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Tomato Mountain Newsletter - Week 33 | Fall Week 3

Posted 10/11/2017 5:11pm by Business Manager.
Whats in the box?! 
Fall is here in earnest, along with a wet pattern that should last a few weeks. After a very dry late summer/early fall, we’re now in the middle of a wet period that is forecast to take us through the majority of October. The new 3-4 week forecasts are especially shaky (hard to predict weather that far in advance), but the current one suggests dry and warm weather after this wet period. That would be perfect.  
The wet weather is great for most things on the farm. Our root crops, mostly carrots and beets, love it as they generally do well with lots of moisture, and it keeps the soil loose and soft so they have little resistance to sizing up/getting nice and big. People these days love “baby”vegetables, but smaller/younger veggies aren’t always better. Some crops are at their best when fully mature and exposed to the right conditions. I’ve talked several times before about the way carrots, beets, and spinach fall into this category.  When these crops reach full size and experience cold weather, nights in the 20’s and even teens if it’s not too windy, they achieve incredible sweetness. The way we grow these crops is what separates our produce from the big industrial producers (organic or not).
Fall crops are in full swing, and tomatoes are still in the box. Due to better planning, we’ve not needed to clear out all our tomato hoops as early as we normally would, and the somewhat warm weather of recent weeks has kept the tomatoes coming. There’s plenty of broccoli, cauliflower, kale/collard greens (you’ll get one or the other), lettuce and Asian greens this week. We’re squeezing Acorn squash into the box this week too. We didn’t really need or want to put the squash into the already full box, but we’ve got it, and it’s a good time of year to fire up the oven and get something different into the diet.
BTW, mixing squash into tomato/pasta sauces is fantastic, and my new favorite thing. I’ve been making huge batches of pasta sauce with our whole roasted tomatoes (available as an add on) lately, and adding roasted acorn squash, which really sweetens things up and cuts the acidity of the tomatoes beautifully. I’ve been putting this on a brown rice/quinoa combo for a much healthier version of my lifelong standby comfort food, pasta and tomato sauce.
Our flag is flying at half mast today at the farm as one of the best employees we’ve ever had is leaving. We’re losing him due mostly, once again, to money and the benefits that other jobs can offer, but that we can’t offer. Adam was hired 18 months ago as a handy/maintenance person, and has become more than that as an integral part of our team. He’s also been a farmer in that he’s helped out in the field, and with a million details that make farming the most diverse job I’ve ever known. He’s also been the most reliable worker, who almost never takes time off, and who is never late. In fact, he’s always been here 15 minutes early and would often stay to finish whatever was necessary.
It’s very difficult for us to find the labor we need, and when we can, we often can’t pay enough to keep them around. As time goes on, it gets harder to pay the few good people we find what they want/need, and harder yet to find people with professional skills and work habits to begin with. It is very common for people to think that we should be able to hire a few high school students to do what’s necessary. Actually, it’s the other way around. What we do here is as difficult (to do well) as anything.  We need professionals, not volunteers and interns who come and go.
If we had another 100 CSA customers, we’d be in a lot better position financially. Our add ons are helping a lot too. If we had another 200-300 CSA customers, we could start offering benefits, or at least health insurance, to some employees. We don’t know where/can’t seem to find more people like you guys. If anyone has any ideas, let us know. It’s hard to believe that in a city and outlying area with 8 million people we can’t get up to 600+ CSA customers- what we need to be significantly profitable. Our produce is top notch, we’re working on bringing lots of other hard to find/high quality local foods into the mix, and we deliver to people’s doors. We feel like we’re on the verge of getting all this right.

Photo(s) added: September 17th, 2018

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Photo(s) added: September 10th, 2018

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Photo(s) added: , Another New PhotoSeptember 3rd, 2018

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