Getting Ready for CSA Season

Late night produce washing (fall, 2016)

What does it take to get another CSA season off the ground? Energy, money, and the right frame of mind.

Let’s start with energy. Now that I’m 40 I’m pretty sure that I don’t have the same amount of energy as when I started our CSA at the ripe age of 27. And I certainly don’t have the grand sense of adventure of 24-year-old Ryan, who, as an apprentice at Foxtail Farm, looked forward to his second season like a new rock band firing up the van for their second world tour. Lately, all this heat and dry conditions have been testing my energy as we dash to keep ahead of weeds and weepy plants.

Next, money. Ah, yes, the dreaded thing we Midwesterners often shy away from. I think for folks from the outside, a produce farm looks pretty simple, you know, a bigger version of anybody’s home garden. In many respects, it’s highly complicated and certainly one the highest input or expensive farms per acre you can find, especially when certified organic.  So far this season I guesstimate that about $23,000 has gone out the door.  The big checks were for a new greenhouse (which I’ve yet to finish) at nearly $10,000 and a new tiller at $5,000, but a bunch of others are pretty common no matter the season:

  • $3,500: organic seeds – crazy when you think that we only plant 4 acres
  • $1,700: organic fertilizer
  • $770: organic certification fees
  • $600: propane 
  • $600: waxed CSA boxes
  • And the list goes on…you get the idea
Lastly, and probably the most important, is getting in the right frame of mind. I think anybody can relate, whether you’re running 5k or expecting 20 guests for a big holiday dinner, the ability to get your head in the game is critical to success. 
Only in the past week, over 3 months since we planted our first seeds for the summer season, have I been getting there. I almost need a little panic to give me the adrenaline I need to go ‘all in’  on the season. I received my warning shot this past week as pretty much every inch of ground has begun sprouting weeds and the plants are almost screaming for water in the hot, 20 mph wind. Game on, Ryan!

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