May 1-4, 2017
Welcome, new and returning shareholders of the Summer ’17 Elmwood Stock Farm CSA Program. Your investment goes well beyond an exchange of cash for goods. The multiple layers of benefits of consistently eating wholesome foods are what the community-supported-agriculture partnership is really all about. You commit to eat local, organic food and we agree to raise it, so you can eat in peace knowing no toxins were released and no organisms were genetically modified because of your food choices.
Our longtime members have let us know this tangible version of the newsletter in their weekly share has value. In it, the list of share contents and storage tips help people figure out what everything is, and the recipes help them figure out how to prepare it. We can watch newcomers gain a little more confidence in how to handle and cook whatever vegetables surprise them each week. The story we include here each week varies from laws of nature to human nature, with the intent of sharing what we have learned about just how valuable organic foods are.
Some of you are new to the CSA as part of a wellness benefit with your employer. We all have heard for decades that eating fruits and veggies is good for us. A recent University of Kentucky study shows CSA shareholders go to the doctor’s office less often and spend less on pharmaceuticals. There, you just shifted your dollars to food from drugs! As more is learned from the human microbiome—the colony of good bacteria in our bodies—and its relationship with plant and soil biomes, food will gain the stature it deserves in public health circles.
Since we on the farm have the opportunity to eat the best food in the world all year, we can feel the positive effects. Olivia commented recently how dramatically better she feels consistently since she began working with us last year, with access to our foods. (She did also just get married, which might have something to do with her perspective.) The takeaway is, eating a significant portion of your diet raw and consuming lots of plants is good for your long term health, and you get to spend time at home in your kitchen, not sitting somewhere waiting for an appointment.
Our Tough Love
Now for the tough-love part. You have several responsibilities as a shareholder. I will describe in detail in a later newsletter how your food got to you, but suffice it to say, we hope little goes to waste. We’ll try to help you use your share to its fullest with advice here, and we’re happy to talk to you about cooking, preserving and eating.
When you know you will be out of town or otherwise unable to pick up your share, please arrange with a friend, coworker or neighbor to retrieve it. With a lot of shares to keep track of, daily altering of our harvest and delivery spreadsheets is fraught with pitfalls and can easily create snags in our work for days or even weeks. The tightly choreographed system from field to pickup location doesn’t easily take into account each member’s last-minute schedule change. Each CSA pickup-location manager handles their shares a little differently, but we suggest building a relationship with your site host for when issues arrive—thus “Community Supported Agriculture.”
At some locations, regular- or robust-sized shareholders have the added responsibility of returning the waxed cardboard boxes that your shares arrive in. These boxes are surprisingly expensive. We always pack your share in a plastic liner inside the box and encourage you to only take the bag and let the pickup-site manager hold the box for us.
Early crops look good, just in time for CSA week 1. Perennial plants broke dormancy early this year, then a couple of harsh, windy freezes burned early strawberry blooms, but later fruit sets are ripening now, with the help of the row covers we protected them with. John was able to work the ground and get seeding done with the favorable weather conditions in April. We could stand a little rain, but one must be careful what one asks for.
Transplanted leafy greens are off to a good start; you can count on eating them just about every week this spring, as you should.
We are excited about the coming season. We crunched the numbers this winter, which led us to make some operational upgrades. John is using a new planting pattern and dialing in the associated cultivation equipment to get more plants per acre. Since we are confident in the fertility of the soils, this should improve plant performance and reduce harvest labor. We are finalizing the renovation of our packing shed, with new washtable and dunk-tank processes. These systems will allow us to more efficiently get produce cleaned and into the coolers as well as provide our team with better ergonomics for the task at hand.
So, thanks for signing up with us for the summer of ’17. Look for postings about our farm tours, farmers-market presence and other current events in the biweekly enewsletter that you receive via email and on our Facebook page. You are our prime, No. 1 customers, and we look forward to a great season of healthy eating and healthy conversation. —Mac Stone
In Your Share
Heirloom Corn Meal