Dear CSA members and friends,
It is the end of the season. There are no more crops in the field, other than the cover crop which we planted to protect and improve the soil over the winter. It is time to look back over the past season, plan the upcoming season, do winter projects, and spend more time together as a family.
We finished compiling and analyzing the 2012 CSA surveys. The results along with our comments and analysis are posted on our webpage here. We feel very good about the responses received. We had a lot of positive feedback, which we are always very grateful for. We also had many suggestions and comments which got us thinking about what we can change and improve for next season’s CSA.
Overall, 2012 was a great season for us. We had a dry spell in the beginning (as predicted by one of our CSA members), but we got through it thanks to irrigation; later in the season we had a hot/humid/wet spell, which was hard on some crops (carrot and beet tops were affected, as was chard); but overall we feel happy with how everything went. Our tomato yields and duration were outstanding and we are also very happy with the performance of crops such as peppers, kale, carrots, bok choi, and others too many to mention all here.
This year was the first year since we started farming that we have not attended farmers’ markets. Dropping the market and focusing solely on the CSA was a good decision for us, and our lifestyle felt a lot more sustainable as a result.
At this time of year, we do much planning for the season ahead, and we work on projects that we don’t have time for during the busy season. Some things we’ll be doing over the winter are:
Soil test: every year we test our soil for organic matter, macro and micro nutrients, and other important measures of soil health. We address any deficiencies by designing a fertility plan for the upcoming season which includes rock powders and other amendments.
2013 CSA: we plan to open registration for 2013 in January, and in between now and then we are working out the details; your survey responses are very important in deciding what changes we make.
Conferences: every winter we attend conferences on different aspects of farming. We attended a conference at the end of November, with other farmers operating CSAs. It was interesting to see how other CSAs operate, what challenges and successes they share, and we learned some new things.
Building projects: new root cellar and new greenhouse
Every year, Ed undertakes new building projects for the farm. This fall and winter, he is building a new root cellar. This will give us additional space for long term fruit/vegetable storage, and cooler temps than our existing root cellar. In late winter/early spring, he will be putting up a new unheated greenhouse. Our existing unheated greenhouse, which he put up last year, did very well. It enabled us to get crops in the ground as early as February, such as carrots, beets, radishes, spinach, and salad greens (last year was a very warm winter though so we may not be able to do it that early again, depending on weather). During the normal season, we grew tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in the greenhouse (we also grew these same crops in the field). Most of these crops did exceptionally well, and the greenhouse allowed us to extend their season significantly. We’d like to continue to use greenhouse space for season extension and some tomato plantings; but in order to preserve soil and crop health, we need to rotate the crops, hence the need for a new greenhouse.
Homeschooling: in the winter, our approach to homeschooling is much more structured than during the growing season. We spend a considerable part of each day doing formal homeschooling activities, and much informal (possibly more or as important) learning takes place the rest of the time.
We will keep you informed of what’s going on at the farm through periodic newsletters like this one, but certainly feel free to call us if you want to talk about anything food or farming-related or otherwise. Also, please let us know if you do not want to receive these newsletters. We wish you all a peaceful end of the year.
We give our deepest thanks to the land and all the natural elements that provide for our needs. Without good soil, clean water, clean air, we’d have nothing. We have been blessed by abundance.
Enjoy this beautiful season.