Strawberries and everything the weather allows at Markley Family Farm

“I like what Farmhouse Delivery is doing. It’s good for young families who want their children to eat well. The pricing is fair and it’s good for the farmers, too. We like being part of it.” -Brian Markley

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Everyone knows your strawberries are some of the best. How long have you been farming?
I started farming about six years ago. My wife and I had been to a pick-your-own strawberry farm in Florida and there’s nothing like it in New Braunfels. We wanted to do the same thing here. The first few years, we had a lot to learn. Now things are in a good place and we’ve got a whole lot more of it down. It’s awesome. I won’t do anything else, unless I have to.

Did anyone in your family farm or did you come to it on your own?
Yes, my grandfather was a farmer in Iowa – he had about 150 acres and had pigs, chickens and a garden. We visited every year and tractor rides were definitely a highlight.

Where does your family live now?
My parents and sister live in Florida, where I grew up. My dad and sister are chiropractors and my mom is an acupuncturist – so we’re all interested in good health and alternative medicine. My wife, Becky, is from New Braunfels, and I’ve lived here for about 10 years now. We have two children, Jake (6) and Lilly (4). This is our home.

Is your family involved in the process?
Oh yeah. Becky is a huge help, and our children are coming into it. Lilly is only four and obviously not quite there, but Jake is helpful. He moves compost and helps out however he can. He also keeps an herb garden and sells herbs at our farmers market. It’s good because they’re learning about what they’re eating – and they want more of what’s good for them. It’s what we’re supposed to be eating, really. In fact, farming changed the way I eat. I stick with the crops and good clean, grass-fed meat. I feel a whole lot better and have the energy to get the work done. If more people knew how much energy you get from eating right, everyone would do it. That’s my prescription – fresh vegetables and real meat.

What do you most like to grow, especially this time of year?
I started with strawberries, and now I’m growing so many different vegetables throughout the year too. Our strawberries are still great, but it’s not a monoculture here. I grow everything I can grow, and I sell everything I can sell. I try to do all of it well. It’s good for the soil. Some of my favorites this season are the wild varieties, like purple graffiti cauliflower, green vita verde cauliflower and romanesco. The cheddar cauliflower has done so well, I’ll probably plant more next year. It’s so good and I’ve heard it can have 25 times the beta carotene of white cauliflower. We’ve been roasting it with olive oil, salt and pepper – topped with Parmesan at the end if we have it.

What’s a typical January day at your farm?
The day usually starts by 7, and the work is seasonal of course. It could be close to 80 or dropping below 30 and I’d be covering up for a freeze that’s coming. In fact, I’ll be doing a lot of picking tomorrow and it’ll be a long day. I’m picking baby lettuce, cauliflower, headed lettuce, Brussels sprouts, Brussels sprout greens, carrots and kale. I planted all that back in August and September. I’m also clearing land, composting, and seeding. Making sure I keeping the soil and plants healthy. Our weather is so unpredictable, so I’m always planting to stay ahead of the vegetable game.

Right now I’m also still planting some winter crops like five different lettuces, baby mixed lettuces, golden and red beets, sugar snap peas, arugula, bok choy, heirloom kale, onions and leeks. In the greenhouse, I’m seeding all my colored peppers, 20 varieties of regular and heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and herbs like basil. The weather here keeps us on our toes, and I’m sure I’ll always be learning ways to do it all a little better. That’s the fun of it.

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