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Thanksgiving comes early this year, and with it the end our regular season CSA deliveries. That helps us to end on a strong note with lots of nice vegetables (though it made it harder back in spring to start so early!) Timing the end of our season to the week before Thanksgiving gives this holiday a special meaning to us as the dividing point of our year, … and it is an appropriate time for us to step back, take a deep breath, and think about all that we have to be thankful for. This is also a good time to evaluate the season while it is still fresh in our minds.
It has been a long time goal of ours to rely as little as possible on produce brought in from other farms, and this year we took a major step in that direction. From early May on, 100% of the produce in your boxes came from our farm fields. While the term “CSA” is being applied to all sorts of vegetable delivery services these days, some of which source produce from as far away as Mexico, we realize that the main reason most of you subscribe with us is to be assured that your vegetables are produced locally in an environmentally responsible way and are the freshest, tastiest, healthiest vegetables you can get. While we will continue to bring in special, locally produced items, like organic Shitake Mushrooms and Meyer Lemons in spring, we feel that we have much more control over the freshness and quality of the produce we provide when we grow it ourselves. Early spring will always be a challenging time for us to fill the box, but by using our high-tunnels and the well-drained fields at our Lewis Road site, we expect to be able provide almost all of the vegetables ourselves even in the spring boxes next year.
As happens every year, we learned some farming lessons this summer. With our newest farmland in full swing, we feel that we have been able to improve the selection of produce. Growing the warm season veggies (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants) in high-tunnels was largely successful, but as with anything new, there is a learning curve. Because we were using sprinklers (our efficient half-circle targeted sprinkler system) to irrigate the peppers, we had problems with botrytis rot and mostly had to pick them green. Next year we’ll put the peppers on drip lines, which should correct that problem. The padrons were a disappointment and we will not do them in the hoophouses at all in 2013; they do better in an open field. And because they took so long to mature, we will also get the eggplant started much earlier next year. Our young pear orchard suffered from the largest pest onslaught we’ve ever experienced as organic farmers, but most of the trees have now recovered and we are still hopeful that we can make this orchard work and bear a crop for you next fall. Another area we want to improve on in the coming seasons is to provide a better selection of cooking herbs by starting perennial plantings of oregano, thyme and rosemary.
Although we had a few challenges, we were delighted with most of our crops this year—we successfully grew about 40 different varieties of fruit and vegetables from strawberries and blueberries to beans, greens, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuces, carrots, and squashes, and most of them we couldn’t have been happier with. So, overall, it was a good growing year, and we look forward to an even better year to come (farmers are always optimists in the fall).
We want to thank all of you for joining us in the vegetable adventure of the CSA; your support allows us to survive as small farmers and you are the reason we farm. We appreciate all of your comments and suggestions throughout the season and hope that you have a very healthy, happy holiday season.
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