Farmer John Writes: About the Extended Season

Extended Season Week 1, November 6th – 10th, 2018

Your Box This Week – All Delivery Days:
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 (maybe), Daikon Radish

Cooking Greens — Kale Tops

Brassicas —Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts (maybe)

Salad Greens — Baby Lettuce (maybe)

Alliums — Onion, Garlic

Last Week Was the Final Delivery of the Season for Many Shareholders
This is the first week of our extended season deliveries. If you are not signed up for an extended season share, please do not pick up a box during our extended season deliveries. If you pick up a box on the wrong week, it will cause a shortage at your pickup site. Please make sure that your name is on the checklist at your pickup site before taking home a box.

If you are unsure whether you have an extended season share, log in to your membership using your email address at www.angelicorganicsfarm.csasignup.com/login and look under the “Memberships” tab. Or look at one of your pickup reminder emails from this season which is sent from email hidden; JavaScript is required. The weekly pickup reminder emails list all of the share types that you have in the 2018 season.

A Lean Box This Week
It’s not a stellar box this week; it’s lacking in quality and quantity—except for the garlic. We’re happy to have two bags of garlic to add to your box to compensate for the box shortcomings. Next week’s box will be similarly lean, and similarly fortified with garlic.

Garlic Cloves

Brassicas
In general, the broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage cannot hold up well in persistently wet conditions, like we have had this season and last season. We have been waiting and watching and then waiting for the green cabbage heads to form. Some of them finally sort of formed. Many hardly formed. The cabbage roots could not breathe in the incessant mud. Do we put them in your box? Well, I suppose we do, because the cabbage leaves are mostly nice and will make nice wraps. Check out www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cabbage-wraps/

The quality of the Brussels sprouts declined markedly these past few weeks. I wasn’t sure whether to put them in your box, but some of the stalks had okay enough Brussels sprouts. You may receive a nice stalk of sprouts, or you may receive a marginal stalk. 

The Fall Challenge
With the weather so dreadful in recent months, we had to prioritize harvest over all else—tractors and trucks getting stuck, crew wading through mud a foot deep, washing caked mud off of crops. Finding windows of weather in which to seed crops to augment fall shortages was almost impossible. The ground had to be dry enough, and there had to be crew availability to do the seeding or transplanting in that dry window. I was thrilled that we actually seeded and transplanted large amounts of acreage to minimize the anticipated late season shortage, but so much of this ground ended up getting flooded out or just stayed so soggy that the crops could not flourish.

Storage Impacts
Due to the soggy weather, the storage life of carrots, winter squash, potatoes and celeriac was quite reduced. Additionally, the yields of carrots, beets and celeriac were especially compromised by the floods. That’s quite a list.

The Money Math
I plant 10% more than what I think will be needed to fill your boxes. That’s how 2018 started out. Over the course of the season, with all the crops I plowed under, re-seeded, re-planted, and sometimes re-seeded and re-planted again, I probably planted 30% more crops than what would normally have filled your box. It took a lot of time and money to make this happen. The CSA money model does not make a provision for this enormous extra costly effort of the farmer to compensate for the weather miseries. 

We typically make good share sales from people who join us after the season starts and sign up for shorter-season shares. This year the weather was too uncertain to promote the sale of extra shares after the beginning of the season. We only sold a few.

We normally sell 200 to 300 additional extended season shares to current shareholders in late summer, early fall. This year, we didn’t make any extended season shares available during this time frame, in anticipation of sparse crops at season’s end.

Too Much Complaining?
I’ve been told the farm should be a bright, cheery, hopeful spot in the lives of our shareholders. I agree to an extent, but there also needs to be room for the truth, especially in a severe year like this.

Shareholders
For the most part, you shareholders have been gloriously appreciative for what you have received this season. Thank you. It has been perhaps the most challenging season for me ever. I have given it my all to keep you fed. As we enter the extended season, the shortages of crops are quite glaring, so again I note that we are fortunate to have garlic to augment your share. Garlic is a high value and highly prized crop.

No 3rd or 4th Box this Extended Season
A shareholder wrote me and said, to paraphrase, “do not buy in crops if you cannot fill the boxes this season. It is our responsibility as shareholders to share the good and the bad with you.” Much appreciated.

We do not have enough produce to provide you with a third or fourth box this extended season. We only have enough produce to partially fill the boxes the first and second week. We are offering you two bags of garlic this week and next week to soften the blow of no 3rd and 4th week extended season deliveries. Since garlic is such a high value crop, we hope that it will make up for cutting the season short. 

Last year, I spent $15,000 dollars bringing in crops from other local organic farms to top off the last box of the extended season. I am not able to do that this extended season, as I have already spent many tens of thousands of dollars extra doing my utmost to salvage as much as possible from this season’s offerings. 

I have given every ounce of energy and care to coax crops out of the almost impossible conditions all season long. I have done my very best. Haidy and I considered rolling a credit forward to 2019 to make up for the early suspension of the extended season, but we have decided not to do it, because of the enormous effort and expenditure the farm has endured to provide what it has provided this year in addition to the added complications of determining all those refunds and/or credits.

If you have an extended season fruit share, please wait to hear from us about how we’ll deal with it.

If you have scheduled a replacement box for the 3rd or 4th week of the extended season, our office assistant Denise will contact you about rescheduling.

An Excerpt from the Shareholder Agreement
Shared Risk; Shared Reward

The farm does its very best to bring me a beautiful and bountiful box each week, but since the farm’s boss, Nature, provides no guarantees — the farm can’t offer any either. One of the premises of a Community Supported Agriculture program is that I share, through the vegetables, the farmer’s experience of Nature’s blessings and mischief.”

From a Shareholder
“Thank you for a wonderful four months of vegetables, Farmer John.  The 2018 season’s bounty was amazingly delicious. My family is now disappointed when I don’t have “farm fresh” goodies to offer them, so am excited and grateful for your 2019 delicacies. Thank you for all that you do! Best, Kim”

Thanks to so many of you for the great notes of encouragement, support and appreciation during this demanding season.

What’s in a Name?
I wrote about a friend with a potential squash problem in Farm News, Week 20. Here is the sequel:

Hannah: I’m newsletter famous!!! Feel free to also mention in a future newsletter that, while my love of your spaghetti squashes is based purely on their unique existence, I appreciated them even MORE with my diagnosis of gestational diabetes – I already loved utilizing them in comfort food dishes and the fact I was able to eat them without fear of spiking my blood glucose meant they were ever more dear to my heart. In fact, they were the star players in my birthday dinner this year as this baby is quite happy just swimming around in utero. (Today marks week 41 of pregnancy – no baby yet!)

Me: Are you going to name the baby Spaghetti? Or Spaghetti Squash? https://news.abs-cbn.com/lifestyle/01/10/14/meet-siblings-macaroni-85-spaghetti-88-sincerely-yours-98


Hannah: Baby Spaghetti Squash!

Hannah’s Baby Does Not Look Like a Spaghetti Squash

Warmly,
Farmer John

 

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  • Laurel Saltzman
    Reply

    I was coming home from voting this morning and a shareholder was picking up her box. I introduced myself as did she. She also said this was her first year as a shareholder. The first thing I said was, This season is so unusual! I have never seen a season quite like this one. As we were speaking another shareholder came and expressed the same thoughts. She has been a member for over a decade and never experienced a season like this one. How lucky we have all been to never have “the worse”of “for better or for worse”! We both heartily encouraged the first time member not to be afraid to try again! She now has her “worse” season out of the way so only better seasons can follow.

  • Sydney
    Reply

    My understanding of a CSA is that we shareholders share the risks as well as the rewards of community supported agriculture. I’ve already purchased a couple of years in advance and am very happy with that decision–even if the next few years are this hard. I was diagnosed with diabetes this year and it was recommended that I change to a plant-based diet. The produce from your (our?) farm has been part of my diabetes solution. I am proud to be an Angelic Organics CSA member.

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