It’s Share Renewal Time!

Hi Food Farmers,
Welcome to the Food Farm’s 25th growing season! We’re finally set to go with our new online ordering system. To reserve your shares either follow the link above or click on the CSA Shares tab of this website. The ordering process has changed, but in the long run I think the new system will make things easier for us and for members. You can now signup quicker, get access to more information about your membership, and it should reduce our burden of data entry and the chance for mistakes, and make it easier for us to run reports and get an accurate count for each share type.
Please call or email if you run into any problems!

Overall, things are going well on the farm this winter. A poor carrot harvest last fall means that the winter wholesale orders can be put together quickly by Teri and Karin, and regular farm chores are fairly quick to complete. Truman turned the corner on potty training over Christmas, and Ellis just had his first birthday and is happy and healthy after getting over early winter colds. Annie is working three jobs but hasn’t gone completely insane yet, so we’re considering ourselves fortunate! I just returned from a four day trip at two conferences in New York giving workshops on cover cropping with some researchers at Cornell that I met a few years ago. I’m planning this season’s crop rotation, starting the organic certification paperwork and preparing for a presentation at the organic farming conference in LaCrosse at the end of the month.

Seed orders have all been made and are beginning to arrive. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be opening up the greenhouse in three short weeks to begin planting onions for next season!
We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at the annual Food Farm social hour at Zeitgeist Arts on Wednesday, February 21st from 5-7 pm.

Season Wrap-up 
2017 felt like we were constantly on the edge of disaster. With the exception of early June there was excess wetness pretty much the entire season. However, the year turned out to be pretty darn good. Summer Shares in particular were a high point, and we were really proud of the boxes we sent every week. It’s been nice that we’ve been able to keep adding a little bit of diversity to keep the boxes interesting. We did lose about 20,000 pounds of carrots due to the wetness—there are plenty for the Winter Shares, but our wholesale deliveries for early 2018 are significantly less than usual.

We had a really great crew last year, and they did a great job staying on top of the weeds—a particularly difficult job on a wet year. The new cultivation equipment I put together also really helped reduce some of the hand work that we needed to do. The crew pushed hard all the way to the end of the season even after getting an unexpected 10” of snow on the 27th of October.
See the next blog post back for the nice season review and slideshow that Karin put together a few weeks ago.

Looking Ahead 
The big change for this coming season will be that we are no longer raising meat chickens or turkeys. Egg share folks shouldn’t worry–we are keeping the laying hens. We’ve been considering the change for a couple of years, but decided this year was the time. There were a number of things that figured into the decision, but the most immediate was that our insurance company no longer covers on-farm processing which meant that we’d either need to bring them somewhere else to be processed or else get a much more expensive policy from a different company. The birds have been a big part of our farm, and it’ll be sad not to have them around.

When we moved to this farm 30 years ago, most of the land was badly depleted from years of cutting hay with no added fertility. The way we raise chickens and turkeys on pasture played a vital role in bringing it back into vibrant productivity without a lot of tillage and added soil amendments. The good news is that our friend and neighbor Maggie Schulstrom of Spectrum Farm will increase her production of birds to accommodate our members. We became good friends with the Schulstrom/Vavrosky family during our pipeline fight a few years ago, and we know they do a nice job in caring for their animals. They’re also the family that is taking over strawberry production at our beloved Finke’s Berry Farm as Diane and Doug are retiring. You can contact Maggie by email or phone at (218) 380-258 seven.

That’s the big change for this year, though of course we have a lot of ongoing projects to catch up on. Among them are finishing the new high tunnel greenhouse that we started last fall, completing last fall’s drainage project, putting up new deer fence across the road, and working to rehab some of the older buildings on the farm. We are intent upon making this farm as resilient as possible in the face of increasing climate extremes, and many of these projects are designed to do just that.
We hope members are proud not only of the farm they have helped build, but the networks and support for local agriculture in general that has come out of your support of us. Never forget that eating is a powerful act!

For the farm crew,
Janaki

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