Garden Lifestyle

Growers and Gardeners Networking

Recently my local farmers' market had a fundraiser at a nearby farm and it was fun and educational to visit with the friends and supporters of the market and the farmers who bring wonderful produce and products to market, not to mention there was lots of good food and beverage.

  • Rhubarb is one of the spring crops being grown at Falcon Ridge Farm. Only the stems of the plant are edible--the leaves are toxic. It pairs especially well with strawberries and raspberries. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Another spring crop is asparagus, which is grown in a long raised bed. Asparagus doesn't all mature at once--the patch needs to visited and cut everyday. It is delectable when freshly harvested.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • They grow many kinds of cherries, both sweet and sour, at Falcon Ridge--here they are already ripening on the trees.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • The many grapevines in the orchard have just finished flowering and are only beginning to form fruit.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Here is a Daikon radish plant in bloom. It is sown throughout the orchard--large radish roots grow down alongside tree and bush roots and aerate the soil. Then the foliage dies on top of the ground and becomes a mulch that repels weeds.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Red and black raspberries are ripening on the vines. These are labor intensive as they must be hand-picked each week for market.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • The blueberry bushes are laden and are ripening now. The blueberries also have to be harvested by hand and are covered with netting to prevent birds from getting them before they ripen. The radishes are also sown amongst the blueberry bushes.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Stanton Gill has built a moveable poultry house with a run, which can be conveniently moved about the farm.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • One of the innovative details for the chicken houses are solar powered doors that open and close with nightfall and daylight.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Nancy and Stan cultivate all kinds of alliums, both ornamental and culinary, which act as a deer repellent in their gardens.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Just down the hill from Falcon Ridge, their neighbor Jessie, has constucted a special edifice/trellis of cables and rope for specifically growing hops.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Hop plant vines are just beginning to twine up the rope.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

Recently my local farmers’ market had a fundraiser at a nearby farm and it was fun and educational to visit with the friends and supporters of the market and the farmers who bring wonderful produce and products to market, not to mention there was lots of good food and beverage. Check out the photos above of garden grown produce and a few things new to me…

My local farmers’ market is Olney Farmers’ and Artists’ Market (https://olneyfarmersmarket.org/) in Olney, Maryland–it is run by a number of hardworking volunteers, spearheaded by Janet Terry and Judy Newton and takes place on Sundays from 9 am until 1 pm. There are many growers and artisans, always music and a cooking demo–good food to eat there–and great food and plants to take home.

They organize a few fundraisers every year to raise money to support the market and the one which I recently attended was held at MacBride and Gill Falcon Ridge Farm (www.facebook.com/Falconridgefarm) in the rolling hills of Westminster. Falcon Ridge Farm is owned and operated by Nancy MacBride and Stanton Gill and their daughters, Chelsey and Kelly. They have 73 acres where they have old woods as well as a working orchard of old and new plantings.

Stanton’s wealth of professional knowledge as an Extension Specialist with the University of Maryland, specializing in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Entomology, is an added plus to the farm–he also teaches Landscape Technology at Montgomery College. If you want an in-depth book for identifying and controlling pests in the garden, I highly recommend the serious tome Pests & Diseases of Herbaceous Perennials–The Biological Approach by Stanton Gill, Raymond A. Cloyd, James R. Baker, David L. Clement and Ethel Dutky.

At Falcon Ridge, they grow many varieties of fruit trees–over 40 kinds of apples, peaches, sour and sweet cherries, Asian pears, persimmons and even pawpaws. They have berry bushes from blueberry to red and black raspberries, and currants, along with many kinds of nut trees and grapevines. Their spring crops are rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries, which are being harvested and sold at market now.

Daikon radishes are sown throughout the orchard–the large radish roots grow down alongside tree and bush roots and aerate the soil. Then the foliage dies on top of the ground and becomes a mulch that repels weeds. Nancy and Stan cultivate all kinds of alliums, both ornamental and culinary, which act as a deer repellent in their gardens.

So about 50 people gathered at Falcon Ridge Farm on a lovely, sunny day, where we wandered through the gardens and then had a delicious brunch in the barn, which was decorated with gorgeous flower arrangements. Food was created by Mark Mills of Chocolates and Tomatoes, and many of the vendors and volunteers prepared and donated their produce, homemade cheeses, scones, breads, desserts, salads and more. The farm’s just-picked strawberries were abundant and delectable.

We had a guided wine tasting, then a tour of the farm, as well as the hop garden at their neighbor Jessie’s place and then we had a craft beer tasting, dessert and Zeke’s coffee. Everyone departed well satiated, having eaten local food and supported a good cause. Many thanks for everyone’s hard work and to MacBride-Gill family for hosting the event. Shop at and support your local farmers’ market!

 

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