2020 Farm Season Reflection
Thank you so much for being a part of the CSA Share program this season! We hope you enjoyed your veggies, fruits & herbs this summer :) I have a fun update for you this week in hopes to warm you up after we got the first snow of the season yesterday!
This season I am thankful that my reflection is a lot better than last season. I think every year comes with new challenges but I have to say that this season it was like all the stars just aligned and everything seemed to work out. With the farm season and harvest quantities, new employees, the new pack shed set up (having so much more space!), adding a new CSA Share size to our offerings and even here with our family and being able to move into the new house in the middle of the pandemic. It’s just bazaar how much this season has held for all of us, and we are so grateful to have shared that with you!!
Here is a picture from the deck, I absolutely love all the fall colors. And all of the imperfections too; I consider it character.
For the crops- I can say one thing that we were disappointed with was the late season cold crops. We thought they would be ready earlier but those frosts in September really set them back. It didn’t damage the plants but when it’s colder outside they have to work harder to grow. So we were hoping to get more of those in. For example the brussel sprouts, which were never harvested because they never made it to size.
One really positive experience we had this season was a huge harvest of squash. Winter squash and summer squash were very bountiful this season. In previous years we have planted the same number of plants and gotten HALF the harvest quantity. Literally. So this season, we learned that we’ll need to adjust the quantity we plant for next year because we had so much squash we didn't even know what to do with it! Below is a picture of what the winter squash field currently looks like. We are pulling up the black mulch & getting ready to work up the field in preparation for winter.
I think we can all pat ourselves on the back for this one- the food shelf was really happy with the amount of produce they received this season. Together this year we donated over FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS TO CAER!! (Community Aid Elk River is the food shelf we primarily work with). So that consists of the produce that we harvest above and beyond our own CSA needs, the shares that were bought specifically to donate to the food shelf, and from those of you who donated weeks to them when you were out of town. Every week on Thursday we would bring them a huge variety of goodies, with your help! They even opened their own "farmer's market" on Thursdays for their food distribution so families in need could choose what they wanted and could use.
Overall, I can say that we were happy with the varieties we were able to produce here at the new property. Now that we’ve been here for a full farm season it’ll be easier to know where to grow everything next season. More sun/less sun, higher ground, heavier ground (more clay, or organic material). It all makes a difference and we are just so excited to start making some plans for next season already!
If you’re able to give us a Facebook or google review we would really appreciate it! To give us a FB review just visit our page and click "Reviews". To review us on google just look up our name and there is a spot to leave a review right on the main menu. Even just having the “stars” without any text is much appreciated. We love what we do and being able to share that with you!! Having the reviews helps our farm get noticed and allows us to continue “sharing” hopefully forever!!
Update on the greenhouse. First things to consider are the "where" and then the "how". The greenhouse will be on the edge of the field next to the pack shed. This is basically the only spot for the greenhouse because it needs to get full sunlight and also have access to fuel (there is a permanent propane tank right next there) and water too. So considering all the factors this is the one spot that has everything we need. If we need to, we can also add another greenhouse in the future because of where it’s at.
Then it’s the “how”. We’ve got the greenhouse to take down in Big Lake and we will be moving it here. That’s only about 65 feet long though, so we’ll be adding another 35 or so feet. We can build the greenhouse like we did last time, but we can’t square a building by ourselves. There is an Amish community a little ways from us and we were referred to a man named Jacob to help us square the greenhouse. We had him out this morning actually, and we finished pounding all of the ground stakes and squaring the building by noon today!! For the rest of today we’re loading pumpkins for the party tomorrow, then we get to have lots of fun tomorrow, and then we’ll be back to the greenhouse first thing Monday morning.
Here is the greenhouse being laid out with leveling markers and other equipment I don't understand, lol.
Here is the greenhouse frame, squared. These posts in the ground are 1 1/2 inch well pipes that serve as the ground posts. They're each pounded down between 2-3 feet into the ground.
Don’t forget about the pumpkin party tomorrow!! I have a link for it attached here too. It’s from noon to 4 at Finnegan’s Brewing Company in Minneapolis. We will have live music, a food truck on site, free pumpkins and carving & decorating supplies on hand :)
Signing up for next season:
I have had some questions about how to sign up for next season already, which we are so thankful for!! This season we will be opening up a tiered sign up system so that you have priority for the 2021 season <3
For those of you returning with us next season, you can sign up starting January 1st. For those who were on the waiting list from this summer, they’ll be able to sign up for membership starting February 1st. Then on March 1st we will open up membership to the general public and it will be first come first serve.
If you have friends or family who want to be included in the CSA program for next season, have them shoot me an email anytime before the end of the year and I’ll get them in the "waiting list" group so they can start signing up in February (instead of waiting until March with the general public).
Kristen, our favorite Registered Dietician, wrote one last post for us. I think is perfectly timed! It is all about making healthy seasonal choices for your vegetables and fruits. It’s about being vigilant in the price, quality, and nutrition of the produce we choose over the winter. Also watching the labels closely because a lot of packaging can be misleading. I posted her blog right after this one- so if you go back to the main Blog page, you’ll find her post there.
I will be sending out a survey next week with questions about this season. We would be very grateful if you could fill it out! This is how we adapt to your preferences, so please consider taking a few minutes to give us some feedback. It will be straight forward- I’m not going to ask you any essay questions, I promise! I want it to be approachable, and I’ve made sure it only takes a couple minutes.
Ben and I don’t want to expand much more in our produce CSA but in a desire to be a truly sustainable farm we have considered adding more types of offerings. We’ve considered raising pigs in an effort to use up some of the extra or damaged produce. We’ve also considered planting apple trees on the backside of the property so that we can offer you more fruits in your CSAs. We have a lot of fun ideas to go over this winter, a new space here and a brand new- refreshed outlook on farming. We have plenty of time to make these decisions but they're just so fun to talk about! In our own farmstead we have the freedom to pursue whatever we want, and we are SO excited to share that future with you all!!
Thank you for your continued support!! We have really enjoyed growing for you and your families this season, it has been so much fun!! Part of what makes the CSA so special is that we are growing for YOU and all the produce we harvest has a place and purpose, a friend & family to go home to. Thank you for making this so special for our family. We would be proud to grow for you & yours in the future. I look forward to sending another newsletter in the coming weeks with more updates & pictures from the farm. Things will be changing around here very soon once the snow starts to fly. We will be in touch!!
Stay well friends,
~The Farmer’s Wife