CSA Extended Season Week 3

This Week’s Harvest

Evan helps bring in our storage cabbage on a cold fall day

Farm News

With this final delivery under our belt we can officially make the shift to winter mode on the farm. This is time spent maintaining all the vehicles, tractors and equipment from a season of wear and tear. It’s catching up on office work such as inputting all of our paper copies of harvests in a database so we can easily see and analyze yields and completing farm finances. We’ll have a few planning sessions were we will go over what worked and didn’t for 2020 and what we’d like the 2021 season to look like. We’ll “go” to conferences (this year all conferences will be online), make our budget, launch our 2021 CSA, hire for 2021, and wash and pack a few more large wholesale orders of winter roots. We will also allow ourselves to take a break, sleep in, read a book, play games with the kids, and address much neglected house projects.

From the farmer’s perspective 2020 was a good year. While there was a point in the season that our riding lawn mower, John Deere tractor, and delivery van were all broken at once, we didn’t have any out of the ordinary malfunctions (last year, for example, the irrigation well went out). We did have disappointing crop yields and new disease problems show up in the sweet potato, potato, and rutabaga crops, but we planted enough to have all three of these crops available for CSA, 2nd Street Market, and wholesale outlets. From a purely numbers perspective, 2020 was just fine.

Ben cultivates the fall beets with our new tractor. Both the beet planting and the tractor were major successes this season!

However, we all know that 2020 was anything but fine! We are still in the midst of a pandemic that has been with us the entire season. While we busied ourselves planting, harvesting, weeding, and washing, too many Americans were out of work. On top of the pandemic, social unrest swept across the nation this summer, causing the country to confront its racist past; a past which inevitably infiltrates aspects of current life. For example, past government policies certainly play a role in present farming demographics, which include dwindling numbers of African American farmers and historic low levels of black land ownership. Just last year I learned things I was shocked I hadn’t known before, such as a 1997 lawsuit against the USDA for discriminating against black farmers in loan applications and other assistance programs. I wrote about a few articles I read on the subject in this blog post from 2019.

For me winter is a time to reflect on the season, brainstorm and take necessary steps to improve. Thirteen years in, I am realizing that I can grow as a farmer not just by learning about soil health and plant disease management, but also by thinking critically about land ownership and land use. I don’t pretend to have any answers but just being a mindful citizen is important. I enjoy organic farming and its relevance to so many facets of life! Turns out, our direct to consumer small farm model is a good way to get food to people during a pandemic as well. Thanks for supporting our farm this season!

View of the farm from the fall field of greens