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    What I’ve learned from Bees

    Michigan State University has an interesting article that states, “It has often been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat.”  Bees are the main insect pollinators for vegetables and crops.  European honey bees are the largest managed pollinators, but their are hundreds of other species of solitary bees that are extremely important to pollinating our world.

    As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, we use a Solitary Leaf Cutter Bee to help pollinate our U-pick Summer Garden and Rental Plots, but this year with the help of Cathi Clarke (who did ALL the work), we added two honey bee hives to the farm.

    Cathi Clarke, Stoney Creek Farm Beekeeper

     Our two honey bee hives have taught us invaluable Life Lessons that we didn’t expect to Learn!  Here are some of those lessons:

    1. Ego is not important
      Everybody in the hive knows their job and they do it to the best of their ability for the good of the hive.  Yes, there is a ‘Queen Bee’, but she has a purpose, just like the rest of the hive.  So don’t let jealously about position or title in an organization make you discontent or unhappy…do your job to the best of your ability by making a difference in the world around you.
    2. Working together is essential
      A dissatisfied or weak bee colony will swarm (mutiny) from the hive or collapse (die).  So it is important for all the bees to support the hive, keep out the predators, and set up the colony for future success.
    3. Plan for the Future (to be sustainable)
      Since this is the first year of our two bee hives, Cathi is leaving the honey flow in the hives to support the bees for the coming winter.  Bees need to survive the winter, so food is essential.  She may have to supplement their food supply, if that amount of honey is not enough.  By leaving the honey flow, we will have stronger and more vigorous hives next year…THEN we can take a good bit of honey after the hive can sustain itself!
    4. Defend your family against outside forces
      Predators are notorious for killing honey bee hives.  Mites, beetles and wax moths are only a few of the evil forces that can kill the hive.  Bees are great at defending the hive against predators, but sometimes bee keepers have to help keep the hive safe as the number of predators grow.  Just like bees, sometimes we have to enlist help of others to keep our family safe and protected…so don’t hesitate to get the help you need.
    5. ‘Bee’ the best you can, for the time you are on Earth
      Depending on the role of the bee, some have lifecycles of only 3-4 weeks.  During that time, the worker bees are literally working as hard as they can to gather as much pollen for the hive as possible.  Their time on earth is limited and very important for the health of the hive and producing new replacement workers.  Wouldn’t it be great if we all looked at our lives with that kind of urgent purpose?

      So in conclusion, if we all lived our lives with the simplicity of purpose that bees use in their family (hive), we could improve our world …one day at a time.

    To read more of the fascinating Michigan State article (cited above), simply click this link    http://www.canr.msu.edu/nativeplants/pollination/

    Olin and Leigh, Stoney Creek Farm

    Dirt Rich Compost
    from Worm Castings

    Worms are wonderful creatures that process our organic waste into castings (worm poo or manure) that enrich our gardens with nature’s fertilizer.  Any compost, when ready, is very black which is commonly referred to as “black gold” due to it’s nutrient rich density.

    Composting, in my opinion, is one of the most sustainable ways to manage organic waste and everyone can do it regardless of their living situation. 

    Why is worm composting beneficial?
    1.  Minimizes food waste when the worms digest the organic matter and turns it into liquid fertilizer and worm castings
    2.  Reduces landfill
    3.  Reduces methane production = Less Greenhouse Gas
    4.  Easy, fun and a great learning experience for individuals and families


    Worm compost has a specific name, ‘Vermicompost’.  Wikipedia’s definition is:  “Vermicompost (or vermi-compost) is the product of the composting process using various species of worms, usually red wigglerswhite worms, and other earthworms, to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast.”

    Generally vermicast is a nutrient rich, organic fertilizer that contains reduced levels of contaminants than before it goes through the decomposition cycle.  So worm castings are  perfect for organic gardening, small scale sustainable farming and even treatment of some types of sewage sludge.

    There are multiple worm farm kits that are available online or in stores.  Here is a link to ‘Morning Chores’ and their Top 5 Worm Farm Kits:  https://morningchores.com/best-worm-farm-kit/.

    But you might want to make your own DIY worm farm for a lot less $$….all you need are:

    Two dark plastic storage bins
    A drill
    Shredded Paper
    A pound of worms
    Four wooden blocks (same size)

    Here are my favorite two sites that give simple instructions for DIY worm farms:




    Happy Vermicomposting!



    Canning Tomatoes $1.50 lb

    Even though our U-Pick Garden is closed for the Summer Season, we are still selling canning tomatoes by appointment this week only.  Simply call/text 615-591-0015 or e-mail stoneycreekfarmtennessee@gmail.com to let us know when you would like to stop by for 20 lbs or more of canning tomatoes for $1.50 lb.

    We have San Marzano Roma, Amelia, Mountain Merit and Sweetheart Grape varieties.  Our last day for selling tomatoes will be Saturday, July 29th.


    Due to heavy rain this Summer, our U-Pick Garden will be closing earlier than usual.
    The plants have not been able to thrive longer because of the moist soil and unusual weather.  

    The Last Day for the Summer Season will be this Saturday, July 22nd from 7 am to 5 pm. 

    We will have the following available for sale this Saturday:

    3 varieties of tomatoes – blackberries – purple hull peas – bell peppers – banana peppers – jalapeno peppers – mulit color zinnias – sunflowers – yellow squash – cucumbers (limited) – cabbage (limited) – 14 varieties of herbs – local honey – sourdough bread – Dirt Rich books – Dirt Rich Kids Coloring Books – Toy Box and Playground for Kids – Sodas and Water

    We are offering discounts on tomatoes for canners…only $1.50 lb for 20 lbs or more.
    A bushel of tomatoes is approximately 53 lbs and it takes approx. 23 lbs to make 7 quarts of tomatoes.
    It’s really easy to can your own tomatoes and nothing tastes better! 
    If you want to learn ‘how to can’  we have two classes scheduled for July 22 and 26…check out the events tab.

    Natural Healing Can Be Found in Your Back Yard and Garden…

    There are a plethora of natural remedies for headaches, tummy troubles, inflammation and skin problems that can be treated with herbs you can grow or may be growing in your yard already (you thought they were weeds!).  Why treat your family and yourself with chemicals that may have long term side effects when you have simple, organic and healthy alternatives at your disposal?

    Did you know that Basil promotes a healthy heart and is a common ingredient in the Mediterranean diet?  Basil also relieves flatulence, helps with skin breakouts as well as treats warts…who knew?  Cilantro assists in removing heavy metals from the body.  Chamomile not only helps as an anti-inflammatory agent but also assists in relieving arthritis.

    Do you have migraines or severe headaches?  Find out what herb helps to treat that painful malady this Saturday, July 8th, with Cindy Shapton’s “Grow Your Own Medicine Chest” on July 8th from 10-11:30 am at the farm.

    Cindy will not only talk about the herbal remedies, but will show you how:
    1.  to make tinctures
    2.  to infuse oil
    3.  to make medicinal tea from the herbs once you grow and harvest them.

    Join us for a jam packed, fun filled class with our own local Herb Expert, Cindy Shapton this Saturday, July 8th 10-11:30am!

    To register click on the following link: http://stoneycreekfarmtennessee.com/events/grow-medicine-chest-cindy-shapton-cracked-pot-gardener/

    Feel free to call/text for more info at 615.591.0015 or e-mail stoneycreekfarmtennessee@gmail.com

    Local Partner:
    Taylor Family Farm

    Non-GMO, Pasture Raised Meat, Dairy and Eggs

    Because of feedback from our Stoney Creek Farm customers, we are partnering with Taylor Family Farm to provide a local pick-up location for excellent quality local products that you will be able to view and order from their online store.


    Taylor Family Farm is located in Ethridge, Tennessee by John and Terri Taylor.  They have been providing high quality products from their local farm store as well as small Middle Tennessee grocery stores and specialty restaurants.


    Their delivery schedule to Stoney Creek Farm will be set for every other Thursday, starting June 1st.  Depending on the volume, this delivery schedule could increase to every week…TBD.  Below is the order schedule for this first time:

    ORDER:  anytime before 6:00 pm, Tuesday, May 30 
    PICKUP:  anytime Friday, June 2, call/text 615.591.0015 with time

    To place your order, go to their website:  http://taylorfamilyfarmtn.com/store.html
    and use the “Stoney Creek Farm Drop” or you can call them.  Their contact information is below too.

    Taylor Farm card

    Stoney Creek Farm
    4700 Coe Lane
    Franklin, TN  37064

    dirt rich

      Summer U-Pick Garden

      The 2017 U-Pick Summer Garden will start in mid-June…exact date to be determined by Mother Nature.  We’ve had a huge amount of rain this Spring along with a roller coaster ride of temperature variation which has affected the growth of the veggies and berries.  We will announce the opening date as we approach mid-June.  Here are the Vegetables and Berries we will have available (at different times) throughout the season of mid-June to August:

      Tomatoes (slicer, Roma, grape)
      Yellow Squash
      Green Beans
      Purple Hull Peas
      Lettuce (limited)
      Radishes (limited)
      Sweet Corn

      Herbs (dill, basil, lemon basil, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, oregano, sage, feverfew, comfrey, garlic, lemon balm, mint, chocolate mint)
      Sunflowers, Cosmos, Zinnias for bouquets

      Other items we sell at the farm:
      Honey (100% local, raw, 1 lb jars)
      Muscadine Grape Jelly
      Sourdough Bread
      Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
      Zucchini Bread
      Dirt Rich” our book about sustainable living
      “Dirt Rich Kids”  coloring book with sustainable topics
      Paintings from Local Artists and Garden Art

      Also check out our Sustainable Topic Classes under the “Events” tab on this website.  Canning, Beekeeping, Grow Your Own Medicine Chest, Plant Based Food Cooking Classes are only a few of the fascinating subjects covered.


      Planting Tomatoes

      We are SO READY for HOME GROWN TOMATOES!  It’s been a long winter and cardboard tasting tomatoes are now the bane of our existence…  We’re ready for some delicious, juicy, lip smacking, HOME GROWN TOMATOES that we can slice thick and eat on a BLT or a good ole mater sandwich with mayo…nothing better!  And don’t forget those outrageously good fried green tomatoes because you just can’t wait on the ripe ones.  But first we’ve got to get those plants in the ground, so we can enjoy the fruit of our labor…pun intended.

      Heirloom variety tomatoes – best flavor

      There are several ways to plant tomatoes and all of them place most of the plant under the soil.  The deeper you plant  the stem, the more roots will be formed and the stronger the plant will be.  Here are the two ways we plant our tomato plants:

      1.  Dig as deep a hole as possible so that all of the root and most of the stem are underground.

      2.  Dig a trench (like water for a small water pipe) horizontally in the ground and then bury the root and most of the stem in the ditch, leaving only the top of the plant showing above the soil.  The plant will straighten up with the sun and all of the stem will grow additional roots to make it stronger. These two methods will ensure a stronger plant because the root system will be more developed and stronger

      Here is a video by MHP Gardener who gives some tips on trenching tomato plants:


      Tomato Terminology….
      Do you know what the term “determinate” tomato plant means?  Determinate tomatoes grow to a specific height and are usually developed from a hybrid seed.

      Determinate Tomatoes

      An “indeterminate” tomato plant will grow and grow and grow to an undetermined height and is often of the heirloom variety.

      Indeterminate Tomatoes

      Want to learn more about sustainable living and growing your own healthy food?  Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stoneycreekfarmtennessee/



      Learn How To Live a Simple, Sustainable Life

      What the purpose of the Sustainable Living Farm Conference?

      To show people how to live with Less Stress and More Joy.  Freedom from the “rat race” can be achieved by learning the benefits of sustainable living, growing your own healthy food,
      and creating a simpler life while saving thousand$. 

      The 2017 Sustainable Farm Conference will include topics on:
      sustainable housing
      sources of farm income
      growing natural, healthy food (without pesticides)
      preserving and fermenting food
      farm animals (their purpose)
      helping pollinators and beneficial insects thrive on your farm
      composting and soil testing
      marketing your farm
      agricultural green belt
      networking opportunities
      working with a debt free operation
      temporary greenhouse production

      The Funderburk’s have spent 12 years developing their dream, a small sustainable farm, that produces six different income streams. Their mission revolves around teaching individuals and families to grow their own healthy food, by renting garden plots and offering a summer U-Pick Garden to the community. They also host Educational Seminars, farm tours, and have a venue for local events/parties.

      Formerly in corporate sales for a multimillion dollar company, Leigh spends her days managing their 15 acre farm in beautiful Franklin, TN. Olin has been in the construction business for over 30+ years and working toward his eventual retirement.

      The One Day Conference schedule is as follows:
      9:30 am – arrival and introductions
      10:00 am to 12 noon – farm tour with exhibits on greenhouse/garden production, and farm animals
      12:00 noon to 1:00 pm – Farm to Table Lunch and networking
      1:00 to 2:30 pm – income sources and marketing your dream
      2:30 to 4 pm – booth round table discussions on bees, herbs, farm equipment and more

      In addition to the conference, each attendee/couple will receive a  free copy of “Dirt Rich“, the Funderburk’s  book on Sustainable Farm Living, and a free download of their online course “Dirt Rich, Sustainable Farm Living“.  

      Cost $97 per person or $147 per couple which includes lunch and all conference materials. Call/text 615-591-0015 or e-mail stoneycreekfarmtennessee@gmail.com for more information.

      To register, choose individual or couple and click the “add to cart” button below:

      Individual or couple



      How to Plant Seeds for the Garden

      It’s not rocket science, but you do have to follow the directions on the seed packet…for instance: Depth to sow = 1/2″  which means to put the seed about a half an inch under the top of the soil.  The easiest way to make sure you are getting the correct depth is to use a ruler the first few times you plant the seeds.  Place the seed on top of the soil and use the top of the ruler to push it down into the soil to the correct depth.

      In general, you will find that the larger the seed is, the deeper it will go in the soil and the smaller the seed is, the reverse is true.  Herb seeds are famous for being extremely small and most of the time, I sow them by sprinkling the tiny seeds on top of the soil and then watering them.  The seeds are so tiny that they will settle into the soil from watering.  If a seed is sown too deep, it may not germinate properly and then deteriorate before it has a chance to thrive above ground.

      Seeds will need somewhere between 65-80 degrees temperature to germinate (depending on the seed), so starting them indoors near a window sill will work.  We build a temporary greenhouse each year that house hundreds of plants for our U-Pick Garden until the April 15th (last) frost date and then we transplant them into the ground. In the picture below we have over 1,000 seeds planted just on the left hand side of the greenhouse.  The green trays have 108 cells and the black trays have 72 cells.  We planted 5 varieties of tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and marigolds.  On the other side of the greenhouse (not pictured) are peppers and many varieties of herbs. Special thanks go to our volunteer interns Sarah Cho and Kendall Pinkston for all their help this week!!!

      Plants need three things to survive:  nutrient rich soil, water and air.  Using a good potting soil will get your seeds off to a good start.  I like to use very small cells to plant my seeds and then transplant to larger containers  after they have germinated and grow to about 1-2 inches tall (depending on the plant).

      You want to keep your cells/trays moist but not wet and let them dry out in between.  If your soil is too moist it can create mildew and mold which is a terrible environment for your new plants.  If your soil is too dry, your seeds will not germinate…a fine line indeed!

      Here are Broccoli seedlings that have  popped up after 3 days.  Seeds have different germination times, so check your packet for all the info.

      Olin and Alaina Knott (MTSU Intern) after they built our temporary greenhouse this year.  We reuse materials for several years which saves on cost.

      Happy Planting!