October 2012

                                                                                                                                                                              The full time 2012 crew says thanks for letting us grow your food this season.  See you next year.

                                                                                                                                                                        From left: Brian Dean; Becky, Jesse, Barb, Eric and  David Perkins, Chad Chriestenson, Jonnah Perkins,  Chris Klaeser, Elisabeth Minich


It’s 7am and still pitch black outside; the seasons we live by and you eat by have begun the abrupt change to the winter months.  This is transition time for us, going from a busy season of harvest straight into preparing for next year’s bounty.  The transition actually begins in July with the planting of strawberry plants, followed in August and September with the planting of cover crops to put fertility into the soil, support the biotic life in the soil and improve the soil’s structural components.  Garlic planting was completed this week.  Final harvests stretch into November for our Storage Share members at which point the final preparations of the fields for the winter is completed with tillage and mulching.  The worker share members and our wonderful Cambodian crew will not appear again until next spring; but the cast of characters pictured above will be putting in hundreds of hours before the next vegetable seedling take root.  Jesse will be inspecting and repairing our field implements so they are ready when needed.  Chris, our resident construction guru, will be heading up a couple of projects improving our transplant greenhouse and machine shed.  Jonnah will be busy with our website, signups and all other things needed for communicating with you.  Barb will be putting together the seed order and planting plans as well as orchestrating the storage share deliveries.  Eric, Chad, Elizabeth and Becky will be working on a long list of projects, things that there is just no time for during the harvest season.  As for me, well, I’ll think of something to do.  But most importantly, we will all get time off to rest and reinvigorate ourselves for next season.  We look forward to 2013, may it be perfectly moist and pleasantly mild.


A few pictures from the week:

This week we planted all of the garlic for next season, about an acre and a half.

Each clove of garlic is planted 6 inches apart. We break apart garlic bulbs into cloves. And then we plant the entire acre and a half by hand, one clove at a time.

Middle schoolers from Goodman Community Center came out to pick pumpkins.

Tuesday afternoon kale harvest.

At Vermont Valley Community Farm we market our produce solely through our CSA.  You will not find us at the Farmers Market, on restaurant menus, and other than our garlic at Willy St Coop, you will not find our produce in stores.  This means that when we have excess or less than perfect produce, we need to have an outlet for the bounty.

Each week of the CSA delivery season the Vermont Valley crew brings thousands of pounds of produce in from the fields.  After the produce has been sorted and washed we are left with hundreds of pounds of vegetables that have imperfections.  We have developed relationships with organizations in the Madison area who gladly accept produce donations.

This season the Mt. Horeb School District received over 1500 pounds of tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant, sweet corn, and summer squash from Vermont Valley Community Farm.  Food service director, Michelle Denk, organizes a dedicated group of volunteers to help her process the produce to be served throughout the school year.  This is our second season supplying food to the Mt. Horeb school district.  We are proud to be getting fresh organic produce into the lunch room!

Students prepping produce.

Trays of tomatoes, summer, eggplant, onions, and peppers.

The Goodman Community Center incorporates our produce into it’s meals each week through the Kid’s Cafe Program, a partnering of Madison community centers and local farms, funded by Group Health Cooperative.  Between May and September, the Goodman Community Center has served over 1200 pounds of Vermont Valley produce to the kids during summer day camps and after school programs.

Jonnah packing an order for Goodman Community Center.

Elisabeth harvesting collard greens that will be served at Goodman Community Center.

During June, July and August we coordinate a weekly donation of produce to Badger Camp, a camp in Prairie du Chien serving those with developmental disabilities.  Badger Camp served upwards of 600 pounds of  Vermont Valley Community Farm produce to it’s campers this summer.  The campers assist in preparing the food.

Badger Camper with 2012 Events Director, Emily Blackbourn.

Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin has accepted  5500 pounds of potatoes, 3000 pounds of sweet potatoes and 600 pounds of various summer vegetables this season.  Second Harvest distributes donations to food pantries, shelters, and hunger-relief programs in 16 counties in southern Wisconsin.

Jesse and Chad loading Second Harvest truck with tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, and cucumbers.

Second Harvest truck backed up to packing shed to be loaded with Vermont Valley Community Farm produce.

Our produce also makes it’s way to other events and organizations such as FairShare CSA Coalition Bike the Barns, AIDS Network AIDS Ride, First United Methodist Church Food Pantry, Madison Area Rehabilitation Center – Mt. Horeb, and Middleton Outreach Ministry.

Bikers eating under a tree at Vermont Valley Community Farm stop of the FairShare CSA Coation Bike the Barns Event. Photo: Mallory Shotwell

Each week is an opportunity to put more healthy food into the community.  We are fortunate to have a connection with organizations that see the value in serving fresh, local produce.  With each passing season Vermont Valley Community Farm becomes more involved with schools, community centers, and charitable organizations and we are proud to be part of helping to improve the local food system.

The Perkins Farmily – Back: Eric, David, Barb, Brian (Becky’s boyfriend). Front: Jesse (holding Paavo), Jonnah, Becky

The end of the season is always bitter sweet for us and gives us a time to reflect.  Each season is so completely different.  The only thing that remains constant is the need for our flexibility as we work with whatever weather Mother Nature bestows on us.  From our perspective, as farmers, this season went very well.  We really didn’t know what to expect with the longest drought and hottest temperatures ever experienced.  We did  what we knew how to do, everything possible to keep the plants alive!  Water, water, water.  It worked.  The summer and fall crops have been bountiful; we didn’t know exactly how the heat was going to impact everything, but we are pleased.  We hope you are too.

This is also the time to celebrate all of the people who make this CSA the vibrant farm it is.  Thank you, our dedicated members, for giving us the opportunity to feed you.  We provided food for over 2,200 families this season.  And thank you to our hard working full time crew and all of the part time workers, about 70 different individuals helping to harvest, clean and pack the vegetables each week, rain or shine or cold or hot.  We send out a special thank you to our dedicated site hosts.  We could not be delivering food the way we do without such a wonderful group of people willing to let us come into their spaces each week to drop off and pick up shares.

We love delivering vegetables to you and we love it when you come out to visit the farm.  When you come out to the farm we have the opportunity to meet and talk with you and you get to see where your food is coming from. We had very well attended events this season, thanks to all of you who came out.


A few pictures:

Corn Boil

Feeding the goats at the Corn Boil.

Pesto Fest

Baby Paavo in the pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin Pick

Tomato U-Pick