Newsletters – 2010

October 4, 2010

Dear Shareholders, 

The CSG’s annual HARVEST FESTIVAL will be held on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24TH. We are letting you know now, so you can save the date! We begin the harvest at 1:00pm, usually carrots and/or beets. Around 5:00pm, the harvest is brought in from the field to be stored in the root cellars, waiting to be turned into warming, nourishing food during the cold winter months.

After the “hard work” (really fun and energizing!), the potluck dinner begins, so remember to bring a covered dish to share. Some people say this is the best potluck food ever!!

There will be some fun children’s activities, hulahooping performances, fire spinning poi, and music around the bonfire. Remember to bring your instruments if you wish, and of course, your voice.

This is such a special day; it has a life of its own. So, if you’ve been coming for years, or this is your first time, bring the kids, bring the grandparents, or just yourself, your grubby work clothes, work gloves if you wish, and your good “community” energy. I promise you’ll be glad you came.

As you know, we have been growing our own grains for the past few years. Barley, oats, rye, soft wheat that grinds to pastry flour and hard wheat that is ground for bread flour. All purpose flour is a combination of both bread and pastry flour. Our wheat is ground whole, and should be stored in the freezer. We have the opportunity to have our wheat ground at the historic Cooper Gristmill. It is located in Chester Township, and is closed from Nov. through March. If you are interested in purchasing five pound increments of our flour, please get in touch with me right away, so we can know how much to grind (we would like to do this before they close for the winter). This will allow us to lower the cost by about 20%. The gristmill is open to the public, and is worth a visit; maybe we can all go and watch while they grind the flour for us.

Please note that the newsletter is sent by Mike Chrysam, long-time member and editor of News And Views From The Garden. Any inquiries regarding the CSG can be addressed by calling the gardenhouse at 908-362-7486 or using our email address: csgardeninfo@gmail.com. Note that emails are NOT checked daily. Of course you can always talk to me when you are at the garden on your pickup day

The THIRD, and final payment is due now (October 1st), so please send in your payment today. Any questions or problems, please get in touch with me.

–Smadar English, Gardener

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September 30, 2010

Dear Shareholders,

Summer has officially ended and we experience all the changes daily: days are noticeably shorter, weeds have slowed down, and flea beetles have fled. We continue to bring in the harvest on share days as well as the bigger things like sweet potatoes. We recently finished the sweets and considering the very dry period from mid July to September they did ok. We had nice help from the northern NJ chapter of Slow Food headed by our own Margaret Noon. Thanks go to them for their help and especially to Margaret and Smadar for the great lunch afterwards.

What has not done so well is the winter squash. Last year was the year of no tomatoes and this year, unfortunately, will be the year of very few squash. Usually we have more squash than we really need but many things came together to cause that “perfect storm” which results in such a big crop failure.

I have learned some hard lessons and I knew there would be some bumps along the road as we embarked on new ways of doing things but I just didn’t figure it would be so hard a lesson. Specifically I speak of the roll down cover crop method of which I have spoken of before. In an effort to minimize tillage of the soil, prevent weed seeds from germinating and protect the biology of the soil we grow a cover crop, roll it down and then plant into the thick, protective mat. Last year we had great success with transplanted sweet corn and winter squash. In fact, I thought it went so well that we would go ahead and do the whole acre and a quarter of squash that way this year. As we planted I thought the field looked great. But then we started noticing plants dying and soon found out that voles were digging up and chewing through the newly set plants. In some cases plants that were planted in the morning were killed by the afternoon on the same day! This was all very disheartening to say the least. We tried to bait the field but had little success and the carnage continued until very few plants were left.

Why were the voles interested in the squash? I don’t know the answer to that but I have some ideas on why the voles were so prevalent. In the first place the rolled down rye served as cover for the rodents. Secondly, the field was next to some lanes that we were purposely not mowing so that research on native pollinators could be conducted. This is being done because of the continued challenges to the health of the honeybee population. The voles were living in the tall, undisturbed grass and could move about under total cover. Birds of prey could not see them and there were few other predators. Furthermore, we had lost Rover this past spring, which surely was one less valued predator to keep the varmints in check.

I am not at all ready to abandon the roll down methods, as the benefits are great. Indeed, we are collaborating with The Rodale Institute on a grant that they received to look at the efficacy of roll down vs. black plastic. However, I do think that we will have to keep our lanes mowed and would be wise to have open beds on field edges so as to increase the amount of exposure for the rodents. I also need to make sure perennial weeds and plants are less prolific than we experienced this year. There was far too much competition for the plants that survived the voles from Canadian thistle and red clover, so this undoubtedly exacerbated the problem. (The clover should help out next year’s corn so we at least have that going for us!)

So that is what transpired and a sad tale it is. We appreciate everyone’s continued support through this kind of mayhem. Squashed we may be but we will live to plant again. Rest assured we could not do that without each of you!

–Mike Baki, Head Gardener

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September 1, 2010

Dear Shareholders,

As you can see from Judy’s following article, there are three most wonderful apprentices that we are missing on many levels. On one level there is a way that you can help fill the void. If you are interested in workshare arrangements, or if you just want to step up and volunteer on the harvest mornings, please call the gardenhouse. No experience is necessary, but a willingness to jump in and make a difference is a must. Morning harvest is a special time – you might just love it!

Thanks to the organizers of Skyfest Music Festival for inviting us to have a Genesis Farm booth last weekend. It was wonderful having it in Blairstown, our backyard, and the music was fantastic! If you missed it hopefully you’ll have another chance next year.

Thanks to all the greeters in the distribution center – your presence makes such a difference! There are slots available for the fall. If you can help for 2 hours call Wendy Miller, Tuesday coordinator, at 973-726-4955, or Sheri Raupp, Friday coordinator, at 908-876-4082.

Many of you have requested that we reorder “From Asparagus to Zucchini” – a guide to cooking farm-fresh seasonal produce. It has just arrived and is for sale in the distribution center.

We are hosting Slow Food Northern NJ’s “ Dig in” an event of Breaking Ground and Breaking Bread, part of a nationwide day of volunteer action on September 25, 2010, 10-3PM. If you would like to participate in the farm activities at the CSG, please email slowfoodnnj@yahoo.com. Or talk to Smadar at the Garden.

The 2nd payment was due on July 1st. If you have not done so, please send your payment ASAP. Third and final payment will be due on Oct. 1st. Thanks to those who have taken care of this.

AND PICK YOUR OWN –

It is a pleasure to see so many members walking out of the fields with those magnificent flower bouquets. It is even more amazing how vibrant the flowers have been, considering the ridiculous lack of rain that has characterized this summer. We recommend that you bring your own scissors and a container such as a coffee can to help the bouquets last longer.

The cherry tomatoes are sweet and delicious. They are above the two P.Y.O. flowerbeds across from the little greenhouse. Even the children seem to enjoy picking them and popping them in their mouths.

Golden raspberries are coming in now. We are sharing them with the honeybees this year. They seem to know when the raspberry is at peak ripeness and flavor.

The P.Y.O.,’ the sharing table, and the herbs are great places to be mindful of the other members. It is helpful to look at the sign-out sheet to see how many names have not been crossed off for an indication of your fair portions.

–Smadar English, Gardener

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August 23, 2010

Dear Shareholders,

Finally, it’s a rainy day this Monday, August 23. As I stand at the gardenhouse door looking out at the eggplant I believe I see their leaves reaching up to catch every drop of rain. I think we are all happy to be quenched. On days like this the tasks shift to inside work. The newsletter has been on our job board for weeks now, so here we are. Some of the crew is cleaning and sorting onions over at the barn at Chan’s and the rest are getting beds ready in the greenhouses for winter greens such as lettuce, spinach, mache, and claytonia to name a few. We will begin sowing in these beds come September. Autumn is in the air even though the tomatoes are still ripening, the cukes are cranking, and bouquets of zinnias are waiting to be made.

It’s been a hot, dry summer. Enough said. But we have been blessed with a bumper crop of high quality, enthusiastic apprentices! Perseverance took on a new meaning as I witnessed not only holding up in extreme temps BUT ALSO a group of people filled with good humor and good attitude. And the best part was that it was contagious.

Our apprenticeship program begins April 1 and ends the week of Thanksgiving. Every year is different, and this year we had 3 young women come for the summer months, which really helped with the summer workload. So let me introduce our team.

Steve Zwier is with us now for his 3rd season. Steve has such a great work ethic. We could decide “It’s time to mulch the paths in the tomatoes” and before I’ve collected my tools and filled my water bottle, Steve is already out in the field distributing bales. Steve has made a big difference here at the CSG at Genesis Farm. So many improvements and new ideas have come through him. We are grateful for his energy.

Samson Schoenbrunn joined us in April for the whole season. Samson is a whatever-needs-to-be-done kinda guy. He is responsible for the green beans and edamame crops. He enjoys transplanting, tractor work and “long walks on the beach, candle-lit dinners and horror flicks”. Samson is an artist. I always find his detailed, wonderful sketches on the corners of paper and on the job board. I expect to see his work in a gallery someday.

Margaret Noon comes to us from Scotch Plains, NJ. Margaret has been a member of the CSG and decided to leap into our apprenticeship program. She has brought a lot of enthusiasm and embraces every task that comes her way. She is president of Slowfood Northern NJ. and a graduate of Pratt Institute and The French Culinary Institute. Margaret enjoys seeding, transplanting and cooking lunch. And I might add, we’ve all enjoyed eating her yummy lunches.

Malaika Spencer joined us in May and has just left to finish her last year at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Malaika has been working on farms since she was 14. Here’s one young lady who has known what she wants and is very solid with it. She took on the tractor without any hesitation. Actually, she took on any task without hesitation. One of her favorite tasks was to drive the dump truck. FYI – Malaika could drive ANYTHING if she enjoys driving the dump truck!

Amanda also joined us in May and just left last week to return to Lehigh University, PA. Amanda volunteered with us a few days a week last year and decided to join us for the whole summer this year. Amanda loved working with the grains. When I would see her in the grain fields clipping out weeds she looked as if she were floating in the field. Her responsibility was the summer squash. Through the whole season she decided to keep track of the yields of summer squash in 3 different growing situations – roll-down, black (biotello) plastic, and right in the soil. This info will be helpful to us. Amanda’s family lives nearby so we hope to see her at our Harvest Festival.

Melanie Frank joined us in June after graduating from college in Bloomington, Indiana. She will be leaving us this week to experience new adventures. Melanie has such a great attitude and a love of the work. Recently, after spending 3 hours harvesting cucumbers into 5-gallon buckets and lugging them through the vine-filled cucumber patch, she walks into the gardenhouse to report her yield of 502 cucumbers, and she’s smiling! Melanie soaked up every aspect of our farm. She loved it all.

Erin Schroll joined us the beginning of August. August could be a tough time to jump into the work but Erin has kept up the pace and slipped nicely into the flow of the work. Erin comes to us from Oregon with a background in horticulture, and construction of green roofs. Erin would like to have chickens someday so the chickens have become a focus of hers. We welcome her good energy.

I know I’ve said this a million times, but I am so inspired by the people who come through our apprenticeship program. I see so much hope for the world of agriculture. I see a deep core of commitment even though they may not all choose to be farmers. I see people who know what they’re about and perhaps working on a farm has empowered them more. Each one of these people has been a gift to us, and to the bigger us. Thank you, Steve, Samson, Margaret, Malaika, Amanda, Melanie and Erin.

–Judy von Handorf, Gardener

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June 10, 2010

Dear Shareholder,

First and foremost I would just like to thank everyone who jumped in and filled the void while I spent five transformative weeks on the west coast due to a family emergency. I left with one days notice and was unsure of my return until a few days before, when things stabilized (just in time for our open house on May 1st). I received nothing but support and love and understanding from everyone at the farm. In particular I would like to thank Judy and Mike, Steve, Judy Leaf, Gina, Hannah, Liz, Sheri, Magdalena, Lori, Athena and Luthor, who put a lot of extra energy adding to their already full load. My love for the CSG is so multifaceted, but community is at the core, and community is who was there for me to lean on. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Planning to be away on your pickup day? Here are some options: let me know in advance- I will cross your name off the list for that day-we will not harvest your share and instead you can make it up on another pickup day. All this needs to be prearranged – just call the Gardenhouse. If you let us know after the vegetables have been harvested, you forfeit your share – it is donated to the food pantry or a local family in need. You can also give your share to a friend who can then get a taste of what the garden has to offer.

Please don’t forget to highlight your name on the list when you pick up your share. That way we know you came!

The peas are coming, the peas are coming! Snow peas, Sugar snaps! All who expressed an interest in the workshare component, or if you just want to volunteer, this is your chance! We need hands on harvest mornings, Tues. and Fri. We begin at 6am, but you can join us anytime throughout the morning. Call the Gardenhouse for details and to make arrangements. Who knows, you might just fall in love with the whole experience, just ask Bob, Judy L, Julie, or Magdalena, who keep coming year after year.

PYO (pick- your- own) – There is nothing more heartwarming than the children in the strawberry patch with red stained faces and hands. I hope many of you got a chance to get a taste. PYO is a way for members to step into the gardens and connect with what is going on at the farm. When the flowers are blooming, you can pick your own bouquet. There are also pyo cherry tomatoes, berries, hardy kiwis, and who knows what else (all in due time). Look for the sign on the board in the distribution center for guidance. If you are unable to pyo on your pickup day, you are welcome to come on another day, but please not on another pickup day (Tues. or Fri.) as there are already many other members picking.

Payments – This is my least favorite subject, but here goes. It is our intention and desire not to send bills to our members. Too much time and energy expended when there are so many other things to do. So we ask that each of you take responsibility for making your payments. Some of you made the $100 deposit and still owe the balance. If you are on the payment plan, first payment is now overdue. Second payment is due on July 1st (just around the corner) and third and final payment is due on Oct. 1st. If you need to make other arrangements please let me know. Thanks to those of you who have taken care of this. Any questions, just ask me.

Last Thurs. morning I got a call from long time member Andre of Andres restaurant. Could he and Rob (long time member, and amazing photographer) come by, pick some strawberries, slip into the Gardenhouse kitchen and cook up a little desert- for us! How could I say no! All this was photographed by Rob and entered in their blog www.andreswhatscookin.blogspot.com They had so much fun, they might just do it again. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed!

Katherine Yvinskas, an artist and also a long time member is featured at Gallery 23 on Main St. in Blairstown. Her show Garden of Delights is “inspired by the Community Supported Garden At Genesis Farm” . She will be featured the month of June.

A few summer shares are still available, there is a waiting list for the winter shares. Pass it on.

Thanks to all for making our 22nd season possible. Time flies when you’re having fun!

–Smadar English, Gardener

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May, 2010

Dear Shareholders,

Welcome to another season at the garden, I believe our 22nd. The gardeners have been hard at it since early March and doing our best to stay on top of a considerable workload. We have an excellent group of apprentices this season and, at least for the summer months, will be among our largest. Steve, whom I call a journeyman, Samson, Margaret, Malaika, Amanda, and Melanie are all doing a great job with planting, weeding, harvesting and whatever else needs to be done so that we can fill the distribution room twice a week with a wide variety of beautiful and healthy produce. Hope you have enjoyed it so far and that it continues to be a bountiful year.

On the weather round up (and remember, it’s all about the weather, it’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s about the weather when it comes to farming!) we are starting off ok! Last year, as you may remember, was a difficult one as we saw such a cold and wet June. This year has started out much better on that front. Indeed, I am seeing many signs that everything (read plants) is ahead by two weeks. Grass that we cut and bale for hay is going to seed, the strawberries are done flowering and what’s out there is it, and the wine berries seem to be ready to open and begin their ripening process well ahead of schedule to give a few examples. This means we have had above normal temps this spring. We have seen some big fluctuations but no late frost. We did have a late freeze in early May that hurt apple blossoms and the paw paw flowers and leaves to name a few but we managed to save some early tomatoes that we had just planted. We were/are holding our breath as weeks ago as there were reports of late blight in Maryland and Pennsylvania. As long as the weather stays sort of normal I think we’ll be ok. By the way, did you know I can control the weather? You see if I want it to rain I cut a bunch of grass to make hay because to make hay you need sunshine and dryness. If we want it to stay dry we just plant and sow stuff that needs water and, presto, it stays nice and dry. Of course I am only joking but you get my point.

We continue our experimentation with roll down cover crops as a way to reduce tillage, lessen weed pressure and increase soil tilth. We planted a number of early things into a winter-killed cover crop of sorgum-sudan grass. Not everything is working out famously but it is all part of the learning process. Safe to say there is still great promise in this idea. Difficulty remains in killing living covers of vetch and to a lesser extent rye/vetch combos. The vining habit of vetch seems to keep it going. We will probably resort to flaming to kill the few totally vetch beds. Eventually I will add weight to our roller crimper with hopes of increasing its effectiveness. We will also be trialing a new cover crop to us called Sun Hemp (Crotalaria juncea). This is a legume so it will fix nitrogen and it likes the hot weather. It also is a vigorous grower that should shade out weeds and can only produce seed in warm climates like Hawaii and South Africa so we won’t have to worry about it becoming a weed. We will be hosting a NOFA twilight meeting on August 11th to discuss the possibilities of what it can do. Speaking of NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers Association) I will put in a plug for the organization. The Whole Foods Market is having a 5% day on June 16th. They will donate 5% of their profits that day to NOFA NJ. So if you shop at Whole Foods or want to try them out that is a good day to go there and spend a few bucks!

In closing I want to remember a long time garden member who recently died, Juanita LoPresti. She was a great woman who was always very supportive of the CSG. She will be missed. Our good thoughts go out to her family. And as you may or may not know Rover the wonder dog died this past spring. He patrolled the big fields for nearly 14 years. He was at least 16 and he is missed sorely, but not by the ground hogs!

Thanks for being part of it.

–Mike Baki, Head Gardener

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April 28, 2010

Dear Shareholders,

The CSG at Genesis Farm will be having its annual Open House on May 1, from 10:30 to 1:30 pm. This event is geared toward new and prospective members, so if you know someone who’s thinking about joining or just interested in what we do, this would be an ideal time to bring them! We will have tours and a sampling of some of our food. If possible, let us know ahead of time if you plan on attending so we can better anticipate how many to expect. The phone number at the garden house is 908-362-7486.

Shares are available for the 2010-11 season. Help spread the word; information and commitment forms are available online at our website, csgatgenesisfarm.com, or by calling the garden house at 908-362-7486.

The last winter pickup share is Friday, April 30.

Pickup shares for the 2010-11 season begin the week of May 18th. Pickup schedules will be sent prior to that week.

Happy Spring!

–The Gardeners

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March 2010

Dear Shareholders,

Hi everybody. The winter share is wrapping up and spring feels like it’s rolling through like a runaway train. The fruit trees are pruned and the greenhouse is full of seedlings growing fast. It’s been hot so far and that is pushing things along rather quickly. Tomatoes are going into greenhouse beds next week hopefully. This year we are trying grafted tomatoes. With grafted tomatoes, a vigorous disease-resistant rootstock tomato variety is mated with the top of a tomato variety whose fruit you want, resulting in (hopefully) a more vigorous, healthier, and longer bearing plant. This is practiced extensively in Japan and is popular among market growers here in the states. I am excited at the prospect of getting you tomatoes earlier in the season than usual, and continuing them for longer into the fall. If anyone is interested in learning more about it, check out www.johnnyseeds.com and go to their video section for a ten-minute video overview of the process.

I don’t know what else to say. I’m looking forward to another great season here. Thanks!!

–Steve the Apprentice

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February 8, 2010

Dear Shareholders,

The snow is blowing every which way as I sit at my desk this Saturday morning. The trees are bending. Snow swallows sound. Last summer one of the apprentices asked me if I thought the same ‘wind’ comes back again. Hmmm. I’m still thinking about that one.

As I watch the snow deepen I wonder how to ‘think spring’. I only know that on March 1, Mike, Smadar, Steve and I will convene in the Gardenhouse at 8 a.m. and begin the 2010 season.

January and February are active for us – ordering supplies, working on the budget, doing outreach for new members, and ordering seeds. We have more of an independent schedule thus having time for travel and visiting with friends and family. Steve has been quite busy working on the barn at Chan’s, removing and replacing floors and shoring up the foundation. Stop by to see the improvements, it’s looking great. And visit the chickens while you’re there. You’ll find them behind the barn.

The seed order is a big part of January. We take over the kitchen table in the Gardenhouse filling it with catalogues, order forms, field maps, records from past years, cups of coffee and tea – and a dark chocolate bar now and then. We inventory the seeds left from last year and check the ‘Relative Life Expectancy’ (RLE). The germination rate of a seed drops as it gets older if it’s stored at an average seasonal temperature. The RLE is different with each seed. For example, parsley seed is good for 1 year while lettuce seed can last as long as 5 years. This does not mean that one-year-old parsley seed will not germinate at all. It means that the germination rate will probably drop. The seed we buy has the germination rate and the month and year it was packed. So if you buy seed from a garden center, it may have at least the year it was packed. If you are interested in seeing the RLE Chart, it hangs in the Gardenhouse by the big door to the greenhouse.

We look through many seed catalogues but we specifically use: Johnny’s, Fedco and Turtle Tree Biodynamic Seed initiative. We use these companies because of their quality, consistency, reliability and mission.

Johnny’s catalogue has lots of beautiful photos. This helps especially when one is comparing varieties. They also have growing information on each vegetable such as culture, pests and seeding rates. This can be very helpful information when you find yourself scratching your head.

The Fedco catalogue has no pictures but carries the same info as Johnny’s. A really special aspect to this catalogue is that they note the supplier of each variety of seed they carry. So we know if we’re buying seed from a small seed farmer or from domestic/ foreign corporations. We base many of our choices on this information. Also Fedco is quite entertaining. The seed descriptions are conversational sounding and humorous. A good winter read (I guess).

Turtle Tree carries only open-pollinated seed. They are much smaller than the other two but carry a nice variety of seed. And they take it one step farther; they note the farm where the seed stock was grown. We grow leek, kale and larkspur out for them here at our CSG. In fact, their catalogue is there for you in the Distribution Center.

It’s so important to know where your seed comes from, just like the veggies we eat. We need to respect the integrity of each seed we plant into the soil. That seed carries the future, after all.

As a footnote, I encourage you to check out our website for a new addition thanks to Wayne Miller. On the apprentice page are ‘testimonials’ written by some of our past apprentices. It’s very nicely done. And if you know of someone who might be interested in our apprenticeship program, please have him or her call us. We do have some openings!

–Judy von Handorf, Gardener