November 16, 2011
Thanksgiving is almost upon us and with it the last for the summer share pickups. Since communication about how the season is going has been sparse I feel it important to share at least a few things with all of you before the winter is upon us. Suffice to say this fall has been very difficult from a farming standpoint. Actually it is the worst I have ever experienced in 20 years of growing.
If one is lucky the months of September and October are mostly dry. We need a little bit of moisture to keep the fall stuff going but it is good if the soil is not too wet as we need to dig potatoes and sweet potatoes, sow cover crop and the like. As we all know Irene dumped on us making it way too wet to do anything with the soil. (Add to that the loss of power for six days and we’re all a bunch of happy campers!) What was extraordinary was not the remnants of a hurricane but the incessant wet, cold and damp conditions that followed for weeks on end. Most of our fall crops have really struggled though this bad spate of weather and have not grown anywhere close to what we normally expect. Plants grew too slowly at the outset and then because of shorter day length never got a chance to catch up. We can give out smaller lettuce or tatsoi but broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower have run out of time to head up.
Soggy soil also caused a significant portion of the potato harvest to rot in the ground. The same goes for the sweet potatoes but happily the losses there weren’t as bad as anticipated. All in all it was a very tough season for growing. The recent pre-Halloween snowstorm added insult to injury and another 6 days without power. I feel that we have lost 2 weeks of the calendar and have been scrambling to catch up with the workload. Being a little short handed hasn’t helped. Special thanks to apprentices James Costello and Sam Bass for being there and staying positive.
We here at the CSG are obviously not alone. All other farmers we’ve talked to have had a difficult time as well. While misery may love company, this is not a silver lining. There does indeed exist, however, a silver lining to what have been, literally, a lot of dark clouds and that is you!
You, the members of our CSA, by your commitment have shared with us these many hardships. As a result of your continued support we don’t go into debt, we meet our payroll and we even make a significant capital purchase of a compost turner that will have a major roll in increasing fertility on the farm in the long run. This is a great example of what Community Supported Agriculture is all about.
Every fall we have a book study with the apprentices and this year it was a book called Farms of Tomorrow Revisited by Groh and McFadden. The book explores what Community Supported Agriculture is and many of the first examples of these projects. I have enjoyed reading this book as it has been a good reminder of some of the ideals present in the thinking behind the first CSA’s of which we were but one. I would like to share a short paragraph that particularly struck me.
“As with many catchall names, the term community supported agriculture or CSA is slightly misleading. It implies that the problem is special support for agriculture. As important and necessary as that may be, it is secondary. Although it may seem a fine point, the primary need is not for the farm to be supported by the community, but rather for the community to support itself through farming. This is an essential of existence, not a matter of convenience. We have no choice about whether to farm or not as we have a choice about whether to produce TV sets or not. So we have to either farm or to support farmers, every one of us, at any cost. We cannot give it up because it is inconvenient or unprofitable.” Pg. xiv-xv.
Please know that we are not giving up even though all this excessive precipitation, downed trees and power outages are all a bit “inconvenient”. Surely society has no choice but to support farmers but we realize that people do have a choice of what farms and farmers they support. We thank you for supporting our farming here at the CSG at Genesis Farm and appreciate your sticking with us through challenging times. As usual we have much to be thankful for! Have a great holiday.
Mike Baki, Head Gardener
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July 1, 2011
Welcome back to all our returning members, and welcome aboard to all our new members. Spring has come and gone with all its unpredictability and now we are heading into the summer months. We like a nice balance of sun and rain, so if anybody out there knows how to make this happen, please do. We haven’t a clue! In the meantime we deal with what comes along, and the weeds are our biggest challenge.
We have a dedicated enthusiastic team of apprentices, and we are so grateful to them. Judy will introduce them in a newsletter in the near future (after all the weeds have been eradicated). Actually Mike, Judy, and I all feel badly that our communication through the newsletter seems to get put on the back burner, but the farm is extremely demanding and finding the time is difficult. So please forgive us. This is a quickie with some timely information that just can’t wait. Believe me, I feel guilty for not being out there weeding the carrots with the rest of the team.
GRINDING OUR GRAIN: It is an honor and a privilege to once again grind our wheat berries at the historic Cooper Gristmill on Wed. July 6th.The mill will be open to all our members, and will include tours and demonstrations. The Cooper Gristmill is located in Chester, NJ and is powered by the Black River. It is a part of the Morris County Park Commission. There will be a cable company covering a story about the gristmill and our grain will be used! This will be an event you won’t want to miss, so bring the kids, the grandparents, your friends, you can even bring a picnic lunch and enjoy it on the beautiful grounds. We will be arriving at about 10:00am. Our flour will be available for sale as it was last year in 5lb. bags for $10.00. Please let me know if you are interested.
SHARES AVAILABLE: There are still some summer shares available (winter shares have a waiting list), so if you know anyone who would appreciate what we have to offer please let them know, word of mouth goes a long way. Thanks to those of you who have introduced your friends to our farm.
PAYMENTS: For those of you who are paying in thirds, the balance on the first payment is overdue, and the second payment is due July 1st. Thanks for taking care of this, we don’t send bills, as we have too many weeds to deal with and this is your way of helping us weed. (If you want to come and help us weed in the fields let me know)
POTLUCK DINNER: The time has come for our Tuesday pick-up people to meet our Friday pick-up people and vice versa! We are planning a fun and delicious potluck supper to provide an opportunity for this to happen. It will take place on Friday, July 22nd at Chan’s (CSG property at 90 Silver Lake Rd, about a 1/2 mile from the garden house). It will start at about 5:00pm. Bring your covered dish, your blankets, your lawn chairs, your musical instruments (if you have them) and your good spirits. Be prepared for a special evening! We greatly look forward to introducing these two halves of our community! For further information or to let us know that you are coming, call or email: Sheri 908-876-4082 firstname.lastname@example.org or Smadar 908-362-7486 email@example.com.
GREETERS: Thanks again to Sheri and Wendy and their team of greeters. We can always use more greeters, so if you have a two hour slot available on a Tuesday or Friday call them, they will be glad to hear from you: Wendy Miller for Tuesday greeters 973-726-4955, and Sheri Raupp for Friday greeters 908-876-4082.
GARLIC SCAPES: This is the center stalk and bud that the hardneck garlic plants send out at this time of year. If you haven’t been using them you might regret it because their availability is fleeting and their culinary possibilities are endless. You might try Pesto (which you can freeze for future use), sautéing them with anything and everything, coating in olive oil and roasting them whole in the oven or on the grill. Yum! I use the stem, and compost the bud, anyone out there use the bud?
We need photos that capture the feeling at the farm, the vegetables, the people, the children, the pyo etc. for our facebook and our website. Email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
We all hope you have been enjoying the harvest, thanks for being a part of it; this is how we all make a difference together. See you at the farm!
–Smadar English, Gardener