Three Sisters Workshop this Saturday at Four String Farm, 9:00am to 11:00am!

Kayla with Harvest in a Three Sisters Garden

Kayla with Harvest in a Three Sisters Garden

Friends, please join us for a Three Sisters gardening class at Four String Farm this Saturday, March 19, from 9:00am to 11:00am.

The Three Sisters is the ancient Native American technique for companion planting corn, beans, and squash (plus pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, nasturtiums, and herbs). This method is an easy and efficient way to grow a tremendous amount of food with minimal work or expense.

The Three Sisters method is possibly the best-kept gardening secret in America.  But on Saturday, we will share the secrets of this ancient technique to help you grow a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers right in your own garden.   Our farm will be featured in a Smithsonian exhibit demonstrating this method.

In this workshop, we will teach you everything you need to know to plant a small or large Three Sisters garden. Whether you want to fill a little planter in your front yard, or grow enough produce to feed your family, this workshop will give you with the skills to do it.

We will begin with bare dirt and plant several variations of the technique. We will even show you how Squanto taught the Pilgrims to bury fish as fertilizer!

This workshop will be held out-of-doors on our farm.  Please wear long pants, close-toed shoes, and bring a hat.  This will be a small class with personalized instruction, and we will answer all your gardening questions as we go.

As part of the cost of this class, you will receive a starter seed packet prepared by me and Kayla, as well as seed packets of heirloom corn, beans, and squash.

The cost of this workshop is $35 per person, and a portion of the proceeds will go to a local charity. You must pay in advance for this class. Directions to our farm with more detailed information will be e-mailed to you once you complete the payment.

We are so sorry, this class is full.  To find out about upcoming classes, please subscribe to this blog to get updates about classes and other information.  Thank you, have a wonderful day!

Thank you, we look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Four String Farm to Appear in Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibit

Kayla with BD Watermelon

Friends, you have seen a lot of information on this site about the Three Sisters, the ancient Native American technique for inter-planting corn, beans, and squash. We have explored the benefits of this method, its sustainability, and its rich history. Here is something about the future of the Three Sisters.

Beginning this month, we will appear in a Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibit called “H2O Today”. “H2O Today” explores the beauty, the diversity, and the great challenges of global water resources in the 21st Century.

I am thrilled to announce that Four String Farm will be featured in this exhibit. We appear in the section devoted to agriculture, in a case study about the irrigation techniques of the Zapotec Indians a thousand years ago.  An image from Four String Farm is used to illustrate the components of the Three Sisters technique. Our modern thriving farm in Rockport is contrasted with the Zapotec civilaztion at Monte Albán, in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The Smithsonian featured our farm because it is a working example of sustainable agriculture using traditional methods. Visitors to the interactive exhibit can click on our website to find a wealth of information about the Three Sisters freely available to the public. These water-saving techniques point to the future of agriculture in a water-dwindling world.

What’s more, the “H2O Today” exhibit will travel to more than thirty cites across America from 2016 all the way to 2020. The educational opportunities of this exhibit will reach tens of thousands of people in every corner of this great nation. (I will post more about the exhibit once it is completed and on display.)

I have visited farms all over the world, in jungles, mountains, deserts, and rich fertile plains, but I have never seen the Three Sisters used anywhere in agriculture. I discovered this method in history books, and taught myself the technique through trial and error while building a pioneer farm out of a wilderness. And now our modest gardens will appear in the Smithsonian.

I have long said that the Three Sisters is the best-kept gardening secret in America. But now, with the power and scope of the Smithsonian, I don’t think the Three Sisters will be a secret for long.

A Special Note for Shannon at the Smithsonian:

Shannon, you made our day/month/year when you contacted us. I never imagined that in this career, I would one day sign a contract with the Smithsonian!

I know it took work for you to find us, to wade through all the information out there and drill down to this site, not to mention the thousands of sites and materials you covered in your research. Then, to take all that information and bring it to life, is just remarkable. The Smithsonian is the best institution of its kind in the world because of people like you.

Please know how thrilled our family has been to be part of this process. Thank you for finding us and making us a part of this living history you are presenting to the world.

(The image in the Smithsonian is reserved for their exclusive use–here are other images from our Three Sisters gardens!)

Purple Bean Flowers on a Corn Stalk Trellis

Purple Bean Flowers on a Corn Stalk Trellis

Three Sisters Garden

Three Sisters Garden

52 days after planting


Hopi Indian Corn on Left, Melons and Squash, Sunflower Hedgerow in Back

Hopi Indian Corn on Left, Melons and Squash, Sunflower Hedgerow in Back

Gardening Class at Four String Farm!

Working in a Winter Garden

Working in a Winter Garden

Friends, we will offer a gardening class at Four String Farm on Saturday, January 30, from 10:00am to noon.

This will be a small class that includes a private tour of our gardens and animal paddocks. Space in the class is limited to allow the most personalized attention to the attendees. You must register and pay in advance to reserve your place–please see steps below.

The Secrets of Heritage Gardening

Our gardening methods are a unique blend of techniques I learned from visiting farms all over the world. Most of our techniques I discovered in history books, and I have never seen them in practice until we planted them on our farm. You will not find these methods in a typical gardening book.

We will begin this class by sharing an overview of heritage gardening: creating healthy soil; where and when to plant; intensive beds; companion planting; natural pest control; mulching; fertilizer; and irrigation.

We will take a walking tour of our gardens and animal paddocks during the discussion to illustrate these principles by example from the garden. We will even plant a starter Three Sisters garden with your help! This class will demonstrate how we start with beach sand but go on to harvest such incredible yields of healthy, delicious, chemical-free produce.

Our goal is to help you translate these methods to your own garden. We want to empower you to grow your own produce, a lot of it, without chemicals and with minimal work and expense. This class will be guided by your questions, so come ready to find out everything you want to know about growing your own food.

Class by Reservation and Advance Pay Only

This will be a small class; space is limited. To attend, you must pre-register and pay in advance. The cost is $25 per person. Please click on the links below to register and pay.

I will send you an e-mail once we receive your payment to confirm your reservation. Once you are registered, we will send you all the details you need for the class, including our address, what to bring, and directions for parking.

Our friend Danya Heck has graciously agreed to bring Groovie Smoothies to the class! She will have some refreshing beverages for you before and after the class, and you can pay her directly for something tasty.

Expect a Rustic Environment!

We have a true “pioneer” farm, and you will know why we call it that once you get here. You must wear long pants and closed-toed shoes to take this class, preferable blue jeans and boots. Also, dress for the weather—we will hold the class rain or shine. Wear a hat and bring bug repellant.

You will have to walk about half a mile through tall grass, weeds, brush, and uneven terrain during the tour. The class will be something like a nature walk through woods without a trail.  If you can’t safely make this walk through rough terrain, this class in not for you.

Step 1, Register for Class:

First, click here and complete the form to begin your registration:

We’re sorry this class is now full!  You can sign up to follow this blog to get updates and to find out when our next classes are announced.  Thank you!

After you complete the registration form, come back to this page and pay for the class.  Please note, you are not registered for the class until you complete your payment.

Step 2, Pay for Class:

Next, click here and pay:

We’re sorry this class is now full!  You can sign up to follow this blog to get updates and to find out when our next classes are announced.  Thank you!

Please note:  You are not registered until you complete the form and pay for the class.

Once we receive your payment, I will send you and e-mail with your confirmation, plus details, including our address and what to bring.

We look forward to having you! Get ready for a fun and exciting day!

Winter Issue of THE BEND

Friends, take a look at the winter issue of THE BEND MAGAZINE.

Turn to page 91 for a wonderful story written by Kayla.  These gorgeous pastries with recipes are the work of Claudia at Fillingood Bakery in Corpus Christi.  Nice work Kayla and Rachel!

Click here to subscribe to this beautiful magazine!

Faces at First Light

Mae Burke Emma sunrise 11-18-15

Our friend Mae Burke wanted pictures of Kayla and the girls at sunrise, without makeup, still a little sleepy. As part of her series, Mae Burke, Moments of Motherhood, Mae is capturing images of moms and their little ones in beautiful natural settings.

I asked Kayla how she felt about having pictures without makeup after just waking up. She pointed out that I posted pictures of her without makeup, in harsh hospital light, after not sleeping for 48 hours, and having just had a baby.  She thought Mae would be a little more gentle with the camera.

Mae Burke Emma looking at Madeliene 11-18-15

I went out in the still-dark morning to do my chores and Mae was sitting quietly on the porch, kindly waiting for everyone to be up and moving before she knocked on the door. They all went out to the lake to wait for sunrise.

I feel like these pictures could have been taken last week, or a hundred years ago. There is something timeless about the light, the gardens, the lake, and the people in the photographs.  To me, a really good picture makes you want to go there, to get into the picture.

My heart is in these pictures, rising with the sun, shining on these loves of mine, holding and beholding their faces at first light.

You can see more of Mae’s photography at Mae Burke.

Mae Burke Kayla Emma Madeliene field to left 11-18-15

Mae Burke Kayla Madeliene long view 11-18-15Mae Burke Madeliene Emma looking 11-18-15Mae Burke Emma dragging blanket 11-18-15Mae Burke Sunrise Kayla Madeliene 11-18-15Mae Burke Kayla holding Madeliene 11-18-15Mae Burke Kayla Emma looking left 11-18-15

Farm to Table Dinner at GLOW this Thursday!

GLOW Interior View (from Karey's web site)Friends, please join us for a farm to table dinner at GLOW in Rockport this Thursday at 7:00pm!

This Giving Thanks Farm Dinner is a celebration of our local harvest. Karey will feature our fresh Thanksgiving turkeys and also our grass-fed beef served in a wonderful and unique presentation. We will harvest our produce the evening of the dinner to keep the vegetables crisp and delicious.

We are so pleased to celebrate our partnership with Corpus Christi Aquaponics. Casey and Lawrence will bring their freshly-picked produce and tell us about the farming techiniques of the future.

We will also explore the past, the First Thanksgiving, where seafood was the main course. Karey will prepare a Rockport seafood stew that honors the harvest of the Gulf—you will not want to miss this.

The price for this dinner is only $35, reservations recommended.

Please join us for this prelude to Thanksgiving–a celebration of the local harvest cooked to its perfection. We will see you there!


Mini Turkey Pot Pies

Flank Steak Involtini with Horseradish and Micro Greens

Farm Radish with Sea Salt Butter

Green Bean and Purple Leaf Mizuna, with

Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette

Rockport Seafood Stew with Tomato, Saffron

and Fennel Fronds

Cranberry Bread Pudding with

Bourbon White Chocolate Sauce

$35 per person plus tax and gratuity

Wine Pairing Menu Available

Space is limited, reservations recommended

GLOW Exterior View (Karey's website)

Pumpkin-Fattened Turkeys Available for Thanksgiving!

Turkey Close-up by Blue Trailer

Friends, please order your Thanksgiving turkey now. We will reserve each turkey in order of responses received. These turkeys will sell out quickly, please order soon to reserve your bird.

To book your Thanksgiving turkey, e-mail me now at You can pick up your turkey from Coastal Bend Health Foods in Rockport on the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Beautiful Pasture-Raised Turkeys

These turkeys were raised in the fields and forests of our farm on a diet of weeds, bugs, and our own garden produce.

Even better, we fattened these turkeys on an unlimited diet of fresh pumpkins. Turkeys love pumpkin and they will devour the entire pumpkin, seeds, flesh, rind, and all. I am very excited to find out how this amazing diet of fresh pumpkin, so rich in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants, influences the flavor of these turkeys.

Raising the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

We raised these turkeys in brooders in our living room for the first month of their lives. We received them as day-old chicks in August, when it was much too hot to leave them outside.

For that month in our house, I am guessing the turkeys listened to at least five Beethoven symphonies, all his middle string quartets, Bach’s preludes, Rhapsody in Blue a few times, and so on—and they listened to a LOT of news. These are some cultured turkeys. Our family has adapted to having a house full of turkeys every August, to allow your family to have a wonderful bird for Thanksgiving.

Our dog Bando has worn himself ragged protecting these birds from coyotes and hawks in the forest. We have not lost a single bird (knock on wood) to predators this year. However, one evening I saw an osprey fly into the flock, attack a turkey, and pick it up to fly away with it. Bando ran barking at the osprey and the osprey dropped the turkey in the grass. The turkey was unbelievably not injured, not a scratch, and if you get that bird, I hope your family gets some of its luck also.

I checked each of the turkeys regularly (at night, in the dark, when they let me close) to pull all the stickers off of each bird. This is time-consuming delicate work. Stickers can cause cuts on the skin, and we want perfect birds. Still, these turkeys were raised in the forest and fields and will naturally get cuts and scrapes as part of living a happy pastured life.

What is the Price?

These turkeys sell for $7.99 per pound, and the birds will weigh around 12 to 15 pounds. Our birds should cost around $100 or so. To give you an idea of the value of our turkeys, I researched prices of pastured and conventional turkeys on-line.

If you order a quality turkey on-line, you will pay $8.14 per lb up to $9.94 per lb and higher. Many of these birds cost nearly $200. Further, you have to pay shipping, an additional $25, and you will get a frozen bird in the mail.

Our locally-raised birds will be delivered fresh for Thanksgiving, never frozen. You can judge for yourself the taste, freshness, tenderness, and quality of our turkeys compared to anything else on the market.

When to Pick Up?

You can pick up your turkey from Coastal Bend Health Foods on the Tuesday or Wed before Thanksgiving. Please pick up your turkey with enough time to brine it overnight before cooking it for Thanksgiving.

We will share some excellent recipes for your pastured bird. Your turkey will be full of flavor and tenderness when you pick up, which makes your job as a home chef easier and more fun.

E-mail me at to book your turkey now. Thank you, friends!

Turkey Strutting

Colonial Pumpkin Pie with Vanilla Bean Sauce

Colonial Pumpkin Pie (photo courtesy

Colonial Pumpkin Pie (photo courtesy

Colonial Pumpkin Pie

For our colonial pumpkin pie recipe, we used lovely Galeux D’Eysines heirloom pumpkins, but these are rare and hard to find. For your pie, use any small to medium-sized pumpkin, or a large acorn, buttercup, or red turban squash from the farmers’ market.

This recipe first appeared in the THE BEND MAGAZINE.  Please check out this beautiful magazine for other recipes and more.

Serves 8-10

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 3 hours, 5 minutes


10-12 lb pumpkin with top, seeds and pulp removed

2 apples, diced (recommend pink lady, granny smith, or Fuji varieties)

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ cup brown sugar, packed

1 cup raisins

1 cup pecans, chopped

8 tbsp butter, cubed

For Vanilla Bean Sauce:

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup granulated sugar

4 tbsp butter

1 vanilla bean

Pinch of salt

Optional: 2 tbsp rum or brandy


Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine spices and brown sugar in a small bowl. Place pumpkin on a rimmed, aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet. Place half of the apples in the bottom of the pumpkin and top with 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup pecans, and half of the butter. Top fruit and nut mixture with half of the sugar-spice mixture.

Using the remaining ingredients, repeat the process forming a second layer inside the pumpkin. Cover pumpkin with aluminum foil and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for three hours, or until pumpkin flesh is fork tender and filling is bubbling. Serve with Vanilla Bean Sauce.

Vanilla Bean Sauce:

In a medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar, salt, (optional liquor), and butter over medium-low heat. Using a paring knife, cut down the length of the vanilla bean and scrape its contents into the cream mixture. Whisk sauce until bubbling and a creamy consistency is reached. Serve warm by spooning sauce over each serving of pumpkin pie.

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