Join me on a virtual tour of Millsap farm. I’ll show you the long rows, the tiny sprouts, and what its like to work on the farm.
(Above image courtesy of http://ozarkscraft.wordpress.com)
Millsap farm is a 20 acre farm located just a few minutes north of I-44. They have 5 acres of vegetables, 11,000 square feet of greenhouses.
They host lots of workers, student interns, apprentices and even families that live and help on the farm.
When you pull into the drive, one of the first things you’ll see is the free range chickens.
(image courtsey of http://valeriemosley.blogspot.com)
The chicken house is mobile and they move it around the farm occasionally. It looks like its made of scrap materials, all pieced together perfectly. Farmers are green, ya know….no need to purchase new materials for a chicken coop.
Speaking of farmers, that’s Curtis. He’s the man behind it all. He’s always in overalls and has a smile on his face.
You’ll likely be greeted by a handful of animals. They are all sweet and friendly- especially this big guy.
In addition to chickens, the Millsaps also raise ducks and turkeys. Their houses are mobile too. They move them to a new place every couple of days to dig in new dirt, find new bugs to eat and aerate the soil.
If you’ve ever wondered whether your eggs are truly “free range” or anything else, you can see them for yourself. They all look healthy, happy, and um…..delicious!
Keep going up the drive and you’ll come to the main greenhouse and the gathering area. This is where the seeding, sprouting, sorting, rinsing, bagging, and shopping all takes place.
(image courtesy of http://comohomestead.com)
They have quite the set up in this greenhouse- its heated in the winter and there is a large walk-in cooler for crop storage.
Lets take a look inside. This time of year there are lots of seedlings (mostly summer crops) that are really starting to give life.
Here’s how they do it: First mix up a bunch of mud on the concrete floor. And next use a rusty old amish-looking tool and you end up with cute little dirt boxes like these:
Next you put your seeds in, and label the box. Remember when I told you these farmers were “green”?
The seed labels are cut up window blinds. Genius, huh? I only wish I would have seen these before I found row markers for my home garden at Crate and Barrel….
Then we set the seeds to sprout. Eventually you want lots of boxes that look like this:
Next lets take a look at what’s already growing. This CSA is year-round, so there’s always something growing.
This picture was taken in February 2010. I can see all sorts of things growing: Onions, cilantro, tat soi, carrots, chinese cabbage, romaine, thyme…..
Here’s a big patch of arugula (and a hunk!)
This time of year, there’s still plenty growing outside too. Curtis uses different kids of row covers. Some protect from frost, others protect from too much sun.
On the majority of work days, you’ll likely find yourself harvesting greens in some regard. Other duties include harvesting other vegetables, digging up potatoes, seeding, weeding, washing, and sorting.
In a covered bed, we find spinach.
Its cut by hand, thrown into a bin and taken to the main greenhouse.
All the greens get washed, spun and bagged by 4pm when the members arrive.
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