Well, we survived the storm minus some sections of a couple of our high tunnels. Repairs have begun but it means that our winter crops are getting trampled in areas by boots in order to disassemble the structure and rebuild. It also means the sections of the crops that will avoid the boot crushing are now exposed to the elements. We plant in the high tunnels for season extension. We have some of the same crops (for example baby greens) that were sown outside at an earlier date than what was sown in the tunnel but the crop in the tunnel is ahead in growth and near harvest time. Now it’s as if they are planted outside getting exposed to our heavy frosts and unforgiving rains. There is also now the question of reworking and resowing in some of the beds sooner than later to replace the lost crops but it would be before the tunnel is fully repaired and again, that means trying to grow the crops in an exposed, outdoor environment. It’s never boring around here!
You may notice that our produce isn’t as beautiful upon your gaze as you’re used to seeing from Fifth Crow products. This is typical of winter crops that are constantly exposed to the elements of wind, frost, hail, and torrential downpours. The frosts we get may make the beet greens less
beautiful and the chard curl it’s leaves down as if to shield itself from the rain but it makes our brassicas and carrots taste amazing!!
Most all brassicas other than chard and cauliflower do really well with frosts. The bunching greens, carrots, and broccoli all become more tender and develop a much sweeter flavor because of the slower growth and therefore a longer length of time in the ground to make sugars.
So on top of the fact that some of our crops in the high tunnels have been lost to destruction we are also facing the outcome of all the rains. Typically we are able to have a window in January to till the soil and plant our first rounds of outdoor crops (outdoor planting stopped in Nov.) but this January proved to be the opposite. The soil never dried out enough for good tilth to be able to work the land so we will have a gap in our crop production. What does that mean for all of you CSA members and our farmers markets? Well.. we are not sending as much product to market each weekend as we otherwise could sell so that we have at least a smaller display weekly rather than one or two large displays and then nothing. We are also holding back sending as much to markets to ensure the CSA is taken care of first. One plus of winter farming and the slower growth of plants is that the food holds longer in the field so we can wait longer to freshly harvest the crops the day before markets and until the day of the CSA packing’s. Worst case scenario, that we are of course hoping to avoid, is cancelling going to markets because we’ve got a gap in production. Again, I will be notifying those of you who pick up at our farmers markets with as much notice as I’m able to give to problem solve how to get your shares to you in the most convenient and efficient way possible should we sadly have to not go to a market whether it be due to the weather again or to a lack of produce to be able to send to market. The bummer is that we’ll have food for the CSA but we just may not have enough for market and it doesn’t make economical sense to send a marketeer to each market for the day only to oversee the CSA boxes.
On another note, the 37th EcoFarm Conference is taking place this week from Jan. 25-28th. It is held just south of us in Pacific Grove at the Asilomar Conference Grounds. It is a fantastic and extremely fun conference to go to. If you have not experienced the amazing lectures, workshops, eating, dancing, and networking to be had at EcoFarm I highly recommend it!! Farmers and farm enthusiasts like yourselves from around the world gather annually to discuss the past, present & future of farming both conventionally and organically, trade seeds, teach young farmers, mingle with industry colleagues, and to share personal farming experiences that include many struggles when it comes to organic farming. EcoFarm holds a special place in the story of Fifth Crow. Teresa and Mike met there and later he proposed to her there. Last year Fifth Crow was honored as guest speakers for the whole conference and Teresa co-lectured a workshop on CSA’s. This year unfortunately none of us crows got to go. It’s just too close to Teresa’s due date for any of us to take off but Fifth Crow donated 80#’s of our Old Indian Woman dry beans that will be featured on the menu. So we are there in spirit!