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By 3porchfarm, Mar 10 2017 01:10PM

Come on out to the Country!!

Join us for a great day in the country and welcome spring with fantastic music, food, and community, while starting your garden and learning about our solar powered and bio-fueled farm.

We will have lots of vegetable plants for sale! Heirloom and modern tomatoes galore, herbs like rosemary, oregano, spearmint, basil, etc. Lots of spring greens including multiple varieties of kale, collards, and mustards. And flowers too.

All proceeds from the plant sale will go towards finishing construction on our new Flower Studio and repairing our new and newly broken delivery truck!


We will be making BBQ and serving up some delicious treats from The Comerian along with 1000 Faces coffee so grab a bite and grab a blanket and come hang out under a tree while listening to some good ol' American tunes from the Red Oak Southern String Band.

Treehouse Kid and Craft will be set up to entertain and inspire your children as only they can.


Collective Harvest will be here with info on how to join their popular new CSA


The Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer all your gardening questions.


And yes, this year we will

have HoneyPops!


We will have our other delicious Value Added products including our house made Chai, Gomasio, and

Smoked Sea Salt and Shiitake!

Love Yardsales? Well the whole town of Carlton has decided to piggyback off of our Farm day with a city wide yard sale. It's just 2 miles further down the road and the best part of it is.......Jimmy's! You'll love Jimmy's humongous store, Neat Pieces Antiques. Best treasures around. And don't forget the covered bridge at Watson Mill Bridge State Park. Make a day of it!


PLEASE CARPOOL

NO DOGS !! (No dogs will be allowed on the property. We have a very protective working dog whose job it is to keep other animals out...and she is good at her job)

By 3porchfarm, Mar 9 2016 03:11AM

Come on out to the Country!!

Join us for a great day in the country and welcome spring with fantastic music, food, and community, while starting your garden and learning about our solar powered and bio-fueled farm.

We will have lots of vegetable plants for sale! Heirloom and modern tomatoes galore, herbs like rosemary, oregano, spearmint, basil, etc. Lots of spring greens including multiple varieties of kale, collards, and mustards. And flowers too.

All proceeds from the plant sale will go towards building our new Flower Studio!


We will be making BBQ and serving up some delicious treats from The Comerian along with 1000 Faces coffee so grab a bite and grab a blanket and come hang out under a tree while listening to some good ol' American tunes from the Red Oak Southern String Band.

Treehouse Kid and Craft will be set up to entertain and inspire your children as only they can.


Collective Harvest will be here with info on how to join their popular new CSA


The Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer all your gardening questions.


And yes, this year we will

have HoneyPops!


We will have our other delicious Value Added products including our house made Chai, Gomasio, and

Smoked Sea Salt and Shiitake!

PLEASE CARPOOL

NO DOGS !! (No dogs will be allowed on the property. We have a very protective working dog whose job it is to keep other animals out...and she is good at her job)

By 3porchfarm, Feb 23 2016 04:08AM


We are extremely excited to have completed our new solar installation! We hired a company to do a 4.5kw install in 2011. It was enough to offset our farm's energy usage for 2 years, but as we've grown, so has our consumption. I've been itching to do another installation since then. Last year I started researching and designing a new system. I built a workshop with a perfect pitched roof for our latitude to get maximum solar gain and started to get quotes on different systems. I settled on a 5.5kw system with microinverters and a monitoring system so we can see real time performance of every individual panel and to maintain maximum out put of the system at all times. I decided to do the installation this time to save money. As of two weeks ago, I finished the installation and we went live. We are now overproducing energy!! Our farm is once again creating significantly more energy than it is using!

     Lots of people have expressed interest in the last two weeks, so we thought an informative blog would be appropriate.  Here's the main questions most people ask....
Lots of people have expressed interest in the last two weeks, so we thought an informative blog would be appropriate. Here's the main questions most people ask....

Do you have batteries?

No. There are pro's and cons. For us and our specific situation though, the cons outweighed the pros. It's expensive. It requires maintenance. it requires lots of storage space. It requires throwing away lots of batteries and buying a lot of batteries every 7 years or so.

Our goal is to be environmentally responsible. We can achieve that and meet our power needs without a large battery bank.



Was it expensive?

My answer...no!


Prices on panels have dropped dramatically in the last 5 years. 4.5kw installed in 2011 was a $20,000 investement that was quite difficult to stomach.


Our new 5.5 Kw system was only $8,200 for materials (self installed).

So, we got a much larger system for less than half the cost!


In addition. There are healthy incentives. As a farmer we applied for and were awarded with the REAP grant for both installs. That's 25% back within 1-2 months of install.


There's also the federal tax credit of 30%. We opted for the 1603 treasury grant in 2011 in lieu of the tax credit and recieved that 30% immediately. That means we got about $11,000 back almost immediately.


We also got a 35% tax credit from Georgia for the first install (though the funds have been exhausted and this grant is to be discontinued). Also our income is still low enough that we haven't received much from this credit yet.


Finally, our power provider offered a 20 yr contract where they pay us 13 cents per kilowatt hour for everything we produce and we pay about 11 cents for what we consume. This program is competitive and lottery based and comes with some monthly fees that chip away at the benefits, but it is still a fairly nice deal. Sadly it has become more competitive and with much smaller rewards in the last 5 years and we are not a part of it for our second solar install.


(Disclaimer.. All of these benefits are subject to political winds and whims, so investigate each one further and don't assume any of this is still current if you are reading this post in a few months or years.)


So for our current system, we are due to get over $2,000 back within a month or so from the USDA's REAP Grant.


We then will get another 30% as a federal tax credit. Though, since I did the labor, 3 Porch Farm will pay me for my labor, and that sum will be added to the 30%. Hypothetically then, if my labor amounted to 3000 bucks, we'd get 30% back on 11k instead of 8k.


That would be 5 grand back on an 8 grand investment. Putting us out of pocket around 3 grand for a pretty big solar array. Additionally our power bill will be zero, so there is a good monthly savings there leading to a system that pays for itself in just a few years.



Was it hard?


Not really. It took alot of time to plan, but I take a lot of time to plan important things in general. I wanted to get all the details of the system right. The actual installation took some basic carpentry skills and a fair knowledge of electrical wiring. The panels and micro-inverters are mostly just plug and play these days though (no wiring needed). I just needed to wire up junction boxes, a combiner box, a service disconnect and a main breaker in the service panel and to run it all through conduit. You can easily hire that part out to someone and they should be able to do it in a day. (Disclaimer...Solar panels have their own array of electrical safety concerns that are different from traditional house wiring, so hire the work out if you aren't familiar with the dangers, or study up and become familiar with them before you begin the install.)


If you aren't a rural farmer and want to go solar.....city's can be even easier. There are companies like SolarCity http://www.solarcity.com/ which install solar systems for free in certain areas!! Look up the details.



So that's it in a nutshell, but I'll leave you with some parting thoughts. People commonly spend 10-40 grand on a new car all the time, yet somehow convince themselves that 8 grand for solar is too expensive to think about. That car is gonna lose half its value when it drives off the lot. That solar is going to pay you back quick and provide clean energy for the next 20 years. Everyone should hop on board. If you have a business....it'll be good for your brand. If you have children or grandchildren....it'll be good for their future.

If you have stress, it provides piece of mind, which is pretty valuable in itself. It is a financial investment, yes. But, it is the ultimate expression of community too. It's an investment in everyones' future. And that type of investment far surpasses the returns of any portfolio your adviser may float across your desk. The good excuses are running out. Click a link ( http://www.solarcity.com/, http:/www.solarcrowdsource.com/projects/solarize-athens/ ) and join us.



If you are in the Athens area, you must look up Solarize AThens immediately!! www.solarcrowdsource.com/projects/solarize-athens/

They are gathering tons of local people to make a huge purchase of solar equipment at vastly discounted prices right now!!




By 3porchfarm, Jun 9 2014 04:41PM

Back in early Spring, we had the absolute honor of being interviewed by one of our greatest farmer heros. Erin Benzakein, of Floret Flower Farm, has been the leading lady in the rapidly spreading farmer florist and slow flower movement. Her experimentation with crops and techniques and willingness to share her knowledge has inspired folks (including us) from all over the world to start growing more flowers.


To have Erin ask us to be a part of her new blog series, Farmer and The Florist, left us speechless. From the beginning of 3 Porch Farm, we knew we wanted to grow more flowers and less veggies. It was a scary risk since we had been used to focusing our fields on food. But our desire to incorporate creativity and craft back into our everyday life over-rode most of our fears. We took a leap of faith that was guided in no small way by generous and talented folks like Erin. With that, Moonflower Design Studio was born.


Check out the interview here


And then head on over to our design studio Moonflower



By 3porchfarm, Feb 3 2014 04:50AM

Mandy has always been talented. I've been impressed constantly since I met her ten years ago and will likely remain so til' my final days. Wherever she puts her attention and intention, things light up and flourish.

Watching her rapid growth in floral design has been fun for me. She used to leave me beautiful bunches of flowers whenever our 3 day weekends would come to an end and she would have to go back up into her dark and remote Boonville canyon cabin 7 years ago. On weekends and when she eventually moved to civilization with me, we'd always be pulling over in some random spot on the side of a highway or back-road to collect different flowers and plants to make arrangements for my Mom and Nonna back in Califoria. She was notorious for creating beautiful on-the-fly arrangements daily and for prestigious events at McEvoy Ranch in the hills of Petaluma from whatever flowers and plants she and the crew were growing throughout the vast acreage of that estate.

I've watched as her arrangements have gone from beautiful and unique, to works of art that smack of genius. Talent isn't enough on its own. If your tools aren't sharp, you can't create the finest of works and Mandy is constantly and persistently sharpening her tools. She is continuously taking in beauty and inspiration, studying design from her favorite contemporaries on back to historical literature on design. Every branch of every tree, bush and weed that we ever drove or walked by is a specimen for her to sample. Her fusion of cultivated beauty with nature's wild materials is graceful, gorgeous and often unexpected in the most delightful of ways.

One unanticipated good fortune bestowed upon us was the recent addition of Linda to the floral team. Mandy's mother and father just up and relocated down the road from us at the spur of a moment a few months back and we now have the good fortune of Linda's many talents for design, decoration, counsel, and foresight to add to our attributes.


Since we began our own farming venture and have decided to place more energies into organic flower farming and design though, there has been a punctuated evolution of significant proportion.

Our market flowers are pretty bunches of beauty that we grow, but that is really just nature and agriculture coming together to create a gift of delicate transient beauty. We do our best to grow beautiful healthy flowers and select only the best ones to bring to market. The creative element isn't really tapped for market that often. Her true art is only expressed during design work for events, weddings, and routinely at 5 & 10. And in this arena, she herself is blooming.




The inception of their work as a team began with one overwhelming project where Mandy needed a helping hand while I ran the market....and Linda came to the rescue. What began that day and has continued to develop at a rapid pace is an amazing partnership of give and take and yin and yang between them, where each one brings unique talents and diverse perspectives to each project that ultimately are extremely complimentary. The result is a synergy of epic proportions, beautiful professional work, and very happy clients and brides.



The side benefit for me is to see how the parent-child relationship is simultaneously evolving to one of extreme mutual respect and appreciation of talented partners and friends who not only do great work, but enjoy the process of working toghether. It's not lost on me how rare that is. As busy as we all are, we are still aware of how fortunate we are to be doing this together. To be creating beauty, expanding access to responsibly grown flowers, to work at home and together and with gratitude for the opportunity to do something good and on our own terms, and to do this all with loved ones while we continue to grow our own relationships is a gift that we work hard to not take for granted. Having everything you want isn't enough to bring happiness if you don't know how to take stock and appreciate all your blessings from moment to moment. That is a skill that must be honed, and one that can in turn help you further clarify what is of true value, and what is errant desire and distraction from what truly matters.

Though I look forward to a time where I too can expend more energies into the creation of floralscapes with Mandy and LInda, I am grateful to be a part of this expansion into the realm of sustainable flowers. I at least get to participate by creating the overarching environment for them to create within. It's my role to facilitate their talents and make their work easier so that they can tap into the flow of creation and not be distracted by nuts and bolts. That itself, can be an art and I am content to make it my own for now.









By 3porchfarm, Dec 15 2013 04:39PM


This week was a whirlind of cold, wet, muddy, freezing days and nights for me and frantic wreath, syrup, seasoning, sweet treat, restaurant and wedding floral making for Mandy and Linda (Mandy's mom and our amazingly talented and unpaid floral helper). We got an email saying that our High-Tunnel project (sort of a large greenhouse made of metal hoops and u.v. resistant plastic) needed to be complete by Thursday if we hoped to recieve any financial assistance by the end of the year.....and we needed the assistance by the end of the year.

Mandy was already committed to decorating 5 & 10 and HomeMade, putting together all of our products and about 30 wreaths for 2 holiday markets, 1 farmer's market, some special orders, and doing flowers for a wedding.

Without Mandy to help, I called a local Jack of All Trades who specializes in building these things. He agreed to come out first thing on a cold and wet Sunday morning and help me. He said with 2 guys that were really hustling, and his gas powered post driver and assorted tricks and know-how, the fastest we could hope to do it would be 5 days. Basically, the very best we could hope to do if all things went right (which they rarely ever do in construction), would put us right at the deadline.

Under the weight of his tractor that held a carriage on the front and ferried me around up in the ridgeline so I could assemble everything, our fluffy tomato field become a swampy muck pond of muddy quicksand that'd grab your boots and make you fight to get free and wonder what could ever grow in there again besides pigs and gators..




We hauled butt for three days and made really good progress. I'd be up before light and out there after dark, doing whatever I could to facilitate an efficient day.....literally running from the worksight to the barn and back, constantly bringing tools to the site and recharging batteries for cordless drills. The amount of screws that needed to be drilled into metal, was unreal and was a significant time-suck and a big drain on our batteries as well as on my sore muscles.


I was able to get a friend and local woodworker to come out on the fourth day and help out since the other fella had to cut out to another project for a few hours. Our brains and body's were soggy by that point and he helped spur us forward. By Thursday, everything was assembled, leveled and plumbed. The sidewalls and endwalls and man-door were framed in and the pine and cypress boards were oiled with linseed and tea-tree oils. And just as important, the sun had come out and dried out the frame enough to pull the plastic and the wind was nearly non-existent. If the metal is even slightly wet with morning dew, the plastic will stick like glue and forbid you from pulling the plastic. Not to mention what the wind can do to a 2500 square foot kite.


I got Mandy away from her tasks for an hour or so, two other farmer friends and an arborist buddy to join myself and the woodworker and we floated that fragile blanket over 2400 square feet of frame and worked our fingers close to raw in order to pull it extremely tight and lock it into place with lengths of wiggle wire placed into metal channels that we had previously screwed all over the perimeter of the structure.



By the early afternoon of Thursday, we were done enough to have the structure inspected and approved and I continued to work on the roll up side assemblies, then harvest and package my oyster harvest, clean up tools, close up hoophouses to protect fragile flowers and run into Athens to join Mandy and Linda at the first of our 3 days and nights of markets in Athens. It turned out to be the first of three great markets that punctuated the end of a long and very high-stakes and demanding week.

We closed it all out by ignoring our exhaustion and going on a long overdue date to see Hope For A Golden Summer in Athens. Their incredible music was the soundtrack to me starting to fall for Athens Georgia and Mandy almost 10 years ago and we have just been too busy on the farm to ever go and see them since we moved here. It was the perfect end to a crazy week.










By 3porchfarm, Nov 28 2013 02:35PM

I was recently asked to write this little thought provoker for HGTV's website, so I thought I'd share it here as well.


What are 5 things you should know before starting a farm?



1) Scale. Do you want to go high volume, with lots of hands and equipment and sell to supermarkets and wholesalers, or do you want to produce just enough that you can do it yourself and retail it all for the highest return per item?


2) Finances. It takes a lot more than seeds and water to get started on a farm. Like any business there is a significant overhead from day to day, but it is quite substantial at the outset. Make sure you have done your research, so you can adequately account for all your upcoming expenses in as healthy and pre-planned way as possible, so you don't end up bankrupt before the end of the first year.


3) Lifestyle. Many people have an image of a peaceful and bucolic life on the farm, surrounded by butterflies and happily harvesting tomatoes. That does exist. The part that is often overlooked though is the 70-90 hour work week that constitutes lots of physical labor and persistence in the face of unforeseen challenges such as the ever-present reminder that nature and the weather do not bend to your will. Are you ready to commit fully to the lifestyle and to forego a more predictable schedule and the ability to have a full social life....or a social life at all? The rewards are there only if you are happy to work with your parter/crew and to make the farm your world. If you need or want Saturday nights on the town, dinners with friends, time for hobbies, etc..., you may encounter challenges beyond the weather.


4) Market. Is there a market that can support your venture? If you want to grow organically at a retail scale, is there a farmer's market in your area that gets enough traffic to support your farm? Do the locals value organics or will you be priced out by cheaper conventional foods that are trucked in from somewhere else? Is the organic competition already pretty stiff thereby driving prices below what you need to pay your costs? What are land prices in your area? Would you have to drive half an hour or 2 hours to sell your goods?


5) What do you enjoy doing/growing? Can you feasibly produce what you enjoy producing and make that your livelihood? Is it fruit? Is it flowers? If so, will they grow well in your area? Will you still love it when you have to do it all the time and your bills depend on it?


When it boils down to it....it's important to know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses as well as those of you partner/s. If you've got a pretty level headed understanding of yourself and what it takes to live this kind of lifestyle, and you are at peace with the whole process of diving in and gracefully accepting whatever comes your way as you move forward, then you may well be emotionally ready to start a farm.