February 2014

If the thought of spring can bring warmth, then it is warming up around here.  Boxes of seeds are piled high in my office, planting plans have been set and we will be planting seeds for the spring share today! (they begin their life under lights in the basement). Winter passes much too quickly as far as we are concerned.  The last storage share delivery was only six weeks ago.  And since then we celebrated the holidays with family and friends, took a lovely vacation and completed the seed order.  The seed order means a lot more than just ordering seeds.  As we prepare for the 2014 season the first thing we do is look back on the 2013 season.  We analyze our 2013 vegetable deliveries.  We look at each vegetable and the number of times it was delivered and the quantity delivered.  We ask ourselves if we want to keep the plan the same or if there is anything we want to do differently this season.  In order to answer that question we look at what you told us in your survey response.

The season has officially begun.  We are planting seeds for the Spring Share at the kitchen counter.  It won’t be warm enough to move into the greenhouse for a few weeks.

The season has officially begun. We are planting seeds for the Spring Share at the kitchen counter. It won’t be warm enough to move into the greenhouse for a few weeks.

The greenhouse, buried in a winter blanket of snow, will soon be warm and cozy.  We head down there the first week of March to begin planting seeds.

The greenhouse, buried in a winter blanket of snow, will soon be warm and cozy but today the negative temperatures keep us farming from the house.

What you tell us matters!  And this is what you told us:  Vegetables you enjoyed the most, in this order – Sweet Corn, Salad Mix, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Carrots, Edamame, Broccoli, Cantaloupe, Potato, Pepper.  Vegetables you would like more of – Strawberries, Cantaloupe, Spinach, Watermelon, Beans, Sweet Potato, Kale, Onion, Winter Squash, Broccoli.  Vegetables you would like less of – Eggplant, Cabbage, Beets, Edamame, Celeriac, Chard, Fennel, Ruby Heart Radish, Escarole, Collard Greens.  We appreciate the feedback and here is what we plan to do.  The top 10 ‘most enjoyed’ vegetables are ones we will continue to grow and deliver at least as much of as last season.  Regarding the ‘I want more of ‘vegetables: Strawberry season comes and goes quickly in Wisconsin.  We put an enormous amount of time and energy into this one short season.  We continue to try different methods of growing the strawberries to improve the quality.  Spinach has a limited weather dependent season.  A cool spring will bring more harvests from the same patch, a hot spring will cause the spinach plant to be finished producing quickly.  The amount we deliver depends on the weather, we plant a lot.  Beans: We plan to deliver more this season, and we had planned to deliver more beans last season as well.  Several of our plantings got flooded out in a heavy spring rain.  Winter squash: Last season was a particularly difficult season for many farmers.  We have made some changes for this season and hope for better yields and squash that will keep better.   Sweet potato: Last season was one of our best yields, we hope for as good a yield in 2014.  Kale: We can certainly deliver more.  Onions: We have a new method of planting which hopefully will give us a higher yield.  The ‘I want less of’ vegetablesEggplant is hard for us to predict, it is incredibly variable. We have been planting the same number of plants for the past 6 years.  Three years ago everybody was lucky to get one eggplant.  We’ll see what 2014 brings (there must be some way to love it).  Edamame, celeriac, fennel, ruby heart radish, escarole and collard greens were only delivered two times for standard shares and once for every other week shares.  That is the minimum we can deliver a vegetable, any less than that is to eliminate it, which we do not plan to do.  We could deliver less of cabbage, chard and beets.

This coming season is season number 20 for our farm!!  David and I were in our 30’s when we started Vermont Valley.  Now our kids are in their 30’s and their kids will be helping me in the greenhouse before too long.  We welcome baby Mischa, born November 18 to Jesse and Jonnah.  Felix, Becky and Brian’s son, is almost 10 months and Paavo leads the pack as a really fun 2 year old.  We are grateful to have so many Perkins’ running (and running around on) this farm.


If you love getting your CSA share box each Thursday, maybe your co-workers will too.  It’s fun to venture into something new with others.  Delivering shares to workplaces is something our farm has been doing for some time and is a concept that has been growing in popularity.  It certainly benefits the employees by making CSA share pick-up convenient.  You can share recipes, talk about how you use your vegetables, or give away a vegetable you know you won’t use.  Many workplaces have wellness committees – what a perfect way to incorporate wellness.  We would be happy to talk with anyone who is interested.  Here are a few pieces of information: We need a suitable location to drop off the vegetables and a location in your building where the share boxes can be stacked for pick up.  One person at the workplace needs to be responsible for the set-up of the site and communication with the farm.  We would like at least 20 shares.  We have more detail on our website.  It may be just the right thing for the place you work.