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from the Field

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December 20, 2015
At The Winter Solstice
Notes From The Field
By Derek McGeehan
As we approach the winter solstice it almost feels like winter is actually arriving this weekend, but next week temperatures are supposed to climb right back up into the 60s. I'm basically used to the balmy weather now and easily forget what time of year it is. For example, last night a low of 28 degrees was forecast and I was thinking about shutting the drop down sides of the high tunnel. I quickly forgot to do so, hopefully because I haven't had to shut it in about a month. I woke up suddenly this morning around 5am realizing I forgot, raced out to the tunnel with a headlamp expecting to see cold and frozen greens, but was welcomed by perky and happy kale and arugula. I shut it anyway just to be safe, but then noticed one of our young barn chickens was missing so the warm and fuzzy feeling evaporated with another concern. Now that it is actually light out hopefully she'll come out of hiding.
Gabe and Borci ponder the many carrot varieties to choose from. Required qualities for us to grow: tolerate heavy soil; strong tops to ease harvest; sweet, great flavor; organic, non-GMO; and around 6" long.
Coinciding with the solstice this week is our 32nd and final harvest pick up of 2015. Thirty-two weeks sounds like a long time and takes us all the way back to May. It has been a fun, challenging, rewarding, edible ride and now we can look forward to 2016. Our work is starting to reflect the change of seasons and years; we're beginning our seed order and starting to think about our crop plans for next year as well as interviewing and hiring our farm crew. Working on the seed order is a mostly pleasant job. It involves dreaming about a perfect season with perfect growing conditions and nice, bountiful harvests. We have to temper unrealistic expectations (like carrots in the share every week) but really realistically brainstorm ways to improve (like having carrots in the share for perhaps 8, 10, or 12 weeks). We need to decide what no one but us and maybe a few other members enjoy eating (like dandelion greens) and ask ourselves "is it worth growing?". How do we improve the share and fully satisfy our CSA members? Does everyone like this or should it be a choice? Should we try spinach again? What do members really want each week? How can we please everyone? Are the shares too big? It is the time of year to dream, because, in theory, this is when we make most of our decisions for the following season. Ah, those airbrushed and enhanced veggies in the catalogues look so appealing, but do they taste good? Thanks everyone for another great year!
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