Vermont Valley crew 2015

A common question I get this time of year. Most notably in 2015, we had particularly pleasant weather to work in, mild temperatures, sunny days, breezes; with only a few hot and nasty days, and seldom working in the rain. The fall has been unbelievable, with summer-like weather continuing right into our last week and no frost until just last week. After 21 CSA years, we have experienced it all; droughts, floods, extreme continuous heat, working in mud, working in the cold… The work we do for you involves a tremendous amount of hand labor, in the fields and in the packing shed. Our worker-share members get a taste of it, but it is hard to imagine what it means in the abstract; bending, stooping, and lifting 9 to 10 hours a day. Although we usually talk about the weather in terms of the plants, it’s the people that take the brunt of the bad; the plants seem to have their way to cope without complaining. So please wish us 2015 weather for 2016.

For the most part, the vegetables felt the same way about the weather and responded with excellent harvests. They needed a little extra water now and then because we did have periods of droughty weather; we irrigate regularly to keep the plants healthy. Most vegetables are very water sensitive and responsive to adequate moisture, affecting both the quality and quantity of produce you receive. The number one field management issue we deal with is moisture. Because of the mild temperatures, the dry periods were easy to adjust for because there was no extreme heat to further exacerbate the lack of moisture; so a smaller quantity or irrigation water did the job. The dryer weather also made preparing the fields easier because the tractor work needed to be done when the soil isn’t too wet. We put a lot of organic mulch on our fields which we grow and harvest from our marginal ground. The mulch is harvested and made into large round bales and you need to make hay while the sun shines (the hay needs to be dry to bale it). With the great weather, we had a good mulch harvest for use on the fields in 2016. Lots of reasons we liked the season’s weather.

We are very pleased with the 2015 harvests and can hope for a similar harvest next year. Some of the highlights (from our perspective) were plentiful red peppers, lots of broccoli, great corn, an abundance of tomatoes, a steady supply of cucumbers and summer squash, and beautiful winter squash. Eggplant was the big disappointment. We planted beautiful plants into the fields, covered the plants with row cover to keep out the insects and within a week they had developed lesions midway up their stem and were dying. I spent hours at the UW plant diagnostic lab looking under a microscope and multiple tests were run. Nothing conclusive. Hmm. Our melon crop was also perplexing. The two varieties we have grown to love performed totally different this year. We did not get the harvest we had hoped for. Each season is different with its ups and downs; but we certainly had more ups than downs. The survey you receive is your chance to tell us what you think, so please do.

We hope you’ve enjoyed being part of the Farm this season; and we hope you rejoin us for 2016! Please spread the word about your farm; it is very helpful to us. You are the reason we are able to keep farming, so thanks much.

David and Barb