This is it, the last share of the 2010 FSI season. We all made it through and we should be proud of our locavore accomplishment. It is not easy to be in a CSA as an American eater as we American eaters are all about convenience and price and CSA tend to be neither cheap nor convenient. Not to mention, we small diversified foodie farmers like to grow unusual food than most people have never heard of much less ever eaten. Being a CSA member will certainly broaden one's food horizons.
We started off the year with 5 members and that is how we finished. At the height of the season we got up to 8 members. I really had planned on triple that number but I am glad we kept the number under 10 as from mid August up to now we have had a kind of hard time finding enough food to fill shares as the drought has badly impacted the market garden. It got so bad that we closed the farm store down in September so we had enough food to fill your shares and have things to take to the farmers market on Saturday in order to keep income incoming and if the FSI were much larger we would have quit the farmers market as well. I am glad we did not have to make that choice because we really need the weekly income we get from the farmers market to keep on going. And as it is our income is down about 40% this year due to bad growing conditions but we will persevere. it does help to know that most of you are planning on rejoining our FSI for the 2011 season. You have no idea how much easier it is for us when this happens and we do not have to start a membership drive from scratch. This also means you can have a voice in what we plant next year (to a point, there are somethings, like bananas, we cannot grow around here and other things like Okra we will no longer grow-I am very allergic to it and it does not like being this far north so it grows very badly for us). If there is something you would like to see us grow let us know about it and we will see what we can do. That said, let us know before Thanksgiving as that is when we will be doing our seed orders so we can get them in before Christmas so the seeds we want are not already sold out. That's right, we market growers really have to jump the gun to get what we want and we are usually all done with our seed orders (and usually well into seed starting) by the time the home gardener catalogs are mailed out.
One thing you guys did not get was strawberries. Our strawberry season sucked for of a couple reasons. 1) we went with a new variety, Albion, with which we were not familiar so we had no idea what it would do for us. 2) we planted the strawberries in a spot we thought would be great but it turned out to be a rather bad spot on the farm and thus the plants have been attacked all summer by root eating grubs, berry eating voles and leaf eating caterpillars. this has meant that over 50% of the plants died on us this summer and that has greatly impacted the harvest. We should have been getting 30+ pints a week but instead we are lucky to get 10 pints a week and there was rarely enough to put in everyone's shares (I believe 1 or 2 times you guys got strawbs). And of course the lack of rain has been hard on the berries. They do get drip irrigation many times a week plus hand watering/foliar feeding and this is keeping them in production but it is not allowing them to thrive as much as they can. 3) we did not order and plant seedlings last fall in order to get them established so by April they are ready to produce fruit. Instead we ordered them in late winter, planted in early spring and had to remove all the flowers until late June (so the plants put energy into root and crown formation and not into berry production). This meant we zero berries until Mid July which is when the rains stopped and than it got hard for the plants to produce berries. 4) we did not plant enough. We ordered 250 plants and put out most of them in the spring but now realize we needed 400 to 500 plants to make any money and have ample berries.
This fall we will be planting at least 100 additional plants from runners we have been encouraging. I believe, when it is all said and done, we will get an additional 300 plants in the ground before winter comes. All from runners the mother plants put out. This will save us a bit of money (though strawberries are not very expensive, around 25¢ a plant if you order several hundred) and we should end up with plants that are well acclimated to our local environment. At any rate, Eugene says we have over 100 runner seedlings and I pointed out that at least 100 more have rooted into the aisle-ways in the berry patch, many being hidden under the landscape fabric mulch. So it looks like we will have plenty to play with and next year you guys will get plenty of strawberries in your shares.
Of course, this is the thing with CSA, seasons change from year to year and there is no telling what will do well and what won't. And this is something to keep in mind if you make requests for next year. We can plant it but that does not mean it will grow well (or conversely it may grow so well that everyone, including the requester, gets sick of the crop). But seeing as how both Eugene and I are really, really bad at predicting what the weather conditions will be 6 months out we just have to wing it every year like all the other farmers and take our chances.
Okay, as usual, your shares will be ready after 4pm today until 7 am Saturday morning. I noticed a lack of reusable bags this week so it looks like everyone will be packed in plastic shopping bags. these will have your name on it. please look for your name and take that bag as this lets me know who is picking up and who is not (well, unless all bags are gone, than I know everyone picked up and I don't have send out a reminder)
What's In the Share
Potatoes-around a pound of potatoes, you might get blue, Russian fingerling (small, yellow flesh), Pontiac Red (small red skin, white flesh) Kennebec White (white skin and flesh) or German Butterball (round yellow skin and flesh). I might even mix 'em up
Sweet Potatoes-at least 1/2 pound but likely closer to a pound. these have been super sweet
Peppers-more sweet peppers, probably more than 6 of them
Radishes without greens-a bunch of 6 to 8 Easter egg/d'Avignon radishes
Beets-around a pound of the 3 Grex beets that must come out of their bed. the greens look like excrement so I will likely remove them
Spring Mix-Finally this is ready for eating. This should have been ready a month ago, had the weather been at all reasonable. Oh well, better late than never. if you have not had our salad mix it is a mix of baby lettuces, mizuna, tat soi, red giant mustard and arugula, all cut at a small stage of life.
Pears-you will get another 8 or so pears which is around 3 pounds
Apples- another couple of pounds of apples
Tomatoes-we have maters ripening slowly in the store as we picked a lot last week when we were told erroneously that we would get a frost. So some of them will be ready to eat and some will need a few days. if you are in the winter share you will get better maters as we have an entire hoop house filled with plants filled with big green maters (which should start ripening any day now)
Red Onion-1/2+ pound of small red onions. These would go well on top of the spring mix
Garlic-2 corms of garlic