Yesterday was an exciting day for us. Over the past few months we have been planning, planting, advertising, gathering supplies and plotting. Yesterday, some of our hard work paid off and we had our first pick-up day for our CSA! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The idea is that people pay for weekly shares ahead of the season so that the farmer is able to put the crop in the ground without having to take out debt. This year we decided to start small. We only have 4 people in our CSA. This allows us a pretty big margin of error and a good way to give this a try! We are really excited to see what the rest of the year brings! I’ll start from the beginning. This winter I spent way too much time pouring over seed catalogs and deciding what I wanted to plant. I ended up finding a really good sale with one seed company that had a really excellent selection. I bought my seeds and immediately set to work with a calendar deciding what needed to be planted on which date. I wrote and erased and wrote and erased probably 100 times until my planting calendar was just perfect. We also spent a long time looking for, and finally purchased, a piece of equipment that will make our lives infinitely easier this summer. We also reached out on Facebook to find people who were interested in being a part of our CSA.
Finally it was time to start seeds! I spent way too much money buying grow lights, evicted our farm cats from the utility room and got a ton of seeds started. I logged each variety and planting date in a notebook so I could keep track of what worked and what didn’t. Then I waited. I waited and I watered. I checked my little seedlings every day and celebrated a little every time a new green cotyledon sprung up from the black dirt. We planted some of the most hardy crops, lettuce and kale in raised beds covered with low tunnels. They basically look like 2 ½ foot high greenhouses and help maintain heat in the soil and protect the plants from frost.
Once the weather warmed up I could start to plant some of the things that needed to be sown directly into the grown and not started indoors. I planted potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, greens, swiss chard, carrots and peas. We first tilled the ground using a disc plow. For some of the rows we disked the soil into small rows and used our new plastic layer to fill the rows and lay a strip of irrigation tape under a layer of black plastic to control weeds. We will utilize a gravity flow system for irrigation using the water from a nearby creek and an electricity-free pump that Jonathan is working on putting together.
We have had a LOT of rain here lately, so it has been nearly impossible to get into the field to finish laying plastic. There is some hope for it to stay dry enough the next couple days that we could get it done though! All of our plastic will be recycled through a county Ag Plastics recycling program.
Our greens in our low tunnels started getting big and we had to time our first cutting to make sure that they were regrown so that we were ready to cut again for our CSA delivery. As the deadline approached we made sure that we had all of the supplies we needed (bags, labels, etc.) and just waited in patient anticipation for the day to come! The night before we cut the greens and sorted them into bags. We labeled honey jars and washed eggs. The next morning we packed everything up and waited patiently for each person’s pick up time. By the end of the day all of the shares were picked up and we got some really great feedback from our customers!
There was a LOT of hard work that went into even getting part of our crops in the ground! The pride I felt at the end of the day in handing out a fresh, delicious product was immense. I love being able to share our passion and our story with people and having the CSA is the best way I knew to be able to connect with consumers. Thank you to all of our CSA members for supporting our farm and helping us make our dreams come true!