August Updates

August 23, 2010

August has been a busy month for us here on the Community Cooperative Farms! From harvesting, pickling and running farm stands, to working on our business plan, approaching non-profit status, and lecturing, we’re feeling as busy as we hear farmer’s lives should be.

We’re happy to report we’ve been harvesting a bounty of tomatoes (black seaman, brandy wine, celebrities, glaciers, ponderosas, yellow and red pears, cherry tomatoes, sweet current tomatoes, black and yellow plums, and aunt ruby’s(green tomatoes) heirloom varieties) , green beans (dragon tongues, provider, and french climbing heirloom varieties), beets, melons (watermelons, musk melons, and sweet yellow melons), hot peppers, carrots (orange variety and purple dragon variety, which has the same anti-oxidants blueberries have), eggplant (green apple and listada de gandia heirloom varieties), and cucumbers. Harvesting the tomatoes has been a bit of a challenge, considering our spacing between rows is not quite adequate and our trellising coupled with some of the storm winds we’ve seen isn’t supporting the tomatoes so well. Lots of tip-toeing, ducking and flexibility helps get the tomatoes off the vines. The corn was ready to be harvested, but when we came to harvest, the remains of eaten cobs were strewn across the grass…most likely the work of raccoons. Despite the weeds that have swept their way throughout our crops, our red amaranth, millet and sunflowers are beautifying our fields.

Our farm stands have not only expanded in size, but also in frequency. We were running our farm stand on an honor-system (leaving the farm stand unattended, trusting the community to pay for what they took) throughout the week, but then we decided to show our presence at the stand once a week. That proved to attract more people en-route, looking for happy smiling faces and stories from the farm. And then, Justin’s aunt suggested we set up our farm stand at the end of her driveway, which is opposite the Mt. Washington town compactor, so we might benefit from some of the traffic that comes from Mt. Washingtonians. And boy, was she right! She was so right that we decided to match our Mt. Washington farm stand days to the open days of the compactor, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Saturdays. This gives us time to interact and become more a part of the community, hear their comments and suggestions and let them know more about why we are a part of the food movement. These interactions gave us the confidence to get a farm stand going on down in the more populous town of Sheffield. So we’ve set up farm-shop in front of Justin’s brother’s solar store, three days a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays).

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Setting our prices has been a mental struggle considering the arbitrary pricing system set up by industrial agriculture. We’re trying to sustain the farm (using the money from farm stand for farm needs like seed, livestock feed, containers etc) using the most ecologically sustainable practices without overcharging or undercharging. For the most part people are really happy with our prices but, we occasionally get customers who think $4.50/lb of tomatoes is too pricey. We then have to explain the difference between our produce, which is grown from heirloom seed (which is open pollenated seed, that provides a better taste and nutritional value in each fruit, and is better adapted to the soil it is grown in, but has a lower yield per plant), hybrid organic seed (which is often a self pollenating hybrid seed which is selected for harvest quantity, the toughness of the skin, and uniform color, furthermore it is bred for a one-size-fits-all monoculture form of agriculture that ignores varied soil and climate conditions ) and genetically modified seed (developed  to grow the size of monoculture farms by allowing the destruction of natures bio-diversity, allowing for high yields for the moment but putting our future food security at risk) .

In an effort to provide the general Mt.Washington community and our CSA members with this information, Justin was invited to speak at a Mt. Washington community forum event held at Bobby Hallig’s house. There he discussed food production and consumption on a local, national and international level and what role Community Supported Agriculture and Community Cooperative Farms are playing in re-engineering the way we see food. His speech will be available online soon. We hope that this is just the beginning of a speaking circuit for all of us!

We’re pickling zucchini, making tomato sauce, picking blueberries, building our own compost using a lot of the pig and chicken manure, playing with the pigs and chickens planting for our fall crops and planning our winter, spring and next summer’s crops! If you are interested in purchasing any of our canned goods please contact us!

The farm is bidding farewell to Alex (at least for the fall and winter seasons) and Jane. We wish them well and will miss them and their hard work! We’re anticipating some new helping hands come September, so look out for new farmer bios coming soon!

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