April 30, 2012
April 30, 2012
Greetings from the farm! Spring is in full swing, and it's time for more updates. Below you'll find photo's from the last 3 weeks, updates on harvests, a schedule of upcoming events, and a quick assessment on the CSA and Farmers Markets:
Growing food is always a challenge and a lot of work, but, really, plants need only a few things: warmth, sunlight, moisture and a soil to grow in. In most years, at least one of these needs is missing in spring.... most spring's it's often too cold, too wet, too dry, or too cloudy. But not this year! To date, this spring has been exceptional and the fields are robust to prove it.
Most crops are about 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule, and we've been able to stay on top of planting, weeding... and.... we've even gotten a few small harvests in prior to the main season. (Mind you, these are really small harvests. We planted a few cool season crops, like radishes & spinach really early in order to try to make it to some of the farmers markets that start well before the CSA season starts.)
So far, we're ahead of schedule on almost all plantings. The first of three tomato rotations went out about 12 days earlier than last year. Next year's strawberries are already putting on their first leaves. All spring cabbages are in. Onions, leeks, potatoes, you name it.... are all in, and on their way....
Once you plant the crops, though, you must pull weeds! It's especially imperative to stay on top of weeds in the spring, because weeds grow especially fast in the spring. With daylight lengthening every day, nature has a strong inkling to take full advantage of every nook and cranny it can fill. It's our job to hoe, and hoe, and hoe.... and then get close up and pull weeds by hand.
For returning members, have you noticed new faces in the photo's above? Most of our 2012 Farm Apprentices have arrived and have been wonderful! So far, we've welcomed John Finch, from University City, who has interned with Earthdance Farms in Ferguson the past two seasons; Oscar Mendez, from Chicago, who worked most recently on farms near Peoria and Champaign, IL; and Bailey Morris, from Faribault, MN, who most recently worked with a food bank and shelter in Alamosa, CO. You may also have noticed a few side-shots of Jeff Coleman, one of our apprentices from last year, who has come out to help already on a few occasions before heading off to Alaska to work on farms all summer. One more apprentice, Shannon Fitzjarrold, is expected in early May. She's from Decatur, IL, and will be arriving directly from a winter apprenticeship near St. Petersburg, FL.
So far, everyone has been great! We always love welcoming new folks who want to learn all about farming while working with us in the fields. The traditional idea of a real apprenticeship is alive and well. We both were introduced to farming through apprenticeships, and LOVE sharing what we know to others eager to learn. We hope you get a chance to meet them this year, either at the farm or at one of the Farmers Markets we plan to attend.
When is the First Harvest?
Are you ready for fresh vegetables? So far we're still right on target for the original start date, which is the week of May 15. Of course, despite our optimism, we're highly aware that anything can happen with the weather between now & then. But, most early crops are looking solid and are growing well. We'll give you plenty of notice if distribution needs to start before or after that date.
Look for e-mails VERY SOON asking you to confirm your pick-up location and share size. It's important that all CSA records are updated and confirmed before the season starts so that everything starts nice and smooth!
Children's Days at the Farm
Do you have children, and are you looking for more summer activities? Then join us at the farm for one of our new Children's Days at the Farm!
Stacey and fellow farm members are organizing a Children's Day at the Farm every month of the growing season and would love to welcome you out. These events are organized, with a snack, story, and farm-related activities, but they also have a lot of room for play time and just hanging at the farm.
The first Children's Day is Thursday, May 10, from 4-5 p.m. The kids will plant sunflower plants or seeds, and hear The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. Children's will follow on the second Thursday of every month. You can find the full schedule (subject to change) HERE.
Hope to see you then! Any questions, call Stacey at 618-462-4845 or e-mail Stacey@riverbendroots.com.
In the next couple weeks, before the CSA season starts, you can find us at the Schlafly Farmers Market on Wednesday... and we plan to attend the Clayton Farmers Market on Saturdays and the Webster Groves Farmers Market on Thursdays. Each of these markets start or continue in May. The Alton Farmers Market starts in June, and we plan to continue serving you there, as well!
We have big plans for attending more Farmers Markets this year. First, we want to be able to see more of you more often, which can be hard when we don't attend nearby markets. Second, we want to be able to offer you more discounts or bulk purchase opportunites when we can, which is a lot easier through markets. Third, this being our third full season as Riverbend Roots Farm, we're increasing a lot of our plantings & diversifying markets in order to increase revenues so that the farm can make up for lost revenues the past couple of years when the weather turned bad.
For those who are curious how CSA fits in with the overall farm business, your CSA fees cover the annual operating costs of the farm, and a small portion of our income. CSA is the foundation and centerpiece of our farm. CSA ensures that the farm can survive & thrive through the years, despite temporary swings with the weather....
Farmers Markets, on the other hand, are necessary for additional revenues that cover personal expenses and new investments. Markets add diversity to the business, offer access to more people, and ensure that independent farmers don't bear too much of the financial risk inherent in farming. During poor years, CSA farmers tend to sacrifice income for the sake of the farm and the CSA. We make up lost income in the better years by attending Farmers Markets. More importantly, though, Farmers Markets give us more opportunities to serve you.
If you have any questions at any time, don't hesitate to let us know! We can be reached at 618-444-0567 or at email@example.com, and we love to hear from you.
Please be aware, however, that things can get really busy in the fields this time of year, so if you don't hear back right away, it usually means we've just been pulled away from the office every day. It's very important to us that we get back to you very soon.... that said, if you don't hear from us for more than a week, please don't hesitate to check back in. Sometimes e-mails and phone messages get lost, and we'd hate to leave you hanging!
Until next time,
Kris, Stacey, Jacob & Anna