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On the Subject of Plastic…plus mkt for 1.19.19

Janet here. I have some memories and some goals to share with you today.
I was 21 when someone first said to me “I have a rule that I don’t get a beverage unless I have my own container.” This was in response to being offered a drink of tea in a “disposable” cup.
It was 1998 and I was part of an environmental group at my college that had organized some sort of event on a relevant topic. I don’t remember the name of the group or what sort of event we had organized. We had invited the individual described above to speak about something – I don’t even remember what his prepared talk was about. All I remember is the impact made by this simple act before the presentation when we organizers offered him a cup of tea.

That event was part of the time in my life when I was carefully considering what I wanted “to do with my life.” I was nearing college graduation and pondering next steps, as well as thinking hard about what I would do for employment. My time living in college housing would soon be forced to an end, and I had college loans looming. I had to figure out where I was going, what I was doing, where I would live, and how I would earn money. I decided that I wanted to have the impact of my consumption be an important factor in those decisions.

Fast forward 12 years and many formative-experiences later, and here I was, back in Chesterfield where I was raised, and starting a farm with Dan. The impact of my consumption – and that of our fledgling business – was still in the forefront of my mind, heart, and decisions. We started growing salad greens for our community and we did not want plastic to be part of the relationship and transaction between us and the eaters of the food. We brought our salad greens to the markets in big, bulk, sanitizable, re-usable tubs, ready to fill our customers’ bags with tongs while weighing out the greens. We knew not everyone in Chesterfield, VA, brought their own containers in which to put their salad, so we bought some bags that looked like plastic but were made of corn and biodegradable. And then we used our tongs to fill bags at market.

And it was a painfully slow process.

One day (an embarrassing number of months later), we finally put some salad in one of those corn-plastic bags and brought it on a trip with us, tucking it into the fridge of the house in which we were staying. The next day, we were distraught to discover that the salad greens in the biodegradable bag were limp and unappealing! The biodegradable bag was porous and allowed the water in the salad greens to evaporate! We had a mix of feelings – mad at ourselves for not using the bags of greens in the way that our customers were in order to experience how they worked, completely sad that our righteous and carefully chosen bags didn’t do what we needed them to do, and depressed that we had to admit that our bag-at-market-in-customers’-containers idea wasn’t working out. It was way too slow to accommodate the amount of salad we knew we had to grow in order to support our family, and hardly anyone ever brought their own container. Sigh. On to year #2 of farming…

…We bought a bunch of air-tight plastic bags in which to put our righteous salad greens. Oh my.

This is now the one part of our farm business that I just don’t like. I can’t stand it. I love our farm and what we do and the food that we are able to grow with only biological inputs and the amazing community members that value the food we grow. And I hate the plastic bags. And we can’t think of a single feasible alternative. Why am I writing about this right now? Because it’s winter and the time when — though we are still seeding, planting, harvesting, and distributing — we assess the farm as a whole, place bulk orders of supplies for the year, and identify specific things we want to improve. This plastic bag thing keeps haunting us because we can’t stand it and can’t find a solution. We know it’s significantly better than the alternative salad greens trucked 3,000 miles here from California, also in plastic containers. But it’s not as good as want it.

{Here’s one of the projects getting attention this winter….Thank you to the rains of 2018 for revealing all the places on the farm that need better drainage.}
We don’t have an answer right now, but please know that our brains and hearts are on it and we will continue looking for a solution. Meanwhile, we are very happy to report that the change in how our CSA/Farm Share program works means that all shares are now packed in rigid, durable, recyclable plastic boxes. (Certain types of shares used to be packed in grocery bags.) We are really excited about this change and reducing the number of bags our farm consumes. Farm Shares are available for our main season which runs May through November. Read details here and please sign up to join our farm! We are offering a new  *customizable* Farm Share through the new software called Harvie. Choose what you prefer from our harvest for weekly or bi-weekly shares!

For the bags that currently hold our greens and herbs very well, we encourage all of our members and customers to reuse them as much as you are able. We reuse them to hold roots and bunched greens in our fridge, and even to hold fruit that we purchase loose. We also use them to freeze things, but we realize they do rip easily in the freezer. Please do your best, and we’ll continue to do our best, and let’s all support work at the manufacturing and policy levels to move our community toward sustainable alternatives.

Our harvest this week includes: 
Lots of Salad and Spinach and lesser amounts of Carrots, Dill, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach…and our Organic Hearth Baked Bread (Baguettes, Herb, Whole Rye, Raisin, & Seed loaves for this weekend).

{Our farmstand is open with most of the above items…see here for updated inventory}

Everything remaining after member shares are filled and our farm stand is shopped (plus the bread we bake Saturday morning)… we’ll bring on Saturday to the Farmer’s Market @ St. Stephen’s. We also have various greens available now via the online farmers’ markets: FallLineFarms.com.

Enjoy ~

Janet, Dan, & the whole Broadfork crew
Want to follow along during the week, including Farm Stand updates? Visit us on Facebook or Instagram 

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