Hey Guys! Get your sunglasses out!!
I am checking in here to let you know that TODAY is the last day your CSA is guaranteed for next season. Starting tomorrow, we open the gates for our new members on the wait list from last season and from then on out we accept CSAs on a first come, first serve basis. If you want to reserve a CSA (without checking out online), just shoot me an email.
If you already signed up for your CSA, thank you! We are finalizing the holiday schedules and updating your Member Handbooks- so I'll be sending out your confirmations with the handbooks when that's all updated for this season.
Thank you for joining us again this season!!
Now for some fun stuff...
I wanted to share this picture because it's just so silly. Kids are only kids for so long! Of course this was last summer, but I just came across this picture and wanted to how funny this is. Kelsi went in and grabbed all the chicken eggs from the coop and then "made breakfast" for them and was happily delivering it before I stopped her and snapped this picture. Yup, she cracked all the eggs onto a tupperware lid and served it like a platter. And yes, those are "Blippi" tattoos on her neck, lol.
At this time of year, Ben and I start talking about improvements that we can make to the farm and our family life. It's hard drawing the line when we work and live in the same place, especially when farming really is never done. On a personal level, I hope to have more laughs together and moments like the one I mentioned above. More specifically, having the evenings to be together as a family. Living our best farm lives!
On a business level, we need to make some updates to equipment and everyday operations. Not because things didn't work last year, but because there might be a smarter way to do the same stuff... Small changes can make a big difference. We do this every year and every year we have some more fine tuning to do.
We have plenty of ideas of how things can be updated and changed for the better... keep reading!
LOGISTICS IN FARMING
Ben & I start talking about how we will streamline things more efficiently. That could be the vegetable wash stations, harvest operations, or packing shed. There is always room for improvement & a whole lot of logistics that go into operating a farm. I think this is part of what makes farming so much fun for us. Day dreaming!
For example, we started using the tractor and picking squash straight into those giant bins (on pallet forks, on the front of the tractor) instead of loading a pallet with bins to wash. We store them in the pole shed.
We take the squash out and wash them as need be, which also helps them hold longer as opposed to washing them all right away. They also don’t last as long if we leave them in the field longer than necessary, sun bleaching can shorten their shelf life by a lot. So we solved a few issues in one fell swoop!! That was one example of something we started doing “better” in 2021, and I look forward to new operations for 2022 as well!!
Photo flash back to this summer!! Anna, Hannah & Grace.
Another big consideration moving into 2022 for ALL farmers is going to be labor. Plain and simple: it’s a really hard job! Some people think, why not just pay more and people will come, right? We did, and we literally pay more than any other farmer we know. But it’s a little more complicated than that because we are also a seasonal job.
We can’t offer health insurance or benefits and most adults don’t plan to change their job a couple times a year to work the farm season. Most times we end up with folks between jobs and they work for one season. If they're young or in school, they can work for more than a summer but keep in mind that high school starts during week 12 of our CSAs usually, so if we had all highschoolers working with us we'd be out of help for the last month of the season.
Moving forward, we have a handful of our crew that is coming back this season. We also have a handful who are not. One of them got married and had a baby, one graduated from nursing school and got a job in her field, and one went to college. I’m not worried about not having enough help this season because we have some new folks lined up already, but in general Ben & I both agree that we should try to mechanize some things because that's certainly in the future of our (every) farm.
For instance, a potato digger!!! LOL We STILL to this day, dig potatoes with hand tools and manually pick them up to bring to the end of the rows for the bins. I know we said we'd buy one last season but then we ended up putting thousands into row cover for the frost in June 2021, so there went the potato digger ;P lol!
Every year we invest in equipment to make farming easier. Transplanting for example (we have a video on our FB page), is done with a piece of equipment and gets us off of our knees. It saves us about a 100 hours of labor during planting season I would say.
When I say equipment, I don’t mean wheel barrows. I mean equipment. Pieces on the farm that will save our bodies and our minds. Harvesting will never really be automated because we won't sacrifice the quality of your produce!! (Small scale potato diggers just bring them up and lay them on top of the soil, so they're not picked up with machinery). Field work can be automated though, for example the cultivator that helps aerate the soil and kill weeds between the rows without any icky product application.
This is what a freshly cultivated field looks like-
You can see some straggler weeds above in between the rows thinking they're going to re-root themselves. We actually have to plan our cultivation around rain events because if we cultivate and it rains the next day, all those plants actually could re-root themselves haha! Stubborn little buggers!! Lots to consider.
THANK YOU! For reading our newsletters. I love writing them and sharing some of our thoughts behind what powers our farm forward. I could talk about the background and logistics of farming every day all day, ask Ben. It drives him nuts! But hey, I do work every day with my husband so this was bound to happen ;P
Some of you have mentioned that you don’t get our emails regularly. I have done some digging and have an answer for you! If you go for a few weeks of receiving and not opening emails from us, your email will automatically block us (it thinks it's protecting you). To start receiving emails again, simply go back into your inbox and open a few emails and click through them. Once you interact with our emails again you will start receiving them again.
FOOD SHELF SHARE UPDATE
We are well over halfway to our total for the Food Shelf Shares, thank you for donating to the cause!! For those who didn't read about this in the last newsletter, Ben & I are matching your donations and giving the food shelf CSAs of their own to work with. This is in addition to the normal donated produce on a week-to-week basis!! Some of our CSA Members contributed to the CSAs for the food shelf and we're matching every last penny that you contribute!! Thank you for helping us get more fresh produce in the hands of those could really use it.
SUPPLIES We have all heard about the supply chain issues. It's either the increasing prices or just flat-out lack of product that worries us. What if we don't have seeds to grow?! No worries here, folks. We placed all of our orders already for all of our supplies and seeds. Even all of your CSA boxes, rubber binders for bunching kohlrabi, everything! Of course we will need to get odds and ends here or there, but for probably 95% of our supplies, we will have everything we need in hand by next weekend.
LAST TID BIT: We are looking for a host in Princeton. We have a pick up site in Zimmerman, but Princeton is just a little farther north for our rural folks. If you live in Princeton & would like to know more, or know of a business that might consider hosting, please reach out to us. We are also looking to expand to the Maple Grove area if you or someone you know might consider hosting there.
Thank you again for joining us this season!! We've got so much to look forward to. Stay well friends,
~The Farmer's Wife