IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I had planned to start the newsletter with our usual introductions this year. But, with Matthew's path being uncertain, I'm going to put those at the end of the newsletter (most of you already know us, anyway), and start with some possible alternative plans for this week.
At this point, it's difficult to tell how much rain and wind we'll get, and when we'll get it. But, if it seems like some days are going to be particularly bad, we will allow subscribers who are scheduled to pick up their boxes on Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday this week to change their day to whatever looks like the best one. We will even make some boxes on Wednesday, if that seems like it will be a better day. If you make a decision to change days, please email or call Donna-hopefully at least the day before the change. And if you don't receive a confirmation back from her soon, try another method of communication, in case we have lost electricity or phone service. THIS IS FOR THIS WEEK ONLY!
Also, if some days-or parts of days-are too windy and rainy, we may even move the pickup site to the packing house. If so, you will see a sign at the regular pickup tent. The packing house is the big barn where the office is. To get there, keep going past the little pickup tent, make a right at the STOP sign in front of the white house, and drive a few hundred feet to the big white metal building. If we do this, we'll be there to show you where the boxes are.
As far as those who get their boxes delivered, right now, it's difficult to tell if we will have to cancel or change any delivery days. Obviously, we'll let you know, so please keep an eye on your email for messages from Donna this week.
Down on the farm: Welcome to the 16th year of our CSA program! Being in a personal contact business like this has a lot of rewards-like immediate feedback (positive and negative). And we have been lucky to know many of you-some who have been with us for over 10 years. I'm gratified to know children who have grown up eating our veggies-some who were born after their families started our program. We have also lost some long term subscribers in recent years-most to changes in their lives, such as retirement, moving away, or children going off to college. And sadly, there are even a few whom we miss the most, since we know we will never see them again.
But, we are so pleased to have a good number of what (former office manager) Julie started calling "Newbies". The most common way we get new subscribers now is from personal recommendations-and it's the best way too, because subscribers who recommend us usually give their friends a realistic idea of how difficult it can be to participate in a CSA. We really appreciate this marketing help from you! If you recommend someone who joins, please ask them to mention to Donna who sent them to us.
Obviously, your support is what makes it possible for us to do this. The membership of most CSA farms throughout the country has gone down in the last 4-5 years. We are not an exception: five years ago we had 400 members and a waiting list. Now we have only 235. But, the good part is that most of you have been with us long enough to know how this works and what to expect, so you are relatively "low maintenance"!
Most who are involved in CSAs think the decline in memberships is due to competition from on-line buying clubs, which can offer more year-round variety than a single farm-or even a cooperative of several farms-can. There are also more places to buy local produce: Farmers' markets, specialty markets, and even chain grocery stores are now featuring local produce (although you can't always trust all of those sources!).
Luckily for us, we farm in an area where there are a lot of innovative chefs who appreciate having very fresh produce as well as some unique choices of vegetables. So we are able to stay in business now by selling a higher percentage to them and keeping the CSA program.
Since we do have a lot of new subscribers this year, I hope those who have been with us a while will forgive me for repeating a lot of things: In this section of the newsletter I tell you what's happening on the farm, and sometimes address current issues in agriculture. In case you don't have time to read the whole newsletter, I try to put any important announcements right at the beginning.
We always warn new subscribers that the boxes for the first few weeks and the last few weeks of the season tend to have fewer items than they do during the middle of the season. Last season was a big exception-fall and early winter rains reduced production during the fall and early winter. But then a period of low rainfall and low humidity allowed night temperatures to stay low well into the spring, giving us probably the most productive spring season we have ever had. (Broccoli in May!)
So far this fall is looking like another one of those times that our delivery people are going to build up their muscles, lifting heavy boxes. There have been some rains, but (at least until this week!) no toad strangler rains that have interfered much with our early production. Hot night temperatures always prevent the earliest tomatoes from setting much fruit, but we are having good early production of the warm weather crops which pretty much thrive in these temperatures. In fact, several crops even started producing too early (Think that means I had them planted too early?) So, unless Matthew comes too close, there will be lots in the boxes and available as extras, too for the next few weeks. Soon there will be butternut squash and Seminole pumpkins, but those store well, so we we'll give you the more perishable crops, such as melons, first.
Especially if you are a Southern cook-or would like to try some of the traditional (but often less popular) Southern crops-be sure to check the extras list. There is a good crop of Southern/Field peas-you may know them as blackeye peas, although some have a red or brown eye. Okra pods get big fast. We pick it daily and are never sure how much we'll have, so tell Donna if you want to get on the list for it and you'll get some as soon as it is available.
If you think about the countries that use a lot of eggplant, you'll realize that it is also a warm season crop. All the eggplants this week will probably all be 'Orient charm', one of those very skinny varieties-it just produces faster than the others. In a week or two, there will be some larger round and tear-drop shaped ones.
Experienced subscribers know that I try to have salad greens for the boxes every week. That can be a challenge in our climate! The common American salad greens such as lettuces and spinach only grow in cooler weather, so their season here can be very short. We've found that most of you like baby arugula and/or baby kale for salads or cooking. They will stand up to most of our heat, but, when it rains a lot, they get spots on their leaves, which are caused by fungal and bacterial diseases. So, in rainy periods we may not have any that are worth harvesting. For those who like the big "cooking greens", there are Swiss chard and callaloo this week.
There are many times when I walk out in the field and see something interesting and/or beautiful that I think some of you might appreciate. I discovered that Instagram makes it possible for me to easily share some of those views with you. So now you can "follow" our farm on Instagram at veggies4u.
And (speaking of bringing us into the 21st Century!) most of you know that we now accept credit cards. Since we don't get your credit cards in person and don't have an on-line payment system, if you would like us to charge your monthly payments and/or extras purchases to your card, we need you to fill out a credit card authorization form. (Assuming you want to use the same credit card all the time, this is just a one-time form.) Call or email Donna for information. (561-638-2755 email@example.com)
A Little Housekeeping: This section usually applies to everyone, but this week these notes are mainly for those who pick up their boxes at the farm: Please be sure to follow directions on the coolers at the pickup tent so that you get everything that goes with your box. However, if something that's in a cooler is on your exclusion list, please don't take it. Look at label on your box and you will see that Donna has already made a substitution for that exclusion and noted it on your label. If you are supposed to take a substitute which is in a cooler, she'll put a note on your box to let you know that, too. (Problems with picking up the wrong things or forgetting something are most common when someone other than the usual person comes to pick up a box.)
And, if you pick up your box at the farm and want to charge extras to your credit card, you may put a note into the mailbox at the pickup tent telling who you are and what you purchased, and asking Donna to charge your card. BUT, PLEASE DON"T PUT YOUR CREDIT CARD NUMBER ON ANY NOTES YOU LEAVE AT OUR PICK UP TENT! (See the paragraph on credit cards above if you haven't yet given us a credit card authorization form.)
What's in your box this week: an avocado (from Erickson Farm in Canal Point) cucumbers eggplant honeydew melon corn summer squashes (yellow and/or zucchini) baby arugula baby kale (large boxes only)
Weekly extras: What are "extras"? This means that we either have an extra supply of some of the items we grow, or we purchased or grew some items just for extras (for instance, flowers, honey, herbs, or okra). The extras list makes the newsletter seem very long, but it's just because the list itself takes up 3-4 pages.
The best way to order extras is to email Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org 2 PM the day before you get your box. If you are ordering later than that, please call 561-638-2755 and leave the message on the machine, since we don't always have time to check email in the mornings. (Those ordering for Monday boxes should call and leave a message, since you usually don't receive this list in time to order by email.)
Flowers require earlier orders since we don't keep a supply of them here. We order just the amount that we need from other farms.
Locally grown Flowers (for Monday and Tuesday boxes, order by noon on the Friday before your box; for Thursday and Friday, order by noon on Wednesday). For information about these flower growers and some pictures of their flowers, check the Subscriber Business Links on our Subscriber section
Seed to Bloom, Loxahatchee: colorful mixed bouquets-whatever is in season. $10.00 each (may not be available yet-for this week) Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long- stemmed (most are at least 3') Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 1 lb. glass jar $5.00 each (wildflower, palmetto, or orange blossom) 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (wildflower or palmetto) 8 oz. bee pollen $12
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey (most from his Loxahatchee hives, although some are on our farm) Honey 1 qt. glass jars $17 Honey with comb 1 pt. glass jars $16
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil apple mint mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) rosemary
'Baby' Greens $3.00/bag 'Red Russian' kale arugula Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, kale, and/or purple kohlrabi leaves) Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) Swiss chard- mostly red, some white mixed in Callaloo -a large cooking green often used in the Caribbean, since it will grow in hot weather
From other farms: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby (Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee) $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 Avocados (Erickson Farm in Canal Point) $1.50 each
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm Honeydew melons-yellow rind, orange flesh $3 each Corn 3 ears for $2 Eggplant -'Orient charm', a skinny Asian type $3/lb. Summer squash (yellow or zucchini) $1.50/lb. Cucumbers (pickle size or regular size) Okra $4/lb. (limit 1 lb/order) Papayas $1/lb. (green or ripening) Southern peas (blackeye types) $1.50/lb. (not shelled) Squash blossoms 6 for $2.50
These are the people who are growing your vegetables and getting them to you: Nancy (me) I write the newsletter and I'm the farmer. So I'm responsible for what we grow and what goes into the boxes-with suggestions from Donna, all of you, and our chef customers, and with "input" from the weather!
Charlie (my husband) does our restaurant sales and deliveries, and maintains everything from our farm golf carts to computers.
Donna, our office manager, customer service manager and IT professional, is the person you deal with the most. We're lucky to have someone with her knowledge, skills, and interests-she has a Computer Science education, experience in Information Technology, and is also a Master Gardener. She is usually available to help you from 7-3 (M-F) on our office phone (561-638-2755) or her e-mail: email@example.com. However, she is quite busy overseeing the packing of your boxes and restaurant orders 4 mornings a week until about 10.
Unlike larger farms, which, of course, have (more efficient) specialized crews, our crew does everything from putting the seed in the ground to packing the produce into your boxes. Seven people do the field and packing house work: Chago and Manuel, who both grew up in Puerto Rico and, at 80 and 79, respectively, have each worked on this farm for over 50 years. (They only work in the mornings-we think that's fair, don't you?) Miguel, Luis, Santa, Angelica, and Abelino are the others who do all the planting, weeding, spraying, harvesting, packing, etc.
And, we can't forget our intrepid delivery people ("neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night....." well, hopefully they get the boxes to you before night!) Most were subscribers before they started delivering for us, and several of them have been delivering our boxes for over 10 years. They each have a separate route which goes to a certain area. So, once they get the new stops worked out, they will usually get to your house about the same time each week (allowing for south Florida traffic tie-ups). On the upper right hand corner of your label is the name of your delivery person. Mondays: Art, Josh. Tuesdays: Joni, Ken. Thursdays: Jeannie, the team of Bob and Susan. Fridays: Marty, Madison.
Then there are the people who make this all possible-Ted and Trudy Winsberg, who chose not to sell their 50 year old Green Cay Farm for development when they retired. So, we have a place to farm, and everyone can enjoy visiting the Green Cay Wetlands park.