It is still cold here in Fairhope and the spring has not sprung and the tea buds are not swelling…yet.  That will happen in a matter of days and the bleak, thin tea bushes will all turn bright green.  This photo is a tea branch I keep on my patio to show tea plant customers how you need to severely prune them as they develop and make them branch out.  If not they will grow up in a tall skinny shrub.  It is very hard for a new tea farmer to finally have his plants shoot up and us old pros tell them to cut them back to the ground.

I have been having a surprising number of tea plant (bare rooted seedlings) customers this early spring.  I usually direct my tea plant customers to move the plants between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We sold lots during that time last fall.  But in the past 2-3 weeks I have sold over 3,800 seedlings and have given away many, many more.  I’ll give the new tea farmer a class on how to establish and care for their new garden for free and then sell them one year old seedlings for only a dollar.  Its a great deal and I make lots of new friends by doing this.

My tea farm tours are going strong.  I still get two or three calls a day (I’ve had four calls and three emails this am) wanting to come for a visit “today or tomorrow.”  I am afraid I turn away as many as I accommodate.  Folks need to call ahead because we stay booked up.  I do only one tour a day, at 1:00 pm and will do them any day of the week.  Light rain does not stop us but heavy rain does.  The max number is six per tour but I like three or less so we can ride around on the golf cart.   You have to have an appointment, and be close to being on time.  This is an outside farm tour with the usual hazards of barnyard activity.  Younger children are not very entertained hearing about the biochemistry of green and black teas.  Tours are $20 per person and I’ll give you a few plants if you want them.

Its a good time to visit our farm.  Its not too cold, not to hot and there are no bugs trying to suck you blood.  We get quite a flow of people through our farm.   Visitors can be quite  amusing.  People will come in and stare at me not knowing what to expect.  A husband might sit there mad because he didn’t want to come and the wife clutches her purse in the “stranger danger” position.  They will soon relax when I am talking, laugh at my jokes, and they realize I not any sort of threat.  By the end of the tour they have asked a dozen questions, are smiling big and become very complementary.  In this past week I heard “wonderful farm experience” and “you certainly know your subject.”  One lady called me a “life coach’ but my favorite was from a lady from Missouri who called me an “American Heartland Guru.”  I can go with that!

Come on down and let us show you around the farm.

Donnie Barrett