A new season

Well, we’ve fallen prey to the un-updated blog syndrome, like so many others. It’s been far too long, though you can get a sense of each week’s events by looking at our weekly CSA newsletters. But this year, we’re going to keep things more updated as there is simply so so much that is going on and all of it exciting. One of the more exciting bits of news is that we are now endorsed members of the FairShare CSA Coalition, which is a network of about 50 CSA farms located throughout Wisconsin. It’s a wonderful organization doing lots of great work – check out their Partner Shares Program, Bike the Barns, or a little bit about their interesting history.

For this season, to begin with, we are at a new and hopefully permanent location located between Fort Atkinson and Jefferson, where we’ll be growing about 2 acres of organic vegetables and fruits, with plans to help steward about 1.5 additional acres of perennial fruits and nuts, and hopefully adding even more diversity with livestock in years to come. Our recent projects have been big, exhausting, and exhilarating. Late last year we put the finishing touches on our new greenhouse, a 16’x32′ oasis of warmth for all of our seedlings in the spring. We have an even bigger structure to go in later this year for in-ground production (30’x72′), but that will just have to wait until the ground thaws!

GHsnow

And just this week we were fortunate enough to find a walk-in cooler/freezer combo on Craigslist (you really can find ANYTHING)! We won’t be using the freezer half as a freezer, of course, but it allows us to have something we didn’t expect until 2014 – two separate temperatures for storing produce. This may not sound particularly significant at first, but there are a slew of fruits and veggies that not only store better at warmer (~50F) temperatures, but are actually damaged when stored at colder temperatures (they lose flavor, texture, rot more quickly, etc), including lots of everybody’s favorite foods – tomatoes, melons, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, and ginger to mention a few. [And yes, we're planning to grow much more ginger this year!] This means we can offer even higher quality produce to you every week in our CSA boxes, at the farmers’ market or at the grocery stores we sell to. We will also have more flexibility in what volume we’ll want to cool, using only half of the cooler combo during the fringe times of the season, when refrigerating a larger volume means wasted resources. It’s all part of using sustainable design and systems as we build our infrastructure here.

Lastly, while this equipment and infrastructure is all well and good, none of it would be possible without our seeds. More than enough to plant 2 acres, but compact enough to fit into a small grocery bag, we’ve got even more variety than we did last year. For 2013, we’ll be growing 56 different types of fruits and vegetables, with 125 different varieties total. We only grow one variety of some crops (like rutabaga), while others we grow several (like tomatoes or lettuce). But as always, we’re experimenting with some new crops and hope that they turn out well. Last year we tried ginger for the first time, which turned out great, we just didn’t have enough of it. This year we’ll be growing 3 different sweet potato varieties (traditional orange, a drier white, and a Japanese purple-skinned variety), a tropical relative of the cucumber known as a jelly melon (the seed packet describes its flavor as “reminiscent of pomegranate and citrus”), ground cherries, several varieties of basil, including some that taste like lemon and lime, several new herbs including shiso, lemongrass and orange thyme, and some new beet varieties that were bred right at UW-Madison.

Whew! That’s plenty of update for now, but rest assured there’s more to come. If you’re interested in joining our CSA for the 2013 season, fill out our sign-up form and be sure to read about the rebates that are available through some health insurance providers.

-Dennis 1/23/13