Here we are in June…my..my. The warmer weather is kicking up the flowers on the farm and some are blooming and ready for cutting this weekend, which is great because our CSA shareholders are back on the farm for a pickup after 2 weeks of being absent. The farm is now entering into the summer season and with that come a lot of changes around here. The spring crops are being cleared and beds re-amended for mid and late summer crops. As it is with all seasons when they begin crops come in and we wait…and wait.. Our CSA baskets will have some color in them this pickup with lots of crops that are ready to harvest. One of these crops is Carrots…there is nothing like freshly harvested carrots. They are sweet and chalk full of vitamins and minerals. We will be pulling our first carrot crop of the season this weekend so i thought it would be fun to celebrate the carrot season with market theme. Carrot bread, honey glazed walnut carrot pie and of course carrot cake jam. Next on the list of harvesting is cucumbers…pickle season! You shareholders will be getting fresh cucumbers in your basket and I will be getting to make a fresh batch of farmhouse dill pickles. Beets and Swiss Chard and yes still a little kale left…great for kale chips. There are a couple of other things this week that I am hoping most of our CSA shareholders will get…you never know if you have enough ready to harvest b the time pickups are ready. But…Blackberries and snap green beans are looking great…fennel and dill as well as broccoli side shoots. We will see how far they all go…but remember if you don’t get something this pickup…you will get it…it just takes time…it’s a farm not a store so we are all under the rules of mother nature. This will be the first CSA pickup with the market going on…wow! Y’all ain’t seen nothing yet. It is busy from the word open…So to lighten up the load I am moving our CSA into the market shed…right next to the pavilion. You baskets and sign in sheet will be there. also if you want to shop the market remember you shareholder get a 10% discount on all farm products. Flowers are starting to bloom bring your cutters..
CSA Shareholder & Farm staff writer
Behind the Scenes of a CSA
By April Patel
Ok, so you have picked up baskets a few times now. It’s starting to get a little regular for you. You know the drill: sign in, check what’s in the baskets, wait for them to be filled, ask questions about items you aren’t familiar with, snap some pictures, maybe cut some flowers, share a few smiles and hellos, and then go on your merry way. Right?
What you don’t know is what it’s like to be able to get your pick up to you each and every time. For example, did you know it takes on average 100 hours a week for the farm crew to break their backs bending over while sweating in 100 degree heat to just tend to the crops already in the field or plant new ones as old ones die off? Did you know it takes extra volunteers on pick up days just to handle the amount of work it takes to harvest, sort, fill, and hand out baskets to the share holders?
I’ve helped with several pick up and market days now and feel I can talk with some degree of authority the amount of hard work and dedication it takes to follow the CSA model. A typical pick up day starts at 7 a.m. with all hands in the field starting to harvest the items that will not will as quickly as others such as onions, radishes, beets, etc. Once harvested, each one has to be cleaned and washed, sorted, the bunched together for baskets. Each item harvested for the day will need 45 bunches to fill all the CSA baskets.
Say there are 5 radishes in each bunch, that’s 225 radishes to harvest, clean, bunch, and fill. Imagine how long that takes. Then multiply that times 10 different items, sometimes more. I have washed and cleaned so many beets, radishes, and onions that some days I don’t want to prep them when I get home! It’s a lot of work to weed a bed and keep it weeded. The raised beds on the farm take some time to keep weeded. A fast farm hand like Viki can weed several a day. I did good to get 2/3 of the way down the long flower bed by the fence line one day! Mark and Peggy are so awesome and considerate of their help. They know that once the temperature in the field hits a certain mark, it’s time to get out of the field.
Around 8 a.m. is when I show up on pick up days, then pick ups typically start at 9 a.m. That hour between 8 and 9 is pretty crazy. Viki, Peggy, and Mark are all harvesting and scurrying to get things setup so we can start assembling baskets. The first wave of people starts promptly at 9 and there is usually no chance to breathe until about 11. We only harvest about 10-15 baskets worth of an item at a time to help with things staying fresh and not wilting.
Let me just interject a personal note here, for those of you who don’t pick up your baskets and you are expected, please make every effort to show up. Not only is the work, time, and effort wasted, but the produce ruins, too. Once you cut something from the field it has to be used or thrown away. Throwing something away that’s not picked up completely goes against the grain of the CSA food model.
The CSA food model is about the relationship between the grower and the community. It’s a symbiotic relationship that is only successful when each side grows, learns, and works together. Everyone shares environmental, social, and health concerns regarding food sources. Consumers and farmers work together on behalf of the Earth and each other. While the farmer is tending the Earth on behalf of others, consumers share the costs of supporting the farm and share the risk of variable harvests. CSA is not about cheap food or convenient food which is usually neither nourishing nor grown with care of the environment in mind. The CSA food model is about each of us being responsible.