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CSA Newsletter ~ Week 36

Posted 12/21/2012 12:22pm by Chris.
The final delivery of the third year of our CSA is upon us. I do not want to call it "the end" of the year, because in reality our farming season never ends, and is more accurately characterized by the cyclical nature of the seasons. People often say "have a nice weekend," but for a farmer, the week never really ends. They blend into months that blend into seasons that change into one another rather seamlessly. We currently have 20 hoop houses of spinach that we'll need to monitor over the holidays and into the next year. Even the crops we harvested in the fall and put into storage are still "living." We need to check them on a regular basis to monitor temperatures and humidity levels, making sure they are correct to ensure high quality and long shelf life. 

This spinach will continue growing when it's above 40 degrees in the hoop houses and the ground isn't frozen. After big snow storms, as we're expecting at the end of this week, and the cold snaps that typically follow, there is no growth until the snow is completely shed by the hoops and temperatures warm up. While the snow can be a problem by blocking light initially, it is good after it falls to the ground to seal any gaps and spaces around the base of the hoop houses that ordinarily leak and allow air to pass. It also insulates the area around the perimeter of the hoops which helps to keep the ground inside from freezing. We estimate that we'll have spinach in 4 to 5 of the 6 winter share boxes depending on how many people sign up, and what the weather does. With a winter like last year, we'd easily have it in all 6 boxes, but that is not likely. 

In storage, we've got a boat load of carrots--many thousands of pounds. Aside from that, there are several thousand pounds of assorted root crops including beets, two kinds of turnips, two kinds of radishes, onions, and garlic. In the freezer, we've got a couple hundred 2-pound (quart) bags of frozen, roasted winter squash that we are experimenting with as a winter CSA box item. This will eliminate the need for customers to cut, bake, and scoop the squash. We're hoping this product will be a welcome treat come February when most of the winter squash would have begun to succumb to time and spoil. And of course, we have a few thousand jars of our beautiful whole roasted tomatoes that will be included in most winter share deliveries. This unique product is fantastic for all cooking that requires tomatoes. This time of year, things like pasta sauce and chili come quickly to mind. Last, and least, we've got just over a hundred 2-pound quart bags of frozen strawberries that will go into a box at some point for the winter share, though we will not have enough to give this product to everyone. Between our extra sweet and amazing spinach, root crops in storage, frozen squash and berries, and jarred tomatoes, we're going to have very nice boxes to deliver in January, February, and March. 

While I started out saying it's not really the end, we will have almost a month break between now and our first winter delivery. The break is welcomed by everyone at the farm, and comes at a perfect time when the weather goes south and working outside is not so fun. It will be a time for CSA customers to finish off any produce they didn't/couldn't get to, especially crops like carrots you may have gotten more of than you could finish each week. In fact, that was our plan, to give you plenty of these crops these last months, so you might have enough to last into the new year. 

We are most appreciative of our CSA customers and welcome any ideas and feedback as we move forward. We're getting better at improving variety throughout the year, and now with our winter share, can elevate the potential for eating more locally produced food throughout the year. We want to thank all of you for your past and continued support, and hope to hear from anyone about any concerns, thoughts, feelings, or ideas about what we've done, or what we could do better in the future. Have a great holiday season.

Chris Covelli

and the Tomato Mountain Farm Team

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