Monday, May 25, 2009
more wedding flower fun...and let us not forget the quickly maturing garden!and of course the ever-hopeful Mousey-Tongue cat in the evening, forever awaiting a fish - or two, or three...
Friday, May 22, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
well, let me tell you....we must have had 15 people or so, and in a single morning, they dug and harvested three rows of potatoes, all of the carrots, weeded the beets, staked and tied the bell peppers..AND performed the fastest cucumber trellising I have ever witnessed! we are beside ourselves with (a) gratefulness and (b) amazement!A very successful start, I'd say. I only hope everyone didn't get too worn out (it was definitely hot).
All in all, everybody worked very hard and remained in good humor....went home with carrots and strawberries, and will be back next week for corn and potatoes. yea CSA!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Our CSA begins early, as the corn has decided that we are not allowed to set the timetable. Also the potatoes. Very badly behaved corn, if you ask me. We're having a family wedding here at our little farm on May 30h, and had PLANNED to begin CSA picking etc. the following week. but no.
We have put out a call to our members, asking for farm assistance on Saturday, and we'll see how that goes. We have always had the most excellent customers, and CSA members have come from that crowd of great folks.
instead of 'boxes' for packing, Will thought it was a good idea to order bushel baskets (and also little picking baskets with little handles...1/2 bushel or thereabouts). So now I have five giant boxes of baskets stacked up against all of the living room bookshelves. This means I get to clean out a closet (yea). But there are reasons for this. At least you don't have to wonder what was IN that cardboard box before you use it for organic produce, right? very important. AND, members can take home a basket each week because there are double the number of baskets we need.
PS: we have raccoons - a LOT of raccoons. Will has set a have-a-heart trap every night but I think they have seen these traps before! I can just hear the coons at night laughing at us. wish us luck. We cannot afford for them to get the corn (not to mention the watermelons, which they dearly love.)
Monday, May 04, 2009
So far into the season...and so little from us over here. I've been trying to get to the end of the semester - always a long, long haul. But finals are upon us at the university, and I can turn my attention a little bit to this poor unattended blog.
Strawberries have not come and gone quite yet - but they've been glorious this year - a fantastic crop, really. Our wonderful loyal veggie consumers have been picking the plot clean every three days or so since the beginning, and the only difference is this: because the plants are no longer in their prime, you must pick and immediately DEAL with your harvest. No laying around on the counter for two days, oh no. This was told to me by a basket of berries, picked Sunday morning, put on the kitchen table, and bleeding by the evening all over the tabletop.
More later about the goings-on, but this year we are formally 'doing' a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We have 20 families who willl buy into the garden up front, will help with the harvest, and will bring home a bushel basket of produce every week for two months.
I am going to try to turn this very blog into a CSA blog, with a new name, because (a) I don't want to lose all of this farm history and (b) this is a new and exciting project which deserves a new moniker.
I promise to be back with new things promptly.
About Our CSA
We are entering the fourth season of our CSA (Community Support Agriculture). What began as an experiment for the creative marketing of our produce has developed into a fulfilling experience for us and our members, one that we so look forward to each year. What you will find below is an explanation of how we operate the CSA, the cost, length of season, expected commitment, etc. We ask that you read it carefully before responding. We have dedicated members that stay on year after year, but for a number of folks, it is challenging to come out every Saturday for nine weeks running and to have time to participate. For those who love the quality of the vegetables, herbs, and flowers – and who like the experience of planting, harvesting, and interacting with others who have the same likes, it is a very rewarding experience. Please read on…
What is Community Supported Agriculture? (CSA)
Community supported agriculture is a movement that got its start in this country in the mid-1980’s, driven by a desire by neighborhood groups to re-connect with local growers and producers. The CSA movement is enjoying increasing popularity and availability with each passing year. The goal of CSA is to involve the vegetable-eating-public more intimately with “their” farm. Why do I use “their” in that description? Because in CSA, members buy a share of the farm which, in effect, provides them an ownership stake in the vegetables produced. In that respect, the farmer and consumer become partners. There are many benefits from this relationship to the farmer and consumer alike. For the farmer, it provides a guarantee of sales so he can plant to supply his contract. It also minimizes the time required to market the produce, freeing him up for what he does best, which is…farm. For the consumer, it guarantees a steady supply of farm fresh produce for a fixed price, encouraging healthy eating, and promoting a sense of participation and community around the farm that has been long lost in the age of industrial agriculture. For both the farmer and consumer, it promotes a bond based on trust and mutual interest. For those interested in information on CSA and farms that have set up these systems, the web has worlds of information available with a simple word search.
Why did Port Hudson Organics decided to become Port Hudson CSA?
For most of you who have spent any time visiting our farm and talking with us, you are aware that Thais and I both work full time, maintaining our little farm, bee hives, yard, and other farm-related activities in our “spare” time. This means that virtually every waking hour that we are not at work you would find us in the field or manning the produce tent (or carport). As we expanded our farm-related enterprises to areas such as biodiesel, berries and bee hives, the farm demands finally exceeded our available time. So in 2009, in order to continue our farm sustainability effort and reduce our time commitment (primarily the time spent selling), we tried a concept that is becoming increasingly popular across the country in the “Eat fresh, Eat local” movement, that is, the CSA farm. In the spring of 2009, we enrolled (what ended up to be) 25 CSA member families, and were blown-away by the success of the venture. Member enthusiasm, assistance, and clear appreciation for the unsurpassed quality of our produce resulted in an excellent experience for everyone involved. Since then, we have expanded our enrollment to 40 member families, which is a comfortable carrying capacity of our one acre garden. At this point in our lives, with regular jobs and other commitments, we have no plans to expand further.
What kind of vegetables are grown and how are they distributed?
We grow a wide variety of Spring and Summer vegetables (generally about 20 different varieties). At any time during the season, you can expect around 12-15 different offerings, and 6-8 culinary herbs. We also grow cut flowers, usually zinnias and sunflowers. Each week members will receive a selection list by email (An example selection sheet from last year is attached to this email). Members will make 7 selections of vegetables and 2 selections of herbs from the list. Members can check off their first and second preferences and we will make every effort to supply the members with their selected items. In cases where we are short on a particular item, say, yellow squash, we will substitute another available vegetable (for example, zucchini) from member’s second choice selection if at all possible. Members are free to make notes on their list if there is a particular vegetable they do not want (for example, zucchini) and we will try to honor their request. The amounts (pounds or numbers) of vegetables or herbs per selection were based on an approximation of equal value based on the prices we have charged for these items in the past. And as last year’s members know, the amounts of produce on the list are the minimum amount you will receive. Often, when there is a surplus beyond what has been selected, we will throw in some “lagniappe”. Members should note that there are a couple of exceptions on the selection list: a bouquet of flowers, when available, counts as two selections from the herb list; similarly, watermelon, when available, counts as two selections from the vegetable list. Each week, a basket with all of your produce and herbs will be made up with your list attached. Blank lists will be available for you to fill out for the following week.
Can I select more than one of a particular item?
Yes, if you want 6 pounds of tomatoes one week, you can simply put the number “3” next to the selection “2 lbs. tomatoes” on your sheet and pick four other vegetable selections to make a total of seven selections. If we have enough tomatoes to satisfy your request, we will provide that amount. If we are short, we will attempt to at least provide you with one selection of tomatoes and make up the rest of your basket with other choices. We will let members know each week which vegetables we expect to have in abundance. For example, due to space considerations, we have limited plantings of corn and each planting is generally available for only one Saturday, so we will be encouraging members to select as much corn as they can from the list on the weeks that corn becomes available (we try to send out weekly emails on the state of the farm). Of course, members will also be given preference for the purchase of additional vegetables if, for example, you want to freeze a bushel of corn when it comes in and there is surplus available.
How will the CSA Baskets be distributed?
Members choose to come to the farm either Friday evening or Saturday morning each week during the season. Once you arrive, you can choose from a variety of garden activities in progress and lend a hand. This can range from planting and/or picking vegetables; washing, weighing, and bundling produce; cutting and arranging flowers; cutting and separating herbs to order; helping to pack baskets with weekly selections; sitting under a tree with other members and stripping beans off of plants. Occasionally there is a bigger project at hand, such as erecting the cucumber fence or helping to mulch rows with hay. There will be weeks when you are not able to help due to your schedule, but we find that most of our members help out almost every week. We find that most stay for an hour or more, and when you leave you bring your weekly basket with you. Many find this outdoor activity in the garden a respite from their work week in an office!
Members are asked to pick up their CSA baskets each Saturday by 10:00 AM. This is probably the biggest commitment you will make as part of the CSA. We understand that it may be difficult to come every Saturday for 9 weeks, but there are a couple of strategies you can employ to make this easier. (1) you can buddy-up with one or more members in your area and go on alternate Saturdays, each delivering or holding the other’s basket for pick up at their house; (2) you can send a family member or close friend; or (3) you can come Friday afternoon to help with the harvest and bring your basket home with you then (we had a lot of members take this option last year and it worked out great, as we do a lot of harvesting on Friday in advance of the Saturday bedlam).
What if you have a crop failure or natural disaster?
Although farming is inherently risky, we do not feel that members should share in the financial hit if things go badly awry. In the case of an individual crop failure (for example, watermelons), it will simply not show up on your menu of choices (though it will break my heart – I really love the watermelons). In the case of an act of God (flood, hail, asteroid) well, if an asteroid hits all bets are off; but otherwise we will make any other accommodations you find acceptable, including a refund based on $30 a week for any unfulfilled weeks. All CSA membership funds will be placed in a separate savings account not to be touched until after the last CSA market basket has been filled, just in case. The Port Hudson CSA is somewhat unique in that respect, as many CSA’s expect the consumer to share the risks, including that of catastrophic failure.
What time commitment is asked as part of the CSA?
CSAs, by definition, include member support. Each week, literally hundreds of pounds of produce must be harvested, hundreds of bunches of herbs must be clipped and tied, and dozens of flower bouquets must be picked. Without member support, this is logistically impossible for part time farmers. Hence, we ask members to commit to help in some fashion (picking, sorting, filling orders, etc) according to their abilities every other weekend or so (we are not rigid on this). We have found that members enjoy becoming involved in the process. Learning about how food is grown and harvested is an uplifting and educational experience. After all, that is why we do it. And it is an integral part of CSA farms across the country. We are assuming that you found us because you appreciate this connection, and we hope that you can find the small amount of time to required to experience that connection.
What is the cost?
Cost of the CSA membership is $350. This covers 9 weeks of farm fresh vegetables, herbs, and flowers of your choice. This comes out to about $35 per week, probably more than you would pay at the grocery store for conventionally-grown produce, but less than you would pay for organic produce at Whole Foods. The quality of the produce, however, cannot be approached by any supermarket, and the experience is priceless. Also, membership in the CSA includes a pint of our farm honey when it becomes available.
So that about covers it. If you want to experience first hand the pleasures of seeing, smelling, picking and eating truly wholesome food, please respond quickly to this email. We would appreciate some information on you and your family, and why you want to join the CSA. We will let you know within a few days, and will ask for payment at that time. We ask that you understand that we have about twice as many families on the waiting list as we have openings. However, if you do not make in into the CSA this year, we will give you first shot at joining next year if you are still interested.
Thank you so much for your interest in our little farm. We hope to see you this spring.
Will & Thais PerkinsPort Hudson Organics CSA