Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
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Bread and eggs. Are we running out of soil?

Greetings shareholders and friends of Abbe Hills Farm,
The next farmers market is tomorrow, Saturday, January 5, 11:00 until 1:00, at the Community Center in Mt. Vernon.  I won't be there, but Charlotte will be bringing her bread and also selling eggs for me.
Our beef guy, Dan Specht, will be delivering beef from noon until 1:00.  He'll be parked in front of or near the coffee shop, Fuel, just up the street from the market.  He drives a white pickup, so look for him near the pickup, or inside Fuel.  He is bringing beef boxes for those who have preordered, plus hamburger for sale in individual packages.  If you want him to bring something special for you, please contact him directly before Saturday morning.  His phone is 563-516-1007, and his email is .
The Linn Soil and Water Conservation District needs a volunteer to help us keep our website up-to-date.  It is hosted by SquareSpace and is quite easy to manage, but neither our secretary nor I have as much time to give to it as we would like.   If you like website work, are interested in natural resource stewardship, and could spend a hour or less a week keeping an eye on it, please let me know.  We'd be happy to call you an "assistant commissioner" and put you to work. 
Here's an interesting article about one of my favorite subjects, soil.  The story is a little grim, but not impossible.  There are lots of farmers all over the world who are doing just about everything right to build soil health, while making a living and growing good quality food.  So we know it can be done.  Just gotta get the eaters (that's you!) enthused.  And better soil health will result in cleaner water, fewer floods, and better drought resistance.
Hope you make it to the market,


fall crops are planted, lovely tomatoes, watermelons this week

Greetings shareholders,

This week, we'll have tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, kale and collards, watermelons, garlic, potatoes, onions, beans, summer squash, cukes, herbs, hot peppers, edamames, and a few cabbages.  Whew!  Lots of stuff!  Tomatoes are really perfect right now, but the cooler nights have slowed their ripening, so they may be a little greener than usual.  Just leave them out at room temperature (NEVER put a tomato in the frig), scar side down, in one layer, uncovered, and they should fully ripen in a day or two.  Eggplants, squash, cukes, and peppers will likely be similarly affected by the cooler nights.  But the people are loving it!

Watermelons come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, and I've got almost no idea what you are going to find inside any particular melon.  You just gotta take your chances.  So far, all the ones we've dropped or kicked and just "had to" eat since they were already damaged have been wonderful.  We'll have melons for two weeks for sure, maybe three if they will keep that long in the field.   We've also got lots of cantaloupe which should be ready by next week, maybe some for this Thursday.  There might be some mud on the bottoms of the melons since they mostly formed off the plastic mulch.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  I won't be able to wash them for you.  We've only got enough energy around here to handle the melons one time.

The rain this week was welcome.  We received 1.3" on Wednesday morning, then .7" more on Friday.  Tuesday, we worked like crazy to get every inch of open space planted to fall crops, mostly greens.  A little late in the season, but we were waiting for rain and for cooler soil temperatures so the seeds wouldn't die.  I'm not convinced that there are enough fall crops, but we've got nowhere else to go that is still within reach of the irrigation, so it's the best we can do for this year.  I'm still a little afraid that the rains could end and I could be back to watering.  Hope I'm very, very wrong.

The replacement hens that have been living in the pen inside the open shed have started to lay eggs reliably.  Tonight, the few remaining old ladies in the moveable house are coming out and the young hens will be moving in.  It will be good for them to get on good pasture and out of their tiny pen for a few months.  If everybody just buys what they need for the week, I think we'll have enough to keep you all happy from now until the end of the season.  (And after.  The problem with having 120 hens is that you still get 10 dozen eggs per day, even in the blizzards.  They quickly become a burden if people don't keep eat them through the winter.)  Eggs will be in the walkin cooler.  Ask for help if you have trouble with the door.  It's tricky.

Here are the dates for vegetable pickup for the rest of the season, so you can put it on your calendar now.  Sept 10/13 (this week), Sept 17/20, Sept 24/17 (last time in the evenings). Everybody then switches to Saturdays, 10:00 until 2:00, Oct 6,13, 29, and 27.  If you're a family that's got kid soccer games those Saturdays in October and can't be back here by 2:00, we'll work something out when we get to it.  The best stuff is in October, so I want everybody to be able to take advantage of it.

See you this week.


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