Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Even Great markets have slow days....

Even great markets have slow days.....
This past Saturday Washington County Artisans and Farmers once again set up shop at the Pierce Polk Vol. Fire Dept in Pekin Indiana for our Valentines weekend offering of local handmade goods and homegrown products. The day started off with a low temperature of 19 degrees F. and a bit of snow but the hot breakfast, good coffe, and friendship amongst vendors and customers definitely made the event worthwhile!
Given the weather we figured the crowd would be quite slow and that we may indeed have a few vendors cancel their appearance at the market and certainly that was the case but it didn't seem to dampen the mood too awful much as it provided the opporotunity to see the market at the opposite extreme of the spectrum compared to the success that we have had at our previous three events. Even with a small crowd and a shortened vendor list I believe all managed to have a good time and some commerce was completed on behalf of market vendors and the fire dept. As well we welcomed with open arms our new dual market masters Anne and Kevin Mutschler who brought along plenty of sunshine on a cold/gray day in the form of their ever optimistic daughter Bonnie.

We even had some fresh produce from our newest vendors R and D Aquaphonics!
As always there was a sense of comraderie and a feeling that we are building towards truly great things for our market and the wider community both within and outside of Washington County. Around 9:00 we were entertained by the strains of music coming from a music circle that we hope to see at market for the forseable future. The nice thing about a slow day at market as well is that the few customers who do come through take a bit more time to peruse items and get to know their vendors and for the vendors who attended this will pay off in spades in coming months as those customers will recall that even during the slow times we are there to provide our goods and services.

All in all a slow market day is just a small piece of the larger puzzle that makes up a successful market and is a growing experience which we can learn from. Sometimes weather and sickness will hinder our market days a bit but brings us closer to the realization that we are a family working to better not just our own business but the market as a whole. This my friends is the "value" in the experience.

We look forward greatly to our two upcoming winter market events in March. The first will once again be at The Pierce, Polk, Vol. Fire Dept with a benefit breakfast on St. Patricks Day (March 17'th) and looks to be a crowd pleaser with a longer vendor list and music circle while the second will be at The American Legion Bingo Hall in Salem Indiana on March 31'st (look forward to more info on special events for this market in the coming weeks).
-Alan Reed Bishop

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Great Glass Elevator

"....a reminder that I am not alone here..." Nothing better than that beautiful blue Febuary sky and daytime moon to remind us just how close to spring we are.
Worm Compost!

So, I teased you guys with my Great Glass Elevator plans the other day and thought I'd take a moment to snap a couple pics and share with you. One of the things that has always stuck out as a possible problem in my sustainability plan for the farm should shit ever get "that bad" was that my greenhouse set up's rely on a petroleum based economy to remain viable due to the plastic covering that needs to be replaced every four or so years. Sure it's nice having a greenhouse, but let's face it, if things are that bad and that plastic goes there's not a lot those frames are potentially good for unless you can find some sheet metal and self taping screws somewhere.

I've been contemplating building a glass house for some time but never had the materials until this past season when I helped a neighbor repair a fence in exchange for some really nice sliding glass storm doors which I put to use for this project. I've still got quite a few out in the supply pile that I'm holding onto in anticipation of Kim and I moving to the backside of the property and building a passive solar greenhouse on our home.

Until then though I've been in need of a bit more space and some higher humidity conditions to help in propigating/rooting small nursery stock so I set out to find a small area of ground to house my new "Elevator" The berry patch just so happened to be just about right.

All that was needed were a few cedar posts and some nails. I recently cut some cedar posts for a friend as a custom order and went ahead and droped the needed posts for this project at the same time, so technically I actually got paid to cut my own posts...... :) I love it when plans work out like that.

Anyhow, one of the other varied needs on the farm was that of a solar dehydrator, I can, in a pinch dry things on racks in the greenhouse and cure turkish tobacco on a specially made tobacco lath rack out there but air control and humidity control are a real pain even with electricity in what amounts to a glorified cold tunnel and without electricity (SHTF) how can I be expected to dry bulk amounts of food?

This project has completely solved that issue. As you can see from the photos below the new greenhouse is in no way air tight, in fact theres lots of fairly large sized cracks and crevices currently filled in with old greenhouse plastic and feed sacks as well the backside of the greenhouse has one window on the outside bottom and one on the inside top leaving a six inch gap with a 12-14 inch differential, the door is also removable on the front and the house is positioned in a north east/south west direction for air flow! This should make for a nice, naturally regulated dehydration house!

While building the house I knew that it wouldn't be heated and that I would need to make up for the lack of heat early in the year with heat sinks if possible thusly the tables you see (soon there will be a set of three shelves around the two side walls and back wall) are set atop of 50 gallon blue poly barrels filled with water (3 to be exact) this is probably actually a bit overkill in a house this small but time and experience will be the true judge.

Also included below are some pics of the nursery stock I started propigating today. Anyhow, enjoy.

Propigation materials from left to right: Blackberry rootstock, Bishop's Dewberry cuttings, Jewel Black Raspberry cuttings, Burbank "Snowbank" blackberry root cuttings.
And thusly spring 2012 begins!
The Great Glass Elevator (or variously The Cosmic Cube!)