Farmer Florist Masters Workshop, my Summer Inspiration

I recently spent a joy-inducing two days at LynnVale Studios and Farm attending a workshop that embodied two of my favorite things: food and flowers!  It was a memorable experience involving hands-on flowers and instruction in various aspects of flower farming - everything from seed sourcing to planting, to harvest and design, and even sales and marketing strategies. I learned so much!  What's more, it's not often you go to a workshop and enjoy a low-key presentation in the comfort of your hosts' living room. The setting and mood was simply lovely. 

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My first intro to LynnVale was in 2015 when my husband and I attended a field to vase dinner event there which made a lasting impression on me. I have admired LynnVale Studios ever since and was excited when I realized my schedule this year would allow me to attend the workshop. Day 1 included floral design demos by host Andrea Gagnon and Sidra Forman followed by DIY floral arranging using flowers and foliage grown and gathered on the farm. We also learned helpful tips on photography, color placement, and the effects of venue lighting on flower color.

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On day 2 we got an up-close and personal look at the farm, learning about growing techniques and harvesting and all about the inner workings of a flower farm. In short, it's always good and helpful to see how other flower farmers operate. This was a wonderfully enriching experience, and I appreciate meeting other flower powers along the way. By the way, if you ever have the opportunity to attend a field to vase dinner tour event, go!  

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June: Lavender, Cherries, and Summertime

 Lavender and Larkspur Bridal Bouquet, June 2018

Lavender and Larkspur Bridal Bouquet, June 2018

Hello, June! Thank you to everyone who came out to the farm to purchase peonies last month. I appreciate all of you! We had a ton of rain in May and it was a chilly spring in general which put a lot of spring blooms behind schedule but the peonies were perfectly timed this year for Mother's Day. The farm received a lovely mention in this month's issue of Winston Salem Monthly magazine. You can read the article here.

 Peonies at Hauser Creek Farm, May 2018

Peonies at Hauser Creek Farm, May 2018

Cherries are in! I have not been lucky enough to have my own tree full of cherries (yet!) so I made a trip to Levering Orchard this week and discovered a bumper crop. If you've never been there it's definitely a pleasant adventure - located in Cana, Virginia. The following recipe for Bourbon Infused Sweet Cherry Galette is one of my favorites, and once you get the cherries pitted it's quite easy to throw together. Its especially wonderful served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Make the pastry: Stir together 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Add 1 stick butter (cut into cubes) and work together with your fingers until mostly combined. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water, stirring with a fork or rubber spatula, until the dough comes together. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the cherry filling: In a saucepan combine 2 cups pitted fresh cherries, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons bourbon, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and a pinch of salt. Place over medium-high heat and bring just to a simmer, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon butter.

To assemble: Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Roll out dough on top of parchment paper into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Spoon cherry filling in the center of dough leaving about 1 inch around edges. Gently fold the edges of dough up. At this point, I like to brush the edges of the pastry with an egg wash but this step is optional. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake until the crust is golden, about 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 Bourbon-Infused Sweet Cherry Galette

Bourbon-Infused Sweet Cherry Galette

Hauser Creek, Seven Years Later

 A view of Hauser Creek from atop the Back Forty, March 27, 2018

A view of Hauser Creek from atop the Back Forty, March 27, 2018

I have not written about Hauser Creek in a long time but this blog has been percolating in my mind since the first of the year and especially the last few days. Some of you might remember back in 2011 Hauser Creek underwent restoration by the State of North Carolina as part of the Clean Water Act. For the most part we have been pleased with how the project turned out because it didn't take long to notice a glut of wildlife drawn to the bottom land. 

Before 2011, I cannot remember a time when beavers were an issue on the farm. That changed in 2013. We started noticing small dams on the creek. No big deal, but it did bring to mind what can happen when one intervenes with Mother Nature. I wasn't too concerned at the time because the State was regularly monitoring the project and they were aware of beaver activity. However, with each passing year the presence of beavers and their destruction has gotten increasingly significant as shown in the photos taken today and yesterday. The photos aren't pretty, sorry!

So I've been reading up on beavers and here's what I learned. They are known as "nature's architects." Beavers are one of the few animals that actually modify the environment to suit their own purposes. In the process, they create a new environment - a wetland. Beavers are attracted to slow-moving streams that have muddy bottoms and plenty of trees or shrubs. Bark and leaves make great beaver food. At one time, beavers were nearly extinct, but they have made a huge comeback. Yes, right!  

You cannot stop a beaver from cutting trees and building dams. A beaver family will cut down as many as 300 trees a year and can gnaw through a good-sized one in 15 minutes. At the farm, this is a real problem because hundreds of native trees were planted in the conservation easement. They all taste good to the beavers! Beavers want their home flooded, and that is exactly what they have done to Hauser Creek which has currently spilled out of its banks and flooded the creek bottoms downstream. I wish the State would have intervened more aggressively when the beavers first showed up. Trapping is sometimes used but not in this case, for reasons I don't know why. No chance the beavers will just up and leave because I've read they are territorial and once established they form tight family groups that are hard to get rid of.

So, I'm not too excited about the creek these days. Having the bottom land flooded makes it near impossible to navigate part of the farm and keep it maintained. Yes, I have asked myself if this project was a good idea after all, and I'm not so sure.... Of course, the State has been notified. Maybe someone will see this post.