Next week is week 20 of our summer CSA, our last week! We have a few fall treats for you in your last share pick up – sweet potatoes, parsnips, purple top turnips, fennel, pie pumpkins, kabocha and butternut winter squash and herbs will be among your share choices. (See the What’s in the Share page for more details.) As of week 19, we distributed $575 of Moraine Farm produce to our CSA shareholders. Looks like we will hit $600 next week – not a bad return on your investment. We had a bountiful growing season in spite of the weather challenges!
Next week will also be the last opportunity to purchase a Fall CSA share. Subscription cards are on the shopkeepers table or you can sign up on-line and drop payment off with your shopkeeper. Friday, October 18 at 7 PM is the deadline for signing up and completing payment. More information about the Fall Share is here.
I have been getting a lot of questions about what’s next. Will there be January and February CSA shares? When will 2014 shares be available? I don’t have firm answers yet, although I’ve lots of ideas and tentative plans. It looks like we will have enough produce to offer a January, and possibly a February CSA share. It also seems that 2014 may be the year we will offer a ½ year (26 week) spring/summer CSA and ½ year fall/winter CSA.
Normally, I’d be ready to take the next step, but 2013 was not a normal year. Many of our local farmers, including me, say this was one of the toughest growing seasons they’ve experienced. Spring temperatures were so cold that, I swear, I saw crops shivering and turning blue in the fields in May. Record-breaking June rains had our carrots begging for life jackets. On July 11, farmers in Franklin County reported a confirmed case of late blight in field tomatoes. Confirmed cases of late blight in Massachusetts just kept rolling in, and our work to prevent it gaining a foothold took more and more of our time. And let’s not forget the heat waves – all three of them, June 23-25, July 3-7 and July 14-20. Record low temperatures in September slowed the ripening of peppers and tomatoes and hurried our harvest of winter squash.
Each of these “events” had significant consequences for crop yields, farm labor, weed, disease and pest pressure. The challenges of this season were exacerbated by weaknesses in our infrastructure – farm systems, equipment, tools just were not up to snuff. Farming in New England, heck, farming anywhere, is a challenge. Mother Nature does not always play well with others. We farmers have a few tricks up our sleeve, and can often dodge, or at least manage, what gets thrown at us. But by August, many of us, including yours truly, were just exhausted by the endless game of dodge ball.
So I’d like to take a little more time to assess the 2013 season and see what can be learned from it. We want both high levels of food production and community engagement, and this requires that we tweak our farm systems a bit. Farm systems that are adequate, safe and up to the rigors of tough seasons will serve us well should Mother Nature prove overly difficult in the future.
The mid-season survey many of you completed is proving very helpful. (Didn’t get a chance to complete it? You can still offer your feedback. Just fill out the on-line survey.) So stay tuned. I’ll be in touch with news about CSA plans and sign up for 2014 in the next several weeks. And yes, 2013 shareholders get first dibs on 2014 shares.