Relentless Heat, Water Projects, & Why We're Quitting CSA

If you haven’t heard me say it before, this is the most challenging time of year to grow. The crops that love the cool weather, that we’ll harvest from all Winter long, and constitute a majority of our income no less, struggle as seedlings in the relentless heat. Add to that, the daylight is beginning to noticeably fade, which means the window for sowing seeds, planting outdoors, or correcting mistakes is narrowing. IE carrots sown two weeks apart in Spring will be ready within three days of each other, but two weeks in the Fall can make the difference between a harvestable crop or losing it to Winter altogether. Needless to say, the stakes are high.

However, we appear to be doing better this Fall than any other in recent history. Not perfect, but good enough. Though our transplants got in a little later than usual, and we’ve had some germination issues here/there, AND we’re watering like crazy, I’m more optimistic about going into Fall and farming in general than I have ever been.

Shout out to Alex, Joe, and Mark for endless hours broadforking, slinging compost, and planting in heat indexes of 100F+

Amid being on irrigation duty for six hours a day, seven days a week (which may be why the newsletters have been more infrequent, ahem), we’re nearing completion of our first water project on the farm. With some equally relentless ingenuity from our neighbors, we now have on-demand water in the greenhouse and more pressure in the field, which means better wash/pack QC for greens and roots and less time running back and forth to move water from one part of the farm to another. It’s been garden hose hell up until recently. The greenhouse and wash-pack section of the tunnel floor will be laid, too—so no more packing under the shade tree or starting seeds on whatever flat surface I can claim. Next, we hope to finish the irrigation pond, contingent on a few more weeks of favorable weather and a bulldozer.

Farm Nerd Alert: we’re very particular about water quality on the farm. Not only does our wash water need to be clean and potable, so does our irrigation water. However, some of what makes our water potable is actually detrimental to the microbial populations we’re doing our best to foster in the soil (IE soon-to-be irrigation pond). For more about soil microbiology, how important ag water quality is, and what we hope to do about it, check out one of the latest podcasts Farmer Jesse did with John Kempf, an Amish farmer and podcaster (yes, you read that correctly).

We’re quitting CSA…

… but only for a month, beginning next Summer, #clickbait. Last year, around this time, we had to forfeit our CSA for six weeks. It was a hard decision to make, I still feel like a failure for it, but it is an experience I’m grateful for, and here’s why: July and August are just the worst. These months simply don’t add up on our farm. Not only are we working longer hours in more harsh weather, using more resources to producing crops in increasingly difficult conditions, and up-ending our family routine, but we’re also sacrificing time on current harvests and crop maintenance at the expense of better preparing for the long haul of Winter. Further, most of our CSA members miss a greater number of shares in August for a variety of good reasons (because vacations are wonderful, I presume). Which led us to our own personal realization…

Most importantly, as our children begin to grow, our year-round break-neck pace just isn’t emotionally sustainable. It makes the most sense for our family to take off during our “slow time”, being the height of Summer, and grow when we not only make the most, but most enjoy growing… Fall, Winter, and Spring. So, in the coming months, beginning next Spring, we’ll be breaking our box-style CSA into smaller seasons (think three to four months, instead of six) and opening up more market card memberships.

All of that said, we still have several core Winter CSA memberships available (beginning Nov) and a handful of market cards (beginning now) open. If you’re dedicated to eating more seasonal veg and want to hold yourself accountable for incorporating them into your diet, sign up for our weekly box of five to seven items, including (but not limited to): lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, Swiss chard, collard greens, turnip greens, micro greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, ginger, leeks, scallions, garlic, sweet onions, butternut squash*, sweet potatoes* & other special items like our canned tomatoes and honey* from our farm from Sola Fide Apiary. The Winter season begins in November, goes through April, during Community Farmers Market hours (SAT8-1/TUE2-6), for only $90/month.

* items we don’t grow, but are brought in from other local growers.

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If you’re not able to make it to market consistently, have dietary restrictions for certain veg, or just don’t need that much veg every week, check out our StoneHouse MarketCard. Sign up for a $200 card and we’ll add an additional $20, all to be used at our market table at Community Farmers Market. Our first round of cards are almost all spoken for, so send us a message to reserve yours ASAP!

StoneHouse CSA Members

As we transition from Summer to Fall crops, we’ve had to make some tough decisions. Most of the Summer crops are being pulled to make room for Winter favorites, our expanding garlic production, or cover crops. These may be the last weeks for peppers, eggplant, fresh beans, and hierloom/cherry tomatoes. However, we do have late season slicer tomatoes just beginning to ripen in our high-tunnel and another round of seedless watermelons from fellow CFM farmers Peaceful Valley. Though it may not yet feel like it quite yet, prepare for the seasonal change to greens and root veg. Here’s a quick arugula salad recipe we’ve been leaning on the last couple of weeks, take or leave the pepper, chickpeas, and carrot. Just as good with fig balsalmic (available at the market) and roasted beets.

View from the cole crop patch, drip drip drip