I have been facing a bunch of difficulties here on the farm that are trying my creativity and abilities to say the least… Torrential rains and relentless critters munching away on my crops are just some of the influences that I am grappling with. Plants not growing or not producing crops is another challenge I am learning to deal with – calling on fellow farmers in the area who are willing to share their extras with me, or even buying things like sweet corn since mine was a complete loss.
There are many differences to Kate’s CSA besides number of members and her many years of experience. There were always 6 or 7 helpers on the farm, and a lot of action everywhere throughout the day.
I am here by myself, there is much less activity. It is quiet and peaceful and apparently quite inviting to the overflow of deer and rabbits and rodents that mess with my stuff 😉 And much less (wo)manpower to do the work.
In essence, running a CSA is quite an undertaking. And while I enjoy the work and farming very much, I have my share of disappointment and frustration with the things that don’t go well. I still am proud of the beautiful food I grow and the full bags I deliver.
I had big plans for my CSA – fun festivals on the farm, volunteer days throughout the season, scavenger hunt on and around the farm… But all these plans were derailed and fell flat as time progressed. Too few members right from the start, insurance limitations, Kate’s decision to move in spring, preparing for her move early in the season, and finally her move and decision to sell the farm… Things did not turn out as planned at all.
So now that Kate has moved to California and decided to sell the farm, I will be finishing my season here in early fall, and depending on the sale and new folks moving in, will probably stay on through winter to look after things here. This means of course that my CSA on Kate’s land is shorter lived than I initially planned. I am not certain where I will settle next year and whether I will have the opportunity to continue my CSA on another farm.
I thank all my members for their trust and giving me the wonderful opportunity to grow and deliver vegetables this summer. A big thank you also to my lovely drop site hosts! I appreciate all the support and feedback this season! And I regret not having had the chance to have everybody out here for the hands on festivities everyone enjoyed so much with Kate. And to continue growing with everybody through the seasons I hoped would follow this one.
I love walking in the forest on a crisp morning. Birds singing and bugs humming, early sunlight filtering through the the luscious shades of green, accenting the dark and sturdy tree trunks reaching out of the fertile ground. The light scent of ferns and wildflowers intermingled with musky wafts of composting leaves and rich soil… I breathe in deeply and release any tension as I take in the beauty and continuity of nature, of life, really.
Thoughts, worries, doubts, regrets vanish as I see potential for play all around. An old stump rises out of the ferns. Roots above ground form a cave, and at a glance it looks as though a scene for a fairytale… I stand and watch waiting for the slightest hint of movement suggesting I stepped into a different world of magical creatures. I imagine tiny fairies and unicorns and sourcerers… For a moment I wish to live in that world. Just a tiny figure disappearing among ferns and stems without making a sound, safe from the pressures of life.
And for a moment, as I gaze into the tree tops high above me, I realize I am that tiny figure, surrounded by a world much bigger than the everyday woes and duties we call reality. A world full of possibility and opportunity and freedom.
My very own Snapdragons and Sweet Peas. Deliciously colorful and fragrant.
The little bunnies next to the vase are needle felted. A fun winter pastime of mine. I will write more about them soon.
There is nothing better than farm fresh. Here is such a good meal in one “small” batch… Just add chicken breast or bacon or trout… Yum.
I love raising colorful food. And flowers. And this year I have a thing for purple… From purple peppers to purple poppy, things are just looking gorgeous. Hmm… Wonder if there are chickens that lay purple eggs 😉
There is nothing as gratifying as a bowl of beautiful food. A work of art created in collaboration with mother nature.
Running my CSA by myself, without hired help, has its challenges and rewards alike. Some tasks seem daunting, like planting countless flats of seedlings by hand, trellising 250 tomato plants in a hot hoophouse, or pulling weeds out of rows and rows of lettuce, spinach, carrots and so on.
But the rewards are plenty. There is the quietude and serenity of my communion with nature. No noisy tractors or machinery to disturb the harmony of birds singing along with the breeze playing in the trees and grasses all around me.
And of course there is the deliciousness of picking the fresh, plump squash, huge buttery lettuces, colorful duck egg sized radishes and bunches of lush and crunchy baby spinach… Handsful of green and purple beans, clusters of ripe and juicy tomatoes, aromatic bulbs of fennel… Beautiful food. Fresh, organic, home grown, bursting with flavor and love…
I am proud to say: “Yes, I grow this!”
I know it has been a while and I am sure my members are all eagerly anticipating their goodie bags.
I have been busy tilling and transplanting and weeding and deer proofing (who knew deer went into hoophouses to munch on lettuce,) and irrigating… and more planting and transplanting and mowing and tilling.. 😉 And with the recent stretch of hot and sunny weather things are finally taking off and growing wonderfully.
I am planning my first delivery for the 15th. There will be boc choi, lettuce, rhubarb and herb pots (basil, chives, rosemary, cilantro, parsley)… And possibly garlic scapes if they keep growing as they have been.
I am excited to be starting deliveries, knowing folks get to enjoy the fresh and yummy goods I so enjoy growing!
Here’s to summer!
Although I have a few less members for my first season than I had hoped and needed in order to hire help, I am enjoying the fact that I can actually skip using the tractor for a lot of the planting and just crawl along the rows on my hands and knees and plant my kale, broccoli, onions, cabbage, squash, beans, celery…(the list goes on…) by hand. Yes it takes much longer, and is much more taxing than with two people riding on the transplanter. But it is also enjoyably quiet and peaceful.
Today we rushed and with Kate driving the tractor and myself on the transplanter, we got in several rows of potatoes and sweet corn before lunch, and then, just in time before the storm hit, got the summer sqash in the ground. The first raindrops fell as we put the tractor in the shed and the tools tucked away. And then it poured. Thank heavens. Because the poor fresh transplants that went in the ground over the past two days looked pretty pathetic sticking out of the hot, dry soil.
With a lot more rain expected the next couple of days, I am quite grateful for the break from kneeling on the dry hard soil, shopping, relaxing and regrouping, and turning my focus to the hoophouses.
There is spring in the air and great progress in the greenhouse! As in nature, where the first wild flowers are adding spots of color to the greener and greener surroundings. To my delight I spotted a large patch of violets happily abloom along the driveway! And in the greenhouse, another batch of seeds I feared lost is finally poking its needlepoint-tiny buds through the soil.
Despite early hiccups with that batch of bad soil that fried my first big set of seeds and set me back about three weeks, things are now growing nicely and rapidly and we are moving right along. Luckily there is a wonderful community of farmers working together and trading seeds, seedlings, and advice is the name of the game.
The first phase of deer fence is up around the garden, next comes the netting to keep those smarty-nosed dears from just walking right through the lines… But I will leave that tedious task for a dry and more pleasant day.
A new bigger hoophouse is going up, replacing the small “pepper shack”… This one is literally twice the size and with double siding offers opportunity for an extended season… Aaaah the possibilities.
I love this place…
The weather continues to get warmer, birds are singing and building their nests, and our greenhouse is filling up fast as we plant our carefully selected seeds and watch as tray after tray sports happily sprouting seedlings.
Hoophouses are prepared for planting carrots, beets and green beans in a few days… A new deer fence is going up around the garden, and we are getting ready to fire up the tractors and spread that compost,
Yep, spring is in full swing and things here on the farm will keep moving swiftly from here on out.
We have a table at the Menomonie WI Market and Co-Op today to promote our CSA and sign up some new members for this season.
Look forward to meeting everybody and chatting with other CSAs in the area. And displaying some of my needle felted crittets… The perfect “aaaawwwww”