Spring Growth

Spring Growth

Friday, February 5, 2016

, Dear CSA,
Good Morning, we now announce the summer CSA 2016! With this weather it’s easy to believe that planting is right around the corner. (I'm thinking that's because it is!) Recently, when I look out at the fields I get a distinct thrilling pull. It’s a pull specific to early spring or a winter thaw, and it is intoxicating and completely familiar.  It says something about planting, and something about the potential of growth coiled in the soil, ready to burst forth in power and magic. It gets in me and makes me a little crazed, and super energized. I bet you get whiffs of that spring fever too. It's delicious!  
The crew and I have been meeting about 3 mornings a week for the last month, looking back at 2015 and planning 2016. This is the second year we’ve done this, and I love it. We all get together and look at the farm crop by crop – what was the plan last winter, what did we actually plant, how did it grow, how often did we have it available at distribution, how much of it did we go through, and overall how did you, the CSA members, receive it – did you seem to want more, the same amount, or less. This last assessment is based on the fall survey and distribution records. So, we do that for each vegetable, flower and herb. Then we go through the seed catalogues, compare varieties, and put together a seed order.
It’s very nice to get to do all of this planning with the crew – they remember lots of things I don’t. By putting our heads together we do a much better job than I could do on my own. The crew comes up with new ideas as well.  It  gives them a good-behind-the-scenes look at the farm that provides context for the tasks they do throughout the year.
So, new this summer!
-We’re giving u-pick brussel sprouts a shot (an employee idea). We will also grow brussel sprouts for the winter CSA. 
-On last year’s survey a significant number of people commented that they wanted the u-pick crops closer to the distribution shed.  We’re working on that this year. The field next to the greenhouses that has been in pasture for the last three years was fall plowed. That freed up a lot of land to keep the u-pick crops closer to the distribution shed. And, just knowing that this ranks as important with many of you will factor into where I plant in general.
-Spinach was a clear winner on the survey, so we’re focusing on trying to have that for as many distributions as we possibly can.
-A bigger variety of crops (and variety within crops) was a common response on the survey as well, so we’ve upped our focus on including more variety as we create our seeding schedule.
-U-pick crops! The plan this year is actually almost identical to last years, however it’s highly unlikely that we’ll have 11 inches of rain this June like we did last year. This means that there will be 4 plantings of green beans, two plantings of sunflowers, and edemame – all of which we didn’t see last year.  We’ve put in a couple more varieties of green beans for color, and chosen a variety of paste and cherry tomato that is late blight resistant. I continue to be bonkers about flowers, so expect lots.
Here’s a list of this year’s planned crops:

distribution shed crops:
spinach, carrots, beets, head lettuce, salad mix, onions, leeks, summer squash, parsnips, romanescue, broccoli, cauliflower, basil, parsley, potatoes, tomatoes, fennel, radishes, turnips, greens, kale, collards, chard, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, peppers, pac choi, celery, celeriac, winter squash, eggplant, cucumbers, cilantro, garlic, apples, parsnips, rutabagas
strawberries, raspberries, flowers, sunflowers, cherry and paste tomatoes, tomatillos, hot peppers, basil, brussel sprouts, kale, chard, parsley, green beans, peas, edemame
The 2016 CSA will be the same as last year in terms of share cost and types of shares sold. The new pricing introduced last year was very successful at covering the increased cost of paying a living wage. This means that I anticipate being able to keep the share cost and number of weeks of distribution the same for the foreseeable future, because it is viable. Yay! Here is the list of summer share options for 2016:
Single Adult Share – sliding scale $300-$375, only one adult may eat from this share.
Two Adult Share – sliding scale from $600-$750, only two adults may eat from this share.
Healthy Food For All (HFFA) shares – I will send out an email when Cooperative Extension begins to offer these shares. This is usually around mid April.  There will be about 30 HFFA shares. 
The Summer CSA, as last year, will run for 20 weeks.  I will announce the start date once we get closer to it, but it will be begin sometime within the first 3 weeks of June, and then run for 20 weeks once begun.

The distributions will be the same as last year - a One Bag Side, Free Choice Side, and U-pick.
The sliding scale is fully explained in on the FAQS page http://www.sweetlandfarm.org/  of the Sweet Land website.  In a super nutshell, the mid-point of the sliding scale fully supports the increase labor cost of paying a living wage to all farm employees.  The low end of the scale does not pay for a living wage, and the high end of the scale pays a living wage, as well as helps make up the deficit from the low end of the scale.
If you want to join the summer CSA, please visit the farm website for instructions (link below). I am so looking forward to growing this year, and we have a crew of beautiful employees returning from last year. I love working with these good people, and am so grateful to get to grow for all of you. Thank you so much for supporting Sweet Land, me, and the farm employees.

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