops were covered with rock and subsoil from the ditch. Oh, and there was a ditch where field had once been. What were we going to do with all those seedlings perched all over our kitchen, office and dining room? 

First, we quickly prepped the old fields for the spring seedlings. Finally, spring broccoli, kale, beets and lettuces had a home outside. Then, we built a sturdy bridge over those troubled waters in the ditch so we could even get equipment out to the new fields. The farmers picked up more than 30 loads of rocks to get the new fields workable again. (That is all labor by hand and back, folks!) The spring field became the summer field and the summer field will be used for fall plantings in June.
Crossing the Bridge Over Troubled Waters
In spite of stressful setbacks, the farm has managed some big progress. The farmers built a new-to-us hoop house. In cold springs like this when the soil temperature is much colder than average, which delays field planting, having a hoop house gives us an advantage. The plastic covering warms the ground temperature faster than the field soil. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant were already growing in there about a month before the field crops are planted. A small section of the hoop house is designated as a greenhouse to acclimatize seedlings before they go out into the field. We also purchased two tractors, another necessary farm investment. One is a large Kubota for heavy farm work and the other is a 1951 Farmall Super A to cultivate the vegetables. Manufacture of cultivating tractors ended in the ‘60s as agriculture moved to bigger industrial machines but the old tractors are perfect for small vegetable operations like ours.
Healthy Baby and Dad's New Tractor
With some creativity and a lot of help, the farm is now mostly back on track. This spring reinforced our motto of being prepared for anything on the old farm. We cannot always anticipate what will happen, but we are learning to act quickly to solve the problems that pop up.  Honestly, what got us through the tough parts is knowing our CSA members are looking forward to the first share pick-up and continuing to get ready for the start of the Lockport Community Market and the new Delphi farm stand. We are working seriously long hours and are finally catching up to where we should be. After all that the farm has been through this spring, we really looking forward to offering that first crisp head of spring broccoli!
Garlic growing strong!



Friday, October 18, 2013

Hops, Hops, Hops: We have your hops and cider apples

All the 2013 McCollum Orchards hops are dried and vacuum-packaged. They are available in 2 oz packages, so they're a perfect quantity for homebrewing. There are a few one-pound packages, too, for those high volume home brewers out there. Alpha Acid analysis results for every variety are listed on the Hops Page.

Online Ordering

Customers asked and we made it so you can now order McCollum Orchards hops online and we will ship them to you wherever you are in the country via USPS Priority mailing. The link is: https://squareup.com/market/mccollum-orchards-llc That's pretty awesome!


Farm Stand: One More Week

You can pick up hops at the farm stand if you are in the neighborhood or fancy yourself a drive to the "country."* There is one more week of farm stand:

Saturday, October 19 10am-2pm
Thursday, October 24 3:30pm-sunset
Saturday, October 26 10am-2pm

While you are here, you can stock up on fall fruit, vegetables, flowers, pumpkins and hops. Pie pumpkins and butternut squash add great seasonal flavors to brews. Or be adventurous - lemongrass?

Best Cider Apples Around

And, you can try your hand at cider with our heirloom apple varieties Northern Spy and Rome. Available in bushels, half bushels and quarter bushels. Our apples have not been sprayed with chemicals for over two decades.

*Really we are much closer because the farm is located in the Lockport city limits.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Where we'll be: Two more Saturday Community Markets, Beer Week hops, and our farm stand

With the Autumnal Equinox right around the corner, the end of summer is upon us. We will not dwell on how the summer sped by or how short the tomato season lasted. Instead, we will rejoice in a bountiful hop harvest, bushels of no-spray pears, and loads of bright orange pumpkins and squash!

There are only two more Saturdays in the Extended Lockport Community Market. Come on down to Canal Street between Lake Effect Ice Cream and Sweet Ride on Saturday 10am-2pm for fresh, local produce, baked treats, fresh eggs, honey, maple syrup, canned goods, and handmade arts & crafts. This week, a local Boy Scout Troop will be offering popcorn, too!

September Schedule

Thursday, Sept 19 Farmstand CLOSED
Saturday, Sept 21 Lockport Community Market OPEN 10am-2pm
Thursday, Sept 26 Farmstand 4pm-7pm OPEN
Saturday, Sept 28 Lockport Community Market OPEN 10am-2pm

Local Hops Get Brewed
Friday, Sept 20 is the beginning of Buffalo Beer Week 2013. You can taste McCollum Orchards hops in a local brew by Community Beer Works called Wet Frank Pale Ale, along with plenty of other local brews, at the Brewed in Buffalo Release Party at the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle in Buffalo, Friday, Sept 20, 7-10pm.

Locally grown hops are really making a splash! We were thrilled to see our friend and fellow Niagara County hop grower, Bob Johnson, featured in an article about Buffalo's growing craft beer scene in the Lifestyle section of the Sunday Buffalo News. Way to go Buffalo area hop growers! Our visit from Harpoon Brewery, New England's largest brewery, made the front page of the Sunday Lockport Union Sun & Journal, too. (Sorry, no photo of that, though.)

October Schedule
In October, we will switch to two days a week farmstands down at the farm, Thursdays 4-7pm and Saturdays 10am-1pm for as long as we can into the month. We will have lots of fall favorites like organic butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, carnival squash, pumpkins, leafy greens, beets, peppers, carrots, garlic, hops and no-spray Northern Spy apples. Oooo, it really is the taste and smell of fall.

Stay tuned as we start to offer hop wreaths and hop bine decorations and pre-orders on holiday hop wreaths in early October!

 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2nd Annual Hop Harvest Event!

Long time no post! Yes, it is true we have let regular posting slide a bit. Writing coherent sentences after long days fixing, building, weeding, planting, picking, washing or doing tractor work out in the field seems like an insurmountable feat. That's not to say we have not missed keeping you updated on all the fantastic progress going on around the farm!

Almost Ready to Harvest!

First, let's get to the main reason for this post. We are hosting a 2nd Annual Hop Harvest Party, along with the fine folks at Community Beer Works. This year, it will be a private event, which means you must RSVP either by email to mccollumorchards@gmail.com or on the Facebook Events page. We will have a guest list at the welcome table as you arrive.

Tell Me More
Party-goers will experience the whole process from harvest to picking to sorting to loading the oast. It is a lot of fun and smells, well, like fresh hops! And, you will be a huge help as we pick all our hops at the perfect peak of maturity. We will show you how to harvest and provide gloves. There will be samples, a homebrew demo, light food, non-alcoholic drinks and music.
We'll be harvesting rain or shine. If you want to purchase fresh hops to take home, bring a cooler to keep them fresh.

Hops Pricing
Pick-Your-Own is $1 per once for wet hops. We will have a limited supply of 2-ounce packages of dried hops for $5.00 per package. 

No Party Fouls
1) Parking is located at the front of the property. City regs prohibit parking along the street, so you have to park on our property. If the lot is full, we'll direct you to a space place to park. Carpooling is much appreciated! 

2) This is a working farm. There are electric fences, cats, dogs, chickens, tractors and implements around. Kids are welcome but must be supervised at all times. Dogs on leashes are welcome. Yep, there's a bathroom and we'll even clean it beforehand! You are welcome to walk around the house, but inside is private. You can walk around the garden outside the fence. If we have extra produce after market, we might set up the farm stand, too!

Farm Fresh Community
We. Love. Lockport. Selling fresh produce at the Lockport Community Market this summer is just another reason we like it here. The market is wonderful, there are usually 20 vendors selling produce, eggs, plants and crafts and jewelry. It has been so fun and going so well, that all us vendors got together and asked if we could extend the market through the end of September. Bree volunteered to help coordinate it. Well, the city foot the bill for the liability coverage, the Lockport Main Street Corp did the extra advertising and made it happen! Now, we will all be able to offer our fresh, local goods for five more Saturdays. 
Lockport Community Market, Saturdays 10-2pm til Sept 28

 September is a great time for produce - when summer vegetables are still going strong and fall crops are coming in. We'll be at the market on Canal Street near the locks every Saturday from August 31 to September 28, 10am to 2pm. How awesome is that?!

We recently were featured in this great article about finding a great farm stand. Sorry, we haven't had enough produce to open the farm stand for a few weeks. Perhaps our plan to sell four days a week was ambitious or our yields were lower than anticipated. (It was definitely compounded by the seeds and starts being washed out FOUR times in June and July.) Either way, we wanted to open, but knew we needed more quantity. We are hopeful that we can open the stand again this week as tomatoes and lettuce again become plentiful. Can’t wait for next year when we can grow more produce.

At the market we meet new folks who are seeking organic produce. It has been amazing to see the transformation from just three years ago. We were often told this region didn’t want organic; there was no market for it. Now, we meet people who have long been searching and are happy to find local, organically grown produce!

Planning the Land
We see the growing demand for more local, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Our top priority this year is to build the infrastructure and prepare the land for planting more next year. Plans of planting cover crops this summer were definitely waylaid by three bouts of major flooding in June and July. Instead, we did continual discing of the cleared land to solarize the deep weed bank. The method is starting to work and has done a commendable job on knocking out the dreaded hogweed.
Wheat bales between a beautiful land and sky
 After watching 2-feet deep floods wash across the fields, we realized we needed a solid drainage plan and contingency plans for washed out crops. In the past two months, the County Department of Soil and Water Conservation helped us survey the fields for better drainage. Our friend Mike helped replace the broken drain pipe under the field road. We applied for a grant from the Department of Environmental Conservation for organic seed, cover crop seed, and improving drainage. Best yet, we were awarded a federal grant through Cornell Extension to cost-share the construction of a cold storage room for better storing our fresh fruits, vegetables and hop rhizomes! Next year, we should be ready to get the hoop house up and plant a couple more acres of vegetables and keep several acres in cover crop to continue to improve the soil health.

And One More Update
Super happy farm family!
We are growing more than plants on the farm this season. We are happy, no excited, no thrilled to announce that we are expecting our first child due in January 2014. They say it is a girl. It has been a good pregnancy so far, she seems to want fresh fruits and veggies more than junk food. It is a good little farm baby, due in the slow wintertime when we can just snuggle up together (and look at seed catalogs). We can’t wait to meet her and we are pretty proud of her being the seventh generation that gets to love this old farm.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Farmstand Closed July 4, Open at Canal St. Market July 6!

The farmstand will be closed on Thursday July 4. We will celebrate our nation's independence AND Bree's mom's 70th birthday. We figured we should give her the day off, right? On Saturday, July 6, we will be open at the Lockport Community Market from 10am - 3pm. Enjoy a safe, fun holiday and see you on Saturday!