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Saturday, May 21, 2011

2nd CSA Weekend...

So Friday comes, and HALF of our member familes show up in the evening to help with the harvest! This is great, because they are doing the lion's share of the hard stuff...and they can go home on Friday with their baskets. This is working well. I am not kidding you when I say these fine folks picked 100 POUNDS of green beans!...and this off of the same two rows that gave us 60 lbs last week! AND they weighed and bagged all of them. They also dug enough carrots for the 40 families (and they washed and bundled them too). While all of this was happening, other members were staking and tying the zinnia rows - a precaution before they blow down in a storm we're probably never going to get at this point). Below is a very busy has her hands full- Ah yes - I do remember the chasing of small children.

Here are the carrots - quite nice. Cover them with a wet tablecloth

and they'll overnight just fine.
The Hall family (5 beautiful kids) cut and bunch the arugula.

Here is the Saturday morning carport. It was just as busy last night...lots of organized packing of baskets and checking of lists.

And here is a random shot of some of the packed baskets,

with Weekly Selection Sheets sticking out.

My goodness but we're tired. Last night, after all was over for the evening (Will and Rich Beam picked squash in the dark) I brought out a pitcher of Sangria and Will and I sat in the galvanized livestock tub we have in the yard freshly filled with cold water) and we watched the lightening bugs. Seemed like we didn't sleep for 5 minutes before we were up and at it again. But it's what we do. And we love it. We have the most fabulous group of CSA members this year. They all 'get it'...and we're enjoyng their company. Two weeks down - six to go - maybe seven. Lots of good food all over the place.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What month is it Anyway?

June-like hot in late March; cold front in late May (nights in the 40s) and no rain, no rain, no rain. So we've been watering non-stop...two kinds of sprinklers, two kinds of drip hoses and flooding the field with the pond water. Distressing, but if we had a good thunderstorm things would be very raggedy out there, so you just don't know what to wish for.

And the bell peppers have TERRIBLE aphid problems and Will has been doing everything there is to be done, but the problem is not solved - we shall see. And the basil on one side of the field is dying - some kind of bacterial rot thing. And the first planting of cucumbers, after two weeks of good production - well, those are dying too. But it's strange - they're dying on the tops. who knows. Every year there are some things that fail - but it's still heartbreaking. All is not bad, though,. The garden as a whole looks pretty fabulous. You have to be very intimate with the garden to see the problems and worry about them. There is another planting of cucumbers and of basil, both of which look great so we'll cross our fingers on both. Maybe even plant an extra row of bell peppers, even though they won't be our own seedlings. Here are some random garden photos to keep you going...just this and that from here and there.

Monday, May 09, 2011


Beets, beet greens and chard, fried zucchini, cucumbers...yes.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Weekend

....very productive. Many things done. Will always gets so worried as the week goes by-tasks seem to multiply and this is a very hard time of the season. Then the weekend comes, our members show up to help and the list is back to a reasonable size - not nearly so scary. We've gotten almost everything in the ground, whether it be seed or plants we've started. Just as the flats at the greenhouse dwindle in number, it's time to start more yellow squash, more zucchini, more cucumbers...because what's out there is just the first go-round. So it never looks like we'll be at the point of no flats with seedlings in them - don't know if that's good or bad. And my word it has gotten hot out there. One of the many big deals this weekend was the mulching and staking of the tomatoes that are NOT in the greenhouse.and maybe my sense of time through the morning is skewed I don't know, but it seemed like they got this done in about 40 minutes...which is very fast work! And a huge relief, I don't mind saying. In addition, the field peas were planted, and two more rows of green beans; the little rainbow chard plants put in among their big brothers and sisters The herb beds got some attention in the weeding department, and Will is out there now fertilizing and hilling up the corn. A word about fertilizer. All of the organic choices are pretty darn stinky. I don't know which is worse; crab meal, chicken stuff, or fish emulsion. Because this time it's fish emulsion (pretty much ground up and liquidized fish) I vote for that. I dont remember how many gallons of the stuff Will bought but it was a LOT. He rigged up this system whereby he puts (I think) about 5 gallons in a big 55-gallon tank, then fills it up the rest of the way with water. Then he attached it to a frame on the back of the ancient Farmall tractor and fits plastic piping to it - with a valve you can turn on and off. The pipe has holes dilled exactly where the rows of plants are. So he cranks the whole mess up and gets positioned and I have to get in there and open the valve. Thank goodness it didn't splurt all over me. It's pretty ingenious - but it still smells to high heaven.
and VERY IMPORTANTLY!...the little watermelon plants have been awaiting their new home! One of our new members is a couple who I swear have been here every single weekend for many many weeks! and they showed up today, Sunday...and because of that, the watermelon rows were lined with hoses (for watering) and laid with black plastic! do i get a halelujah!?

no, we didn't get the plants in this evening but we will tomorrow - that is small potatoes compared to preparing the rows...a VERY big deal. Thank you and you know who you are!

And now for some flowering plants; potatoes! :garlic

div align="center">borage (see the bee?)eggplant
and I leave you with the first tomatoes of the season...

About Our CSA

We are entering the sixth 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 approximately 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. Members then 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, as the mix of produce and herbs change with the weather.

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. The process takes about an hour, 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, 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?

A CSA is a partnership between the farmer and the consumer, and within this partnership is an understanding of shared risk. That said, we do not expect members to bear the full cost of a catastrophic failure, nor have we ever experienced a completely failed season. Should the worst happen, members will be reimbursed a portion of their investment and we will do all in our power to make it right with members through a combination of refunds and discounts on following seasons.

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 $38 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.

In Summary

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 Perkins

Port Hudson Organics CSA