Farming for us is about People!

This week we return to the topic of sustainable farming.  

People often tour our farm to see a sustainable farm in action, either as educational groups, or as part of pizza night. When they arrive on farm, I give a brief introduction; first generation farm family, 20 acres, on farm for 10 years, 2 acres in vegetable production, selling through CSA, Farmers Market of The Ozarks, and a few restaurants, three or four full time farm workers, etc. Then I explain that we try to make all of our decisions through the lens of the three P’s; Planet, People, and Profit.    

People are a key part of the farm community, from family members and farmworkers to CSA members, to the wider community that attends pizza night and buys from us at the farmers market. We want to treat the people involved with our farm in an ethical and principled way, and in a way that honors their desire to be happy and have a balanced life. For example, one of the reasons we have lots of covered growing space on the farm is because it gives us a place to work in inclement weather; because we can keep busy even in poor weather, we are able to even out our workload, rather than cramming all our work into a few perfect days.   Another benefit of growing under covered space is that we are able to supply good fresh food for our members year-round, which makes them happy. Our decision to grow naturally is also a choice we made largely due to people; we feel good about feeding our family and members food that doesn’t contain pesticide residue. Our open door policy is also a result of this principle; it’s increasingly difficult for folks to connect with the source of their food, and even rarer for families to participate in a hands-on way. We love having our members come work with us on the farm, and we have structured our farm in such a way that this is possible.   There are many more examples of the way people are considered on our farm, from our vacation policy to our options for delivery and pickup of your shares; we try to keep this a central guiding principle as we continue the process of creating and remaking the farm.  

Next week, a look at a couple of ways that the third P of sustainable farming ties into the design of our farm.

Thanks for choosing us to be your farmers. Curtis, Sarah, Kimby, David, Eric, Ron, Ken, Hazel, Ella, Chelsea, Rebecca, Becca, Karissa, Jennae, Brie, Colby, Emma, Leticia, Anna, Isabella, Leta, Sophia, Grace, Ruth, Reuben, and the rest of the crew at Millsap Farm.  

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3 P’s, 1st one is Planet

The three P’s, part 1 (of) 3, Weeding before planting

People often tour our farm to see a sustainable farm in action, either as educational groups, or as part of pizza night. When they arrive on farm, I give a brief introduction; first generation farm family, 20 acres, on farm for 11 years, 2 acres in vegetable production, 25,000 s.f. under cover, selling through CSA, Farmers Market of The Ozarks, and a few restaurants, three or four full time farm workers, etc. Then I explain that we try to make all of our decisions through the lens of the three P’s; Planet, People, and Profit.

The Planet is the first consideration we talk about, and it’s the one most people think of when they think of an organic farm; we don’t use synthetic fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticide. Instead we focus on soil health, plant health, rotation, and diversity. On our farm this takes many forms, but for now I’ll give one example; weed control in our salad garden. In our salad garden we start the year by forming beds with a tractor, raising the beds above the surrounding area to ensure good drainage and creating a more worker friendly environment (shorter distance to bend down to pick radishes or cut salad greens). We then amend the soil, using an organic fertilizer, and topping each bed with an inch of compost (usually purchased from the city of Springfield or made on farm). Then, we water thoroughly with a sprinkler set, and cover the whole thing with a thick black tarp. By spreading the tarp we give the weeds two of the three things they need to thrive, moisture and warmth, which makes all those dormant weed seeds germinate and pop their heads above the surface. Fortunately for us, when they arrive at the surface, there is darkness; complete and total darkness, from our black tarp. The baby weed seedlings die without light, and when we peel the tarp off in two to four weeks, we have a seed bed that is all ready to grow beautiful, weed-free greens. In fact, each time we do this, which is after each crop (two or three times a season), we reduce the weed seed bank more, until eventually we start to see almost completely weed free beds of greens and radishes and carrots. So in effect we are weeding the soil, not the crop, without the use of chemical herbicides, excessive tillage, or exposing our soil to erosion. That’s good for the planet, and good for you. Next week, a look at a couple of ways that the second P of sustainable farming ties into the design of our farm.

Thanks for choosing us to be your farmers.

Curtis, Sarah, and the rest of the crew at Millsap Farm.

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What do you do about bugs?

What do you do about bugs?  This is always the big question when we explain that our vegetable farm uses organic practices, and the answer is complicated.   Organic agriculture on our farm focuses on creating a diverse and healthy ecosystem, which encourages balance. This means that our fields are a patchwork of different crops (over 45 different crops, with 200+ varieties) to confuse pests, while some areas of our farm are left uncultivated and un-mown to encourage bumble bees, beetles, and other beneficial insects. The numerous trees and bushes all over the farm supply perches and homes for flocks of songbirds and swallows, who eat insects as they patrol our fields, and our mulch beds are prime habitat for frogs and toads (and even the occasional small snake), who consume thousands of insects a year.   All this diversity helps our farm stay balanced, with predators eating pests, pests having alternative hosts other than our crops, and all of them changing with the seasons.   Of course, sometimes this is still not enough, and we have to employ other measures. For example, one thing we use to exclude pests from our crops is floating row cover, which is like an extremely fine netting. Row cover helps us get our squash to maturity without it being destroyed by squash bugs and cucumber beetles. You will notice that this may be the last week until October that we’ll have kale; that’s because usually we get rid of all the brassica family vegetables in the month of July to deprive their pests of an easy dinner, and to diminish their numbers. Other times, we need to apply organic sprays, such as pyganic, which is an extract from a chrysanthemum, and is effective against aphids.   All in all, the answer to the pest problem is complicated, and requires a thorough understanding of the ecosystem we are operating in, along with the lifecycle of our crops, the pests, their predators, and potential remedies ( for example, the wheel bug in the photo above is one of our allies!).  Of course, the results are rarely perfect, which is why you will see some holes in the kale, and will probably have a few corn ear worms in your sweet corn in a couple of months.   But you can be sure that our produce was raised with organic practices, and that we are diligently working each season to get better at pest management.

Thanks for supporting our efforts be be good stewards of the land.

Curtis and the crew.

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Keeping it clean

Just a quick note to let you know what your farmers are doing to ensure a clean healthy food supply during this time of extra concern.

First, let me say that we always take food safety very seriously; we understand that this duty which you have delegated to us, namely providing healthy and safe food for you and yours, is our primary mission.   As part of this, we have taken food safety training classes from the Missouri Department of Agriculture, and then passed that training on to our staff.  Basic precautions like only using produce containers for food, keeping harvested product cold, washing our hands regularly, cleaning/sanitizing surfaces, plus a host of other biological control actions are practices we have been following for years.

Second, due to the current health concerns around COVID-19, we have added a few more measures to our regular precautions:

  1. We are wiping down all regulary touched surfaces in our packshed/farmstand space three times a day with sanitizer.
  2. We are limiting direct food handling to a core staff who have been trained to handle produce with an elevated level of care.
  3. We are washing our hands on a much tighter schedule than usual, and installing a more convenient hand washing sink in the farmstand.
  4. We are offering home delivery, and training our drivers how to avoid spreading pathogens.
  5. We are asking any staff member who shows any signs of fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or has reason to suspect that they have been exposed to the virus, to stay home.

All these, plus other reasonable measures as they arise, are just part of us doing our part to keep our food as safe as possible, and keep from interrupting the supply of excellent fresh produce from our farm to your door.

Speaking of your door, remember that you have several options to get our produce to your kitchen; home delivery on Saturday mornings, pickup on farm from Friday evening to Sunday (this is especially nice if you need a break from the house, but want to keep distance between yourself and others; there is plenty of space in our front pasture, to the north of our parking lot, to take a walk in the green grass, get up close with the blooming fruit trees, and enjoy an abundance of fresh air.  You can also pick up pre-orders or purchase from our stand at the Farmers Market of The Ozarks on Saturday mornings.  To order this way, simply follow this link;  https://app.barn2door.com/e/Qna03

Or, if you would like to look forward to a regular supply of our veggies all summer, sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture share through Harvie.  Our CSA shares offer you the convenience of a weekly  or bi-weekly box, customized to your preferences, and delivered to one of several convenient options.  Join here: https://www.harvie.farm/profile/millsap-farms

Thanks, and eat well, be well.

Farmer Curtis and the Crew at Millsap Farms.

 

 

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Produce Delivered to your Door

Produce delivered to YOUR HOME!! As we all work together to avoid spreading COVID-19 you can order produce at home and have it delivered to your home. We all need to eat!! Our produce is available to you when you order through Barn-2-door. Help us spread the word, you simply place an order, choose delivery or pickup and we take care of the rest. We can do this, let’s go Springfield!

https://app.barn2door.com/e/Qna03/all/?redirectFromEmail=true

https://app.barn2door.com/e/Qna03/all/?redirectFromEmail=true

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FINAL PIZZA CLUB on WEDNESDAY

We are inviting you to join us for Pizza Club this Wedneday. This is the last and final Pizza Club for 2019, so we sure hope you can join us! (our normally schedualed Thursday Pizza Club is expecting rain so we are finishing a day early on Wed.)

Get a reservation at http://millsapfarm.csasignup.com/store/2900
Our delicious wood-fired pizzas are cooked in our handmade New Mexico style horno wood-fired earthen oven at ~800 degrees taking less than 2 minutes to cook. The pizzas are served buffet style where we offer 4 types of pizza every week; 3 pizzas topped with our seasonal produce, plus a cheese option. Each week we harvest our seasonal fresh organically raised produce and create different kinds of pizzas that also feature other local meats, cheeses, sauces and vegetables.

We will provide water, and have sodas and juices for sale if you prefer, but feel free to bring a drink of choice to accompany your meal. Also feel free to bring a salad or dessert. We have a limited number of tables, so bring along chairs, or a picnic blanket to sit on. While you’re here, feel free to check out the rest of the farm, but please be respectful, stay on paths, treat animals with care, stay off machinery, and keep an eye on your kids. Most nights we offer a farm tour lead by Curtis at about 6:30. Bathrooms are in the large greenhouse, and if at all possible carpool to help with parking. At the front of the greenhouse we have a self service farm stand. So on your way out stop in and stock up with produce from your favorite pizza making farm. To pay for produce you will need cash or check to deposit in the green lockbox at the cooler.

We love what we do, and we love to share it with others. Help us spread the word and invite your friends. These are open-air gathering.

Our friend Meredith often has cookies for sale, so you might want an extra treat.

Help us finsih out our 2019 Pizza Club and join us for a lovely evening on the farm eating hot wood-fired farm fresh pizza!!34792088_10216388383732554_5356242264458788864_o

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Pop-up Pizza Club Saturday Oct 12th

So we are expecting to get a gully washer rain tomorrow, so we are having to cancel pizza club Thursday.  But no fear, we see a break in the rain on Saturday and we are expecting a delightful evening, so grab a reservation and come on out! We will have Uke 66 on stage and they are planning to bring their bubble machine and hoola hoops to entertain the littles.  We will start at 5:30 due to the darkness, so we will serve pizza from 5:30 until everyone is satisfied.

Thanks
Sarah
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Whole Hog ~n~ Dance

We are excited to announce we are planning a fall fest Millsap style and we hope you can join us.  Saturday October 5th @ 4:45 we will be welcoming all of you to the farm for a Contra Dance/Whole Hog Roast/Potluck good time.  We will be pit roasting one of our hogs, so bring along something to go with it, potluck style.  We will eat at 5:15, and then we will start contra dancing at about 6:45.  If you have never been to contra dance they are super family friendly good times with large circle, line or square dances. They are similar to square dancing, with a caller, but more of a bluegrass fiddle band feel. Our caller is Jim Thaxter who is coming down from Columbia, Kim Lansford on guitar, David Scrivner will be on fiddle, Nathan McAllister on fiddle/banjo. We hope to dance (or watch) for a few hours.  wpid-2015-05-16-15.29.38.png.png

Things to bring:

Pot Luck Dish and your own tablewear if you have it (or we will have paper for those who forget)

Donation to help cover the cost (suggested $5 a person or whatever your family can afford

Water bottle/ Drink of choice to accompany your eveing

Comfortable shoes

Chairs or a picnic blanket

Carpooling is good!  No dogs please.

If you want to RSVP you can email us at millsapfarms@gmail.com

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Farm News and Fall Happenings

Our Self Serve Farm Stand is up and running, stop by anytime the sun is up and shop with your local farmers!  We have local honey from P&D Honey farm in Fair Grove, Just Coffee from a farmers coop in Mexico that realized that a large portion of the coffee profit goes to the roasters of the coffee.  So a group of farmers joined together to roast coffee in small batches, allowing the farmers to support their families. Terrell Creek Goat cheese from Fordland, really the best cheese you can get!  Eggs from Green Thicket Farm just north of us and soon Fair Share Farm Ferements from Kearney MO with kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles and relish.  Currently we have Dove Moutain Reliance grapes from Moutain Grove as well!  Of course we have our produce and flowers stocked and ready for you anytime, bring cash or check!! Our Fall and Winter CSA shares will be on sale soon!img_1255

Just a quick note that the reservations for September and OCTOBER are now live!  We have had a great summer with you all, and we are looking forward to a beautiful fall.  We hope to see you out on the farm sometime soon!  Get your reservations at http://millsapfarm.csasignup.com/store/pizza-night-tickets

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Also remember during the off season you can order Gluten Free Crust from Ken and Hazel at (919)830-6300. You can order cookies for any of your holiday parties from Meredith with Glee Cakes at (417)838-2033.  img_1194

Get your dancing shoes on and mark your calendars we will be hosting a delightful fall farm party with a PIG ROAST/POT LUCK/CONTRA DANCE October 5th!  More details coming soon!

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We also host a FREE Twilight Farm Walk Tour every 3rd Wednesday of the month at 6:30 all year long.  This is meant for gardners, farms or to-be future farmers.  It ia great chance to see the hows and why of why we work so hard to grow things organically here in the Ozarks. This is a partnership with MU Extention, feel free to share this with anyone you think might be interested. img_1187-1

Finally we host school groups, and we have some grant money to help with the expense of getting your kids out here on the farm.  Contact Curtis for more information. 417-839-0847img_8478

 

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Thursday Night Pizza Club

We have room for you for Thursday Night Pizza this week.  Stevie Newman will be with us on stage, and we hope to see you. Get your reservations at http://millsapfarm.csasignup.com/store/pizza-night-tickets

Here is what I am making:  

Hot Peach Pizza -Sour cream sauce, sliced peaches, red onions, hot peppers, Millsap raised pulled pork, basil, mozzarella, Terrell Creek Feta

Beef & Ratatouille – Olive oil, Schwartz ground beef, roasted tomatoes, zucchini, onions, garlic, eggplant, all covered up with mozzarella and fresh herb blend                        

Spudly -Homemade red sauce, potatoes, oyster mushrooms, mozzarella, and Jarlsberg Cheese

Farmhouse Cheese Homemade marinara all covered up with mozzarella 

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