CSA Newsletter ~ Week 2
|We're settling into a good old fashioned winter in Southern Wisconsin as we close out January. There's nothing too warm in the forecast for the next couple weeks (which is usually pretty accurate), and February is forecast to be below average on the whole. By the middle of February, the longer days and higher sun angle usually insure renewed growth of our hoop house spinach which has been on hold, hanging out nicely and gaining sweetness in the cold we've experienced the last month or so. Though it is possible that the weather could be so cold all of February that spinach growth would not resume until the end of the month, that is seldom the case, particularly with the general climate warming earth is experiencing.
Just to keep things in perspective with all the talk and general discussion about climate change and warming, much of North America (all of Canada and most of the northern tier of the U.S.) were covered by thick sheets of ice during the last glacial episode that rapidly ended starting 10,000 years ago. This episode was one of several that have affected North America over the last few hundred thousand years (and even before that). Since then the climate has warmed considerably. Human activity, particularly adding lots of CO2 to the atmosphere, has served to increasingly trap heat and accelerate the general warming process the world is experiencing on its own. By speeding up this warming process, we force all of the planet's life, which is increasingly dominated by human life, to more quickly adjust and adapt in many ways, not the least of which is getting/producing food. Plants and animals are particularly disadvantaged because humans now dominate over 90% of the earth's land surface and have cut off or eliminated pathways/habitat for migration or moving to adjust to the changing climate. Even for humans, altering and adapting agriculture by moving away from excess heat and insufficient fresh water for irrigation (or excess sea water where rising oceans threaten coastal agriculture) toward acceptable temperatures and ample fresh water supplies suggest massive efforts and transformations of agricultural systems now working to feed over 7 billion people.
So, while we still have super cold stretches of weather, they are less frequent, and more quickly followed by warmer weather than our ancestors experienced. The hyper accelerated nature of climate change that has occurred with more and more of the earth's population 'enjoying' access to first world standards of living and associated energy consumption rates (and associated CO2 production) has led to hyper accelerated rates of polar ice melting. These literal polar ice boxes that have served to keep us cool by their obvious 'coolness', and even more by reflecting light and heat away from earth (ice reflects light whereas oceans/land masses absorb it), are melting even faster than scientists had initially warned. When they are compromised, things warm up extra fast. This is why the cold periods that used to happen every few hundred years, such as the little ice ages in Europe from 1550, are less and likely to occur, and with less intensity. The bottom line is that we're increasingly able to expect warmer weather to prevail and cold snaps to be shorter. That's great in winter and nasty in summer as we saw last year when the U.S. was the warmest ever since measurements have been taken and records have been kept. Overall, the upper Midwest, with its moderate temperatures, great soils, and excellent water reserves (some of the best in the world with the Great Lakes and excellent ground water reserves), is one the safest and best places on the planet to grow food. That being the case, and Wisconsin being where I'm from, are why I chose to farm here.
In the box this week we have the aforementioned spinach in all its cold-induced sweetness. There are also the last of our onions and garlic from last summer, and more sweet fall carrots. We've again included of our unique whole roasted tomatoes, and another special treat from our processing kitchen--tomato vegetable juice. See left (*) for more info.
I personally have been lucky enough to be in the Southwest since December due to the excellent management now in place at the farm and in Chicago. Though I love the dry air, mountains, and somewhat warmer temperatures in the high deserts of New Mexico/Southeastern Arizona, the bland California carrots and parsley I've been eating are a far cry from our sweet, fall raised Wisconsin crops. I love, love, love lots of parsley in tomato sauces (hint for the whole roasted tomatoes in your boxes this winter), and in the future we may try to keep a hoop house of parsley over the winter just for that reason. It would be about as sweet and flavorful as the spinach you're getting this week. We hope everyone is enjoying the winter boxes.
and the Tomato Mountain Farm Team