“Farming is simply something that feels right—there is no other way I can explain it,” says Nicole Palmer, who heads up the Palmz Family Farmette in Long Island, New York.
After starting out with just a small flock of hens, Palmer added honey bees, bunnies, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl and quail over time, along with constantly growing the garden. “I truly love everything about this lifestyle,” says Palmer. “This is what I am meant to do with my life.”
Taking a moment away from the farmette, we spoke to Palmer about growing cucamelons and becoming fascinated by quail. We also touched on how farming can change a person’s life perspective.
“I guess you could say it is in my blood,” says Palmer when reflecting on how her farming journey began. “My family has been keeping backyard chickens for over 15 years. For a majority of that time, we kept a very small flock of three or four hens. Then, we stopped having a garden for a few years and were down to one hen.”
Palmer adds, “And just when you think the story would be over, that is when my story began. I talked about getting a few ducks and a larger flock of chickens. My very supportive boyfriend built me a larger chicken coop. As time went on, I got into breeding chickens, and I was fascinated by the genetics behind egg color and feather color.
“While I expanded my chickens, I created my garden.”
This Year’s Star Produce
When it comes to this year’s bounty from the garden, Palmer picks potatoes as a crop she’s particularly proud of. “Specifically the Adirondack Blue variety, but I also grew Yukon Gold and Red Norland,” she details. “It was my first year growing potatoes, and I got a pretty decent harvest.”
Moving over to the kitchen, Palmer suggests roasting potato slices with olive oil, pepper and rosemary salt as a favorite preparation.
Spotlight on Cucamelons!
The year 2023 was Palmer’s first growing adorably dinky cucamelons in the garden. “I saw them on a seed website and thought they were so cute, so figured I would give them a try,” she recalls.
“They are much more dainty than typical cucumber plants,” she continues. “They are more vine-like. They should definitely be grown on a trellis. I cannot imagine them doing well on the ground.”
Getting into the taste of cucamelons, Palmer says she often comes across the misconception that they’re sweeter than cucumbers. “It is quite the opposite,” she explains. “The cucamelons are actually a little more tart or sour in comparison to a cucumber, hence their other name Mexican Sour Gherkin. I personally really enjoy them. They are a perfect size to pop in your mouth for a snack.”
Becoming Fascinated by Quail
Quail are a key part of Palmz Family Farmette. Palmer says that she had long been fascinated by them. “They are the coolest and easiest birds to care for,” she says.
“Their little crows are adorable. I think they deserve more recognition. They are very proficient egg layers, their eggs are very nutritious and they make a great option for people who are limited on space.”
Farming for Perspective
Relaying the joys of running a family farm, Palmer says moments like eating a home-grown and home-cooked meal with her family, tasting a spoonful of honey from her bees, and witnessing baby chicks hatch make it all worth the work and effort.
“I try not to take any aspect of this for granted, even the bad days,” she continues. “This farm has actually changed my perspective on life. A rainy day is no longer gloomy—it is just what the garden needs and a glorious day for ducks. The opportunity to work hard while following my destiny and dreams is beyond rewarding.”
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