In a few short days we will be turning on the heat in our greenhouse and planting the first seeds of the 2017 growing season. As usual I feel immense anticipation and excitement thinking of this- how could I not, after several days of spring-like weather last week? But I also feel a great sense of humility and a bit of trepidation too, as the winter winds to a close- how could I not, after nearly losing 25 years of life’s work last fall?
More than anything, this trepidation is grounded in a renewed awareness of the profound challenge of what we do at Featherstone Farm. Raising 40 different crops in a four season climate, harvesting, packing and distributing all of them to such a wide range of dropsites…. this is a complex, risky and difficult enterprise at its core. Just growing the crops in the upper Midwest is challenging enough; were it not, the scores of truck farms that once served the Twin Cities Market for generations, would still be in business.
All of us in “local agriculture” are very skilled at telling the “good news stories” of our farms. And there is indeed much to celebrate here and on other CSA farms throughout the state. But we have just lost two 15 year veteran Minnesota CSA farms that closed their doors this winter (Ploughshare Farm and Bluebird Gardens), due largely to lack of profitability and market opportunity. If these smart, creative small farm enterprises can’t make this business work it makes me feel… you guessed it, trepidation!
The “Featherstone Farm 3.0”paradigm that I have written and talked about so much since last fall has arisen from 25 years of experience of farm trial-and-error and risk management, and does indeed address many of the core “issues” that we face in “local agriculture.” And no doubt we have a team of employees assembled at Featherstone Farm like I’ve never seen before; experienced, committed veterans (and newcomers!) who can and will put this new vision into effect. This combination of wise plan and capable implementation makes me quietly confident that Featherstone Farm will rebound and thrive in 2017 and beyond.
But I’ll be perfectly honest and say that your renewed (or new!) membership in our CSA program is a critically important part of this recovery and renewal plan. In an era of changing climate, changing land tenure and changing markets (the rise of Blue Apron and big box store organics), farms like Featherstone rely on steadfast support like never before. You provide quite literally the “seed money” and “financial ballast” that will allow us to put our new vision into effect.
We will be rolling out a series of short videos and social media posts throughout the spring, to tell the “good news” of recovery and renewal at Featherstone Farm… there IS so much good news to tell! And to help us keep the good news coming- for years to come- please consider renewing your CSA membership with Featherstone Farm now! If you pay in full this week, we'll say thank you with an early Free Bonus Box, which will include our strawberries, asparagus, spring greens and more!