Please note that we are beginning our season on June 11th instead of June 4th as previously scheduled. The cold weather this spring slowed plant growth, but everything is catching up and will be ready by the first share on June 11th.
If you missed signing up for a summer 2020 share, you can add your name to the waitlist using this link: http://eepurl.com/cQ1mYX
March 16, 2020
If Community Supported Agriculture means anything to us, it means coming together to support one other in difficult times as well as good times. It means that Jan and I will take every precaution to ensure that our workers stay safe and healthy and that the food we grow and sell remains free of contamination of any kind and is safe for our CSA shareholders and their families.
In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have revised some key staff policies to be fully in accord with new CDC guidelines. The staff knows to stay away from the farm at the first sign that they might have the disease or have been exposed to it. They know when and where to seek medical attention. And they know that we have extended our paid sick leave policy by an additional 14 days to eliminate the temptation to come to work when sick for financial reasons.
Everyone at the farm is healthy at present and, of course, fully aware of the pandemic. Currently, there are several cases in Saratoga Springs, but none in nearby towns. We all expect this to change, and we know to avoid exposure to risk by staying away from groups, maintaining safe minimum distances from others, washing well and frequently, and avoiding touching our faces. Staff policies not only describe personal hygiene, but also outline a range of workplace cleaning protocols.
We will be developing new safe food handling policies well in advance of our first harvest. Our current food handling system is being reviewed in light of what the scientific community and health experts are telling us about this disease. New information is coming in daily about how long the virus survives on surfaces and how best to clean processing equipment. University Extension educators are helping us with this effort. Two years ago, we underwent a comprehensive packing shed renovation with new federal food safety rules in mind. Our next steps will build on what we already do well.
The reuse of packaging is something that concerns us. One of the safeguards we will implement is the pre-packaging of shares, just as we do in winter, and we will do this for as long as necessary. The rationale is that the shortest food handling chain is the safest. We, as a small and careful group, can do all the harvesting and boxing in a clean, safe space using best management practices, so that the next people to touch those boxes are the very users of that food, our shareholders.
These early days are stressful for all of us. There is a lot of information to process. But I feel confident that we can develop an effective food safety plan that includes staff awareness, safe harvesting, and sanitary packaging and distribution. We will proceed with an abundance of caution. The safety of your food is our first priority.
I know that there is a great deal of uncertainty around employment. Keep in mind that all of our CSA sites offer payment plans and most offer sliding scale pricing in an effort to help make our food affordable to you. If you have questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
I can imagine important roles in the city: offloading CSA packages wearing gloves and other appropriate PPE, and figuring out how to distribute them while maintaining safe distances. Let’s keep an open dialogue about these and other related issues. Please share your thoughts. We will continue to share what we learn and how we plan to respond throughout the season.
Our best wishes for your good health,Ted and Jan
What’s in the share?
- Sweet potatoes
- Red onions
This week’s delivery is the last of the season and wraps up our 20th year at Windflower Farm. We hope you have enjoyed your share of our farm’s production. Please drop us a line with your thoughts about the CSA season and what we might do differently in the years ahead (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you for being with us. If you’ve enjoyed being a part of the CSA, please consider a winter share (more information can be found below).
What’s new on the farm?
As if on cue, our first snowfall and the first prolonged cold temperature of the fall are expected on Thursday, the day after our final field harvest. The Medina brothers, who have never been in snow, are excited for this first experience. For the rest of us, we are happy about the timing. It will be something of a race, but we believe we can get the fields cleaned up, most of the rest of the fall onions planted, and the fall-planted crops covered before the snow comes.
Old timers around here will tell you that your fields will be safe from erosion if you sow your cover crops before Thanksgiving. We are happy to report that we have managed to get all of our fields cover cropped, sowing two tons of rye seeds in the process. The earliest plantings are now thick with young rye plants, and the last have germinated and are filling in.
Winterizing the farm is underway. Jan’s to-do list is two pages long. Irrigation reels, pumps and pipes are being tucked into warm places. Doors and windows are being battened. Supplies we won’t need until the spring are being organized and placed in various barns. And storage vegetables are being washed, sorted, bagged or crated and tucked into coolers for the winter CSA season.
Jan, Nate and I are excited to be turning our attention to two winter projects: completing construction of a tiny house and building the next electric tractor. The tiny house is intended to be a home for short term visitors – the (mostly young) people who come to work on our farm for a month or two each summer. Let us know if you might like to work with us for some or all of the next farming season – we’d love to have you!. The electric tractor project is aimed at improving the design of a couple tractors that we have used here for the past several years. Our goal is to build a zero emissions machine that can be used to plant and weed vegetables.
On behalf of all of us at Windflower Farm, I’d like to thank you for being with us. Your purchase of our organic vegetable share is an investment that trickles throughout the Hudson Valley and beyond. It provides many of us with a decent living, it keeps our little place on earth productive and healthy, and it scatters your dollars through several local businesses that play important supporting roles in the broader sustainable agricultural community here. Special thanks go to the core group organizers at each of our CSA sites. They are a remarkable group of people for whose dedication to organic farming and community building we are forever grateful.
What’s a winter share?
Winter share signups are underway! The share will start on Saturday, November 23rd, giving you enough time to empty your refrigerators of any summer share leftovers. The season lasts a total of four months, and shares come just once a month, on the following four Saturdays – November 23, December 14, January 11, February 8. Each month, the winter share, which comes pre-packaged in a returnable box, will include a big bag of greens (about 2 lb of spinach, kale or mustard greens from our unheated greenhouses), all kinds of storage vegetables (8 lb or so of carrots, beets, red and yellow onions, celeriac, potatoes, winter squashes and more), about 4 lb of apples and pears, and a locally made sweet treat (honey or jelly or apple cider). I hope you’ll decide to join us and keep our farm team gainfully employed during the winter! Follow this link to learn more and to sign up.
Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season,
Ted, Jan and the Windflower Farm team
What’s in the share?
- Salad mix
- Yellow onions
- Sweet potatoes
- Bunched carrots
This week’s fruit share will be your last of the year and will include Empire apples from Yonder Farm. I hope you have enjoyed the fruit share. Please feel free to send me an email with any thoughts that might make for a better one next year.
What’s new on the farm?
Members of our local staff have begun to announce their plans for the future. It’s something of a tradition here that in the last weeks of the distribution season, Jan and I learn about the changes we can expect in the makeup of our team. Farming is a seasonal activity, and life changes here tend to follow the seasons. Andrea, our membership coordinator, will be back for her 15th season next year. If sign-ups run smoothly, it’s because of her excellent work. Sisters Victoria and Naomi, our distribution and delivery coordinators, respectively, have indicated that they will be with us again next year, too. Victoria has been here for 15 years! She joined us as a newlywed and is now the mother of three boys. We are her mental health day. She is our key to a well-run packing shed. Naomi, now the newlywed, has been with us for 12 years. She makes sure the truck is on time, and that the right packages are delivered to each site. Don, who drives the delivery truck through the narrow and often chaotic streets of New York City, has not announced any changes, but that is different from announcing no changes. My fingers are crossed. Daren, who runs his own small garlic and specialty crop farm and works with us part-time, will also be returning. Working for us, he has said, is his day off. We are his “easy money,” and he’s been collecting it on and off for more than ten years. Angela, who works part-time on the farm and drives the van to Google’s offices in Manhattan on Thursdays, will be behind the wheel again next year.
TB, the jack of all trades who lives in our little cabin, has already returned to school, but he will be with us for a couple of days next year, which is likely to be his last. When the time comes, his vacancy will be a tough one to fill. Sara, who has worked with Jan on the flower team for the past several years, has been developing a pottery business that is consuming more and more of her energy. She also has two or three other jobs. We are not sure if we’ll see her next year. Julia, our first-ever field coordinator, has announced that she is changing careers and will be moving on. Farming for profit, it turns out, is not for her, and she intends to answer the call of another vocation. We’ll all miss her. Nate, my oldest son and both payroll and soil health coordinator, is also staying on. I am grateful that he loves our little farm every bit as much as Jan and I do. I’m grateful to the whole staff – the best team in the Hudson Valley.
What’s a winter share?
Winter share signups are underway! The share will start on Saturday, November 23rd, giving you enough time to empty your refrigerators of any summer share debris. The share lasts a total of four months, and come just once a month, on the following four Saturdays – November 23, December 14, January 11, February 8. Each month, the winter share, which comes pre-packaged in a returnable box, will include a big bag of greens (about 2 lb of spinach, kale or mustard greens from our unheated greenhouses), all kinds of storage vegetables (8 lb or so of carrots, beets, red and yellow onions, celeriac, potatoes, winter squashes and more), about 4 lb of apples and pears, and a locally made sweet treat (honey or jelly or apple cider). I hope you’ll decide to join us and keep our farm team gainfully employed during the winter! Follow this link to learn more and to sign up.
Best wishes, Ted
What’s in the share?
Kale or collards
Your fruit share will be more of Yonder Farm’s pears and apples.
Last week, we planted nearly all of our winter greens (three kinds of kale, two spinach varieties, tatsoi, Swiss chard and koji), leaving us with just some gaps to fill here and there.
This week, we will plant next year’s garlic and continue the harvest of storage vegetables – the rutabagas, turnips, leeks, beets, carrots, celeriac, fennel, kohlrabi and potatoes that will fill out your final three or four shares and winter boxes. Sweet potatoes, shallots and onions have already been tucked in. Your last shares will be delivered during the week of November 4th. Winter share details are being finalized this week.
The four dates of the season have been established: November 23rd, December 14th, January 11th, and February 8th.
What’s new on the farm?
A group of graduate students in the Products of Design program at SVA visited the farm over the weekend. This is the fourth year that they’ve come as part of their semester on sustainability. We toured the farm, harvested some crops, looked at the dozens of tools and systems we utilize here, enjoyed the view from our high ground, and then wrapped up by standing around our newest homemade electric tractor. I told them that I was thinking about making a few over the winter to sell to my fellow vegetable farmers, and that I know it needs a little finish work – perhaps a cup holder and a USB port and a sun canopy for the operator. I gave them paper and colored pencils and asked them to do what they could to give it some bling, to turn it’s bare chassis into the Ferrari or Maserati of tractors, I said, kidding. “Or perhaps the Tesla,” said one. “You mean you want us to pimp your ride?” asked another. I guess I did. “It needs more than bling,” suggested a third, “it needs body, and curves.” And they proceeded to draw round shapes over my angular little tractor. I collected half a dozen sketches by the time the students broke off into little groups for selfies and frisbee on the back lawn.
Only three or four of the 20 students had ever been to a farm. Most were from the megacities of the world. A woman from Mexico City said she might join us for the summer season next year. She was smitten with the tiny house that Nate and Jan are building and thought she’d like to try tiny living for a couple of months. I can picture her living in the tiny house on the hill above MaryJane’s pond, a totally pimped out (and shapely) electric tractor plugged into her solar panels, decompressing from academic life, enjoying the fresh air of country living.
Have a great week, Ted
Please join us for our 2nd annual kick-off party at King Tai!
When: Saturday, April 13th, 3:00-6:00pm
Where: King Tai, 1095 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216
We hope to see you there!