As we welcome in and plan for 2014, we are reflecting on the highlights, successes, and opportunities for improvement in our 2013 farm year. We are so very thankful for your support as our customers – both buying our produce for the health of your family and spreading the word about us so that new community members can benefit from these vegetables. Speaking in rough terms, we fed the equivalent of 120 families all their vegetables for a growing season in 2013. While that is a small slice of the area’s population base, that is a lot of food from less than an acre of cultivated land!
Rain: This year had a lot of precipitation. You may feel like this has been a rainy winter, but we’re still not close to how much rain there was last spring and summer. We’re still more thankful for it than we were imposed on by it. Our records indicate there were 11 inches of rain in July alone! That is enormous. Drought years are a bit scary for us as we still don’t have access to enough irrigation water, so we offer our thanks for the 2013 rains!
Tomatoes: We were thrilled with our tomato production this year. This was largely due to the tomatoes we planted in the High Tunnel (greenhouse) which were protected from all the precipitation that fell on the leaves of the tomatoes in the field. The rain led to disease on the field plants that the greenhouse plants weren’t subject to. We sold tomatoes all the way through the first of December. (We still have 5 little tomatoes on our kitchen counter from the seconds that weren’t able to be sold. Wow.)
Salad Mix and Lettuces: We were happy with our continued production of a consistent, high quality line of salad green options.
Soil, Pests, Weeds: We are happy with the improvements in soil health that are evident in our soil tests. Pest and weed pressure seems down, which is indicative of improved soil management. We still have a way to go in these departments, but feedback says we are on the right track.
Field Crew!! Hands down, our amazing crew is responsible for the 2013 successes more than any other variable. We loved having the chance to work with everyone who helped us with vegetables and flowers this year. The list of names is long, and some volunteers stopped in for just a day or so. At the risk of leaving someone out, we will point out that the crew was dominated this year by Kathleen, Nick, Gabby, Sara, Addi, Kyle, and Savannah. A HUGE heartfelt thanks to each of you for the sweat and soul you put into this operation, and the phenomenal amount of dirt you took home with you. We hope you learned a ton, enjoyed yourself, and will continue to seek out involvement in small scale, organic ag.
Room for improvement: Sweet Potato production was paltry. Winter Squash success rate was awful. Fall Brassicas fell prey to what we think was perhaps a result of shade allowing morning dew to remain on the leaves too long into the morning. (Those trees only shade during the fall when the sun is the lowest of the growing season. They are slated for removal as soon as we save up another chunk of money to be able to pay someone to clear them. Bit by bit, step by step…) We are working on ideas to improve sweet potatoes. Recent research on Downy Mildew resistant varieties of squash plants (by Twin Oaks Seed Farm) has us optimistic for 2014. We are always paying attention to research and learning opportunities to improve our planning, infrastructure, and production.
2014 is also seeing an addition onto our small home, filled to capacity with our growing family and self-employment, a continued pursuit of irrigation water, and construction of a much-needed barn to house our vegetable washing and packing, our farm stand and CSA pick up area, a kitchen and the new oven for bread and pizza, and (no less needed) an area for our crew to relax, eat, and get out of the rain. We will very likely have days where community volunteers can chip in on this process, so stay tuned. It’s a shoe-string budget that we have to build this structure but we are so glad to be starting it to allow for better systems and community involvement here where the food is grown.
We’re finishing up our second year of full-time vegetable farming and want to be in business for many years to come. That depends on both successful vegetable growing and a tremendous amount of community support. So, THANK YOU! again, and please help spread the word about the products we offer. We know they are completely different than the vegetables offered at the grocery store, and grown completely free from GMO seed, chemical fertilizer, and any chemical/synthetic pest or disease treatments. Learn more about our Certified Naturally Grown standards here.
This Week’s Harvest:
Carrots, Lettuce (red and green), Radish (sweet giant), and Salad Mix…plus Pepper Jelly, and our Naturally Leavened, Hearth Baked Bread.
2014 Market Share CSA Members: Choose your selection through our Online Store to order for pick up on Saturday at our farm or Good Health Herbs from 9am – 12:30pm (in Brandermill), or on Sunday in Richmond.
Everyone else: Please stop by the self-serve Farm Stand at our farm and make a purchase (cash or check). And – you can sign up for our 2014 Market Share and start placing orders now. We will return to our booth at the farmers’ markets in March or April.
Our amazing Farm Share CSA provides you with a weekly share of vegetables on Wednesdays, May through September (summer season) and October – November (fall season) in exchange for an investment in our farm in the preceding winter or spring. Sign up is going on now! Learn more here.
– Janet, Dan, and the whole Broadfork Crew
PS – We are now accepting applications for 2014 Field Crew positions. There is an large focus on teaching our crew about this work, so we have termed it an Internship. See details on our website here.