Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New mail from Farmer Rick

This is the email that Farmer Rick Hood from Summer Creek Farm sends out to his CSA members:
Hi all, winter is close to setting in. This is the time of year I look at the past year and plan for the next year. This year had it's success and it's disappointments. We grew more produce than ever and had better farmers market sales than ever. On the flip side our costs have risen significantly. Some crops did very well and some suffered too. I am planning next year to address the issues that cropped up this year and by trying to increase our production to supply variety and value.

On the cost side this year everyone talks about fuel but we have seen cost increases in many areas. Take paper lunch bags, from July to August we saw a 30% increase in paper bags. We saw a 16% increase in boxes. This was definitely energy related. Paper consumes huge amounts of water and energy to be made. Interestingly enough we saw no similar increase in plastic bags. Currently we are buying seeds for next year. The costs increases are unbelievable. The floods in the Midwest have driven seed costs way up. Last year we purchased soybean seed for $35.00 per bag (3 years ago it was $28.00), this years cost is $49.00 per bag. Even simple non exotic crops like squash have seen a 30% increase in seed prices. Organic Fertilizers are way up too. We are trying to purchase earlier this year while the economy is cooled. Looking into the crystal ball I expect the world economy to grow, especially China and India even if our economy stalls. China has already talked about a stimulus package and unlike the US they can afford it. The emerging countries have a huge hunger for food. Once they reestablish growth in there economies they will once again become major food importers, driving world prices up. China is already the largest pork producer in the world and is still importing US Pork. This will drive world grain prices too.

Additionally I recently read an article about water shortages in California. A major issue looming in the west is the lack of water and growing cities. Farmers and city officials both need water. The cities of Los Angles, Phoenix and Las Vegas are growing. Much of the vegetables in your local store come from these areas and they are grown under irrigation. As water gets tight the farmer will not win this battle with the growing cities. Currently farmers are being told they will get 30% of their normal allocation next year. Unless winter snows change the availability of water many California farmers will plant less than next year. Less production equals higher store costs. All the more reason to support your local growers. We appreciate that support!

Enough with all that is challenging. We have much to look forward to next year. We have planned our CSA for next year. We will be offering pickups at the Farm, Urbana (new location on Singleton Terrace, close to the old one), in Frederick at Dr. Laura's and at the Saturday Farmers Market in Frederick. The Urbana CSA will also move to Wed pick up with a change in time to 4:30.

Our web site is updated with the new form. We are keeping the price the same as last year, $450.00. To all our old customers we are offering to hold your spot in the CSA with a $100.00 deposit, the balance due on March 1. Existing customers are getting CSA notice first to sign up. We have had a lot of interest since the article last summer in Frederick Magazine so we wanted to make sure you all got a chance to sign up first. New customers will be asked to pay in full at start up. You certainly can pay the full cost from the start if you desire. We do use these funds to procure supplies and get ready for next year. I am sorry but we will not be offering egg shares in the next year but, we will still offer discounts on bulk produce and rain barrels to CSA customers. Their will be a limited number of shares this year so let me know if you are interested as soon as possible.

Next year we will also offer our produce again at the Frederick Farmers Market on Saturday and Clarksburg Market on Sunday. I will also keep you notified of various activities we will be doing over the winter months. We do offer gardening courses and talks in the area. I will update that schedule soon.

We have wheat grain ready for all of you that would like to grind your own flour. I also have firewood available in late December. Delivery will be available. Just let me know the quantity you may be interested in. It is mixed dry hardwoods.

I hope your winter goes well. I look forward to growing more good food for you next season. Thanks again for your support!

Farmer Rick

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