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  • Writer's pictureThe Farmer's Wife

WELCOME TO OUR 2024 CSA!!!

Hello All,

Welcome to the 2024 CSA Season with Brown Family Farm. If you're getting this email, it means that you already signed up for your CSA Share (paid in full, or on a payment plan) and your CSA Share is reserved for you this season!!


I want to quickly touch on communications before we get into introductions! In the coming weeks you'll be seeing more blog updates and emails just like this one! I will be sending out biweekly newsletters prior to the harvest season starting. So, every other week you'll get an email update from me with fun info about where we're at with our seeding, transplanting, and other fun projects!


Once our CSA harvest starts (June 17th), you'll be getting an email from me every week like clockwork. It is what we call the CSA Newsletter! I go in depth on what to expect in your CSA that week, some ideas for how to use your veggies, what we're up to on the farm. The good and the bad, you'll see it all! That's part of a CSA though; you're a stakeholder in how our farm operates and I love keeping everyone in the loop! Spoiler alert- you're in good hands!

Check out the lettuces from the first week last season! I love these buttercrunch lettuces because they are so bright and they have a lovely crunch. The great thing is that they have a nice supple leaf- more like spinach. I'm so excited to show you why these are some of my favorites!


Now, for the introductions!


Many of you are Returning Members and we’ve known each other for years. Some of you are New Members and we’re practically strangers- that just won’t do!!


We're the Browns! Nice to meet you!

**Don't get used to these nice pictures ;P

99.9% of the time we're in work clothes, but I figured we'd put our best foot forward!


We are Ben & Jodi! A husband & wife team growing fresh produce, raising heritage breed hogs and canning homemade products from the farm here. We started our farm in 2012 when we were newly married, having babies and living in an apartment in Zimmerman MN. We had full time jobs and were farming on the side trying to make a go of things. 10 years later, we are living in our forever farm in Oak Park! We slowly transitioned out of our day-jobs and put every bit of our energy into operating our Farm. Now we have the opportunity to offer our homegrown produce, pork, and canned goodies to our CSA Members across the metro area!


We started with 18 CSA Members and have grown now to serve hundreds of families around our area with over 2 dozen CSA pick up sites! That's who we are in a nutshell, but I want to explain a little more about the day-to-day operations because I think you'll benefit from seeing how we work together :)

Ben is the brains behind of all the field operations and ultimately is the person who puts all these fresh veggies in your hands every week! He is the planner, the one with all of the experience, field surveyor and irrigation specialist. He is the only reason we're able to offer produce- I grew up in Apple Valley and didn't even know what a zucchini was until he grew them for us!! He has decades of experience, starting at the neighbor's farm when he was 8, and now operating our produce farm, he's seen a thing or two!

I'm Jodi, the talker. Just kidding, I do have other roles! :) But I really do enjoy keeping up with you all and sharing our adventures throughout the summer! I write the blog, organize our delivery routes, handle all the taxes & payroll, and actually deliver most of the CSAs myself after I pack your CSAs with my crew. I'll be your contact this season if you need anything, don't hesitate to reach out! The thing is, it's just us! So if you call, I'll be the one to answer!


We have been BUSY this spring!

Let's start with the cutest update first, haha!



We have our first piglets on the farm this spring! Once we start our harvest season, they'll get fresh veggies everyday all summer along with free choice grain so that they're encouraged to have healthy eating habits. Having food around the clock means that they can casually eat when they're hungry and they don't need to worry about competing.


They get TONS of greens during harvest season because we set aside anything that's not saleable, but also because we trim up the plants. For example, the lettuces in the spring come in from the field and we wash them and take out the outer leaves that were in contact with the ground because they're the first leaves on the plant and they usually get pretty beat up. Once we remove those leaves, the pigs get the scraps and we get to send you home with a beautiful head of lettuce!


We started raising pigs shortly after we moved into our farm, so it's been 4 yrs now. We couldn't have livestock when renting others' property so we were very excited at the new opportunity we had once we moved in here! We've expanded a little every year and we're raising about 70 pigs for wholes and halves this season.


We also use their manure to supplement our fields to add organic material to the soil. The great thing about any livestock manure basically is that they're digesting the grains and greenery into a form (manure) where the nutrients are readily available to the plants. It's on a molecular level and it makes a huge difference to the health of the plants. With synthetic fertilizers (the stuff you buy at Menards, liquid or granular), those nutrients aren't available for the plants to take up until after they've broken down, which takes some time. We got 2 of our fields covered pretty good with manure this spring and look forward to composting more manure and spreading it next spring on the other fields.



Veggies


We are in the thick of it! We have THOUSANDS of seedlings in the greenhouse already. We start up the greenhouse April 1st.


These are all pepper plants! We start them in small cells so that their roots grow into a nice tight root ball. Then we transplant them out of this size cell and into larger ones, like a 50 count. We do that for a handful of reasons.


We start them in smaller cells like the one above because we know that they need a tight root ball. It's good for development, but only at this size. It provides a healthy root structure for when they're transplanted into the larger cells, and it gives them a leg up on our MN growing season- which is never long enough!


The trays are all the same size dimensionally (about 14 inches by 30 inches), but the cell sizes change. So we have some that are 500 cell trays (like this one above), and some that are 50 cell trays. The bigger the number, the smaller the cell size! I'll fish out a picture here-



OK so this is NOT right now. Our tomatoes are tiny, but perfectly on schedule! These are 'maters from a previous season but I wanted to show you- this is the transplanter we use to get them in the field once they're big enough. These cells you see above are that 50-cell count. It allows them to grow and expand into nice plants before we put them outside in the field! Peppers and tomatoes are the only varieties we start in the germination chamber in small cells like this. None of the others are transplanted or handled with such care, because none of the other varieties are this fragile.


Our new high tunnel structure!!


We are building a new high tunnel frame so that we can extend our growing season in MN. We're going to add a furnace in there so that we can start growing earlier starting next spring. This year, Ben says he thinks he wants to put in a late green bean crop. He said that's a variety that we all love (and want more of!) and this year we have open space in that high tunnel ;)


This new high tunnel is going to have a furnace put in this fall, which makes it a greenhouse! It's 30 feet wide and 95 feet long, so it's twice as wide as our current greenhouse and will give us a TON of extra growing space! Plus, our current greenhouse is only used for starting plants because there isn't enough room in there to get an actual crop in the ground. So this new structure provides a lot of new opportunity!


The bows are 30 feet wide, so they're a monster to move around that's for sure!



I should take a moment to introduce Luna, too! She's our self-appointed greeter/ farm mascot. She's a good girl and sticks to home. Never on a leash/ no electric barrier. She just knows where she lives and she's never wanted to go anywhere else. She loves running around with the kids and actually doesn't play fetch, just for the record. When I reach for her sticks or toys, she plays "keep away" like her life depends on it. She's our girl and we love having her close by!


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For our NEW Members- I want to let you know that I will send out a Member Handbook in the coming weeks after we're done finalizing our holiday schedules and making some small additions. The Member Handbook is site specific, so every single CSA Member will get a Handbook for their pickup site! It has categories like "what to expect on your first pick up", "what to do if you can't pick up", "box rotation" information too. It's very detailed and will have all the dates and info specifically for you- which is also why it takes me a minute to get those together ;)

For our Returning Members- you know the drill! ;) In a couple of weeks, I'll send out the Handbook for you to peek at. Most of the details in the handbook you will already know, but the holiday schedule changes every year of course.


Thank you for joining us this season!! We look forward to showing you what we're up to over here at Brown Family Farm!


Eat Good & Be Well!

~The Farmer's Wife


P.S.

We're putting posts in the ground this weekend for our new greenhouse! There are a lot of steps though, so I know that I need to be patient. I'm pleased with our progress so far and hope to have some really cool pictures for you in my next blog.


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