Farmer John Writes: The Farm of Tomorrow

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 19, October 23rd – 27th, 2018

Your Box This Week – Saturday Deliveries:
Please note: this summary is written before we pack your box—be aware that some guesswork is involved. Share contents often vary over the course of the week. And, as always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

Root Crops — Potatoes, Daikon Radish

Cooking Greens — Daikon Radish Greens (a bit frost tattered), Baby Kale (also a bit frost tattered) or Kale Tops

Brassicas — Brussels Sprouts (read more about them below), Cabbage or Cauliflower (likely)

Salad Greens — Lettuce

Alliums — Onion

For Some, the 2018 Season Ends this Week
If you receive a half share on the odd weeks–this is an odd week, Week 19–and you are not signed up for an extended season share, this is your last week to pick up a box, and your final week to return your flattened CSA boxes. Thank you so much for being a part of our farm this season.

Wondering if you have an extended season share?
To check if you have an extended season share, log in to your membership using your email address at and check under the “Memberships” tab to see your 2018 share types.

(If you land on the 2019 signup page when you click on the link above, simply click on the “Member Login” link in the left-hand column to log in to your membership.)

Another way you can find out if you have a 2018 extended season share is to check one of your pickup reminder emails from this season that is sent from email hidden; JavaScript is required. The pickup reminder email lists all share types that you have in the 2018 season.

Potato Harvest

Weather and Your Box
Temperatures dropped to 24 degrees this past weekend. I am surprised that the arugula survived. It’s a bit tattered from the frost.

The Daikon greens were also nipped a bit by frost, but they are still giveable. Next year, because we will be customizing your share, you would only receive daikon greens if you indicated that you wanted them.

Brussels Sprouts
You are receiving a so-so Brussels sprouts stalk. The Brussels sprouts got compromised due to the flooding this season. Many of the sprouts are small. Some have black outer leaves that can be peeled away to expose a nice sprout. A few of the sprouts might be unusable. Haidy and I feasted on these sprouts recently and were so delighted that I decided to give everyone a taste. Besides, with all the crop losses this season, I am not keen on abandoning this harvest.

I planted a whole extra field of broccoli late in the summer, because of our extensive crop losses from rain. We are supposed to have mild temperatures this week, so the broccoli might be ready next week. It’s forming little heads now, so I am optimistic, though we are running out of weather that ripens late crops.

There is still a bit of a lake in the middle of the broccoli field, due to the torrential rain we had over 2 weeks ago. This field rarely has water standing in it.

The standing water wiped out about ¼ of the broccoli field.

Water in broccoli field with no place to go—more than two weeks after the last big rains

New for 2019–Receive a Share Customized to Your Preferences!
In case you missed last week’s important announcement about our plan to customize shares in 2019, please check out the Week 18 issue of Farm News.

A Longtime Shareholder Writes: What Will it Be Like for the Farm to Customize Shares?

I hope you will find time to write in some future newsletter about the impact customizable boxes will have on your planning and production. I have great faith that you’ll figure it out, but it sounds really tricky. I work with our school gardens in addition to teaching, and the longer I do that the more amazing I find what you all are able to do.

With deep gratitude for all your work and care,

I love the question, Drea.

Mostly, when I mention share customization, people assume the biggest challenge will be to custom pack each box. I don’t think that custom packing will turn out to be the biggest challenge. I have been dreaming about customizing the shares since the 90’s, so I have thought through the packing logistics from many angles. I’m excited to test out my ideas for custom packing.

I think the biggest challenge will be to predict accurately enough how much of a crop is available for each pack day. Fortunately, there are safeguards in the Harvie system for being off in the prediction. Even if a crop is suddenly completely lost after it is projected to be available for a pack, there are safeguards in place in the system so as not to derail the pack. (The weather this year was such that a crop could be beautiful one day and ungiveable the next day.)

Whatever challenges and surprises the customization process provides us, they will be mild compared to how much work we have been doing to grow crops that aren’t wanted. Imagine if an average of 25% of what we have been putting in a shareholder’s box was unwanted. That’s a huge amount of work we have been doing to provide our shareholders with things that disappoint them. Even if an average of 10% of what we have been putting in the boxes has disappointed our shareholders, that’s so much work we’ve been doing on the farm that has contributed to food waste and shareholder attrition. Granted, many of our shareholders like everything that comes in their box in the current system, or like the challenge of learning to like what’s in their box. (With the Harvie platform, these shareholders can still opt for the surprises.)

Overall, though, the biggest reason that shareholders stop being shareholders is that they have been getting too much of what they don’t want and that has lead to food waste. Those days will be over after this season. Our attention will henceforth go into providing our shareholders with what they want.

The Future of the Farm
My young shareholder friend Jo Haas, who I have mentioned several times in Farm News, shared this:

I believe that this new development at the farm will be very beneficial for all involved. It will bring a new advancement to the farm that we could have never imagined. This is a very appropriate step to take after your “the World of Tomorrow” party, because we are moving into the future of the farm.
– Jo Haas

More Ideas (not mine) about Modern Food Production
The Future of Food: Exploring Agtech Farming | Counting the Cost (Feature)

Clean Meat is an Interesting Term
Check out How the United States can Remain a World Leader in Agriculture (not my title)

A Bot in Every Home?
This Robotic Farming System Could Be the Answer to Labor Shortages Hydroponics startup Iron Ox is automating indoor produce farming. This article made me pause to wonder what people think of as local. Is eating local about food miles? Is it about eating from the local soil and climate? Both? 

The Forces in Food
All three of the articles above made me wonder what people think food is. My out-of-print cookbook (Farmer John’s Cookbook) focused on the forces in food, not the substance. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner presented a series of lectures that make up the Agriculture Course, which is the basis for Biodynamics. Steiner noted how the diminishing forces in food even back then were making humanity weaker and less able to activate their will forces. I wonder about the forces in the food grown by robots in sterile and clean environments. It will look like food, taste like food, but will it carry the appropriate forces? Our Biodynamic farming practices at Angelic Organics are intended to enliven and harmonize the forces in food.

Farmer John


Angelic Organics Learning Center
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