April 5, 2012
April 5, 2012
Spring is in full swing this year! Can you believe the weather so far? A year ago we were dodging snowflakes as late as March 25; this year it's been Welcome to Summer!
Needless to say, we've taken advantage of the early heat by planting & prepping the fields almost every day. The greenhouse is more empty at this time of year than it has ever been, and that's a good thing, because we've planted out more than ever by this date. The fields are quickly filling up with lettuces, spinach, carrots, beets, peas, flowers, cabbages, turnips, broccoli, kohlrabi & greens. So far, so good...
Of course, the early season hasn't been without it's challenges. Already the fields have required irrigation, which seems absurd this early in the season... but when it's 90 degrees and sunny, it doesn't matter that it's April 2! It's hot! So, we've already been plenty busy with the watering.
Overall, the season has been about one to two weeks ahead of schedule. Anything can change in the next month, but we try to prepare for everything. At the very least, we've got a lot of crops in the fields.... And it's already time to sow and grow the first summer crops! This past week we re-potted our first tomato rotation, and are seeing our first pepper sprouts!
Next up? The first weeds!
When is the First Harvest?
It's been a wonderfully early start to the planting season, but we're still shooting for the original start date, which is the week of May 15. Anything can happen with the weather between now & then, so we're assuming it will. We'll give you plenty of notice if distribution needs to start before or after that date.... either way, everyone should receive confirmation e-mails before the end of April on your share size, schedule, pick-up location, etc.
Do You Want Meat or Eggs?
We introduced 14 laying hens to the farm last year, and are adding at least 25 more this year, so there will be limited supplies of eggs available from the farm this year! If you haven't had farm fresh eggs, you are missing something great... Fresh eggs, straight from the farm, are exceptional, with nutrient-rich yolks, and lots of quality & flavor. Please note that eggs will ONLY be available for purchase at the farm this year. We'll let you know when we're able to deliver eggs to drop spots.
We are also hoping to continue coordinating with local meat growers again this year. What we offer is the ability for you to order & purchase meat from one of the local meat producers we're working with, and then pick up your order at the same time & location where you pick up your weekly share! Not all of our drop spots are able to participate, so depending on where you pick up, you might need to pick up at a different location that given week, but it's an excellent way to access more local food at the best prices without going out of your way.
If you would like eggs, let us know! Fill out this form, and you will receive updates when eggs are available.
If you would like to connect with the meat farmers we're working with, fill out this form and you'll be connected directly to them!
If you have any questions, let us know....
What's changing at the farm this year?
Several of you have asked if anything is changing at the farm this year, so we thought we'd let you all know!
First, we've made key changes in the hope of increasing crop production regardless of the weather. We're inviting two more apprentices than in the past and increasing plantings of several of your favorite crops, like tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, onions, spinach & broccoli, not to mention melons, peppers, & sweet potatoes later to come. The additional apprentices will not only make our training, classes, and field trips more effective in 'producing' new farmers, but should give us a lot more flexibility in meeting the many challenges that come with extreme weather, including the cultivation of more crops.
Second, we're planning to attend two additional farmers markets this year so that our St. Louis members can have more access to produce from the farm. We're signed up to attend the Clayton Farmers Market on Saturday mornings and the Webster Groves Farmers Market on Thursday evenings. For those of you who live closer to the farm, we're excited to continue attending the Alton Farmers Market on Saturdays, which will moving to a new location at the corner of 9th & Piasa/67.
(For those of you who have fondly visited the Alton Farmers Market in recent years, the new location promises a lot more space, better parking, and the opportunity to reach more people in Alton by keeping a permanent sign at the location & slowing down traffic at the entrance. We know that some of you really like the old location, but the new site should be a distinct improvement in the long run, and was supported by all long-time vendors. It's still on a main road downtown.... and we hope to see you all there this summer!)
Third, we're continuing to work with local organic meat producers to offer more products to you through your CSA membership. See the announcement above. Also, since new farms open up every year, if you come across a new farm that offers products you want, but perhaps do not have the time to drive out to that farm or visit them at a Farmers Market, let us know, and perhaps there will be an opportunity to coordinate with them.
Fourth, we're busy looking into ways to improve how we manage and distribute CSA shares, including the possibility of customizing shares down the road, by offering a way for you to select the items you want each week through our website. We're not ready for that yet, but you may be hearing from us this year if we begin trialing these new CSA methods.
And, fifth, the family that we lease our main farm site from (4625 Seminary Rd.) has informed us that they are ready to accept offers for the property, so we have begun looking into ways to purchase the farm! In the coming months, we hope to announce specific plans to raise funds or seek potential buyers who can help secure the land for farming forever. Farmland this close to the city is increasingly rare, and we're excited to play a part in preserving viable agriculture that is both progressive and traditional in the heart of the metropolitan area, where we can best serve you long into the future, while improving the land for the next generation & beyond!
Spring is in full swing, and there's so much more to come. Onions (seen on the left, above) are due for transplant next week, as are potatoes, and the next cabbages... plus basil, more flowers, fennel, and scallions. Our apprentices officially begin their apprenticeship next week, too!
If you have any questions or requests, let us know. Also, remember that you can find us Facebook, or through www.riverbendroots.com. Thanks to you all, and take care,
Kris, Stacey, Jacob & Anna