Posted 3/17/2016 8:07pm by Judy Lessler.

Finally, we have greens. We will be at the Durham Farmers Market on Saturdays with Braising Mix, Chard, Lacinato Kale, Siberian Kale, Sweet Potatoes and our famous, heirloom Bloomsdale Spinach. EVERYTHING is certified organic. 

Bins of Organic Heirloom Bloomsdale Spinach

Posted 1/28/2016 12:46pm by Judy Lessler.

We are proud to announce that as of January 2016, Erasmo Flores and Rene Rios became partners in Harland's Creek Farm, LLC. They have been in management training for a number of years. In fact, after Judy fell and broke her shoulder in June 2016, they took over all the day-to-day management of the farm for many months. 

This is a big step for the farm, and we are proud we were able to achieve it. As you may realize, Hispanics work on many farms,  but few become owners. Rene and Erasmo have done lots of studying and taken on more and more responsibilities over the years. They both come from farming families. Rene is married, has three children, and lives in Pittsboro; Erasmo and Yoli are parents of Michael and Ernesto, and they live in Siler City. The other owner, Judy Lessler started the farm in 1999 with her husband. She is now widowed and has 5 grown children and 10 grandchildren. Judy lives on the farm site.

We will celebrate this partnership when the weather gets warm. Stay tuned.

New LLC Certificates

Posted 9/29/2015 12:34pm by Judy Lessler.

We are proud to report that we had our organic inspection on Monday September 21 and passed without a problem! I was very proud of Rene and Erasmo; they handled most of the interviews for the first time, and did a great job. I still do most of the computer work and will probably do so for a few more years. I spent 30 years working as a statistician and have used spreadsheets since the first version available, which was called Visi-Calc. Rene and Erasmo have learned many things, but it is hard to match the efficiency of someone who has had 40 years of experience with spreadsheets and data bases.

Posted 8/18/2015 7:00pm by Judy Lessler.

Harland’s Creek Farm Okra Day August 19, 2015

Did you know that:

1)   George Washington Carver and Henry Ford dreamed of making a biodegradable automobile with plastic made out of soybeans and rugs and mats made out of okra

2)   Local artists make paper out of okra

3)   There are okra festivals all over the world

4)   Okra was used as a substitute for coffee in the South during the US Civil War

5)   Okra came to the new world during the slave trade  

We want to hear about your experiences with okra.

Our questions:

1)   Have you ever been in a parade that honored okra?

2)   How do you like to eat okra?

3)   Have you ever grown okra, picked okra, cooked okra?

4)   Did/does your mother like okra?

5)   Do you wear okra on your face at Halloween?  

Come by the Harland’s Creek Farm space at the

Durham Farmers' Market on

Wednesday  August 19, 2015. 3:30 to 6:30

Talk to us about okra.  

Posted 7/28/2015 10:58am by Judy Lessler.

Last winter I bought the two-volume Cambridge World History of Food. Each volume is over 1000 pages long and printed in two columns and in about eight point type. There is a huge amount of information available in these volumes. The nutritionist, historians, horticulture experts, and botanist who prepared this book recruited a large number of authors to write various sections. The book is well researched and has lots of references. You don’t need to buy one; call me if you need to know anything about any vegetable.  

We grow potatoes on Harland's Creek farm. Potatoes are considered as staple food throughout the world. The editors of this book divide staples into two groups. The first group is grains and includes amaranth, barley, buckwheat, maize or corn, millet, oats, rice, rye, sorghum and wheat. The starchy staples includes bananas and plantains, manioc, white potatoes, sago, and sweet potatoes or yams. 

Potatoes are the fourth most important staple food. They evolved in the Andes and spread throughout the world. Different varieties of potatoes are found throughout South America and Central America. There are over 200 different varieties of wild potatoes. It’s not clear when potatoes began to be domesticated because hunters and gatherers also assembled stocks of potatoes from the wild. In Peru and Bolivia, there’s evidence of their use as a domesticated plant between 10,000 and 7000 years ago. In South America, there was a vertically integrated production system in which quinoa and corn were grown at lower altitudes and potatoes and other tubers grown at higher altitudes. Llamas were raised at the very tops of mountains. There was communication between farmers at the various altitudes, and crops were traded with the llamas being used as the "beast of burden." 

Sir Francis Drake is credited with bringing the potato to Europe. There is however some doubt about that. He did write about the potatoes on his round the world voyage which lasted from 1577 two 1580.

The potato spread throughout Europe and was such an important crop, that it is credited with the elimination of famines by the early 19th century. Potatoes were cheaper than wheat bread and could be grown on small holdings. Combining potatoes, some greens, and flesh from farm animals resulted in a nutritious diet. One of the disadvantages of the potato is that it can be not be stored for many years the way some grains can. Therefore, it must be planted every year. In some places, particularly Ireland, people became so dependent upon the potato that there was widespread famine d when the potato was hit by late blight.  

Potatoes are spring crop in North Carolina. We plant them in late March and have usually harvesting them completely by the end of June. Were able to grow organic potatoes in North Carolina easier than farmers in the northern regions can because we plant them, cultivate them, and harvest them before late blight blows through. Our yields of organic potatoes are as high as yields of non-organic potatoes in northern region.

Harland's Creek Farm grows organic  red, Yukon gold, and two varieties of fingerling potatoes,. You can buy them at our stand at the Durham Farmers' Market.

Posted 5/26/2015 9:37am by Judy Lessler.

Recent research on plants has elucidated their multiple defense mechanisms. Plants have physical structures that protect them against herbivores. One of my favorite are glandular trichomes which “secrete secondary metabolites including flavonoids, terpenoids, and alkaloids that can be poisonous, repellent, or trap insects and other organisms, thus forming a combination of structural and chemical defense.”

Plants respond to attacks by herbivores by creating more of these little organelles. Scientists know this is happening by examining the numbers of trichomes before and after an insect attack. They have studied both trees (gray willows and gray alders) and herbaceous plants (wild radish and pepper grass). The range of increase is usually between 25 to 100 percent; however, induction of 5 to 10 times as many trichomes has been observed.  

Trichomes have important social and economic effects on our society. THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana is secreted by trichomes. Consequently, if you search for trichomes on the web you will find many articles on how to increase the number of trichomes on cannabis plants.

This fact raises interesting evolutionary questions. For example, did cannabis survive and flourish because the plants wigged-out herbivores or did they survive because gardeners embraced them due to them chilling-out farmers and gardeners.


Quote from: War, Abdul Rashid, (2012) “Mechanisms of Plant Defense against Insect Herbivores” Plant Signaling & Behavior 7:10, 1306-1320; October 2012 

Posted 5/19/2015 10:07am by Judy Lessler.

Collards, Strawberries, and Green Garlic:

For years collards were slow cooked to almost a puree. Southern cooks would simmer them with “seasoning” on the back of their stoves. Seasoning was generally ham hocks or fatty pieces that had been trimmed from hams, chops, or loins, and sometimes it was bacon or fatback. Recently, chefs have woken up to the benefits of this traditional vegetable It is healthy and has a robust flavor when prepare raw.

There are strawberries everywhere in NC this week and collards are at the end of their season. Try this great, raw collard recipe:


This version of the recipe calls for using Tahini Sauce as the basis for the recipe. Harland's Creek Farm suggests that you make the Tahini Sauce and store it in your refrigerator for use with greens all spring long. 


News Alert: I have been telling people that the stiff leaves on the green garlic are not edible. Yesterday, I remembered that Chef Justin Meddis of Roses Meats and Sweets  in Durham told me that he put them in stock. As I prepared to slow-cook a chicken I had purchased at the Apex Farmers’ Market, I decided to put it on a bed of stiff green garlic leaves.  When the chicken was done, I scraped up the fat-infused leaves and discovered that they were soft. Soon I had eaten them all with a bit of salt. I did not even wait to spread them on toast or crackers. They were delicious.  

Wind. I have been reading all about weather. Aristotle wrote Meteorology in 350 BC and discussed wind. He ridiculed people who thought that wind was moving air; rather, he taught that wind was a substance, like an invisible smoke, that was exhaled from the earth. In those days, the main natural philosophers used logic and deductive reasoning rather than observation, experimentation, and induction. Aristotle said that wind was a dry substance that was exhaled from the earth and that it coalesced and flowed through air similar to the way in which water coalesces and flows from rivulets, springs, branches, and rivers. According to him, a stiff or strong wind is analogous to a rushing or raging river.  

The ancients were very committed to logic only, and that impeded progress. This is why Julius Caesar did not have an I-Phone

Posted 12/11/2014 2:49pm by Judy Lessler.

Harland's Creek Farm has firewood for sale. It is a mixture of oak and hicory and is harvested from trees that are down in the forests that surround the growing area of the farm. 

Cost for 60 cubic feet (~0.5 cord): $200 delivered and stacked; $160 you pick up and load. If you would like to order a load send an e-mail to or  call us at 919-274-0024. 

Posted 11/14/2014 6:04pm by Judy Lessler.

  Ann Silverman, my neighbor and a local artist who makes paper out of unusual materials and is going to make paper with our okra. When I started reading about how paper was discovered and its history, I kept wandering through the internet and reading about other writing materials. The firsts were barks and stones and this was followed by papyrus (Egyptians) and clay tablets (Sumerians), both in around 3000 BC.

Then I discovered that, people needed writing material because with the start of the Neolithic revolution (farming + towns) there was a need to keep track of the sale and distribution of surplus agriculture products. Thus, changes in agricultural production drove the creation of writing.  Most of the original written materials were accounting records. Only later did we write about or loves and the beauty of butterflies. I do not think that the Sumerians or Egyptians of 5000 BC were insensitive to love and butterflies. My guess is that they felt that these were topics for songs and poetry spoken face to face. Marks on tablets and papyrus scrolls were for tallying the beer and barley.   

Below is a picture of a piece of okra paper that Ann made a re weeks ago. She harvested the okra stalks, steamed, stripped the leaves, and scraped off the brown bark.  She then cooked it in a caustic bath for three hours to separate the fibers.  These were washed, beaten, and spread on a felt, and dried.  

okra paper

The next picture is a paper sculpture of books within a book that she made sometime ago.  It was exhibited in the Man Bites Dog Theater on Foster Street. 


At piece by Ann Silverman

Posted 10/23/2014 11:34am by Judy Lessler.

I preparation for winter, we are planting the fall cover crops. We rotate our cash crops across three summer fields so that two are under cover crops each year. This builds soil and helps control diseases and pests since bacteria, viruses, and bugs have to hunt around for their favorites.  

Cover cropping has been employed for thousands of years. The ancients did not understand soil chemistry at the elemental level but had good knowledge of what worked and what did not. In spite of its ancient origin, this knowledge was not always widespread. For example, in the 1800s farmers and plantation owners moved into Alabama because they had depleted their soil by constantly planting of cotton in the same fields in South Carolina.  

Marcus Terentius Varro lived for nearly 90 years (from 116BC to 27BC). When he was 80, his wife purchased a farm and asked how to increase it fertility. In response, he wrote a treatise on agriculture for her. Presumably, his wife was considerably younger because he stated that, "while I still live, [I will] bequeath my counsel to my nearest and dearest. I will then write three books for you, to which you may have recourse for guidance in all things which must be done in the management of a farm."  

He starts the book by "invoking the divine approval...from the solemn council of those twelve divinities who are the tutelaries of husbandmen. He starts out with Farther Jupiter and Mother Earth and ends up with "Lympha, goddess of the fountains, and Bonus Eventus, god of good fortune, ...."because without water vegetation is starved and without good luck all tillage is in vain." I think Bonus Eventus is an excellent name for a god and intend to invoke his help from now on.  

Varro writes in the form of a dialog. He sets that stage by saying he went to a temple on a holiday called Sementivae because he had been invited to dinner by the Sacristan (chief caretaker of the temple). Others are there also waiting for the dinner and began a dialog on agriculture. The characters in the dialogue speak with eloquence and authority citing other writers as sources for their statements, and occasionally personal observations.  Most likely this did not happen as described--it was a method for writing an essay.

During the dialogue, a character called Scrofa states that, "Certain plants are cultivated not so much for their immediate yield as with forethought for the coming year, because cut and left lying they improve the land. So if the land is too thin, it is the practice to plow in for manure, lupines not yet podded, and likewise, the field pea, if it is not yet ripened so that it is fitting to harvest the beans. " 

This is exactly what we are doing at Harland's Creek Farm. We are planting winter rye and Austrian winter peas in Plot G and will follow pink-eyed purple peas next spring and summer. Crops will be in Plot G in 2016. Plot I will have the cash crops next year, 2015, and will be planted with clover and vetch this fall. Plot I has already had Sudan-grass and cow peas, winter rye, and Essex kale in 2013 and 2014.  

We are, as advised by Varro over 2000 years ago, planting with "forethought for the coming years."   

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Where to buy our organic food

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