03/12/15 — Farm

Early morning at JBG.  Photo by Scott David Gordon Early morning at JBG. Photo by Scott David Gordon

Well, I've been bitten - by the grape bug, that is - and - guess what - now, we are going to grow them at JBG!  I am wondering, what took me so long to do this?  David Sides, who lives near the JBG Hergotz location, has been trying to get me interested in grapes for awhile now.  He came to our Fall Potluck over a year ago and introduced himself.  Some of you may have heard of David's former business, Rainbow Lake - it's also possible that you've may have eaten some of his catfish!  With Rainbow Lake, David used to have several fishing ponds stocked with catfish on his land, and he sold to places like Catfish Parlor and HEB.  He said it was a great business 6 months out of the year, but he couldn't make it work financially the rest of the time.

So, David stopped running Rainbow Lake and decided to start growing fruit on his 65-acre plot.  When he first visited JBG, I thought his story was really interesting, but then I got caught up in the craziness of farming and never made it over to see his place.   Luckily, it turns out that David, like me, is persistent, and he returned to JBG last summer with some Victoria Red Grapes that he had grown.  I gave them a try and thought, "these are awesome", but then I forgot about it all again!

Did I mention that David is persistent?  Well, he came back again last week, and this time, I couldn't say no.  I drove over to his land, and I was blown away by what I saw.  Over the course of the last five years, David has taught himself how to grow grapes, and, man, is he good at it!  He's got wine grapes and table grapes growing as well as other fruit trees.  I was so excited by what he'd done that I sped back to Hergotz Lane to pick up our Operations Manager, Krishna.

When I arrived back at David's with Krishna in tow, David said, "I hardly get anyone here to take the whole tour, and now you've come here twice in one day!"  He couldn't believe it.  And I couldn't believe how beautiful the place was - I didn't want to leave.  But then Krishna kept mentioning that he needed to get back to the office, so I reluctantly pulled myself away.

After I left David's place, I couldn't get the vision of those grapes out of my mind.  I wanted to figure out if it made sense for us to grow grapes on our farm, and in particular, the Victoria Red table grapes I'd tasted.  What's amazing about these delicious grapes is that they are one variety in Texas that isn't affected by Pierce Disease.   This disease is spread by sharpshooter bugs and can devastate grape plants.  Victoria Reds, though, are resistant to Pierce's Disease and great for Texas.

Did I mention that I am also persistent?  Once I had the grape idea firmly planted in my brain, I knew I had to find a way to make it happen.  So, I talked it over with Krishna, and he came up with a brilliant idea.  Krishna grew up in India, and he remembered that farmers there would often grow teak trees on the edges of their land.  These trees, in addition to being a very valuable crop when harvested years after planting, would serve as a kind of fence line for properties, helping to block the wind and delineate one farmer's land from a neighbor's.  He said, why don't you use the farm's borders to grow fruit?  As luck would have it, David came over today and gave us a quick lesson on grafting.  Starting tomorrow, we will be cutting and rooting around 1000 figs and pomegranates fruit trees from mother plants we have at our farm.

Our plan is to establish a 1/2 acre vineyard along the River Road entrance to our farm, so now we will be busy building trellises on either side of the entryway so the plants can be supported in their growth.  We are also going to plant the fig and pomegranate cuttings around the edges of the farm.  As you may remember, we've already planted sugarcane around one side of the property, so we are on our way to encircling the farm with an edible fence!

My thanks to David for being persistent - I'm just sorry it took me so long to tour his  property!  Now, I can't wait to plant grapes at our farm.  If you find yourself bitten by the grape bug like me, make sure you come to our Spring Transplant Sale this Saturday from 9am-2pm at River Road (see details below) because we will have some grape transplants for you to try growing too!

Stop by the JBG Spring Transplant Sale this Saturday from 9am to 2pm at River Road.  Photo by Scott David Gordon Stop by the JBG Spring Transplant Sale this Saturday from 9am to 2pm at River Road. Photo by Scott David Gordon

Annual Spring Organic Transplant Sale

Come on down to JBG this Saturday - we'll get you ready to plant a Spring garden!

Dates: Saturday March 14th and March 21st

Where: JBG, 4008 River Road, Cedar Creek, TX 78612  (10 miles East of ABIA off of 71)

Time: 9am to 2pm

What: Our selection includes lots of Tomatoes (heirlooms, cherries, traditional red slicers, San Marzano romas, and tomatillos), sweet & hot peppers, basil, eggplant, squash, zucchini, watermelons, swiss chard, onions, seed potatoes, lettuces, kale, broccoli, cabbage, okra, cauliflower and spinach