Stockbridge and Howell CSA Members and customers: Where can you get your produce now? CSA members can order for pick-up in Stockbridge on Wednesdays. We will be sending out an email this Friday with more details. Additionally, all customers and CSA members are welcome to visit us at our Wednesday and Saturday Ann Arbor market and our Saturday Chelsea Market.
Chelsea customers: We missed last Saturday due to a medical issue. Everyone is okay and we will be there this coming Saturday to fill your vegetable needs.
Ann Arbor Wednesday customers: Come see Emily O. at market today! She works on the farm and has a wealth of knowledge about food. She is going to be heading up the Wednesday market until the end of its season in December.
CSA customers: Your updates balances are not included in the email. Never fear, they will be for next week! If you need to know, please shoot us an email.
Any and all: Impromptu, weather-pending, interest-pending, team potato dig this Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm. Come help us haul these succulent morsels into safe keeping. If you are interested respond to this email. I will send an email Saturday afternoon to let you know if there is enough interest and the weather is agreeable enough to make it happen. Thanks for considering.
Now that that's out of the way, let me tell you what we have been up to.
We are still scrambling to prepare for the impending winter. I feel like a broken record (side note: how many of you have actually experienced a broken record repeating itself!?) How many times have I said we are getting the potatoes out, garlic planted, roots dug, hoop house built, cover crop in, and ready for the cold? And maybe that is true, I keep saying these things. But we are still doing them! Wash station upgraded to wind protected status. Little cooler shut down, big cooler cooled down. Endwalls on the little hoophouses and both of them seeded. Row covers over sensitive crops. The storage haul in progress. Open acreage seeded and reseeded with winter cover. More than half of the potatoes dug. Endless indeed!
Things that in my mind would take days are extending to weeks. This is partly weather related. The warmth kept us busy with crops that were supposed to be waning. Our first round of cover crop struggled to germinate in our parched soil and we had to reseed a massive area. When we finally had a moment to dig the potatoes, it rained endlessly. This extended progression is also partly because we are pushing many boulders up this hill simultaneously. And it must be said, it is also partly due to lack of hands and weary backs. And on top of that, decreasing daylight hours. But with all this darkness, with first light just before seven in the morning and darkness settling in just before six in the evening, we are resting better, eating better, and sleeping more. And this is ramping me up again. (A broken record of a broken record: tired, getting rest, will be less tired...)
After all that rain for the last few weeks, it was really refreshing to have sun on Monday and Tuesday. And more sunshine is on the way! But along with the sunshine, the temperatures are sinking to new lows. (Could it be related to the loss of our insulating cloud cover?) When I glanced at the forecast last week lows for this week were in the mid to upper twenties. Oh how quickly that can change. Thursday's new low is 19 degrees! Yikes! There are a lot of plants out there that are not going to like that. We are going to do our very best to protect them, doubling up on row cover and hauling in what may not survive. And we will take good notes so that the effects of dropping fall temperatures and daylight hours don't feel so enigmatic in coming years.
In that way, this coming winter season has reminded me of my first year farming on my own. There is a sense of anxious mystery. What will survive? What will store well? Will we have enough? Too much? What will the markets be like? Will there be down time? All the things that can't be known until they have been done. There is much meticulous record keeping involved in farming, what was planted where and how it fared, etc etc. But all the experience accumulates into a sense in your being of when things are okay and when they are not. This winter, I don't have a good sense about how things are going to be. Maybe because there are so many firsts about it. Among them, it is our first winter growing in Michigan and at this scale and for this many markets. But it must also be because every winter is different, and even the mild differences can be life and death for our plants. Winter is the wilderness of weather. Every event is high stakes and plant survival is single chance and careful planning in order to survive. In the summer, a difference of ten degrees will reduce production but is unlikely to halt it altogether. But in the winter the difference between mid-twenties and low twenties? Well, I am still learning what that means.
The frosty cold is beautiful though. This morning as I trudged down the hill to pack the truck for market, the moon glinted off our field encased in silver ice. Despite my anticipation regarding the health of our crops, a smile stole across my face. The world is brighter at night in the winter. The air is refreshing. I can see the stars in the morning. The moon was low and yellow at night and high and white this morning. After Emily got on the road to market, I heated up some coffee and took it out to enjoy the early morning night from the seat of the farmall.
Here are some frosty fall photos. See y'all Saturday! Lots of love.
Beets by the pound
Carrot by the pound
Celery: Flavorful and crunchy
Kohlrabi: Beastly beauties!
Baby Ginger- a Saturday possibility!
Greens: Arugula, mustard, tatsoi, Tokyo bekana (bok choi lettuce), Salad Mix (limited), spinach,
Hot Peppers- cayenne! Great dried for a bright colorful summer reminder in the doldrums of winter
Potatoes: German butterball, chieftan, elfe
Radishes- Daikon, green meat (sweet), black, watermelon, and pink
Winter squash: Acorn, Delicata, Spaghetti, Red Kuri & Long Pie!
Turnips - purple top and golden globe
*We send this email out before harvest, and although we do our very best to make accurate predictions, crops and quantities found at market may vary.