News and blog

Welcome to the blog
Posted 5/2/2012 9:36am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
 May is here!  We have little plums and apricots on the trees.  The rhubarb looks great and the strawberries are just around the corner.  This is a very dry spring (the first dry spring for several years).  So the strawberries should be very sweet.  All the fruit trees are about three weeks earlier than usual.  We planted new raspberries and a couple hundred plum, cherry, apricot, and peach trees this spring.

   We are expecting a great season this year.  Each year is unique because we are guided by the weather.  The cherries look a little spotty, but the plums are loaded.  We have over 3000 tomato plants growing in the greenhouse.  We are pulling spring onions and radishes, picking asparagus, cutting lettuce and some spinach and rhubarb!    The cycle has begun afresh!


   We sent two hogs to the butcher.  Our chicks and turkey poults will be here by the end of May.

  We are weeding peas today and transplanting kale, cabbage, broccoli, Swiss Chard, and other things.

The markets are starting this month.

Tueadays - DOT Market -3rd and M St SE - 10:00am-2:00pm

Tuesdays - NEW MARKET! NGS (Natinal Geographic Society) Market in the courtyard-  9:30am-1:30pm


Saturdays - beginning this week May 5

                 Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church Farm Stand  - 9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda- upper
                 parking  lot      9am-1pm


                 NEW FARM STAND! St Luke's Episcopal Church  - 8009 Fort Hunt Rd, Alexandria     8am-1pm


Thursday May 10 - East Columbia Library Farmers' Market - Cradlerock Way, Columbia, MD    2pm-6pm


Saturday beginning May 19 - Westminster Farmers' Market  - 8am-12 noon                       
  

We are looking forward to our markets and farm stands.  Come out and visit us and check out the spring produce and Gregg's assortment of unusual jams and jellies.  



If you are interested in signing up for the CSA there is still time!  We have extended the deadline to May 15 for the early bird special - all 21 weeks full share $870.00 and  half share   $450.00

  The deadline is May 15 to sign up for the spring session which begins the week of June 4.  Cost full share - $300.00 and half share - $160.00.

You can sign up on the website www.orchardcountryproduce.com  go to the sign up page.  You can pay with paypal or you can click invoice at the checkout and send us a check.


Have a Great day.  Get outside and get some natural vitamin D.  Try to shut out the noise and listen to nature.  It will refresh your soul!


Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Prpoduce and Fruit Farm
Posted 4/13/2012 9:05am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
   
This is reminder that the deadline to sign up for the CSa for 2012 is April 30.  It is coming soon so please sign up now if you want to join the CSA for this season.  The first week of the spring session begins on June 4.  We will send out emails throughout May letting you know about the delivery particulars and the extras that we will be offering this year.

   I will be sending individual emails to those who are on our list to get drop offs letting you know how many folks have sign up for your location.  We will be at NGS for a mini market and CSA display on April 24.  Come and visit if you are in the area.  We will also be going the Suburban Hospital in Bethesda on April 24 for a CSA display and sign up event. 


If you want to sign up for the CSa you can go to our website www.orchardcountryproduce.com and sign up online.  You can choose to pay with paypal or you can click invoice at the checkout and just send us a check.  We are looking forward to theis season.  With the early spring and mild winter, fruit is running about three weeks earlier than usual.  The plums and apricots have already set their fruit.  So we are hoping for no really hard frosts now.  We planted 600 new raspberry plants yesterday and today the kale, and lettuce are going out of the greenhouse into the field.  We have been planting lots of small red potatoes for the early ones and the big Evas for the large white ones.  We have 4000 onions coming next week and we will be planting them on Friday April 20, if anyone is available to help let us know.  We hope that you are as excited about this year as we are and we are looking forward to seeing everyone again at the markets.
  
Remember DOT Farmer's Market starts May 1 from 10-2!  
  That is only 2 1/2 weeks from now!


Gregg and Louise Keckler
Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm
www.orchardcountryproduce.com
Posted 3/19/2012 8:34am by Gregg Keckler.
Posted 3/5/2012 2:28pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,

   March is here and we are planting up a storm-  lots of bedding plants and some tomatoes and flowers.  We also transplanted kale into plugs.  Cabbage seeda are in the ground.  We have planted arugala and lettuce for the first markets and for the April deliveries.  We planted spring onions and peas outside already.  All the raspberries are pruned. The fruit trees are all pruned as well. 
   
     We are looking at March 24 for a tree planting day.  If anyone is interested in coming please RSVP by March 17.  You can come as a group or individually and bring the family for a great day on the farm!  We will give you a tour of things and host a great dinner and you can get some fresh air!

 We have 2 pigs that should be ready to butcher by the middle  of April and 2 more that are about 100 lbs.  We ordered our chicks and turkey poults for delivery in mid-May. 
           
     ATTENTION!  Folks in the Alexandria area - We will be having a farm stand  on Saturday mornings at St. Luke's Episcipal Church at 8009 Fort Hunt Rd. - Just off the George Washington Parkway.  We will have our farm stand open on May 5 and we will have a CSA pick up there as well beginning the first week of June.  If you have already signed up and would like to change to this location, just send us an email and we will make note of it.  We have added this location to the drop off spots on the CSA sign up page on the website.  I hope this will facilitate more folks in the Northern Virginia area.

    Remember if you would like a CSA drop off in your coummunity or business get 6 shares (any size)  and we will do a drop off for you.  Email us with any questions.
  There are 55 days left to sign up for the early bird special of $450/half share and $870/full share.  April 30 is also the last day to sign up for the spring session which begins in June.

Just to let folks know you can go to the website and sign up for the CSA; you can pay with paypal or if you would prefer you can send us a check by clicking on invoice at the checkout.  

   Thanks to those who signed up and paid up early. We were able to purchase a planter for seeds of any size  - the very smallest lettuce seeds to the larger corn and bean seeds.  This will be a great help because placing and covering the seeds will be more accurate and relaible.  Less chance of crop failure.

FYI:  Most of you know about our family, but for those of you who are new to us.  We have 7 children. 

Stuart- married to Tamara with granddaughter, Tabitha and another on the way.  Tamara does all the baking. 

Katie - married to Ryan Tuckey.  They just purchased a 70 acre farm near us and are beginning their own fruit    and vegetable farm.  We are using 15 acres of their land this year.  

Martha- married to Daniel Caudill.  Martha has her own landscaping business. Those who go to Cedar Lane know Martha.  

Sarah - works for a consulting firm in Old Town, Alexandria, VA.  She would love to go into beef farming some day.  Sarah helps in Columbia and also goes with Katie to Kentlands and helps at Westminster.  

Lydia - married to Mark Wooten.  She is a nurse at Gettysburg Hospital.  Lydia has helped out at the Westminster Market. 

Viriginia - in college.  She always goes to Westminster and Columbia in the summer. 

Oliver - a junior in high school.  Everyone knows Oliver!  He has been to DOT, Columbia, and Cedar Lane.
 
Our children have all been involved more or less in the farming for many years.  They have been a great help  getting things done .
 
We are waiting anxiously for the first asparagus and the beginning of spring vegetables.  
 
Have a great month.  Spring is practically here!

www.orchardcountryproduce.com

Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm
Posted 2/13/2012 9:11am by Gregg Keckler.
Tonight at midnight the store will close for February 16 delivery.

Go to www.orchardcountryproduce.com
There are still a few stops that are shy of the $50 min. Please encourage folks who are interested in placing an order to do so today for the following stops.

Calvert Foundation

249 10th St NE

River Park

Gaithersburg

URS


The following stops do not have ANY orders.  Please try to get the $50 min for these places.

Mount Vernon - Priscilla La

HOK

CSPI


For those of you who were picking up at River Park, but did not live there.  Gregg had a suggestion - you could go to Gangplank Marina to pick up.  It is not too far away from River Park and Gregg said that all you need to do is knock on the guard shack to get your orders.  Just a thought!


Thanks to all who have supported us by placing orders so far.  I will be in touch when the store closes to remind everyone about the Thursday delivery.  The weather looks good and we are encouraged!

Let me know if you have any questions.  Thanks,  Louise
Posted 2/3/2012 10:24am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,

    Our vegetable department has shrunk drastically.  This is the hard times for local vegetables.  We still have butternut squash, but they do have some spots on the outside.  We have cabbage.  These are still in the field.  We pick them as we need them.  We are peeling the outside leaves.  So they are a light green color.  We have white sweet potatoes.  They are a little wrinkly, but still very good eating.
  We still have plenty  of apples.  Eat lots of apples! 

The earlier varieties - Stayman, Yellow Delicious, and Ida Red are softer varieties.
  
The tart apples are - Stayman, York, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Gold Rush, Suncrisp, Braeburn. 

We are offering Asian pears.  Dave Peters, a neighbor of ours had quite a few of his Asian pears in cold storage.  They taste great and look way better then our sooty blotched Bosc pears.

    When you get this email yuo may place your orders.  The store closes at 12 midnight February 13. The delivery will be on Thursday, February 16.  You can pay using paypal or you can use invoice and send us a check for the total.  There are still a few folks who have not sent checks for the January delivery.  Please send those ASAP.

ATTENTION:  You may not use River Park as a drop off if you do not live there.  River Park is for residents ONLY.

Thanks to all who have been supporting our winter delivery this year.  We look forward to bringing you local fruits, veggies, baked goods, and jams this month.

Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm

Dates to remember-

February 13 midnight - last day to order from the store

February 16 - Delivery Day
Posted 2/1/2012 9:52am by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,

     Thanks to all who have joined our CSA for 2012 so far.  We look forward to providing fresh fruits and vegetables for you again this year.  Gregg has been buying seeds.  He and Oliver are arguing over which heirloom tomatoes to grow this year - Black Tula, Mortgage Lifter, or Boxcar Willie.  Gregg and James have been pruning apple trees.  This month they will do peaches, cherries, and plums.  Martha is pruning yellow, pink and black raspberries.  We are going to replace most of our red raspberries this year.

  
   For your information:  We own property in three different locations.

-Our home place with berries, vegetables fruit trees and pasture
-a 16 acre farm about 1/2 mile south of us with fruit, vegetables, and pasture
-a 15 acre piece about 1 1/2 miles north of us with vegetables, pasture and a pond
-We also have an agreement with a dear friend and neighbor to care for 5 acres of apple trees with no rent- just our promise it care for the land. 

So with that said every year after we butcher the large steers, we bring the smaller ones back to the home place for the winter.  It is easier for us to care for them in the snow and we can keep all our hay in one place.  In January we replaced some livestock fencing that was 15 years old.  One steer kept getting out and visiting all the neighbors along our road.  Thankfully he was very friendly, just a little to free with other's property.  So now he is back in the pasture and we are no longer searching throughout the neighborhood for him.

   The weather has been usually mild so far.  Gregg is hoping if the weather holds to plant peas by March 1.  Oliver, on the other hand, thinks we will probably have a blizzard by March and change all those plans.  It is nice, in a sense, to be dependant on the weather.  It gives us change and variety of occupation and food.  If we have a dry spring, the strawberries will be smaller, but very sweet.  If there is a wet spring the strawberries are larger, juicier, but not so flavorful.  Either way we know why things taste as they do.   The predictableness (My dictionary says that this is not a word, but it is the word that I want to use, so I hope that you understand it.) of the outcomes gives each of us a sense of control.  To us this is more preferable than buying strawberries in the store and not understanding why they look or taste as they do.

    CSA- if you are planning to sign up as a business or neighborhood drop off for either a Wednesday or Friday delivery in 2012, please let us know.  Some already have contacted us.  If you know that you WILL NOT be joining us as a group drop off, please let us know ASAP so that we can fill in your slot with other locations.  We will save space for our regular drop offs first and then add new ones if there is space available.  Remember if your location has 6 shares (any size) we will arrange a drop off.

     Farm Friends and Market Customers- We are looking forward to being back at each of our market locations again this year - same time- same place.  We are hoping to offer more bulk sales of certain items that we grow in abundance and we also plan to plant more of the rare and unusual vegetables.
 
Winter Delivery Customers - We thank you so much for your support during he winter months.  you have helped us by eating our apples and winter vegetables instead of buying store bought ones.  We appreciate your kindness.  It is truly kindness to pay for and eat less than perfect fruit and vegetables as well as support a local farm.

Future plans- order chicks and turkeys, buy piglets.

We will be having at least one tree planting day in March or April depending on the weather.  Bring the family - visit the farm - plant a tree - have lunch with us - and breathe the good air!

Let us know if you have a group that would like to do some planting on a weekday.  We will try to arrange something.  Have a great month!

Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm
Posted 1/17/2012 4:28pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,

If you are getting this email then we have gotten an order from you for our January Winter Delivery of fruits and vegetables.

 Our Delivery day will be on Thursday, January 19. This is our tentative schedule for the day. Gregg will be going to the DC area and Oliver will be in Columbia, Reisterstown, and Westminster.

 Gregg's run
 Gaithersburg - 5:00am
 Mt Vernon (Suzanne Odom' house) 6:00am
 Gangplank Marina - 7:00AM
 River Park - 7:30am
 10th St. - 8:15am
 William Penn House - 8:30am
 NGS - 9-12
HOK -
URS -
 CSPI 
Calvert Foundation - 12:30pm
 Cedar Lane UU Church
, Bethesda - 1:00pm
 JBS - 1:30pm

Oliver's run
Columbia - 10:00am
 Reisterstown - 11:45am
Westminster - 12:30pm

     Please remember that this is January. We are doing our best to keep our fruits and vegetables looking good. That does not always mean that they are perfect. Our stored things can not compete with the grocery store. Their vegetables and fruits are NOT local. This time of year if you want to purchase local things they are stored or maybe greenhouse grown like the lettuce and arugala, but certainly not field grown.

    So if you feel that the skins of your pears do not look good enough to eat, just peel them. If they get soft quicker than you were expecting, make a smoothie! I made a smoothie today with lime juice, pears and some kiwis. It was delicious and reminded my that even old pears have a good use. Be creative! Think of this as an adventure. How to eat LOCAL in January!

 Thanks for your support. It humbles us to see how you have put your trust in us.

 Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm
Posted 1/2/2012 2:33pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,

    Happy 2012!  We are pruning, cleaning up the raspberries, mowing, preparing the ground, and staking for new raspberries and new trees.  Oliver and James are pulling up tomato stakes and cages.  Gregg is making jam and building crates and also tending the greenhouse lettuce and arugala.
 
     We did a few major projects in December includng replacing the water supply line at the barn.  James had to dig a hole about 5 feet deep by 4 feet across to replace the pipe.  Then he and Virginia dug a 12 inch trench in front of the garage across the entire front and put in drainage pipe.  This will hopegfully keep water from running in under the garage doors during heavy rains.

   Our new 2012 CSA sign up is ready to go!  We have changed the price of the full shares to reflect the larger amount of fruits and vegetables.  We have not changed the half shares.
  You can order online.  Go to our website  www.orchardcountryproduce.com.  Go to sign up page and walk through the form.  We are offering two choices for payment.  You can pay with paypal(a small processing fee is charged for this option) or you can pay by "invoice".  If you choose invoice after your sign up you can send us a check in the mail.  No need to download any forms!

      In order to get the $30 discount you must pay by April 30.  We are offering a payment paln if you are getting the entire season (full or half shares).  Just pay the down payment amount now at the checkout. (If you choose invoice you can just send a check for the amount.)  and then pay that amount each month after; February, March, and April.  We will send you reminders monthly.
   
    If your business or neighborhood would like to have a drop off at your site - let us know.  You must have 6 shares (any size) at your location.  Our delivery days will be Wednesday and Fridays  except for DOT  Farmer's Market - Tuesday
 East Columbia Library Farmer's Market - Thursday
 Westminster Farmer's Market - Saturday
 Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, Bethesda - Saturday.
   

  Oliver would like to start a farm stand location on Saturdays in Arlington or Alexandria area.  If anyone knows of a church parking lot or a business location in any of these areas, please let us know.
  
     If you have any questions about the sign up process or any of our growing practices, etc, please contact us and we will be glad to answer any questions.
 Our daughter, Sarah, was home for a week's vacation from her job in Alexandria and she cleaned up our website and added some new information.  Check it Out!
 
James, our intern for the year has been keeping after the facebook page.  Check it out for tidbits.
  
If you signed up for our Winter De;livery, we will be sending you an email soon about the January delivery announcing the store opening for January.
 
  Enjoy the great cold wintery weather.  stay safe and do what you can to relieve stress and eat healthy!
  
Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce
Posted 12/9/2011 11:45am by Gregg Keckler.
Monday December 12 at 11:00 pm is the last time to order for the December 15 Winter Delivery. 

If you are planning to order, do not forget to go to our website - www.orchardcountryproduce.com  and go to the store to order items.  You can pay with paypal or if you would like just contact us and we can send you a bill through email and you can send us a check for the amount.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

 Gregg and Louise Keckler - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm