Welcome to the 2013 Season, our 23rd Year as a CSA! 1st Harvest Week: Tue-Sat Delivery, June 11 thru 15, 2013

Farmer John Writes…

Welcome to the 2013 Season, our 23rd Year as a CSA!

We’re Happy You are with Us

From all of us at Angelic Organics, thanks for being with us this year. All through last year’s spring (and most of the summer), we were faced with extreme heat and drought. This year, we have had persistent rains and cold, with 2 recent hard frosts (which we were fortunately protected against.) Many of the early crops love this weather (if you can get them into the often muddy ground), such as lettuce, broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, baby salad greens, hence your lovely first box.

Make Sure you Sign up for Your Free Recipe Service with Local Thyme. 

Check your weekly email from the farm for how to sign up.

Stories and Articles to Take the Place of Recipes in this Year’s Farm News

Since our shareholders will have access to timely recipes, storage tips and more through Local Thyme, we will typically not be featuring recipes on the back page of our Farm News this season. We will be using the back page for other types of communication: stories, photos, maybe a relevant re-run of a former newsletter article from the 90’s, etc.

Want to Contribute to Farm News?

If you’d like to submit a story (600 to 800 words) about your shareholder experience, farm volunteering, a Learning Center program you loved, or your hosting of a delivery site, send it to email hidden; JavaScript is required with the subject: My Submission to Farm News. Photos are also welcome.

How we Fashioned a Miracle out of a Very Difficult Spring

You probably know we had a challenging spring, because you also live in upper Midwestern weather. We usually have about 9 days in April when we can get into the fields. This year, we had 3 days in April when we could get into the fields, and 1 1/2 of those days were a Saturday afternoon and Sunday, when our crew almost never ever works (but this time they did!) If the crops don’t get planted on time, the lateness will chase a farm for the whole season.

Iron

If you drive into our farmstead and gaze at our lineup of equipment, and if you have a mind for this sort of thing, you might wonder, “why do they have all this equipment for 30 acres of vegetables?” One reason we have so much equipment is that we strive to reduce the amount of labor that goes into the work of growing vegetables for over 1600 families. Another reason is that I like equipment, and I have a fabulous team here, Primo Briano and Pollo Casique, who maintain and operate it. And a huge reason why we have so much equipment is because every so often a season like this one comes along, and we have to be able to do in 3 days what we would normally do in 9 days. This takes a lot of iron (as tractors are often referred to, in conversation that goes something like “what kind of iron does he have on that place?”)

We have a lot of iron on this farm; that’s why you’re receiving a full box this week. We also have a lot of irrigation capacity, which is why our shareholders received full boxes last year. I’ve been criticized for both our enormous irrigation capacity and our large assortment of iron. I’ve been chastised, “that’s your ego at work, buying big equipment to impress people.”

Sure, I like gazing out at ample machinery near the farm buildings, but I like a whole lot more when that equipment is roaring down the field in a wet year, helping to make the boxes full for our shareholders, or when that high powered irrigation gun is saving the crops in a historic year of drought.

Making sure the boxes are full requires being prepared for the bad years. It requires imagining how bad the weather can be, not sugar-coating the prospects or “thinking positive” about what weather might be coming our way. It requires a straightforward examination of what weather can be, sprinkling in a dash or two of paranoia, and acquiring iron and irrigation capacity accordingly.

transplantingOur current Facebook Cover Photo: three transplanting teams and lots of iron are pressed into service to beat the rain. Sweet corn, lettuce, fennel, leeks, chard, kale, and U-Pick flowers…tens of thousands of seedlings went from wagon to soil today before the afternoon rains. Crew members Eric (left) and Victor lean into the work. Growing Manager Chris Voss (left), 20 year farm veteran Primo (center, in profile, in the John Deere), and Biodynamic Practitioner Andrew Stewart run the iron.

It Takes More than Iron

It’s not just about iron. We could have lots of good iron here and still not get the job done on time in an inclement year.

* Fields need to have been prepared the prior year for this season, so that the compost application, subsoiling, cover cropping, and bed layout is done well ahead of time…a season in advance.

* The field plans have to be solidly in place, so we aren’t wondering what to put where, how deep and how far apart, when the time comes to plant.

* A willing, proficient crew is needed, a crew that can jump into the work and fly through the tasks. Our crew and managers are remarkably exuberant and efficient.

* There has to be enough greenhouse capacity to hold a huge backlog of seedlings, but…we don’t have that much greenhouse capacity. We loaded thousands of overflowing transplants onto wagons and trailers, and finessed them under roofs and into heated shelters when the rains and hard frosts threatened. Then, when the weather allowed, we tucked them into the fields in a flamboyant fury.

* Sensitive crops have to be protected from frosts with row covers–that’s acres of crops here. But, when really hard frosts threaten, one layer of row covers is not enough. We had enough row cover on hand, and enough crew power available, to double cover all the crops that were threatened by frost. We double covered ahead of the frosts on two different occasions. Send your awe–inspired comments thanking the crew for saving the crops to our stellar growing manager Chris Voss <email hidden; JavaScript is required>.

GPS, A Gift from the Sky in a Wet Year 

In a dry year, we have the option of doing field work almost always; we can easily stay on time. In a wet year, the fields are muddy and hard to work. But, we have an edge in a wet year, a modern edge; it’s precision farming with GPS.  The whole farm is on a grid that creates exact continuity in bed layout year after year; our growing beds are laid out to the inch. Our tractors go down the exact paths this spring that were laid out last year when we created our beds for the upcoming year: the tractor tires stay exactly in the compacted tracks of last year. Think of these tracks as narrow driveways or pathways running parallel on 6-foot centers through each field, lining up exactly between the beds on which we grow our crops. The compaction the wheels made in the fields last year stays compact this year, creating narrow (14″) driveways or pathways that can support our tractors in the wet ground. If we didn’t have GPS and have our farm laid out in this precise grid, we would not have been able to do the fieldwork in a timely way this year. The fields were often dry enough (barely) to seed or transplant, but not dry enough to hold up our tractors, except in between the beds where last year’s compacted wheel tracks are. (It’s also why our rows are so straight.)

We hope you enjoy your first box of the season.

Warmly,
Farmer John and the Crew at Angelic Organics

Upcoming at the Angelic Organics Learning Center

Our sister organization Angelic Organics Learning Center offers you many interesting ways to connect more deeply to the farm and the local food system with their fabulous class offerings – for children, adults and families.

Be one with the veggie fields saluting the sun with Yoga on the Farm from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM on Wednesdays – same day as your CSA box pick-up.  Drop-ins welcome.

Send your kids to Farm Day Camps and they’ll learn how fun and rewarding meaningful work can be!  The kids will explore the creek, care for the animals, tour the veggie fields, garden, prepare organic food from the farm, and more.  There are still a few sign-ups available.

Curious about the unique animals on the farm?  You can spend the whole day learning about the goats, chickens, Scottish Highland cattle, pigs, horse, bees, and worms at Animal Day for Families on June 22nd.

Find additional information on these and other classes and register online at http://www.learngrowconnect.org/event.

Box Contents

Please Note: this summary is written before you receive your box—please be aware that some guesswork is involved. As always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

Brassicas – maybe broccoli

Fruiting Crops – maybe zucchini

Cooking Greens – Swiss Chard, Pac Choi

Alliums – Scallions

Salad Greens – 3 heads of lettuce, arugula, & a lb. of spinach

Root Crops – baby turnips, small beets

Herbs – basil, oregano, cilantro, sage

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Showing 2 comments
  • Nancy Melvin
    Reply

    Thank you for all the information about our vegetables. Thanks to you we get to eat in consciousness of the season, the freshest possible meal. Again, thank you all.

  • Karen O Fort
    Reply

    Delicious!

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