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Posted 8/9/2014 2:20pm by Stacey Roussel.

Deep thought and tough decisions describes my last 6 months of farming. Our farm was at a cross road, and we have decided to make a sharp turn. I will not be growing vegetables this fall for our CSA.

We added dairy goats about 6 years ago to our farming operation in order to boost fertility in our soil, and some crazy things have happened along the way. They have multiplied like crazy and I discovered that I have a great respect for these beautiful animals and I really enjoy working with them.

Our 2 female goats have turned into 3 males and 20 females, enough to start a real dairy next spring. We have been exploring business models and I would like to continue that journey we started back in February.

First let me say that I have deep respect for each and every one of my CSA members. It is not easy to work with a farmer, it is not easy to cook with what the seasons produce, it is not easy to find food that is transparent and honest and works to respect and sustain the land and labor. My members have all taken this journey with me. I have been their farmer, and I am honored to remain their farmer and friend for a lifetime if that is possible.

A reality is that it was becoming too hard for me to produce high quality, poison free food each week that is picked by legal labor paid a fair wage while still meeting the price point that many families need me to hit.  I have a family, and we are fully aware of the pressures put on budgets, and we also realize that we have to obey the market forces just like anyone else. In addition to being a farmer, I am also a mother and a wife.  If I were to spend less money on labor by spending more time in my field with my vegetables, I would have had less time with my family and much less time to focus on what comes next. Basically, I needed to make a change so I decided that I will not be doing a vegetable CSA any longer.

What’s next? Well, in the short term, I will continue my egg and pork shares.  The shares are popular, with repeat customers.  I know that I can continue to produce a quality product for our customers. For those who were never ready to take this journey with me in the past, I highly recommend that if you want local food, you support it. I know it’s not always easy, but I also know that it is worth it. 

By next spring, stay tuned for other announcements about our progression. I am excited for this new step and hope that you will follow me as we continue this walk in sustainable agriculture.

And in the we will need to decide what to do with our land on Dannhaus (where most of you have seen the work that I do). As some of you know, we have 3 pieces of property, and the Dannhaus property was used primarily for my vegetables. Part of focusing on what is next is to limit the number of properties that I need to work. If you know of anyone that wants to start farming, our ideal scenario would be to find someone that wants to rent or buy my land and farm it themselves… perhaps serving those customers in their own CSA someday.  I would like for that property to continue serving our community, and would even consider hosting an intern exchanging experience for work. We are even considering selling the property, but my hope would be that it remain in small scale agriculture.

What can you do? Continue to support me in the ways that you do. If you buy eggs or pork, please continue to subscribe to those farm offerings. And when we move the our new products, hopefully this Spring, please help us get the word out.  If you have a pile of cash hidden in your backyard and want to support a micro dairy, call me.

I always strive to be honest, transparent, and good… and to provide good food to people who love to eat.  Your Farmer. Stacey Roussel

Posted 3/9/2014 9:09pm by Stacey Roussel.

I hope all of you are well.  I wanted to touch base with each of you to tell you about things happening here on the farm.  It’s turning out to be a very busy spring.  

 

My new hire has turned out to be a good worker.  He has settled into the rhythm of our farm; we have made good progress but he told me last week that he has decided to move back to Hawaii.  It’s really hard to compete with fresh coconuts and perfect weather.  This means that I will be looking for someone to work with us.  I am not sure what that looks like just yet.  I will keep you posted about our fall shares.  

 

EGG Shares...

Our chickens have really ramped up production.  I have also met a new farmer in Needville who has really nice eggs.  I have been to his farm.  The chickens are well cared for and on pasture. I would like to open up shares just for eggs; I am confident that our combined flocks can fill many shares.  

 

I can make deliveries every other week.  I am hoping that picking up 2 dozen eggs will be worth your trip to the pickup sites.  I propose the shares start March 20th and will run through the end of May.  

 

PORK Shares...

We have pork shares still available for this spring.  I am hoping that the pigs will be ready for the butcher by the end of May.  If you would like to reserve a half or whole pig, please let me know and spread the word.  I will be writing a blog about the pasture remediation done by our hogs this week in case you are curious.  My husband, Jay picked up a new round of pigs for the fall today.  They will go to work on our pasture as soon as we can train them with our fencing.  

 

SUMMER Camp...

All We Need will have a summer farm camp this year for children 8-13.  I wanted to make an announcement to you before spreading the work outside of our memberships.  We will limit camp sizes to 12 children.  Member families get a discount on registration. 

 

More information about the shares and camp is on the website.  If you have any questions, I would love to talk to you.  

 

www.allweneedfarms.com 

713-305-2005-my cell

 

Your farmer, 

Stacey 

 

p.s. 

If you were a member of the winter and fall shares, you may receive this email twice.  I am sorry for doubling up. 

Posted 1/9/2014 3:19pm by Stacey Roussel.

A walk through our fields show that there is very little damage.  CSA will commence next week as planned!!!!!   

This is huge.  I feel like I have just passed a huge final exam.  We grow vegetables, but what I really do every day is work on soil.  Soil is the beginning and the end of all life.  If you stop and think about that for a minute, it can blow your mind.  We are so connected to soil in ways that the average person will never think about.  

I really am certain that a temperatures well below freezing should have resulted in a huge loss.  We had two days of cold below the point where our plants should die and 25 mile per hour winds on Sunday and Monday to dry any water out of their leaves.  Our hoses frozen all the morning limited our abilities to water Monday and Tuesday.  I was expecting to write a very sad letter today, but instead our soil pulled us through. 

The biology working under our field rows generated enough heat to save our crops; this is a story that a conventional farmer could not tell.  Our compost pile is smoking today at 150 degrees.   

We still have shares available, so if you have friends who are interested, pass the word.  

Eggs are another story.  The chickens are still producing below where we were in October.  I am behind on egg shares for the fall season, and I won’t be able to fill winter egg shares until we catch up.  I am sorry.  Our chickens are steady, but slow.  I will make sure everyone gets their eggs eventually. 


Your happy farmer, 


Stacey 

Posted 1/6/2014 1:03pm by Stacey Roussel.

We were scheduled to start shares next week.  I am so sorry this is my first email to you, and it goes like this.  We are expecting a hard freeze tonight.  I am not sure what that means for our fields.  We have active biology, and are taking steps today to water and cover as much as possible, but I am not sure how everything will do.  Two days of ice cold wind have not helped either.  


I will be in touch with you.  Please pray.  Freezing temps damage cell walls and once it is done, there is not much we can do to make it better.  


The good news is that the hoses are no longer frozen and we can water our rows.  Our animals are all out of the wind and fed really well.  Our compost pile is at 110 despite the cold, I am going to use that to my advantage as much as possible.  

 


Your cold farmer, 


Stacey 

Posted 11/7/2013 6:29am by Stacey Roussel.
Another letter written to the FDA in response to their proposed regulation- from a long time member.  Thank You, Mary Ann...

I am a 73 year old retired registered nurse, married for 50 years, mother of 3 and grandmother of soon to be 5 grandchildren. I worked as a health professional in a variety of positions, including maternal and child health which involved being a childbirth educator, postpartum mother/baby care instructor, breastfeeding consultant and pediatric office nurse. I have long been passionate about nutrition and my responsibility as a parent and now grandparent for preparing and serving food that is both healthy and delicious. I am a gardener and have a small kitchen garden but must supplement from other sources to provide the freshest, safest foods for my family, so through the years I have purchased dairy products, meats, and vegetables from farmers markets, vegetable and cheese co-ops, and more recently from CSA shares in a nearby small farm. I trust my farmer and know that she researches, plans, plants and harvests to provide toxin free and safe food. My extended family benefits from these results as I bring this into my kitchen.
 
In addition, I am a writer, and post weekly to a food blog called Kitchen Keepers which has a much wider readership than I ever envisioned. In posting recipes and family stories about food and my cooking adventures with my grandchildren, I pass along my conviction for growing and purchasing locally as well as the joy of gathering generations to enjoy being around the table.
 
I urge you to consider the threat to farmers and to families like mine that this farm bill presents. The proposed administrative demands and constrictions will sharply diminish offerings from if not eliminate small local farms. Please hear my request to honor the needs of families for variety and availability of fresh, nutrient-dense foods coming from sources which we know and trust. I don't want my grandchildren to lose the intimate connection and awareness of planting, growing, harvesting and preparing the foods they eat. I want them to be able to bless both food and farmer when we are thankful for our food at mealtime.
Posted 11/5/2013 6:24am by Stacey Roussel.

One of the members of our CSA wrote this letter to the FDA as commentary on their proposed regulation.  Jill has a very good understanding of the work I do, and why it matters.  Her letter touched me, and I asked to share it with you.

If you have time to comment here is a great link that explains how...http://farmandranchfreedom.org/alert-fda-comments-food-safety-regulations/#action

 

 

I am a high school teacher, childbirth educator, and mom to five. I have been keenly interested in the health of children, my own and others, since I was pregnant with my first child and realized that that baby inside me truly was made of what I ate. Since that time, I have devoted a large portion of my time and energy researching proper nutrition--nutrition that has stood the test of time and that has been passed down for generations.

 

The farm bill in question here has so many problems, it is hard to express the anguish I feel.  Our basic freedom to seek and obtain food as we see best for our selves and families is being threatened. The actual availability of real, nutrient-rich food will diminish as small farms are unable to cope with the additional administrative demands. Small-scale farms, ones like the CSA farm I am a member of, will be regulated out of business.  

 

I will leave the finer problems of the bill for farm groups to attack. I trust that they can cover the topics better than I can, but please hear me as a mother and consumer.

 

In my years of experience buying through CSAs and farmer’s markets, I have never met a grower who does not daily consume her own food and feed it to her family. Through countless conversations, I’ve listened to the passion with which these growers work tirelessly to respect the natural processes, enrich the biology of their soil, and keep their farms as toxin-free as possible. I trust my locally farm-raised produce, meat, eggs, milk, and honey far more than any product from the grocery store. I am excited by the rich colors, flavors, and freshness that come from their fields. My kids eat more vegetables than most kids I know because they have visited the farm where their food grows and felt the joy of pulling a carrot up by its roots.

 

In societies, agricultural traditions don’t come about by ignorance, but usually through sound practice.  Too often, food trends come and go (think of the failed food pyramid and the trans fat fiasco). As thinking humans, we are tempted to think that we can design/engineer foods and food production to be healthier when we assign plans, formulas, and regulations.  We’ve all seen the old infant formula ads touting formula as nutritionally superior to breast milk. We created the dust storm of the 1930s when we tried to short-cut production. Chemicals kill the natural biology of the soil, thereby creating the need for more chemicals. Genetically modified foods are being rejected all over the world as they prove deleterious to animals and people.  Not surprisingly, it turns out that the more we respect the natural balance of the earth through traditional, sustainable practices, the better the results. Small farms already know this. What disaster are we asking for next by ridding the country of traditional farms and the farmers who possess farming wisdom?

 

The FDA believes that by regulating and controlling our food production, our food will be healthier. This is simply wrong, and is an agenda pushed by large farming corporations with significant financial interests in controlling the food supply. It ignores the safety problems inherent in large-scale food production. It denies communities control over their own food choices. This leaves the consumer completely out of the loop and at the mercy of the interests of politicians and appointees. It denies our intelligence in choosing what we see best for our families to consume.

 

Finally, I find it deeply ironic that when the First Lady has set an example by planting an organic garden on the White House lawn, the FDA seeks to prevent growers and consumers from benefitting from community-based farming.  

 

If you hear anything at all, please hear this: I am a mother and I choose locally grown agricultural products because they are BEST for my family. I do not need any governmental agency determining what is fit for my family and me to eat. I am simply appalled that these choices are being threatened.

 

Sincerely,

Jill Thaxton


Posted 10/28/2013 11:51am by Stacey Roussel.

Pasture Remediation-It’s been a long haul remediating pasture with pigs instead of a herbicide.  I could see good things happening on our land, but how was the meat inside the pig?  Our pigs went to market, and I am happy to say that the chops and bacon we ate this week were excellent!  On Friday, Jay and I delivered a half pig to two of our member families.  

The good news is we have three more pigs available, and I hope that they will be ready for Thanksgiving.  If you need a ham for the holidays, you might consider stocking your freezer.  We can only sell half or whole pigs (thanks to the state of Texas), but that doesn’t mean you can share with a neighbor or two or three.  Our pigs were raised on pasture supplemented with non GMO barley and goat milk, all cure done without nitrates.  Please spread the word and call with questions.

 

Open Farm Day-This Sunday, November 3rd.- 3-5pm...We will give tours of our fields, and try to explain the work we do.  Weather Permitting...If you plan to come, let me know.  I will send directions and instructions before Friday.  


Field Work-
So grateful for the rain this weekend.  We planted radish, arugula leek and parsnips on Friday.  I watered Friday and Saturday, and the rain on Sunday should help us along.  Boc Choy to go in later today or tomorrow.  We expect more rain by Wednesday!  


Shares this week are looking great~

Half Shares- 1/2 lb sunchoke, 1/2 lb of mustard, long beans (quantity is a ? - harvest from week to week changes), Eggplant 1lb

Full Shares-1 lb Sunchoke, 1 lb mustard, 1 lb of greenbeans, Parsley, Lemon Squash- (Quanity is a ?)  

Thank you all very much! Have a great week.

 

Your farmer-Stacey ~713-305-2005...

Posted 10/1/2013 11:41am by Stacey Roussel.

Heads UP~We will start CSA NEXT WEEK, October 8th and 9thLooking at our fields, I think we have enough produce and starting early will give us flexibility through the end of the season in case there is a lull in our fields.  My plan is to call everyone before Monday to make sure they have received this message, that’s over 50 calls.  If you get this message and don’t need to hear from me, please reply by email and give your farmer more time in the field.  

 

I am sorry that I did not get this message out yesterday, but I made a decision looking at the forecast to do as much field work as possible.  We are getting nice rain today, and that was a good decision.  Clay and I planted cabbage and transplanted plum trees in anticipation of the rain.  Today, I emptied the greenhouse so that all of our transplants can see the sky and get some rain.  

 

The rain I wrote about last week helped germinate lots of seed for us, but the large amounts of water that fell did not help our melons.  The watermelon and cantaloupe we sampled on Friday were not sweet at all.  Too much water close to harvest will do this, and so our pigs are eating well, I could not include them in the share.  

 

Last week, we cleared raised beds and planted carrots.  I saw little carrots growing in one of those beds today, so I am hopeful about the others because the plantings were a couple of days apart.  We also cleared field rows and planted turnips.  Turnips were not something I ate as a child, but they are one of my new favorite vegetables.  I hope you can appreciate their savory sweetness, and I hope they grow well for us.  

 

We spent some time weeding arugula last week.  This week, weeding mustard greens are on our to do list.  The rain is stopping that progress today, but these rainy days we focus on our raised beds.  The weeding work can continue.  As soon as our beds are cleared, we will plant the first round of lettuce.  I am so ready for beautiful salads.  

 

All of our pigs, chickens and goats got new pasture last week.  The chickens did an excellent job cleaning summer growth to make room for fall and winter veggies.  

 

The hydraulics on my tractor are working really slowly.  My neighbor, Mr. Gray is going to help me to understand why.  We are waiting on Rosenberg Tractor to get a new filter in, so this weekend, I hope to learn about how to fix my problem.  

 

Thank you and if you have any problems or questions about next week, please let me know.  


Your farmer-Stacey  713-305-2005

Posted 9/9/2013 3:34pm by Stacey Roussel.

 

Just a clarification, I want to explain a little of how it all works...our season starts mid October because it’s really hard to get anything but Okra to grow to harvest in Texas August heat.  We are busy planting every week in order to be prepared for your shares, and so in order for you to stay connected with our work, I send weekly updates.  As harvest gets closer and we have a good idea of where our fields stand, I will be very open about those dates.  I will try to call everyone the week shares begin.  We do our best to make sure that everyone gets their produce.  

 

Once we start harvest, you will receive 2 emails a week from me.  One on Sunday with an expected harvest, and one later in the week with any changes we made as well as recipe suggestions.  Strange things happen-we had a whole refrigerator of arugula freeze last season due to a fridge malfunction.  Sometimes we make mistakes packing shares, and so you should contact me if your bag is missing something-I will make it good.  If anything happens and we have to call off harvest for a week, I will communicate to you on Sunday evening.  The Sunday email is important.  You will receive 9 weeks of produce!

 

If for any reason you are out of town during our season, if you let me know the Sunday before we begin harvest for that week, I will credit your share.  You can also choose to donate, we give to St. Vincent De Paul here in Needville.  

 

UPDATE...

Broccoli, mustard, arugula sowed last week has all germinated.  That is very good news.  We were able to plant Lemon and Cushaw squash with great success as well.  The plants made through transplant shock.  Clay has instructions to water them today.  Cabbages in the greenhouse look great; although, they are growing at a snails pace.  

 

Our Nubian Buck Beau Denver and his whether friend, Dusty, worked at the farm last week to graze SunHemp that we planted as a cover crop.  The goats moved through that very quickly; we will be planting there in short order.  

 

This weekend was very productive.  Jay, my husband, started training to become a Master Naturalist, and then we drove to Katy to pickup a gently used fridge for the barn.  This extends our harvest capacity and means that, hopefully, we can avoid the arugula freezing like last season.  

 

On Sunday, we built a shelter that will be the housing for Beau Denver and his whether friend, Dusty. Our pasture prairie restoration is going well.  The pigs are doing great work, so we plan for the next step to get our goats grazing the new grasses that are emerging. 

 

Today, my little Jessie had an upset stomach, so I am working at home today.  Clay is clearing raised beds, planting red russian kale and more broccoli for transplant.  I am moving fencing for goats, getting organized and writing to you!  I took our last two chickens out of the freezer to make chicken soup for my little one.  I guess it’s time to order more meat birds.  

 

We have a whole round of new seed to be planted this week.  There is trellis to build for long beans, peppers to transplant, tractor rows to be made.  The greenhouse will get a new round of seedlings.  

 

Thank you for your support.  Please if you have any questions, I am a phone call or an email away.  

 

Your farmer-Stacey

Posted 9/3/2013 6:57am by Stacey Roussel.

 

I hope you had a great holiday weekend.  Good news from the farm, we filled our SHARES!!!  Thanks to the help of Jill Thaxton, a long time member of our CSA, we now have a drop in Greatwood.  For all of our new members, the first 5 updates can be found here http://www.allweneedfarms.com/blog

 

We have been growing for market for about 6 years now.  There have been many, many experiments trying to learn from this land and give as much back as we take.  One of the best decisions that I made was using the lunar calendar for planting.  There are many different opinions about the usefulness of this approach, but one of the clear benefits is organization.  Having our plantings broken out by week, stops me from pushing to plant everything at once.  The season has a rhythm, a clearly defined beat that we dance to in the field.  

 

This last week last Wednesday to this Wednesday is our rest week.  That does not mean Clay has his feet up in a hammock, it just means we concentrate on other things besides planting. 

 

So I mowed - and broke my husband’s lawn tractor again.  : (   We weeded and weeded and watered and watered.  All of our chickens, goats and the pigs were moved last week.  We mulched raised beds.  Lots and lots of tractor work was done to prepare for this coming week which will be a heavy week of planting - lot of greens.   

 

The cabbages that were bumped are doing great.  We lost one tray because they got too dry.  We learned that our on farm compost is better at starting seeds than the bagged potting soil I purchased because in the heat of our days the compost holds moisture longer.  The lemon squash and cushaw are at the farm and survived the weekend out of the greenhouse.  

 

Clay prepped trays yesterday for more cold crops like broccoli.  We will begin planting those seeds tomorrow.  They will be moved from the fridge to our greenhouse on Thursday.  

 

We had a new volunteer, Bonnie, join us.  She worked on an organic farm in California and came back to Texas to be with family.  Bonnie spent two days with us weeding, and I hope we see her again this week. 

 

Feed update-I went to Damon to buy the new Non-GMO feed only to find out that it contains peanuts!  We will continue with mixing our current blend of grains until we can find another solution.  I can’t feed peanuts because there are so many people with severe allergies.  The feed store gave me the name of the representative who formulates the feed so that maybe we can get a different mix.  More information to come.  

 

Mary Ann Parker asked about fodder feeding that is growing hydroponic feed for the birds.  The same day, I got an add from FarmTek advertising a system. Vermiculture and growing our own feed are options.  Each takes time and energy.  I have to investigate, and decide if those things fit our model and how they affect the quality of our eggs.  If anyone has more information or would like to start a worm project on farm, I am open to the help.  

 

Thank you for your support.  I hope you have a great short week.  

 

Your farmer-Stacey

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