We're eager for CSA harvests to begin. We're hungry for fresh produce. We can't wait for the first spring salad. But Mother Nature tempers our yearning by reminding us that sometimes spring can take a while to fully arrive. Winter was mild, March was spring-like, April started well, then for the past month we've endured temperatures suspended 10-15 degrees below average with plenty of cloudy and rainy days. A month ago I would have forecast an early harvest; now it appears it'll 'hopefully' be a normal start date, but it could be a week later than that. It's hard to know for sure too far in advance. With days lengthening and the crops really itchin' to grow, once we get a stretch of warmer weather they'll probably grow exponentially. It's not a risk free assessment. If we start too late, some of the spring crops could decide to focus on reproduction before we even get through a full harvest week. Start too early and the crops are too small, perhaps not filling out all shares equally. But don't worry, most of the time we get these decisions correct, mostly by waiting until only a few days prior to the first pick up to announce the commencement of share distribution. That said, harvests will not begin this Monday, May 11th, but may begin next Monday, May 18th. We'll reassess after we get past this weird arctic blast vortex shenanigans. Ice, flurries in May; go figure.
1500lbs of potatoes going in the ground!
Even though spring is having a difficult time establishing itself in our region, we're flying through our to-do list. Mostly soil and field conditions have been almost if not totally ideal, as long as we've been patient and wait for those conditions to present themselves. And they do. Warm temperatures in March sparked emergence of blossoms and blooms and initially warmed the soil, sparking dandelion flowers one or two weeks before we normally see them, which is when we try to plant our potatoes. However right after the blooms temperatures plummeted, moisture was omnipresent, and we had to wait to plant the potatoes instead of risking their deterioration in cool wet soil since they're planted around 4" deep. We wrapped up all spring crop planting with the 3rd and 4th installment, respectively, of beets and chard and are now on the cusp of planting a mountain of summer produce once we emerge on the other side of frost risk. Lined up to be planted this upcoming week (hopefully) are zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon, cherry/grape/slicing/heirloom tomatoes, sweet/hot peppers, snap beans, husk cherries, tomatillos, and flowers. Since we were unable to plant these crops last week we were able to spend more time getting ready for future crops by getting their future homes ready. Fields had to be mown, chisel plowed, primary shaped, final bed shaped. Some crops go into ground covered in fabric to suppress weeds and warm the soil so we did that where able to. It's a good feeling to be caught up and/or ahead with field work.
Potting up 6,000 leeks in the greenhouse.
It's interesting to acknowledge that the bulk of seeding, planting, and prepping work is done prior to the harvest portion of the season, which perhaps it intuitive, even though while utilizing season extension techniques harvests stretch 32 weeks for us. Once harvests commence approximately two full days each week will be devoted to harvesting and distributing crops. So maybe one silver lining to a later start date is more time to devote to all the other necessary farm tasks. When harvests commence our pace kicks up a notch and hours worked each week increase maybe 25%. That said, we love harvesting and sharing the produce with you. It is very satisfying to harvest, distribute, eat food whose seeds were sown months ago and carefully nurtured since. We're grateful for to our food community for sharing in this endeavor.
Applying landscape fabric to suppress weeds in the future zucchini and cucumber patch.
Workshifts by Farmer Derek
It might not look like much, but there is a mile of carrots on those beds. We were ecstatic to have a window of time to cultivate them a couple of weeks ago. They've since grown and have a few true leaves. While we're able to cultivate with tools in between carrot rows, we still need to go back and hand weed in row. Pulling the weeds from the carrot rows and also from around our small onion transplants will probably be our focus during the first couple of weeks of workshifts.
Lettuces, herbs, and fennel after a pass with the basket weeder.
CSA COVID Pick Up Guidelines - Updates by Farmer Dana
Spring woods frolic amidst an abundance of native woodland mayapples and spicebush.
**Since our last correspondence we've updated some of our plans for produce distribution. Specifically: Instead of putting the entirety of shares in waxed cardboard boxes to take home, we will assemble each individual share in separate harvest bins for members to collect their produce from. Bins will be washed before being reused. Many Thanks to all our Members for their patience and flexibility while we figure this all out.**
**Binned Shares (Collecting Your Own Share That is Preassembled)**
We will be pre-assembling shares in harvest bins. Members will collect their shares from a harvest bin at a table in the barn hallway entrance where a Farm Staffer will verbally sign you in. This process will require members to bring their own bags/baskets/boxes to collect the share (same as pre-COVID). Shares will be assembled during pick-up hours. Harvest items which are Choices will be specified on blackboards on the outside of the barn that you'll be able to view while you wait in line (if there is a line). You'll be able to tell the Farm Staffer which Choice you'd like included in your share when you are transferring your share to your own bags/baskets/boxes. To make this process easier, greens that in the past have been harvested loose will be either rubber banded or put in bio-degradable bags.
Pick-Up Day Time Slots
To reduce crowds forming on pick up days, and to give staff time to assemble binned shares, members will sign up in advance for hour-long time frames in which they can pick up their shares (a maximum of 25 members will be able to pick up their share per hour). Signing up will take place through the calendar feature on our website the same way members sign up for workshifts. Time slots will probably open 48 hours before a scheduled pick up day and members will choose a new time slot for each pick-up. The first hour of pick up will be reserved for senior citizens and members with high risk medical conditions. To see what the sign up process may look like, follow this link, then navigate to May 11th for an example.
We plan to keep the u-pick portion of the harvest open with a few changes. A collection of quart, pint, and half-pint containers will be sent home with each member in their first binned share of the season. These will be yours to measure and collect your u-pick crops over the course of the season (use them to measure then dispatch produce to your own bags). Members will need to bring their own scissors for cutting herbs and flowers. Please respect the 6-foot social distance minimum in the fields. The u-pick list will be displayed on the outside wall of the barn, instead of inside the barn, to facilitate social distancing.
Pandemic and Food Safety Gear
Farm staff will use necessary pandemic and food safety measures while harvesting and working around harvested crops. Whatever scientific rules and regulations are in place will be followed which may include gloves and masks, and will be worn during the harvest and handling of all farm produce. We ask members to respect the guidelines issued by Governor Wolf regarding the wearing of masks in public.
We're confident that workshifts will proceed normally, albeit with safe social distancing involved. For information on how to sign up, please follow this link. This will also be the process for signing up for pick up day time slots.
Please reach out to us if you have questions and concerns.
What to do with abundant fieldstone? Build a dam, slow water flow, catch sediment, play.
CSA Shares Are Sold Out! by Farmer Dana
2020 Main Season CSA shares are sold out. Thank you for signing up and supporting Anchor Run CSA! We will do our best to satisfy your produce needs during this 26-week season.