Tinicum CSA’s first season is wrapping up now.
Many people have been asking us, “How was the season?”
The simple answer is: It has been really great!
This first year has gone so very well, and we have deeply enjoyed it. The weather was basically cooperative. The harvest was abundant. We harvested at least 27,188 pounds of produce this year. Craig and the rest of the crew at the Schneiderwind Farm and Nursery have been a delight to work with. We were blessed with some excellent volunteers. Our members have been wonderful, and we have enjoyed getting to know so many of you.
As I reflect on “How was the season?” I cannot help going back to the four essential tenets for our work in this place that John and I agreed upon at the beginning of the year.
“First, we insist that what we do must be good for the members who participate in our CSA.” I feel good about this one. We haven’t had a chance yet to read through all the feedback in our end-of-season surveys, but so many of our members have said such wonderful things about their experience with us this season, that I have to conclude morale is high as we close out the year. We know we’ve distributed a solid quantity of tasty and nutritious vegetables. (After all, we are constantly sampling those vegetables ourselves!) We’ve done our best to take good care of our members.
“Second, we commit to leaving the land on which we farm in better growing condition than the way we received it.“ This is an exciting notion, as we think about next year. This year we grew everything on the northern two fields, while the southern fields spent most of the year growing cover crops. Lately, we’ve tilled up everything in the southern two fields and seeded a second round of cover crops: rye and red clover to condition the soil as we move into next year. Over the winter we will add compost from the pile that we’ve been building steadily all season. We’ll order another soil test and calculate application rates for the organically-approved fertilizers that we use. By the time we reach next year’s planting dates, the southern fields should be ready to thrive, and the northern pair will be lush with vibrant red clover — resting and getting ready for 2015.
“Third, we are determined that our efforts on the farm should afford us a dignified quality of life.” This might be our trickiest tenet. If there is to be such a thing as sustainable agriculture in our nation, then farmers need to be able to earn a living using sustainable practices. Generally, food is significantly undervalued in our country. Food prices have been driven down by disregarding quality and treating food as a bulk commodity to be produced in the cheapest possible way. Americans spend a much lower percentage of their income on food than people in most other countries … and suffer higher rates of many diet-related health conditions.
It’s one thing for us to be having a great time managing this farm and reaping the sublime rewards of producing comically large sweet potatoes against the beautiful backdrop of the Delaware River valley. It’s another thing for us to be doing well enough financially that each of us can afford to rent a place in the area, let alone that either of us is able to consider saving for retirement. Over the next few years, we’ll be growing the farm’s membership base, hiring an apprentice or two, and should be able to increase our own compensation to an adequate living wage. We’re not there yet, but with your continued support, we aim to make this endeavor sustainable from a financial perspective as well as from an ecological one.
“And finally, as responsible citizens of the local community, we intend to do right by our neighbors, other local businesses, and the community.” It’s wonderful to live in a place where I know many of the other local business owners by name. There’s a sense of local community here that I don’t think I’ve experienced anywhere else. It’s refreshing to feel motivated to keep our purchasing local because we care about the fortunes of the folks we’re buying from. We’re very glad to be here, and we’re looking forward to getting to know the people and the place better in the years to come!