This summer I had the honor to tour Maple Rock Farm on Orcas Island and write about my experience for Williams-Sonoma as well as J5MM.  Farmer John and his hard working crew make it possible for local restaurants, schools and lucky residents of Orcas Island to enjoy the bounty of Maple Rock Farm.

Every week I look forward to receiving an email update from Farmer John about the happenings on the farm and thought I should share them with you.  Not only do they make you smile, they also inspire . . .

Have a look through his emails and you will see the love, dedication and pride Farmer John takes when it comes to Maple Rock Farm.

Have you supported your local farmer today?  Here is handy link to get your started if the answer was no:  LOCAL HARVEST LOCATOR

Stories about Maple Rock Farm:


September 26, 2012

I forgot about the corn!    We will have corn today.  What we grow is a little different than what you’ll see anywhere else.  This is grown from seed we obtained fro Sidney Coffelt years ago.  I think its called Hookers Black.  It’s an heirloom open pollinated variety.  It makes a small ear and is technically a drying corn but is very sweet at its current stage.  We grow this because we are dedicated to keeping the strain alive, especially these days when almost all of the corn on the market is GMO.

On that subject I would like to urge the importance of the upcoming vote on the GMO issue in SJC.  It’s pretty cutting edge that we have this on the ballot and can vote to keep GMO crops from being knowingly grown here and crossing with our important heirloom varieties.  Mrf is in full support of this issue and we urge all to vote in favor of it.

September 26, 2012

Good morning everyone,  I hope this finds you all well.  Ding dang how bout this weather! The tomatoes are just loving it.  We have literally hundreds of pounds harvested and waiting for you.  This without doubt has been the best tomato year I can remember.  Especially in the flavor department.  our dry farmed crop of mixed heirlooms are the best tasting tomatoes we’ve ever grown.

 The strawberries this week are just divine as well.  This is the best time of year for them and the plants are loaded. We’ll have more coming on this week and next.
All of our potatoes are in.  We did pretty well.  The russets and red cheiftans did especially well as did the cal whites.  We also have Russian and French fingerlings.
A few other misc things on the truck today such as sugar snap peas, squash, celery, napa cabbage, beets and bok choi.
Per usual we’ll be in the villgae today (Wed) from 12:00 til 4:00
Thanks for all of your support this year.  It’s been the best ever on many fronts.
 And……  This Saturday night the 29th we are hosting another barn dance.  The festivities begin around 7:00 ish  Great live music and fun dancing.
One last item.  As you all know Jay and I will be continuing pizza nights at the brewery beginning this Friday from 4:00 til 9:00.  We’re also there on Saturdays and Sundays, same hours.  Come on out and check it out.  You can also get beer and pizza to go!
fj and crew

September 19, 2012

Good morning everyone.  Hope you are all enjoying this incredible weather,  we are.  It’s been down right hot the last few days…  and dry.   So dry that we have to water our fields before we can work them to make new beds for planting fall crops, which we are attempting to do daily.  we’ll be cover cropping very soon too.

We just about have all of our potatoes out of the ground and boy do the look good.  It takes awhile for the wire worms to disapear in a newly tilled field and I think we have a handle on it.  We pulled out some real beauties,  wish we had more.  There’s probably a couple thousand lbs of good ones.  The real show stealer this week is the tomatoes.  Our dry field grown ones have the best flavor of any toms we’ve ever grown.  They’re not big but man are they tasty.
Lots of other goodies too.  sugar snap peas and green beans and strawberries!  Greens, chard and awesome napa cabbage.  If you like basil
Some things are waning like squash and cukes.  It was a good run.   Next up is winter squash!
You can catch us in town today from 12:00 til 4:00
Also we are on for pizza this Friday.  It’s the last time for us this season here at the home farm.  We’ll be doing it at the brewery Friday, Saturday and Sundays starting on the 28th.  Come on out and take a load off.
Take care,


September 12, 2012

Hey everyone.  We will be in town today from noon til fourish.  Lots of great things coming in from the field today.  Strawberries, tomatoes, squash, peas, beans, potatoes and more. These cool nights are slowing things down but soon we’ll be harvesting our lovely winter squash.  Looking forward to that!  We are busy working beds now planting, transplanting and getting ready to sow cover crop on some areas.  Ohhh  hopefully our corn will ripen soon.  Its looking pretty good right now.

The big news here on the farm for us this week is that Jay and I have purchased a half share in the Ship Bay pizza oven.  We are taking it over from Annie Sparks Dempster and are very excited to be working in conjunction with Geddes Martin.  We’ll still do pizza here at the farm on Fridays ( including this coming Friday) from 6:00 til 9:00 until the weather closes in.  We will also be at Ship Bay on Sundays from 3:00 til 8:00  AND  coming soon, you can catch us at the new Island Hoppin Brewery on Mt. Baker Road.  We’ll post a schedule on that shortly.
Thanks to all of you who have supported our pizza venture.  It’s been such a big success that it only seemed natural to expand the operation.  We are looking forward to keeping it in operation as far into the fall and winter as possible.
That’s the news form here….  I’m late getting to the field!
FJ and the entire MRF crew


September 5, 2012

Hi everyone.  Thanks for all the nice comments and encouragement this year.  We wouldn’t be here without you!

We will have the crew in town tomorrow from 12:00 til 4:00
We’ll be a little short handed as Jay and I are off island for the day on business and some of our crew has began to move on.  Tierney has the reins and can easily handle your needs.  You can see things winding down in the field a bit but we have some great looking tomatoes and strawberries on at the moment.  We’re starting to think of Fall as the winter squash is all starting to show some color and the days are getting shorter and there is a bit of a nip in the air.  Ahhh  I love this season more than any.
We made a big step in getting more beds formed and transplants in the ground today.  More of that action continuing through the month.  Gearing up for the fall and winter.  We’re a little off schedule but we can make up for it.  Think fall greens
We’re all breathing a sigh of relief that labor day has passed.  It’s a catch 22,  We want it to remain busy and feel very fortunate that it has been a good year so far.  It’ll be Ok if it mellows out just a bit:)
Lot’s more to come!
And for pizza night?    Yes we are on for this Friday.  Rain or Shine from 6:00 til 9:00.  We’ll keep it up as long as the weather holds.
Thanks again for your support,
FJ  (farmer John) and the entire mrf crew.

August 14

Woops,  I forgot to mention the barn dance happening this Friday as well.  It’s in the barn in the back.  Great live music and square dancing.  Last time was great fun.  All are welcome $5.00 to $10.00 suggested donation for the band.

Thanks all,

August 14

Hello everyone…  Thank you all so much to those of you who came out to the Wednesday night market last week.  that was pretty cool.  Despite it being an unusually long day for the crew it was all good we enjoyed seeing a lot of new faces and listening to some great music.  Thanks to all you musicians out there.  You helped make it a special night!

And double thanks if you came to pizza night.  The pizza’s were crankin.  We’re on again for this Friday.  6:00 to 9:00.

We had a little glitch on salad greens the last week or so.  hopefully we are coming out of that.  We may have some greens at market.  It’s hard to catch back up once you get behind.  We did better this year than ever before and we’re working hard to get them back in the line up.
The good thing is tomatoes are on!  Still not super cranking but we’re seeing more ripe ones each week.  Beans and squash are still summer standouts at the moment.  We picked a few strawberries today too.  They’ll be back on in earnest soon as well.
We will be in town again tomorrow fro 12:00 til 4:00.  Drop in and check it out if you’re out and about.
Keep well,
FJ and crew!

August 7

Hi everyone,  hope you are all enjoying the thunderstorm. We sure are and I sure like they way it smells and Jay and I we’re just saying today how nice it would be if it rained. Then it rained…  Anyway, it was a good excuse for me pull the tractor into the barn and change the fluids.

Just a quick reminder about tomorrow.  We will have our stand set up in town as normal from 11:00 til 4:00 ish.  At that point we’ll move our booth over to the village green and will be participating in the mid week evening market.  This is a one time event conceived and organized by our Market manager Jennifer Pietsch and is being held to support National Farmers Market Week.
Regardless of the reason, we are pretty excited to be doing two markets in one day.  We are still doing our normal time in town during the day doing  so we don’t miss our regulars in town who may not be able to be around at the time when the evening market is being held, which by the way is from 4:30 until 8:30
Jennifer has some pretty cool live music lined up and I think it sounds like a lot of fun.  I’ve talked to quite a few of our fellow vendors and it sounds like it’ll be a big turn out.  There will be food there too!  (I hope there’s ribs)
There’s been a lot of talk over the years about a mid-week market and now Jennifer has kicked it off.  Please come down to the green and check it out.  We’re all anxious to see how it turns out and would love to hear what you think about it.  Perhaps it could become a regular event in the future.
It’s another transistion time for the farm too.  Moving out of things like peas and favas and heading into green beans and tomatoes!  Bout damn time…  We may have a few strawberries too..  Lots of beautiful basil and the squash and cukes are on this year, we do have dill!
Hope to see all your shining faces tomorrow night.  Thanks everyone again for supporting local growers  (not just us)
Farmer John and crew,
P.S.  We are still on for pizza night this week. They just keep getting better.
 Upcoming on the 17th, which is Friday of next week, we’ll be having an old time barn/square dance with a live band and callers starting around 8:30.  Pizza night will be on as normal.  (you can dance off the calories so you can eat more pizza!)  Last time was just too fun not to do it again.

August 6

Hi everyone.  I’m sending the crew into town today to set up.  We still have cherries and they need a home today.  I have a special on some that didn’t look as good as they should have.  They would be perfect to process for jam or something.  They are only $2.00 per lb  The others are at $5.00 per lb.  These are all organic and came from Tonnemakers in eastern Washington.

We’ll be in town from 12:00 til 4:00

August 2

Hello everyone.  Many of you have asked me about cherries.  We have arranged a delivery to Orcas from Tonnemakers on the east side of organic cherries.  They will be here tomorrow (Friday) I have 300 lbs and need to move them by Sunday.  I cannot take them to market on Saturday but we can make arrangements otherwise.  E mail me your order and we’ll figure something out. The price is $5.00 lb.
Pizza night is on for tomorrow from 6:00 til 9:00 as usual.
Also,  Next Wednesday the 8th there is a special evening farmers market on the green.  It’ll be similar to our Saturday markets with live music and everything.  We’ll probably be set up in the day in our normal site as well.  Looks like alot of fun.
Keep well and be thinking cherries!

July 24th

Howdy everyone,  It’s like a wild bruckin bronc out here in the field.  We’ve never had such a great year and we’re keeping up with all of the special orders that come in this time of year.  Retail and wholesale sales have been busier than we’ve seen in a long time and we’ve been more prepared to handle the increased volume. Thank goodness for all this great rain we’ve had,  it’s been a god send and special thanks to our crew.  They’ve gone above and beyond on numerous occasions to make it all happen.  Cheers guys!  Most everything is looking great in the field right now and the cool weather has made it a little easier to get some of the field work done in order to keep up  ( or at least try )

Tonight we are transplanting several beds of fall crops and more summer crops like basil too.  We’ve been tasting some of the first tomatoes of the season… Awesome is all I can say.  Green beans will be on next week too and summer squash is full on and the cukes are just beginning.  It indeed is summer!
We will be in town tomorrow (Wednesday) from 11:00 til 4:00 with lots of farm fresh goodness.  Maybe even some strawberries.
Friday night Pizza night has been rockin.  Come on out if you can  6:00 til 9:00  byob and take a load off for awhile.
Thanks for all of your support gang.  Most of you know we had kind of a tough go last year.  Thanks for hanging in there and celebrating and reaping our success with us this year.  I mean it.  THANK YOU!  This can be an emotional business at times.  sharing what we do with people who truly give a damn makes it all worth while.
Keep well,
Your bleary eyed farmer John and crew

July 18th

Good morning everyone.  Just a quick reminder that we will be in town in our normal spot across from the museum today from 12:00 til 4:00.  We’ll have strawberries! They are coming on pretty strong right now.  We’ll have more in the next few days.  Lots of other goodness too.  Beets, onions, greens, squash, fava beans and more.  What we really have a lot of though are peas.  Both sugar snaps and snow.  Probably more than we could ever sell.  Therefor we have a simple supply and demand situation.  I’d say that calls for a SALE.  So for today and today only we have peas at $4.00 lb  come and get em.

Next week we’ll have new potatoes and carrots!

It’s a big turn around time for us.  We have many beds that have just been harvested and are now being prepped for our fall and overwinter crops.  Last night we transplanted 400 row feet of basil, planted 1200 row feet of beets and another bed of salad greens.  We have another bed of lettuce to transplant today and several areas to plow and prep for planting.
Things are going well.  Crops are looking healthy and sales have been good.  If we can keep up the momentum we’ll be on track for a great year.
Thanks for the support!
Keep well,

Farmer John and crew

July 13th

Don’t forget… tonight is pizza night.   6:00 til 9:00   secondly.  Here’s what we are harvesting for market tomorrow.

Artichokes!  beets, asian salad mix, lettuce salad mix, braisers, strawberries, sugar snap peas, snow peas, fava beans, leeks, parsley, chard, kale, head lettuce, squash, onions.  Maybe potatoes? cucumbers?
It’s gonna be sweet,  check it out.
farmer John and crew thanking you all for your continued support.

July 11th

Wednesday again already!  We’ll be in town today in our normal location from 11:00 til 4:00.  It’s pea city today.  Fava beans are on and they are yumsville, so tender.  A few strawberries too.  Summer squash finally decided to do it.  Lots of great greens, onions, beets, leeks and more.

Come on out and check it out,
FJ and crew

July 3rd

Hello everyone and Happy 4th of July week!  Omg we love this rain, our fields are verdant!

We are mixing it up a little this week.  Today (Tuesday)  We will have a stand set up on the dock at Deer Harbor from 12:00 til 5:00
Tomorrow (wed)  We’ll be set up in town at our normal location from 11:00 til 4:00
This is a transistion moment, finally!  Summer crops are just coming on.  We have tons of peas on at the moment and squash and cukes are just beginning to appear as well as fava beans and beets!   Lots of fruit on the tomatoes, it’ll be another couple weeks.  We’ll be long on strawberries here in a week or so.
We are having a good year and it feels great.  We still need your support though, We are still catching up from winter/spring and this would be a good time to top off your CSA accounts.  We would love to have more new members too.  Many of you have referred new members in the past and we are always grateful for that.
Thank you and have a safe and Happy 4th!
P.S.   Yes we will be open this Friday night for pizza from 6:00 til 9:00
Farmer John and crew

June 21st

Whew,  sorry for the late e mail, it’s turned out to be one of those weeks.
We havt the truck in town today even though it’s Thursday.  We just added a day to see how it goes.  Our supply is holding up well and there are some new things beginning to appear in the field  like summer squash!  More peas are coming and it wont be long for green beans.  The tomatoes are just rocking right now.  Great fruit set happening and lots af baby green tomatoes on the vine indoors and out.  Strawberries are just setting fruit too!
We had a great turn out for pizza the other night.  It was perfect.  Our new set up allows to handle a bigger volume without any problems.
We will be open again for farm night Tomorrow from 6:00 til 9:00 at the home farm at the end of Pinneo Road.  Feel freen to bring your favorite adult beverage and get set to have a great night.  We have some muscian friends setting up to play some old time fiddle musictoo.  Should be a great night.  As always, rain or shine.  Dont be shy, we have tents and umbrellas.
And….  This Saturday night we are hosting an old time barn / square dance.  Live music and a caller will be on hand.  It’s a potluck that starts at 6:30 ish with music starting at 8:00 ish.  I’m really looking forward to this one, should be a blast.
Thanks y’all.  See you at there.
Farmer John and crew

June 13th

Hello everyone and good morning!  We are loading the truck and coming to the village with all kinds of great fresh produce.  The salad greens today are drop dead gorgeous and we have a few sugar snap and snow peas.  They taste great!  Come on down between 12:00 and 4:00 and see your farmers.  We have a limited amount of Produce at Island Market if you miss us in town.

We’re still planting and transplanting something almost everyday.  today we are taking peas out of one bed in one of our greenhouses and replacing them with tomatoes to be grown in grow bags.  It’s an easy way for a quick turn around.  It’s also not too late to plant your own out.  We still have starts available.
We are just beginning to harvest the first summer squash!  Soon we’ll have tons to share.  Speaking of sharing..  We’re hitting the food bank twice a week right now.  They are so appreciative, it’s definately a feel good moment for us.
Mowing!  always mowing.
Farm night?   Yes we will be open again this Friday night from 6:00 til 9:00.  Take a tour of the farm but more importantly, have some great wood fired pizza!
Thats all for now.  The crew is waiting for me.
Farmer John and crew

June 6th

Good morning!  A friendly reminder that it’s Wednesday and we’ll have our produce stand set up in town today from 12:00 til 4:00.  The crops have been loving this rain and everything looks fantastic.  We should have a few plant starts on board too.

Things continue to be busy in the field, lots of transplanting and direct sowing in the field going on.  We just finished planting the one acre field of winter squash.  Things are looking pretty good.  We had a good day yesterday.  Lots of tractor cultivating and we were able to sow corn and get the first round of potato hilling done.  We also made another delivery to the food bank., we’re hitting them twice a week right now.  We had great sales in May,  June has started out a little slowe but will hopefully pick up.
Pizza night?     Not sure yet, last week it rained and not enough people showed up to even cover expenses.  We’ll do it if it looks clear I guess. If we have another week like last I won’t be able to keep doing it.  Too much work to do it and lose money.  I’ll confirm by Friday.
Farmer John

May 30th

Happy Wednesday,  we will be in town today from 12:00 til 4:00.  Wonderful fresh greens out of the field today.

We’ll be bringing garden starts too.  It’s pretty much safe to put just about anything in the ground at this point.  We have some especially nice tomatoes right now.
We will be hosting Farm Night again this Friday from 6:00 til 9:00.  Last week was crazy,  We’re making a few changes to make it run a little smoother on our end.  Hope to see you there.
So much happening on the farm this week.   Some of our first successions are done and being turned over for new crops, We just ammended our big field with about 20 tons of compost yesterday.  This field will have winter squash sown into it in the next few days.  We’re still transplanting stuff every week, yesterday it was bok choi, tomatoes and cardoons, today is basil and more toms,  tomorrow will be lettuce.
We direct seed quite a bit right now too.  The carrots are up and so are the second succession of beets.  Lettuce and fennel are just starting to germ and big, long beds of Asian salad greens are growing fast a screaming for water.  Can’t put the watering tapes down fast enough!
Time to roll here, crew is out before me… yikes!
Thanks for being supporters :)
Farmer John and crew

May 16th

Hello hello !    Hope you are all well.  Just a quick reminder that we will be in town today from 12:00 til 4:00 with fresh produce.  Salad greens, braising greens, radish’s bunched kale and of course beautiful garden ready plant starts.  We’ve been putting our tomatoes out this week.. It’s time

Another busy week.  It’s been all about getting plants and seed in the ground and water on the fields.  A bit ironic really.  Such a wet spring then bam, everything needs water now! We’ve got about two acres running on drip at the moment.  It’s a big time commitment to set up but works great.  The plants have really responded well with all of this great weather.
We will also be hosting farm night again this Friday night from 6:00 til 9:00 at the home farm on pinneo.  Last week was great, we’ll try to make it even better this time.  I’ve been thinking about new pizza ideas all week.  trying to get a little music lined up too…  and more help, it’s been busy.  Yay!
Hope to see you,
Farmers, John, Jay, Robyn, Dillon, Alex and Tierney

May 11th

Farm night is on tonight from 6:00 til 9:00 at the home farm at the end of Pinneo Road in Westsound.  It’s mostly about the pizza! but we also have fresh produce available and tons of garden ready starts.  The farm is looking great right now.  Come on out and have a look.

 Farmer John

  4 Responses to “Emails from Farmer John”

  1. Ok, I think I’m in love with Farmer John. What a great sense of humor and a lovely passion for agriculture! Just posted the last of my trip photos, it was a bit sad… like the vacation is truly over now. Thank goodness it’s all still right there waiting for me. ❈

    • Farmer John is just plain awesome, easy to talk to and will teach you anything you want to know about growing veggies. All you have to do is ask :) I know the feeling of “sad” that your vacation is over in the Islands but like you say — they will always be there! I can’t wait to see your site :) I loved your zip lining pictures and the South Beach post. What a glorious beach South Beach is and we are lucky to live here in the beautiful Pacific NW so we can get up there easily and enjoy all the outdoor activities! Now we just need some kayaks, lol :) xoxo

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