Welcome to Fresh Fork Summer Share 2011

Thank you very much for subscribing to the FreshFork Summer CSA.  Each week I’ll provide you with a newsletter to help guide you in your local journey.  The topics will range from farming techniques to recipes and preservation techniques.

The first few weeks of this year’s CSA will focuson staples and pantry items.  This is partly by design and partly by necessity due to the weather. These first few weeks you will sample grass grazed milk and butter, fresh ground cornmeal and flours, eggs, grassfed groundbeef, and more.  Some of these items, such as milk, won’t appear regularly in the CSA but are available to purchase as add‐ons each week.

2011 Season Outlook

There is nothing I hate worse than to talk about the weather; however, a lot of my customers have been asking how this spring will affect our season.   I’m happy to answer this question because it helps fulfill part of my mission in running a community supported agriculture program – to connect us  all with our food supply and recognize farming as a business.

Before the rain started I knew that 2011 would be an interesting year.  While there were still a couple feet of snow on the ground I was working with my farmers on planning production, buying seeds, and locking in prices for this season.  The producers I use are small, family farms, and while they aren’t growing necessarily commodities, their price points are influenced by the commodities market.  Field corn, for example, was expected to bring about $8 per bushel this year.  Last year it was $3.  For anyone with tillable land, corn is easy money then.  Much easier than growing fruits and vegetables.  So, one of my early outlooks was to expect many farmers to plant more row crops and less vegetables, therefore decreasing the supply and increasing the price, particularly at auction and terminal point markets.  I worked with my producer to lock in my volume and prices on the vegetables I needed.

Some experts doubted whether corn would go to $8 per bushel and stay there.  I’m convinced it will.  In the third week of May, Farm and Dairy reported that only 7% of Ohio’s field crops had been planted.  Last year it was 77%.  This was all directly the result of the rain.  Vegetables are in a similar situation.  Plants I had intended to have for the early season –green onions, carrots, kale, radishes, mustard greens, etc – are four weeks behind schedule.  Worse yet, the weather may get too hot and some of these plants may not ever be usable this year.

The rain and cold caused two problems this spring.  First, anything that was in the ground wasn’t getting the heat and sun that it needed to grow.  Second, the farmers simply could not get in the fields towork the land. Their tractors and horses would get stuck; the soil would clump; and their planters and plastic layers wouldn’t do anything.  So while the farmers were waiting to get in the fields, their transplants were growing larger and larger in the green house. For some, the transplants outgrew their cells or disease struck the greenhouse andthey lost their transplants, only to start over again.

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