Sunday, February 17, 2013


Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Work is proceeding on the farm.

This past Monday David completed tying down the 330' of fencing installed over the previous weekend and strung another 330' of fencing, which still needs tying down.

On Friday David and Donald purchased more fencing supplies (hopefully the last), as well as materials for the seed beds.

Saturday was spent changing out tractor implements and reorganized to prepare for the seed beds. This was fortunate timing as the seed bed trays and planting material arrived. We are still waiting for delivery of the seeds.

David will be in charge of the farm for the next two weeks due to travel schedules.

Blessing from Baker Heritage Farms

"To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root." Chinese Proverb

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Welcome to Baker Heritage Farms;

It was a beautiful weekend, with rain last night and sunshine and warmth today.

David spent Tuesday and Wednesday putting in the rest of the T-posts for fencing the production fields.

Friday, David and Donald placed seed and supply orders, and went out and picked up more fencing material. Saturday Donald worked on the blog, and today David and Donald put up 300 feet of fence and started putting up the gate, both for the production fields.

Farm work is starting in earnest. Seed orders should be arriving this next week and will need planting, both in the production fields and in seed beds (for the transplants). The fence needs to be completed (approximately 900 feet left to go), and, when we think we are due for a break, March seed orders will need to be placed and we will have to prepare for the arrival of the chickens.

We are actually looking forward to the challenge. The next few months will be the real test to see if we are really ready to be full-time farmers.

Until next week,

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

"The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege." Charles Kuralt

Saturday, February 9, 2013

February 2013 Seeding Equipment and Supplies Ordered

It is time for Baker Heritage Farms to finally start farming.

While we had already ordered some planting equipment, we still needed to order seed beds for our transplants and some other equipment and supplies. The following equipment and supplies have now been ordered:

Speedling Transplant Tray - 128 Cell: These trays are made of reusable polystyrene and have individualized pyramid shaped cells which virtually eliminate transplant shock. Advantages include: undamaged roots (plants and all the soil pop out cleanly); no tearing or entangled roots; no spreading of root pests or diseases; a better root system (when the bottom of the tray is exposed to air, the taproot is air pruned promoting the growth of feeder roots that are directed downward instead of spiraling around the cell, enabling the plant to begin growing immediately after transplanting); and reduced damping off (due to excellent drainage).

As we will be seeding 220 tomato plants and 1,650 pepper plants (one full plot), we needed to order 15 of these trays. This increased our shipping costs substantially, but at least we received a quantity discount from the vendor. We could have ordered a 200 cell tray, however, the size of the cells was not adequate.

Power Organics Mycorrhizal Root Booster: This was recommended by Kerr Center. Mycorrhizae are beneficial fungi which create symbiotic relationships with plants, creating a stronger and healthier plant.

Foxfarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil: Another recommendation from Kerr Center. This soil is nutrient rich, pH balanced, ready-to-use mix. It is a balanced mix of composted forest humus, bat guano, fish, crab, and shrimp meal, and earthworm castings. It has larger size perlite for better aeration, light texture for better drainage, promotes nutrient uptake by plants, and has enough nutrients to sustain a plant for 6 months.

Soil Test Thermometer: While we do not always get to pick the best time to plant, a soil test thermometer will increase the chances of successful growth of your crops. The Taylor dial thermometer we ordered has a 5" probe and reads from 20 degrees F to 180 degrees F. If you monitor your soil for optimum germination temperatures at the correct planting depth, you can help avoid harmful diseases like pythium (damping off) which thrives on seeds planted in the wrong temperature environment.

We ordered all of these supplies from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (, who we have used in the past.

The total cost (excluding shipping, which was a substantial cost) was approximately $226.00. Most of this cost was in the seeding trays. Smaller, back yard farmers, will be able to get by with only a few of the trays.

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

February 2013 Seed Ordered

Our February 2013 seed order has finally been placed.

Three plots are scheduled for planting in February:

Plot 1D will be companion planted with Cabbage and Onion (1/2 of the plot will be in cabbage and 1/2 in onion);

Plot 1B will be companion planted with Lettuce and Radish (1/2 of the plot will be in lettuce and 1/2 in radish);

Plot 2C will be companion planted with Carrots and Tomatoes (1/2 of the plot will be in carrots, which will be direct seeded in February, and 1/2 of the plot will be in tomatoes, which are scheduled to be transplanted in April);

Plot 3A will be planted in Peppers, with three varieties of peppers being planted (these will be transplanted into the plot in April).

Seeds Ordered

Golden Acre Cabbage: 28g of Golden Acre Cabbage seed has been ordered (approximately 8,400 seeds). This variety of cabbage produces small, 5-7", 3-4 pound heads. It is one of the fastest to mature and is resistant to cabbage yellows. Heads can be planted closer together than larger, later varieties. This variety does not store for long. Approximately 62 days to maturity.

White Icicle (Lady Finger) Radish: 1.036kg of White Icicle Radish seed has been ordered (approximately 88,800 seeds). This is a pre-1865 variety that is a mild-flavored, white variety with carrot-shaped roots up to 4-5" long. Stands up to heat well. This radish is best harvested when small but remains milder than other varieties when harvested large. Approximately 29 days to maturity.

Doe Hill Golden Bell Pepper (Frying): 5g of Doe Hill Golden Bell Pepper seed has been ordered (approximately 600 seeds). This is a pre-1900 variety fro the Doe Hill area in Highland County, VA. It produces 4 - 6 lobed bright orange, flat shaped bells, 2.25" high and 1" wide. The 24" plants are high yielding, are widely adapted, and disease resistant. The flavor is sweet with a fruity, multidimensional quality. It is a nice salad pepper for adding color, zip, and extra vitamin C to early summer salads.

Ashe County Pimento Pepper (Sweet): 5g of Ashe County Pimento Pepper seed has been ordered (approximately 600 seeds). This pepper is one of the few peppers that reliably produces well in the short Smoky Mountain growing season (150 days or less). An incredibly sweet, bright red, thick fleshed pimento pepper, 4" X 1.5". Great raw, as well as for cooking. Approximately 70 days to maturity.

Cayenne, Long Red Pepper (Hot): 6g of Cayenne, Long Red Pepper seed has been ordered (approximately 720 seeds). This is a choice, fiery-red hot seasoning pepper. Use fresh or dried, especially in salsa or chili. Pendant fruits are 3/4" wide by 5" to 6" long. Approximately 72 days to maturity.

Arkansas Traveler Tomato: 1.5g of Arkansas Traveler Tomato seed has been ordered (approximately 375 seeds). This is a pre-1900 heirloom grown throughout the South from northwest Arkansas to North Carolina. This variety is an old Southern heirloom much esteemed for its ability to produce flavorful tomatoes under conditions of drought and high heat where many other varieties fail. Medium-sized fruits are pink, and of wonderful flavor, and keep well. Approximately 89 days to maturity. Indeterminate.

Cherokee Purple Tomato: 1.5g of Cherokee Purple Tomato seed has been ordered (approximately 375 seeds). This is a pre-1890 Tennessee heirloom, reportedly of Cherokee Indian origin and produces large, smooth fruits (10-12 oz) with slightly ridged shoulders. Ripens to a unique dark, dusky pink/purple. Sometimes called a black tomato, the color carries through to the flesh, especially at the stem end. Good resistance to Septoria leaf spot. A shorter indeterminate, plants average 5' tall. 'Cherokee Purple' has spread widely since its introduction, with variations developing over time, however, this seed is reported to be still the original, shorter shape. Approximately 85 days to maturity. Indeterminate.

Deer Tongue (Matchless) Lettuce (Looseleaf): 14g of Deer Tongue Lettuce has been ordered (approximately 5,600 seeds). This variety is upright and has loose heads with excellent sweet flavor and crisp texture. Slightly savoyed, triangular, round-tipped leaves with a succulent, mid-rib. Moderate bolt resistance. Approximately 54 days to maturity.

Texas Early Grano Onion (Dry Bulb): 105g of Texas Early Grano Onion seed has been ordered (approximately 24,500 seeds). This is a 1933 Texas heirloom, "The Mother of All Sweet Onions". This Vidalia-type onion is a good choice for the Mid-Atlantic and the South. Best started in the fall or winter and transplanted in early spring. Large top-shaped bulbs, thin skin, soft white flesh, with sweet mild flavor. Good resistance to splitting. Short day variety and a short keeper.

Danvers Carrot: 1/4 lb of Danvers Carrot seed has been ordered (approximately 49,187 seeds). This variety is a biennial heirloom. The Danvers Carrot is a vigorous, red-orange carrot, 7"-8" long, with slightly tapered, broad shoulders. It is heat tolerant and performs consistently in many types of soils. Danvers' strong top makes it easy to pull from the ground. A good keeper. Approximately 70 days to maturity.


Baker Heritage Farms is committed to growing only Certified Organic Heirloom crops, and, as such, we spent a great deal of time and effort ensuring that all of our seed meets both Certified Organic and Heirloom standards. These standards required us to alter our initial desire to plant only those heirloom seeds indigenous to the southern region. Our goal is to research available seed and make our decisions first on regional qualities, second on heirloom qualities, and third on organic qualities. All of our February 2013 seeds meet both Certified Organic and Heirloom standards, though may fall short of our desire for meeting those indigenous to the south.

With the exception of the Danvers Carrot seed, all seed was purchased through the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange ( The Danvers Carrot seed was sold out at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (though they may have it in stock now) so this seed was ordered through Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply ( While we would like to stay with one vendor as much as possible, there will be times that we will have to use multiple vendors. In the case of the Danvers Carrot seed, we were able to obtain the seed through one of our equipment vendors.

The tomatoes and peppers will be seeded in our barn in seed beds and will be transplanted to their appropriate plots approximately 6 - 8 weeks after seeding. All other crops will be direct seeded (this will be a trial for many of our crops, as they can be either direct seeded or transplanted).

Our total seed cost for February 2013 was approximately $410.00 not including shipping. Remember, we are ordering much more seed that the normal backyard farmer will require; however, if you are a small-acreage farmer, you will most likely find your seed costs to be similar.

Once we determine what crops and varieties we will specialize in, we will begin to save seed to reduce input expenses.

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

Thursday, February 7, 2013

BHF Seed Policy


Since the first commercial cultivation of genetically modified plants in 1996, they have been modified to be tolerant to herbicides, to be resistant to virus damage, and to produce an insecticide.

The Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary defines Genetically Modified as “having had its genetic structure changed artificially, so that it will produce more fruit or not be affected by disease.” Genetically Modified is defined in Life Sciences & Allied Applications – Botany as, “denoting or derived from an organism whose D.N.A. has been altered for the purpose of improvement or correction of defects: genetically modified food.

In agriculture, genetically engineered crops are created to possess several desirable traits, such as resistance to pests, herbicides, or harsh environmental conditions, improved product shelf life, increased nutritional value, or production of valuable goods such as drugs.

These are seeds that have had their genetic make-up altered by replacing certain genes with genes from a totally different species, with the hope that the resulting plants will now have certain ‘desirable’ characteristics. This is only possible with human intervention, and there are many concerns about both the ethics and the results of the GM process.

Genetically Modified crops are involved in controversies with respect to whether food produced from such crops is safe and whether these crops are needed to address the world’s food needs.

Baker Heritage Farms does not and will not purchase, plant, or endorse Genetically Modified seeds for any reason. Our personal beliefs, as expressed in our Mission Statement, include our policy of striving “to maintain an effective agricultural system where plant, livestock, and poultry production maintains the natural ecological cycles, conserves energy, and reduces chemical input to a minimum. Genetically Modified crops violate the basics of this covenant.

Baker Heritage Farms follows the United Methodist Social Principles for Food Safety, including “support(ing) policies that protect the food supply and that ensure the public’s right to know the content of the foods they are eating” (UMBOD 160). In addition, we join the call for controls on the biological safety for all foodstuffs intended for human consumption and urge the removal from the market of foods contaminated with potentially hazardous levels of pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. We also support clear labeling for all food products and oppose weakening the standards for organic foods.

We do not believe that genetically modified crops have been around long enough, or tested rigorously enough, to ensure that they are safe for human consumption. It is our personal belief that the produce from genetically altered and/or "treated" seeds is not healthy for the environment or us. We believe that human hands should not alter what God has provided.


Heirloom is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a horticulture variety that has survived for several generations, usually due to the efforts of private individuals”. An heirloom vegetable is an open-pollinated cultivar, or cultivated plant, that is not used in large-scale modern agriculture.

Because heirloom varieties are unique seeds that have not been genetically modified or crossed into other strains there are no specific features that they share except that they have usually become accustomed to their local growing area’s conditions over the year.

Not only are heirloom varieties usually very tasty, but they also promote genetic diversity and are not prone to diseases that can wipe out entire varieties of homogenized vegetables.

Heirloom fruits and vegetables are unique plant varieties, which are genetically distinct from the commercial varieties popularized by industrial agriculture.

By growing heirloom fruits and vegetables, Baker Heritage Farms is helping to preserve genetic diversity by ensuring that these unique plant varieties are not completely replaced by the few commercial varieties that are mass-produced by industrial agriculture. We strive to produce delicious, unique, and interesting kinds of fruits, vegetables, and grains that add color and flavor to meals that everyone can enjoy.


The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as “organic food … produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation”.

The purpose of Baker Heritage Farms includes providing unaltered, healthy and wholesome food products in a safe and healthy environment while being good stewards and maintaining our lands for future generations. It is our opinion that we cannot comply with our stated purpose using commercially produced seed that has been supplemented or modified for solely commercial purposes, including modifications or supplements that are designed solely for improving appearance, production levels, transporting, or extending the life of the end product.

While Baker Heritage Farms will always strive to purchase and plant organically certified seed, this will not always be possible. Organic farmers are allowed to use non-organically produced, untreated seeds and planting stock to produce an organic crop if there is no organic seed variety commercially available. However, a good faith effort is required to locate organic seed. As Heirloom seeds are not readily available, Baker Heritage Farms may, on occasion, be forced to plant non-organically certified heirloom seed. Heirloom seed, by definition, is not genetically modified and is untreated. Anytime non-organically certified seed is used, our records will indicate the sources researched for certified organic seed, and the reasons this seed could not be obtained. Baker Heritage Farms promises to make every effort to acquire organically certified seed.

This will be less of a problem once we have determined what crops will be successful, and can plan our crops to avoid cross-pollination, we will begin saving seed and using only seed grown by Baker Heritage Farms.

Our Pledge

All crops grown by Baker Heritage Farms are non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated, and non-patented, and will be chosen based on their natural suitability to our region.

Monday, February 4, 2013

"So God Made a Farmer" - Paul Harvey

I listened to Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" for many years and always looked forward to his newest one. This one, however, I missed.

We are not professional football fans, and, except for David, do not generally watch the Super Bowl. In fact, Super Bowl Sunday is just another day in our house. However, apparently this year's Super Bowl made quite a bit of splash. The splash did not involve two brothers, or fictitious girl friends, it involved the farmer.

Sunday evening Danielle brought her computer down to our house and showed me the Super Bowl Dodge Ram commercial. It was already on YouTube and other places on the internet. Today, as I checked into my hotel, I picked up today's edition of USA Today, and the front page consisted of ... an advertisement. Four full pages of Paul Harvey's "So God Made a Farmer".

I do not know how many Dodge Ram pickups will be sold off of the ad (we have Fords and are quite happy), but the ad definitely gave credence to the American farmer. In many ways, it reminded me of my paternal grandfather, who ran a small dairy farm while he was a full-time trucker for a gasoline company. I just could not neglect to post this on this farm blog - and hope that I can someday live up to these words.

Donald Baker

Here's the text of Paul Harvey's 1978 'So God Made a Farmer' Speech, which inspired the Ram Trucks Super Bowl ad that has resonated with so many Americans:

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, "I need a caretaker." So God made a farmer.
God said, "I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board." So God made a farmer.
"I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon -- and mean it." So God made a farmer.
God said, "I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, 'Maybe next year.' I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours." So God made a farmer.
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a farmer.
God said, "I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church.
"Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.'" So God made a farmer.

God Bless Farmers!


Greetings from Baker Heritage Farms;

Another week has gone by and we are getting closer to planting season (and more behind). Started working on the seed order this past Saturday and had an issue come up that took priority. For us part-time farmers, timing is of the utmost importance.

This past week David worked on the road back to the pasture, clearing it out so that we could get the trucks down there without scratching them up.

David also put together some old cribs that our church had to remove and replace, and we will be using these for growing transplants (tomatoes and peppers). It appears that these will be very good for growing the transplants.

Saturday, David and Donald went out to get more fencing material. Picked up 8 more corner posts and 100 T-posts. We use corner posts for line posts as well, as they are much sturdier than line posts. We are placing the T-posts every 10 - 11 feet. Our purpose is merely to discourage wild (and domestic) animals from getting into the production fields. While we know we will not keep the deer out, we can at least discourage them (along with other methods we use, such as stringing old CD's along yellow caution tape throughout the fields).

While digging post-holes, we struck water. We hit water at about 2 feet, unfortunately, we have no way of knowing how deep the water is but at least we have a place where we can start looking at digging a well.

We hope to have our seed order placed by next weekend so we can plant somewhat on schedule. The weather has been ideal for planting.

Until next week,

Blessings from Baker Heritage Farms

Isaiah 5:2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.