2010 CSA Newsletter, Week 4 – Harvest Mode

On The Farm

The salad requires constant weeding to remain pickable!

This week it really feels like summer on the farm. We are in full-on harvest mode, with planting, weeding and other farm tasks falling to minimal levels. Harvest starts early in the day – I’m usually in the field by 6am on harvest days, picking my favorite crops and setting out the tasks for the day. Ideally, everything is out of the field by 10 am when the heat really sets in. Salad mix is one of the first crops picked for the day, and 20lb. is a typical amount. Once the salad is out of the field, the washing begins – someone leaves the field at this point to start processing the salad, which we triple rinse with 5 min soaks and then drip, then spin dry. As more crops come in from the field, we begin falling back to the harvest shed where everything gets washed, cleaned of bad parts, bunched or bagged, then stored in the cooler. In addition to preparing portions for the CSA we are busy packing wholesale orders – its a bit chaotic, but after 18 years we have systems in place to keep the work flowing!

Come Visit the Farm!

Please feel free to visit the farm, just let us know when you plan to come and we will give you a tour of the fields. Farm pickup customers, feel free to walk out into the fields when you pick up your produce.

Special Orders

Winter squash in the orchard...

We have a few items available for special order, this week we have #1 and #2 cherries or apricots by the box, please call for pricing and availability. We will have shelling peas available in bulk for freezing in the next few weeks, and basil for pesto later in the season.

Oh the Fruit!

This week we have more Cherries – Bings & some Rainiers from Domingez Canyon, the Reiniers are yellow and more watery than the bings. These are #2s with some bruises – eat them quickly! Also we have Apricots from the same organic orchards – this is a rare treat, many years there are none –  these will last two weeks, then we’ll have the first Paonia cherries.

In the Box

NEW: Hardneck Garlic – bunches of hardneck garlic, these have scapes (flowers) on them, try adding those to a dish for a more mild green garlic flavor)  Half &  Full 1 bu.
Chard & Kale – in short supply, don’t worry, we’ll have these for the rest of the season!
Spinach – new crop baby plants, yum
note: halfs get 1 bag spinach, kale or chard; fulls get 2 bags
Lettuce –   green romaine, red crisp, red butter, green butter, and some showey leaf lettuces like red speckled romaine – halfs 1 head, fulls 2 heads
Peas – snow & sugar snap, some shelling (new) – 1 bag (1/3 lb.)
Salad – 1 bag – still more coming!
Radishes – 1 bunch – last week?
Beets – continuing to size up – half 1 bunch, full 2 bunches

Remember, we sometimes substitute one item for another – but if you think you missed something please email or call – we can usually make it up the following week.

Friut

Half/Full amount

Bing Cherries 1.5lb/3lb
Apricots 1.5lb/3lb.
Rainier Cherries .5lb, 1lb.

Napa CabbageComing Soon

Shelling Peas
Napa Cabbage
Green Beans
Cucumbers
Summer Squash
Broccoli
Carrots, baby
Soft Neck Garlic
Organic Olathe Sweet Corn

The Box Value

Half – $22.50, Full  $35.25 – fruit is usually right at the cost: this week half $7.00, full $14.00

2010 CSA Newsletter, Week 3 – July has come!

On The Farm

Recently weeded lettuce, chard, kale and broccoli. Click to enlarge.

So much happens all at once in June, that once July arrives everything at the farm is going full tilt. I’ve got a few more plantings of salad and fall crops, but for the most part we are done planting for the year. Weeding still needs attention for a few more weeks, but the initial push is over and nearly everything looks great! Mostly its just harvest time!

Someone is eating the Shelling Peas!

A sad sight awaited me when we went to harvest the shelling peas this week – for the entire length of the row (250′) on both shelling pea varieties, the peas had been eaten out of the pods! At first I blamed the rabbits, which love to much on lettuce, carrots and beets in the garden, but when I came down to chase the rabbits away that evening I discovered it was birds! A small group of Robins (?) were making their way down the row, eating all the peas!

Whats a farmer to do? I think not much! Partially its too late to do much – with the peas removed and the pods still on the plants, the plants will mostly just stop producing. we may try picking off these pods and possibly covering the row with a row cover, but I’m worried that doing that will just push the birds to the next row, the snow & sugar snap peas which they have so far left un-touched. So, I may just have to let the birds have these first rows of peas, while we focus of the much larger patch of shelling peas that are about to come in the main field (shhh… don’t tell the birds). This type of damage is to be expected in our fields, and those of you who have visited know that the farm is teeming with wildlife – turkeys, rabbits, snakes, frogs, insects, foxes and an occasional mountain lion or bear, to say nothing of the hundreds of deer and elk that move through in the winter. If we lose just a few peas, we are lucky!

Holes in the leaves!

Some of you may notice the bok choi leaves this week have tiny holes in them. This is caused by an early season pest – the flea beetle. I do my best to keep them off the soft crops they love, but some usually manage to do some damage anyway. You will see some similar holes in the salad mix spicy components like arugula and red kale, and in soft leafy crops like napa cabbage – the damage will go away later in the season. Son’t worry about these holes! Just rinse the leaves thoroughly, chop & cook – the holes disappear with cooking!

In The Box

NEW: Garlic – early purple – very spicy, still curing Half 1/4lb. Full 1/2 lb.
NEW: Bok Choi – tender, crunchy stems, mustardy leaves – yum! this is the ONLY time we will have bok choi this summer, enjoy! everyone gets a bundle.
Chard – still picking baby leaves – demand is high so the leaves haven’t had a chance to get to bunching size.
Kale – more baby leaves.
Spinach – new crop baby leaves
note: halfs get 1 bag spinach, kale or chard; fulls get 2 bags
Lettuce – more green romaine, plus red crisp, red butter, green butter, and some showey leaf lettuces like red speckled romaine – halfs 1 head, fulls 2 heads
Peas – snow & sugar snap – 1 bag
Salad – 1 bag
NEW: Parsley – 1 bunch
Radishes – 1 bunch
Beets – continuing to size up – i hope you LOVE beets because we will have them for several more weeks, we haven’t even finished harvesting the 1st bed ad several more beds await picking – half 1 bunch, full 2 bunches

Fruit:

First cherries of the season, certified organic from Domingez Canyon half 2.4 lb, full 4.8 lb. Paonia cherries soon.

Coming Soon:

Squash, cucumbers, beans, carrots, shelling peas, broccoli, napa cabbage & more….

The Box Value

Farm Prices: Spinach #3.50, Salad $3.50, Radishes $1.25, Beets $3, Parsley $1.5, Peas $4, Chard/Kale $3.50, Lettuce $2.25, Garlic $10/lb., Bok Choi, $3. Half Box Value: $24.50, Full Box Value: $37.25!

2010 CSA Newsletter, Week 2 – Summer is On

On The Farm

Final planting and irrigation setup

This week we planted nearly all of the last transplants from the greenhouse out into the field. Compared to previous years, I have far fewer plants left over that aren’t going into the ground. I always plant a little extra in case certain transplants fail, but this year I stuck to a careful plan and everything went out, and nearly everything made it (so far)! The only planting I have left is the regular salad mix planting that continues all summer.

Along with the new planting comes the need for water. Water, water everywhere… irrigation is a full time job in the heat of summer. Established beds get lines of drop tape, other beds – recently seeded – get water every day. Salad greens and head lettuce like water several times a day to keep them cool. Other areas need to get try for hoeing or remain dry to let weeding take effect.

The Weeding Continues

This time of year, the weeding becomes a huge, pressing priority. Its hard work, and we are fortunate to have a solid crew able to put in the long hours required to clean up the beds. We often have people visit the farm to work for a bag of produce, and CSA members are always welcome to come visit the farm!

Harvest in full swing!

Harvest Going Strong, but We Still Need More Members!

Harvest has begun and the vegetables are flying in! I also have plenty of orders and demand to sell every bit of produce we can pick, but I still want more CSA members, especially for our Crested Butte and Marble/Redstone/Carbondale runs.

We need a certain minimum number (around 15) in each area in order to have the delivery fee we charge cover the cost of driving the truck and paying. Right now we have just 10 on the Marble/Redstone/Carbondale run and 14 on the Crested Butte run. Please help spread the word and if you are getting this email and considering signing up, please call to get on next week’s delivery.

Read about Big Box CSAs

I thought this article was fascinating about the newish phenomena of ‘Big Box’ CSAs serving hundreds or even thousands of customers. This one caught my interest especially because it covers Grant Family Farms, a Colorado CSA with over 2,000 members that serves much of Colorado, including the Roaring Fork Valley. http://www.localharvest.org/newsletter/20100622/1/big-box-csa.html?r=nl

Where is the Fruit?

This week saw the very first cherries being picked, but we haven’t gotten ahold of any organic local cherries yet – we expect to have them for fruit members next week. The first organic peaches are only a couple of weeks away as well. Once we start with fruit, we should have something different every week.

Questions about the Produce?!

Why are there holes in the bok choi leaves? why didn’t I get peas this week? when will the tomatoes be ready? you have questions – i have answers! email me your questions and i will try to address them in this regular post.

Whats In the Box?

NEW: Head lettuce – romaine and red crisp – full 2 heads, half 1 head
NEW: Baby Beets – 1 bunch – three kinds of beets in this weeks bunches ~ red ace round red beets, golden beets and cylindrical ‘forno’ beets. these early thinning pickings are the sweetest beets of the ear, just boil them whole! the greens are also good for cooking, visit the recipe page, or  try searching epicurious.com
NEW: Peas – sugar snaps – Just starting this week, full box only for some areas – more next week!
NEW: Chard & Kale –  Full – 2 bags / Half – 1 bags – tender baby cooking greens

Spinach ~ -1 bag
Salad Mix – 1 bag
Radishes – 1 bunch
Dill / Cilantro ~ Full – 2 bunches / Half 1 bunch
4″ potted herbs ~ Full 4 plants / Half 2 plants – your pick from a large variety,

Coming Soon (1-3 weeks)

Head Lettuce – More varieties
Bok Choi (with some holes in the leaves…)
Bunched Chard
Bunched Kale
Bunched Spinach
Shelling Peas

What is the Box Worth?

This weeks value: spinach $3.50, salad $3.50, chard/kale – 3.5, lettuce $1.50, radishes $1.25, peas $4, dill/cilantro $1.50, potted herbs $3.50, beets, $3: Total value ~ Half – $24.50 / Full – $38.50. thats what you would pay to buy the same bag of produce (& plants) at the farm!

2010 CSA Newsletter, Week 1 – Harvest Time!

Harvest begins in earnest this week

The spinach, recently weeded, ready to pick, but slightly hail damaged

There isn’t a huge amount of variety, but the Salad and Spinach is abundant! We also picked some early green garlic this week, plus cilantro and dill and radishes. Box details below.

Hailstorms in June

Last week we experienced a very unusual storm that brought around a minute of pea sized hail to our mesa: we were fortunate, some growers in Paonia reported dime size hail that lasted several minutes. Our crops were mostly spared, the only real damage was some torn up spinach leaves, you will notice this in your boxes this week – fortunately the flavor is still great! Spinach only does well in the early or late part of the season here, so enjoy it while we have it.

Planting Nearly Complete

Outside the greenhouse: waiting to go in the ground.
Outside the greenhouse, a few plants left are ready to go in the ground!

The last push for planting is now happening –  the photo at left shows how little is left to transplant from the greenhouse to the field – just a few more winter squash and the last wave of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and chard for fall.

Bring on the Fruit

Fruit will start a little late this year. The earliest organic cherries (from Domingez Canyon) will be ready in around two weeks, the first peaches (from Palisade) will arrive a few weeks later. Please don’t worry if you have a fruit membership, the fruit will start soon and we will have plenty of variety to make up for lost time. The overall selection will be limited this year due to winter freeze damage (several nights around -10) and the recent hail. Still, I am confident there will be enough variety to fill your fruit memberships!

Culinary herbs - this section contains thyme, oregano, marjoram, scented basils (like lime, cinnamon & thai basil), parsley, lemongrass and more!

In the Field – Weeding, Watering

Everything is growing like crazy these days out in the field – including the weeds. A once weeded bed seems to sprout a new crop of weeds the moment you turn your back. We tackle the weeds with a few strategies: a few beds are covered with ground fabric that brocks out 95% of the weeds, but most of the beds are open and must be weeded. I use a small tractor (an Allis Chalmers Model G) we call the ‘G’ to cultivate (carefully!) between the rows.

Lots of greens in this recently weeded section: red and green lettuces, orange chard, chinese cabbage and kale (green, 'dino' and red)

The larger tractor takes care of the ‘pathways’  with large blades, then a bit later, a crew of weeders comes through with hoes to go closely along the rows of most of the crops and even between plants. Finally, a few crops get additional hand weeding (onions for example) or tractor cultivation (potatoes, corn) later in the season.

The other big task this time of year in the field is watering. With many newly seeded or planted hours, the water has to be applied regularly. Drip tape is getting laid out on some sections.  Other sections have to be dried out for hoeing, and left dry after hoeing to let the weeds dry out.

Whats In the Box?

This year everything is a little bit late, and our early boxes are always a little light compared to the mid and late season boxes, so please be patient as the season progresses! There isn’t much variety yet, but there will be plenty more to come!

Spinach ~ Full – 2 bags / Half – 1 bags – very tender and yummy this time of year, but a little torn up from the hale
Salad Mix ~ Full – 2 bags / Half – 1 bags – we try to have salad most of the season
Radishes ~ Full 2 bunches / Half – 1 bunch – a bit spicy, try them thinly sliced on a salad
Garlic, green ~ 1 bunch – mild garlic, still a few weeks from maturing, no paper yet inside the heads, clean and peel, chop up the whole thing, including the green top!
Dill / Cilantro ~ Full – 2 bunches / Half 1 bunch – just starting to come in, cilantro only lasts a few weeks
4″ potted herbs ~ Full 3 plants / Half 2 plants – your pick from a large variety, we will have more next week as well. We have lime, cinnamon and thai basil as well as sweet basil, oregano, thyme, parsley and more. These can be planted in a garden, or in a planter so please plan ahead and be ready – these plants will arrive well watered, but need to be transplanted within a few days of delivery. If you keep these plants picked you will have the herbs you choose any time you want all summer long!
Leeks ~ Full members only (don’t worry half members, we will have plenty of leeks this year, we planted a huge crop)!

Coming Soon (1-3 weeks)

Baby Chard & Kale
Peas – Sugar Snaps & Snow Peas
Baby Beets – tender, young beets, golden & red!

What is the Box Worth?

As a new feature of this newsletter, I am going to estimate the approximate farm price of the of the box. Our farm prices are typically a little lower than local retail and much lower than the prices we would charge at a remote market (this accounts for the delivery charge). Based on 18 weeks of boxes, the average price members pay for their box is  Half – $16.66 (400/18), Full – $28.77 (500/18). This weeks value: spinach $3.50, salad $3.50, radishes $1.25, garlic $3.00, dill/cilantro $1.50, herbs, $3.50, leeks, $2.50: Total value ~ Half – $19.75 / Full – $35.50

CSA Harvest Starts Soon – Details & Farm Pictures

Lots of Stuff Happening at the Farm!

I could go on and on about everything that is happening at the farm, but I’m too busy to type it all up so here are some recent farm pictures with captions, click to enlarge!

CSA Harvest Starts Soon! Produce Details…

We start pickups/deliveries on Friday June 18th (Farm Pickup and Marble/Redstone/Carbondale delivery). I’m sure everyone is wondering what will be ready (and where the delivery will be). The first crops are starting to come in – the salad is ready, as are the radishes. Soon we will start picking spinach (bagged for the 1st few weeks, then bunched). The peas are flowering and we will start picking those next week. The cilantro is ready, the dill is close. We will also soon harvest some early garlic and possibly garlic scapes (flower heads), plus a bit of leeks that overwintered. The early beets size up quickly and we should have baby beets by week 2. our early carrots hardly germinated, so carrots will start in a few weeks later, in late July. Early July will bring the 1st head lettuce, and we’ll only have that for a few weeks before its gone for the season (we will have the baby salad mix all summer long). Also, we will have potted herbs to hand out to members for the 1st few weeks, please take home your favorites and enjoy fresh herbs all summer.

A few overall notes: the first 4-5 weeks are always a bit small and low on variety – please be patient, the real bounty doesn’t come until later in the season. There isn’t always enough of each crop for every member to get each crop every week. When a crop is in short supply (when they are just starting to come in for example) I will give the crop to one section of members (say all the farm pickup  members) one week – the other members get some other crop extra, then the rest get that crop the following week. Half and full size boxes seem similar at first, but this changes later in the season.

Delivery Times and Locations

I will call each and every member before the 1st delivery to confirm that you know where and when the delivery is happening. Farm pickups will be Fridays, starting June 18th, from 3pm-7pm – I will call with directions if ou don;t know how to get here. If you need to come before or after that time (or on a different day) please call ahead to arrange. Crested Butte deliveries will happen Sunday mornings at 11am, the truck will be parked at Stacee Vanaernem’s house – a tall green building at 421 White Rock. The truck will be there for 15-30min, then we will leave unclaimed boxes on the shady porch to  the right of the front door. If you can’t meet the truck, please send a friend or neighbor to pick up your produce and get it quickly into a cooler or fridge! Gunnison delivery will happen via Mark @ the Thistle Whistle farmstand at the Gunnison Farmers Market. If you prefer we can bring your box to crested butte any week, please call ahead to arrange. Marble, Redstone & Carbondale deliveries will take place on Friday mornings and are being handled by David Warren. I am still looking for the exact locations and will be calling members in these areas for help and ideas. Feel free to email me your suggestions as well.

More Members Requested

We would love to sign up more members in each area. If you know someone who you think might be interested, please give them a gentle suggestion to check out our website. If you are on facebook, you can suggest they like our facebook page. I’m also happy to talk to people and answer questions on the phone. I really encourage people to sign up before the 1st harvest, otherwise they miss the full scope of the season, although we do accept new members until around week 6.

Chilly Spring Updates, Planting News, Delivery Information

Spring in the Rockies

I probably don’t have to tell you this – residents of Western Colorado have all noticed the extended cold (and wind!) this spring. We have had several cold storms come thru, including one cold snap with 28 degree night time temperatures that froze some of our early cabbage & broccoli transplants – very hardy plants –  in the second week of May! Although these plants are very hardy, we had just transplanted them and they weren’t fully established. In fact, an earlier planting of broccoli took the same cold with almost no damage. Do not dispair! Losing crops from time to time is part of farming and in this case its easy to replant to make up for the lost transplants. In fact, we’ve been very busy seeding…

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Seeding Extravaganza!

Seeding continues in the greenhouse with the last of the lettuce, broccoli, chard & kale going in, plus flat after flat of large seeded summer crops: winter squash, summer squash, melons & cucumbers. I usually plant these large seeded crops directly into the ground – and I still will – but starting a flat of each variety in the greenhouse will help ensure success. Last year our squash plantings were very slow to emerge in the cold field soil and because of this we struggled to weed them and in the end squash bugs killed much of the crop (winter & summer squash). I’m determined to make this a better year for squash and the greenhouse pre-seeding is part of this effort.

In the field I just planted my second (of three) large field direct sow sections. This recent section is just under an acre and I seeded Peas (sugar snap, snow and shelling), green beans (yellow & purple bush beans too), spinach, chard, carrots (six types), cilantro, dill, cucumbers beets (several varieties – red, orange, stripped and specialty dark red baby beats)  and more. The earlier seeding is up and we are on track to start harvest soon!

Harvest and Delivery

CSA harvest will start one week later than last year due to the slow spring. The first farm pickup will be Friday, June 18th. Deliveries to Crested Butte will remain on Sundays starting Sunday June 20th; we are still determining the Redstone/Marble/Carbondale delivery day, but it looks like Fridays (or Saturdays) will be the day – email me your feedback on the delivery day & location!

We need a minimum count in each area to make these deliveries work, so please send in your signup forms so we can finalize the delivery points. Gunnison members may have there boxes delivered at the farmers market. We still have room to accept more members!

Fresh Herbs All Summer

In addition to the rotating herbs in your CSA box (something different every week!), this year we are growing a bunch of 4″ pots of various herbs. These are a bonus part of the CSA this year – our way of saying thanks for joining. We will have the herb plants at the farm and in the delivery truck for the 1st few weeks of harvest (you have to meet the truck). Every member can choose an assortment, take them home to plant into a windowsill planter, pot or garden. This is the best way to have fresh herbs on hand throughout the summer just when you need them!

Spring is here, Harvest starts soon!

The farm is buzzing with activity!

Lots of activity on the farm these days! The greenhouse is packed with plants and the fields are slowly filling in. My early seeding is coming up – salad mix, radishes, peas, spinach, beets are all up; transplanting continues as the weather allows – we have around a half acre in so far of head lettuce, onions, broccoli, pak choi, cauliflower, kale, chard and cabbage. We also welcomed new summer interns Rob & Gene this week. They are camping out in the Tipi, staying the summer to learn more about small scale, natural farming.

CSA Memberships still available

The CSA is still open for memberships! I have around 25 members so far, and would like another 20 or 30 members before the harvest season begins in mid June. Its only $150 to reserve your spot, please help spread the word!

Here is a slide show of recent shots from the farm.

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Spring Photo Tour – Planting & More

Spring is in full swing at the farm and we are getting very busy planting, seeding, transplanting & more. A slideshow with captions appears below. We planted 3000 onions and over 1/2 acre of potatoes yesterday, and today I started seeding the 1st direct sow section: spinach, beets, scallions & pearl onions, peas, salad, cilantro, carrots, radishes and more. We also laid out the irrigation pipes and I’ll have the water on shortly. The early broccoli, chois and head lettuce go out next, and the trees and berries for our new orchard/berry field await planting! Can you tell its busy around here?

If you are considering signing up for the CSA this summer, we are still offering our early signup discount – pay in full by May 1 to get 10% off your veggie box price.

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Seeding in Full Swing!

Things are hopping on the farm this week, with good weather and the time is ripe for planting seeds. Our earliest broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and flowers went in the seedling trays a few weeks ago, and this week I  will plant another batch of seedings. Timing is critical when sowing seeds, and I  usually plant multiple waves of each crop to help ensure success.

I created a new poster to promote CSA signups – I am  trying to increase our membership for the 2010 season to 75. I could use some help promoting the CSA – and there is still time to sign up early and get a 10% discount for paying up front. If you are willing, please download a copy of the poster here and print out a few copies to poster somewhere it might get noticed – a school, a health food store or anywhere posters congregate.

I’m going to plant some raspberries!

Actually, I’m planting a LOT of raspberries

As well as blackberries, as part of our Raspberry and Blackberry Research project!

The project will research raspberry varieties for production in Western Colorado. We will research nine promising cultivars and try to identify two or three promising varieties for further research. Varieties will include summer fruiting and ever-bearing types, plus two blackberries for comparison. Yield, harvest season, size and harvest time from each type will be recorded over a three year period, as well as notes on flavor, habitat, storage & processing all posted on a regularly updated website.

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