Genuine Faux News of the Farm
Vol 2 Issue 11 - December 2006
We will use this newsletter to provide everyone with a report on the 2006 season and plans for 2007. One of the goals of the Genuine Faux Farm is to maintain open communications with those who enjoy our products. In particular, we feel a responsibility to report to our CSA members. Our subscribers provide us with the framework from which we work. We thank you for your support and hope that this information demystifies some of the processes for you, just as it helps to inform us for subsequent years.
In 2006, there were vegetable crops on 3+ acres of our farmstead and we plan on growing to approximately five acres next season. This represents the extent of our owned crop land, and thus the limit of our foreseeable production levels. We added a tiller attachment for our lawn tractor and a number of hand tools during the year. We expect to add another lawn tractor with attachments and have found a wheel hoe that should keep Rob on a serious exercise regimen.
Weeds and pests were, as always, an issue at the farm. We can honestly say that we did not make many of the same mistakes in 2006 as we did in 2005, except perhaps to succumb to the belief that hard work will eventually win out. Significant crop losses were seen in the onions, brassica, pumpkins, melons, okra, spinach and sweet corn. Smaller losses of potatoes, beets, tomatoes, peppers, garlic and lettuce were also a part of the season. Yet, it was a stellar year for eggplant, cucumber, summer squash and certain varieties of tomato, winter squash, pepper, swiss chard and our iris. On the whole, it was a good growing year.
We successfully raised two groups of meat chickens (90-100 each time) and one flock of turkeys (25). We currently have a flock of 20 laying hens and two roosters that are routinely providing us with 18 eggs a day. We facilitated two beef buys and two pork buys during the year.
We increased our visibility by participating in the local Buy Fresh, Buy Local program and Practical Farmer's of Iowa. The farm was featured in a couple of newspaper articles and we spoke in front of a couple of groups about gardening topics early in the year. Our farmer's market 'look' was upgraded and we were present at Wednesday, Friday and Saturday farmers' markets.
Our feeling is that 2006 was a successful year for the Genuine Faux Farm. While we can't officially declare a profit for the year until the last of the expenses are dealt with, we can say that we are moving in the right direction. Let's see if we can make another jump forward in 2007!
The academic calendar to which Tammy and I are enslaved seems to drain the festiveness from the Holiday Season. There's just something about the crazy pace of a college semester that crowds out the time and energy for such things!
We are trying to remind ourselves to take a little time and remember friends, family and the really important things in life each day. Easy to say and difficult to do - yet we invite you to join us in taking the time to do little things for others that let them know you are thinking of them. Give yourselves permission to do some things you or your family enjoy. Surprise someone to whom you rarely talk by sending a note or making a phone call. Donate something to a favorite charity, help a neighbor carry in their groceries. Don't make a list - just do these things as you think of them. It doesn't really take much to start feeling that 'warm glow' mentioned in a number of Christmas carols.
Tammy and I are thankful that we enjoy good health, have wonderful families and have a circle of caring friends. It is a blessing that we have the wherewithal to pursue our efforts on the farm and be involved in such a broach range of activities.
Vol 2 Issue 11 - December 2006
Our goals for the 2007, in no particular order are:
We had the pleasure of attending an auction on a recent Saturday morning - something we can't do during farmer's market season. The greenhouse south of Oelwein has closed (the owner is retiring) and much of the supplies and equipment was auctioned off on two consecutive weekends. We were able to pick up a number of supplies for seed starting at a fraction of the normal cost. Of course, we are pleased to be able to do this, but were a little concerned that the person selling these things was taking the proverbial 'bath.' Happily, there was a huge crowd for the second weekend, with prices appearing to be very strong.
We did acquire a wheel hoe, which is a type of 'push cultivator.' This is something we have hoped to locate for some time. The tool will help us keep weeds down more efficiently than hand weeding, but does not require the use of fossil fuels.
The Genuine Faux Farm participated in a research project run by Craig Chase from the Iowa State Extension. The intent of this research was to compare CSA foods delivered to subscribers with prices at local supermarkets. We will share Craig's overall results with you when he has them. But, the exercise of collecting the data was informative to us as well. A summary of some interesting items follow.
A large share in our CSA cost $350 without discounts. The cost of the same produce at local (Waverly) grocery stores would have been $347.
We were forced to adapt our units to store units, which required some estimation.
In 2006 a large share received approximately:
2 Issue 11 - December 2006
We'd like to take a moment and remind everyone that we do have t-shirts and canvas bags available for purchase. T-shirts are made of organic cotton and are $15. Canvas bags are not made of organic material, but were purchased through a local supplier. Bags are $5.
Also available is a third design with our logo on the left front pocket area and a collage of farm pictures on the back. Comes in natural color (off-white) and in L or XL sizes.
We recommend machine washing in cold water and air drying to reduce shrinking. The shirts are, in our opinion, quite comfortable. The 100% cotton makes them very soft to the touch.
For more information, please visit our 'merchandising' page that is located here.
The survey can be found here.
Survey results and face to face feedback makes us believe that we are providing approximately the appropriate volume per week and per share for this program. We will add the "Single Share" in 2007 for individuals or seniors who have difficulty consuming the volume in a "Small" share. We will encourage others who would like a little more produce to purchase the "Large" share. Careful harvest tracking in 2006 will also help us to plan 2007 from a volume and distribution standpoint. We may rotate certain crops between members rather than providing them every week. (example: give 2-3 eggplant one week and none the next to all members with last name A-L).
Results here were reasonably good, but we would like to improve. At the same time, we don't want to relegate perfectly good veg to the compost heap just because there are small blemishes. We will start by trying new crop strategies to improve quality and we are looking to buy better packing containers for shipping purposes. We would also like to find a way to more efficiently clean root and other crops prior to pickup without adding significant work load.
Vol 2 Issue 11 - December 2006
The variety provided was good again this year. We will work to find ways to avoid crop failures (onions, brassica in 2006) and will continue to investigate new crops and varieties.
The perception that value was received for investment is backed up by the 'market value' of produce received in 2006. Small shares received a table value of $308.50 (23.4% over the $250 base price) and large shares received a table value of $436.00 (24.6% over the $350 base price).
Number of Weeks
Most individuals feel that our projected time frame is acceptable. We do hope to get an earlier start in 2007. We will be employing some low tunnels and other early season techniques in hopes of achieving this goal.
Self-selection of produce vs pre-packaged
For many individuals, there didn't appear to be an strong opinion regarding the two options. Though most who voiced an opinion prefer to select their own from the table. This is good, since we are convinced that this is the most efficient delivery method for us at this time.
Use of produce provided
Most persons felt they made good use of the produce received, but there are still many who feel they don't quite use as much as they would like. We would like to support your efforts with more recipes and storing techniques. We also like the idea of setting up a canning/freezing session or two.
We received positive feedback in this area, which we were pleased to see. It is our belief that the current 'pick up' system has helped us to be more responsive and allows you to more readily see the link from production to your table.
Organic and local produce is important to you.
Nearly everyone subscribing to the CSA agrees that buying local produce grown using organic methods is important to you. This confirms for us that our mission statement is in line with your interests.
No recipe featured this month. We'll give you two in January!
Italian Heirloom Tomato
We grew this variety for the first time in 2006 and were extremely pleased with the results. Plants start sturdy and produce large fruits nearly 2 weeks earlier than other similarly sized varieties. Fruits are meaty and average around one pound in size, some approaching two pounds. These are excellent fresh on sandwiches and are good for stewed tomatoes, canning and fresh sauces. This variety will figure more prominently in our 2007 growing season.
Genuine Faux Farm
319 882 3345