Dear CSA shareholders,
I'm sitting down to write this e-mail later than usual. I spent the weekend visiting my friends Luke and Sally Gran, who run Tabletop Farm with another couple in Nevada, just east of Ames. We attended a monthly gathering of the Quinntesence (Quinn for short), a group of five vegetable farms run by young farmers in the Des Moines/Ames area. Its basically a farmer support group, with each member farm hosting a workday and potluck every month during the growing season. I've been invited as an "observing member" in the Quinn's inaugural year, so I make it the Quinn + 1. We spent this afternoon working at Julia Slocum's farm, Lacewing Acres in Boone, just outside of Ledges State Park. Julia is in her first year farming about an acre of land and has a 30 member CSA. After working, we went over to Ledges for a potluck and several hours of unabashed farmer talk. Every one in the Quinn is in some form of transition, whether it's buying their land, thinking about scaling back, losing a business partner, or trying to figure out if they are going to continue farming on their land. We didn't come to any solid answers about how to deal with these various challenges, but being able to talk to each other about them makes a huge difference. I am very fortunate to have found this network of young farmers that I can plug into and to be able to develop friendships based on our common values and occupations. Farming has long nurtured the image of the rugged individualist, building their own business and forging their own path. Its true, that what draws many of us to farming is the ability to determine our own livelihoods, but farmers needs a community too, not only of consumers but of peers. I have been constantly buoyed by my association with other young farmers and this weekend was no exception. We trade ideas, talk about successes and failures, commiserate about weeds and watering and enjoy each others food and company. There is a kind of madness to wanting to follow this path, and finding other people who share that affliction makes me feel like its a bug that has been worth catching, if it brings me into the company of such talented and interesting group of people.
The cool weather of late has been very refreshing (having to wear a sweater on Friday night was unexpected) but its also slowed the growth of warm season crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants considerably. Cherry and roma tomatoes are just beginning to ripen, so I can offer a few in the share this week. Peppers and eggplants have fruit on them but they are still not ready to harvest. The onions this week will be without their green tops and can be considered an uncured, fresh onion. Storage onion harvest will begin in a few weeks. Broccoli is sadly coming to an end. The early variety, Blue Wind, considers to grow sides shoots but less vigorously as time goes on, and the late variety, Belstar, is not showing the same tendency for side shoots that has allowed me to offer broccoli consistently over the last month. Cabbages are maturing, however, and the first "mini" green heads are available this week. Red cabbage should be available later in August. Pole beans are beginning to flower. I just made a late planting of bush beans, so I hope to have them available late in September. Over the next few weeks I'll be making various fall plantings and hoping for some timely rains to help the seeds germinate. Its hard to believe that August is upon us and within a few short weeks the nights will be turning consistently cooler and fall will begin to creep in.
As I had mentioned in my meetings with all of you this winter and spring, I planned on having cut flowers available. This week, the zinnias have begun to blossom and are available in the share. Sunflowers and cosmos are next. The wild blackberries have begun to ripen and should be available this week. Wild blackberries are quite similar to domestic blackberries but tend to be smaller, less sweet, but more flavorful. They follow closely behind black raspberries in ripening and often grow in the same areas, since both plants prefer forest edges and partially shaded areas. I've revised down the available amount to 1/2 pint, after finding full pints of berries to be too much for me to pick the last several weeks. Everything I do this year has the quality of experiment, and offering fruit, and especially wild fruit, is no exception. I appreciate you all riding through the bumps with me.
Boxes: Thanks for being diligent about returning your boxes! If you still have one from last week, I can pick it up on Friday when I do deliveries, or you can drop it off before Friday at my house (1325 4th Ave, NW corner of 4th and Elm) on the screened-in porch.
Max order amounts: Note that if you order more the amount I have listed as available for a particular item, I may still be able to fill that order, but in case of a limited supply I won't be able to.
Until next week!
(641) 821 0753