Last week I wrote out an early June “crop report” for customers, neighbors and friends of the farm (including you!). There is good news and bad in this report, as you can read online; largely, it is the story of another cold, wet (read: difficult) spring on the farm. I am writing now to put this report in a bit of perspective for you, our closest customers.
First, let me assure you that the 2014 season has every prospect of success… I’m more confident than ever in the people, systems and crops that we have in place to fill your boxes throughout the season. Last season started out with similar delays and “issues.” But the numbers show clearly that the Featherstone Farm CSA program “delivered” total value over the course of the season as promised. There is no risk of the farm “defaulting” on box commitments, despite the challenges.
Indeed, many of the crops look better than ever, starting with the strawberries.
But the delays are real, driven completely by cold wet weather (a sure result of global climate change, as I’ve written, directly or indirectly). Already we’ve had to delay the first box delivery… twice! Despite all that we’ve done to hedge risk- investing in season extensions of all kinds, and irrigation, irrigation and irrigation- we simply cannot fill early June boxes without a certain amount of help from Mother Nature.
Here’s the key to understanding early summer on the Midwestern vegetable farm: having much of anything to harvest in early June depends completely on the ability to establish crops in the ground in April… especially early April. “Establishing crops” in this case involves tractors in the field, which in turn necessitates having soil that’s dry enough to support tires. Cold, wet ground in April= delays in planting= irretrievably missed opportunities= sparse produce for June CSA boxes (even well into the month).
No matter how warm, sunny and beautiful it is now (and boy, is it ever beautiful just now!), it does not make up for what’s already been lost. And when we essentially lost the entire month of April to historic cold and wet (for the second year running!), it takes time to make up for lost time. It may well be July 1 before the full bounty of Featherstone Farm produce returns to your boxes. But return it will. Rest assured that the overall value of your CSA share will not be affected…. last year’s numbers prove it.
I’m of course tempted to apologize for these delays, for any number of reasons. But the reality is I don’t think there’s anything we could have done differently under the circumstances. On the contrary, we worked Sunday after Sunday all May (it only seemed to be dry enough out Saturday afternoons through Sunday evenings, before it rained again…) in an effort to get those crops in the ground and “back on track” for your boxes.
To the extent that all of us at Featherstone Farm have upheld our commitment to you in this way, I don’t feel we have anything to apologize about. Of course and acknowledgement and explanation is in order, however; this is what I’m offering here. All of us on the farm appreciate your support and patience, as we attempt to catch up on a slow, difficult spring.
If any of this is difficult to understand or appreciate on the abstract level, I invite you to come out and see and hear about it first hand, at our annual Strawberry Social on Saturday, June 21. After two disappointing strawberry crops in a row (2012; berries all gone by the social… 2013; berries not yet ready… what does climate change look like on the ground, right here and now, if not this?), I am very pleased to report that this year we appear to have a bumper crop. Please join us (rain or shine!) on the 21st to help pick (and eat!) them!!
I look forward to seeing you then!