Friday, February 22, 2013

2004---Our First CSA Season

Since Fair Share Farm was first conceived it was always going to be a CSA farm. The concept of Community Supported Agriculture, and our experiences as both CSA members and apprentices had sealed the deal a long time previous. So 2004 was to be the year we would take on the responsibility of growing food for a community of local folks.

Step one was to generate membership. Through marketing the previous year at farmers markets, an article in the Kearney Courier, the KC Food Circle Expo, and word of mouth we were able to build a membership of 25 (our goal was 30). We held our first Core Group meeting at Fred and Carol Barth's house along with member Kirk Day.

At the KC Food Circle Expo

Along with the vegetable growing, the infrastructure work continued. Our current packing room took shape as the barn received a makeover. The less than vertical north foundation wall was expertly replaced by a Menonite crew from Jamesport. John deftly felled the tree growing up the south side of the barn, and Rebecca and I re-built the lower barn so that it could house our cooler and wash area.

John dropping a tree

New wash area and packing room
The season started later than it does now, with the first share being handed out on Wednesday May 25, 2004. You can read all about it in our first Fair Share Farm CSA Newsletter. If you were around then you were lucky enough to get 2 pounds of sugar snap peas in your first share.

The first CSA farm work day

Our first distribution at the Crossroads Farmers Market
That bounty lightened up a bit as the season went on, however, as we learned just how wet and boggy some areas of our fields could get. The biggest loss of the season were the tomatoes and potatoes. Waterlogged from the start, and then eaten by the deer, the crop was meager. It is a tribute to those members who stuck with us after such disappointment, showing what supporting local agriculture means.

Soggy beds
Rain brings rainbows
Carrots have always seemed to thrive here
Late September share
We still had lots of ground to break in those days, and were still learning the craft of biological farming. We had yet to plant in the field up by the house. John had advised against it, as it was full of morning glory and cockelbur weeds. But we seeded brome grass and clover, and the wet summer helped this base vegetation flourish. We then started cutting beds and cover cropping with buckwheat.

The beds without the cover crop were lush too, with cockelbur weeds. We eventually got rid of them, without the use of herbicides, by balancing the mineral content of the soil and sticking with our cover cropping game plan. Today there is nary a cockel or a bur in that field.

Buckwheat flowering in distance and cockelbur crop in foreground
The winter was spent focusing on the house and more planning. These photos remind us that apparently we started our bathroom remodeling (yeeck!). It was finished by the following Spring.

Nothing but a memory now (yeah!)
With members Jessica and James---rounding up 2005 members in the Crossroads
So we worked and plotted our jump to 50 CSA members and enjoyed another winter on the farm. Next up---deer fences and full-time apprentices.


Hinky HQ said...

I am so happy to see this last photo - this is exactly how I remember meeting the CSA, complete with hanging garlic in the bus.
I continue to be thankful for all your hard work, and am so excited about seeing this retrospective as you send it.
Many thanks, and lots o' love - Heather Murphy

tom the farmer said...

Thanks Heather. The Murphys are one of 8 households that have been with us 9 years in 2013. Pretty cool.