Over the past 20 years of growing one thing remains the same and that is planning is the key to a successful CSA season. There is a lot of prep that goes into farming before the batch of seeds are happily planted in the seed trays. The first I have to do is consult my crop rotation plan which is a 3 year plan I use to move crops around the field to help keep our soil healthy and not having the same family of crops year after year in the same beds keep the pest guessing as well. Next is the crop plan for that years CSA shares. We bounce between how many CSA Shareholder we can supply each year by our crop rotation plan. Some years we can add a few shares more and some years we have to reduce how many shares will have available that season. It is all about moving things around.
Now that we have all the information we know how many seeds and plants we will need to get our season started because we know what our target harvest amounts will be. Our seeds get planted in their cell trays and popped into our germination chamber and into the greenhouse once they come up. Other seeds will get directly planted into the ground. Our first crops to be planting in the early spring are carrots, onions and peas. Once the temperature gets a little more suitable for growing spinach, lettuces and greens get planted our..we will continue planting every week there after until early July. We take a little planting break for a couple of week than back at weekly planting until early October.
With these really cold days and nights here in February my farmhouse turns into my heated greenhouse. I have seed trays going under lights all over the place. In a couple of weeks a lot of those cool season babies can make their way to the protection of the tunnel green house. But they are still too small for those really cold nights. For now I am enjoying walking by my baby heirloom tomato plants and catching the slightest scent of summer coming from them..I am in my element.
It’s been a few weeks now of these spring FarmBox pickups with all the beautiful lettuces and greens that are in season this time of year. There is a reason behind how nature designs what our diets should consist of during the seasons. We are coming out of the carb and protein laden winter months and our bodies need to detoxify and lighten the food stores from the winter. These greens which are the earliest of crops are designed to do just that. If you eat more in season you will find your health improves and connects more with your local environment.
We are in the swing stage as i like to refer to this time of year where we are in-between the two seasons. The closing of spring and the beginning of summer. This is a real confusing time in the field. The spring crops are pumping and they feel the season change long before we humans do which makes them want to produce and set seed. The earlier summer crops wants to wait to grow to make sure the weather is stable..So things speed up and things slow down. It makes planning CSA pickups really difficult for a couple of weeks for sure. But, I want you to know..that is all part of a CSA and what makes these programs so great. You will never be more in touch with what nature is providing in your area than in a CSA. You will also find that your diet ebbs and flows more within those parameters of your FarmBox.
So we are swing into the summer season in the next couple of weeks..what does that mean for your FarmBox? It means you will start seeing some beta carotene (Color)! Again as our diets are meant to be the introduction of texture and colors and sugars..yes sugar crops. Our bodies need these for energy to battle the warmer..much warmer weather. Carrots, beets, squash, peppers will be sharing space in those FarmBoxes. I know you are as ready as I am for those. While these crops are a couple or more weeks away we still have to deal with those spring crops some of which are just now coming into their full glory. Cauliflower’s, broccoli, Kohlrabi, Swiss Chard, mustard greens and asian greens and salad greens are all still on the menu for the next pickup. After this next pickup..we will take a break from the pickups for a couple of weeks and come back when the beta carotene crops are ready to go. The good news includes a more stable bi-weekly pickup schedule. And of yes..flowers will be making showing off a little..so flower bouquets:)
I will leave you with this..You have made it through for the most part of the spring season..You have had tons of salads I know..me too. Just hang in there with me another wild pickup schedule and things will settle down and we will celebrate Heirloom tomato season!!
So much has changed in our lives in the last 30 days. These are surly uncertain times and for so many of us with elderly loved ones to try and protect it is very scary. We here on the farm have had to make some changes as well to how we operate in this new world. Mark and I have decided to not to have our part time farm help for now. We are handling all the spring prep ourselves for now. Its a big job to ready the season here on the farm but thank goodness we keep our CSA program small enough to manage and we have canceled all of our events and wedding for the next 6 to 8 weeks. I am praying by than we will have a better understanding on what the future holds with this pandemic. We also made some changes in how we are handling our produce. We strictly follow the USDA standards for food safety from harvest to packing our FarmBoxes. Now I feel we need to take even further measure to ensure safety. 1. Mark and I will be the only ones handling harvest, wash and pack. 2. Both of us will be wearing gloves and face masks while handling the produce. 3. All greens will have a triple wash before packing in your shares. 4. All greens will be placed in the cooler until pickup times. 5. All pickups will be in the pavilion this season or on the farmhouse porch. 6. All Farmboxes will be disinfected before pickup. All flower cans will be disinfected. All flower cutters will be disinfected..and there will be wipes for you to use as well for the cutters. Mark and I are discussing possible deliveries for those that shareholders that are close to the farm..I will keep you up to date on that. The main thing I want you to know is..We intend on doing everything possible to provide you with a safe, fresh and healthy farmbox this season.
So, Let’s chat about what’s been happening here on the farm because we are inching closer to our spring season and the start of our CSA pickups. The hoop house we built last fall is filled with baby lettuces, spinach, arugula and sprouting purple broccoli. I have never grown this sprouting broccoli before so that is a trial..but I have my fingers crossed. The field is now about a third planted with lettuces, spring onions. cauliflowers, broccoli, sugar snap peas, kales..lot’s of greens and so on..It has been a really wet March raining..down pours almost everyday. But the sun was shinning to day so my face was to the sun and my hands were in the dirt..so it was a beautiful and productive day. I am looking forward to what we will accomplish in the next couple of weeks. We should have most of the field beds planted and Hoop house #2 filled with tomato plants, cucumbers and eggplant.
I just want to end with this. I know we are all scared..I know we have all been saying prayers and staying home. I want you to know I realize you have put a lot of faith in us as your farmers..I can’t tell you how many emails I have gotten the last couple of weeks of people looking for a local farms..CSA program or just to be able to buy fresh produce.. I am grateful and honored to be your farmer..and we will work hard to bring you and your family all that this farm as to offer. There has never been a better time to know your local farmer..and I am so thankful to be yours. Peggy