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Posted 5/5/2011 7:48am by Gregg Keckler.
Hello,
       I wish that you would send this email to folks on your email lists.  Thanks, Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce

Orchard Country Produce is Back!

The Bethesda Market opens on Saturday May 7 frrom 9am -1 pm.  We will start the season with fresh asparagus, lettuce mix, spinach, radishes, spring onions, rhubarb and tea.  We will also have our delicious apples and potatoes. 

We have pasture-raised beef - steaks and ground beef, also bologna and free range eggs.  We have our fresh strawberry and strawberry/rhubarb pies (perfect for Mother's Day), banana bread, pumpkin bread, fresh white bread, cimmamon bread, and honey oatmeal bread.

We will again have cheeses from Whispering Brook Farm - made with the best pasture-raised unpasturized milk, sea salt and vegetable enymes.  Hormone free!
 
This year we have bedding plants including flowers, cabbage, heirloom tomato plants, peppers.

We are located in the upper parking lot of the Universalist Unitarian Church at 9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda.  Come out for a look and buy a few healthy local vegetables for dinner!

Posted 5/4/2011 11:46am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,

     Greetings from the farm!  Thanks to those who came on Saturday to help plant.  We were able to get two nasty jobs out of the way - transplanting raspberries and putting rodent guards on all the young trees.  Many thanks!  Today Gregg and Oliver are transplanting strawberry plants.  We are daily cutting asparagus, lettuce, spinach,  and pulling spring onions and radishes.  May 15 is the BIG day.  After that date we can plant out cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash without danger of frost.

   We are gearing up for the spring CSA starting  June 6.  Those of you who are signed up for spring, I will be sending you an email about pickup details.  I will also send an email about ordering extras, paying for them and other necessary details.  Look for these two emails around May 20.
  
    If you are interested in signing up for the summer session  the deadline is July 15.

    Everything is looking good here.  The torrential rains in April did a number on garden # 1 and we had to replant radishes and find (under the mud) some of the spinach and relocate it, but everything else fared well.  Hopefully the old saying is true  - April showers bring May flowers, not more rains!

    If you get a chance - come out to the markets in May for asparagus, lettuce, spinach, radishes, rhubarb, tea, spring onions, apples, potatoes, bedding plants (tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, flowers).  We will also have our honey, jams, breads, pies (strawberry and strawberry/rhubarb), cookies, eggs, beef, bologna, and Ed's cheeses.

DOT                                                                                                 Tuesdays - 10-2
East Columbia Library                                                                     Thursdays - 2-6
Bethesda  Cedar Lane Universalist Unitarian Church                      Saturdays -  9-1
Westminster  beginning May 14                                                     Saturdays -  8-noon

Let us know if you have any questions.  Looking forward to seeing you soon!  
Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce 
Posted 5/2/2011 9:32am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,

    Markets start this week.  If you are near one of these market, please stop in.

    -DOT on New Jersey Ave SE starts tomorrow TUESDAY May 3 from 10 am -2 pm

    -East Columbia Library on CradleRock Way in Columbia, MD starts THURSDAY May 5 from 2-6-pm

    -Bethesda located at the Cedar Lane UU Church  upper parking lot on Cedar Lane starts SATURDAY May 7 from  9 am-1 pm

Come out and get fresh spring produce including asparagus, lettuce, spinach, radishes, tea, spring onions, and rhubarb.  We will have our stored sweet apples and potatoes. 

We will have an array of baked goods made by our daughters including cookies, breads, and fresh baked strawberry and strawberry-rhubarb pies plus homemade dog biscuits.

We will also have black walnuts, applesauce, jellies and jams, and HONEY.   We will have our pasture-raised  beef and our own eggs.

At DOT and Bethesda we will have bedding plants (flowers, tomatoes, peppers, etc).  Also at DOT and Bethesda we will again offer Ed Breckinbill's excellent cheeses.  These are cheeses made with unpasturized pasture produced milk and vegetable enzmes.  (No Additives)

Come out to visit and support local farmers.  Looking forward to seeing you again this year.  If you have never been to the market before come and introduce yourself.  Look for Orchard Country Produce.  See everyone this week. 

Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
Posted 4/25/2011 4:42pm by Gregg Keckler.

Dear Folks,
      
    Sorry to keep bugging you, but my last email did not seem to go to everyone and I don't know who did not get it, so I am sending another one.  If you already heard about the planting day on April 30 - just disregard this email.
     We will be having a planting day on this Saturday April 30 at 2:00 pm at our farm.  We will be planting raspberries, asparagus crowns, strawberries, possibly leeks and onions, if they are not already planted.  We will also be planting out small plants from the greenhouse and starting seeds as well.  There are soooo many things to do that it isn't a matter of finding something to do,  but rather trying to decide which to do first.

   We will provide a supper for everyone - definitely grilled asparagus on the menu as well as other good things!

   Let us know by sending a email if you can attend.  We would love to have you come to visit and "materially" participate with us on the farm. 

Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce

Posted 4/19/2011 9:03am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks at NGS and NEA,

    Thank you for inviting us this year to present our farm at your businesses.  We will be there on April 21.  At NEA we will be participating in the Earth Day Event as a vendor.  So come, introduce yourself and check out the  display of our farm pictures including Homer, the Basset Hound "Watchdog".  Gregg will be there to meet you with apples!.

       NGS - Oliver and I (Louise) will be in the lunch room entrance as we were other years.  Come to meet us,look at new farm pictures,  and sample some delicious apples from the farm   

    If you haven't signed up yet and wish to do so, you can bring a check and sign up on Thursday.  We will bring subscription forms with us.

     Most of you got our email about the Farm Day on April 30, but if not check our blog on the website www.orchcountry.com.   Looking forward to seeing everyone on Thursday.  Thanks for inviting us to your businesses and taking the time to care about local food, especially when it is so easy these days to go to the local grocery store.    

                                            Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce 
Posted 4/19/2011 8:45am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks, 
     
       OK, the tree planting day on Saturday was a WASH.  (literally)  We had terrible thunderstorms and road closings.  It was a rough day for tree planting.  So we have scheduled another day.  Unfortunately the trees will have to be planted before that - actually two- thirds of them were planted yesterday and rest will be in the ground today.
  
   On Saturday, April 30,  we will have a planting and transplanting day.  We have many raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries that need transplanted.  We also have tender little plants from the greenhouse that need to get into the ground.  There are also seedlings that need to go into plugs in the greenhouse,  asparagus crowns to plant and so many other plantings and greenhouse work.  
    
      So, if you are willing and you aren't busy that Saturday, let us know.  We will begin at 2:00pm.  We will provide a supper.  Definitely fresh asparagus will be on the menu!       

          Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce  
  
Posted 4/6/2011 7:27am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
     We are planning a tree planting day on April 16, a Saturday at 2:00pm at our farm.  If you would like to come and help, please let us know.  We would love to have you.  If you can not come that day, don't worry there will be other opportunities for planting other things later.  Thanks for your interest in growing, planting, and living off  the land. 
                 Gregg and Louise Keckler - Ordchard Country Produce
Posted 4/5/2011 3:16pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear CSA members and farm friends,
    
      It is a rainy April day.  Our greenhouse is chocked full of little plants just waiting for the right weather to get them into the ground.  We have at least five different lettuces, spinach, eggplant, many peppers, cabbage, kohlrobi, squash, zucchini, over 1000 tomato plants, several flower varieties, herbs, and others.  Last week Oliver and Gregg spent a few restless nights trying to keep the greenhouse heaters running during the rather cold weather.  We finally had to go out and purchase a reliable one.  A few times the little hot pepper plants were looking a bit chilled.  Everything is up and running again now.
     We have direct seeded peas, spring onions, garlic, leeks, and a neighbor put in all our potatoes at his place.  This month we are planning

     -to transplant strawberries
     -to transplant raspberries
     -plant over 200 fruit trees
     -plant 150 asparagus crowns
     -plant about 1000 summer sweet onions
    
Gregg will be starting seeds for winter squash, canteloup, watermelon and pumpkins.

     Many have inquired about helping to plant, etc.  We can certainly use the help.  If you have contacted us about helping we will get back to you about the best days to begin.  If others would like to come to help for a few hours or a whole day, that would be great.  Just send us an email.  We will work out times - any weekday and Saturday afternoons work best for us.

     Several folks have inqured about how to buy extras.  At the end of May we will send an email with all the extras and prices.   The extras list will be sent each week throughout the CSA season along with email  about the the fruits and vegetables that will be included in your share.  You can order extra items by sending an email each week letting us know what you want.  If you pick up at a market location, you can pay there.  If you get a delivery drop, we will keep a running total throughout the 7 weeks and then send you an email with the total and then you can send us a check.  This sytem has worked very well for a number of years.  Last year was the first year we had some folks who did not pay up in the end.  But we will give it another try this year and hope for better results.

     ATTENTION:  Remember April 30 is the last day to sign up for the spring session which begins in June.  Also April 30 is the last day to sign up for the whole season for $450/ half share and $750/full share.

     We are looking forward to the new CSA season.  It is our busiest time of the year.  The time just flies by!

    For those who have been following my health updates-I had my second round of Clindamycin IV in March.  My skin is much looser and I am developing wrinkles on my face! :)  Believe me that is a good sign.  I am moving better and I plan to be back at the Columbia market for sure and I am hoping to get to Bethesda as well.  If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease check out www.roadback.org.  They offer a workable nonconventional protocol that will give you hope.


PLAN AHEAD!  Markets start in May.
      
       DOT Market starts Tuesday May 3
       Columbia Market starts Thursday may 5
       Bethesda Market starts Saturday May 7
       Westminster Market starts May 28

We will have bedding plants (flowers, tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, melons, and squash) for sale at the first markets in DOT and Bethesda.   Can't Wait!   Let us know if you have any questions about anything and keep in touch if you would like to come up to work or visit.   Thanks for supporting us and having confidence in our abilities.  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
Posted 3/2/2011 7:20am by Gregg Keckler.
  • Dear Friends,

          Finally we are through the ice and snow of February and Spring is just around the corner.  All our trees are pruned except the three year old peach trees.  We began pruning raspberries and grapes this week.  We are getting a huge load of compost delivered to use between the raspberries and blueberries.  Oliver and Gregg sorted potatoes last week.  Daniel is putting barn siding on the upper story of the garage.  We are going to put used windows in the garage. (It has gaping holes where the windown should be.) 

          Gregg purchased most of the seeds for the year.  Our pantry has several 50lb bags of spring onion bulbs in it.  He also purschased over 250 fruit trees.  We are planning to raise some bedding plants this year namely flowers, tomatoes, and peppers for sale.  In the past we have only grown them for our own use.  We hope to have them for sale in May and June at Bethesda and DOT.
     
          Gregg purchased 50 turkey poults to arrive the first week of June.  We used to raise turkeys 20 years ago when our children were young.   Oliver ordered 100 chicks for arrival in mid-May.  He was able to purchase a chicken plucker this year from the money from last year's sales.  Thanks to those who bought his chicken last year.  Our chickens are laying very well.  We are selling some eggs here at the house.
       
          Projects for March:
    -Start flowers in greenhouse
    -Finish pruning berries
    -Purchase a few feeder steers
    -Purchase a couple piglets (end of March)
    -Clean manure out of the barn
    -Build crates
    -Assess poultry housing and build new turkey feeders
  • -Plow ground and dig holes for trees
  •  -Start seeds for tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, etc

    If you would like to help plant trees, asparagus crowns, onions, tomatoes and others throughout April and May,send us an email and we will see if we can work out days that would be conducive.  We could use help and you could visit and experience the planting season.


   Our family lives so much by seasons that we forget that many do not.  I am sure it is not easy when you live in the city, but make an effort to study seasonality in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Try to live and eat this year by seasons.  Asparagus harvest begins in April and through June.  Radishes, spring onions, lettuce from May-June;  snow peas from June - early July;  shell peas from June - July; starwberries from June - early July.  On our website we have a calendar of fruits and vegetables.  Check this out for a more complete listing.

      We are trying to provide you with fruits and vegetables that are common to the region.  Occasionally we have a bad year ie cherries last year, but that is part of the close relationship between the weaqther and the harvest.  We would like to see you start eating by the seasons.  Each week throughtou the 21 weeks of the CSA season provides a slight variation from the week before.  The differences in seasons change so subtly that before you are aware of it, you are eating summer fruit and spring is finished.  When you can get out into the open country, the changes can be felt, smelled, heard, seen, and tasted.  We hope to give you some of these expereiences this year during the CSA season.

   Paperwork Notes:
If you are sending us subscription forms and your pickup location is not listed, just write it in the blank.  Also if you are sending a check with the payment plan you do not need to resend the subscription form each time.  (save paper and ink.)
     Thanks to all who have sent checks so far.  We appreciate your faith in us.  If your business would like to get a delivery you need to get 6 folks to sign up from your location and we can arrange a delivery.  Email us if you are interested in a delivery to your business, organization, community, or  apartment complex.

Remember: Deadline to sign up for the spring session which starts in June is APRIL 30!  Don't procrastinate!  Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce 

Posted 2/2/2011 8:54am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,

   Greeting on this icy wintery day.  We are finishing up the last of the jellies and jams for this year.  We have most of the fruit trees pruned.  There are just a few peach trees and five big standard trees to go.  Our goats are healthy.  One is expecting this spring.  Gregg and Oliver are planning where to plant things and how many seeds to buy.  They have been measuring off space for new fruit trees.  They are going to plant mostly apricots, plums, and cherries.  I would like a few nut trees.  I know I will probably not see most of the nuts in my lifetime (nut trees mature very slowly), but they will be producing well when Oliver takes over.
  
We are not just a sustainable farm with regard to the soil.  We are planning to have Orchard Country Produce survive for many generation.   That is why we are careful about protecting the soil, the water, and the trees that will outlive us.  They will be providing food and income for future generations.
    Projects for this month:
          Start seeds in the greenhouse for early red beets and some greens.
          Sort apples - feed all bruised and spotted apples to the cows, goats, and chickens.
          Finish pruning trees.
          Order seeds and trees.
          Build new portqable chicken houses.
          Repair wagons and other equipment.
    
     As many of you know we have attempted over the years to conserve, reuse, recycle, and replenish as much as possible.  We shred all paper for animal bedding which eventually gets composted and put back into the soil.  We beg all our CSA and market customers to return all jars, rubber bands, egg cartons, and cardboard, boxes.  We reuse them until they are hopeless then they are shredded.  Two years ago we  purchased 30 solar panels for the southern side of our 3 bay garage (shed).  This long term investment has kept our electric usage low.  We feed any unused or rotten fruits and vegetables to animals or compost it.  We collect rain water from roofs in tanks to distribute evenly as needed rather than having it cause erosion.  We also try to do companion planting to help with bug control and intensive planting to discourage weed growth.

    Your continued support keeps us always striving to do better.  Because you have invested in our local food farm, we are encouraged to keep on keeping on.  Thanks so much.  Thanks to all who have sent checks and are encouraging other to subscribe.  Your money sent now is enabling us to purchase the fruit trees now which will begin to produce in two or three years.
 
    If you like- check out the photos below.  (If I can figure out how to send them.  All my computer savy children either left home or went to college, so I am doing my best)   The pictures, clockwise from left, are of Missy, our elderly donkey, next our first grandchild: Tabitha Isabela Keckler Born 1/20/2011 to our eldest son and his wife.  The other photos are of our two goats, they really liked the camera.

     All the market pickups still have room for more subscribers.  The DOT market is about 3/4 full, so let me know, if you haven't already about signing up for DOT pickup.  Our Wednesday groups are doing well, there is a steady stream of subscribers for Wed drop offs.  The new Friday delivery route still has room, but we do have a couple community deliveries lined up.  Let us know if you would like to organize a group delivery for either Wednesdays in DC NW and  Bethesda, or Fridays in DC SW, Arlington, Alexandria, or any point along the 270 corridor.  Let us know if you have any questions.  Thanks, Louise and Gregg Keckler - Orchard Country Produce




Missy the Donkey

Tabitha

One of the goats

The Other Goat