Sunday, March 30, 2008

Calling All Working Members

"Working member" is a term that has sprung up with CSAs, probably isn't even in the dictionary yet, seeing as CSAs in America are at most twenty years old, with ninety percent I bet formed in the past ten years, and probably fifty percent in the last five (I like statistical breakdowns). It means "a member who spends some time every week helping out his or her CSA farm, whether it be in the field, or just as commonly at pick-ups, and gets a discount or upgrade." Though, it should be noted, some CSAs, especially the older ones I would guess, more or less mandate helping out, and think of those who don't as having to pay more for it, rather than those working getting a discount.

Open Heart Farm had its first working members last year, 3. It went pretty well. Ours received a discount and then we tried to give them some extra greens and flowers each week. Our working members were really remarkably productive: Rachel and I hardly ever thinned carrots or weeded mesclun the whole season. The money that they received wouldn't be considered a livable wage, but I think most of them were really happy doing it. I won't guess why but to say it probably has some intersections with why I like to be down there myself. One of our working members is going on to apprentice on an organic farm in Maine (apprenticing being a more full time, full season affair) this year, so I guess that her experience with us was positive and even slightly inspiring.

Why mention all this now? Cause now is when we are signing up members (little bit more than halfway there for those wondering) and we haven't gotten any working ones yet. Thought I had one but that one going on to apprentice, as mentioned above. No guilt intended Rebecca. So I'm here making the plea to those in Burlington who think they have four hours a week and want to see things grow, thrive, have fun, learn some about organic farming, get in some exercise, etc.

This year I am making it a larger discount ($90), and offering the possibility for members to do that work on Saturdays, at our market in Shelburne.

Anyways, that is what a "working member" is. The more I think about it the more I like just the fact that are gradiations of levels of employment, a little grey area somewhere even between barter and time equaling money. If your up for it you know where to reach me (info to the right).

IN OTHER NEWS: Greenhosue and Farm report

A new flower for us this year, spurred snapdragons, are up and running, though the more regular rocket mix snapdragons are taking a little more time. beets popped right up and lots of the first brassicas, like broccoli and cauliflower, are up too. Here you can see Ciaran playing with the Calendula, which is probably the biggest thing right now since it loves the cold nights (we keep the greenhouse to cold I think (it is pretty expensive on a zero degree night)):

and here you can see that the last days of March in Burlington can in fact be pretty darn cold, yeah for the last snow of the season. They say it's going to be 63 degrees Tuesday, yeah for the flood?!?!?!?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Rhubarb Dilemma

So, I bought two bags of rhubarb crowns at ACE, which sells them way cheaper than Johnny's or FEDCO. Each bag contains three plants. Doesn't sound like much of a dilemma does it. The plants sit in saw dust in my closet for a month or so and then I stick them in the ground and if we can keep them relatively weed free we get rhubarb, and, as a special bonus, if we keep it healthy a few years, we can start splitting the crowns and expanding the rhubarb row (six plants is really only enough for me and the occasional gift (I like rhubarb alot, just make an easy jam with it all summer long))) for free! yeah! but also the dilemma, and this is the Open Heart Farm Dilemma with all perennials (ie plants that come back season after season) like asparagus, or fruit trees for that matter. Let me put a disclaimer up front, if it is not fully a dilemma of our own making, it is one we walked into pretty much with full knowledge and without further ado let me elucidate: it is this: we may, let me stress: MAY, only be able to stay down on Intervale land for five years. So why do I bother even buying this stuff (last year I started asparagus from seed, so that is going to take about five years just to become reasonably productive (though some people (the French) like to talk about there 125 year old asparagus beds), and this year, besides the rhubarb I bought two pear trees which I wrote a little bit about a few weeks ago)? Um, the answer's probably not anything special, I think most farm people like to try new things, and besides eating them ourselves, think it would be neat to bring to market, or CSA pick-up. None of my members have specifically asked for any of these foods, but I'm sure, out of the sixty, there are a few that would bite at each, which, if I were to think of it economically, would add nice value both for them and me.

All that said, I haven't gotten into by-laws, nor political miasmas, and I probably shouldn't. I think I hear Ciaran stirring, and for now I'm solving the problem by buying all the stuff and acting as if there is a long-term future for us down there. before stirring turns to crying I'll leave you with a recent pic of mister Ciaran held by his uncle, meeting his first cousin, who is held by the grandma of both*:
* uncle is also uncle of both, other boys name: Tom Patrick

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Old, New

Last night we had some roasted roots, still tasting great. I was surprised how vital everything still looked. We also had daikon radish, which I have saved from the end of last year, with some chard (which we did buy at City Market.) We actually have had all winter a sizable store of roots, and last night it made me think that a winter share might not be that farm off for Open Heart Farm. At our new apartment (that is the new part, we moved to the New (oh, another new) North End March 1st, we even have a well heated basement for winter squash, which was one thing holding us back. The greens is the last peice of the puzzle, which would require a hoophouse, which, if you've been following the Intervale Story (I can't follow it all so you are excused if you can't (I think the short version is no hoophouses in floodplain, but even that might be wrong)) you know is not a sure thing. We have the money at least for a modest one, one that might supply 20 families, which would make year round living in Vermont much closer to affordable. As they say in Cote d'Ivoire, "On Va Voir!"*

It is true I have finally started the onions and in fact going in a few minutes to finish them up. Also close to purchasing the drip irrigation system (see below). Things move slowly, glacially you might say, this time of year. The trickle of members is still trickling.

* One will see! in French