Thursday, December 3, 2015

2016 CSA Sign-Up Form Coming Soon... Looking Ahead to 2016!

by Farmers Richard & Andrea
Late summer CSA vegetable box
Winter isn’t joking with us anymore….it’s officially here and with it, the transition to yet another season.  Winter is the time of the year when we dance between two growing seasons.  While we still have a lot of work wrapped up in washing and packing the 2015 crops we have in storage and completing this year’s deliveries, we are already looking ahead to the next growing season.  We’ll receive 17 pallets of potting soil this week for next year’s greenhouse plantings and the seed catalogs have started coming. Richard and I have already started our planning conversations about next year’s crops as we need to start ordering some hard-to-get seeds before Christmas.  We’re also thinking about our plans for the 2016 CSA season.  Our 2016 CSA Sign-Up form will be ready very soon, so we wanted to share with you some of our thoughts related to next year.

First, let’s talk about price.  We are happy to announce there will not be any major pricing changes this year.  We will be holding our prices for all of our main shares including Vegetables, Fruit & Coffee.  As in year’s past, we are offering an “Early Bird” coupon for those who sign up before February 14, 2016.  This is a great way to earn as much as $40.00 towards a future HVF purchase, simply by sending your sign-up form in early!  If you pay for your shares with monthly electronic debit, please watch for the “Rollover” email that will be coming to you within the next 7-10 days.  If we do not hear back from you before January 3, 2016, we’ll roll you over into the next season, sign you up for the same shares you received this year and start monthly withdrawals for these shares starting in January.  Easy!  If you’d like to continue to do the electronic withdrawals, but would like to change your shares, you will need to reply to that email to let us know what changes you’d like to make so we can adjust the amount of your January withdrawal.

Next, let’s talk cheese.  This year we reduced our cheese share to a 6-delivery Winter Cheese share. Over the past few years we’ve lost some of our very important cheese producers as life & business circumstances have changed for them.  This, in conjunction with a few late springs and some tricky logistics, has presented us with some cheese challenges. We have chosen to stick to our founding criteria for our share and continue to source certified organic cheese from producers practicing rotational grazing on mineral-rich pastures.  Yes, we’ve all been spoiled with some very delicious cheese.  We had hoped to identify some new producers we might work with in order to keep some variety in the share, but we just haven’t found anyone who meets our criteria.  In an effort to focus on what we do best (vegetables), we have officially decided to discontinue our cheese share in its entirety for the 2016 season.

The Bounty of a Summer Fruit Share
For many years, we have continued CSA deliveries into January.  Years ago, with influences from Madison chef Odessa Piper, we decided we wanted to provide food for those choosing to eat a year-round seasonal Midwestern diet.  Long before “eating local” was the campaign, we were encouraging our members to embrace the bounty available to us in the Midwest during the winter.  While we are no longer harvesting, we do have the ability to store many crops making them available to us throughout the winter. This includes a wide variety of root crops, cabbage, dried peppers & beans, onions, garlic, winter squash, etc.  For many years, we had a very good response to our Extended Season Vegetable shares in January. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a steady decline in interest for this share over the past few years.  This year we’re delivering about half the amount of vegetable shares in January as we did just several years ago.  This has really made us stop to think about those January deliveries, especially since they are not easy deliveries to make.  We never know what kind of weather January will hold and it’s challenging to run a truck and delivery route in very cold temperatures, snow storms, etc.  In order for this to work, there needs to be enough interest to make the economics of these trips even out.  This has brought us to the decision to discontinue January deliveries for the 2016-2017 CSA season.  Yes, we will still do our deliveries this coming January (January 2016) and follow through on our commitments for the Extended Season shares, Fruit, Cheese & Coffee shares some of you have signed up to receive. However, this will be our final January CSA delivery.  Our main season vegetable shares will continue as they are, starting in May and extending through December with our final delivery shortly before Christmas.  We will continue to offer a Full Fruit share including 10 Summer fruit deliveries from June through October followed by an Autumn Fruit share which will include 4 deliveries in November & December.  Currently, our fruit shares include two additional deliveries in January.  Since we will not be doing deliveries in January for the upcoming season, our overall Fruit share offering will be decreased by two deliveries for a total of 14 Full Fruit deliveries instead of 16.

Kickapoo Coffee owners TJ Semanchin & Caleb Nicholes
in front of their new solar panels!
We’re excited to be able to continue working with the folks at Kickapoo Coffee Roasters and we’ll be offering the same coffee share options as we offered this year, minus the two January deliveries.  They continue to produce consistently awesome coffee and are doing some really exciting things in their business.  They recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary and are now running almost completely on solar energy! They also continue to work directly with some excellent coffee growers, not only purchasing coffee from them, but also working with some growers to help them develop new processes for post-harvest handling of their beans, make needed equipment purchases and support them in their efforts to suppress pests and disease on a coffee plant while maintaining organic integrity. A minor change to the coffee share this year is no steel storage canister with the first delivery.  They have phased this out and are no longer offering it.  Since we will no longer be offering January deliveries, our full Coffee share will have a total of 17 deliveries, and our once a month coffee share will have a total of 9 deliveries.

Capt. Jack enjoying a winter day
checking the fields.
We will be doing an end-of-season survey again this year and plan to send that out by the end of December.  We value your thoughts and suggestions regarding your CSA experience and find this information very helpful as we refine our plans for the upcoming season.  For those of you who have taken advantage of the January vegetable deliveries offer, please take a few minutes to brainstorm some other ways we can still provide you with storage vegetables for the winter.  We’ll include a question or two on this topic in the survey and we’re hoping someone might have a creative idea for us!  Richard really enjoys reading your individualized comments, so please give thoughtful consideration to your survey responses.

While we’re looking forward to a time of rest and rejuvenation this winter, we’re also very excited to start planning for the next CSA season and a new season of farming.  With each new year we learn new things about farming.  Yes, even after 40 plus years of farming, we still find we have a lot to learn about growing vegetables!  We’re always looking for ways to improve our practices and grow the best crops we can.  We appreciate your support of our farm and hope you’ll join us for another season!

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