Thursday, March 21, 2019

Thinking Beyond the Box: A Letter to Prospective CSA Members from Longtime Members Carol & Bob

If you are new to the concept of CSA and/or new to our farm, this letter is for you!  It was written by longtime CSA members of our farm, Carol Wilson & Bob Philbin.  We hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it and consider their insights as you think about joining a CSA for the 2019 season!  We did not ask them to write this letter, this is something they chose to do on their own as a way of sharing their perspectives of their CSA experience over the past 20 plus years. 

--Richard & Andrea 

Spring 2019

Dear Prospective Harmony Valley Farm CSA member,                                   

Pollinators planted alongside crops.
You have a bewildering number of choices about which CSA is right for you – length of season, variety of vegetables, cost, convenience of pick up location, day of the week for pick up, etc.  Another topic to consider is what the farmer(s) of the CSA are doing to address the health of our environment.  Richard de Wilde and Andrea Yoder, the farmers of Harmony Valley Farm, are conscientious stewards of the land.  They have a system of land management that both produces healthy and nutritious food for their members, and provides healthy habitats for insects and animals that are part of their comprehensive organic growing practice.  In addition their processes also address climate change by planting cover crops that sequester carbon thereby reducing the carbon in the atmosphere.  Farmer Richard has been planting cover crops for over 40 years, well before carbon sequestration was being talked about!  His farming practices are informed by science as well as by his decades of experience as an organic farmer.

As the plight of bees, monarchs, and other pollinators has become known, Harmony Valley Farm has included “pollinator packs” in the CSA share.  These packs have native flowers and grasses that offer “habitat and food sources for a variety of species that provide pollination services, help control pests, and contribute to keeping our ecosystem healthy and in good balance.”  Because of these packs, we now have a lovely patch of anise hyssop, silky wild rye, and other flowers and grasses to offer our neighborhood insects. 

Cover crop growing in our fields.
Harmony Valley Farm (HVF) has been our source for vegetables, beef, and pork since our adult children were young.  Richard and Andrea do not rest on their laurels, though they could!  They are always learning about and trying new vegetables, new varieties of vegetables, and new ways of helping their members to make good use of their CSA share. There are so many things to appreciate about being part of HVF including the informative, educational, and practical newsletters, the variety of vegetables, the value of the share, and the length of the season.   As part of the HVF CSA, you receive all of this AND the knowledge that you are part of the environmental and climate change solution.

You can learn more about HVF by visiting their website and by reading their blog.  Check out a newsletter or two to see how Andrea shares ideas and recipes for making use of all of the veggies in the box.

Good luck with your decision and we hope to see you at HVF Strawberry Day!

Carol Wilson and Bob Philbin

March Farm Update

By Andrea Yoder 

The farm is almost in full swing as we near the end of March and look forward to the start of April!  We’ve nearly filled our first two greenhouses with seedlings and will need to move into the third house early next week.  Most of our snow has melted away and, thankfully, we made it through the melt without flooding or too many issues.  We’ve enjoyed some beautiful sunny days and it’s been refreshing to have some warmer temperatures to go along with the sunshine! 

Our crew with the willow they've tucked away in the cooler.
Earlier this week the packing shed crew spent some time in the fields trimming the pussy willow and curly willow trees which took off as soon as the weather started to warm up!  We had just a little window of opportunity to get into the field and trim the pussy willow before the catkins (little fuzzy things) opened too far and leaves started growing on the branches.  Our trimmings are safely tucked away in the cooler to keep them from opening further.  We’re also happy to report that no one got stuck in the mud!  The fields are still very wet, but some sunshine and a little spring breeze should help them dry out over the next few weeks. 

Onions in the greenhouse waiting to be planted in the field.
Our first group of field crew will be traveling to Monterrey, Mexico this weekend to have their interviews at the consulate and hopefully they’ll be on their way to Wisconsin with visas in hand by the end of next week!  We’re looking forward to their return and wish them safe travels!  Once they’re back, the pace of the farm will kick into high gear.  We’ll spend some time doing annual training and we have a lot of spring cleaning projects to do, but as soon as the fields are dry enough we’ll be anxious to get some field work done!  Onions are scheduled to go to the field early in April and our first scheduled planting of salad greens, spring spinach, radishes, cilantro, etc is April 8!  We’re crossing our fingers that the weather will cooperate and make that date a reality!

Longtime CSA members, Carol & Bob.
We still have plenty of CSA Shares available and are anxious to fill up our sites before the start of deliveries in just 7 weeks!  If you’ve already signed up for your 2019 shares, you will be receiving a Welcome Packet early in April.  If you are new to our farm or still contemplating whether or not you want to join CSA this year, take a moment to read this letter from longtime CSA members, Carol & Bob.  They sent us this earlier this month and asked that we share it with Prospective CSA Members.  In their letter they make the point that the value of CSA does go beyond the dollars of vegetables in your box.  It is also an opportunity to take your food purchases beyond your plate and vote with your food dollars by supporting farms and systems that are in alignment with your own values.  

Have a great spring and stay tuned for more updates as spring unfolds on our farm!