Farmer John Writes about Bounty & the Box
Welcome to our Twenty-First Harvest Week, the First Week of the Extended Season
Make Sure You are Supposed to be Picking Up a Box this Week
Check your record at http://angelicorganicsfarm.csasignup.com/login to confirm whether you are signed up for an Extended Season Share.
This has been a most splendid fall! It reminds me of the fall in 1976, when we were able to build fence in shortsleeves into the end of October. The fence still stands, still keeps in the Learning Center pigs and cattle—goats, too.
I have written many times about my commitment to your box being full. One person on the pack line is dedicated exclusively to making sure that your box is full. Occasionally, I get complaints from shareholders who say the boxes are not as full as they used to be. We can’t fill them any fuller without crushing the contents. This makes me wonder if some people are rifling through the boxes at their site, taking more than their share. I can’t figure out any other way that the boxes could be less full than in past years. I will note, as I have mentioned in past newsletters, that certain crops were not as abundant this year as they have been in other years. If you get a half share, you might have missed getting some crops that normally would find their way into both odd and even weeks boxes. I’ll add, though, that other crops have made up for this shortfall, so the quantity has not been less, but the composition of crops has been different than in a more average season. Tomatoes were disappointing; the winter squash looked great all season, but several varieties yielded much less than usual; bunching chard, spinach, fall bunching radishes and turnips all yielded less than usual. But other crops have made up for the shortfall, such as potatoes, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, baby greens, kohlrabi, choi, Chinese cabbage, and daikons. Think of belonging to a CSA as an adventure, and know that we are doing our utmost always to provide you with the best possible box, brimming with variety and freshness.
I’ll add here that many CSA’s do not necessarily offer a full box. They offer what’s available that week, and that might not fill the box. We could be that kind of a CSA, too. It’s actually not a bad or unjust policy, as it takes a lot of extra planning and coordination to have the box exactly full week after week; we’re a farm, not a factory. It’s possible, for our extended season shares, that your box won’t be crammed full. It probably will be crammed full, but it might not be. It might be an inch or a half-inch from the top. It’s strange that I’m writing this, because Haidy and I just did a field walk yesterday. After last week’s rain and the many unusually warm days we have been having recently, the baby greens and the lettuce jumped. The broccoli will probably sprout many side shoots still. We have a fluffy kale top to go into each box until season’s end. But, when I looked under the frost protection covers, I saw some yellowing of the bottom leaves on the lettuce. Immediately, I began to wonder: how many of these leaves will we need to take off to get a presentable head of lettuce? How much will that impact box volume? Then I wondered about the broccoli side shoots, even though it had rained recently and the weather is warm. Last year, we had an astounding proliferation of side shoots in the fall broccoli—this year, we’ve had an average number of side shoots, maybe a bit below average. This is the way of your farmer, to be in a continual question of do we have enough? Do we have too much?
A farm consultant said to me earlier this season, “Wow, do you spoil your shareholders! I know of no other CSA that designs their program around box volume.”
Most of you know that I love bounty, as did my mother. From the early 50’s on, when we had bumper crops of corn or oats, she took her little 8 mm camera out and filmed the harvests. She celebrated bounty. For those of you who have seen The Real Dirt on Farmer John, you get glimpses of this bounty from another era—my sister Carol running behind the windrower in the golden ripe oats, your little Farmer John carrying huge ears of corn out of the field…I strive to make each crop bountiful, and each box bountiful. I revel in gazing at fields that are rich with bounty, and I want to pass the feeling on to our shareholders, the feeling that there is plenty, that the world can overflow with luscious sustenance.
My Two Favorite Things about our CSA (I’m including this from last week, in case you didn’t see it.)
What I love most about our CSA are: 1) growing things and 2) providing our shareholders with a direct experience of our farm. My mother loved farms. I love farms. I love that I can offer a direct, personal experience of our farm to you, through our box of vegetables, the newsletter, our field days, the U-Pick garden, and, of course, through the Angelic Organics Learning Center. I want the whole world to be excited about farms.
Zachary’s Favorite Things about Farms
I met 11 year old Zachary at the Angelic Organics Learning Center’s Stateline Farm Beginnings class last Saturday. He was accompanying one of his parents who had signed up for the class. Zach brimmed with enthusiasm during the 1 hour tour of the farmstead that I offered. After everyone else had gone back to the loft for more class discussion, Zach remained behind—he had something to tell me: “Do you know how incredible it is that you have lived here all your life and you farm and you make huge things happen every day? I love farms. I love everything about farms–pigs, cows, chickens, crops…everything. It’s just so incredible to be here!”
I asked Zach if he went on the Internet, as I wanted to direct him to our web page and another farm’s web page. He said, “I’m really too busy to spend much time on the Internet. I have things to do. You go on the Internet and then you don’t get anything else done.”
I gave Zach a copy of the The Real Dirt on Farmer John and invited him to come back in the spring when we are ramping up in the fields. I told him that maybe he could work here some day.
2016 Shares & Beyond (I’m including information about next year, in case you didn’t see it yet.)
Last week, there was a 2016 & Beyond Signup Form front and center in the box, but if you receive a half share on the odd week, you didn’t receive it. If you think you’ll be with us again in 2016, this is a good time to sign up, due to the discounts offered. You can still get a good discount on home delivery; as time passes, the home delivery discount will shrink further. For those of you who have already signed up for 2016 and perhaps beyond, thank you! Go to www.angelicorganics.com/receive-our-vegetables/ to learn about our Pre-Season 2016 Discount & Beyond.
If you feel you will be staying with Angelic Organics beyond 2016, you might at this time like to sign up for a multi-year share, which is also offered in the sign-up form. Future years are substantially discounted, and offer a great way to secure nutritious, organic food long term. A long term CSA commitment is a healthy way to contribute to both your family and the farm.
Community Site Pickup Times in 2016
We will probably be expanding the 2016 pickup windows beyond their current timeframes. We’re not sure yet how that will look, but we want more shareholder-friendly time windows for picking up. Of course, the pickup windows have to also be friendly to our hosts and to our delivery people, so it takes quite a bit of thought and negotiation to optimize our pickup times. Stay tuned on this effort. We might be able to offer an exciting new feature, but I don’t want to write more about it now—best to wait until we find that we can actually roll it out.
What Else in 2016? (from Week 20 Farm News)
There are many directions that a CSA vegetable farm can go from one season to the next. I’ll focus on one of them here: what ends up in your box. As a shareholder, your primary experience of Angelic Organics is likely to be the box itself. What’s in the box? How is the quality? How is the quantity? How much of what I like is in the box? How much of what I don’t like is in the box? Do I get something too often, or not often enough?…If you didn’t see last week’s newsletter (Week 20), you might want to check it out to read the rest about this challenge/opportunity of how I play a role in your next year’s vegetable karma.
Let us Know
More from Shareholders
Visit us often at www.facebook.com/angelicorganics , where we post exciting farm developments regularly, and shareholders post recipes, tips, and photos.
Please Flatten Your Boxes Properly and Return Them, Especially if You have been Stockpiling Them
The farm re-uses the vegetable boxes. Flaps are easily torn when the boxes are dismantled improperly, and then the box bottom might later burst open with fresh, organic local produce heading towards the floor. Please flatten your box carefully. Return your empty, flattened vegetable box to your delivery site. If you receive home delivery, place your box(es) in the location where your box is delivered. If you receive fruit, you’ll need to re-cycle your fruit box on your own, as the farm does not re-use your fruit boxes.
Saturday’s Box Contents
Please Note: this summary is written before you receive your box—be aware that some guesswork is involved. What we think we’ll put in your box might not actually end up in your box. As always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables, and remember to sort through your baby greens to eliminate any discolored leaves or weeds.
Salad Greens – lettuce, arugula
Cooking Greens – kale
Brassicas – cabbage or Brussels sprouts
Alliums – leeks
Root Crops – daikon radishes, potatoes
Stem Crops – kohlrabi
Herbs – parsley
Thank you for being with us this year,
Farmer John and the Crew