Thursday, September 27, 2007

Richard on the TV

Thanks to CSA member Helen, who reminded me to share this interview with Richard, Jai from Avalanche & Noah from Driftless, from Wisconsin Eye Network. It's in their archives, so look for the 9.17.07 entry about Wisconsin flooding.

I think it's very well done - sad & hopeful at the same time.

And like Richard says, we couldn't be doing this without the support of our customers, CSA members, and extended community! We've received about $43,000 in donations as of today!!! We can't say thank you thank you thank you enough!!! I'm working on the thank yous and I hope to get them sent out next week (which I've been saying since the beginning of the month - there is not enough time in the day).

We're applying to FEMA, FSA, SBA, insurance, and the Sow the Seeds fund too. We'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Workday & Harvest Party

You couldn't have asked for a better weekend for the Harvest Party! The weather was sunny & warm with just the right breeze. We had a crew on Saturday (there's some of them above) to help clean up the campsite of flood debris. Richard had a whole list of things to be done but we couldn't access some of the fields, so the beer drinking started a little earlier than expected. Thanks for bringing me the Surly, Ahme!! We had some campers for Saturday night (Lukas & Cheryl said it was great except that the cows stayed up too late. Their voices carry through the valley something fierce.)

People started arriving for the Harvest Party around 11am on Sunday. We got a bit of a late start on the wagon tours, but they were still about 2 hours long, ending up in the Pumpkin Patch. Richard even let young Henrick (above) take the wheel! Angel had slaughtered a pig on Saturday and was roasting it most of the day Sunday. The potluck & pig were delish, we had some fun activities, it was great to meet our CSA members (from Wisconsin & Minnesota), and I think people enjoyed themselves here at the farm! Thank you to everyone who came & celebrated the Fall Harvest with us!

Next to the Pumpkin Patch, we had some industrious kids digging sweet potatoes. They are sheltered by a big heat -trapping blanket used to cover the field when frost threatens and to allow the potatoes to mature in the ground a bit longer. We lifted the edge to take this picture, but the kids were happy tramping around under the tent of white light.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Don't Panic, They're Organic! Don't Act So Strange, They're Free Range!

Last week, Andrea visited our Amish neighbors, the Beechys, to check out their poultry operation. We finally found a vendor for truly pastured chickens & turkeys! We'll be delivering to our CSA customers this November & December. Here's some of the real life birds, free to roam real life pasture. No more battery cages!!

Guess What? Chicken Butt.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Clearing Debris & Growing Greens

Above is a pic of Angel & Nestor clearing Field 60 of driftwood and wire. Brian A. is in the background with the bulldozer, making a new drainage ditch. I think Glen has some photos from a couple weeks ago, when Brian got himself stuck in the mud with the dozer. It took two tractors to pull him out. Awesome.

Below is a picture of our new Fall Crop of Spinach!! It's so exciting to see the green coming back into the fields.

Soil fertility tests!

I'm taking soil samples today, with a soil probe. When pushed into the ground to a depth of 6 inches, it comes out with a 1" round core of soil about 6" long. I knock it into a clean bucket and walk to another spot in a field to take another. I use a Z pattern to cover a field and take 15 or so samples per field. These are mixed together in the bucket and then put in a bag. About 2 cups soil total will go to the testing lab in Omaha, Nebraska. I am sampling some areas where 6 or more inches of silt washed in. It will be interesting to see what the fertility of that silt is or is not. Also wondering how this year's test will compare to last year's on fields that had 26 inches of rain run over them. I will let you know! Planning on taking 20 samples, so better get walking! Rd

Monday, September 17, 2007

Support from across the country!

Our friend Jean Paul, who runs Roxbury Farm in New York state, featured our fundraising initiative in his last CSA newsletter. He reprinted one of our newsletters and encouraged his community to help another farm in need. Today we got three checks and some heartfelt blessings and best wishes from Roxbury Farm CSA members! Check out his farm and the newsletter.

Besides donations coming in, there are other hopeful signs. From the field today, it looks like we'll have arugula for the end of the season!

And we've been harvesting parsnips too(see pic below). That's Glen with the bucket, Brian in the green jacket, Dave driving the tractor & Dan driving the wagon. Check out this delish potato & parsnip pancake recipe! Yum.

Insult to injury

Friday night we got frost! We're still waiting for the fields to dry out and now they've been frost bit. Did a field tour last night and things don't look too bad. We've covered the peppers and the sweet potatoes, and even the few rows of peppers that weren't covered didn't look too bad.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Life goes on

Back to work! (above, Juan & José removing fencing from the corn)

The fields are drying out a bit! The sun is shining! We are staying optimistic - we've brought back much of the crew, we're doing soil/water/veggie testing and the inspector certified the pepper fields as not flooded. Glen planted some radish & we'll get spinach in (for spring harvest) soon. There is a lot of work to be done in the fields - check out the erosion & debris:

The years of organic compost and addition of minerals, washed away or covered with sand. Like I said, we're trying to be optimistic. It helps that just today we received almost $5,000 in the mail! From our CSA members! We are hoping to raise $160,000 to help cover some of our losses. We asked our 1600 CSA families to give $100 each to make that goal. We had some help from a member, Kellee, in the Twin Cities who came up with some other clever donation levels: $252 is $1 for every day between September 1 and May 8, the projected first CSA delivery date in 2008. $500 is a symbolic donation of $10 for each of the 50 crops we lost, and $960 will buy one load of compost for 2.5 acres. Our members are really stepping up and we know we couldn't do it without them.
While the inspector was able to certify that our pepper fields weren't flooded, it is obvious that many of the fields were. On the left is a picture, taken yesterday, of a rather sad & slimy eggplant field. It used to be so beautiful! Those lovely purple eggplants against the lush green background. The purple still sort of stands out against the drowned brown stalks of the plant & the drying mud. But really, it doesn't have the same charm.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Welcome home, welcome to the blog.

Just got back from the Dane County Farmer's Market in Madison. It was amazing fun but I'm a bit punchy from no sleep. We have to leave the farm by 2:30am on Saturdays in order to get to Madison and be set up & open for business by 6:30ish. It's great to talk to the people and hear how much they love our veggies - and how much they miss the things that we lost in the flood. "Sorry, no salad greens - washed away. Same with the melons (see picture at left), many of the peppers, eggplant, cabbage, and basil." So sad. But the love we're getting from our market customers and our CSA members is amazing! They are fiercely loyal. We've initiated a fundraising drive - well, actually it was our supporters' idea. We sent out an email to everyone at the end of August, to tell them about the amazing devastation that this valley had suffered. (We have had 26inches of rain since August 11!) So we sent the email and we got about 300 responses in the first week - people asking what they could do, where could they send the check, can they set up a benefit in Minneapolis or Madison. So we took them up on it - it's hard to ask people for money, but with crop losses of over $500,000 and little or no chance of the government insurance program paying anything near even 1/4 of the value - and that's based on conventional crop pricing not organic!!! - we knew we had to do something. After the flood it has rained for another week and we ended up laying off 10 of our full time crew. The first portion of any money we raise is going into an employee relief fund - we'll get them a paycheck either by calling them back to do clean up or hopefully to do field work & harvest once it dries up. Or if we can't call them back to work, give them an "unemployment" check to help cover their expenses while they look for other work. Many of our staff were affected by the flood at home, too. Water in basements, trees on roofs, and their own fields flooded. We'll see how the letter goes over.

Fall lettuce crop, underwater. 8/21/7