The Happy Berry

Newsletter Archives

2014 Newsletters


Published September 12, 2014

Muscadines Are Doing It!
Figs Continue Slow & Steady
Fall Blackberries!
Hours of Operation Change Beginning Sunday Sept 14

Muscadines and scuppernongs are doing it! They are late but the volume has finally picked up. Remember- you can’t judge a muscadine just by its color. You have to feel the berry to make sure your eye was correct. For those of you have never picked this nutraceutical, yummy, secret-of-the-south, you have to get your eye, finger tip feel and your taste buds calibrated. You do this by eating a few as you pick. If you feel guilty because you are eating quite a bit we have a "Sin Bucket" where you can leave donations.

Figs continue slow and steady. We do have some in the cooler for pre-picked sales. We expect that the harvest season will go late! As long as the weather remains warm we should have figs. Why is this fig season so different? What happened is the 8 degree night on January 8 hurt the branches. We used a chainsaw and removed many but not all of these branches. Where we cut them off the tree put out (epicormic) shoots that are very vigorous and have lots of figs on them. The branches left, that had been weakened by the freeze, have fewer and smaller figs. The combination has resulted in a drawn out fig season.

The ever bearing blackberries continue very, very slow but steady. We picked 7 quarts today (Sept 9) on 1000 foot of row...there are lots of green fruit...maybe they will pick up? We are keeping track so we can do a better forecast next year. We expect they will go all the way until frost. We are also keeping track of the temperatures under the shade and in the open. The results have been counter intuitive! It is warmer in the shade than in the sun!? ...But we have yet to see the first white droplet in the shade??? Perhaps the shade cloth will protect from light frosts???

HOURS CHANGING Days are getting shorter. Beginning on Sunday September 14, 2014, we will start closing at 6PM everyday and not opening until 9 AM Mondays through Saturdays. (We will still open at noon on Sundays.)

The good news is that new flower buds are forming on the blueberries for next year. We have good leaf retention so it looks like we will get a large crop of flowers next year.

TABLE GRAPES are gone.


That is it for now.
Please! come and help us finish the season strong!
Walker, for The Happy Berry Bunch

PS Don’t forget your buckets if you have them

August 27

Published August 27, 2014

Figs Are In!
Muscadines Have Started!
Black Magic - Fall Blackberries!

Figs are in! We are getting up to ten gallons or so a day but volume can vary day to day. First Pickers in the field get the best picking. We pick the figs every day but do not do so until after lunch. We clear the ripe figs off each day after lunch so we do not have over ripe figs on the tree which attract the bees and do it after lunch so it gives those that pick-their-own a chance to pick them first. The demand for figs has been high so each year we have planted more figs but still we have not been able to keep up. We will plant more this year. We will plant mostly Brown Turkey but if you have a local favorite and know where we can get it (or at least some branches) please let us know.

Remember figs are climacteric. That means they will ripen after picking but they must have reached the point where the stem starts to bend. (If you pick a fig before the stem starts to bend it isn’t ripe yet, and it will not continue to ripen after you pick it.) Most varieties will also start to change color as they get ripe. If they have a few cracks, it is perfect to pick! If in doubt, please ask us and we will give you a little demonstration.

Muscadines are started. Now picking mostly a scuppernong known as Early Fry. We are getting 5 to 10 gallons a day and volume is picking up rapidly. Should be good picking by 8/28 or later. We are also getting some black Muscadines, varieties Cowart and Ison, just a couple gallons a day but they will be increasing in volume too.

Grapes are near done in the field but we have just a few gallons in the cooler, mostly Saturn variety.

Fall Blackberries (Prime Ark 45 and Black Magic) have started. Today we got 5 quarts from about 1000 ft of row. We have been getting a couple quarts a day for about 10 days or more. Customer response to Black Magic has been "Oh my goodness! That's the best blackberry I have ever tasted." To be honest we do not know what to expect volume-wise. We are tracking what is picked so we can do a better job next year forecasting. There are a lot of flower buds and lots of green fruit. Supposedly they will go until frost. Prime Ark 45 is a smaller, rounder and firmer berry and has been a little slower than the Black Magic to start picking. They are easy to find in the field because of the shade cloth over them. They are an on-farm research project partially sponsored by USDA under a program called SARE (Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education). The bad news is that because the anticipated volume (previous research suggests 2000 lb per acre max in the fall) is low and the costs are high (materials and labor to install we're not covered by the project) we have had to increase the price to $7 per quart. The good news is that they will also bear in early June. We are tracking temperatures with two max min thermometers both in and out of the shade and in and out of standard weather station boxes. We are also tracking the number of flower petals and sepals in both varieties. We will also do the same thing in the spring. I will post a preliminary report on our web site probably in December.

Blueberries are near gone but diehard Pickers are still getting a half to a gallon of berries with lots of effort. The good news is that the crop of leaves this year is excellent; and that means we should get a good crop of flower buds for next year. With all the rain last year and the subsequent lost of a lot of leaves, this season started with fewer flower buds. With the wind machine we protected 90% plus of them but still the rain reduced the crop some.

Thank you, thank you thank you for your support! Being a farmer is not an easy job and your support, your interest, your conversations with us on the porch and at the markets—they are all part of the benefits we reap!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch

PS Don’t forget your buckets if you have them

August 7

Published August 7, 2014

Peak of Season for Mars & Saturn Table (Seedless) Grapes
Figs have started
Muscadines forecast - August 15
Blueberry Picking Fair to Poor

Still blueberries but picking has slowed way down meaning picking time per gallon has increased significantly. There are still green blueberries so we expect that diehard pickers will be able to get them until late August. However, we will no longer have pre-picked blueberries either at the farm or at the markets. Some of the reasons for the quickly diminished picking time are robins (now gone), mature berry drop, we are past peak-of-season and there is a new invasive species called Spotted Wing Drosophila which is giving us a problem of soft berries. I will discuss more on this issue below.

Peak of Grape season! We are picking Mars and Saturn grapes now …The vines are loaded! And picking is easy! Mars, dark blue, are a little like concords but sweeter and the Saturn, dark red, are a sweet crunchy grape. You will need “snipers” to cut the clusters (bunches) from the vine without cutting the main vine. We like to see a little stub where the cluster is removed. It produces phytoalexins (antibiotic like materials) that protect the vine from fungal invasion. The Jupiter grapes are near the end so picking requires being selective for mature clusters, and we do still have some Jupiter in the cooler already harvested. They are so sweet and fragrant. The Venus grapes are gone. Grape season moves quickly so do not delay or you will miss the season. They will be gone by September or even sooner.

Figs are in! Picking is slow but will improve. There are a lot of figs on the trees. The trees are recovering from the January 8 freeze nicely. I am forecasting peak in a week. Remember figs are climacteric. That means they will continue to ripen after you pick them- even when they are in the refrigerator! They should be picked when the short stem begins to bend. You will also note a change in color to brownish and when you see cracks in the skin it is at its peak, ready to pop in your mouth!

Muscadines continue on schedule for August 15. Picking will be slow at the start requiring the development of the eye, feel (softness) and taste nexus so you get great berries. You pick them one at a time- not by clusters. Muscadines (and Scuppernongs) are not climacteric, so if you pick them green they will not continue to ripen after being picked. They are big and fill the bucket quickly so take your time and get great ripe berries.

We are perplexed over the issue of Spotted wing Drosophila (SWD)! Let us explain. The Spotted Wing Drosophila is an invasive species that was introduced as a result of globalization of our food supply amongst others. It has spread from Asia to California and thence over the entire North American continent within its ecological boundaries determined by temperature. It has no significant natural enemies.

Our objective is to be ecologically sound, economically viable and socially responsible to our community. In keeping with these objectives we have been using a “bait and kill technique” for management for the past two years using a whole farm approach. An organic insecticide is put in molasses bait, spiked with corn liquor and blackberry wine. The thick mixture is sprayed on the lower stems every 15 feet…. There was no research to show if the technique worked. It was a gamble based on what we could learn. Sadly, the control has collapsed and we are going to have to look at stronger measures in the future. For now, the combination of the natural slowing of harvest with the increased loss of crop from SWD has put us in a position where we have had to decide to stop picking blueberries for pre-picked sales.

SWD—the details: The female of the spotted wing drosophila (a fruit fly) Looks like a regular fruit fly but it has a serrated (saw like) ovipositor that enables it to puncture a healthy fruit to lay it eggs. A normal fruit fly requires a damaged fruit to reproduce. The egg of SWD hatches and feeds resulting in a soft fruit just at harvest time. The good news is that cold temperatures kill it out both in the refrigerator in the winter reducing populations. The bad news is that their fecundity (rapid population growth) means they will be an annual problem for which we will have to spray weekly. The SWD could destroy our entire blueberry and blackberry crop. If that happens, we will not be economically viable.

Control Measures: There are two materials that are labeled for use for control of SWD and they should be used in an alternating program to avoid the development of resistance. They are Mustang Max and Delegate. They both have a pre-harvest interval of one day. We will need to spray for the entire harvest period. We would begin the spraying based on trap catches which will show us when the SWD begin. Once we begin spraying, we will need to close one day a week and we are thinking Sunday or Monday. We will evaluate sales from this year to help us make that determination. The loss of sales on either of those days will be an economic blow but hopefully can be made up during the week.

We are sorry that we must do this and hope you will stay with us. We are writing this to let our community know what we are doing and why. We would love to hear your comments. We will attend winter conferences to learn of new mew methods of SWD management, if any, that have been developed. If you want to get into a spirited conversation, talk to Walker about globalization. He believes it is ecologically unsustainable and that there is good reason for economic boundaries of which food security is at the top of the list. Also there are natural boundaries such as mountains and oceans that are important to maintaining biotic diversity and the balance of nature. There is just no way that technology can keep up with the massive number of problems we face as a result of biological homogenization due to globalization!

Back to the Good Stuff!

It is peak! season in the Mars & Saturn table grapes. Figs are beginning and should peak in about a week. Muscadines are on track to begin about August 15. And there are still blueberries for those you willing to invest some time!

PS Don’t forget your buckets if you have them

We appreciate you and your continued support. We hope you will come see us at the farm!


Published July 19, 2014

Peak of season for Blueberries
Grapes Start 7/19

Beautiful days are forecasted for Wednesday 7/16 through Saturday 7/19. Please come visit us!

Blueberries are loaded.
It is peak of season and will be for the next 2 plus weeks. We are picking Tifblue, Centurion, Onslow and several other varieties. Broken blueberry branches??? We realize that our bushes are big and to get the big ones at the top you need to bend them over. We know you will try to be careful but if one breaks not to worry! We will fix it this winter during pruning season January through March. Also remember that some of the nicest berries will be down and in towards the center of the bush.

The blackberries are struggling. In addition to a tough winter we continue to have problems with Raspberry Crown Borer especially in the Navaho and Chester. The result is prematurely dried out canes. Despite problems we are still harvesting some. You may also notice the experiment that is going on in the west field of the blackberries. We are putting shade cloth over the ever-bearing blackberries Black Magic and Prime Ark 45. The hypothesis is that temperatures over 85 degrees cause distortion and abortion of the fruit. The shade will reduce the temperature and thus fruit abortion and distortion. The concern is will the plants get enough sunshine to grow good strong bearing primo canes? We will keep you posted.

Seedless Grapes – We are projecting that we will start harvesting the Venus grapes this Saturday (July 19). Grape harvesting is harder than it looks. You must carefully inspect the cluster to make sure it is mature. DO NOT cut the cluster then look at it or taste it. It is important to use snipers- especially ones with a pointed nose. The pointed nose enables you to get between the vine and the cluster. Do not rip the grapes from the vine. Tearing the clusters from the vine leaves a wound that can be infected by fungi. These fungi can kill the vine. Leaving a short piece of the rachis (the main stem of the fruiting cluster) enables it to produce phytoalexins (antibiotic like compounds) that protect the vine from fungi. Other news in the seedless grapes: We have changed to using pheromone mating disruption for grape root borer control. It seems to be working …It will take 2 to 3 years to tell for sure. We are pleased with the positive results so far since this eliminates the use of an insecticide during the critical harvest period.

Figs are progressing nicely. We are a little bit “up in the air” with our forecast of August 1 but they have been so reliable in the past that we hesitate to change the forecast.

Muscadines – are on schedule and we are looking at August 15 for the first bronze ones.

Miscellaneous other: Remember that we have eggs and an electric car charger. We would love to see more use of our electric car charger- so please spread the word! Please also be sure to dress for the weather – remember sun protection (hats/sun shirts/sunscreen) and good shoes. We have cold water at the porch, but you may want to bring your own water bottles to take in the field when you go. If you come to pick in the mornings, remember the fields can still be damp from dew and therefore a little slippery – so good shoes are important. And please note that we have made a small adjustment to our hours – On Sundays through Fridays we are open until 8:30pm (instead of the previously nebulous “dusk”). (Still open until 6pm on Saturdays.)

We are so lucky to have such a wonderful and supportive community! Thanks to you all who come to the farm and markets for our harvest. We would not be here without you!

See you in the fields!


Published May 31, 2014

Strawberries (but not at The Happy Berry)
Blackberries- June 10?
Blueberries- June 15?

First our apologies for not getting the update out sooner!

Strawberries - We do not grow strawberries but it is strawberry season.
It is just passed the peak season for strawberries. Some local strawberry growers include Hunter Berry Farm just north of Easley, Hardy Berry farm just west of Anderson, Callaham orchards near Belton, Beechwood farms in Marietta, Sandy flats berry farm north of Greenville in Taylors. If we have forgotten anybody let us know. You can also find a link to last year's grower list on our website. Strawberries will probably wrap up about June 15, maybe sooner. Have fun! We have eaten several gallons so far.

Blueberries - June 15?
Crop forecasting is tricky! It has been cool except for a few days so I am forecasting June 15, 2014 for blueberries. The bushes are loaded with 100% of a crop plus. Some of the newer varieties, like Onslow, which we have been planting to replace the variety Delight are beginning to volume up. The first to ripen will be Climax and Premier. Despite all the rain last year we were able to control leaf rust so we had a good set of flowers and we were able to protect them from frost on March 24 with the wind machine. The motor blew up at just about 8 AM that morning. It was still inoperable April 16… see blackberries below.

Blackberries – Hurt by frost but there will be blackberries - June 10?
With no wind machine on April 16 we experienced frost damage in the blackberries. BUT! There are blackberries. I am forecasting about June 10 for blackberries and maybe a few before that. If we do have blackberries before June 10 those will be pre-pick/farmer market only. We think they will be sparse enough before June 10 that it would be frustrating for you to come and not be able to find them. Once the harvest comes in (approx June 10), here is what you can expect. The variety Chickasaw has the most of the earlier season berries. Kiowa, a mid season berry, also is good except where the top of the plants were killed back by the January 8, 2014 eight degree freeze. There will be some Navaho and the late season Chester has a full crop since this variety blooms very late. Natchez and Ouachita are essentially zip.

Seedless Grapes
are coming along with no apparent problems. We were worried as all the rain in 2013, twenty one extra inches in mid and late summer, resulted in very poor control of “downy mildew” disease with severe defoliation. This resulted in more than normal die back of fruiting canes. We pruned very carefully and tried to balance fruit buds against the weight of canes removed… which was tricky since dead canes are lighter than green canes. You get use to looking at a vine and estimating weight based on volume. Bottom Line …we think grapes harvest will be near normal.

were severely damaged by the January 8 freeze. Using a chain saw we cut them back to live wood. They looked quite naked! They are now sprouting heavily and since figs are born on this year’s branches we are anticipating they will be ready by August 1 with a normal harvest. We have been adding Figs every year. We added 20 more this year.

Muscadines - August 15?
are looking good except for the variety Supreme. We lost 25 plants to the January 8 freeze. This variety is such a heavy bearer of fruit, it partitions its resources to fruit rather than foliar growth. We have been spacing the fruiting spurs twice the distance (10-12 inches) apart than on cold hardy varieties like Cowart, Janet and Late Fry (4 to 6 inches) to try to compensate. Without adequate foliar growth the vines are more susceptible to cold injury. We have replanted reducing the cordon length to 5 feet (total of 10 feet) and will continuing to space fruiting spurs far apart. It is a favorite variety, picks with a dry scar, is big with very little cracking and is disease resistant. We think it is important to work out its’ cultural requirements. Bottom line we are forecasting muscadines to start August 15, 2014 with a near normal crop.

CFSA Farm Tour
We are so excited about participating in the 8th annual Upstate Farm Tour, June 7th & 8th. FARM / VOLUNTEER(S) NEEDED - If you would like to be a part of our farm family, we need volunteers to help greet guests, sell tour passes, and be a friendly ambassador. Volunteer one day of the tour, and you'll get a FREE pass to enjoy the tour on the other day! It is easy to sign up - just visit and follow the simple instructions. There are several farms that need volunteers so you are not limited to choosing our farm on which to volunteer.

Olive trees
For those of you following our olive tree results, here is an update. The Ascolana trees were bronzed back on January 8 and the bigger the tree, the less was the damage. The Ascolana is putting on new foliage and appears to be growing nicely. The Mission variety was killed to the ground. Since cross pollination is important we will continue the test trying the Arbequina variety.

Also our Compact Stella cherries had about 20 cherries on them for the first time. The birds got them! They are about 4 years old. Next year we will be ready for the birds.

Other Planting Activities -
Despite the tough winter and reduced sales last year (due to the weather) we have been doing some planting. Hope lives eternal! We have expanded our persimmon planting to where we have a half acre of Izu variety. Izu is a seedless Kaki persimmon. It will be several years before there is any volume. We have also planted a few (25) Goji berries. Goji berries are a perennial small tree. The red berry has a reputation of being sweet and very high in nutriceuticals. They bear on the current season’s growth so maybe we will get a taste this summer and fall. We are worried that early blight and anthracnose diseases will be an issue but only time and testing will tell.

What are your thoughts on... ?
We are considering some other perennial crops and are wondering what your reaction would be:

  1. Hazel nuts – breeding has come up with varieties that are resistant to eastern filbert blight using genes from wild native hazel nuts. Being native offers the opportunity for organic production.
  2. Everbearing black mulberries – The berries are very sweet with a mild flavor. To our knowledge the only threat is popcorn disease and birds. For birds there is now a spray that is generally recognized as safe but is not yet approved for organic use.
  3. June berries – June berries, dark blue fruit about the size of a blueberry, are born on large trees. We have observed curculios on fruit of this native tree sometimes called service berry. But being native means it does not suffer major disease problems so could possibly be produced organically.

What do you think? Should we try them?

Thank you all for your calls and support!
We apologize for the delayed update but should be back on track now, and going forward.

See you soon!


Published April 4, 2014

Willows Through April
About That Last Freeze
Miscellaneuos Mentions

Willow Sales Continue Through April!
Come see us on the farm—learn to grow your own or buy cut stems—or BOTH!

Open Saturdays from 11 AM until 3 PM
* except 4/19 when we’re at the festival
(OR By Appointment- Just give us a call 864-350-9345)

  • OPEN Saturday April 5
  • OPEN Saturday April 12
  • *Closed Saturday April 19 - Find Us At the Pickens Azalea Festival
  • OPEN Saturday April 26

About That Latest Cold Snap:
Tuesday evening March 25 and Wednesday morning March 26, 2014 started out as an advective freeze (wind blowing) and we knew there was nothing we could do as long as the wind was blowing. At about 3 AM the wind settled in our little valley and an inversion set up almost immediately. I started the wind machine at 3:45 AM. During an inversion there is warm air above and cold air below. When there is no wind it is known as a radiational freeze. During a radiational freeze the flowers supper cool below ambient temperature. We ran our wind machine. The wind machine does two things. It brings warmer air from above and spreads it out over the farm and it prevents supper cooling by keeping the air moving maintaining the flowers at ambient temperature. Joaquin and I watched the machine, feeding it gas and looking for problems. [A year ago the engine stopped because we ran out of gas (there was no gas gauge then but there is now) and tore up the gear box. Old story - short, we got a gear box off an old machine and replaced it saving $2500)]. At 6:45 AM 3/26 the local thermometer read 24 degrees.

The Drama Unfolds:
At 8:25 AM The machine appeared to blow a head gasket and we leaped to disengage the propeller before it tore up the gear box. It was still below freezing and we would have run till 9:30 or 10. Wednesday a mechanic friend, Willie Holt From NC, suggested we pull the plugs and remove the valve cover. With Willie Holts’ help we determined that the spark plug in one cylinder was damaged and the same cylinder had no compression. I tried to line up a local mechanic. Thursday no luck with finding a mechanic. Pulled the oil pan. It was over full with antifreeze but only two pieces of ceramic from the spark plug. Rain Friday and Saturday. Sunday with Willie's help we pulled the two heads and found that indeed the a valve was broken, the piston head was chewed up and the cylinder wall was split... so it will be major, major expense to get it fixed, if it can be fixed.

The only good news is that, despite the failure of the wind machine, we did save the blueberry crop with just a few flowers exposed to the north sky damaged. The bad news is that it is still a long way until Easter and more freezes are likely. Please wish us luck with finding a solution for the wind machine and/or wish for no more freezes this year.

As spring progresses the risk of cold damage declines but the temperature at which flowers are injured increases. Tuesday the threshold for injury was probably 27 degrees for most flowers given the stage of development. Flowers injured had the pistil emerging.

Political News:
Stay Tuned for another newsletter to follow this one: The South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR), through the Admissions Tax Act, we think has the potential to be a real stumbling block in the establishment of local food options in South Carolina. We will send out a stand alone newsletter on this issue for those of you who are interested.

Do you need a program for an upcoming meeting?
What about “The Future of Food, Water and Energy”? Walker is available (and eager!) to give presentations on this topic. He is continually updating his presentation. Included, or separately, he is also passionate about the importance of developing a strong and self-sufficient community system- buying local gone wild if you will. If you would like a program just let him know 864 350 9345

Thank you all for your support!!!! We would not be here without YOU!
Walker for The Happy Berry


Published January 3, 2014

2014 Willows with Catkins Start!
2013 in Review
Carbon Capture and Other News

The willows look great! They are beautiful. We have started the harvest. We will be open for willows most Saturdays (see below) and by appointment. We will also have sticks and stems available on the Clemson Area Food Exchange (CAFÉ – along with our jams and eggs. Of course you can get jams or eggs any time (honor system) and if you call ahead we can also have your order of sticks and stems ready for you.

Saturday Schedule:
Saturdays from 11 AM until 3 PM

  • January 4, 18, & 25
  • February 15, 22
  • March 15, 22, and 29

Shows & Presentations:

  • Wed January 22 at 1 PM Wed. at the Pickens County library in Pickens at 124 north Calhoun Street (for more info call 898 5747)
  • Tuesday January 28 – a garden club presentation at the Watkins Community center in Honea Path
  • Saturday February 1 -the Greenville Master Gardener Symposium
  • Fri Sat Sun, February 7 - 9: the Anderson Home and Garden show
  • Fri & Sat, February 28 & March 1: the Savannah Home and Garden show
  • Fri Sat Sun, March 7-9: the Greenville Home and Garden Show

2013 In Review:
Well, 2013 was a tough year. In the fall of 2012 we had an epidemic of leaf disease in the blueberries despite several applications of nutrient sprays so consequently our numbers of flower buds were down. With the help of the wind machine we made it through the April frost season with no further damage. So things were looking good. Then in May it was cool and rain was a little over average. June was also cool especially early and again we were about 2 inches above average with rain on 20 out of 30 days, which slowed the harvest and the picking. Adding insult to injury, July continued the wet weather pattern, with rain on 26 out of 31 days and 10 (!!) inches of above average rain. Then in August we had (MORE) rain on 23 days out of 31 days and about 2 inches above average. September was about average and October below average but by the end of November we were at 72.82 inches for the year and 20.68 inches above average. To put it in perspective our typical yearly average for rain runs around 58.42 inches, at least for the past 11 years. The last comparable rainfall was in 2004 when we had over 77 inches of rain, and while I have not seen the final for the year I believe we have a good shot at breaking the 2004 record. Our thanks to Dick Figlar, who is a local official weather observer, for sharing his records with us.

The bottom line is that it looks like gross sales were down approximately 42 %. For a pick-your-own operation rainy days are discouraging for customers and the lack of sunshine also depressed the harvest. The good news is that we operate pretty much “cash and carry” thus do not have debt to service. Although we will lose some, it is a foolish man that is standing in field of food, and is hungry. The good news is that I got really serious about controlling leaf disease in the blueberries this year, what with all the rain, and – at the moment_ it looks like we have great crop of flower buds for next year.

Invasive Species – the attack of the bugs:
On the bad news front, we observed Spotted Wing Drosophilae (SWD), Brown Marmorated Stink bug (BMSB) along with the Kudzu Stink Bug in 2013. We learned recently of two new invasive species the Fig Fly and the Red Banded Stink bug are on the way here. The former two have been real problems for other growers. So far we had escaped SWD and BMSB and last year was our first real observations despite taking organic preventive measures. So far the USDA and the universities have not been able to come up with an organic solution despite spending millions of dollars. We have globalization to thank for these problems. We would appreciate your thoughts about what we should do. Doing nothing could mean the end of what we do - no more farm or harvest.

Pine Trees:
This fall we planted Long Leaf pine in the east-west rows of Loblolly we started last year. While the loblolly grew extremely well this year we wanted to add the Long Leaf because they live longer. We are gambling that the Long Leaf will make it… we are in zone 8a which is borderline for the Long Leaf’s best growing conditions. There is also the risk that the big long needles of Long Leaf, if they become coated with ice, will weigh the branches to a point of breaking (damaging the plants below). The advantage of Long leaf is they can live for 500 years so the carbon they sequester stays sequestered. The loblolly will go a 100 years. The reason we are planting the pines is for passive frost protection, wind breaks for violent summer storms and to increase our depth of carbon sequestration. In another year or so we will start to remove the north and south growing branches so the trees will have minimal shade impact.

Speaking of Carbon Dioxide: We are very excited about the work that is happening at the Land Institute in Salinas, Kansas that is being lead by Wes Jackson. They are developing perennial grains like wheat grass. It is called Kernza. It has a root system that can penetrate to 12 feet in the ground and, I believe, sequester more carbon than its annual cousin while providing grain. For me it is the nexus of food, water and energy. Carbon dioxide is central to all three components of the nexus. If you get the chance, read Wes Jackson’s books and/or visit their web site We hope someday we can be a demonstration site.

Future Plans:
By now you may have observed that we are clearing the land we bought. Still a long way to go before the job is done. The plan is to plant more persimmons, figs, olives, ornamental stems and we will start a Goji berry tree test planting this winter. Yes the olives are doing nicely after several years. Olive trees can live 1000 years…that is real carbon sequestration! We are also considering planting some hazel nuts. We have planted annual rye and tillage radish as cover crops this fall which will bring up the phosphorous level and PH in preparation for the future.

The Future of Food, Water and Energy:
Walker is available (and eager!) to give presentations on this topic. He is continually updating his presentation. Included, or separately, he is also passionate about the importance of developing a strong and self-sufficient community system- buying local gone wild if you will. If you would like a program just let him know 864 350 9345.

Thank you for your support. We would not be here without you, and we love being here!

Walker for The Happy Berry