I think we’re all feeling a warmer sun and feeling good about the longer days. Despite a few inches falling last night and more forecast for the week, spring is looking to be sprung pretty soon. That means I’m taking on members for the 2023 CSA season.
If you were an 2022 member, you should have already gotten an email, but I’m limiting the number of CSA shares for the 2023 season to 40 boxes with pickups only at Manna Food Co-op and at the farm on Mondays. This will be a big change from past years, but this change up is for good reason.
For 20 years I’ve been duct-taping the farm together each summer to keep the show on the road and get these CSA boxes out the door. Vegetable production is generally tough on soils and I’ve been observing some more and more soil issues the last couple of years. I wouldn’t be much a sustainable farmer if I just ignored the problems. Instead, I really need to focus on some soil building and some of the many little farm projects I’ve had accumulating over the years. This just takes time. Throw in a laundry list of unfinished construction and farm improvement projects, and something has to give.
I hope with a smaller CSA load for this year that we’ll have a nice reset, improve some weak areas in the fields, and make some necessary improvements so we can get back better in 2024.
So, at this point in early March we still have 20 shares left for 2023 and invite you to join us. If CSA is not in the cards, we will still be operating the 24/7 farm stand and be at the Pelican Market on Friday evenings like years past.
I’ve been starting every Monday the same for 4 months. I sit down in this same chair in the corner of the living room and try to think of something interesting to share. At times I rack my brain to spin some excellent yarn, but mostly I puke up words for about 20 minutes of whatever pops in my mind, almost like I’m doing an exercise in a writing workshop.
The last blog topic of the season is always known, however, as I’ve been doing a season recap on the last week since I started blogging in 2006.
From my vantage as the farmer, we had some good and bad this season, a mixed bag typical of every season. In the good category, I’m setting melons, tomatoes, beets, carrots, and winter squash. We had some well-timed rains early in the season and good pollination. The field tomatoes especially had an amazing yield. Melons actually got mostly mulched this year between the plastic mulch which gave them the clean bed necessary to vine out well. I even remembered to give them water early in the season.
The big miss of the year was the onion crop. I essentially grew about 10,000 golf balls. This is something I heard from other gardeners and I can’t really say how the weather impacted it. I do know that I there are a couple areas of fields that just didn’t have the fertility they should and that certainly impacted the onions planted there, plus the spring cole crops. I’m looking to get a cover crop on that area to improve it. A couple minor crops croaked in the field (pretty typical), but, because they are minor, I don’t think they were missed too much. I could have done some better hoeing and weed control, but I’ve had that thought every year I’ve done this.
All told, I felt pretty good about the season and I just wanted to thank all members who joined us and all those who helped make it happen, including Apprentice Archer, my family, and those who jumped in the fray off and on.
I hope the CSA worked for you and your family and maybe you’ll join us next year. I will be doing a 2-delivery fall CSA share for $150. These will be a big double-box pickups on Oct. 30 and just before Thanksgiving on Nov. 20. I’ll email all current CSA members about it. I MAY bring back the winter share which will continue Dec through Feb, but I’m taking taking life one step at a time.
In the box:
Sunshine koboocha squash: The red one…similar to a buttercup.
Carnival squash: Multi-colored on…this is both really pretty and sweet. A sweet dumpling variety, it’s similar in texture and color to an acorn.
I don’t have much to say today. I’m off for three days in Duluth for my day job at U of M Extension tomorrow. So time is of the essence and I have to pound out today’s box in order to get tomorrow’s ready for 6 am deliveries in Fergus and Pelican. Yes, Tuesday people, you can pick up you box early tomorrow.
In the box:
Delicata Sqush: The little yellow one with green stripes.
Spaghetti Squash: The yellow oblong one.
Buttercup Squash: The dark green one with a nub on the bottom.
Butternut Squash: The big tan one.
Halalred Apples: This is a multi-purpose apple that is good for cooking, pies, sauce.
Red Daikon: One of the prettiest-colored veggies I’ve grown. Use as you would any radish or daikon.
Lettuce: Luck of the draw….some greenleaf, some oakleaf, red butterhead, but all lettuce.
A couple slicing tomatoes
Hakurai Summer Turnip: This is for fresh eating, not unlike a radish (it looks like a white radish). Very mild, slice, salt and eat as you would a kohlrabi.
I remained huddled behind my second coffee this morning a bit longer than normal. “Man, the sun isn’t up yet?” I kept asking myself. I just couldn’t rise to the occasion of 40 degrees and dark.
It may not be conducive to my morning energy, but this same change of the season also brings such beauty. The reds and oranges to the tree canopy, the smell of my neighbor’s wood stove wafting across the field, and the sound of corn being chopped for silage. Throw in an evening or two in the sauna and the season of slow down begins.
I have to learn that autumn winds are not trying to sabotage; their message is to rest and prepare for the deep sleep of winter.
“Tough season, huh?” “I hope you get through it…maybe next year will be easier.”
These are just a couple of reactions from those who regularly ready my newsletter when I see them in person. I am always assuring them that, actually, this year is pretty good-WAY better than last year with the drought! These exchanges have made me realize that I’m apparently too pessimistic in my writing, focusing on problems around here and not giving a balanced view of farming.
An ode to the joys of farming and the beautiful fall we’ve enjoyed – perfect 70’s with sprinklings of rain:
This morning as I stepped out my door, my first image was a sandhill crane flying low over the front field greens until the dogs charged into action, barking to remove the intruder.
No mind. A simple turn of the wing and a little lift – the crane on his way.
The ground blanketed with dew shone with the rise of a lazy sun.
I made way to the packing shed before my family awoke.
All was right with the world in the silent morning save underwater rumble of roots in the sink as I turned them over in my cleaning.
In three hours the packing shed was ordered, the boxes set up, and all the veggies already harvested were cleaned. Bins set on the tables awaiting their final destination. As I sit here now, writing this imagery of the morning, I know that this is the blessing of farming. Bringing a living object to its optimal fruition, a finished product that is tangible, good, and beautiful, all the while surrounded by nature, family, and sky. Like you, although the issues of the day overtake my mind most of the time, in the end there’s a strong and heartfelt reason I do what I do. More often than not, that reason derives from this everyday romance of farming more than any ‘good reason’ I my rational mind may submit.
In the box:
Alpine Daikon Radish
A couple Slicing Tomatoes
Cucumber or Two
Saladnova Lettuces: These lettuces are a mix of types and you may have a green oakleaf or a red lollo in your couple. Don’t worry, they are all just lettuce.