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Current Conditions

Date of Last Update: 9 January 2015
Watch your email for crop condition updates. If you are not on our email list and would like to be, please contact us. Typically the newsletter will be short and come out weekly during the harvest season [June to August] to let you know what is happening. It also comes out once or twice in the off season.


Current Weather Conditions at The Happy Berry.

To check the weather click here [Storm Movement] and select "Base Reflectivity Loop." Again we are due west of the "+" sign for Greenville on the map, on the line between Pickens and Oconee County.

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updated 1/9/2015

Winter, Willows, & an Award

Berry Season Wraps Up - Willows Are Next
December 5 we did our last farmers market for the 2014 season at Patrick Square in Clemson and sold the last of our berries (being muscadines). The Six Mile Farm Market and Patrick Square were fun Christmas Markets and drew big crowds. We had finished harvesting the muscadines and Blackberries November 1 just before the first freeze.

Winter Outlook:
The long range, 90 day forecast is for above normal temperatures for the Southeast but since everything we grow has relatively low chilling requirement no problems are anticipated. This year we made some post harvest sprays on both the grapes and blueberries for control of leaf diseases and both are going into the winter in excellent shape and with great energy reserves in the stems which leads to strong fruitful flower buds and good cold tolerance. The Forecast is for Blackberries to lead off next spring about June 1, 2015. I (Walker) will be presenting preliminary observations using shade cloth on fall bearing blackberries at the Southeastern Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah in early January.

Willows:
We will open for willows and other woody florals in early January. Watch our web site for details or just give us a call. We will be doing home and garden shows just as we did last winter and we will be open on some Saturdays (when we are not doing shows or programs) with someone to help you. As of the creation of this newsletter, those Saturdays are
January 17, 24 and 31,
February 21,
March 7 (maybe), 14, and 28,
April 4 and 11.
In addition to our woody floral partners, Lou and Chris Christensen (now living in Savannah), we are partnering locally with Mike Watkins and Heavenly Seed to provide folks with a source of stems for rooting of moisture loving woody florals. The stems will also be available for live-staking for stream riparian areas, drainage ways and living wind breaks.

Winter is the time to plant the willows and woody florals:
Root systems grow all year in our area. Planting early enables good establishment before they have to put on a crop of leaves in the spring. We are planting a few more here on the farm - up the drainage-way towards the new blackberries and Goji berries. We expect them to do well and their root systems to help conserve the soil.

Walker Visits the Land institute in Salina Kansas
The Land Institute’s (TLI) mission is to “create a new agriculture informed by nature’s ecosystem. “ As you may be aware, Walker goes around giving talks on the “Future of Agriculture,” pointing out that current agriculture systems are the number two source of global warming gases (GWG), second only to power plants, including nuclear plants.[1] A 2012 review of agricultural systems by the USDA indicated that - except for a few perennial systems - modern grain and oil crop tillage systems are putting more carbon in the air, instead of sequestering (capturing) carbon and keeping it in the soil.[2] While recent improvements in agricultural practices, such as no till systems, have slowed how much carbon is put into the atmosphere by agriculture, we are still putting too much carbon into the atmosphere . Walker argues that perennialization of our food, fiber and energy needs in polyculture systems, especially those that include grasses, shrubs and trees in an ecosystem, can not only prevent further addition of GWG, it can help remove some of the 400 ppm+ carbon dioxide we have put into the atmosphere.

Walker considers Wes Jackson, President and founder of TLI, one of his mentors. The Land Institute, started over 30 years ago, now with an annual budget of more than eleven million dollars funded solely by charitable contributions, has focused on developing perennial grains in a polyculture system. Walker had met Dr. Jackson at local meetings, thanks to groups like CFSA, but had not been able to observe “the fruits” of his efforts. So the farm paid for his trip to Salina Kansas and he says it was a great investment. Information learned will significantly contribute to The Happy Berry’s sustainability and its modest efforts to reduce GWG.

Walker Miller Wins CFSA 2014 Farmer of the Year Award!
Walker Miller was named Farmer of the Year by The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) at their 29th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference, held in Greenville SC in November 2014. It was a rare moment in history when Walker, when the award was announced, was rendered speechless. Quoted in later articles, Walker explains ““I had no idea that they had selected me. It was a complete shock.”

CFSAs mission is to “support and expand local and organic agriculture in the Carolinas by inspiring, educating and organizing farmers and consumers.” Their “goal is to create a sustainable food system that is ecologically sound, economically viable and socially responsible,” said Walker Miller, “and that is also our goal at The Happy Berry.” Roland McReynolds, Executive director of CFSA, in presenting the award, said “Sustainable producers have to be masters of adaption, responsive to nature, and constantly experimenting to find strategies to produce healthy crops, increase resiliency in the face of weather variations and climate change and enhance their soil.” McReynolds pointed out that The Happy Berry conducts constant experiments in managing diseases and invasive pests, seeks organic alternatives to production problems, tests new crops better suited to the changing climate and works to increase depth of carbon fixation (sequestration) for sustainability as well focuses on marketing locally to support the community. McReynolds said “Walker and family has built a beloved gathering place in the Upstate, bring families back year after year to harvest giant juicy blackberries, blueberries and grapes. And, he has been active in educating neighbors, community leaders, always with a generous willingness to share his knowledge with others, be it new farmers, traditional farmers, consumers, academics or policy makers.”

Walker, accepting the award on behalf of his family, said “being economically viable, ecologically sound and socially responsible. It takes all three... they are equally important.” To our way of thinking, if farming continues with "business as usual," ... the potential to wipe out humanity is not science fiction. Agriculture is responsible for 1/3 of the global warming gases (GWG)...Second only to power plants...How we do agriculture does make a difference! ...We think of our farm as a forest farm...our task is to fix, also known as sequester, more carbon (and minimize the production of other GWG) than we use to grow food for our community, while being economically viable... Because, well, If we can’t make enough money to keep the farm going, we can’t keep the farm going.

Our entire family is deeply honored that CFSA recognized our efforts! We appreciate so much the support of our community and our customers. We would not be here without it.

We were featured in several local papers and also The State newspaper in Columbia. Most of those links have expired, but here are some links that were still up and running as of the date of this newsletter:
Pickens County Courier
Easley Progress
The Journal/Upstate Today
CFSA - Scroll down to see Walker's mention is just below Tom Trantham/Happy Cow Creamery (and congratulations to them as well!)

Fall Planting/Removal Activities
On the hill behind the house, where we had Navaho and Chester blackberries, we have removed all of the Navaho and all but 10 rows of the Chester. We are hoping that the remaining Navaho and Chester will be sufficient to provide enough blackberries until the late summer/fall Prime Ark and Black Magic blackberries come in. The reason we removed them is that raspberry crown borer (both these varieties are especially susceptible because of large soft crowns) were out of control and production was terrible. This was accentuated by the steepness of the hill making it difficult to treat them for the crown borer. In addition, despite removing infected Navaho plants, orange rust was giving us “a fit” by killing plants too. In the west field, to your left coming in the driveway, we are planting 500 plus feet of row Von blackberry (also thornless) to replace the Navaho and 500 plus feet of Chester. The acreage of blackberries will remain about the same. On the back hill we are live-staking additional fig trees for a significant increase. We have not been able to keep up with demand and in addition we are changing to a bush type pruning system at a higher density. We have increased our Goji berries to 50 plus plants but are worried they are not sustainable due to the diseases anthracnose and Alternaria. We are adding 65 Ochlockonee blueberries…they are suppose to be very late harvest, perhaps a little later than Powderblue. We are also replanting missing bushes and continuing removal of the Delite variety bushes because they are more leaf disease susceptible. Finally we are adding a few Dwarf black Mulberry Just to see if you like them. We are on the search for information on nut bearing pines adapted to our area, chestnuts and hazel nuts. We would like to possibly integrate them into our east-west rows of loblolly and long leaf pine.

Any Volunteers???
Between willow harvest and the pruning of blueberries, muscadines, grapes and figs, it looks like it will be a very busy winter and early spring. We would love volunteers to help with whatever we are doing at the time. In exchange we can share a little know-how knowledge. We also are in the throws’ of clearing land if that is your thing. (We try not to bulldoze or plow our fragile soils…Instead we cut it off at ground level and get a grass weed cover as soon as possible.) Or you could volunteer to come bird watch – see below.

Birds On The Farm
The Keowee Bird Club did their Christmas bird count at the farm the first weekend of January. They will share their results with us. Walker feels we are not up to speed ecologically speaking when it comes to birds. We do not know what birds are present on the farm (other than the dreaded Robins when they come to wipe out the blueberries in the summer). Questions on our mind: What birds are present? When are they present? What are they feeding on? How we can help provide forage and cover while they are here? Perhaps they can help with pest management? We invite any volunteers that are bird watchers to come watch birds on the farm and report your findings for us. Perhaps you can help us create a picture of where we are at and help us with trends as we continue our efforts to create, or dare we say, “improve upon”?, an ecologically sound farm.

Thank you!
Thank you for a great 2014 season! We are looking forward to 2015 and seeing you back at the farm!
The Happy Berry Bunch- Walker, Ann, Zoe and Betty-Ann

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The Happy Berry, Inc.
Mailing Address Only: 120 Kelley Creek Road
Farm Address-No Mail Receptacle: 510 Gap Hill Road
Six Mile, SC 29682
Phone: (864) 868-2946
Farm: (864) 350-9345
Email: ContactUs@TheHappyBerry.com