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blueberries ripenThe blueberry bushes are in full swing! You’re invited to come out and pick your own blueberries on May 23rd, May 30th, or June 6th between 10 am and 2 pm. Please bring your own containers if possible. Friends and family are welcome too. No charge for entry. Blueberries cost $5/lb. You do not need to be a current CSA subscriber to come to the u-pick. We recommend close-toed shoes and long pants. Please come only during the designated days times and plan to arrive in plenty of time to wrap up your picking by 2:00. Find directions here.

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squash tunnelThe activity level on the farm has been ratcheted up these last few weeks. This time of year finding time to do anything other than harvesting is difficult. We have three crops—strawberries, blueberries and squash—that have to be picked 2-3 times a week and when you throw in all of the other crops we are harvesting there is very little time left for all of the planting, weeding, pruning and other activities that have to happen to keep the farm going.

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We ran into a little glitch on Wednesday when we tried to irrigate a new planting of lettuce—the sprinklers never came up to pressure. The well at our home farm is very shallow and very old and we’ve known for the past year or so that it was failing. We are on the waiting list to have a deeper well dug, but with the high demand for wells right now, we’ve got another 6-7 months before that happens. We were hoping to squeak through the year, but apparently that’s not going to happen.

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blueberries flatIt’s a berry bonanza! The addition of strawberries and blueberries both in the box AND available for special order in the web store in bulk quantities this week has led to a frenzy of berry-related activity. If you have never ordered from the web store before, all you have to do is:

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blueberries spring 2015This week we got the netting over the blueberry patch–just in time, as the fruit is ripening fast. If we left the patch uncovered the birds would get more berries than we would. We picked the first ripening berries this week, so a few of you will find blueberries as your mystery item. We have four different blueberry varieties planted, and theoretically they should ripen sequentially.

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lettuce transplantsThe unusually warm spring has produced favorable conditions for us to get our cover crops mowed down and lots of transplanting already done here at our home farmland. This is the first year we are not farming the land we used to lease around the Redman house, but with our 18 acres at Lewis Road and the similar size here at home we have plenty of good ground available.

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lasioglossum sisymbriiWhen we agree to participate in research studies, we often are too busy to pay much attention to what the researchers are doing at the time. But the results can be fascinating when they come out!

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allis chalmers tractor in workshopAmong the very best improvements we have ever made on our farm is building an enclosed workshop in 2007. By most standards it is quite modest—30×30 feet, with unfinished walls and a bare concrete floor. But it does have workbenches, lots of shelf space, good lighting and enough floor space to work on two trucks or tractors at once if need be. And most importantly, it has a place for everything—(although everything isn’t always in its place).

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cover crop with blackbirdsIt feels like the end of May around here. The flowers on the Ceanothus in front of our house, which is usually just starting to bloom at this time, have largely faded and been scattered onto our walkways and yard. I can’t remember a winter where I have been in shirt-sleeves more often.

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strawberries 1st csa weekThe strawberries are giving us a warm welcome this spring, with the earliest crop we’ve ever had! The warm winter has prompted early blooms of plants of all sorts. Our habitat restorationist Laura Kummerer tells me that the annual wildflower count on April 15th may be too late this year to catch many of the wildflowers—they’ve already bloomed and will be done by that date!

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stormy skies2I love winter skies. Even though this “storm” didn’t ever pan out, the stormy-looking sky was a lovely consolation. We’re still hoping to get some rain the end of this week. On my walk around the farm I came across dozens of ladybugs in all stages. This picture shows a pupa on the left, and on the right is a ladybug freshly emerged from its empty pupa case. It’s good to see the ladybugs gearing up for the season!

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cover cropThe weekend rain has been very welcome on the farm. The long dry spell was starting to worry us, but the cover crops in the farm fields and the grasses in the restoration area have all hung on and should now take off again with new growth.  Another storm system coming in the next week or so will help to keep things growing.

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Thomas Susty photoJanuary has been a busy month for us in regards to farm related meetings and social gatherings. As part of my duties as President of the Central Coast Chapter of California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) I helped to organize our annual meeting which was held in nearby Aromas on Monday the 12th. Three wonderful presenters agreed to speak on topics that are very relevant to growers here on the Central Coast. Lisa Bunin from The Center for Food Safety spoke about efforts to get the organic strawberry industry to transition to organically produced starter plants.

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Happy New Year to everybody. With 2014 gone, it’s time to look ahead to the 2015 farm season (March 18/19 to November 18/19), even while we harvest for the winter shares. This is a good time for us to be reminded of why Community Supported Agriculture is such a helpful model for small farmers, as well as for those who crave local fresh produce.

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str rowsAt the end of the road where we farm in Monterey County, there are two shallow ponds in the shady bottom of a small valley. In the thirty-plus years that he has lived there, our neighbor Keith, the beekeeper, had never seen the ponds dry up. But last year, dry up they did, and with all of the rain we have gotten so far this season, dried up they remain. For me this serves as a useful gauge of just what a serious drought we remain in. The rain so far has been great–but much more is needed.

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strawberry plugThose of you who are long time newsletter readers will recall that we have been involved in the effort to transition organic strawberry growers into using organically grown starts. The problem we are facing now is that virtually no organically grown planting stock is currently available and the standards allow growers to use non-organic plants when their organic counterparts aren’t available. To make a long story short, there was an organic plant nursery (Prather Ranch) that grew beautiful plants for a four year period between 2005-2009.

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3carrotsWe hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving!

Welcome to the winter season of every other week deliveries. During the last harvest the crew found these three carrots intertwined, which we are taking as a good omen for the season ahead (displayed here by our packing shed manager Aquileo at our harvest party.)

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It’s hard to believe another CSA season has come to an end. This week we’ll deliver the final boxes for the regular season. Next week we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving and then we’ll take some trips to visit colleges with our eldest daughter. (This is quite a milestone. We leased our first few acres and started farming the year she was born. The kid and the farm are both growing up!)

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catmodelThe National Weather Service is calling for some substantial rainfall during the early part of next week—which we are delighted to hear about. It’s been just about a perfect fall so far. We’ve had enough rain so that we haven’t had to irrigate much during the last few weeks, and out on the grassland, things are greening up fast. At the same time, the storms so far have been spaced far enough apart to allow us to get in with the tractors and do the things that need doing—cultivating, preparing ground for cover crops and planting a few last vegetable crops.

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cowpumpkin“Severe Drought, Heavy Rains Hamper Pumpkin Crop,” read the headline in one of the ag papers we get. Steve pointed it out to me, “That about sums up farming right there.” Our pumpkin crop did fine here, though, and the cows and goats are now enjoying what’s left of the jack o’lantern pumpkins. The rain we did have last week was about perfect – a nice soaking to help our cover crops and the pasture grasses along, but not a gulley washer. Now we just need it to continue to rain like that once a week or so through the winter.

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winterThis is the time of year when the scheduling details for the CSA get a little confusing, so I’ll try to clarify how the logistics work for deliveries, sign-ups, and payments this fall.

There are four more weeks of regular season deliveries — these continue until the week before Thanksgiving. November 19 and 20th are the final delivery days for the regular weekly season. There will be no deliveries Thanksgiving week.

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cover cropWe are moving into winter planning mode here. We’ll be seeding some fields with cover crops before the expected rain this weekend at our home farm, and utilizing this rain to prepare our Lewis Road soil (which needs a bit more moisture to plant into) for sowing cover crop seeds next week. Our winter cover crop is typically a mixture of bell beans, vetch, oats, and peas. These crops are allowed to grow through the winter before we mow them down and disc them under in the spring.

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stevediscingThis is the time of year when we really start to keep an eye on the weather.

The strawberries are going to be hit and miss from now on. The heat did a number on them last week, but they are rebounding surprisingly strongly. With possible rain in the forecast we may lose some of this ripening fruit.

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Pumpkinpatch2Thanks to those of you who braved the heat to come out to the Pumpkin Patch on Saturday. We enjoyed seeing you, and the goats and cows loved all the food and attention. We donated 100% of the pumpkin sales (over $800) to Linscott Charter School.

The high pressure zone and the heat that accompanied it during the later part of last week made life interesting around here. Normally our proximity to the coast (two miles) takes the edge off of most heat spells,

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kidsandgoatsUsually this time of year we are gearing up for our big Harvest Festival, which we’ve done for several years with the help of volunteers from Linscott School in Watsonville. The event has been a great success and fun for everyone. Unfortunately, this year our Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier has nixed the event, citing concerns that our volunteers could make claims for injury. This makes no sense to us — they are not employees and should be a concern of our liability insurance carrier not our Work Comp carrier, but our Work Comp insurance company threatened to drop our policy if we went ahead with the event.

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PUMPKINSAs we approach the official end of summer, things are really getting dry out on our grassland and the surrounding hills. There’s a sprinkle of rain in the forecast — hopefully much more will come. While the slough we live beside (Harkins Slough) has maintained its water level due to some upwelling groundwater, the other fingers of the Watsonville Slough system are getting noticeably drier every week.

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potatoes-new washedSome of you will receive “new” potatoes in your box this week. These are simply potatoes that have been dug before the skins have set and the plants have dried down. I remember an English customer at a Farmer’s Market once who asked if my potatoes were “English” new potatoes, as if the name implied a specific variety. In fact, they can be from any variety—this week we are digging Desirees.

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Pear_orchard_16It’s been a mixed year for the pears. After a beautiful early lush bloom in spring, they developed fireblight that nearly killed many of the trees. It hit some varieties much harder than others, though, and the varieties that pulled through are producing a nice crop of fruit. The Hardy Buerres and the Seckels came through almost unscathed, and we’ll be alternating these with strawberries in the boxes as our strawberry production is going into a bit of a slump.

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pumpkin fieldWe’re enjoying some beautiful August days here on the farm. We’ve cut the water off on our winter squash and pumpkin fields. Over the coming weeks we’ll let the plants dry down and the squash fully cure before we cut the stems and pack them in totes for winter storage. It’s always a bit difficult to see what you have got, in terms of yield and quality, until the plants have died back, but at this stage things look pretty good.

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Tractor CatWe’ve been busy this last week trying to get caught up with maintenance on our tractors and trucks. It’s always a challenge at this time of year because the trucks are out on the road most days, and the tractors are out in the field. One of the big advantages in having our own shop, as humble as it is, is that, in addition to saving us a lot of money, it is simply quicker and easier to do routine maintenance ourselves rather than having to shuttle a truck to an outside shop and back. And I can have my feline helper with me.

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SIGN UP FOR CSA PROGRAM

When you join our CSA, you sign up with the farm to receive a share of the harvest during our 36 week season from mid-March to mid-November. In return, you get a weekly box of organic vegetables and fruit (and optional flowers) delivered straight from our farm to a pick-up site in your neighborhood.

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View our CSA Members Page

This is where you can go to find out what's coming in your box each week, find recipes, identify your vegetables with pictures, and view or print the current and past newsletters. Check here for the information you need to use your box to the fullest.

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