In the Press!

A friend who is a talented writer and follower of what’s happening here on the farm recently published an article to discuss leaving the big city and becoming a full-time farmer. We were very pleased to be the subject of her article. Read it here!

 

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2017 CSA

Our Bounty Baskets sold so well last year that we have decided to start our very first CSA starting this Spring! A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is basically a subscription for a “share” of produce and whatever other products we have to offer. We are implementing 3 seasons (Spring (SOLD OUT), Summer, and Fall) at a length of 8 weeks each. Each Spring and Fall share will cost $170 ($20 per week plus a $10 crate deposit that will be put towards product at the end of the season) and the Summer share will cost $210 ($25 per week plus the $10 crate deposit). If you are interested in learning more about the terms and pickup details, etc. (delivery is also available to certain locations!), please contact us through Facebook (we need your email address) or send an email to harpandshamrockcroft@yahoo.com, and we will email you a copy of the contract to look over. Our Spring CSA deadline is January 31, and there are only a few spots left, so act quickly if you are interested!

2017-csa

In the Spring we are expecting to have eggs, lettuce, arugula, kale, radishes, beets, sugar pod peas, onions, and carrots. The Summer shares should contain eggs, summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, heirloom slicing tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, fresh cut herbs, onions, basil, eggplant, okra, and green beans. In the fall shares you can expect butternut and acorn squash, kale, arugula, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, beets, carrots, and herbs. We will include eggs most of the time but likely not all of the time. On occasion we may include some fresh baked bread or homemade goat milk soap to accompany your farm fresh vegetables. We offer quality and variety, and everything we grow here is chemical-free for your health. Thank you for considering joining us in the local food movement!

2016 In Review

Our little farm has had a very exciting year! Thanks to all of you, we ran a successful Indiegogo campaign,

appreciation-dinner held our first farm-to-table dinner on site,

brought our first kids into the world, started milking goats and making cheese, ice cream, and soap,

doubled our gross sales, started our Bounty Baskets,

participated in the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Upstate Farm Tour for the second year,

root-vegetablesgrew over 3,000 lbs. of produce,

greenhouse-may2sold over 1,000 plants,

etsy-announcementopened our Etsy shop,

me-on-tractor-in-a2bought a tractor,

christmas-2016-family-picand went full-time with our endeavor.

As with every experience, we learned a lot. We learned a little more about how to grow a variety of products for our customers without stretching ourselves too thin. We learned a little about carrying products from other local farms to make your shopping on-site with us more convenient. It was a difficult year concerning the weather, but we learned a few things about working smarter and not harder. Farming is a constant learning curve, and there will always be obstacles that we aren’t expecting; we’ve come to expect that much at least. 🙂

We have big plans for next year including doubling our gross sales yet again, opening a brick and mortar store on site, starting a CSA, participating in more markets, and increasing our wholesaling so that our products can be found in more retail establishments. We are opening up our Friday mornings for field trips for small school groups this spring. We are also devising a class schedule to teach others in the community how to get their own gardens started, make their own food with vegetables from their own gardens, how to process their own chickens, how to make soap, how to care for other livestock, etc. These classes will be taught by us as well as other farmers in the Upstate. While we are considering what topics to cover, we’d love to hear from you! What kinds of classes would you like to see available here on the farm?

As we close down the farm for a short break and put the land to rest until we wake her up again for the next season, we reflect on the amazing bounty of the year and incredible journey that we are on. We couldn’t do this without the loyalty of our customers. You are the reason we can continue to serve. We do hope that you will keep in close contact to see the big things that we are about to accomplish. It’s been an amazing year, but it’s only getting better!

In the meantime, please remember that while we are not selling our famous Bounty Baskets, we will continue to provide fresh pastured and organic-fed eggs, plus a few other products like kale, arugula, and Romaine; and there is always goat milk soap as well!

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A very happy New Year from all of us here at Harp & Shamrock Croft!

Calling All Locavores!

This year has been a very big year for Harp & Shamrock Croft! Once we had a couple of years’ experience behind us, we decided that it was time to take a chance. So we moved forward with the decision to farm full-time. You all helped make that possible with supporting us both through our sales and also with our successful crowd-funding campaign this past spring. We are so thankful for your show of support. Our sales this summer were incredible!

We consider ourselves fortunate to be a part of Hub City Farmers’ Market which runs nearly year-round, enabling us to bring out our produce weekly (plus goat milk soap and new handmade items for the gift-giving season) every month of the year! However, the last few months have caused us a bit of concern. We are going to remain positive here, because negativity and farming do not mix. We love what we do, and we would not do it if we didn’t love it. But there is something we need to say: we still need your support after summer is over.

market-september

If we are going to continue to supply you with local, fresh, sustainably raised heirloom tomatoes, green beans, okra, and squash in July, then we need you to buy your local, fresh, sustainably raised kale, arugula, radishes, lettuce, beets, and carrots in November and December. Your farmers need your support year-round. We’re not looking for sympathy. This isn’t just about your local farmers needing to pay their bills. This is about you having access to local food when you want it. We cannot be at the farmers’ markets in July if we cannot support ourselves in November, December, and January.

arugula-pick

While incredibly rewarding, farming is difficult work. There are many obstacles to contend with: the condition of the soil, pests, weather. Even a good year with the elements calls for us to be working sun-up to sun-down with planting, weeding, watering, harvesting. With all that farming requires, we absolutely need to be able to count on our customers. You, our beloved patrons, are the only way we bring in our income. You are the key. We could produce tons of produce every week, but it would amount to very little if our customers didn’t buy it.

We understand that you can go to any grocery store any time and buy produce. However, there are so many benefits to eating seasonally. The food that is sold on-farm or at your local markets is always the freshest, which means it is the most nutritious. Many people also believe that food grown in close proximity to where you live is better for you because it’s part of the same biome or environment; therefore it is more properly matched to the nutrients that your body needs. Also, consider how supporting your local farms equates to supporting your local economy, thereby keeping your money closer to your community. We can assure you that every single dollar you spend with us is money well spent.

root-vegetables

Eating locally, or seasonally, means eating what is growing in your geographical location when it is growing there. It means buying your strawberries in the spring and early summer, your tomatoes from July until October (if you’re in SC), and your kale from October through December. It means perhaps buying something new and learning how to prepare it! We love when you ask “How do you fix your eggplant?”  We might even ask you to tell us how to make something! It might also mean eating so much of a certain crop that you don’t ever want to eat it again, and then being happy to see it at the market again in 10 months. But it also means having the freshest tasting, most nutrient-dense food imaginable.

We are all in this together. We cannot be out there for you every weekend of the summer if fall and wintertime leave us unable to support ourselves. We want to be there for you. We just need your support. Please remember to buy what your local farmers are providing, and please spread the word. People listen when their friends recommend a business or a product! We are doing what we can to bring you quality as well as variety. Please help us (and yourselves) continue to do that! And since we are partnering together in this local food movement, we welcome your suggestions. We so appreciate you and want you to be happy.

For a great read on seasonal eating, read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle  by Barbara Kingsolver.

Why goats?

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c-milking-agatha

I’ve shared with many a customer that the main reason I started keeping goats three years ago was so that I could eventually make goat milk soap with milk from my own goats. After owning them for 2 years, one failed attempt at breeding, and finally successful breeding and kidding, we have milk. Boy, do we have milk! I haven’t had to buy milk for the family since January. And Paul, who cannot properly digest cow’s milk, is fine with small amounts of goat’s milk!

boy-goats-and-penny

We have had more than enough milk for drinking fresh and cooking, so we bought an ice cream machine and have been making raw goat milk ice cream as well! It’s delicious, homemade, and a very healthy alternative to store-bought pasteurized cow’s milk. So far we have tried vanilla, strawberry, peach, chocolate, and mint-chocolate chip! We are also experimenting with fresh, raw chevre, which has been amazing as well.

ice-cream

This past spring I finally learned the basics of soapmaking. It’s quite rewarding, I’ve got to say. There’s quite a lot of trial and error to the process, but once I played around a bit, I found a basic recipe that I like, and the rest is just adding ingredients for color and scent. I’ve decided to stick to only natural ingredients, such as essential oils, herbs, and food. This way, I know that no manmade chemicals are being absorbed into the skin or flushed into the water source while using my homemade soaps.

calendula-with-goats

3-soaps

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There are many benefits to using homemade soap, particularly soap made with goat’s milk. Many people who struggle with skin conditions such as eczema claim that goat milk soap helps. It also just feels nice; and you also support a small business when you buy handmade.

full-line-of-soaps

Here is our full line of 100% goat milk soap available for purchase: Chocolate, Spearmint, Peppermint (with Activated Charcoal), Lavender, Bergamot, Pumpkin Spice, Oatmeal-Honey, and Cinnamon. $5 each.

Besides all the goodies we can make with fresh goat milk, our little herd has been such a joy to keep. I’m reminded every day what beautiful souls my children are becoming through learning how to care for God’s creatures. Raising animals is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a strong, sensitive person to deal with the delicacies of caring for these animals. You need to be able to listen with a sixth sense, and that is a learned skill. I’m so thankful our children are developing these abilities at an early age. Plus: ice cream! and cheese! and soap! and cajeta! and custard! and . . .

Fall Is Finally Here

Wow! That was a hot one.

The summer was such a challenge given the constant high temps and no rain. Through it all though, we managed to get our fall crops in and made the best of it. We thought we would share a few pictures.

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fbool-collageWe tried a different radish, top left, his fall. It has done outstanding.

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We are still going strong on hot peppers. Our golden max green beans have really popped too. In the last two weeks, we have picked almost 15 lbs.

table-at-hcfm-with-soap

Tis the season for leafy greens. We went heavy on arugula and kale this year. So far, the arugula has been outstanding. Kale has struggled due to aphids. We are just having trouble getting the kale under control.

buttercrunch-lettuceTo hit the shelves soon…lettuce. This is a close up of our buttercrunch lettuce. We hope to have this available for sale next week.

s-on-new-tractor

I just had to show off the new toy. We were desperately in need of a tractor and made the commitment back in August. It has already helped us improve our growing areas. Back in the spring, we could not control the weeds and grass as we used a tiller to cultivate beds. The dirt was not turned over enough to ensure grass would not push through. With the tractor and plow, we have seen some grass and weed growth in these same gardens, but it has been easily manageable.

me-on-tractor-in-a2

Using the tractor was surprisingly easy. We bought a 12″ turn plow, attached here, and a 12 disc harrow to work on these growing areas. The results have just been amazing.

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If you are interested in having any tractor work done to prep your garden for the coming Spring, please reach out as we would like to help. Our rates are competitive.

 

Spring and Summer Work

We know it’s ben a while since we last posted. Our apologies. But given what we have been doping (e.g., goat kids, planting, farmers’ markets, farm tour, etc.) it’s a bit tough to sit down at a computer to write sometimes. Nothing better though than to show what e have been doing through pictures. Take a look at the bounty so far:

Greer Citizen

 

 

We were contacted by The Greer Citizen in early June to talk about being on the farm tour again. It has ben a great year for media coverage as The Spartanburg Herald Journal and Fox News local have covered us.

 

 

 

Squash and Zuke

 

 

We planted over 55 cucumber plants and a slew of squash and zucchini. Everything has been coming in nicely.

 

 

 

Market

 

Market season kicked on in late-March. It’s ben a very successful year so far. New to the table this year has been the addition of beets and onions. We transplanted the beets this year as previous year harvests have been bad. We did something right as we are still selling these. Onions were a great addition too. We sold the last of our early onion, but have others that will be ready soon as well as started seeds for the Fall.

 

Jenni had an idea this year to help us maximize our work. She created what is called the Bounty Basket. Each week before market harvest, we send out on Social Media what we have available and how many baskets. It’s a variety that changes each week and even includes the goat milk soap. The endeavor has been a sheer success and the feedback on our produce has been amazing.

Bounty Basket IILettuce eggs peas etcBounty Basket

Soap

 

Goat milk soap was an endeavor that we wanted to try given the great, and excessive, amount of milk we have now. It’s been a huge hit. During the farm tour recently, people really found it to be a great buy and excited to try it at home. We have plenty available!

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for more great updates!