Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Los Endos- 2011 Finale

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us”

Perhaps a bit melodramatic to quote from Dickens in reference to farming, but farming is a career that frequently swings from one end of the spectrum to the other. One day the plants are vibrant and full of life. Then comes an overabundance of rain that results in disease and death. One week the weather is great and the harvest for market is bountiful. The it rains on market day and people stay home and the wondrous produce becomes compost. The process of farming is truly one of contrasts; yin/yang.

For Farmer David and Z Food Farm the 2011 farm season was in many ways a great success. Many of the crops did exceptionally well. The Philly market continued to be extremely supportive. The farm expanded into New York at the New Amsterdam Market and people were kind with their compliments about the quality of the produce that was available. There was continuity with Oscar and Greg working at the farm and Jose proved to be a very solid addition. Everyone stayed healthy, Hule continued to do a great job in her job as pest controller ridding the farm of 14 groundhogs, and Maple the cat kept the mice in check. It was the best of times.

But, between excessive heat and rain the winter squash crop was a bust. David planted twice as much as last year and harvested less than half as much. The wet ground prevented regular planting of salad mix and arugula. Deer ruined a 300 foot row of both lettuce and Swiss chard- the deer had a very expensive dinner. The wet weather cut short what had been a very wonderful crop of tomatoes. Various other varieties of produce never made it into the ground due to the weather. And wet weather did play a damping role on a few of the markets. Farmers everywhere have known for time immemorial that depending on the weather for your livelihood is a tough way to make a living. Whether you shop at a super market or at a farmers' market, or a combination of both, stop and think for a moment of all the time and effort that went into growing your food.

As of today farm season 2012 has begun to take shape. The seed order is in the final stages of preparation with Feb 24 as a target date for when seeding is going to start. If this target is met, that will put David about three weeks ahead of last year. The hope is that this will allow David to start his market season two weeks or so earlier than last year. Apart from seeding there is much that needs to get done in the coming weeks. Since David will be using more of the available land this season, the rest of the farm needs to have a deer fence put up. Equipment needs to be purchased. A general clean-up of the barn and the fields needs to be done. And on and on. Anticipation for the coming year is running high as David is looking forward to the new season.

One last thing to mention. Last season David had a small CSA- Community Supported Agriculture. This is where people buy a share in the farm- they pay a sum of money up front, and then pick up their produce throughout the course of the season. The value of this for the farmer is that they have a pool of money up front that is necessary at the beginning of the season. The value for the member is that they receive extra value for their investment in the farm; having paid for their share they receive produce over the course of the season that is greater than what they paid. In this context it is a win-win proposition. The risk for the member is that if there is bad weather or crops don't do as well as hoped, for whatever reason, they may not receive all that they were hoping for. With this in mind, David is expanding the size of the CSA for the coming season. If you are interested in becoming a member of Z Food Farm go the and use the email address that is there to contact David with your interest.

It is hoped that the following pictures will provide you with eager anticipation of the bounty to come.

Gorgeous and tasty.

Though the green house is now barren, in less than a month it will start to fill up.

As mentioned above, twice as much was planted and half as much was harvested. We will all hope for a better harvest this coming season.

The garlic for 2012 was planted in October. Close to twice as much was planted this year as last. More will be written about the garlic, but there will be more varieties available this coming season.

Cherry tomatoes! Is your mouth watering?

On behalf of David and all connected with Z Food Farm- here's hoping that your holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving and ending with the coming of the new year, was a wonderful experience for one and all. Hopefully you all had wonderful and healthful food to eat and beverage to drink. Hopefully you had a great time with friends and family. Hopefully whatever challenges you faced last year provide you with knowledge and experience and courage to face what the coming year will bring. May you get most of what you want and all of what you need. May the coming year bring more of the best of times and less of the worst of times.

Peace, good health, happiness, and hopefulness to one and all. Support local farmers. Eat healthy.

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