Farm News

Farmer John Writes: Believe It Or Not

Harvest Week 20, November 3rd – 9th, 2020

End of the Main Season
This week (November 3rd – 9th) is the last week of our main 20-week season. If you are not signed up for an extended season share, this week is your last delivery. If you are unsure about your delivery schedule for the rest of the season, please find your delivery schedule in your membership account at https://www.harvie.farm/member/deliveries.

For those of you who will receive your last delivery this week, thank you for being with us this season.

If You Are Signed up for the Extended Season, Please Also Check Your Delivery Schedule
If you are a shareholder who has an extended season share, we ask that you also review your delivery schedule at  https://www.harvie.farm/member/deliveries.

There was an unfortunate scheduling error in the system where some shareholders with every-other-week shares are not on the same every-other-week schedule for the extended season. We highly encourage all extended season shareholders, and particularly those with every-other-week extended season shares, to review their delivery schedules, and to reschedule their extended season shares as needed. The sooner you review your extended season delivery schedule and make any necessary delivery changes the better, as we are not able to accommodate late requests for delivery changes.

Please Consider Donating to the Angelic Organics Learning Center
The Angelic Organics Learning Center, which strives to build community, has had, as you can imagine, quite the challenge this year bringing people together under the severely constricted circumstances visited upon them by Covid-19. Haidy’s and my dear friend, Jackie de Batista, fellow farmer and executive director of the Learning Center, and her staff, have struggled valiantly to keep the mission of the Learning Center alive and viable during these times. You will receive an appeal for the Learning Center’s annual fundraising campaign along with your regular Angelic Organics newsletter in the sleeve of your vegetable box, and you will also receive a separate email appeal from the Learning Center. Please consider helping out the Learning Center with a donation.

Can You Believe the Season is Ending?
Language is a gift from our past, a legacy.  A person with a sensitivity to language who overhears talk at the box store or on the bus might conclude that our culture in general does not value our language as a gift, as a treasure. Using slurs, profanity, and reckless grammar are even a way of fitting in today, of belonging.  Words matter. This bring me to a common saying, “I can’t believe…”

When the first snow falls, I flinch when someone says, “I can’t believe it’s snowing.” What more evidence would a person need to know that it is snowing than to have snowflakes swirling down on them? There are many applications of I can’t believe: “I can’t believe he was fired.”  “I can’t believe the traffic is this bad.” “I can’t believe Halloween is already here.” “I can’t believe my house burned.” But…but…what more will it take to for this person to actually believe that his house is in ashes? To read a declaration from the fire marshal? To watch the fire on the nightly tv news?

Then we have terms like incredible and unbelievable, which also are used in inverted ways. “The show was incredible,” meaning what, that it was a great show or that the show had no credibility? “We were going 100 miles per hour. It was unbelievable,” meaning what, that the person was actually going 100 mph or she believed the speedometer was faulty?

Think of all the half-truths that people believe, and total falsehoods that people believe, but when a fact is as clear as day, a person might say “I can’t believe it.”

This is the last week of the main 2020 season. Can you believe it?

the lettuce is ending

High Stakes on Your Farm
A killing frost descended on the farm early last week.

What does that even mean, a killing frost? It sounds so decisive, so final, but really, a frost is often quite nuanced in the damage it does. The damage will depend on how low the temperature gets, how long the temperature stays in that low range, how much humidity is in the air, how wet the soil is, whether there is a wind, the elevation of the field, and the sensitivity of the crop variety to frost. Regarding just this last consideration–of crop specific frost sensitivity–there are allegedly some varieties of cabbage that will survive a fairly hard frost, and some that will succumb to a light frost—allegedly. The internet is loaded with so many half-truths and outright falsehoods, sometimes I can’t believe it.

Usually, the best place to keep the crops is right where they have been growing, in the field. But that’s only up to a certain point. Kale, most cabbage, Brussels sprouts, radishes, turnips, and arugula will endure hard frosts, depending. Notice the word depending. These are your crops. I am the steward, but I regard these crops as yours.

The way your farmer navigates frost danger is to get as many possibly-frost-vulnerable crops out of the fields and into safe storage before the frost arrives. I often don’t know exactly what a frost will kill, but I do know that the weather won’t kill anything in storage.

Of course, getting a lot of crops into storage before a frost can be daunting. We need enough storage containers, and enough storage space, and enough crew to do the job. We have a lot of storage containers and we have a lot of storage space. What about the crew?

the work starts here: lifting, bunching, cleaning, storing, packing, delivering…

The Crew
We have a great crew this season. They demonstrate believable willingness, credible skill, and enthusiasm. The crew has quite predictable hours, from around sunup on weekday mornings until 4 pm, with 40 minutes for lunch. Often they work on Saturday mornings. Very seldom, only when we are in great need do they work on Saturday afternoons. This past weekend (October 24 and 25), due to the forecasted frost, our crew worked right through the whole weekend—a full day on Saturday and a full day on Sunday. I didn’t want to ask them to do this, but, again, I am a steward of your crops–all of us here are stewards of your crops. The crew worked cheerfully and energetically on both weekend days.

Between Saturday and Sunday, they harvested tremendous volumes of head lettuce, loose leaf lettuce, pac choi, broccoli, kohlrabi, leeks, radishes, turnips, and arugula.

Weekend Harvest

A Moment
At 7 am Saturday morning, our greenhouse and dock manager Nathan confronted me. “I’ve been here since 4 in the morning. I could have been washing crates, getting things ready for the big day. Why didn’t you tell me to wash crates?”

“Well, you seldom wash crates; other people wash the crates, plus I am managing so much that I often overlook things that need to be done. Sorry.”

Later, I approached Nathan and said, “You chastised me for not giving you cold, wet work to do before the sun comes up. I think that’s pretty good, to criticize your boss for not telling you to do uncomfortable things that will help the farm.”

Farmstead at dawn when the work starts

Our Shareholders
Some of our shareholders have generously treated the crew to meals this season. This has been such a wonderful acknowledgment of the hard workers here on the farm—much appreciated by all of us.

We also deeply appreciate those of you who have chosen to not take discounts on share prices, or to take smaller discounts than the largest one offered. It’s a tough thing to keep a farm going, and money helps tremendously in that endeavor. Of course, we appreciate everyone who chooses to be a part of our farm. This year, there has been more shareholder engagement with our farm than ever before and we have been more appreciated than ever.

I Can’t Believe the Work is Winding Down
The reason I can’t believe the work is winding down here is because it isn’t. I have almost no discretionary time from March until when the season ends, so when I have discretionary time, I finally I focus on major machinery repairs and upgrades, infrastructure improvements, and systems enhancements. I’m about as busy in the off-season as I am in the growing season; I’m just busy with different things. Haidy, office manager; Nathan, greenhouse manager; Victor, machinery manager; and Pollo (Eduardo), facilities manager, are year-round employees. (Victor and Pollo have not yet admitted that they are managers, but that’s what they do, so that’s what they are.)  The winter offers them a bit more job flexibility, but overall, we stay busy with the farm, so it will run well during the growing season.

The memory of the busyness of the growing season stays with me vividly during the winter, and I indelibly know that certain important things here will never get done unless we do them in the off-season. It’s like having a light switch with two positions, on and on. We like to be ready when the next season starts.

Next Season
Speaking of the next season, you can sign up for your 2021 CSA share at https://angelicorganics.csaware.com/store/. We’d love to grow your vegetables and herbs in 2021.

Keep up with Farm News
Subscribe to Farm News so you won’t miss an issue, even the occasional issues that are published in the off-season. To subscribe to Farm News, go to Receive Our Vegetables, and fill out the Farm News subscription form in the left hand column. If you are on a mobile device, scroll down all the way to the bottom of the Receive Our Vegetables page to find the Farm News subscription form.

Warmly,
Farmer John