Howdy Farm hosted its first ever official "Gig 'Em Week" event at the Northgate Juice Joint this past Wednesday evening. We had no idea just how many new Aggies were in town. 300+ people attended the event with lines down Northgate to squeeze through the door! Lisa Bradway, owner of the juice joint, and her staff were in a frenzy making non stop juice orders ($1 off!) and announcing them ready over a PA system. The outdoor urban garden, the backyard of the juice joint, was busy with students eating local, visiting the member informational booth and farmers market table as well as the "raffle bar" to enter our three giveaway baskets.
Students who patiently spoke with us at our member info booth got a free potted herb to take home! We gave away 100 herbs: a combination of basil, lemon basil, parsley, and cilantro. People were also able to sign up to receive howdy farm updates through our newsletters and take to current officers.
We also announced a social media contest. Attendees could post about the event and tag @HowdyFarm as well as use the hashtag #gigemhowdyfarm over either facebook, twitter, or instagram for a chance to win a $25 howdy farm market gift card and t-shirt of choice! Winner Maddi received an organic green cotton "Can you dig it?" shirt and gift card. Her instagram picture at the juice joint won the contest!
As for the giveaways, two lucky freshman living in dorms on north campus won our "foodie" and "chef" themed baskets. Will got his hands on our foodie basket full of Blackwater Draw merchandise, What's the Buzz Coffee and more. Merylin won the chef basket complete with ready-to-eat foods and and cooking supplies. Finally, Sam is the proud owner of a mini kitchen herb tray and potted chrysanthemum as winner of our "gardener" crate. A whopping 291 students entered to win our raffle prizes!
At the farmers market booth, we sported our brand new Howdy Farm tanks that were popular with the gals. We gave away free Howdy Farm decals and produce. Many students living on campus didn't want to bring home fresh produce without a kitchen to cook it in, but others snatched our free okra and peppers without a second thought!
The last hour of the event the crowds finally calmed down and we could all relax and appreciate Katy Crocker on the ukulele.
by Jessica Newman
Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 26th from 4-7pm Howdy Farm is hosting a gig 'em week social at Northgate Juice Joint. We'll be giving away free herb transplants as well as hosting a raffle for THREE giveaway goodie baskets with themes! Enter to win the gardener, the foodie, or the chef basket! We'll also tell guests about a social media contest to win a farm gift card and T-shirt! Lots of free goodies. Come socialize with the howdy farmers!
The gardener will need a lovely crate filled with…
The foodie will love…
The chef must have…
Join us tomorrow to find out about our social media contest and how to win a HOWDY FARM $25 gift certificate + a Howdy Farm T-SHIRT of your choice!!!
A big thank you to our lovely, local sponsors & donors!
by Jessica Newman
The farmers market is a special place for Howdy Farm to be a part of. It's a community. When we go each week we see the same friendly faces and chat with the same vendors beside us, our neighbors. When all we have is a ton of peppers and okra so we stop going to market (like right now) it gives us a warm feeling to hear from other farmers that we were asked about at the market. "Where are those two girls with all the peppers!?" To get a sense of the special people that make the market home, read about other farmers and vendors from part 1 and part 2 below.
Amy Decker: Jammin’ Granny Jams & Jellies
Robert & Ann Forsthoff, produce and such
Jennifer Windham, David Gibbs & Nancy Williams: Harvest Moon Canning Co.
Kenny Closs and Spencer Temple: Ag Farm aquatic greens farm
Roger and Donna Burton: 2 Brothers Salsa & baked, canned, and fresh goods
ET Ash: “ET’s Bees”
Richard Schubert: “The Egg Man”
Dave Hall: Lonesome Pine
-Photos and blog written by Jessica Newman
Summer time at Howdy Farm means a whole lot of preparing for the school year: weeding, cleaning, organizing, planting cover crops and then planting fall crops. The summer interns have seeded out trays in the greenhouse full of flowers, peppers, and corn as well as sowing seed straight into the dirt. After a few weeks the crops were transplanted to the fields.
In the field there are gold acorn squash, queen bush squash, squash delicate, zucchini, winter spaghetti squash, and eggplant. The majority were started from seeds planted directly on the field, while the eggplant transplants were added later.
In our front keyhole garden there are early white bush scallop squash, cucumber, and zucchini. In our smaller, colorful keyhole, interns planted patty pan squash that didn’t sprout. So, instead pepper transplants were used.
The farm also has an area full of purple tomatillos growing strong and sturdy thanks to a lot of attention and watering during the summer heat.
Over in the corn bed, the interns planted Bi-licious hybrid corn seeds. However, a mold took hold and the seeds wouldn’t sprout. As a result, the same seed was started in trays in the greenhouse. Once they grew successfully, the corn was transplanted making for an idealistic farm view.
Howdy Farm interns have tried starting other corn seeds in the greenhouse to fill the rest of the corn bed, however, there have been many Texas wood rats calling the farm home and eating the seed. When the trays have been checked on in the greenhouse, seeds are missing and the dirt is a mess. But the baby rats sure are cute!
Photos and blog by Jessica Newman
Howdy Farm has a Nesco Pro Food Dehydrator that interns used last semester to dry herbs. It hasn’t gotten much use this summer, so I decided to pick what we had available and get drying. Monday morning I walked the farm with my clippers and harvested fresh herbs. Early in the day is the best time to harvest for drying purposes so that all of the essential oils are still concentrated and haven’t been dried from the sun yet.
Basil is everywhere on the farm. I filled three and a half dehydrator trays with fresh leaves. We have a few sage plants. I grabbed some leaves to fill half a tray. Then rosemary got a half and marjoram the other. Marjoram is a variety of oregano, thus the two have similarities in taste, though they are different. My intention was to make an Italian herb mix but that will have to wait until we have plenty of oregano, thyme, and parsley growing on the farm to go along with the rest of the herbs I chose to dry.
The dehydrator should be set to a temperature of 95 degrees F, as recommended on the Nesco for herbs and spices. Every 24 hours I checked on the leaves and rotated the trays. Day after day I’d see if the leaves were completely crunchy to the touch so that they would easily crumble. After awhile, the majority of the basil was crunchy but some was still not completely dry. Finally, after five days, every single herb was completely dry.
I chose to lie out pieces of paper for each herb and start crumbling them by hand. I ended up with about ½ cup basil flakes, 3 tbsp rosemary leaves, 2 tbsp marjoram, and 1 tbsp crumbled sage leaves. Next, I used a spice grinder (Hamilton Beach Coffee Grinder to be exact!) to grind the herbs into a coarse powder.
In the near future, Howdy Farm should have all the herbs necessary to make our very own Italian spice blend. For now though, I played around with the herbs we had, mixing and matching to find something tasty.
Photos and blog by Jessica Newman
There's something special about market that only those who are there every (or almost every) Saturday can understand. Farmers markets are meaningful because they are the intersection of local, home grown & made food and the farmers who deliver. The Brazos Valley Farmers Market in particular has my heart.
Unlike major cities where interns or part time workers tend to the markets, here in Bryan you're actually talking to the farmer directly. These people are the most down to earth, friendliest, humble people. They care for their land, raise animals, make home goods in their kitchens, and drive from surrounding cities to give us all the finest in local food. While I do love the food - the home baked breads and fresh, organic produce - I'm really a sucker for the people.
I find myself at home with one too many squash, okra on the verge of going bad, a full supply of jams, and a leftover cinnamon roll. It's the people, the lovely faces behind the product, that I like to support. I eat those morning sourdough cinnamon rolls because besides being delicious, Beth is too sweet to resist in the morning. And I have patty pan squash needing to be cooked because I'm drawn to Johnny's calming voice at market. Yes, I splurge at market because the wonderful farmers there are deserving of my time and dollar. The Brazos Valley Farmers Market is something special. For those who can't make it or maybe haven't found the time to talk to their sweet farmers (which you should), here's a glimpse at some of those who can be spotted. (More to come in a future post!)
Beth & Ed Hadden: Twisted Bakery
Johnny Mason: Johnny’s Produce
Virginia Cox & Sean Cox: Virginia Cox
David Elsik: Dog-Run Farm
Ed & Emma Fowler: Fowler Farm
Wilton & Carolyn Wilton: Astera Meadows Ranch
Melissa McCoury: home garden
[See PART 2 of "Meet your farmers" here!]
-by Jessica Newman