As well as talking about my book, Sustainable Market Farming, I’ll be signing and selling copies, and answering questions. There will be CSA farmers there, and we will be marking CSA Sign-up Day which is on February 26. This year, CSA Day is about more than getting lots of CSA signups; it’s a whole day dedicated to the celebration of community-supported agriculture. You can read the report of the 2015 CSA Sign Up day here.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, which is a way of farming (usually vegetables, but other farm products too). In the original CSA model, people join the CSA and pay for a whole season’s worth of produce, sometimes split into smaller regular payments. The CSA member then receives a box or bag of vegetables and sometimes fruits, herbs, flowers, bread, eggs etc, every week throughout the harvesting season. This is a way to support farmers because they get the cash at the beginning of the season when they most need it to buy seeds and repair equipment.
These days there are many different types of CSA. CSA shares (the weekly deliveries) come in different sizes and different frequencies (weekly or biweekly) to accommodate different households. In some models, the members can choose what they want in the bag each time. Some CSAs are like buying clubs, where the members pay every month and can cancel when they like
My salad greens ideas include quick-growing Tokyo Bekana, Maruba Santoh and mizuna; purslanes; baby salad mixes including komatsuna, Yukina Savoy and Jewels of Opar; and garnishes like Spilanthes cress, red shiso, saltwort and microgreens. For years I have been perfecting the techniques needed to grow year round lettuce in Virginia (you can read about that in my book Sustainable Market Farming). It’s good to have more strings to our bows so we can be resilient in the face of unpredictable weather and changing climate.
The crop I am most excited about this summer is Jewels of Opar, also known as Fame flower. Southern Exposure Seed Exchange sells the seed, and have an interesting blogpostabout this crop by Irena Hollowell. She heads her post “A Heat-Tolerant Leafy Green Vegetable Disguised as a Flower”. As you see in the July photo below, the plants continue to produce fresh leaves even as they make light sprigs of pretty little flowers and attractive fruits.
The cover article of this Growing for Market issue is Know Your Knots by Joanna and Eric Reuter of Chert Hollow Farmwho I have mentioned before (Eric commented about frosted strawberry flowers on my previous post.) This is an example of the hands-on useful articles in Growing for Market – written by farmers for other farmers, with information that is sure to save time, and even materials. I’m looking at the square-lashed storage rack for keeping rottable things off the ground. I damaged our cold frame lids last year by leaving them stacked on edge on the ground all summer. We used to store them in the shed, but an increase in the other stuff stored in the shed meant no room left for seasonal storage of bulky coldframe lids. Now I know how to store them outside without damage. One of our mantras is “Never make the same mistake two years running!”
In this same GfM issue, Patty Wright has an article about Community Supported Agriculture Farms (CSAs), encouraging us farmers to look at our aspirations and celebrate the diversity of CSAs. The two principles of shared risk and community support are at the heart of the CSA movement, and there are different ways that these are put into practice. The more common aspirations we can share, the stronger the movement will be.
Gretel Adams has an article about attractive foliage for cut flower arrangements in spring, summer and autumn.
Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko, who I meet periodically as fellow presenters at the Mother Earth News Fairs have a new book Homemade for Sale: How to Set Up and Market a Food Business FromYour Home Kitchen, published by New Society Publishers. An excerpt from the book is in this issue. It covers how Cottage Food Laws apply to people making food products and selling them to neighbors and community. Many growers would like to process some of their crops for sale in the quieter parts of the season. This book will give inspiring examples and help you stay on the right side of the law.
The season of tending millions of seedlings is winding down. We are planting out more every day. yesterday we planted our maincrop slicing and cherry tomatoes. (The early crop is in the hoophouse).
We’re continuing our relentless schedule of planting out 120 lettuces each week. It’s time for us to set out celery, Malabar spinach and okra. And we’re about to launch out into the row-crop area of the garden again. First the big planting of 540 Roma paste tomatoes.
We have measured and flagged the six 180′ rows. We need to run the drip tape, test it, fix problems, then unroll the biodegradable plastic mulch, then stake and rope where we want the rows to be, so we plant in straight rows. Then we’ll install the metal T-posts without spearing the hidden driptape (easiest if we run the irrigation while we do that, so the drip tape is fat and easier to locate.)
We’ll be transplanting for two hours a day for the next 4 weeks.