Week of October 29th – CSA Newsletter

Throw your hands in the air and wave ’em like you just don’t care for Mudfest 2018! 

This has been a rough month, to say the least. Not exactly what I had envisioned after an amazing summer and a great start to September. But now we are trudging through mud to the finish line, as the 2018 CSA season nears the end. The cool, wet and muddy conditions have caused a great deal of angst this month. There is standing water in many of our fields and many crops just perished with all the wetness we’ve had. Due to the lack of sun and an unseasonably cold late September and October, many crops just haven’t grown to size or barely at all. Ah, such is the life of the modern day farmer.

Operating a CSA is a big challenge, especially with the changing climate. Sharing the risk with great members like you all, make it worth it. Overall, it’s been a fantastic season. We just have a slight limp to the finish line. When I switched to start offering two different share sizes and the free-choice model last season, I wanted to make sure that I could accommodate the variation in the weather and not be bound to a set amount of food each week. I feel great that through 20 weeks of the CSA season, we distributed the high-end (or exceeded) amount of veggies 13 times. I do the best I can to plan around the weather, it’s just that sometimes it’s completely out of the farmer’s hands. 

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Week of September 3rd – CSA Newsletter

And just like that, we’ve hit September. It’s crazy how fast the farm season can go by. It seems like last week we were deciding where the season’s crops were going to be planted. September always is a crazy time on the farm because the summer crops are still cranking at a good pace but some of the fall/winter crops are ready to be harvested or will be soon. The end of the season is in sight, although it seems so far away. This time of the year is a mix of harvest/planting/cleanup projects. But this is Upstate New York, and we know that the first frost will be here before we know it. I actually had a very realistic dream (more like a nightmare) over the weekend that I woke up to a light frost and I never closed down the sides to the hoophouses. The result was that all the tomatoes and peppers growing in them had bitten the dust. It took me a few minutes but I was relieved when I realized that wasn’t the case.

The past week was a great one with all the new student interns. We spend a lot of time harvesting for their first few weeks before diving into some of the other farm tasks. I think that this is a great time of the year to expose folks to the basics of harvesting because there is so much to do. I really stress to them the importance of harvest and post-harvest handling of the vegetables that we grow. The proper harvesting techniques, times of day that we harvest certain crops, sorting and washing of crops and proper storage of vegetables. These are all extremely important so that you and all of our other customers can have the highest quality vegetables. 

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Week of July 9th – CSA Newsletter

I hope that everyone had a good 4th and got time to enjoy the day with family and friends. It was mostly a quiet week on the farm with the students having a mini-break but we kept plugging away at our weekly list of tasks to do. July is primetime for weeds on the farm, so we are doing our best to stay on top (but mostly catch up) of them. We’ve made it through all of our onions and now just have a few beds of leeks and shallots to get through and then we’ll move onto the next priority area. Today we welcomed some new friends to the farm. This is our third summer partnering with Challenge Workforce Solutions as a job site for youth workers as part of their Youth Employment Program. It’s been a great partnership and I’m looking forward to another summer with them as part of our team.

Our hoophouse/greenhouse crops have really been enjoying this stretch of weather and this past week we spent a good amount of time in them. Our continual pruning and trellising of tomatoes, some solid weeding and the trellising of our sweet peppers all happened.

Trellised peppers

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Week of June 25th – CSA Newsletter

Well, June has zipped right by. It’s hard to believe but the summer internship for the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems students is just about halfway over. The students continue to impress me with their work ethic and how quickly they are picking up life on vegetable farm during the summer. Last week was a big week of transplanting on the farm. We got all of our winter squash, melons and second round of summer squash and cucumbers in the ground.

A field of winter squash planted and covered.

It was a lot of work to get them planted, fertilized and covered with remay, aka row cover. We use row cover on our cucurbits (and brassicas) to protect them from pests while they are getting established. The main pest that goes after all the squash, cukes and melons are cucumber beetles. These little buggers can affect the plants in a few different ways. First, they can stunt the plant’s growth, especially when they eat the flowers. They also can transmit bacterial wilt and do damage to the fruit. There aren’t many effective organic sprays that also won’t harm our many wonderful beneficials, including bees. So, we don’t do any spraying. Instead we use cultural controls, which includes row cover. We also try to select varieties that have good disease resistance. This season we are also using a trap crop to hopefully lure the cucumber beetles away from our main crop. We have two beds of a Hubbard squash that is supposedly more attractive to cucumber beetles not covered. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that it has a positive outcome.

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Week of June 18th CSA Newsletter

Ok, so it was hot out there today! But we managed to get in most of the harvest by mid-morning. Now, if you’re new to the TC3 Farm CSA, you’ll soon find out that I end up giving a lot of weather updates and how it’s affecting the season. It’s inevitable. I won’t dive too much into it this week, but I just wanted to acknowledge that. This past week, we were kept busy with more transplanting, lots of cultivating (aka, weeding with tools) and hoophouse tomato management. We are growing 25 different varieties of beefsteak, cherry and heirloom tomatoes in a fairly intensive system. All the varieties are indeterminate, which means that they will grow as tall as we let them (or season length). We keep a single “leader” and each week we go through the houses and “sucker and trellis” the 730 plants.

Suckering and trellising tomatoes

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Week of October 8th – CSA Newsletter

Sunset over the farm!

Aah, October. What a great time of the year. The landscape is transforming as the foliage begins to turn. The days are getting shorter and Playoff baseball has begun!

Life on the farm continues to roll on by as we get closer to the end of the season. The harvest, along with cleanup projects keeps us busy these days. Besides cleaning out the hoophouses when they are ready, the next big project will be to plant next year’s garlic. I always aim for the week of Halloween to get garlic in the ground. And that is quickly approaching. I’ll keep you posted with our progress.

Nothing too exciting happened last week on the farm. I did harvest the first of our baby ginger at the end of the week to take down to the Fire Cider Celebration and Market in Press Bay Alley in Ithaca.

Baby ginger!

That was a really cool event because all of the vendors were selling the ingredients needed to make fire cider. If you’ve never had fire cider before, I highly recommend it. Especially in the winter months. It’s a traditional folk remedy that is a serious immune booster!

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