Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Farmer Rick's CSA Email

I like to attach parts of Farmer Rick's emails to his Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members. First, you get to see what's fresh. Second, you get to see if you would like to try a CSA for yourself. And third, you get to learn more about the life of a local organic farmer.
The CSA has gone well this year, while things have not gone as planned we realize they generally never do in farming. For all that have been with us for a couple of years I think you would agree this year was better than last. We did not have the extended drought as in 07 but we did have a long dry spell at the farm in July and Aug. Our upgrades to the irrigation system helped us get through the dry weather. We didn't even take the time to email you weather updates this year, we spent that time working the irrigation system to keep crops growing. Last year we talked about the dry weather a lot. We have already begun to increase irrigation capacity for next year. We have had three major issues this year, two of which we are addressing for next year.

First the cold spring caused many crops not to germinate. Since organic farms do not use seeds treated with fungicides this cool weather caused many crops to rot before germination. This issue can not be easily addressed. The other two issues were dry weather late and our increases to the irrigation system will give us more capacity to address these. We plan to spend close to $2000.00 in the coming year addressing this. The second issue that got us this year was damage from wild life. Ground hog and deer damage were tremendous this year. We had a doe move into the farm this year with three yearling's. They consumed a lot of produce! Our irrigation system kept the sweet corn growing through the dry times this year. The deer really enjoyed it. Both our melon and sweet corn crops had tremendous deer damage. We realize these are two areas that the CSA customers look forward too. While we had more melons this year than last but we wanted to give you more. We are planning to spend several thousand dollars this winter on fencing to help protect the crops next year. I hope the winter weather allows us to install them before the spring weather makes us busy again. We hope that by upgrading these two areas our next year will be even better than this year.

That is not to say this year was not a good one! The farm has had many successes this year. The CSA boxes have been very full later in the season. Our sales to wholesale and farmers markets customers have been great this year, especially our tomato and potato sales. Our eggs have become a very popular item this year. We are currently working on expanding the flock. We are also looking to increase our infrastructure, including a Solar powered DC lighting system to give us greater portability in moving the flock around the farm. This should be installed late Nov. We have also begun selling wheat this year for home flour grinders. Their has been more fruit in the CSA this year. Strawberries, Apples, Asian pears many things have gone right this year and we are very thank full of this.

We want to finish up the CSA season, to give you full value and we will do that this year without the extra box we had to use last year. Additionally we will be giving each CSA customer a pumpkin and pound of our famous broccoli in late October if the weather permits. You will be able to pick that up from us at the Frederick Farmers Market or the farm. We'll send out an email later when it is available. This is just gift to thank you for participating this year. We also are looking to have our open farm day on a Sunday afternoon in October, more info on that later too.

In the fall CSA you should see sweet potatoes, greens, tomatoes, squash, beans, peppers, broccoli and more. Please let us know as soon as possible if interested.

We are also seeing a great deal of interest in next years CSA. As we plan for next years CSA we know some of our format will be changing.

First - we will not be participating in our cooperative CSA in Creagerstown next year. This has done well over the years but as we grow it has become too difficult for us to fit in the schedule. We wish the Williams farm the best and we hope some of you continue with them next year.

Second - Our CSA options will be formated as follows next year - Our Monday CSA will be at the farm , Wed we will deliver to Frederick and/or Urbana and we will also offer our Saturday CSA pickup at the Farmers Market. We will not however be offering egg shares with next years CSA however. Our costs for egg production has risen over the years due to feed and box costs. Since we can not predict where these are going we can not afford to lock in a seasonal price. We are looking into a way to do this next year that is fair to both of us. Just for reference our egg prices have risen about a dollar a dozen over the last year but we did not pass that on to CSA customers since you paid in advance.

Part of our planning for next year is whether we offer CSA pickups in Urbana or offer two pick up locations in Frederick on Wed. We have been requested to do a second location in Frederick. We do not want to leave Urbana unserved if the interest is strong. Please let me know if you are in the Urbana pickup location and are interested. It would help us make a decision based on current interest.

We would like good and bad feedback from our customers so we can plan next year to make it better.

I hope you have enjoyed our season and will enjoy the remaining boxes. We are already looking forward to next years growing season.

Farmer Rick

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