Join us on Kiii Channel 3 News Tuesday Morning!

Friends, join us on Kiii Channel 3 Tuesday morning between 5:00am and 7:00am for tips to keep your garden and potted plants healthy all through the summer!

We will Skype in for multiple segments throughout the two hours of the morning news broadcast.  Send me your gardening questions in advance and we will try to answer them on the air!

Salatin’s Visit to Four String Farm Netted $2,790 for South Texas Farmers

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm

Joel Salatin’s visit to Four String Farm raised $2,790 for Hurricane Harvey relief for South Texas farmers.  This money was raised through donations at the on-farm event, ticket sales at the dinner, and book sales from Salatin’s books.  Thank you so much to all who participated in this wonderful event!

All of the revenue raised at the event was donated to farmers in South Texas who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  Kayla and I did not keep or make any money from the event.  We were thrilled to pass this money to our Farm Share partners to offset losses from the hurricane:  Spirit Pioneering FarmWhole Earth FarmTurkey Hollow FarmPalo Verde Cattle Company, Future Focus Farm, and Groundswell Farm.

Thank you again to Joel Salatin for making this event possible!  We have been so inspired by your visit!  And thank you to sponsors Dr. Mohammad Emran of SpringCure Foundation, Oh Goodie Designs + Events, Water Street Seafood, The Bend Magazine, , and Hester’s Cafe, for creating such an amazing day!

Joel Salatin Visit an Overwhelming Success!

Joel Salatin Leading Farm Tour

Joel Salatin’s visit to South Texas last week was an overwhelming success.  I can’t think of anything that would have made this day better or more special.  We are so thankful for Joel Salatin and our wonderful sponsors for making this event possible, and for the many good folks who visited our farm and shared dinner with us.

Joel refused payment of any kind, not even an honorarium, for making the trip.  He said his spirit would not allow it.  Joel Salatin is the most well-known farmer in the world because of his ideas and his vision for the future of sustainable farming.  Now, after getting to know him, I am even more impressed by his humility, his servant’s heart, and his passion to make this world a better place.

You can find more pictures from these events on our Facebook page. We invite you to tag us in your post and add your own pictures as well.

Farm Tour and Talk at Four String Farm

We had about 150 visitors at our farm on Friday afternoon.  This would be an impressive turnout at any farm in Texas, but is particularly special in the middle of a school/work day in our little town, which is still recovering from the hurricane.  Thank you to the sponsors who made this possible (please see them listed below and visit them soon—they are great people!)

I believe most of the small-scale farmers in South/Central Texas were with us on Friday!  There were farmers from Austin, Houston, Sealy, Nixon, Cleveland (about six hours away), San Antonio, Victoria, Cuero, Beeville, Brownsville, and one very special farmer who came all the way from Louisiana.  There were many students from TAMUK, who came with their soil science professor, Dr. David Ruppert.  Most of the folks who came just wanted to support a good cause.

Originally, I had planned a farm tour with Joel Salatin to start the day.  You may laugh, but I was expecting maybe five or six really committed small-scale farmers would be there to join us.  Instead, we had 150 people surrounding Joel as we started the tour!  It was the shortest farm tour in history.  I led Joel to a high spot by the lake where he began to answer questions.  After a short time in the hot sun, we led everyone back under the tent to continue the discussion.  Joel talked and answered questions for three straight hours.  He never stopped or slowed down, it was quite impressive.  His talk was inspirational and perfect for the occasion.

Justin Introducing Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin Presenting at FARMATASTROPHE HEALING

Sold Out Dinner at Water Street Seafood

The sold-out dinner was perfect.  The decorations, the music, the ambiance, the wonderful people, everything was beautiful, and the food was amazing.  The farmers who grew this food were honored at the dinner, and there was huge applause as each of them was introduced.  Carol Koutnik gave Joel the gift of one of her paintings from the series Fantastic Garden.   Richard Lomax, Director of Operations for Water Street Seafood, announced the partnership of Water Street Seafood with the Farm Share going forward.  It was an unforgettable night.

Table Arrangements of Fresh Produce for Guests to Take Home after Dinner

Seed Packets for All Guests

Jo Anne Howell, Joel Salatin, Justin, and Kayla

Thank you to Joel Salatin and Our Wonderful Sponsors

Thank you Joel Salatin for visiting us in South Texas.  We hope you know how welcome, appreciated, and invited you are to return!  We hope to bring you back to view our raft gardens, hügelkulturs, and lake muck fertilizer in action!

We are so thankful for the support of SpringCure Foundation, led by our friend Dr. Mohammad Emran.  Because of the generosity and vision of Dr. Emran, the afternoon farm event was FREE and open to the public.  Dr. Emran is leading a health revolution in South Texas, we are excited to tell you more about him soon.

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors Water Street Seafood, The Bend MagazineOh Goodie Designs + Events, and Hester’s Cafe for your generous support!  If you have an event of any kind, ever, from a wedding to business luncheon, please call Jo Anne Howell of Oh Goodie Designs + Events.  Jo Anne is so completely buttoned up, professional, creative, and tasteful, and she can turn any room (even the woods of our farm!) into an elegant setting.  Jo Anne donated her time and brilliance to make this event a success.  We could not have done it with her.

Of course, we must thank the farmers who made the dinner possible:  Spirit Pioneering FarmWhole Earth FarmTurkey Hollow FarmPalo Verde Cattle Company, and Groundswell Farm.  If you met any of these good folks, you know how completely blessed we are to work with such amazing people.  They lift and inspire us every day, they are truly the salt of the earth.

We are so thankful for our afternoon event sponsors:  Hollie Schaub of Fed by Bread; Kimmi of Kimmi’s Fine Foods;  Grow Local South Texas and the Bawktoberfest Urban Chicken Coop Tour; Spencer of Roastorium Coffee; Jessica Gignac of Eleanor’s Coffee Bar + Market ; Ginger Easton-Smith with Texas Agri-Life; Karey Swarthout of GLOW of Rockport ; Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds; and Premier1 Fence Supplies.

Finally, we are so thankful to our neighbors Mike and Ginette Collins for letting our guests park at their beautiful property next door.  Mike and Ginette are great people and the best of neighbors.

Please visit these wonderful sponsors and find out more about them.  We have such a great community in South Texas because of these folks, we could not be more thankful for all of them.

We have many requests to hold another event like this Joel Salatin visit, and we will!  Stay tuned, we have a great event in the works!  Thank again friends for an wonderful day!

Joel Salatin to Visit Four String Farm on Fri, Oct 20!

Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm

Friends, we are thrilled to announce that Joel Salatin will visit Four String Farm on Friday, October 20!  We are so unbelievably excited to host the most innovative farmer in America right here on our farm!  Please join us for this extraordinary event!

This event is called FARMATASTROPHE HEALING (aptly named by Joel).  Joel will tour Four String Farm on the afternoon of Friday, Oct 20, to be followed by a dinner later that evening (details to be announced shortly, we are finalizing now).  Joel will speak at the farm and host a question/answer session, and he will speak at the dinner as well.

About Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin is considered “the most famous farmer in the world”.  He has been called “the most eclectic thinker to come out of Virginia since Thomas Jefferson” and “the most innovative farmer in America”.  Joel Salatin is THE leader of the local food movement throughout the world.  He is a true revolutionary for small-scale farmers and producers.  Joel Salatin is “America’s farmer”.

Joel was featured in the New York Times bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma and the award-winning documentary Food Inc.  Salatin owns the multi-generational Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA.  Polyface Farm services more than 5,000 families, 50 restaurants, and 10 retail outlets.  Salatin pioneered the “pastured” food movement by pasturing cattle, chickens, turkeys, and hogs on his farm and teaching the world his methods through books, videos, and public speaking.

Salatin has published ten books on farming, including YOU CAN FARM; Pastured Poultry Profits; Folks, This Ain’t Normal; and Everything I Want to Do is Illegal; plus numerous DVD’s and the recent Polyfaces Film.  He travels the world speaking to diverse groups, from small-scale farmers in rural Australia to Fortune 500 CEO’s on Wall Street.

Joel Salatin to Bring Inspiration and Expertise to South Texas

Salatin will bring inspiration and valuable expertise around farming and local food to our community following the destruction of Hurricane Harvey.  Joel Salatin is my absolute farming hero–the man whose ideas we based our farming methods on–and I can’t tell you how excited and honored we are to have him visit our farm!

We will post an itinerary shortly, how to book tickets, plus all other details.  For now, please mark your calendar and don’t miss this incredible event!  Look for updates coming soon!

Our Recipe Featured in ISSUU Top Summer Recipes!

Kafta Kabobs with Baba Ganoush, Tzatziki, and Pita (photo courtesy

Friends, our Farm to Table article in the current issue of EASTside Magazine received a nice and unexpected honor.  This article was featured as a top summer recipe on ISSUU!

ISSUU is an online gallery of tens of thousands of magazines.  Each month, more than a hundred million visitors from around the world click on ISSUU for content.

ISSUU featured our article in “5 Tasty Recipes to Finish Off Summer”.  We don’t know how this article got on their radar, but how nice to get shared around the world!  We had a huge spike in our website traffic a few days ago and thought it was a glitch—but this explains things.

Thank you Will and Ashley Bowling for including us in EASTside Magazine!  What a nice way to get started!

Justin and Kayla Picked Up by Austin-Based EASTside Magazine

Kayla in EASTside Magazine

Friends, we are thrilled to announce that our Farm to Table column will now be featured in Austin-based EASTside Magazine!  Look for our articles and recipes, along with the beautiful photography of Rachel Benavides, in future issues.  Click here for our article in the current issue of EASTside Magazine!

Thank you so much Will and Ashley Bowling and Ashley Haguewood of EASTside Magazine for believing in our work!  It has been such a joy working with you guys.  We are so excited to be part of your team!

Of course, we owe this wonderful opportunity to our friends Jordan and Kaley Regas, publishers of THE BEND Magazine.  Jordan and Kaley brought us into THE BEND family from the beginning.  With their help and guidance, we now have a body of work that includes more than a hundred of Kayla’s well-crafted recipes with Rachel’s beautiful photography to match them.  Jordan and Kaley, you guys are the best—thank you.

Austin friends, look for EASTside Magazine on-line and in venues across the city.  EASTside Magazine is a creative and clever view of Austin with some compelling stories and gorgeous photography, you will love it.

Kayla’s Kafta Kabob Recipe in EASTside Magazine

Four String Farm Now Offers Lamb!

Friends, we are thrilled to announce our partnership with Steven and Cathy Koenig of Groundswell Farm in Cuero, TX, to bring you lamb!  We are so proud to partner with these wonderful people!

Going forward, look for cuts of grass-fed lamb in your Farm Share:  lamb chops, lamb roast, spare ribs, ground lamb, and liver.  This lamb of is of the highest quality.

Steven Koenig, DVM, and his wife Cathy own 125 beautiful acres along the Guadalupe River just outside of Cuero.  Steven is a retired veterinarian who helps out at the animal rescue center in Cuero.  Cathy is an active master naturalist.

Groundswell Farm is located on an historic property in Cuero.  Years of conventional farming–from commercial cotton production to overgrazing with cattle–had worn out the land.

When Steven and Cathy took over the property five years ago, they introduced lambs (plus cattle and goats) not for the meat, but to replenish the landscape.   They wanted to restore the native grasses and natural beauty to the place.  You can see from the video of Steven what an amazing job they have done with the land, and there is still much more they want to do.

Steven pastures his lambs, cattle, and goats in a management-intensive rotational grazing operation.  He intensively grazes the livestock, then moves them to a new paddock and lets the area rest.  The animals enjoy a rich diet of grass and forage while the landscape flowers and grows more lush.

All these species (including the guard dogs and pet turkeys) live in perfect harmony, even sleeping on top of each other!  This is not easy to accomplish–you have to treat the animals very well for this to happen.

This rich diet has led to a wonderful increase in lambs, and that is where we come in!  We are proud to offer Groundswell Lamb in the Farm Share!

Please enjoy this good food and know that it is grown with love by wonderful people!

Steven Koenig with Lamb Chute Inspired by Temple Grandin

Groundswell Farm in Cuero: Lambs, Goats, Cattle, Dogs, and Turkeys Living in Harmony! Just Incredible!

Everyone Going for Shade under a Big Oak Tree

The Fantastic Garden of Carol Koutnik

Les Choux Merveilleux by Carol Koutnik

It’s not every day that a celebrated artist stops by and asks to paint your garden. But that’s just what happened, almost a year ago to the day, when plein-air painter Carol Koutnik visited our farm with a vision for her next project.

Carol has been our wonderful friend and faithful Farm Share customer for many years.  She told us she was initially inspired by the food she received each week, “food worthy of painting”.  She said the freshly-picked vegetables began to stir memories of her uncle’s beautiful garden from her childhood in Chicago, that she visited often as a child.

But she grew up as a military kid, then as a married woman, moving all over the world but never in one place long enough to plant a garden.  That garden from her childhood grew in memory until she needed to capture it in paint.  We showed Koutnik around our gardens, and she used it as a springboard for something extraordinary.

Now, this weekend, at the Rockport Center for the Arts, Carol Koutnik will unveil her latest exhibit, “The Fantastic Garden”. This collection features forty diverse works of art: oil paintings, fortune-tellers, graphite sketches, and clay images. The art is simply breathtaking.  The work focuses on many vegetables from the garden, but best of all, Koutnik features cabbages.

I knew these cabbages, or at least thought I did. I planted them painstakingly from seed, coaxed them to maturity for ninety long days, and watched their tender hearts form in the center.

These forms are what attracted Koutnik to the garden, and what she captures so brilliantly in her work: the unfolding heart, with all its secrets, with all of its creative power.

Her colors are surreal; the light and shadow a revelation—it’s not the plant, but the spirit of the plant she sees. I looked at those cabbages a hundred times from my hands and knees, as I scanned the plants daily for cabbage loopers and cutworms, but I never got even a glimpse of what Koutnik saw.

David Hill, Adjunct Instructor of Art at Texas A&M—Corpus Christi, offered a glowing review of the exhibit. Hill explains that the cabbages are not artistic symbols, but instead they are “living things that remind [the artist] of nurturing, mystery, maturity, and fecundity.” Hill says the work is an “experience of cabbages, the experience of curiosity and marvel.”

Those humble cabbages are now five feet wide up on the canvas. Koutnik has transformed them into something entirely new, something timeless.   They are now the process of creation itself, the energy of the earth blooming in the paint on her canvas, the secrets in the heart of the cabbage, in the heart of the artist, unfolding, opening in ever-expanding leaves of color.

Now, this garden belongs to everyone. Now it belongs to you.

You can see “The Fantastic Garden” of Carol Koutnik this Saturday, April 8, at the Rockport Center for the Arts, the same day and starting place as the Rockport Tour of Homes. Koutnik will give a gallery talk at 4:30pm on Sat, April 8th.  The exhibit runs through May 13th.

Fantasticke Zeli by Carol Koutnik

The Great Tomato Workshop this Saturday, March 18, from 9:00am to Noon!

Juliette Variety Tomatoes (Four String Farm)

Friends, Kayla and I are excited to host a tomato gardening class at Four String Farm this Saturday, March 18, from 9:00am to noon.

This interactive hands-on workshop will teach you everything you need to know to grow delicious, healthy, prolific tomatoes.  On our farm, we grow thousands of pounds of tomatoes each season.  We will show you the techniques we have developed over the years to get the most sweet and flavorful tomatoes with the least amount of work.

Everything You Need to Know to Grow Wonderful Tomatoes!

We will cover soil health, how and when to plant, tomato varieties, companion planting, how to trellis, irrigation, fertilizing, mulching, pest control, tomatoes in pots, and more. This will be a hands-on class. You will actually plant tomatoes in bare dirt to demonstrate the techniques, and we will answer all your questions in the process.

The average tomato plant yields about five to 20 pounds of tomatoes during the season and often gets ravaged by pests and then shuts down in June. We will show you how to get 50 lbs or more from the tomato plants in your garden throughout the summer!

We Will Have Some Helpful Materials on Site, if You Need Them

Some materials, such as a sturdy trellises, can be difficult for a backyard gardener to find in small quantities. We will have these materials available for you.  If you like, we can cut small sections of trellis for you, so you can take home only as much as you need at very little cost.

We will have our favorite varieties of tomato six-packs and 4” plants (along with appropriate companion plants) on hand if you would like them. We will also recommend the stores and other resources in our area where you can find these items.

The cost of this workshop is $20 per person. You must register and pay in advance for this class.

Click here to pay $20 per person to register for The Great Tomato Workshop on March 18 from 9:00am to noon.  We will e-mail you with directions and more details upon registration.

Thank you friends! We look forward to seeing you!

%d bloggers like this: