Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wrapping up 2010 & Looking to 2011

Last week I finally accepted the fact that yes, the ground will freeze once again, and soon.  We had a nice couple of weeks of cold then warm and the ground was vacillating between an inch or so of mud and frosty crust.  I wrapped up the last of the hoses, Sheryl blew them out, and we finished buttoning up the new hoop.  The doors are now on, baseboards secure, and the trenches along both sides are filled.  We have beautiful chard, kale, lettuce and collard plants and greens along with seedlings of spinach, mache, lettuce, mustard, radishes and cilantro.  I still intend to transplant some parsley and maybe a few celery plants to the large hoop - I think I can chisel it out of the ground.  The small hoop still needs new ends but we'll get to that, hopefully soon.  When the sun is shining, it's really quite lovely to spend a bit of time in the hoop.

We've had a much-enjoyed lull in action here over the past few weeks.  The extended season ended the 1st week in November, the Thanksgiving boxes went out the third week in November, the turkeys were processed and distributed that same week, and Thanksgiving came and we celebrated.  We generally have a large gathering for this holiday as both families come together, along with friends who are near by.  This year we had 27 gathered around our tables to enjoy each other's company and a meal that we all participated in preparing.  We all have much to be thankful for.

It's now time to get back to business and here's what we're up to:

  • Ann Arbor Farmer's Market - Dec. 10 - 7 a.m. - 1? - Molly, the market manager for the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market, came out last Friday to check out the farm.  New vendors apply to participate in the market.  In November, the board accepted our application and Molly's visit was the last step in the process.  So, this Saturday I intend to be at the market with a few veggies.  There is still choi that I can sell.  It has frozen but I picked it yesterday and let it thaw before cooking - still crunchy and tasty! In addition, a few of the brussels sprouts grew over the past month so I now have something to harvest.  Maybe a few bunches of kale or collards from the hoop, maybe some carrots.  Not a lot, but it's what we have and it would be good to sell it rather than leave it for the deer.  I'll stay until it's sold so if you're in the area, stop in and say hi.  I probably won't have a large sign so you might need to search a little.
  • Planning the CSA season (seasons!) for next year.  I'm going to break it up as follows:
    1. A spring share for 10 weeks.  This will run between the weeks of March 23 and May 23 and will cost $250.  I will limit this to 20 shares and will offer first to those who indicated interest in a winter share.    Pick up will be here, at the farm, on Wednesday evenings only (4 - 6:30). I still need to plan for what will be in the box but it will most likely be heavy on greens along with some onions and maybe spring garlic, etc.  A few herbs may also be available.
    2. A summer CSA for 20 weeks.  This will run from May 30 through October 10 and will be $600.  The summer shares include veggies, herbs and flowers, as available.  I will offer 3 pick ups this year - Monday and Wed. from 3 - 6:30 and Saturday from 10 - 12:30.  All pick ups are here, on the farm, unless you hear otherwise.
    3. An extended season for 3 weeks the weeks of October 17, 24 31.  Price and # of spaces will be subject to what's available in the field at the time.
    4. A holiday box the week prior to Thanksgiving.  Again, pricing and # of boxes will be determined a month or so before the distribution.
    5. Next winter I might offer the winter boxes in January, Feb & March.  For this year (2011), I'll sell items through the AA Farmer's Market, assuming we have enough to sell.  A booth costs $25/trip so, in order to participate, I need to have enough bunches of greens to cover the cost of the booth plus and any other expenses such as labor that goes into going to market.
  • Planning the crops for next year - the seed catalogs are starting to come in.  I've received catalogs from both Seeds of Change and Johnny's and am starting to pour through them.  My new crop this year will be fava beans - based on a request from a member last year.  Would you like to see an additional veggie or a certain variety of a veggie?  Please let me know.  Things I won't plant are any invasive species or sweet corn.  The first for obvious reasons and the second because the corn just goes to the raccoons.
  • Planning what will be in the box for next year.  This winter I'm going to try to set up a menu, per se.  I'm going to try for a more varied veggie offering for next year so you don't get 6 weeks of the same thing in a row.  No matter what you'll still receive a core group of veggies but I'm going to try to alternate root crops more along with fruiting veggies so maybe you'll have beets and summer squash one week and carrots and eggplant or okra the next.  The only challenge with this is that half members might miss a week of something but in the end, it always seems to even out.  (Please remember, we don't prepare half a box.  If you're a half share member, you either pick up a full box every other week or figure out how to split your box with your share partner).
  • Working toward certification - I still have the idea to submit the paper work for Organic Certification.  I like the idea of it but need to make the time to compile a lot of paper work.
  • Working on the books - It's been a while since I spent any time on the accounting for the business so I need to get back to that.  I am curious to find out the bottom line re. turkeys.
  • Preparing for various winter conferences.  Washtenaw Community College will have another career fair this winter and I plan to participate in that.  Hopefully I'll get lucky and meet a few future employees.  We generally also attend the Local Food Summit and MOFFA  and FSEP conferences along with local gatherings.  I heard there's an annual organic veggie conference on the west side of the state.  If you hear of another conference that sounds interesting, please let me know.  These are great venues for me to meet other growers and learn of various techniques and strategies.
  • Thinking about a new distribution shed - maybe you'll pick up again from the front porch or maybe there will be a new building near the hoops.  We'll see.
  • Volunteering at Bates Elementary and UUAA for various committees and in the classroom.
  • Playing a bit of tennis through AA Rec and Ed.  How fun.
  • Chasing Hannah around - also fun.
Until next time, stay warm, enjoy the holidays, and let me know if you have early spring fever and would like to pull a few weeds in the hoop or plant a few seeds.