If you are a member or future member of a CSA this letter is important to read and may answer many of the questions everyone has about last year’s share and what local farmers face throughout the year.
Our season began November 15, 2011 and started off strong with the warm weather crops such as cucumbers, eggplant, yum-yum peppers, tomatoes and winter squash. Due to the mild winter weather, the season ran straight through for the full 24 weeks with no breaks in the schedule and ended on April 19, 2012. Also, because of the mild weather, we were able to offer a Mini Season for 6 weeks starting the first week of May. Overall for the regular season, we had over 250 members this year!
We currently offer drop-off service to members on Tuesdays and pick-up at the farm on Thursdays. We also sell to wholesale customers, like natural food stores and local restaurants, as well as to non-members at the farm on Saturday mornings, and at 5 different farmers markets throughout the week. Some members have commented on the condition or quality of the vegetables and our commitment to the members. We want everyone to know that our first commitment is to the CSA membership. Our vegetables are harvested on Monday for the Tuesday drop off and Wednesdays for the Thursday pick up members. The drop off bags are packed at the farm on Tuesday mornings and delivered to the drop off locations. On Thursdays, the vegetables are laid out at the farm for the members to pick up on their own. There is more flexibility if members wish to swap out a vegetable for more of another. Only after the members have received their shares are wholesale or market customers considered. However, if a crop is not ready to be harvested for the drop off or pickup members, it may be ready for picking in time for one of the markets and past ready or rotting if we hold it for the next week’s drop off/pickup. The markets and wholesale customers are needed to offset the costs of farming.
At the end of every season, we send out a membership survey to find out what were the favorite and least favorite vegetables offered over the course of the season. The top 5 vegetables from the survey from May of 2011 were: carrots, broccoli, lettuces, tomatoes, and beets. As a result, more of these vegetables were offered during the 2011-2012 season. Daikon radish, bok choy and kohlrabi were the least favorite and likewise, their offering was reduced this season. Please continue to fill out the surveys; they help us to plan out our growing season.
Some of the great benefits of being CSA members include knowing your farmer, fresher, locally grown organic vegetables, classes, workshops and potlucks and harvesting opportunities! This season was no different, with two harvesting opportunities for the members: green beans last Fall, and our Spring potluck in April, where members could pull their own potatoes, and pick their own green beans, wax beans and English peas in April. Approximately 50 families attended and learned about the different organic farming practices in a tour with Francisco, and in addition, got the experience of harvesting their own vegetables. Afterwards, everyone shared a potluck lunch, and finished the day with a delicious slice of a KYV Farm cake, prepared by one of our members!
|Tour de Farm 2012|
Although most people enjoyed the milder winter temperatures this past year, it presented additional farming challenges. The freeze in December damaged the broccoli; the winds in March damaged the hoop houses and the tomato plants. In addition, the cool spell that we had in April, combined with the much needed rain, caused the tomatoes to suffer from late blight, which was the same disease that was responsible for the Irish Potato Famine.
We thought we would provide some general information about the CSA, organic farming and the growing season since we have received many comments and questions from the members, in person and in response to the membership survey. First off, Local Harvest offers some useful information about Community Supported Agriculture, as well as some tips for CSA members. You can find these two articles here:
|Pie Model at Tour de Farm|
Florida is a unique location to farm in, because it presents many problems due to the heat, the soil and insects. Having an organic farm compounds that problem because most of the maintenance of the crops is done by hand vs. the spraying of pesticides and fungicides.in conventional farming. Many of our members have also questioned why a certain vegetable is not available at a certain time of year. Because of the heat in Florida, our growing season is different than the rest of the country, for example, sweet corn grows in May here as opposed to August and September in the Northeast. This past season, because the Fall weather was so warm, we were able to grow potatoes for the Fall and offered them to the members in December, however, they are commonly harvested in the Spring. We think this link provides a good overview of the growing season in North Florida, as well as the obstacles we face in farming:
|2012 Farm Pot Luck|
We have made some revisions to the CSA for next season, and we have opened up the 2012-2013 season to the members. (Please go to our website and reserve your space for next season) We will not be increasing our membership prices; however, we will be including a surcharge for the drop-off members, and in addition, adding a home-delivery option, for a fee.
In addition, many members commented on the quantity of each vegetable offered each week and would like to see more of each vegetable. Therefore, next season, we will be offering larger amounts of each vegetable, but fewer total numbers of vegetables for each week. For example, last season, beets were offered in a bunch of 3. Next season, the beets will be in a bunch of 6. Currently, we offer a selection of 8-11 vegetables and we will reduce the number of vegetables to between 7-9. This past season presented a challenge with the citrus due to the mild winter. As a result, the trees were finished producing early and this created issue with regard to having to credit members for many weeks with no citrus. As a result, next season we will not be offering a citrus share, but will only have bags of citrus available for purchase, when available.
As a final reminder, please note that you can recycle your newspapers here, we use them for packing the boxes of vegetables. Also, the warm weather is the time of year when the chickens are laying faster than we can get egg cartons to put the eggs in! Therefore, please bring your old egg cartons back. You can also bring your vegetable scraps to feed the chickens!
We would like to thank you for your continued support. Through you, we are able to continue doing what we love; growing and bringing you clean food. Thank you all for inspiring us everyday to farm for the community!
Francisco and Vivian
Organic Vegetables & Specialty Citrus
Community Supported Agriculture Wholesale Distribution
Francisco Arroyo and Vivian Bayona
1670 Borrow Pit Rd. Switzerland, FL 32259
Cell: (787)232-7359 or (787)232-2234