Farm News

Farmer John Writes: Is It Time?

Extended Season Week 4, November 29th – December 5th, 2020

Now
This week (November 29th – December 5th) is the final week of our four-week Extended Season, and the final week of our 2020 deliveries.

Brussels Sprouts Bonanza
We closely monitor crops here as the season nears an end, because we don’t want to run out, but we also don’t want to have a lot left over after deliveries are done. For the final week, we have more Brussels sprouts left than what we anticipated. If you customize your final share with Brussels sprouts, you’ll probably receive a generous portion.

However, many of the remaining sprouts are small, so you might receive a lot of sprouts, but small sprouts, although the warm fall has made some of the sprouts that were formerly small size up a bit. Or, you might receive a wide range of stalk sizes and sprout sizes.

Sweet sprouts

If you like Brussels sprouts, I suggest customizing your final box with them. Our sprouts have been through several frosts, which sweetens them. And, you will probably receive more sprouts than we apportioned in the past, since there are so many sprouts that we need to give for this last week of deliveries.

If you love our Brussels sprouts so much that you plan to fashion one into a holiday ornament, I suggest that you consider instead a non-perishable sprout.

(Speaking of surplus, I suspect that our final cabbage harvest will be more than we formerly anticipated. If you customize your share with cabbage, you may receive more than a normal amount.)

Gift a CSA Share this Holiday Season
On the topic of holidays, perhaps you have someone in your life to whom you would like to gift a 2021 CSA share from our farm. Soon, we will be rolling out our new gift share program which will let you purchase a CSA share as a gift for your loved one. Watch for an upcoming email about our new gift shares.

If you haven’t given yourself the gift of a 2021 share yet, check out Receive Our Vegetables.

The Off-Season
For those of you who read Farm News, you know that we stay very busy on the farm throughout the “off-season.”

For those who don’t read Farm News, they will ask about my winter vacation plans, and in general what I do with all that time off, as though farming is simply doing the work with crops, not mindful that it is also the huge task of preparing to do the upcoming work.

The winter and the fall are the times when much of the trajectory of the upcoming growing season is formed. In other words, a growing season is probably going to be much more successful if we enter into it well prepared.

What is Already Done for Next Season?
This fall, we were jubilantly successful in getting next year’s vegetable fields laid out in beds, spread with compost, and seeded to fertility-building peas in August, the ideal time for accomplishing such. We also installed tiles for field drainage in our low land, another big investment in crop production. We migrated our CSA management platform to CSAware for the 2021 season.

What Else Will be Done for Next Season?
Now we begin work on our buildings. All such work is on hold during the busy growing season, but during the winter, we have the luxury of time to work on the building interiors. Also, we usually have winter days warm enough so we can do exterior work on the buildings.

We will also work steadfastly on the farm machinery in our heated shop. We have over 100 machines on the farm for growing your vegetables and herbs. Imagine all the belts, bearings, shafts, chains, roll pins, gear boxes, rollers, tires, drapers, hoses, wires, clevises, pumps, bushings, gaskets, o-rings, motors, engines, and drive trains that need to be inspected, adjusted, repaired, or replaced. Many of the machines are accompanied by manuals that provide thorough guidance for maintenance. Of course, there are numerous other machines for which there are no manuals, and there are numerous situations in general that a manual is not going to resolve, such as a bent shaft or how to remove a stripped bolt.

You might wonder just how we manage all of this disparate machinery maintenance. We manage it by my machinery motto, “The equipment is always ready for use.”  That’s a pretty simple standard. Does the truck start? Does it run smoothly? Do the brakes work? Do the wagon tires hold air? Is the water valve on the planter fixed? When the time comes in which we need a wagon, a tractor, a planter, is it ready to go? If yes, we succeeded; if not, we failed.

This truck is not ready for use

Time
As I often mention in Farm News, everything has to be done on time on this farm–has to. Otherwise, we won’t have adequate crops to put in your share. It’s that simple.

A lot of people are dreamy and high-brow about a farm such as ours, considering it primarily organic, sustainable, carbon friendly, etc. Seldom do I ever hear anyone mention one of the farm’s most fundamental guiding principles: doing things on time.

Our Biggest Deterrent to Food Waste Is Timeliness
One of the most discreet yet most major impacts on food waste is not what happens to the crop upstream after it is harvested; it’s what happens to the crop before it goes into the ground and then while it is growing. Did it go in on time or not?  And once it is planted, did it get weeded, trellised, and harvested at the right time? A late planted crop wastes food in a significant way through lower yields, and a crop that is not tended in a timely way will also yield less.

In a certain way, how we manage time at the farm is a strategic component in our fertility program, in that taking care of crops in a timely way will lead to more production–and less waste due to the impact of lower yields from being late. Raising bountiful crops requires good soil fertility and good time management.

Rare November cilantro harvest

Food Production is on My Watch
My phone has a clock, but my phone is usually in my pocket. It is not a great tool for regularly tracking the minutes, so I wear a wrist watch—always easily accessible. Last week, the band on my wrist watch broke, and I immediately wondered how I can keep work on an even keel until it is repaired. I imagine fishing for my phone in my shirt pocket under my vest and coat–not checking it frequently enough. My always-ready wrist watch helps to fill your box, helps to reduce food waste. Fear not for the upcoming season; the watch band is already repaired.

Years ago, my friend Valdawn gave me a wristwatch, The Valdawn Old MacDonald Watch. (The watch was manufactured by her father, and named after his vegetarian daughter, Valdawn, who loves pigs.)

When my regular watch recently lost power, I considered wearing my Old MacDonald Watch. The watch has an odd feature, though: it has a button protruding from its side, which, when bumped even slightly, causes it to play the song Old MacDonald Had a Farm–the whole first stanza. I could be at the bank at a teller’s window, at a funeral, in a group meditation–whenever I bumped that button, Old MacDonald Had a Farm dinged out relentlessly. It couldn’t be stopped.

It played the whole first stanza of this song, which is pretty lengthy at a funeral: Old MacDonald Had a Farm.

Is it Time?
I suppose one can take this lesson of time and apply it more broadly to life. What are the impacts in general of not being ready; of not getting the job done in time; not getting to the meeting in time; not catching the bus, the plane? Does life yield less than it could because of how time is managed?

I have shared this story in Farm News before and will now share it again—the impact of not inviting Andy Warhol for dinner in time: No Dinner for Andy.

Time is on Our Side
Haidy and I will celebrate our 10th Wedding anniversary this December fourth. Our marriage has been a wondrous journey through the timelessness of love.

From a Shareholder

Haidy,

I remember reading Farmer John’s newsletters about you when you and he first got together, and being so happy for him, because his writing showed he was so happy to have found you.

~ Paula

Thank You
Thank you for being with us this year–our 31st season as a Community Supported Agriculture farm.

Thanks to those of you who ventured to join us for the first time this year. And thanks to those of you who faithfully stayed with us after enduring the last few years of farming challenges due to excessive rains.

This was a most glorious and rewarding growing season for us. We hope that your CSA experience with us has been equally glorious and rewarding.

Warmly,
Farmer John