Ever since I have volunteered here at Howdy Farm, I have never cooked with any of the produce I have harvested. I decided I would, so I bought some: striped cherry tomatoes, Poblano pepper, Leek, Bok Choy and some Carrots from our weekly farmers market. I chose these produce, because I have never eaten any of that produce, except for the carrots. Additionally, I wanted to buy ingredietns that I could use in one main dish. On the other had, this only costed me $2 dollars, though I got a discount because I'm a intern this was still a very cheap deal.
For the main recipe, I decided to make leek soup, and use the tomatoes and poblano peppers in a queso dish I am making later this week.
I found a delicous recipe online called Creamy Veggetable Leek Soup, which I knew right away I had to make. It called for these ingredients and directions for the dish below, but I altered the recipe a little, since I did not have the exact amount of ingredients. Additionally, I did not want to make a bucket load of food.
Time: 50 min.
How did I feel about the recipe? I loved it! It had a great flavor, it was creamy and I cant wait to make something like this again. It was especially more enjoyable and fresh since ingredients from the farm was used.
I wanted to write about something different than normal. Evaluating Howdy Farm, discussing projects I wanted to work on, improvements I think the farm and the internship needs. The reason for this, is because I have so many ideas for this farm(some which are a little out of reach) and am hopeful that some of these will be implemented in the farm, after I graduate.
When I was figuring out what project I wanted to do for the farm, I jotted down ideas in hopes to do them. At first, I wanted to do an internship promotion video, documenting everything my collegues and I did throughout the internship. Helping display and encourage other students to apply for an internship. The reasons I could not commit to this task, was due to the time constraint, no camera or gopro to film with, and lack of knowledge about video production. Other project ideas I had were:
These are only my opinions, to better improve the farm, gain more money and visitors. These could also be used as projects for future interns.
There are a handful of edible plant/flowers, which I like to call jewels, hidden on the farm! The two plants that I am going to mention are: Turskcap and Purple Shammrock. These plants facinate me, because years ago people didn't have easy access to food, like we do now. They had to weed their way through figuring out what was a source of energy or not, therefore if it was poisionious they probably died.
This plant produces these beautiful red flowers, which is what I am about to eat in the picutre to the right. You can also eat their fruit they produce, which turns bright red, but also looks like and tastes like apples. The whole plant is edible, except for the stalks. It is a plant that grows year round, and is known as a survival plant. On another note, this plant grows well in the shade and sunlight, plus attracts many butterflies. We have our Turkscap planted in our Rain Garden, where it attracts many monarchs.
Is a very dainty plant that opens and closes(during the night time). It can grow in the shade and direct light. It does not like the cold, by then its triangle flowers fall off. It is completely edible, a survival plant that has a bitter/tart taste to it. This plant is my favorite plant to nibble on.
What are cover crops you might ask! Well I just found out myself, not too long ago, so let me inform you.
We wanted to grow some crops in this small patch field, and since there hasn't been anything growing in this area for a while, we decided to plant some cover crops first. We plant cover crops between every harvest to add organic matter, nutrients, manage erosion, get rid of pests, disease and weeds. Cover crops grow after we fertilize the ground with the certain crops and turn over the soil.
The seeds we used for cover crops were: hairy vetch(wild legume), crimpson clover and yellow mustard seed. The reason we used these crops, is because they are nitrogen fixing plants(video), and help feed microbes, add nutrients and make the soil moist. Additionally, they are allopathic, permitting any unwanted weeds or plants, that could rob the nutrients from the main crops growing.
I secretively like looking at the different seeds, feeling their textures and taken in their odd aromas. Though it is NOT good to breathe in some fertilizers and seeds. For example, these were coated in sulfur, and our body goes through a chemical reaction once we come in contact and inhale it, that it can effect our eyes, lungs and body.
After we evenly scattered the seeds above on the ground it was time to turn over the soil with the Tiller. This machine was used before to make rows into the soil, and now used to break up, mix and push the seeds into the ground. After the whole surface of the ground was mixed, it was time to water baby! Then again, once the crops grow and become tall enough, we will till the soil. Following that, we will wait for the plants decompose, and then plant more crops for harvest.
This project opened my eyes and made me appreciate how much our soil can impact our crops and also us. Depleted soil can lead to not so fruitful crops and lower nutrients, therefore using cover crops and turning over the soil has the reverse affect.
This also made me realize how I use this practice in my life, but in another light. I really care for my body, especially my hair. I wash it with shampoo and conditioner often, but every now and then I will deep condition it. Therefore adding nutrients, repairing the follicle damage and strengthening my hair, just like with tilling the soil for the benefit of the soil and future crops.
At the farm we like to have fun, for example, the other day one of my fellow interns took pictures of me for the Horticulture gardening contest to display working on the farm and gardening(though I was just only pulling weeds). She entered in the photo(top left) for the contest, so fingers crossed it wins something.
Throughout this internship I have been documenting my time by taking pictures with my iPhone, though it is not good quality it is the memories that I will never forget. At the beginning of the internship I wanted to do a video displaying the farm in a different light, encouraging more people to come out and educate themselves on crops everyone eats. Thought I did not do that, but decided to embark on other projects, and am glad I never stop taking pictures. Because it is those memories and the knowledge I gained from that moment, that keeps me enjoying Howdy Farm, and able to share my experiences with others. That is also why I am glad I am blogging, even though there may not be a lot of people reading my blogs, it at least reaches someone. I am also sharing these blogs with my other portfolio website.
A couple of weeks ago I was pulling weeds and got stung by an insect, the crazy thing was I didn't know what stung me. I thought I got bit by a spider, but I never saw bite marks, though the tip of my finger did swell up to the point it hurt to touch it. I was freaking out, because I have never been bit by a spider and felt like I was going to die! The pain of the sting was so painful that I felt like I was going to pass out. I went to the Dr. on campus, they prescribed me to take allergy medicine and gave me some steroids. Yes, you can laugh, but I am alright and my finger is functioning perfectly fine now! A couple days after the sting, I could see just one sting mark, so I believe it is from a wasp that was just walking around the Edamame bushes that saw my hand, and was like no not today and took it out on my poor finger. Its quite odd, but my finger still has a little bump from it.
There are also other creatures in this farm, that I am not afraid of, other than that wasp. Some of these creatures are: butterflies, bees, worms, weird looking insects that I don't know the name of. So I decided to go around the farm take some pictures of these creatures, and try to identify them and why they landed up here.
Is storming up our farm, there are so many, because right now they are migrating and fleeing from Canada to Mexico due to the cold, to stay for winter hibernation. We have a mini TX rainforest and a flower garden were they like hanging out. In the TX rainforest we have Milkweed, which they can't survive without. That is where their caterpillars eat, and lay their eggs. But Milkweed is becoming less and less available due to shifting in land and management landscapes. I don't know how long the monarchs will be here, but sadly they will move again closer to Mexico, when it gets colder here in college station.
Its crazy how many ladybugs there are on this farm, I have countless ladybug stories to tell. The other day one crawled over my aggie ring, and then one was mating which was so bizarre. But what I thought was so cool was discovering what they looked like before they turned into ladybugs.
The picture(top left) is of a larva. Fun fact is after the ladybug eggs hatch they turn into larva and start feeding right away. I always see those weird dinosaur spiky looking insects around the farm and find it crazy that they are actually ladybugs. I thought that ladybugs just hatched like a ladybug and lived life happily, but logically that does not make sense.
The second picture to the left is the Pupa stage, where the larva is going into metamorphosis into a ladybug. I actually almost brought that bug with me home just to watch it grow, but I did not want to carry around a leaf with a bug on it.
They are pretty cool! This one I got a picture of was flying around the Asparagus plant collecting pollen on its back legs enjoying life. Some collect so much pollen that it is hard for them to fly. But they are called carpenter bees, because they like to dig through wood and nest.
Even though these bees seem scary, they are more calm and less social than honey bees. The males do not have a stinger and are harmless, but the females have stingers which they will use if they feel threatened. Also they are not as fury and more shinny.
This is by far one of the most prettiest grasshoppers I have seen. I am so use to seeing green grasshoppers. I tried searching for this type of grasshopper, but could not find anything online. Overall, grasshoppers are pretty to look at but can cause a lot of damage to the farm, because they like to eat our crops.
It was fun researching these creepy crawlies! It has made me appreciate more about our little pests, because they are all apart of the circle of life, either they help or hurt the farm(or people), but they are good for something.
After my project, work on the farm has been a little slow. The weather lately has been very damp and muddy. But I have been spending that time researching how to train stray cats, not really haha. We have a stray cat we named Nepeta, and every morning we feed it, all it does is complain, hiss and run away. That's when I decided to try and train the cat, and let him know we are the boss! We normally feed on the porch, but I decided to put the food in the farm house, that way it had to go into the house to eat. To my surprise that worked, he was very hesitant to come in, but he did and ate while we were there. After that we feed him where he normally eats on the porch. A couple weeks later(today) I found him waiting for us(a.k.a the food) on the chair, which is not where he normally waits. I gave him his food on the porch and ate it one foot away from me without getting scared. I believe there is progress and he is starting to feel more comfortable around us, and this makes me happy.
I am not a cat person, a couple years ago my face was attacked by a cat. The damage was so close to my eye, I had to get stitches and have faint scaring all over my face. Thank goodness I did not go blind! But as the years go by, I come to find I have a small place in my heart for cats. Plus this has made me appreciate domestic animals more.
The other day we had a major harvest to dig up for a local restaurant in Bryan, Texas, who buys our produce and flowers called Ronin Cooking. This restaurant serves produce grown seasonally from farm to table, in a unique dinning atmosphere experience at a 15-arce farm. We harvested Purple Kohlrabi, Purple Daikon Radish and Bok Choy for their restaurant. We gathered around 50 -100 lbs worth of produce, and had to use a buggy and make many trips just to transport it to the wash and packing station. In the washing station we had a line going, were one trimmed the produce, and the other rinsed and placed the produce in the coolers. This was very enjoyable for me, because I got to harvest Daikon and Choy, which is what I was researched for my project.
I have never heard of Kohlrabi before. It was a cool looking vegetable, grew above ground, and we had to cut the root, which was in the ground in order to get the vegetable. At the wash station, we had to trim off the first couple of rows, closest to the root. Fun fact, the leaves of the Kohlarabi are eatable, even though they are far away from the body of the plant.
Purple Daikon Radish grew in the ground just like a carrot. When we pulled it out of the ground, there was no trimming required. That day, I got to take one home and try it. It had a very crisp, juicy but zingy/spicy taste to it. I made my roommates try....which they were hesitant to, because it looked weird and they felt like a rabbit, but they liked it.
The Bok Choy, were big and beautiful, they grew above the ground and we had to cut the root to harvest it. I was quit surprised with the size, and thought they were going to be half that. Additionally, it had a purple tint, which matched my shirt.
This was an important volunteer day for me because it made me grow a bigger appreciation of how our produce we grow and take care of makes a major impact on our community. I enjoy being apart of something bigger than myself:)
After a month or two of gathering information for my project it is FINALLY complete and I could not be more happy! I spent countless hours, working in computer labs during and outside of my internship time. With the help of a fellow intern I learned how to use Adobe Indesign, which is very similar to Photoshop. She helped me understand the basics and set up the layout, but the rest I figured out on my own. I found that I came upon minor errors throughout the process of making the project, which I corrected to make it look more professional. Since competition of the project, I am very impressed with how much I learned and I can not wait to show off my hard work to future employees and colleagues. It will be uploaded to on Howdy Farms' and my personal website (under portfolio), as well as printed for our customers at our farmers market. This will be easy for our consumers to access knowledge about the produce they might purchase.
I am excited to get back to the farm, learn more plant knowledge and get my hands dirty. I also would not mind doing another project similar to this one if I have time, because I believe this was very beneficial for my major. It expanded my knowledge on plants, and other software I have never used.
So far the internship has been a lot of fun, and I have learned a lot. Waking up early to work on a farm is a great way to start my day, even though somedays I am more tired than others. This week I learned, how to make a drip irrigation system, to help water the new plants that we planted for the farmers market. I felt like such a handy women, and it feels great to do projects that you know are going to make a huge impact on the garden. I also learned that flea beetles, callipiters and whiteflies are not plant friends. The flea beetles like to nibble at the plants, making them look like the leafs are fish net pantie hose, the callipiters make the leafs look like they are skeletons and the whiteflies like to not only attack trees, but humans too. We also got to harvest cucumbers, they were ginormous and very prickly.
The rest of the week I worked on my Howdy Farm project. I am assigned 9 various veggies, that most consumers do not know what they are or how to use them. Therefore, I am making fact sheet pamphlets to allow consumers to better understand about the vegetable and how to better use them. I am so excited about this project, because I will be able to use this in my career and display it to my colleagues. But I am also learning how to use new software and expand my technology knowledge, which is a great thing that I know I will be able to re-use in the future.
I have been volunteering here at the Howdy Farm ever since I heard about it a couple of years ago. I would treat myself by stopping by after the end of my last class on Friday for some relaxation and unwinding at the farm. I have learned a lot as a volunteer, and being a Nutrition major has made me want to learn more about where my food comes from. I remember the I first time I saw an onion, and was amazed at how cool it was, now I can't wait to dig in deeper, learn more, see a lot of things and be even more amazed.
Join me on this fun journey as I discover more about our agriculture system, practice the farming lingo while getting my hands dirty at the Howdy Farm.
Today we transplanted leeks out of a small space and replanted them into another soil spot. Leeks are really weird looking after they sprout, and they have a seed on the top of the plant that eventually falls off.
After that activity, we then took out the weeds in a section, trimmed down the height of celosia plants to the node so they could grow wide instead of taller, therefore more shoots of flowers.
We got to plant: Cilantro, Red Choi, Romaine Lettuce and Brussels Sprout seeds! It is so cool how different they all look and that certain plants only need to be placed on the soil instead of buried to germinate, such as Cilantro and Red Choi.
DAY 3 & 4:
Today we propagated: rosemary(trim the new growth), turkscap(which have eatable flowers), frogfruit(which grows like a weed in swampy areas), white sage, lantana's and Salvia henry duelberg in perlite. We placed them in a box of perlite, which has a high volume of water, this method is used for them to germinate, so they grow roots for us to transplant them later in soil.
I got to take home the white sage and the rosemary we propagated(which is always fun), and made an essence stick of the two herbs bundled together. I am letting it dry out for 4 days and then will burn it, for fun and plus I am a little hippy.
Lastly, we took out the weeds of a pepper plant row, fertilized them with some organic turkey fertilizer(dried turkey feces) and then added some mulch. This process took a good 2 hours.
I learned so much throughout this week, and a lot of new vocabulary words, and trying to understand the ropes of how to take care of and manage a farm. My favorite part of the week was knowing that I was making a difference, re-planting things and of course taking goodies home. Stay tuned for my next blog, and to find out how my essence stick burning turned out.
I’m a Nutrition major from Texas A&M, graduating in December. I’m a spunky, fun, and bubbly gal who spontaneously try’s new things. Throughout my college career I was involved in: starting up a fitness club, interned for a Nationally recognized Registered Dietitian, a Congressman in D.C., and now a local farm. I also currently make food for our Astronauts, and have joined the Texas A&M Sports Car, Water Skiing, and Polo clubs just to name a few.