So we have arrived at the end of another CSA season; a sad time for many of you and perhaps a relief for some of you as well. I know that it sometimes a challenge to put to good use all of the produce you receive in your share each week. We try to give a good value but sometimes we overwhelm. We have tried our best to provide variety and quality and I believe for the most part we were successful. In any growing season there are challenges and disappointments; this year, it was with the tomatoes and to some extent the melons. Both of these were the result of a wet summer.
For next season, we will be constructing more high tunnel greenhouses to grow tomatoes where they are protected from wet conditions. We have a few of these now and were continuing to harvest a few tomatoes each week for market but never enough to ship to members, at least until last week when we suddenly had a preponderance of ripe fruit. We sent a few out to several groups and will be attempting to cover the rest this week.
For me and my crew, the season is ending none too soon. We have been enduring cold, wet conditions for several weeks, and this past weekend’s polar blast wreaked extensive damage on the crops remaining in the field. My workers tried valiantly to either pick or protect what we could but in the end time ran out and the temps dropped too low (16 degrees). I would have liked to have finished out the season a little stronger, but it is what it is (as they say).
Of the greens, spinach is about the only thing that survived the cold. Arugula and the other mustard family crops were not killed but are too badly damaged to cut. Some of these will recover and continue to grow so we hope to have some in the stock-up share for next week.
I have tried to make the updates informative and humorous and tried not to complain about the weather in every single one (I believe I succeeded once or twice). You know what they say--everyone complains about the weather but no one ever does anything about it. But the weather is different from the climate, even though the climate-change deniers have difficulty grasping that fact (among many). We are all able to do something about climate change by the way in which we live our lives. Supporting local farms and reducing the transportation impact of our food is one of those ways, and I thank you for that.
Agriculture has a tremendous impact on the global environment and a huge role to play in our planet’s restoration. But as we strive to be good stewards of the land, to be restorative and sustainable, we are still faced with the ultimate challenge--economic viability. Faced with declining CSA membership and farmers market revenues, we have had to attend more markets with less profit. This year, even the small wholesale component of the business has faltered, presumably because other farmers in the same situation have turned to this avenue to sell their excess produce. As consumers turn to the convenience of meal kits and home delivery services, small farmers will be left out of the loop.
I love what I do and hope to continue, but it’s going to take some creativity to develop a new distribution paradigm as community supported agriculture fades away. In the meantime, we need your help to spread the word about the importance of supporting your local farms. Talk to your family and friends about joining a CSA or shopping at the farmers market. If you have time, participate in the core group at your site and help us figure out what the impediments to joining a CSA are and what might be the solutions. Thank you all for your support. Please thank the core group organizers at your site for all that they do. I wish you all Happy Holidays and a safe and healthy winter.
The share for this week will be: Carrots, spinach, potatoes, onions, beets, sweet potatoes, leeks, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts for those who did not receive them last week. There will be celery for the full shares.