We have made some videos over the last year that showcase our farm and we have plans to make a few more.
One of the things that we like about these videos is they serve as little benchmarks in our lives and work as marketing tools as well. We’re proud of our work and we love what we do every day. These videos and the pictures that we share on our social media and our website reflect our love of our farm, our family, and the relationships we have with our customers and friends.
We feel very lucky to have so many great things in our life!
We look forward to making more videos and posting more great material on our website and our social media sites.
This video was shot by John Altobello and his drone. He happened to catch this scene with Phil and the kids without any planning. It was a beautiful day. You couldn’t have paid for better weather.
Shot at the public market in early March. Just a quick sample of what we bring with us to a typical winter market. We are very excited to have the good weather back soon so we can start bringing more!
This was also shot by John Altobello on the same day. We wanted to make a series of smaller videos that showed people what our farm and fields look like. It’s always nice to know where your food comes from!
We have some plans to do some more coming up this spring and summer but we have to wait until the weather turns. Luckily it looks like this week we will see some 50’s and even 60’s so that should be enough to allow us back out on the fields. Thanks for watching and stay tuned!
Looking through last year’s crop reports can be telling sometimes.
It’s somewhat of a personal Farmer’s Almanac. We send out crop reports on our email blasts to alert our friends and customers of what’s happening in the field. If you have a CSA with us or if you frequent our table at the markets we attend then you’ll want to know what to expect as the summer months progress.
Looking back to last year is fun too.
This last week of really cold temperatures is enough to make you want to run south. But looking at these old crop reports made us realize that spring is coming soon! Not only that but the sun has been much warmer this last week than it has in months. It’s coming but it seems like it’s taking forever.
Here’s a few crop reports that we put on our blog from last year.
Here’s a few that might be interesting to you and of course, get you a bit excited for this year’s growing season. We can’t wait!
These three are from July of last year. It will give you an idea of what to look forward to, especially if this is your first CSA with us!
The fast approaching spring can’t come soon enough for many of us. But maybe these crop reports are more than just teasers. They really are time capsules into years past. We now have the internet and this web blog to thank for them being public, but this is nothing new for farmers and nothing new for a lot of us who have kept journals and diaries.
The answer is Community Supported Agriculture. But what does that mean?
In a nutshell it means you buy a share from a local farmer and for a set number of weeks you receive produce in return each week. Our farm is very unique in that we offer 100 percent choice. We have never offered a box share and want the member to pick what they like. Nothing is more frustrating to get a box of produce and have no idea what half the things are that you received. I thought I would highlight a few benefits of joining our CSA for the consumer and the different benefits for the farmer too.
You’ll receive fresh vegetables for 20 weeks during the peak of the growing season.
Starting in June you can enjoy some of the first greens of the season and the first juicy strawberries. Every week there is always something new on the table. Then towards the end of summer the fall produce starts coming in (my favorite time of the year) and who doesn’t love broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and more.
Your also making a commitment to eat healthier.
Now that you have all these fresh veggies available every week you can enjoy them every day. Everyone knows that the flavor and freshness speaks for itself. Maybe you’ll explore new recipes and impress your family with new culinary skills. Everyone needs to slow down and enjoy more home cooked meals with family and friends and less processed foods.
You can fill your freezer with all the extra produce that you can’t get through.
Maybe your going on vacation and won’t be around to cook all of your veggies. Easy! Take a few hours to freeze or can some of your share. Many things don’t require much effort to freeze. Such a peppers for example. Just cut them up, bag them, and put in the freezer. Maybe you cook the whole quart of green beans and eat half for dinner and freeze the rest. Now you’re spreading the value of the share out throughout the whole year.
Buy paying up front for your share you are getting 20 weeks of vegetables at a discounted rate. Each week your paying less than the table price that the retail customers are paying. Who doesn’t like a saving money!
Now that you have bought a share you have your own farm. You will have a better understanding of the seasonality of produce. You can ask the farmer questions of how the food is grown or what variety it is. Maybe even ask questions on how to prepare something. You can brag to your friends of your “farm” and tell them what they are missing.
By selling shares in the spring it really helps out with early season cash flow.
Springtime is an expensive time of the year and having that extra cash flow really helps. Many inputs are needed to be paid for before we can even turn a wheel. Seeds, fertilizer, plants, propane, diesel, and more are needed to get the season going. We can add staff earlier in the season to help with greenhouse work, field work, and general labor.
Each share represents guaranteed sales during the summer season.
It’s incredibly helpful to know how much to grow and what to bring to market. At the farmers market you can never really predict what sales will be like. It can be too hot, rainy, or a holiday weekend and it all can impact sales. But by having pre-sold shares it takes the highs and lows out of each week.
We can build a relationship.
We’re going to see you each week. We can meet your family and learn names. Talk about what you did with your share last week and learn new recipes from each other. This is our favorite part. The personal touch that a CSA adds gives the Community part a deep meaning.
The CSA is part of a diverse marketing program for our farm.
If we depend on the farmers market for 100 percent of farm sales that would be pretty risky. More channels we have the better and a CSA program plays a big part in that. By having farmers markets, a CSA program, restaurants, and wholesale we can market all the produce we grow.
I hope that this gives a better understanding on all the benefits of CSA. It’s a great program that works so well for many families. We have many families that have been members for many years and just love it. If your on the fence please stop by the market some time and we can chat.
Have you noticed that the hours of daylight have been increasing?
December 21st is the shortest day with less than 9 hours of daylight. On January 21st this jumped to 9 hours 32 minutes and February 14th increased again to 10 hours 30 minutes. Doing the math, since December 21st we have gained 1 hour 30 minutes and these gains seem more noticeable each day.
The sun even feels much warmer when it decides to make an appearance. The combined longer daylight and warmer sun means it’s time to start planting again in the High Tunnel. Out with the old and in with the new.
This week we finished harvesting one of the beds of Asian Greens and began the process of replanting a new crop for early spring harvest.
We stagger the plantings so we can have a steady supply of greens throughout the spring. After we finished harvesting we used the broad fork to loosen the soil and then clear out the old plants and debris by hand. Just a simple tool that uses muscle to loosen and aerate the soil for the new crop. The goal is to loosen the soil but not disturb it too much and keep all the topsoil on the top layer.
Now we are almost ready to plant, but there is one more important step.
We need to till the top 2-3 inches to smooth it out and make the perfect seed bed. Keep in mind we are planting very tiny seeds and they need the best conditions as possible. The tool for this is called the tilther and uses a cordless electric drill to power it. A very cool tool that is specifically designed for this purpose.
Finally we can plant into that perfect seed bed.
I didn’t have to amend the soil for this planting because lettuce and radishes are not big feeders. Also, last fall we added compost to all the beds. For this job I use a little six row push seeder that does a pretty good job. It doesn’t singulate the seeds perfectly but for this job is serves the purpose.
Half the bed is lettuce mix.
Other half is red radishes.
Here are the finished beds and all that is left is to cover them with row cover to keep them warm on the cooler nights.
They are not going to germinate very fast but once they get going they should be ready in early April. Also we are trying an experiment this year and we wrapped the outside walls of the tunnel in a reflective insulated wrap. The goal is the keep it warmer and reflect more of that stippled sunlight to the ground.
Now I hope you have a new appreciation for St Valentine’s Day and we can’t wait to start harvesting the first new crops of 2019. Also new this week are micro greens and pea shoots. Be sure to stop by the market and give them a try.
It seems like I get that question fairly often and certainly more folks are wondering than are actually asking, so thought I would share a bit about our winter season.
Winter is little different story for us compared to other farms because two of our ‘summer season’ farmers markets continue throughout the winter and I have a local restaurant delivery route all winter long. Between harvesting greens from the high tunnel, washing produce from storage, and taking care of the poultry we stay fairly busy.
Definitely, not summer time busy but steady nonetheless.
The first task of every winter is to order seeds.
Can’t grow vegetables without them! But before you can start placing orders you need to know what to get. I take inventory of what I had left over from the previous year and that gets the ball rolling. Then I have to look at the transplanting and seeding schedules from the previous year to see if I need to make any adjustments. I read through the stack of seed catalogs vying for my attention looking for improved or new offerings. Finally, I have a baseline of what I need and can start ordering.
Did you know that we purchase seeds from four different seed dealers?
One of the dealers is located right here in Rochester, NY. A few tweaks to the order may occur based on seed production availability or talks with the seed company reps and then the boxes start arriving. Funny thing is that even though I mostly place one bulk order with each company, they never send everything at once so it’s a steady trickle of boxes for the next 4-6 weeks, always with a surprise element of what each box actually contains!
This week I was working on getting some fields plowed for early crops.
I usually do this in the fall but it was so wet and muddy I could not get it done. Then after Christmas I started working on it and a part broke on the tractor. By the time the part arrived, Siberia had set in and the ground was frozen. Luckily, we had a February thaw and I got a chance to get back on the tractor. I finished the field that I started and got another one going. Unfortunately now it’s too muddy and I will have to wait till the ground gets a little freeze on it. There is a fine balance between muddy and frozen which can change within a few hours in the mornings and evenings.
By the time the part arrived, Siberia had set in and the ground was frozen.
Another big winter task is getting all the accounting figured out for 2018 and meeting with the accountant. It usually takes a few weeks to get all the information into QuickBooks, and compile all the reports that the accountant needs to file the taxes. It’s not my favorite job of the year but a very important one.
After the taxes are all done and filed I can start working on machinery maintenance. All the tractors and RTVs need oil changes and service. Usually as you go through the machines you find little issues that need to be fixed. Then we start looking at the other equipment that gets used throughout the season. For the most part these are all tasks that we work in as time permits.
We finalized the plans this week to have a CSA pickup location in Victor, NY.
Victor Central School asked if we would be willing to setup on their campus Tuesday afternoons this market season, June-October. This will be a great opportunity for us to grow the CSA program and provide our products to the Victor area. (We did attend the Victor Farmers Market for several years from around 2005-2012.)
The sure sign of spring is getting the greenhouse ready for the first seeds. Around mid March we start early transplants of beets, chard, and tomatoes. Then every week after that the planting continues until July.