Dear CSA Members,
This season was particularly challenging due to the climatic extremes experienced during just a few weeks that impacted a large portion of the season. A relatively hot dry spring and very wet August impacted many crops that were planted and maintained in a timely manner but failed to produce a sizable harvest. Peas, and beans were most impacted in the spring and tomatoes suffered severely after the hurricane and tropical storm. All in all I was able to harvest most of the crops I planted, not always in the quantities planned, notably summer squash and cucumbers were lacking, but peppers and sweet potatoes were prolific. The chickens were laying plenty of eggs until a few predator issues and low production at the end of the season. Rather than racing from week to week to wrap up the season as fast as possible I enjoyed this year a bit more by staggering the delivery weeks, and harvesting the crops as they ripened.
Next season I am planning to slightly reduce the number of share from 70 to 60. This is mostly an attempt to step back and work a bit more on efficiency and organic management. I will start taking subscriptions starting Feb 1, 2012. The format for the season will be similar with 20 shares spread through the growing season.
Earlier this season I had considered not having laying hens next year. However, I received many positive comments regarding the fresh egg s, and now I don’t think I can eliminate them from the farm. The big issue was that the hens take up a great deal of time each week, 8-10 hours between feeding, moving, washing and packing eggs. Also there is an unrecognized time lose on those days when one gets out, needs to be chased down and returned to safety. Even five minutes a day adds up to 30 hours a year (nearly a full week of labor) which could be directed to other crops. I won’t be getting the replacement chicks until February so the eggs won’t be in the share until July.
Next year’s crop plan is to slightly reduce diversity by planting fewer varieties but more of each type. I figure that if I need to harvest 10 crops per week over 20 weeks I should only need 200 individual crops. For example I am focusing on just eight tomato, pepper and eggplant varieties. One of this winter’s projects is to select the best varieties for each crop and get those seeds ordered (and planted); cabbage, tomatoes and eggplant can be started New Year’s day .
I hope that you enjoyed the CSA experience this year. If you are planning on joining next season I give prior participants a month to confirm starting February 2012, then open the registration to others starting March 2012. With the reduced shares available I expect the CSA to fill out quickly. If friends or neighbors are interested please let them know to contact me in February. If you opt not to join next season there are no hard feelings. I realize the CSA experience is not for everyone, and life situations change. You are always welcomed back if you want to try another season.
Happy Eating and Happy Holidays,
Good Fortune Farm