It is hard to believe the season is over already. Just a few weeks ago we had 50 20-bushel vegetable bins full to the bursting with root vegetables. Now, most of those bins are empty and stored away until next fall. We are pleased with the amount of storage vegetables we grew this season; we're still filling up the truck, while in past seasons the truck was only half full at this time of year. With the vegetable deliveries ending, we reflect on this season as we plan for the 2008 season. We're fortunate that John Middleton and Justin Wilder and his family are staying on the farm.We wouldn’t want to be going into next season without them. Their skills and enthusiasm lighten our load and allow the farm to run more efficiently. We hope that together we can develop niches on the farm for John and Justin so they can stay on the farm long-term. This season was a success in large part because the crew had the farm in their consciousness at every moment. In return, the fields amazed us with bountiful crops.
Two members of this great crew are moving on next season. After two years at Roxbury,
Paul Hess and Kelly O’Hearn (accompanied by their woodchuck-hunting dogs) will be the farmers at the Brothers of the Holy Cross Community Supported Garden just down the road. They started the garden this year and will be expanding it next season to serve a small CSA. We'll miss them, but with them so close by, we hope to still see them often.
Since Paul and Kelly are leaving, we have decided to host apprentices again for the 2008 season. We will be interviewing for three apprenticeship positions during the next couple of weeks. We didn’t have apprentices this year for a number of reasons. Mostly we just didn’t feel we had the time to devote to training and education. With John and Justin on board, we'll be able to share the tasks of training and educating, which will make it a better experience for everyone.
As Jean-Paul wrote two weeks ago, we hope to expand the animal aspect of the farm. The sheep and sows are in breeding season right now. We will have lamb available for sale in June and the pork again in the fall. Jean-Paul and John need their cow fix, so we hope to have a few steers on pasture to provide beef, and hopefully the turkeys in the fall, too. The animal equation is a difficult one to balance. We hoped that by offering the pork in individual cuts this season we would make a little bit of profit. In the past the pork shares paid for the butchering cost and the feed but not our labor or time. This season the feed costs doubled (we think ethanol has something to do with this, but that is a whole other newsletter). The money from the pork sales this year will cover the feed, butchering costs, and our labor, but doesn’t get anywhere near to covering the costs of the greenhouse or fencing. Our goal is to eventually figure out the right mix of animals in order for this part of the operation to be self sustaining.
As for the vegetables… We have been reading the results of the end-of-the-year surveys as they come in. It seems that just as many people want less greens as people who want more. So, we think we'll keep the amounts the same. We are going to try out a few different mixes that Johnny’s Selected Seed Company has developed for salad and braising greens. There were many requests for more variety in the salad mix and braising greens so we will give it a shot.
In past surveys, people said they really enjoyed the all-blue and all-red potatoes. We tried them this season but found it wasn’t very successful. The brown flaky spots you had on many of your potatoes this year are called scab. Scab is in our soil and we can’t do anything about it. Different varieties have different thresholds of susceptibility to scab. We found that the more unique varieties that you enjoy were very susceptible to scab. We will try a few different potato varieties next season to keep the variety in your share, but we'll still grow a large amount of the Keuka Golds (which aren’t sensitive to scab or other problems we have with potatoes).
We noticed that the sweet potatoes weren’t holding up in storage as well as they have in the past. Usually, we wait until the first frost to harvest them. The strong vines of the sweet potatoes die with the frost; otherwise the vines clog up our digging equipment. The frost came so late this season that the ground was too cold for the sweet potatoes. We e-mailed the company we buy the sweet potato slips from to ask for advice about harvesting. They told us to harvest the sweet potatoes in September before the frost and gave us tips about how to deal with the vines. Next season we will harvest them before the ground gets too cold. We apologize for shortchanging some of you this year on sweet potatoes, but lots of them went bad in storage.
We're looking forward to a few months of taking things a bit more slowly and to some rest. By March we'll itch to work in the soil again. While we may follow a similar cycle every season, working with nature always keeps us on our toes and keeps things interesting. Check in with the Roxbury Farm blog to see what we're up to on the Farm during the next few months. Thank you for your support this season! We wish you a restful winter and we will see you again in June, 2008.
~Jean-Paul and Jody
Thursday, December 27, 2007
We wish you blessings for the New Year!
We are spending the last few days of 2007 ordering seeds and supplies for next season. We are adding popcorn, snow peas, some new greens mixes, red bok choi, and green cauliflower to the 2008 shares. The Mirai sweet corn will return again as it received rave reviews the last two seasons. Next week we will be working on the apartment and repairing equipment. We will also begin to process the 2008 enrollments from present members. New members can begin signing up in late January/early February by downloading the enrollment forms from our website, http://www.roxburyfarm.com/.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The CSA deliveries for the New York City sites scheduled for today, Thursday, Dec. 13th are postponed until next Thursday, Dec. 20th. We are expecting a large snow storm upstate that will make traveling to NYC dangerous. The delivery next week will be the last CSA delivery for the 2007 season. If you ordered pork or a storage vegetable box you can pick that up on the 20th, also.
Monday, December 10, 2007
During the last week we spent much of our time preparing the farm for winter. We put new plastic covers on both of our greenhouses. We also constructed new housing for the sheep and pigs in one of the greenhouses. The animals still have access to pasture but can get in out of cold and snow whenever they want. The pigs spend much of their day buried in the straw bedding sleeping. The boar is in with the sows and the ram is in with the ewes. We expect piglets to arrive in late March and lambs in early April.