Another season at Vermont Valley Community Farm is coming to an end: twenty years and counting! The harvests are mostly wrapping up this week, although a few Storage Share vegetables stay in the field till November. Fall colors this year have been spectacular, but they have reached their pick, with winter soon to follow. The foggy mornings are particularly beautiful this time of year; Barb and I get to enjoy the view over breakfast.
The fields get put to bed for the winter; below was my view this morning finishing fall tillage in preparation for early season plantings in the spring. The ridged soil goes through a frost/freeze cycle that will produce a mellow seed bed in the spring. The still green fields were planted with cover crops in August; these plants will end up supplying nutrients to late season vegetables. So, your food these last few weeks began their cycle with cover crops planted over a year earlier. Garlic will be planted next week, the last planting of 2014 which is also the first planting for 2015 harvests.
Every season is unique and has its ups and downs. What I will remember most about this season is the exceptionally wonderful weather. No extreme heat or humidity during the summer months. Fall has been filled with beautiful day after beautiful day. I can think of just one nasty hot day and just one nasty cold and rainy day all season. Working outside everyday makes the weather all the more relevant; and this season’s weather was great to work in.
As some of you may remember, last winter continued on late into the year. I, like everyone else, wanted it to end; but now as I look back I have different thoughts. The cold was followed by a gradual warmup; there was no summer in March like a few years back (very bad for plants); no hot to cold to hot to cold… that killed our garlic last year (very bad), no monsoons, just a consistent warmup (very good). The extended winter also likely accounted for a reduction in the insect problems this season. So pardon me if I wish for another winter just the same as last year’s, but I am.
The rainfall was overall quite good, other than a drought from July 1 to mid-August; lots of irrigation going on then. Water is absolutely critical to vegetables, with the best water coming from the sky. We are equipped to irrigate, but are thankful when we do not have to. Temperature and rainfall are the two key elements to growing food, neither of which we have control over. The year 2014 was good to us on both counts.
We were very pleased with the quantity and quality of nearly all the crops. The most frequent comment heard from members was, “great sweet corn”. I can’t tell you how many people said “great corn” to me this season; we will go for a repeat in 2015. The mild temperatures seemed to make everything happy, even the heat loving crops did well. There are always some problems, it goes with the concept of growing over 40 different crops. Our biggest problems for the year were the early legumes, they did not come out of the ground, including beans, peas and edamame. Although, the later season beans were bumper crops. Oddly enough, we had beet germination problems as well, apologies to the beat lovers out there. That’s it for the bad, everything else did well to great. We are always trying to improve, but I’d take this year’s harvest every year.
The festivals and u-picks were the best attended ever. Over 1800 pumpkins were carried from the field at the Pumpkin Pick, the goblins must be proud. The tomato u-picks where super popular, I am curious to know the amount of salsa, tomato sauce… resulting from the picks. We host these events so you have a chance to be on the farm that your food comes from. We are happy that many of you take us up on the opportunity.
Thank you for allowing us to be your Farmers. Barb and I have been at this for 20 years now, and since starting a CSA was a mid-life correction for us, time is coming to create a strategy for the next 20 years; stay tuned. So farewell to 2014; hope to feed you in 2015; and please fill out that Survey.
See you next year!