Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Our roots in CSA

The season is starting off great at Broadturn Farm. Our early tulips, narcissus, and perennial flowers offered an early boost into the markets which we have been building in the world of local cut flowers. We also have twice the amount of strawberries planted so we've been filling orders for Rosemont markets in Portland, the Portland Food Co-op and a few other places. We have been focusing on these wholesale outlets since last year as our CSA vegetable operation has plateaued.

 That said, CSA remains our primary focus on the farm. 14 years ago when Stacy and I started farming in Cumberland, it was clear to me that Community Supported Agriculture was the way forward; the business model with no down-side. Good for the farmer: An assured market, up-front capital, and permission to grow a wide variety without worrying about "loss-leaders." Good for the consumer: A discounted product of the freshest kind, a connection with a farm, and an encouragement to eat that wide variety of healthy produce. It also appeared fundamentally good for the environment since stabile, non-exploitative markets nearly always lead to positive ecological choices, and customers were supporting our choices to grow organic produce.

We still stand by the central tenants of the CSA model, but all things evolve and we have dealt with problems with many facets of this kind of farming. As we have matured we have gotten a sense for other opportunities beyond CSA, just as some of our customers themselves move beyond the model and one way or other become more tied into the local food movement in ways apart from being a CSA member. But there is still no better way to get an infusion of the freshest and diverse produce into your kitchen than CSA. And this week is flush with Greens!

Here is this week's harvest:
Mustard greens
Garlic Scapes
Spring Turnips
Radishes -- here is, in our opinion, the best thing to do with radishes: thinly sliced and soaked in Ume plum vinegar (or some other fruity vinegar). This is technically a "refrigerator pickle" and it works great with spring radishes. (this jar is probably four or five bunches of radishes, so you can use as smaller container.)

This is the week that we are turning over fields to begin a summer-fallow period. This allows us to diminish the weeds in our fields while still maintaining a good amount of organic matter in the soil. We have been growing good cover crops of rye and vetch all winter, and now we mow it, chisel plow it, and work the cover into the soil.

 After a few weeks it will look like the picture below, ready to be planted to another cover cropping. Tilling is damaging, and cover cropping is restorative, and after 8 years of doing this at Broadturn Farm, we have seen great improvements in the quality of the soil.

 This picture below is of a freshly plowed field from sod. Its very exciting to turn over new ground. It reminds me of our first years farming. Inexperienced as we were, there was so much potential after making that first step forward into farming. An unwritten, blank slate; this one up along the road in our Fogg field, will be filled in with an expansion of rhubarb in the coming years. Thanks to John Snell for selling us that sweet moldboard plow!


1 comment:

  1. Delphiniums?...I had them in my Bridal bouquet many moons ago
    Alexa-asimplelife visiting from Sydney, Australia