Dear C.S.A. Community,
During the course of the year we get asked all kinds of questions about the farm and how it works. So every year I write an article that explains how the farm works and a little bit about the dedicated people that work on the farm to provide everyone with chemical free food. Now that you hopefully have an idea of how a C.S.A. works I will explain ours in further detail. I will be answering and discussing the common questions people have had throughout the years; and if you have any that I have not answered please ask.
From an employee standpoint the farm wakes up at 6 a.m. every M-F. There are two employee's there at 6 and another two will arrive by 8. We pick all day on Monday and Tuesday. Also often on Wednesday mornings. We pick all the time, those are just the dedicated times where we pick in bulk as a team. It takes us as a team roughly seven hours to pick all the tomatoes for the C.S.A. including the cherry tomatoes. This is where we differ from a grocery store. They go in a back-room we go in "the back 40". Many of you might not know this, but everything is hand picked and packed on the farm. On Wednesday we spend the entire day packing your boxes. The same people that pick those wonderful boxes also distribute them on Thursday and Friday. During our free time during the week you can find us weeding, cleaning, picking, and doing an assortment of tasks. We are usually weeding;)
There is an enormous misunderstanding of how much effort it takes to grow a 10+ Acre Garden without the use of pesticides or herbicides. I could have someone pull weeds all day every day and they might never get all the weeds. I really appreciate our weed whippers and mowers. Although with this huge garden we are able to effectively manage the weed population through processes we have developed over the years. I hope that you as customer's can tell a difference in the taste and are happy eating a product that is not tainted. These are products produced in your back yard, not across the world.
Many people also often ask what the farm has done to mitigate the risks that the customer has, so they get lots of food on a consistent yearly basis. So, as a veggie farmer you can only manipulate mother nature so much. With our irrigation we eliminate the need for rain. Although nothing is better for them then a natural rain. We are in Iowa, we really should not have to even think about irrigation, but weather is volatile some years. Irrigation gives us more control over the speed at which they grow at, and how much moisture they receive. Another benefit is that we don't pump from a pond we have a 100 GPM (gallon per minute) well. We irrigate with clean water. The farm also plant's all of the plants in plastic raised beds, this gives us some control over weed pressure and can heat the soil slightly higher. This also results in a higher rate of success for our transplants we put out in the field. One issue we take especially serious is, soil maintenance and building the fertility of our soils on the farm.
We plant a lot of veggies and some might wonder why they got potato's one week and not the next etc.. The weather dictates a lot of what is in your boxes each week. It can also dictate the size. Such as some of the peppers being undersized this year, this was due to lack of heat. Then on the opposite end, the cooler then average temperature gave us a monumental cabbage season. In turn, weather effects each year and what is distributed. That is why we have to plant so many varieties because not everything works every year and we still have an obligation to get you healthy food, and we plant a variety just in case. The farm truly has not sprayed a pesticide or herbicide on any veggies, in the five years it has been open and I consider this a wonderful accomplishment considering the challenges. Potatoes are weather dependent as well. If the soil is too moist and it has not been for quite a while it makes it difficult for us to dig potatoes on the farm. The moisture has to be just right so the machine can properly dig the spuds. Although when we do have the opportunity to dig, we will dig enough for two weeks. We also have to stagger the plant date of each veggie, so we can continually harvest on an item that we grow.
At the farm we have many goals, but our main goal is to continue to refine and create a C.S.A. program that can be sustained long term as long as the community wants it. The farm has almost done this. We have to make a few refinements, but we are close. We strive to provide you chemical free food and we want everyone to have options when it comes to where they purchase their food.
I hope you are all enjoying your 30% discount in the farm store. There are all kinds of wonderful items in there. If any of you still have questions about your punch card please give us a call @ 319-895-6480.
I also hope this gives you a little more insight of what a C.S.A. entails and how ours operates internally. Also if you want to stock up on beef please do so before the month of October. Once October hits the meat sells really fast and we only have 2 cows left. Just a friendly reminder.
Thanks for reading!