News and blog

Welcome to the blog
Posted 3/4/2013 9:55am by Gregg Keckler.

Hello all,

We're beginning to get spring fever here on the farm and are relieved that March has arrived.  Of course it still feels like winter, but 40-degree days will appear more frequently and we can't wait! 

CSA Sign-ups:
The CSA sign-ups are still actively arriving in our e-mail inbox each day.  Don't forget to take advantage of our Early Bird discount.  You can learn more about the CSA and sign-up here on our website.  You can also access our CSA information and farm profile at LocalHarvest.org (search for Orchard Country Produce, Gardners, PA).

  • NOTE: We are willing to add new pickups (Neighborhoods, Businesses, Residential Parks, etc.) in the D.C./Alexandria/Arlington and Gaithersburg, MD areas.  We require a minimum of 6 shares to establish a new delivery location.  Please contact us if you are interested in adding a new stop.

Planting/Pruning:
In lieu of Spring, Gregg & Oliver have been spending a lot of time planting in the greenhouse.  Seed orders arrive in the mail several times a week.  So far they have planted 15 varieties of Lettuce, 2 varieties of Kale, and many herbs including Parsley, Cilantro, Basil, Rosemary, Lavender, and even Stevia. Red Beets, Brussel Sprouts, Bell Peppers, and Hot Peppers (Habaneros and Jalapenos) have also been planted in the greenhouse. 

Oliver and Sarah continue to prune the orchard trees and are making great progress.  For the past few weeks, Oliver has been scouring listings for a new market truck.  He finally found one that will suit our needs (and should not break down) for a reasonable price.  The new truck will have more space for loading market goods/produce and will be much more fuel efficient.  Oliver and Sarah will be roadtripping to West Virginia this week to pick it up.

Livestock
We added a pig to our livestock herd a few months ago.  She is known as a heritage grazing pig and her particular variety is hard to find because they are slow-growing pigs and thrive off of foraging, which is not of value to commercial pork producers. Since the pastures are not prime for grazing yet, we let her wander around foraging in the nearby fenced-off woods. Her diet is also supplemented with loads of unused and/or rotten produce from one of our neighboring farmers who is still cleaning out his coolers and winterized fields.

Our pig Greenhouse labors Kale sprouting

We hope you are all doing well.  Happy March - 16 days till spring!

Gregg, Louise, Sarah, Virginia, and Oliver Keckler  - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm www.orchardcountryproduce.com
http://www.facebook.com/orchardcountryproduce

Posted 2/5/2013 4:32pm by Gregg Keckler.

Hello all,

We can't believe February is here already! Our famous groundhog here in PA has predicted an early spring, but we're skeptical because every day so far this week we've had snow fall.

January ended on a bittersweet note as our wonderful basset hound Homer (of Homer's Famous Dog Biscuits) died in his sleep one snowy night.  We've had him since he was 9 months old and he would've turned 17 this spring- which is very old for a basset hound.  Homer made friends with everyone- animals and people alike.  He especially loved cats, in fact, at one point, he was running a nursery for the barn cats' kittens in his dog house.  Homer often tried to steal fruits and vegetables from the crates at Orchard Country (see below - Homer caught red-pawed with a Methley plum).  We will miss Homer, but we are grateful for the fond memories and his unrivaled excellence as 'watchdog' at Orchard Country Produce.

Homer and the Plum Homer makes friends Homer on the porch

 
We've been keeping busy with outdoor activities like maintenancing/repairing equipment and fixing crates. Gregg and Oliver have also been compiling seed order lists for spring plantings.  We are also making between 30-50 jars of jams and jellies nearly every day. As you can see from the photo below- we're concerned that the house might start leaning with all that jam in one room!

Seed catalog time Left: Two generations of farmers, Oliver and Gregg, pour over seed catalogs.

Right: The jams/jellies storehouse at Orchard Country is jammed (pun intended) and this is only half of it!
Jammed!


The CSA sign-ups have been steadily flowing in, thank-you to those who have already signed up and sent  payment! Don't forget to take advantage of our Early Bird discount.  You can learn more about the CSA and sign-up here on our website.  You can also access our CSA information and farm profile at LocalHarvest.org (search for Orchard Country Produce, Gardners, PA).

  • NOTE: We are willing to add new pickups (Neighborhoods, Businesses, Residential Parks, etc.) in the D.C./Alexandria/Arlington and Gaithersburg, MD areas.  We require a minimum of 6 shares to establish a new delivery location.  Please contact us if you are interested in adding a new stop.
We hope you have a wonderful February!

Gregg, Louise, Sarah, Virginia, and Oliver Keckler  - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm
www.orchardcountryproduce.com
http://www.facebook.com/orchardcountryproduce
Posted 1/11/2013 8:20am by Gregg Keckler.

Hello Winter Delivery folks- and Happy Friday!

Just a reminder - the online store will be closing tonight at 11:59pm.  Please go to orchardcountryproduce.com and navigate to the Store on the top menu bar to place an order before closing time.  The January delivery will be our final Winter delivery for the year.

  The delivery will be on Tuesday, January 15th.  An e-mail will be sent out on Monday with further delivery time details.

Thank you! We hope you are enjoying the New Year!

The Kecklers @ Orchard Country Produce

Posted 1/3/2013 10:02am by Gregg Keckler.

Hello all,

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! We are excited to begin January with our final Winter Delivery on January 15th (if you are interested in participating for January and would like further information, please send an e-mail and we will add you to the e-mail list).

Well, we got several rounds of snow so far and it's been very cold here for the past few weeks.  Below are a few pictures taken around the farm recently that we thought you might enjoy. 

OCP in the Snow Pictured on the Left: Orchard Country Produce on Christmas Day.  We had a beautiful White Christmas.

Pictured on the Right: We had a bumper crop of pumpkins and canned most of them, but still had a lot that rotted before we could process them.  But that's okay, because on the farm, nothing is wasted...the cows absolutely loved the rotten pumpkins.
Cows eating Pumpkins

We've spent the last few days updating the website and preparing our CSA sign-up process for 2013.  We have an addition to the "Share Size" options in the CSA this year, which we are very excited about (see below)-you can also read more about our CSA here:

  • Over the years folks have told us that the Half share size was too much food for 1 person and they wished we had a smaller option.  So we've decided to add a new size this year, the "Personal" size will be the smallest share size and is suitable for 1-person households.

  • We are willing to add new pickups (Neighborhoods, Businesses, Residential Parks, etc.) in the D.C./Alexandria/Arlington and Gaithersburg, MD areas.  We require a minimum of 6 shares to establish a new delivery location.

We are still updating our “Testimonials” page on the website and adding reviews from customers on their experience with our farm- you can e-mail us any reviews and we will post them, or you can go to LocalHarvest.org and post on our profile (search for Orchard Country Produce, Gardners, PA).

We hope you have a great year in 2013!

Gregg, Louise, Sarah, Virginia, and Oliver Keckler  - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm
www.orchardcountryproduce.com

Posted 1/2/2013 3:10pm by Gregg Keckler.

Hello all,

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a safe and happy New Years!  Hopefully you are not having too much difficulty with the segue back to work-mode.  In case you really miss shopping, we can help with the transition as our online store is now open for the January Delivery! This will be our final Winter Delivery for the 2012-2013 year.  The January Winter Delivery will be on Tuesday, January 15th.

You can follow this link, orchardcountryproduce.com and go to the Store on the top navigation bar.  Browse through the categories, select your items, and checkout and pay via paypal or check.  If you prefer to pay via check, just fill out the information for mailing a check instead and we will follow-up with you.

When you reach the end of the checkout process, please select the appropriate pickup location.  If you do not see the location you want listed, please e-mail us before you complete your order.  The online store will close on Friday, January 11th at 11:59pm.

We'll be sending out our monthly "Farm News" e-mail in the next few days to the General Mailing list so you can follow along with our activities, snow storms, and general excitement. We're gearing up for the rush of CSA sign-ups in January and February for the 2013 Season, so look out for more information on that!

If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail and we will get back to you ASAP.

The Kecklers @ Orchard Country Produce

Posted 12/14/2012 8:19am by Gregg Keckler.

Hello Winter Delivery folks- and Happy Friday!

Just a reminder - the online store will be closing tonight at 11:59pm.  Please go to orchardcountryproduce.com and navigate to the Store on the top menu bar to place an order before closing time. If you have any questions about items or delivery locations, please shoot us an e-mail and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Thank you! We hope you enjoy the second winter delivery!

The Kecklers @ Orchard Country Produce

Posted 12/7/2012 1:25pm by Gregg Keckler.

Hello all,

Between the final weeks of market, our first Winter Delivery, and preparations for Thanksgiving, November just flew by for us!  In fact, we are coming up on our second winter delivery this month- if you are interested in participating for December and would like further information, please send an e-mail and I’ll add you to the e-mail list.

Well, December greeted us warmly- literally- as we just had a few consecutive days of 60 – 70 degree weather! Although we’ve been in winter mode for a few weeks now, those few days of sunshine helped us kick into high gear as we continue to clean up around the farm.

Oliver and Sarah have been the “cleaning crew” outside and are whittling down the To-Do-Before-Snow-Falls list at an astonishing rate.  They have cleaned out the main produce barn, scrubbed down 2 of the 3 cooling units, packed up the crates, boxes, and bags for next year, put tractors, implements, and the wagons all in the sheds & barns, and are now cleaning out the chicken house, spreading the manure, and repairing the wear & tear on the shed.

Gregg has been making batches of jams and jellies using fruit that we put up in the freezer during the summer.  It’s great to have the house smelling like strawberry jam every morning!  He is also perusing the seed catalogs and placing orders for spring as well as starting some seeds off in the greenhouse. 

We are working on getting the new 2013 CSA information up on the website so folks can sign up for next year after January 1st.  We are also working on putting up some more recent photos on our website and Facebook page, so stay tuned to those for winter updates.  We are also updating our “Testimonials” page on the website and adding reviews from customers on their experience with our farm- you can e-mail us any reviews and we will post them, or you can go on LocalHarvest.org and post them there on our profile (search for Orchard Country Produce, Gardners, PA).

Thank you for your support of our small, family-run, sustainable farming.  Even though we are more than ready to take a break in the winter, we discover that we miss you all during the off-season and look forward to seeing you next year!  In the meantime, we hope you are able to enjoy some produce from our Winter Deliveries and enjoy the upcoming holidays and winter season!
 

Gregg, Louise, Sarah, Virginia, and Oliver Keckler  - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm
www.orchardcountryproduce.com

Posted 12/3/2012 12:55pm by Gregg Keckler.

Hello all,

We hope you had an excellent Thanksgiving and impressed your friends and relatives with the delicious and healthy items (as well as not-so-healthy, but still delicious baked goods...) that you received from your November Delivery orders.  The online store is now open for the December Delivery! The December Winter Delivery will be on Tuesday, November 20th. 

You can follow this link, orchardcountryproduce.com and go to the Store on the top navigation bar.  Browse through the categories, select your items, and checkout and pay via paypal.  If you prefer to pay via check, just fill out the information for mailing a check instead and we will follow-up with you.

When you reach the end of the checkout process, please select the appropriate pickup location.  If you do not see the location you want listed, please e-mail us before you complete your order.  The online store will close on Friday, December 14th at 11:59pm.

Attention: NGS Folks
- Gregg will be setting up & running a special farmstand at NGS on December 20th, but anything that you order from our online store will be delivered on TUESDAY (December 18th) with the Winter Delivery.  Please let me know if you have any questions about these two dates.
    
We'll be sending out our monthly "Farm News" e-mail in the next few days to the General Mailing list.  Even though the farmers market season is over, we are still keeping busy planting in the greenhouse, making jam like there's no tomorrow, and cleaning out the barn.  Sometimes we post photos of these activities on our Facebook page so you can follow along!

If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail and we will get back to you ASAP.

The Kecklers @ Orchard Country Produce

Posted 9/26/2012 8:48pm by Gregg Keckler.
Please forward this email to any list serve with the church and surrounding communites!  Thanks


Farm Market Stand  Open this Saturday! September 22
Just a reminder:  We are ALWAYS there.  We have never missed a market or Farm Stand Day.  So you can depend on us!.  No matter what the weather holds we will be there!
  
  Come to:

   Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church  - 9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda   9am-1pm


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

Let us know if you would like to buy anything in large quanities for canning or freezing.  We can provide it for you.  


We have chicken! FRESH!   
 
  
Concord Grapes!

Yellow Bartlet Pears!


Asian Pears!  

Fresh Apple Cider!
 

Chestnuts!
 
Sun Gold apples are here!  tart-  crisp 
Macintosh apples, Honey Crisp, Golden Supreme, Red Jonathan, Jonagold!  Stayman Winesap, Northern Spy Great apples are HERE!
 

Stanley PLUMS! 

 Many varieties and colors - Cherry and Pear tomatoes!  
    

RED TOMATOES!  Nice sandwich tomatoes! 



Roma Tomatoes!       
 
 
  
 Summer Rambo and MacIntosh for sauce.  These are softer and tarter apples that make good sauce.  Buy them by the quart or the peck!



Lettuce Mix!  Salad Greens


 Broccoli!


   Winter Squash - acorn, spaghetti, fairy tales, carnival, butternut

 Summer Squash!   Yellow Squash

   Zucchini!
  

 CUCUMBERS! 

Eggplant!

 Sweet corn!!     We have MIRA - a good sweet variety that will hold its delicious flavor for several days.  We also have INCREDIBLE - a great yellow corn.


Red beets and Gold beets!   
 

SWEET CANDY ONIONS!   

  
cabbage, kale, Swiss chard!  Time for stir fry!


Red potatoes! 

White new potatoes!


Green Beans!   


Spaghetti Squash    
     
  
 
 
We have our own sweet breads - Banana, Pumpkin, and Zucchini.


Homemade pies - Cherry, Apple, Blackberry, Peach 
We make our own jams and jellies and natural applesauce.


HONEY! 
 
Get ready for the grill!


We have BEEF!  Our own lean pasture-raised beef grown slooowly the way it should be!


Steaks- Filets, NY Strips, Del Monicos, Sirloin, rib steaks, round steaks

  Ground Beef!


We have pork - steaks, chops and 7 inch links. We now have breakfast links as well!

 Our hogs are raised on grass/woodlands.  They love rooting under leaves and eating acorns.  I have been grilling these sausages every Saturday for a while.  They are better tasting and BETTER for you than hot dogs. 


free range EGGS from our own chickens!



We will also be offering cheese from Whispering Brook Farm.  Ed Breckbill makes his own cheese at his farm in Chambersburg, PA.  His cheeses are delicious with a short list of ingredients:  unpasturized milk, vegetable enymes, sea salt.  Check out his cheeses!


 We are looking forward to seeing folks on  Saturday, September 29

Stop in, look around and take home some fresh greens, vegetables, berries,  and baked goods!


If you have any questions, let us know - www.orchardcountryproduce.com or send an email ocp@orchardcountryproduce.com



Gregg, Louise, Virginia, and Oliver Keckler - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm                         


   
                


        


Posted 9/6/2012 5:30pm by Gregg Keckler.
Dear Folks,
   We have almost made it through another summer.  It is hard to believe that the summer has gone so quickly.  Oliver planted the last batch of arugala and lettuce for the year.  We are digging big potatoes and a few sweet potatoes.  We have been gathering spaghetti squash for a week now.  The apples are very early.  Gala are all picked.  Honey Crisp is being picked now.  The Yellow Bartlet Pears are delicious.  We are picking Concord grapes this week.  We still have quite a bit a of summer vegetables and we will have them until frost.  Our heirloom tomatoes are about finished though.  We still have cherry tomatoes and lots of red ones and very good Romas for sauce and roasting. 


We hope the you have had a good summer. If anyone would like to sign up for the Fall CSA, there is still time.  You can go to the website www.orchardcountryproduce.com  and sign up.  You can either pay right there with paypal or you can send us a check for $160 for a half share or $300 for a full share.  Let us know if you have any questions.  


If you haven't checked out our facebook page then you haven't heard the good news that Stuart, our son and his wife, Tamara had their second daughter last week!  We are very excited about the new little farmer in the family.  Tamara's family is visiting from Mexico for the happy occasion.  I hope you enjoy the pictures!


We are still considering having a Winter Delivery at least until January this year.  If you liked it last year and would like to join again, let us know.



Have a great September! 

Gregg, Louise, Virginia, and Oliver Keckler - Orchard Country Produce and Fruit Farm