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Saturday, May 26, 2012


Picking and picking and picking and packing!  
I believe we have the Most.Awesome.CSA Members.Ever.
Things are easier somehow...still confusing but only because there are so MANY people. But they work well together - and we are getting it done.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Yellow Beans...

...they need water (as does everything but first things first). Will had used the big sprinkler on the tripod for half of the beans-one side of the garden. But when I went out this morning to continue the drill; move the sprinkler move the sprinkler etc. I was face with a dilemma: i can't put the sprinkler on the beans that are in between two tomato rows...low beans - tall tomatoes - what now? So I decided to thread a flat drip hose through the beans - what a mess. you can hardly walk in there...geez! a week ago, no problem. Now it is a veritable jungle. But I got it done. and moved it down too. Alas - i think Will is pulling out the big guns tomorrow - pump and pond hoses. It was still the right thing to do. By Friday, there will be many a noble soul out there picking yellow beans...
you know - sometimes I'm out there in the morning and faced with something like this - and I'm dragging hose and bending over and trying to stuff the hose underneath the plants and there are tomato runners in my face and I think - 'I just can't do this'...but that's just not a choice. That's ok..I spent an hour weeding my new little permanent herb bed afterwards and that just felt so do-able.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The First Long Weekend

...and Saturday morning very very early...Mike Gennaro and his son Max show up first. Little Max is so very cute - I asked Mike to start cutting and bagging lettuce, and he had Max handing him bags and then I pulled the wheelbarrow around and asked Max to put the bags of lettuce in it - and I could hear Max exclaiming(!) about this and that to his dad back there behind the greenhouse in the lettuce row. and I'll be darned they did the whole thing! Father and Son! Yessir, that's what it is all about!
And the first weekend is over - new members coming by this take the tour and pick up a basket.
Sometimes we are so very tired...but it is a good tired, if you know what I mean. Tonight, the very first of the yellow beans - because they are there and they need to be picked but who has the wherewithal to pick beans after this weekend? I guess me, I guess in the morning. Right now, dinner. Yellow beans and garlic; yellow squash cooked with bacon and onions, grilled chicken...sliced tomatoes of course!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday evening - First Week CSA 2012

Some members come on Friday...some on Saturday
This evening was a little harried but, as always, a beautiful thing.
 Yvonne and Carrissa wash the turnips
 Pam and Will and the Arugula
Elise, who did not want help carrying her veggies to the carport, thank you very much!

It's that time again...

...when vegetables begin to crawl through the yard, come inside and get up on the table (and counters and windowsills)...I have a list of delicious things to cook and have been going through it for a week...I've gotten a lot more versatile over the years with things like squash...not as well-versed in cucumbers as I'd like though. Sliced tomatoes and fresh mozarella and basil tonight...because we'll be whipped. It's the first week of the CSA and Friday evenings are an option for our members. Wish us luck. The yellow squash and zucchini and cucumbers and tomatoes are picked already. Members have to pull and wash and bundle arugula and turnips and pak choi. The basil I'll deal with, and the mint. It should be fun, if a bit confusing (as always!).
Every morning, Will leaves for work before 7, and I head out to the garden, usually with a particular chore in I did this morning. But after a quick look around, I decided that some things are just more important than others. The turnip, arugula, and pak choi are on rows between the watermelons, which are starting to run. The plan, of course, is to harvest everything else and let the watermelon vines spread out. In the order of things, we usually line the vines up along the tops of the watermelon rows, pull up all the in-between crops, and  Will  makes one more pass with the tiller - tilling down the used-up rows and knocking out weeds one last time before we let the vines take over the entire area. Then we spread the vines back out. Well, this morning I was looking at the situation and imagining all of the CSA members showing up - knowing that before they can harvest the vines had to be moved etc. This is WAY too delicate of a job to leave to chance or to members who have not dealt with melon vines before. There were vines crawling through the pak choi and arugula and beyond! So I spent the morning lining up vines then hand-weeding the tops of the watermelon rows. Now our members can get out there and harvest and not worry about stepping on vines or moving one and accidentally snapping it! As distressing as this would be, a member who mistakenly did this would be doubly mortified! We all care a great deal about every crop in the garden.
I'm looking forward to seeing everyone - some for the very first time, and many who are back with us for the second, third, or even fourth year. These are the folks who help the 'newbies' learn how to handle the various tasks every week; and we really count on them to guide the others. Better go take a nap...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Slow Put Together of the Herb Beds

well, they've just been 'not first' on the list this year...but the herb beds are slowly taking shape.
Here we have; genovese basil, sage. rainbow chard (I know I know it's not an herb but the chard does so well up here in the front - it gets harvested 'one leaf here, one leaf there' and requires constant maintenance.)
Then we have flat leaf parsley, a funny patch of Freckles Lettuce / Dill and THAT'S because the dill flat got tumped over and we replanted it with lettuce and so we got both...then more parsley; and on the back row, many basils; lemon, thai, Ceasar. lime, mammoth. And that's just THIS side of the herb beds. The other side is coming more slowly.
 This morning the oregano was asking to please be put out in the garden...from flat to peat pots, it was finally big enough. Oregano takes a long time from seed to planting stage because it is so very tiny. It's a drill; a planting drill - prepare the bed, set out the pots, get on your knees, remove peat pots from plants, set each one in, water. done. happy happy oregano plants, now consorting with their little herb friends!

And the cats follow me around all morning - mainly because they are being so harassed by the mocking birds. The Pushy Cat is particularly bad, as he has no sense of propriety in the garden. And he is needy. He cries and leans and wants to get right up in your face! Or on your hat! And would you please get off the lemon grass!?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Morning in the Garden

Here is a photo essay of the early morning...just the right amount and kind of rain last night and a little earlier in the week...the sprinkler is idle - but I'm sure that won't last. For now, happy happy plants.
 rainbow chard
 green beans
 bell peppers
 'flying saucer' squash

 volunteer cosmos

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