Dear Stearns Farm Sharer,
We are writing to thank you for being part of Stearns Farm during the 2013 summer season. As you know, 2013 has been a year of many transitions at Stearns Farm. We hired a new Farm Manager, we built a new greenhouse to replace the one destroyed by the February blizzard, and we continued to adjust to a changing climate. Many of our crops thrived: strawberries, tomatoes, beets, spinach, broccoli, mixed greens, basil and peppers were all abundant and flavorful. But other crops did not do so well this year, including Alliums (onions/shallots/leeks), carrots, winter squash, potatoes, green beans and braising greens.
The reasons are varied: losing our greenhouse meant that we couldn’t start the Alliums in February, which is why we had many fewer onions, leeks, and scallions than we do most years. Weather continued to pose challenges throughout the season, with a very rainy June followed by a very hot dry summer. Crops require specific growing conditions in order to thrive, and when the growing conditions are less than ideal, yields are decreased. Pests and diseases also stress crops, and growing organically means that pest- and disease-control methods are fairly limited. Indeed, most of our pest and disease control strategies are long term growing practices: keeping the soil healthy, rotating crops, and letting fields rest in the winter so that disease-carrying organisms and insect larvae are killed by the cold.
Despite these challenges, there are rare times when we have excess produce: a winter share may be under-subscribed, as happened in 2012, or a particular crop is so abundant that we have more than we can distribute to sharers and donate to local food pantries and homeless shelters (as happened with spinach last winter). We have been working on building relationships with local restaurants who are willing to buy produce from us on the occasions when we have some to sell. This is a small but important source of additional income that helps to cover operating expenses and keep the share price as low as possible.
Belonging to a CSA is a special relationship: you pay up front for a product that you won’t see, touch, or taste for many months. You put your trust in the farm manager and crew because you know that they will do everything in their power to grow the best, most varied crops possible. You share in the bounty and in the challenges. We thank you for being a part of Stearns Farm, and we look forward to sharing the season with you in 2014.
With best wishes,
Susan Peters, Farm Manager
Stearns Farm Board of Directors: Nick Clayton, Nancy-Conklin-Stone, Peter Doherty, Gail Epstein, Lisa Kamer, Nomi Sofer, Tom Yelton