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Genuine Faux News of the Farm

Vol 3 Issue 1 - January 2007

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Crossing the Threshold

sunrise at the farm copyright rfaux

Important Dates
Input Please
Signup 2007
KUNI "Appearance"
Practical Farmers Conference
Wanted
Mentoring Others
CSA Research with ISU Extension
Rob Recommends
Upcoming Items
Variety of the Month

Crossing the Threshold

As I started to put together our first issue of the newsletter for 2007, I found myself a bit surprised by the volume number (3). Once I got past the fact that it may be presumptuous to even give this online web page volumes and issues, I became alarmed that the '3' actually means something. We are entering our third year providing subscription services as a part of our CSA business and our fourth year of production for farmer's markets.

The Genuine Faux Farm is transitioning from being a 'new' agribusiness to an 'established' one with a history and reputation. We're moving out of the 'imposter farmer' stage and into the 'imposter expert' stage. I don't think we're entirely sure what it is that makes us feel that way. Perhaps it has something to do with the way we are approaching the 2007 season. We are doing more calculating and less guesswork in our planning. Of course, we cannot predict what will happen in any given season, but fear of uncertainty has changed to a healthy respect.

It is possible that some of this has to do with our perception of place within the agricultural community. It no longer seems strange to tell people that we are produce or truck farmers (aka customized agriculturalists) who also teach. Or that we are college professors who also farm, depending on the company. It no longer feels like we need to justify, apologize or qualify what we do. This is an accomplishment for us as we walk the tightrope between different worlds.

We hope you will join us for our 2007 season by signing up now for a 2007 season share. You can place a $25 deposit now and pay the remaining balance before the season starts.


Important Dates

  • Mar 1- Early payment deadline
  • Apr 15- Last day to hold spot with a deposit
  • May 20- Forfeiture of deposit deadline, full payment due
  • June 1- late signup deadline (if spots open)

Input Please?

Please let us know how you feel about these things. Your input helps us make better decisions!

  • Would you be interested in an informal pre-season get together in the Waverly area with GFF and other CSA subscribers? Suggestions on when/where or how?
  • Would you be willing to pay additional money for extended season vegetable production a high tunnel might bring? If so, how much additional seems reasonable to you?
  • Would you like to see GFF go through the organic certification process? How important is this to you?
  • Is there anyone you know that we should send CSA information to?

Email us at rfaux@thefauxden.net with your input.

Vol 3 Issue 1 - January 2007


Signup 2007

If you were a CSA subscriber in 2006, watch your mailboxes for a GFF mailing soon. We want to make sure you have an opportunity to reserve a spot for this season before we actively pursue new subscriptions.

This mailing is intended to make signup for 2007 a simple process for you. We will be encouraging families who wish to return for 2007 to signup early in order to reserve your spot with a deposit. The early payment discount will continue to apply until March 1st, so you need not pay for the entire subscription at this time. But, your deposit tells us that you want a spot reserved and will help us plan.

KUNI "Appearance"

Rob was given the opportunity to try out his 'radio voice' on KUNI radio this month on the new program The Exchange, hosted by Ben Kieffer. The focus of the show, aired on January 10, was on alternative agricultural business opportunities. Other guests included Craig Chase (Iowa State Extension) and Mary Holz-Clause (Iowa State Extension - Value Added Ag Program).

Part of the impetus of this particular topic was the upcoming Practical Farmers of Iowa conference discussed elsewhere in this newsletter. Over all, the experience was a positive one. The Genuine Faux Farm would like to thank the producer, Greg Shandley for the chance to discuss a topic of interest.

It is amazing how quickly one hour can go. It seemed as if there was so much more to say, but not enough time to say it.

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Practical Farmers Conference

Tammy and I were able to attend the annual Practical Farmers of Iowa conference January 12 and 13 in Des Moines. PFI's membership includes farmers and non-farmers. Participants are linked by an interest in finding ways to produce food using sustainable methods.

We attended a workshop on high tunnels (essentially unheated greenhouses) on Friday and several sessions on Saturday. Topics included heirloom seed saving techniques, conversion to organic processes and weed control methods. The keynote was shared by an organic dairy farmer from Fairfield and by the founder and the COO of Chipotle restaurants.

Some impressions that we took away from the conference:

  • there is always more to learn
  • there are multiple ways to succeed
  • there are many ways to farm and produce food responsibly
  • the best producers look for incremental improvement and change
  • CSA's are undergoing a sizable turnover in 2007, indicating a relatively high 'burnout' rate
  • local producers need to have the courage to charge 'what the food is worth'*
  • there are many good people involved in PFI, interested persons may go to www.practicalfarmers.org

*Frances Thicke in his keynote address.

Vol 3 Issue 1 - January 2007

Wanted

  • YOU! As a 2007 CSA member.
  • Picking/Display Crates
  • Chicken/Turkey crates
  • Fence Poles (metal, fiberglass or plastic)
  • Fencing
  • Recipes

Mentoring Others

The Value Added Program through the Iowa State Extension will be hosting regional VAP conferences throughout the state in February. These conferences target fruit and vegetable producers and are intended to mentor new or newer producers in the process of marketing, business development and business management. Anyone interested in learning about vegetable and fruit production and marketing are encouraged to attend. The local conference is planned for February 21 at the Pinicon Restaurant in New Hampton.

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/valueaddedag/calendar.htm

Rob will be a presenter during the early afternoon session. His talk will focus on the development of the GFF business plan, the roadblocks encountered and other related issues. Anyone wishing to receive more details on the conference should contact Rob (rfaux@thefauxden.net).

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CSA Research with ISU Extension

Craig Chase has compiled the results of a study comparing CSA share values in Iowa with grocery store prices. He is working to produce an extension publication using this information. Four CSA's (including GFF) recorded volumes of produce distributed to their subscribers during the season and collected prices for similar items found at local grocery stores.

  1. All four CSA's offered produce that were not available in stores.
  2. All four CSA's delivered produce for 20 weeks. Produce volumes were sufficiently comparable.
  3. Each CSA showed widely differing volumes for some vegetables, depending on the producers season and strengths.
  4. A typical share from an Iowa CSA would cost $352.68 if the same produce were purchased at a typical Iowa grocery.
  5. This number has not been adjusted to include value for vegetables not available in stores..
  6. Grocery store prices for organically certified produce are typically 190% the price of non-organic produce.

Conclusions for the Genuine Faux Farm CSA:

The other CSA's have been in business longer than GFF, so it was gratifying to see that we compare favorably with them. Most importantly, we feel that this data supports our claim that our pricing for the product is competitive with your other produce options in the area. This encourages us to continue to make smaller, incremental improvements, rather than scrapping the current model for a new approach.

Vol 3 Issue 1 - January 2007


Rob Recommends

We will be adding book or other resource recommendations as a semi-regular feature to our newsletters. We will gladly accept recommendations from others - especially if you write a short review to go with it!

Blithe Tomato by Mike Madison

www.heydaybooks.com

If you are looking for an entertaining read that you can easily break into several sessions, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this book. The author provides a series of vignettes inspired by the his personal experience as a farm market gardener.

Madison has an engaging style, and whether you agree with all of his observations or not, you can't help but appreciate the stories and the culture they spring from. If you want an inside look at the lives of market vendors, give this a try. From our perspective, it was affirming to read much of what is explored in Blithe Tomato.

Upcoming Items

  • organic certification - learning the ropes
  • you.....Turkey!
  • 2007 crop plans
  • internship and worker plans for 2007
  • All about...courage (and a heart, and a brain...)
  • research ideas for 2007

Genuine Faux Farm
PO Box 121
Tripoli, IA 50676

rfaux@thefauxden.net

319 882 3345

 

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Variety of the Month

Beaver Dam Pepper

Here's a heirloom pepper we think you are going to see more of in 2007. Ok, it IS a hot pepper, but not super hot, and certainly not without taste. We grew a small number of Beaver Dam plants in 2006 and made sure some of our members had a chance to try them. Reports were the most positive we have had for any hot pepper. They have a little warmth, but don't have the bitter taste that some hot peppers have. They do not seem to add digestive challenges (putting it kindly) and are a kinder way to add spice to one's diet.

Plants are small and produce close to the ground. A typical plant will set six to eight fruits that get approximately 6 inches long on average. They are wider than many peppers with this shape, providing a good sized cavity for stuffed peppers.

Beaver Dam peppers copyright seed savers