Week of June 10th – CSA Newsletter Week #1

Well, here we are folks, the start of our sixth CSA season at the TC3 Farm. It’s been an amazing journey so far and I thank you for joining us. For those of you who are new to the TC3 Farm CSA, let me give you a brief little overview of the farm and who we are. The TC3 Farm is a small-scale diversified vegetable and fruit farm. Although we aren’t a certified organic farm, we adhere to all USDA and NOP organic standards and practices. We don’t use any synthetic or chemically-based fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides on the farm. In fact, we don’t use any sprays on the farm, even if they are allowable in organic production. What we do is rely heavily on crop rotation, variety selection and the farm’s natural biodiversity to manage pest and disease cycles. The farm directly supports the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems degree at Tompkins Cortland CC.

Students enrolled in this degree program have 3 farming internships at the TC3 Farm, in addition to their other course work at the college. Their time on the farm has them involved in all aspects of our crop production. From helping with our crop rotation in the winter months to seeding in the greenhouse in the spring to transplanting and harvesting all summer and fall, to so much more. It’s truly an honor to be able to work with these students as they find their way within the food system.

That being said, let’s start talking about what’s been happening on the farm of late and the first CSA pickup. It has been a challenging spring, to say the least. One of the coldest, wettest and lack of sun in recent memory. We’ve had some good stretches in the last couple of weeks but April to mid May were pretty brutal from a growing/field preparation point of view. But we’ve been plugging away to the best of our ability. The students started their summer internship at the end of May and we’ve put the petal to the metal for getting plants in the ground. All in all, we’ve gotten close to 8,000 plants in the ground in the last 10 days or so. The greenhouse and hoophouses have all been planted to tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil. The first round of summer squash and cucumbers, along with onions, leeks and shallots have been planted to name a few crops. The start of the summer semester is always a little hectic because I’m working mostly solo for much of May. When the students arrive, I throw them in the deep end of the pool, whether they can swim or not. For most of them, it’s their third semester on the farm and they have an idea of what to expect. But at the same time, each semester, they are doing things for the first time and there is a definite learning curve.

Ok, let’s talk about this week’s CSA share. The start of the season is always a little tricky because we are at the mercy of the weather. And this is definitely the case this spring. One thing that I always try and do is to hold on to some storage crops from last season. This week there will be some rutabaga harvested last fall. They’ve held up pretty well. We trick our 5 year old into eating rutabaga by making rutabaga fries and telling her that they are french fries. She hasn’t caught on yet, so we’re going to ride it as long as we can. Speaking of french fries, there are also some taters leftover from last season. Now these taters have gotten a little soft but we’ve been making homefries with them on the weekends. And if you didn’t want to eat them, you could plant them in your garden. There is also going to be some other root-y crops to start off the CSA season. I did some experimenting in the hoophouse and greenhouse in late winter/early spring to trial some crops for the start of the CSA. I had one complete failure, one farmer error and two that worked out. So, this week there will be some purple top turnips and black radishes. We like to slice them thin and pan fry them with some butter and a little salt. The radishes still have their greens, which are perfectly edible in a nice saute. I guess I’ll segue into the other greens that will be in this week’s share. There will be mizuna, which is a mild Asian green. It can be eaten raw or cooked. I really enjoy adding it to pasta dishes with fresh parmesan. There will be another Asian mix of Komatsuna and Tokyo Bekana. These mild greens are great in stir-fries. The final green this week will be spinach. We’ve struggled in the past growing spinach and I’m really excited that is available at the start of the season. There will also be seedlings of veggies, herbs and flowers for your gardens. And finally, I am extremely hopeful that there will be strawberries available this week. This is a new planting this season and they started to ripen last week. The rain today isn’t going to make them happy but we will be out there tomorrow to see what is ready.

Have a great week folks!

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