Our fall CSA concluded this week. Of our experience, Julie says “This year was the most pleasurable Fall CSA we have ever had. Eighty shareholders felt like a lot at the start – we usually have around 30 members – but we were excited that we pulled it off and provided larger shares than we’d hoped (an average of 10-11 lbs., vs. our target weight of 7 lbs). Moving the first three pickups to Tuesday and Wednesday gave us more flexibility to work the harvest schedule around the weather. We had both the worst weather (extreme cold that pushed us to harvest in advance) and the best weather (that kept giving the crops a little push to keep growing). Because we were able to cover more crops with row cover and sandbags, we were able to extend the season on a few crops. Some things were burnt by the cold anyway, but still ended up decent and quite edible. Our root cellar is full to bursting, and the walk in has been too. It’s been fun to see how much we can fit in both of those places!”
One of the highlights of this week’s work was digging the big, beautiful parsnips that shareholders got to enjoy in this week’s shares. Julie says “they were so big, and so fun to harvest”! This is the first crop of parsnips that have made it to the CSA – they often suffer from poor germination, take forever to grow, and weeding them doesn’t always make the top ten items on the to-do list. Julie notes that she has prioritized the root crops more this season, something that son Dan has been urging her to do for some time. This year saw some great payoff for the extra effort in the form of beautiful rutabagas, carrots, turnips, celeriac and now parsnips – and a greater variety in the root soup and “monster mash” enjoyed by Jack, Julie and the crew.
Also this week, the seasonal leaf harvest came to a close with the filling of the last of our one-ton tote bags. Aric put his leaf blower into service again to great effect, and our volunteers from Trader Joe’s in Hadley put in great work (and had a lot of fun while doing it). We have a bounty of local leaves for next year’s mulch – 22 totes in all.
The coming week on the farm is full to the brim. The turkeys are heading to slaughter and the final CSA shares must be packed and delivered. Then the turkeys will come back from our processor and customers are coming to pick up their birds on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Friday the pigs will come back, packaged into chops and roasts. On the other side though, is the prospect of a slower, less packed schedule. Julie is looking forward to finishing the quilt for her daughter Ellen’s wedding, which took place more than a year ago. There are things to fix, and some house cleaning to do. Starting in the third week of December the farm work schedule will dwindle to three days a week and the work will be held by a handful of paid staff and likely our group of fun and committed Trader Joe’s volunteers, who will pitch in on the bigger farm projects.
As we leave the greatest part of the season’s work behind us, Julie sends a huge, heartfelt “thank you” to the working shareholders who have seen the farm through the entire season, summer to fall – Stu, Ann, Morgan, Cindy and Norma. Working shareholders are so critical to making the farm work! As you think about whether you’d like to join us for next year’s CSA – consider also whether you’d like to join the ranks of our working shareholders. We welcome all ages, levels of experience, physical strength and ability and would love to welcome you into the work on the farm. Look to hear from us again about this opportunity in the new year.