Dear CSA members,

 

We decided to start this newsletter, as a way to keep you informed of what’s going on at our farm. We are sending it by email in order to save paper. Please let us know if you do not wish to receive it.

 

Many people ask us what we do in the winter. There are no obvious signs of farming, the field is covered in snow, but, behind the appearance of quiet, winter is quite busy for us, albeit in different ways than summer. We do a lot of planning and reading of farm literature, and take care of things that we do not have time for during the growing season.

Here’s a little more about that:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        This past December and January, we’ve been working on our (very detailed) crop plan, ordering seeds, soil amendments and fertilizers. Most of our seeds are already in, tucked away safely until spring.

·        We took a soil fertility workshop, and have started a 5-day intensive course that discusses in detail how to raise nutrient dense crops.  The course is spread over the year to teach the best farming practices at the appropriate time of the season.

·        Last fall, we performed a soil test, as we do every year. This allows us to see the mineral content of our soil, as well as the level of biological activity present therein. Based on soil test results, we purchase rock powders (which help address calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and other micronutrient deficiencies), as well as biological stimulants and fertilizers to be added during the growing season as needed. Our goal is to optimize mineral levels and promote biological activity, to have healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy food, and healthy people.

·        We’ve been going to the Storrs winter market, although our selection has been humble: fresh spinach from our (unheated) greenhouse, turnips and beets from our root cellar. Still, we’re grateful to be able to bring these. People are so excited to get fresh spinach in the winter! That inspires us to keep going. Growing in the winter is challenging in many ways. Low tunnels (which we use to cover over-wintered spinach and a couple of other cold-tolerant crops) collapse under the weight of the snow; the plastic rips, and the sandbags that keep them down get frozen to the ground and rip as well. Replacing these materials is expensive, and so, many times we chose not to get inside the hoop tunnels at all. The greenhouse is easier to pick from, but with all the snow we’ve had this year, shoveling and keeping the snow off in order to prevent it from collapsing have been quite a job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        We’ve started our seedlings in the greenhouse; the onions have been started and cabbages will follow soon. We’re planning to double onion and cabbage plantings compared to last year, so Ed has been busy building extra tables and containers to hold all the seedlings.

·        Ed’s also been working on building a better root cellar. Although our beets, carrots and turnips seem fine in our current root cellar, next year we’re hoping to have a lot more crops to store over the winter, and the root cellar he’s building will help with that. It will also be useful during the summer, for short-term storage of vegetables that like cool temperatures and high moisture.

·        One activity we do a lot of during the winter is reading. We read to learn how to farm better, to get different ideas from other farmers, to see what else is out there. We read about physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and other scientific aspects of farming, we read about health and nutrition, and food-related issues. We read books that teach us how to do better and inspire us to keep going.

·        An update on the 2011 CSA: as of this writing, we have 57 CSA members, with a total of 48 shares. New applications are still coming in. We look forward to seeing our 2010 members again, and to meeting the new ones. We encourage all our members to come and visit our farm, or talk to us – we want people to know where their food comes from, how it is produced, and in general we want to be as transparent as possible.

·        For our 2010 CSA members who have not yet signed up for 2011, please note that we will reserve a spot for you for two more weeks (deposit must be received by Feb15), after which we will sell CSA shares on a first-come-first-served basis. If you have any questions or anything you’d like to talk to us about, please call (429-0695).

 

Winter is a good time to reflect over the past season, and plan for the new one. We feel so blessed and grateful for 2010. Things went very well – we worked hard, and we were rewarded with abundant, beautiful crops. We send our thanks to our 2010 CSA members who made our first CSA so enjoyable. And always, we send our thanks and gratitude to the land and all the forces that made our crops come together. We look forward with hope and anticipation to the next growing season.

 

 

Enjoy the rest of the winter!

Peace and Blessings,

Ed and Raluca