Digging up our final crop of potatoes this past week, Ken had to stop numerous times to wrangle weeds out of the potato harvester’s rungs. A conventional (non-organic) farm would have “burned” the weeds and any other living plant in the bed with an herbicide shortly before harvesting to avoid this added work. Chemical herbicides are never used at Free Bird Farm.
Three years ago a good friend asked us to start a CSA. She’d belonged to one when living in the Hudson Valley and sorely missed the fresh, abundant produce. So we started out. We started small. And we noticed it was working pretty well. So, the 2nd year we grew some more. And this year we finally got gutsy and expanded membership 5-fold.
It was a leap of faith and created significant change here seemingly overnight. It turned our schedule—the rhythm of when we plant, weed, take care of our fields, harvest—a bit upside down. Soon enough, however, we adjusted to such changes. But even when everything was running beautifully, we’d still worry about each week’s share—was it balanced enough, was it new enough, are people going to get totally sick of all these greens (in June) or how can we not have broccoli and Brussels sprout crops (now)? After all, our goal is to do our best to provide a great variety of organically raised food for everyone week after week after week. We want our members to be well fed and happy.
In all, the change was a great move for our farm. Perhaps most significantly, it provided us stability. Having a fixed community to grow for—a group of supporters willing to invest at the start of the season in what we aspired to accomplish in a season—meant a number of things. It meant we could better plan our plantings, using seed, space and time more efficiently. We could more efficiently harvest—knowing just what was needed for the distribution versus a farmers’ market that is based on guessing how much we think will sell and whether the weather will be nice enough for people to come out and shop. It also meant that we didn’t have to carry the same level of debt we usually take on at the start the season and then fret over repaying through the majority of the season.
We never thought we’d see as many people as we now do rolling into our distribution shed on Tuesday afternoons. It’s an inspiring sign of change. Our members want something better than what they can get at the local supermarket. They care about how their food is grown. And they care about supporting their local farmers.
We hope being part of the CSA was rewarding to you too.
Thanks to everyone who helped to support us this growing season.
Ken & Maryellen and family
IN THIS WEEK’S SHARE:
1 winter squash
1 large head of head bok choy
1 bunch leeks
6 ounces mesclun mix
1 bunch carrots
1 head frissee
large bag of potatoes
1# bag of beets
Many of the items in this week’s share will hold. The potatoes and squash can be stored for many weeks in a dark, dry, cool location (in a cabinet, for instance). Avoid storing in plastic bags and don’t refrigerate potatoes (it turns the starches into an off-tasting sugar). The leeks, cabbage, and even the beets should easily hold for a few weeks in a refrigerator’s crisper (their outer layers might wilt, but that’s okay).
Recipe recommendations using items from this week's share:
Mushroom and Leek Soup with Thyme Cream
From Epicurious.com, Nov. 2007
Gourmet, December 2008