Tuesday, April 17, 2018

CSA Week 1---Our 15th Season is Underway

Swiss chard and alyssum in the high tunnel

In The Share
CABBAGE: From cold storage.  These are sweet right down to the core, so don't throw that core out but enjoy it as a crunchy snack.  
CARROTS: Another vegetable we have kept in cold storage to hedge our bets. Harvested in early November, they are a real treat.
BOK CHOI: Fresh from the high tunnel.  Check out our stir fry primer blogpost from 2010.
SPINACH: Enough for a good omelet or a hearty addition to a salad.
CHARD OR SPROUTING BROCCOLI: If you are new to the CSA, the sprouting broccoli can be chopped or used whole, no trimming necessary.
GREEN GARLIC: From the field.  They are smaller than other years, but very tender.  Tonight I chopped it up and added it to sautéed chard during the last minute of cooking.

Farm Report
Greetings and welcome to the first week of the 2018 CSA!  We, farmers Tom and Rebecca, have joined forces on the blog. From now on, you will have one blogpost from us for each CSA share instead of us writing separate ones.  Tom is still covering the how to eat things portion and I cover the farm report with some overlap.

This space is where I (Rebecca) usually gripe about the weather, but holy hell what a Spring this has been!  Ice, snow, and freezing temperatures for the last three weeks have thrown our schedule for a loop.  We did our best to adapt to the forecast by double covering all of the transplants already in the field, holding the many more inside the greenhouse and putting covers on all of our tender seedlings that had just popped their little heads above the soil.  It appears our efforts have paid off.

Sprouting broccoli happy under cover

With the forecast looking warm for the foreseeable future, we have wasted no time getting back to planting.   

freshly planted cabbages

Amidst all of the weather drama, we must also acknowledge a milestone.  This year marks the fifteenth year of the Fair Share Farm CSA!  The community of good folks who have supported the farm over the years are many and we would like to thank you all.  Whether you are brand new to the CSA or a 15-year veteran we are filled with gratitude for the life that you have breathed into our family farm. 

If you want to get a snapshot of our first CSA year, check out our blog post from 2013 where we reminisce about it:  First year of the CSA. It is part of a series we did in 2012 recounting the history of the farm and farmers back during our 10 year anniversary. So enjoy those past chronicles as we begin another season.

Friday, February 2, 2018

CSA 2018: Join Now!

Oh, wintertime on the farm! It conjures up visions of drowsy farmers curled up with a good book around an crackling fire.  Alas, even farmers are not immune from the modern condition and winter for us includes more spreadsheets than catnaps.

The "off season" does offer a break from the sweaty toil of summertime and some time for reflection.  2017 was a year of experimentation with the CSA and the new ferments business.  The 2017 CSA member survey has been a very helpful tool to judge the season behind us and plan for the one ahead.  Here are some highlights:

  • 68 people responded out of 85 memberships
  • 86% liked the changes we made in 2017 overall
  • 93% liked the every other week shares
  • 91% said they received a sufficient amount of produce
  • 91% felt the bulk list was an easy way to supplement the share
  • 96% liked the online signup
  • 98% said they would renew in 2018
  • Pricing:  34% said keep it at $250, 50% said raise it to $350, 12% said raise it to $400.
  • Favorite items:  strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes
  • Least-liked items:  turnips, fennel, lettuce, beets, chard
  • Add items:  more tomatoes, green beans and peas.

  • With these results plus our own farm records in mind we have decided to keep things similar to 2017:  every-other week share, with some added variety and quantity, and a share price of $375. 

    Regarding pricing: Through the handy software at Small Farm Central we were able to keep tabs on the value of the weekly shares and decided to split the difference between what we expect to hand out in 2018 ($400) and what the members want ($350).  These prices include a 15% discount off retail price that we give the members since they are in effect buying in bulk from us.  We will be planting more tomatoes and adding back some peas and green beans.

    Bringing back the sliding scale:  For 14 years our CSA offered a scale of prices that allowed for families with lower incomes to afford the shares.  With the move to the online signup last year, we scraped this core concept because we couldn't wrap our heads around how to implement it in the new system.  Now, a year later we think we have figured out how to bring it back.  When you go through the process to join the CSA you will be given three price options:  $425, $375, and $325. The center of the scale ($375) is what it costs the farm to grow a share of produce. Those that can afford to join at the $425 end of the scale allow for others to join for $325.

    Partner Vendors:  We are happy to announce that most of our Partner Vendors are back for another season.  Parker Farms natural meats, Goatsbeard and Skyview cheeses and Companionship Breads are available in 2018.  Tiny Whole Farm, who has provided the CSA with chickens, is not returning because they are shifting focus to running the Red Rooster restaurant in Polo, Missouri.  We at Fair Share Farm will also continue to offer egg and ferment shares.

    If all of this sounds like something you would like to be a part of, membership is now open for the 2018 CSA.  We welcome you to join our CSA and eat well all season long.  Follow this link to join now:  fairshare.csasignup.com   The strawberries will be here before you know it!

    Tuesday, November 14, 2017

    In the Share: Week 16


    SWEET POTATOES  Bonita variety are creamy yellow






    The year has flown by and here we are already at the last week of the CSA season.  We hope you all enjoyed our offerings from the fields.  We sure have enjoyed growing them for you.

    Some may recall that a year ago we announced that 2017 was to be a sabbatical year.  After 14 years of building the farm up, we wanted a year to allow us to experiment and take a breath.  Overall, we are happy with what we accomplished.  We reduced our growing area by more than half and managed to improve the productivity of our fields.  Certain crops were dropped altogether (beans and peas), others were grown on a much smaller scale (tomatoes, zucchini).  The CSA was shifted to an every-other week, one share size system.  Tom had time to make lots of yummy ferments and market them to area grocery stores and farmers markets.  Luckily, we had pretty decent weather - not too hot and dry in the summer, and at least in our little area, no massive rain events.  It is hard to extrapolate the successes of one season to future seasons, but at this point, we would like to use 2017 as the starting point for 2018.

    We really would like to know how this experimental year was for you.  Look for an invitation from the farm in the coming weeks for a survey of the membership.  We would love to hear from everyone who participated in the CSA this year and learn your thoughts and any suggestions for improvement.

    Thank you for your support of our family farm during the sabbatical.  We were unsure of what would come of it and it meant alot to us that so many of you stuck with us.

    What to Do With Your Share---Week 16

    Last blog of our sabbatical season. And while we use that term loosely, we were able to rest a bit and learn a lot at the same time. Thanks for going along for the ride this year, we hope next season will be even better. Coming out the other side of the season with an enthusiastic membership and a cooler full of vegetables and ferments is a nice trend to be riding.

    The last share has a nice selection of field grown and high tunnel items. The fennel this year tastes great, as the cold outside temps lately helped sweeten it up. It is great chopped and added to a lettuce salad.

    The sweet potatoes live up to their name. A go to recipe for us is to cut them into small chunks, steam them, then mash with butter and milk or cream. You get a rich, creamy, sweet and comforting dish whose leftovers can double as potato pancakes. Just add about 1/3 as much flour as potatoes, form into patties, and fry up.

    Thanks again for supporting the farm this 2017 season!

    PS. sorry no picture today, computer issues

    Tuesday, October 31, 2017

    In the Share: Week 15

    TURNIPS AND RADISHES  Sweet and juicy roots!

    BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE  Our most delicious buttery heads are back

    RED LEAF LETTUCE  Big ruffly goodness

    SWEET POTATOES  Bonita variety have creamy yellow centers.

    KALE OR SPROUTING BROCCOLI  Sweet brassica from the frost-kissed fields.

    SWEET PEPPERS  The last of the season.

    SPINACH  Big dark green leaves full of nutrients.

    LEEKS  The most refined of the onion family.

    IN TWO WEEKS:  The last of the 16 week CSA:  carrots, lettuce, garlic, sweet potatoes, beets, bulb fennel and greens.

    It is Halloween eve as I write this.  There's no flurry of doorbells and candy as our farm is too far out in the sticks for trick-or-treaters.  When we were young, my parents would drive us to my grandparent's neighborhood in Excelsior Springs for the occasion.  Here all is quiet and cozy.  We lit our first fire of the season in the wood stove tonight.  Our cats, Momma and Sandy keep me company on the couch as I type away at the laptop.

    The last few days have been a flurry of work preparing the farm for cold weather.  A freeze came Saturday morning and took out the peppers, but the cabbages, broccolis and kales were unfazed.  Our fall kale patch is especially glorious and is at it's best after a few cold nights.

    What to Do With Your Share---Week 15

    The high tunnel harvest has begun in earnest, and some of the most tender veggies of the season are coming your way this week. The turnips are almost creamy, the spinach plumb with flavor, and the butterhead lettuces live up to their name.

    One delicious option with this week's share is spinach balls. The recipe is from our May 5, 2015 blog and is served over an endive salad. We suggest instead simply pairing it with any salad greens and root vegetables you may have at hand. A nice warm and hot combination.

    Last Saturday I spent some time at the Green Dirt Farm Creamery sampling our ferments. They are one of the first stores to carry our products and we were glad to have the opportunity to give their customers a tasting of our ferments.

    We will be headed to Green Dirt Farm this Sunday for the KC Food Circle Harvest Hootenanny. Join us for a tour, tasting, yard games and local food.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2017

    In the Share: Week 14

    ARUGULA or ROSEMARY  The first harvest from the fall high tunnel.  Spinach, lettuce, greens and roots will soon follow.

    SWEET PEPPERS  We picked alot this week in case it frosted.  Everyone gets a bag of assorted colors.

    LETTUCE  Two heads from the patch.  One will be red leaf lettuce, the other either a green romaine or a crisphead from Italy we are trialing.

    CARROTS  Orange sweeties.

    GREENS CHOICE  Kale, sprouting broccoli or bok choy/tat soi

    GARLIC  silverskin

    IN TWO WEEKS:  sweet potatoes, leeks, lettuce, radishes, spinach, greens.

    This morning we awoke to the first frost of the season.

    strawberry plants kissed by Jack Frost.

    Luckily it was a light one and damaged little.  We had spent most of Sunday picking peppers and covering the tender lettuces just in case.  Frost is actually beneficial for the strawberry plants as it signals that it is time for the plant to begin to go dormant for the winter.  After a few more frosty mornings we will cover the plants with straw to protect them from the cold.

    The farmers are also preparing for winter.  The push to clear the fields began last week with the dismantling of the tomato trellises.  We have lots of irrigation tape to wind up and store and there is another 300 + ft. of sweet potatoes yet to dig.  Our seasonal workers are done for the year so it is just Tom and I scurrying around the fields trying to wrap things up.  There is plenty of space on the Saturday CSA schedule, so for those of you who haven't completed your one shift of the year, please do so soon. We look forward to welcoming you to the beautiful fall fields!