Newsletter – August 23, 2016

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This week you are getting potatoes, red onion, garlic, carrots, cabbage, squash, specialty peppers, kale and tomatoes. The Full Shares will be getting broccoli. We do not have a lot of peppers due to the hail storm, so you will be getting different types. These specialty peppers are called lipstick. They come in red, green, yellow and orange, are very sweet and are good for cooking. Treat them as any other pepper. No fruit, but everyone will be getting honey that ordered it!

Going back in time to 1995-96: It was a wet, stormy spring and crops came on late. We planted our first asparagus field in 1993 (our very first year as a CSA) and expected our first crop this year. (Little did we know it would be three more years before seeing our first fat spears!) We added 120 laying hens, two goats, two calves, four piglets and a greenhouse to the farm. We had a “Barn Raising” event and around ten members showed up to help us erect the greenhouse. By the end of August, there was a small hailstorm. Crops were already set back by the cold, wet spring and this storm set them back farther and damaged the roof of the greenhouse. We did not expect most of the crops to come on until September and October. All the tomatoes in the greenhouse (no longer standing) went to farmers’ market. We had an early freeze on Sept 25th and were down to root crops and winter squash for the month of October.

The “Homeplace” (as we call the original farm where Jerry Sr. lives today) is a very small 21 acre farm where only about 15 acres are farmable. Jerry and I knew we could not grow our business with the amount of acreage we were farming. On March 1st 1996, Jerry and I expanded the farm by purchasing the place we live, work and play on today! This was the year of expansion and improvements for us and we invested a lot of time and money into the project. We purchased two used cold frames that year and Jerry planted lettuce and kale in one, the other held carrots, turnips and beets. The greenhouse needed a new plastic roof due to the hailstorm and a second “barn raising” occurred with five handy male members helping out. (It was planted with tomatoes again). The farm was 60 years old that year and we were asking all the PR types for tips and suggestions on what we should do to play it up. A harvest festival was suggested and we acted on that idea right away even though we have been getting together as a group at the end of the year since 1993 for a potluck. But this time we had a bicycle parade, I did face painting, we had a volley ball game and croquet tournament in the yard, a nephew performed a magic act and we had hayrides to the pumpkin patch; all happening under the 75 year old trees at the Homeplace.

1996 was probably the hardest year we endured yet. We had a hailstorm in early July and again in August. The hailstones were nickel size and it hailed for 10 minutes each time. Much to our dismay, we had another early freeze (Sept. 20th this time)! Two years in a row was excruciatingly painful! Now we have to get winter jobs to support our family. We asked members to dig deep and help us out by purchasing something new: a Winter Share.

Winter Shares looked very different than they do today. For $100 a member could receive 8 bushels of crops including carrots, onions, potatoes, corn, winter squash and anything else still remaining on the farm. Each household got to pick exactly what they wanted, how much of it and making any combination they wanted.

We had five to ten people get the Winter Share….my records are foggy here. Until we found a way to store the produce ourselves at the farm, the most people we ever got to purchase the share was 25. Today we serve 150 to 175 depending on the season.

Coming back to today: This summer (with the larger than golf ball size hail) is probably very close to being as destructive as the two hailstorms of 1996. It has been a long time since we have seen this kind of devastation! The biggest difference between now and then is: we were young, green, and had invested heavily in improvements. Jerry Sr. helped us by telling us what would continue to grow and produce and what to plow under and start over or forget for the season. (Much could be replanted in July, but not in August.) The early freeze cut off any recovery and production of so many plants. Is this starting to sound familiar?

It is cooling down already at night when we have gotten used to upper 60 degree temps in August for the last 18 years. A meteorologist once told us that we have 20 year cycles coinciding with cycles of the sun. Starting in 2010, we were supposed to start a cooling cycle. We did not see any changes until 2013 with the cooler spring, rainy month of May and torrential rains in September. Could we actually be seeing a cooling trend? Every May since then has been cold and rainy. This year has been fairly cool all summer with only a few very hot days. Normally we can feel fall starting to cool down our evenings in September….but I am feeling this already. All I can say is this is all very interesting to me!! Goodness! Does this mean I am getting old enough to be like my grandmother/grandfather and be able to recite weather through a historical setting? Yikes!! (What does this mean for global warming? Which I do believe is happening! We have already gone up a degree and a half around the world. Will this continue? Will the cool springs we are seeing right now continue?)

2016 Fees: All fees are due in full by September 1st for your vegetable, fruit and honey shares. We have always tried to make this CSA as easy as possible to pay for. We do not ask for 100% of your fees up front, which is how most CSA’s work across the US. We have divided your fees into three installments between the Membership Fee due early in the spring and your Produce Fees due on July 15th and September 1st. We go even farther by allowing some members to pay monthly now. If you cannot pay your fees in full at this time, please call me and let me know as soon as possible. We plan on discontinuing delivering shares for those customers who have not paid in full starting the week of September 4th.

Harvest Festival RSVP’s and Volunteers: What time is it? It is time to tell us if you plan on attending the festival! Please RSVP to Peg Lehr about volunteering or your attendance. Her contact info is wrdwrrior@comcast.net or 303-320-5706. The festival is September 18th from 11 to 4. She will need to know the number of adults, kids and guests and if anyone is a vegetarian and will want a Boca burger. (Guests will be charged $10 per person, three and under are free!) Anyone play an instrument or sing and wants to share that with us? We encourage even children to share their talents! I think everyone would love to see what you are learning! Mark your calendars now, so you do not plan anything else on top of this festive day!

Volunteers are needed to keep this day running smoothly. This is an excellent time to invest some of your time into the farm! Our Wish List: 8 people for the Check-in Station, 6-8 Master Grillers, 4 people to cut up produce, 8 to set up tents, tables and chairs, 6 to rinse cookware & set under the serving table and resupply cut veggies, 4 to refill drink containers, 4 to check on bathrooms and empty trashcans around the area, 5-6 people to run the canning booth and/or t-shirt booths.

Everyone has been so wonderful to us and has said the kindest things. We truly have the best CSA Members in the world. We cannot thank you enough! Have a great week.

Jacquie, Jerry, Kyle and Sam

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