Wading through the reflection pool
Some friendly trading in the works
Our loot on display upon returning home from the swap
Yesterday was the Food/Preserve Swap that we hosted at the "Church on the Park" in Canton.
This being the first year we were very pleased with the smooth and trouble free nature of the event.
Although the active participants only numbered twelve, the food groups represented were that of many more. Some of the items included goat cheese, fig wine, beer, yogurt, maple syrup, jams and jellies,
pickled and fermented vegetables of all sorts, vinegar, pumpkin seeds, tomato sauce, salsa, granola, canned venison and more. It was really a wonderful event and we are already very eager for next year.
Ah next year, as the seed catalogs start to roll in and as are bodies start to recover from the busy season
now behind us, the day (and night) dreaming begins. Quickly however the dreaming turns into actual and specific planning. As growers before you begin to make the next seasons plan you must first reflect
on the past season. What worked? what did not? What do we need to do better? Because we are only in so much control of things (if at all) farming boils down to managing risk and making good decisions based on that risk. The risk comes in many forms, weather, insect and animal pressure and disease. This season we were afforded the opportunity to experience many of these factors at play. Our garden is planned and planted with more than sufficient diversity to hopefully balance out most losses as they occur. So as shareholders when you pick up your food and you have a full box it is difficult to discern what may be going wrong in the field. With out going into great detail the following are some of the challenges that we faced this season and ultimately affected your overall share.
-An April without measurable precipitation resulted in a far less than average onion and leek crop.
We now have in place an irrigation system to deal with this problem.
-A woodchuck wrecked havoc on the soy beans, parsnips, early broccoli and anything else it chose to. This resulted in a very poor edamame crop and no early or mid season broccoli We have know put chicken wire around the whole garden and forcibly removed the woodchuck.
-Mice and voles continue to be a problem in the beets. For many gardeners and farmers this is an on going problem. Some of you might not mind but many of us miss having an ample supply of beets in the root cellar for raw salads.
-And last but certainly not least was our very, very wet september that included the now infamous 100 year flood of Taylor Park. To tell you the truth, i have yet to go back into the park to this day with out reliving what i felt as i showed up that morning for harvest. Witnessing months and months of planning and all of our hand work under two feet of running water does something to you. It definitely did something to the crops. Looking back now it is clear what the overall effects were. Small fall carrots and other roots, no fall lettuce or spinach, reduced yields and storage quality in the winter squash and fall cabbage, no fall cauliflower, poor fall broccoli, reduced tomato harvest and no germination of the fall and overwintering cover crops. This list is not insignificant. Consider however that we continued to offer much variety and full baskets right through mid November and a Upick of greens still available today. As in nature, diversity in agricultural systems works. Our bellies, pantries, freezers and root cellars prove it.
Because of this we are making the necessary changes as to how we will use the land around Taylor Park. This includes opening up more land up front and out of the flood plain.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge one of the most important parts of the equation regarding a growers responsibility, that is soil management.
We will continue to employ extensive use of mulch, cover crops and green manures(legumes), use crop rotations and specific livestock rotations to ensure that we are continually building soil and creating the optimal environment for crops to thrive.
In the next week we will be sending out a form to solicit your feed back on your personal experiences this season. Please fill it out. This information is invaluable to us.
Information for the 2011 season is also on the horizon.
Thanks so much for being part of our project and we look forward to hearing your thoughts soon.