January 3 – hope you all had a wonderful holiday time – here at the farm the draft horse pigged out on really nasty windfall apples, and farmcraft sprang forth on a couple of fronts – some very nice embroidery, for example, and more pots and planters…
But enough of that farmcraft (unless you are interested in some!). The big things in the CSA are all about planning and early early seed starts, care and getting ready for the winter season.
As of today, the main propagation bench is full up with seedlings, three of the raised beds have young plants, and the outside garden has over-wintered small carrots (late fall planting). Every year there is something that is high on the list of ‘fix this problem’ and this year it is onions, melons, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes. All that gets factored in to the climate prediction for this year (hotter than normal, average moisture) and bed preparation. That white dusting is hardwood ashes from the wood boiler used to heat part of the house – should make the potatoes happy.
Technically, the climate prediction is encouraging for the garden. 2022 was wet and cold, 2023 was dry and hot – 2024 is about normal for wet and warm – which is a great combo. Because the next three months are firmly in that camp, early seeding is clearly important. There are a few factors that impact seed planning:
- How many members should be planned for?
- What are the core plants for the climate prediction?
- What are plants that need to be handled differently for better yield?
- What are varieties that should be added?
The plan is to ensure about a 4 week window for any planting. That is, if an early potato is selected, that planting needs to cover 4 weeks and then move to the mid season, then late season and then keepers. Obviously that is a simplification, but that’s the general idea. Portions are designed such that a personal share can be consumed over a one week series of meals for a couple of people that like veggies. And so it goes. Seed orders are going out next week for the Green and Main season; Winter season is already planted. The assumption on Winter season is farm call only, and just a few members then.
In principle, this CSA has no intention of becoming a group with hundreds of members. That pulls the contact with members away, creates a number of logistics and labor challenges, and is stressful. The 12-25 member group is about right where things are good. The only caveat is that the amazing Natalie Intern is on staff this year, and will probably be essentially starting some of her own ‘projects’ as part of her curricula – which likely will entail some additional marketing that she will be doing.
Tentatively, costs and deliveries and timelines should be similar to 2022. There were a number of folks who were determined to do some pent up travel, and some folks who had other reasons to drop, including the rather awful 2022 season. Towards the middle of 2023, it became apparent that ‘starting’ the CSA after labor day was attractive to some, as well as a farm call option where a person signed up for part of a window – e.g. 8 of 10 weeks starting at labor day. That can work, but it needs some nice clear communication to work in a happy way.
What you can do to help here is to give some input to permit solidifying plans.
- Do you plan on doing straight seasons all the way through the year? (you get a gold star and possibly some to be determined gift!)
- Do you like reading these emails and have no intention of joining this season? Or don’t even want to read the emails…?
- Do you want to do a portion plan, where you ask to get some number of weeks of a season on your schedule (farm call only, you MUST text if you are random at your pickup time, which would be nominally Tues or Weds)?
- Current planning is for only one delivery date (Friday) with farm call encouraged. Farm Call has some pretty nice benefits, especially when there is not enough for a portion for everyone.
- Do you have any suggestions that would make the CSA better for you?
Costs and Schedules are coming. At this point, 6-8 people only for Winter season, probably Feb. 17 (Saturday) or 20th (Tuesday) farm call.
Look for more in a couple weeks!