Each year has it challenges and successes and 2010 was no doubt a bit challenging with the persistent rains and wet conditions which lead to various disease and crop damage. Surviving two 100 year floods in one summer can amp up the stress levels involved in diverse vegetable farming. Overall, I think we faired well despite a bit more dirt on some crops due to splattering mud and a reduction in the amount of weeks that some crops were available. However, our diversity still ranged from 7-12 items per week.
I want to make sure that all of the CSA members truly know how much I appreciate their support and encouragement throughout the season, as well as the valued relationship I have with CSA members who have been with the farm for multiple years. It is a year like this past that can challenge the foundation of what it means to be a CSA member. A CSA membership is not simply a convenient purchase of guaranteed vegetables for the season, but it is a commitment to a farm and a share of what is produced for that particular year.
It is the solid commitment through good times and challenging times that creates a solid foundation for a farm to be steadfast and persist into the future. Due to the diversity of crops a CSA farm grows, each year will create conditions that favor particular vegetables more than others. Over time, these booms and busts even out but we are always trying new ways to improve our growing methods in order to compensate for these variables. I guess this is part of the fun and frustration of farming…as soon as you have an answer to one issue, there are three more issues to figure out and now implement strategies into the daily work plan to get these changes made in a timely manner.
During times of challenge, there is a unique opportunity to reflect upon what you do and how you do it. This summer proved to be a time of growth for the farm in the amount of CSA shares it produced as well as the number of wood-fired pizzas it cooked. The difficult part is that most of that growth all happens during the peak growing season on the farm. Remember, this is a small farm and I am the primary drive to the farm; therefore, there is only a limited amount of time and energy that I can put forth without sacrificing quality time with my children and disrupting the balance between work and my personal life.
So during those long hours of weeding and other more repetitive tasks, I sat with this problem trying to find a creative solution. I have come up with several changes to implement for next season which I think will have positive benefits for all.
Stay tuned, I’ll reveal those changes for 2011 in my next post…(don’t you hate a cliffhanger!)