Happy Winter! Hope you’ve been enjoying the winter, bizarre weather and all. We’ve been busy closing up from 2011 and getting ready for 2012. This means crunching production and financial numbers and making decisions that will guide our choices as we look to the coming year.
Please read below for farm camp registration, lamb open house dates, and how you can help feed your neighbors!
Thank you to everyone who has joined on board already for this season. If you’ve been meaning to sign up – it’s not too late! The price of a share this year is the same as last at $515. If you haven’t sent a payment yet, you can catch up with our suggested payment plan by sending $238.33 this month ($138.33 due in April and June), or pay in full, or send what you can now with your own payment schedule to follow over the next few months.
If you are following our suggested payment plan, February payments of $138.33 are due this month. We appreciate your help in keeping the wheels turning as we prepare to make payroll, heat the greenhouse, and buy soil, compost, and lime along with all the other supplies we need for the coming year. Like most small businesses, we struggle to balance our increasing costs with trying to keep our prices affordable. As we move into spring and your options for spending your local food dollars increase, we appreciate your commitment to our CSA.
As in years past, after tallying pounds upon pounds of produce and balancing them against dollars, you spent $1.32 per pound for fresh local organic produce. A great value on any scale and one of the reasons why we love doing CSA.
At the Farm
So…how has your farm been faring this winter? While it was nice to be outside in November and December we tend get worried when the temperatures don’t dip and the ground doesn’t freeze. Cold weather does a lot to keep the farm balanced in an increasingly topsy-turvy weather cycle. Pests, diseases and weeds all take a hit in a prolonged cold winter, which makes the coming spring and summer a bit easier out in the fields. In addition snow cover protects perennial crops (for us strawberries and winter grains) from the harsh process of freeze and thaw. Let’s hope that the remaining months are “normal,” whatever that is.
Weather we Like it or Not
The changes we have been seeing on the farm over the last years are echoed in a new “plant hardiness zone map” published by the USDA. Zone maps tell farmers and gardeners the average high and low temps for their areas and help them match these temps to plants that will thrive in their fields and gardens. An article in last weeks Press Herald explains the maps in detail and gives a snazzy side by side comparison of the old and new zone maps. Check out the article and a larger version of he map here.
Here We Go
Seeds are in! We generally order seed from six or seven different companies trying to spend the bulk of our money with Maine and Northeast seed houses. We spend on about $4000 on seed and plant stock each year, which always seems like a big check to write but in the scheme of farm expenses it’s better than buying diesel. Now we just have to wait until the first week of March to get into the greenhouse to get the season started.
Any day now I expect to see new our first lambs of the season. These fat ewes look more like boxcars as they waddle out from the barn to the round bales of silage hay. Joanne (who is with us for the winter) and I are checking the barn several times a day and then again before bedtime, watching for that first birth and the start of what we expect will be a month of new lambs. We have 71 ewes that were exposed to a ram last September and if we’re lucky we’ll have about 115 lambs when the process winds up. Twenty to twenty five births a week doesn’t sound like too much when you break it into days and hours but the ewes don’t generally space themselves out perfectly. Inevitably we will have long stretches of quiet followed by back-to-back arrivals. Two years ago we had a stretch that gave us 36 lambs in 36 hours!
Lamb Open Houses
If you would like to come see the new lambs we have a couple of days on the calendar set to show off the new arrivals.
- Saturday March 3 11-1pm CSA members lamb open house – bring your friends!
- Sunday March 25th from 11-2 open house for the general public
If you can come on the 3rd you’ll beat the crowds that turn out for the larger open house on the 25th. You are welcome to bring your friends, family, and neighbors on the 3rd.
Please share our website with friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. Check out our new slideshows, some simplified pages, member testimonials and as always our recipe index by ingredient. Follow the “Home” tab at the top of this page or click here.
Help us Feed Everyone
For the past eight years we have been working closely with the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP), delivering our excess produce to their soup kitchen and food pantry. We’ve always wanted to find new ways way to make this great food we grow available to more people, especially those that may not be able to afford a CSA share. Last season we started a pilot program to offer four shares to families. We donated three shares and one share was paid for by a generous summer resident who wanted to help. MCHPP was able to identify four families who were good candidates for our share. The feedback we got from the families was resoundingly positive, for one family it was “absolutely a blessing for us.” This year we hope to expand the program with your help. When making your share payments this spring round up any dollar amount you can afford to put toward the project, making a note in the memo of your check. We will match this amount and donate shares to appropriate families MCHPP has identified. We are working on making these donations tax deductible through MCHPP, we’ll keep you posted. Our donor from last year is on board again for one share and we have matched him with a second share. We would like to be able to offer ten shares to MCHPP families this season so we just have eight to go!
2012 Farm Camp Registration!
Since farm camp has filled up quickly in the past years, we will give CSA members a one-week head start on registration beginning on February 13th. New this year is a week of yoga-farm camp. Details on the Farm Camp page of the website.
Portland CSA Shares
Help us connect with your friends in Portland. Last year we began delivering boxed vegetable shares to neighborhoods and offices in Portland and hope to continue the program this year. Please pass the word to all of your urban friends who are jealous of your farm share! Any connection in the following neighborhoods are especially helpful:
- South Portland-Willard Square
- Old Port
Our winter shepherd Joanne (you’ll remember her from the summer farm crew) is available for babysitting this winter…if you’re interested contact her at 603.657.6072.