Winter Greetings Fresh Food Fans!
I hope you are all finding time to rest, reflect, and move into the new year with gratitude, peace, and purpose. This time of year I get a chance to think about the past season and give you all an account of how it went. For many reasons, it was quite a memorable year.
Your Farmer Got Married
Amanda & I married each other on August 21st, 2021 at Deer Park Campground in New Hope. It was a gorgeous and mild day for the summertime. It was so good to share this special day with friends and family. Our guests enjoyed fantastic food prepared by local chef Gabby Aron from Autumn Olive Food Works. I was thrilled to provide all of the vegetables for the meal from the farm. And all of the flowers came from the farm too. Some of you may have noticed that we grew extra flowers out in the pick-your-own area. The day before the ceremony, Amanda & I spent the morning out there picking all of the flowers for our wedding. We filled up the back of her truck with so many brightly colored blooms.
The Collaborative Effort
It was especially satisfying to take the entire week off leading up to the wedding. The Farm Crew did an excellent job managing the farm on their own. Big thank you to Eann, Joe, Rori, Stephen, Jack & Arlo for taking care of the farm. And I learned that it is possible to take a week off in August! For farmers, taking time off can be an elusive endeavor, but it is essential to the overall sustainability of the farm.
Pulling off a successful farm season requires everyone to work with enthusiasm and a collaborative spirit. In addition to the excellent farm crew, we were lucky to have extra help from volunteers. Big thank you to Harriet & Yi who helped at so many CSA distributions. And also thanks to Mike from Frenchtown Home & Hardware for joining us on several harvest days.
Farming In a Changing Climate
2021 included its fair share of challenging weather and Climate Change remained a common theme. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called “2021 the World’s 6th Warmest Year on Record.” Beginning in early June we endured extreme heat to the point that we shifted our work day to an earlier start-time. I have a distinct memory of the soil being so hot during a lettuce transplant that I couldn’t keep my knees on the ground for longer than a minute, even though I was wearing work pants. There were a few days like these where we had to end our workday much earlier than usual due to the heat.
Furthermore, we experienced record rainfall in early September from Hurricane Ida. While our farm didn’t experience catastrophic flooding like much of the region, the excess water caused a systemic mold problem in our winter squash. This resulted in a near total loss of this well-loved crop. As a farmer, I was disappointed by this setback, but grateful for our diversified crop plan.
Sometimes people ask if I have “crop insurance.” I explain that crop insurance is typically for large-scale commodity farms growing 1 or 2 crops. On the other hand, small-scale vegetable farms like ours grow over 45 different crops. While it is feasible for a company to write a simple insurance policy for 2 crops, it is nearly impossible to do the same for 45.
The “crop insurance” for Tinicum CSA is the diversified crop plan. Even when a few crops fail, there are dozens of others that we rely on to deliver abundant CSA shares to y’all. For example, after the loss of our winter squash we gave out record amounts of delicious bell peppers and many other veggies. In fact, a recurring comment I heard from members this year was that we seemed to have extra abundant shares. Knowing that every season has its setbacks, every winter I create a diversified crop plan to ensure the resiliency of the farm.
How did the crops do in 2021?
Overall, really well! Here are some highlights:
- We reached a Grand Total Yield of 59,530 lbs.
- Lettuce production reached an all time high of 4,994 lbs, and thanks to heat-tolerant varieties, we were able to give it out throughout the summer.
- And we had our most productive Spinach year ever of 1,208 lbs. This explains why it seemed like we had so much tasty Spinach in the Fall.
Crops We Grew More Than a Ton (2000 lbs) of:
- Bok Choy
- Bell Peppers
- Summer Squash
New Farm Equipment
Each season we try to find ways to make life easier for your farmers. I am happy to report that our new Undercutter & Root Washer definitely made your farmer’s lives easier by speeding up our carrot harvests. The Undercutter is this clever, simple implement that saved us lots of labor in digging both the carrots & the garlic. You may have seen the Root Washer on your walks out to the Pick-Your-Own area. Carrot washing used to take a long time and now we are able to wash twice as many carrots in ⅓ of the time that it used to take. We grew more than 4,000 lbs of carrots in 2021, more than in any other season, but we did less work in the process.
In 2021 we continued to grow the tropical legume Sunn Hemp. This cover crop is personally meaningful to me because I learned about it while serving in Peace Corps Paraguay. I was delighted to see it grow tall knowing that it would contribute tons of organic matter and fix nitrogen in the soil naturally. Like last year, we took the opportunity to enjoy wandering through the lush stand of Sunn Hemp at the height of its glory.
Signing up for a local CSA goes beyond just getting fresh local veggies for your family. You should all be proud of how you invested in your community.
- By joining Tinicum CSA in 2021 you supported the livelihoods of 7 people. Thanks for helping the farm to provide meaningful work for folks interested in farming!
- We received 8 Donated Shares, which shows a continued spirit of generosity. This helps Tinicum CSA be a part of the local effort to reduce food insecurity by providing healthy produce to local families in need for an entire season. Thank you!
So far we have 2 shares donated for 2022 and our goal is to get to at least 10. Visit our website here to Donate A Share.
- And the farm continued to donate extra kale, lettuce, and other veggies to Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, helping to fulfill their mission of connecting local farmers with neighbors in need.
As I look back on the 2021 Season I will always remember it as the year that Amanda & I got married. We were so happy to be able to use farm veggies and flowers for our wedding. And we used herbs for delicious herbal mocktails from her farm, Locust Light Farm.
I am also fortunate to have worked with an excellent farm crew and volunteers who helped pull off a memorable 9th season. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue growing healthy produce for y’all and I’m looking forward to Spring!