CSA Newsletter: Week 28, la última!

  • Beets
  • Green Cabbage - very long keeping in the fridge (months!)
  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Shallots
  • Potatoes
  • Pea Shoots
  • Hakurei Turnips - for Wednesday members this week (Saturday members got them last week)
  • Tetsukabuto winter squash - The squash of choice for the apocalypse! This kabocha/butternut cross stores FOREVER. As in, I once ate one that was over a year old and it was still delish. Tetsu has sweet nutty flavor and wide-ranging versatility in the kitchen: roastable, mashable, curry-able, soup-able, stuffable.

A Short Winter's Nap...

Winter is a fleeting thing around here - about two weeks in December, flanked on either side by spring and fall, which go on for months and months. By January the daffodils will already be blooming and by February green things will be growing like mad again. It doesn't add up to much dormancy - or make for much of a mental break from farming. But rather than chafe against our quasi-Mediterranean climate and its botanical repurcussions, I've embraced the opportunity to grow food year round. Hence, the Winter CSA and farmstand. For those of you signed up for our winter CSA season, we'll see you in a month! The farmstand will likely be back in action that same week on January 13th. It turns out I really enjoy winter production, but I'll admit I'm also quite keen on the little break ahead - a chance to dive into extracurricular projects, hunker in with family, and relish winter.

A mighty mountain of thanks to all of you for your CSA commitment the past 28 weeks. It's been an anxious year, but once again the CSA and our beloved cadre of loyal local customers - farmstand shoppers! co-ops and stores! restaurants! - kept the farm humming. Back in college while I was studying agroecology as an idealistic 20-year old - penning my honors thesis about the pitfalls of the global economy and making the case for local food systems - one of the arguments was always that local food systems are more resilient in the face of a system shock. Like, for instance, when a global pandemic shuts down institutions like colleges and universities, shutters restaurants, forces people into lockdown, and brings the economy to a grinding halt. Sure enough, industrial-scale ag was sent reeling last spring as it struggled to adapt to the abrupt new COVID-19 landscape. Truckloads of zucchini were getting dumped in farm fields because there was no market; slaughterhouses were shut down due to COVID outbreaks among workers so that you couldn't buy chicken for weeks; small blocks of cheese were sold out everywhere but there was a glut of 10 pound cheddar bricks - because everyone was cooking at home instead of eating at the restaurants that buy in volume.

That "resilient-in-the-face-of-system-shock" theory was exactly that, a theory. But I'd never really seen it tested. Last March we weren't sure what the pandemic would mean for us on Floras Creek, but as it turned out more people sought out Valley Flora than ever before amidst this crisis. Restaurant sales slackened predictably, but sales to stores jumped, our CSA membership was up 25%, and our farmstand fed more folks than ever before. We had to expand our crew to get all the farming done each week. We befriended new customers who had never been to the farm before who no longer wanted to shop for produce at the supermarket. People wrote us notes and sent us emails thanking us for helping to keep them safe and healthy through all this, and for nourishing them in more ways than calories alone. And when all was said and done, you guys ate every last stick of food we could grow! At least this time around, the farm weathered a major system shock with flying colors thanks to all of you. 

I have always loved the diversity we tend on the farm (the season's not even over yet and I'm already thumbing through my seed catalogues and notes, excited for the new varieties I want to trial next year). It's been clear to me for a long time that diversity equals resilience when it comes to crop production. That theory has been proven time and time again on the farm in the past twelve years. But diversity also equals resilience when it comes to market channels. If we had been geared to sell to only restaurants when COVID-19 hit, we might have gone under. But the fact that we had all of you supporting the farm in various ways - as CSA members; as farmstand customers; as cafés and delis and restaraunts; as co-ops and stores and caterers - that allowed us to keep on going and to feed more of our community than ever before. Thank you so much.

So here's to our next trip around the sun. I'm optimistic that we have a lot to look forward to in 2021, if nothing else then more of those hot pink mini daikons we trialed this fall! It's what I love about farming: every year is a new beginning, a new adventure, another chance at doing life well. 

Wishing you all good health and a happy solstice. And as always....Eat your vegetables!