And here we are, folks, at the end of another season, and–gulp!–the last CSA season! It sure feels like it, too, with the cooler weather this week and the steady progress we’ve been making on fall harvesting and general clean-up projects. I’m thrilled to report that all of the roots are out of the ground. Potatoes were finished up a couple weeks ago, beets by me early last week, and the carrots and parsnips were polished off by Sonya, our pal, Tonya, and I last Friday morning. Woohoo! Last fall, we ran out of time, the ground froze, and we lost some carrots and taters. Not this time…
And, as proof that though the CSA is ending the farm itself is most definitely not, we started planting garlic today after the morning harvest. We have a ton of gorgeous seed garlic this year, and we’re planting four or five beds in Field 3 with the stuff. Our goal is to wholesale the garlic next year and hopefully have another bumper crop of seed-quality bulbs that we can sell to other farmers and suppliers. The garlic goes into the ground in the fall, is mulched heavily, winters over, and pops in the spring. As I’ve written before, the planting of garlic in the fall is always symbolic for me, the first setting of seed for the next season…a small step into the future as we clean up the past.
On to the veggies! The final CSA share (#18) for the 2012 season includes the following:
2 lbs of russet potatoes
2 lb bag of carrots
1 lb bag of parsnips
A big choice: 1 bunch of chard -or- 1 bunch of kale -or- cabbage -or- broccoli -or- cauliflower (Friday CSAer’s: Farmers’ choice)
Choice: 1/2 lb bag of tat soi -or- spicy mixed greens (Friday CSAer’s: Farmers’ choice)
2 sweet peppers
1 hot pepper
1 sweet onion
3 heads of garlic
1/2 pint of husk cherries
Today’s harvesters and garlic planters were Glen, Anna, Brittany, and Pat…thanks, guys, and thanks to Sigrid for her help yesterday with sheep moving, pre-harvesting, and bagging on her Columbus Day off!
Our parsnips did not germinate especially well this season, so the resulting crop was disappointing. The parsnips themselves looked great…some were massive, weighing in at over a pound each…but we wish we had more of ‘em. Luckily, there was just enough to give everyone a pound for this last share. We love chopping them up and roasting them, either on their own or with potatoes. There’s nothing like the flavor of fresh parsnips!
And how was the season? When people have asked me, my stock answer has been “good”. Not bad and not great but a middle of the road “good”. The abundance of certain pests this year along with the odd alternating periods of “too dry” and “too wet” early in the season made it challenging to successfully grow certain crops. Kale and various brassicas (salad mix plantings, bok choy, Napa cabbage, etc.) took a beating from the flea beetles again this year. The big story was the explosion of squash bugs which made our zucchini season unusually short and decimated our winter squash. There were bright spots, however. The basil thrived, the tomato yields were solid, and we had the best pepper and eggplant season in 2012 that we’ve ever had. This middle-of-the-road sort of season is also reflected in the overall share value. The total value of the haul this season for full share members was $572.25, a modest return on the share cost of $525. So, good! And looking back over the past five seasons, a good season seems a good note to end on. Our first two seasons were wet and very challenging; 2010 and 2011 were great seasons, with high yields and very high overall share values. The mixed bag of 2012 doesn’t tip the balance either way and wraps things up rather neatly. This, of course, is my perspective as the grower. How about you, the consumer? How did the season go from your perspective? Were there things you especially liked or disliked about the CSA? Feel free to let us know your take on the 2012 season either right here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or by e-mail. We’re always interested in getting member feedback!
As for animal updates, I have a sad bit of news to report. As many of you perhaps know already from Facebook, our guinea, Popcorn (the lighter-colored of our duo), was struck and killed by a car last Wednesday afternoon. We assume it was an accident, yet we’re still saddened and upset by the fact that people tend to drive waaaaay too fast on Summit Spring Road. Winnie, the now lone guinea, seemed noticeably frazzled for a day or so but appears to be doing fine now, cruising around the yard for bugs and hanging around near the cars. We hope he (she?) makes it through the winter, and he might have some company soon. Popcorn’s death has prompted Sonya to start looking around on-line for more guinea keets. We’d assumed we would wait until spring, but we figure if we get them now and keep them safe and warm in the sheep shed all winter long, they’ll definitely stick around when the weather warms enough for exploring and foraging. Winnie can teach them The Ways of the Guineas. We’ll keep you posted…
So, in this final post of the final CSA cycle, I want to send out some thank yous. Big, big thanks to everyone who helped out on the farm this year. As I’ve mentioned before, we were a little worried going into the season without apprentices, but we had plenty of help right from the get-go. Between friends and family, full and partial workshare members, WWOOFers and volunteers, we had plenty of hands to get the work done. Even harvest mornings were well-covered and efficient and very fun as a result. Extra special thanks to our full workshare members, Glen and Anna, and super volunteer, Brittany. These three worked the whole season to bring in the harvests for you all. Brittany actually started with us way back in April, so she literally had a hand in just about all aspects of the season…sowing, harvesting, and everything in between. Thanks to CSA member Donna Duval for her willingness to be our Lewiston/Auburn “host” this season. If she hadn’t offered up her house as a drop-off/pick-up spot for shares every Friday, I’m not sure what we would have done! Also, thanks to Poland’s own Square Root Natural Foods and Auburn’s Axis Natural Foods for buying our produce all season long. Please support these vital and important local businesses, and you’ll be able to find our produce on their shelves for many more weeks to come this fall. We plan to continue selling veggies to them next summer, too.
Most of all, thank you to…you! To all of our CSA members, present and past, we thank you for trusting us to grow your food for you. It’s been a joy to get to know you all over these past 5 seasons, to joke around and chat during pick-ups both on and off the farm, to swap cooking and storage advice, to eat and sing with you at farm potlucks, etc. One of our main goals for the CSA was to build community, to make connections with our neighbors and provide a spot where folks could come together around the concepts of food, health, local economics, environmental awareness and responsibility, etc. We hope you enjoyed the experience, both in terms of the actual food received and consumed and in the sense of supporting local agriculture through thick and thin (those of you with us from the beginning in 2008 have seen both!) It’s meant a lot to us to be “your” farmers, and the success of the farm has been due to your trust, encouragement, and support. Thanks!
And just a reminder, folks, that our on-line forums, namely this blog and the farm’s Facebook page (349 “Likes” as of this posting!) are not going away! We plan to continue updating both pages regularly, though I suspect that for a few months at least I’ll be blogging a bit less than I have been. I look forward to more writing, though. The farm is evolving and changing, and I’m sure there will be plenty of things to talk about in the months and years ahead. Please keep on reading and commenting…we love hearing from you! Thanks again for a great season, and enjoy the veggies!