Genuine Faux News of the Farm
Vol 4 Issue 6 - June 2008
Perhaps the most difficult part of farming is the uncertainty we have about what Mother Nature will bring us. The last twelve months have certainly illustrated for us exactly how stressful and difficult this can be.
We are doing fine on the farm. Our home is intact. We have only had minor damage to various pieces of equipment and buildings. Our fields are wet and crops have been slow to come up (or go in). But, we do have several things in (and trying to grow). We aren't sandbagging to prevent floods from entering our property. We are in good health. And, we know we can't argue with Mom (Mother Nature).
But, we still struggle with the worry every time the wind howls and the rains pour down. Even though there is nothing more we can do, we look out the windows with some amount of trepidation. If we'd worked a little later into the evening, we could have gotten another row of beans in. If we HADN'T been so hurried to put those tomatoes in, they wouldn't be beaten into the mud by that last rain.
The reality is, we're doing what we can and we are confident there will be some successes (and some failures) this year. Just as there has been every year. Our goal is to dwell longer on the successes and celebrate them. We will tell ourselves this the next time the storm clouds loom on the horizon and we will succeed (and fail) to tell ourselves that we can't argue with what nature is doing.
We also deal with the little ironies. It is beautiful today. Some sunshine, not too much wind and no rain. So, what does Rob do? He tries to finish a newsletter, works on the finances and does other office work. All things that need doing - but why today? Oh yes, we forgot about the mud again.
So, we will do the best we can to work around the weather, the moisture and the cool soil temperatures. Things will grow and things will be harvested in their time. It won't go as we planned - but when has it? What we can do is keep you informed as to what is going on and what you can expect.
Check out other parts of this newsletter to see what is going on at the farm.
The Waverly Farmers' Market is working to improve its visibility this year and increase its programming. Our new website is http://www.waverlyfarmersmarket.com. Please consider visiting us at our market.
Farmers' markets are a key part of developing local food systems. We are starting to see more vendors interested in coming to the market. Now, we need to see more traffic to encourage these vendors to stay and continue to develop their products. It can be very difficult for a new vendor to be patient and persist when they go home with only $10 in sales for a three hour market (note: this WAS us a few years ago - we aren't that far away from this experience).
You may want to consider a little comparison shopping this year. Prices have gone up for non-local products. But, your local products are less reliant on gasoline - thus local product prices are often more stable.
The whole process is a delicate cycle. We realize customers can't buy anything when there is nothing to buy. But, vendors won't come if there aren't customers.
4 Issue 6- June 2008
The Genuine Faux Farm was featured in an article recently (May 24) on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in the area. If you are interested, please take this link. Our thanks go out to Emily Christensen for doing a nice job of following up on leads and information. Also, our thanks to photographer Brandon Pollock for making it easy to do our work while he did his.
Also featured in the article were CSA members Lara Martinsen-Burrell and Kate Frerichs.
There are still many people in our area who need to be educated about local foods. We are hopeful that continued exposure for our farm and the CSA will help encourage more producers and consumers in the area. Our farm is only one cog of a potentially complex and vital food system.
Courier photo by Brandon Pollock
We will continue to have some plants available through the second week of June depending on weather. If you want to be certain to have some heirloom plants for your own garden, please email us to reserve some plants as soon as possible. Our selection is still good, but a number of varieties are no longer available.
A list of available items can be found on our 'available product' page.
Tammy and Rob were asked to present a forum on local foods at the upcoming Care of Creation conference being held in Waverly for the Northeast Iowa Synod of the ELCA. Yes, it is the same day as TSD III and a Waverly Farmers' Market. We believe in full days at the farm.
Know Your Food, Know Your Neighbor
Rob & Tammy Faux, Genuine Faux Farm, Tripoli, IA
Food is a necessity for life on this earth. Through its necessity, our food choices can help us make connections with our families, our communities, those who produce our food, and to the environment around us. Our local food systems should be a critical component for the development of a vital, healthy, and sustainable community. Come and learn about some of the choices each of us can make and how they might help you to get to know your neighbor.
No, there wasn't a single iris blooming. In fact, we didn't get a single iris until May 29 this year. An extremely late start to the season. There is now a nice bouquet near the desk as I type.
With all of the strange weather, and the proximity of the horrible tornados, we were pleased that a number of people came out to relax and enjoy the farm for an evening. Informal 'rules optional' Blongo ball, whiffle ball, frisbee and soccer games appeared - as did forays into the fields. Chicks were seen, heard and held. The cats got fat on various food offerings given and/or taken.
Thanks go out to Scott Peters who helped staff the grill and to those who helped clean up at the end of the day.
Our old stock of Genuine Faux Farm bags was down to a mere half-dozen, so we did some research and found some excellent bags at the Organic Farming Conference this winter.
Now in stock are some larger, organic cloth bags with the GFF logo in black. Unlike our old bags, these things can REALLY hold a lot of stuff! We like the fact that we were able to go with organic materials in order to stay in line with our mission.
Bags are priced at $10 and will provide the bearer with the opportunity to get 25 cents every purchase of $2 or more at our market table when they bring it along to carry purchases home.
For the month of June - mention that you saw this in the newsletter and get a bag for $9!
NOTE: WATCH EMAIL carefully this week - we may MOVE THIS DATE. Recent flood events have everyone's attention elsewhere (and rightly so). NOTE: time change (start is 4pm, not 3pm).
If you are considering coming to one Tom Sawyer Day during 2008, we would like you to strongly consider making the June 14th Tom Sawyer Day that day.
This is a critical juncture for our crops. We're still planting, but the weeds are also growing - and we're beginning to look at picking very soon. If we want strong crops, we need to get some weeding, mulching, staking and numerous other tasks done in a very short period of time. In a normal year, it is very busy at this point. But, this season, the wet and cool weather is compressing the time frame more.
TSD starts at 4pm and typically goes until about 7pm. Please RSVP if you are attending. TSD description information is here.
We are considering getting some bison meat and sharing that with participants with some grilling at the end of the day.
Vol 4 Issue 6- June 2008
This month's report is given in part to give you an idea of what is going on the farm and in part to remind us of our accomplishments so far. Please tolerate the formatting by field as it illustrates some of our record keeping setup.
Field E1: Sweet Corn 100% (27 rows) on June 7 Pumpkin 43% (6 rows) on June 7
Field E2: Fallow 90% - initial seed 5/10, spot reseed 6/6 (fair germination)
Field E3: Winter squash 0%, companion crops 0%
Field E4: Leeks 100% (4 rows) by 5/21 Onions 100% (11 rows) by 5/21 Brassica 61% (14 rows) by 6/2 Carrots 100% (6 rows) by 5/21
Onions, leaks and brassica strong. Carrots - spotty germination
Field E5: Tomatoes 86% (24 rows) by 6/2 Cilantro 50% (2 rows) by 6/7 Basil 0% Parsley 0%
Tomatoes are holding their own at this point.
Field E6: Melons 0%, Watermelon 0%, Okra 0%, companion plants 0%
Field E7: Potatoes 100% (27 rows) by 5/28, Dry Beans 100% by 5/27, Limas 100% by 5/27, Green Beans 33% (4 rows)
Best drained field. Potatoes coming up 6/8, Beans 6/8. Too early to determine strength of crop.
Field SW1: Summer Squash 100% (8 rows) by 5/21, Zucchini 100% (8 rows) by 5/21, Garlic 100% (fall plant), Asparagus
spotty germination of zuke and summer squash. Garlic generally in very good condition. Last pick of Asparagus June 7, new seedlings look healthy.
Field SW 2: Summer Squash 0%, Zucchini 0%, Garlic 100% (fall plant)
Field T1: Short season crops (lettuce, radish, spinach, beet, chard) First two plantings in - we should be at planting #4)
First planting of lettuce, chard, beets and radish look good. Second planting may have washed out with rains.
Field T2: Peppers 0%, Eggplant 0%, Dry Bean 0%
Field T3: Peas 67% (12 rows) by 5/19, Cucumbers 63% (11 rows) by 5/19, Winter Lettuce and Spinach
Spotty germination of peas and poor germination of cucumbers (likely require a replant). Winter spinach is done as of May 20. winter lettuce is still being harvested in limited quantities. (consider this a successful experiment).
Field T4: Asparagus, Rhubarb
Asparagus finished in this patch as of June 1. Slow, weak production, but plants appear to be reasonably healthy. Rhubarb are new transplants this spring.
Field F1: Raspberry
Spring transplant - approximately 50% success in transplant survival.
Fruit Trees: Some set on three apple trees (of 7). No observed set on plums (4 trees). Set on one cherry tree.
Failed to survive August rains: peach (2), cherry (1), plum (1), apple (1)
Tommy Toe Cherry Tomato
Why pick a tomato for June? Could it be because we still have some of these plants available for sale? Yes.
Excellent producers of 1" fruits grown on clusters as you can see by the picture above. People who help us pick these tend to put about as many in their mouths as in the bowl. Great taste on reliable, healthy plants.
Vol 4 Issue 6- June 2008
Our signup period is now officially closed for the 2008 season. We would like to welcome all of our returning and new members for the season. Thank you to all members past and present for your support. We are looking forward to another enjoyable season of fresh produce.
If you are a new member, or a returning member who might like a refresher course, please visit our CSA Primer on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Here are some answers to some common questions we receive:
1. How do I pick up my share?
Bring a reusable bag, box or basket. You may require more than one later in the season. You, or someone you have designated should show up at your designated pickup location during the time period given each week. Pickup points are at farmers' markets. Your produce is always at the SIDE of the truck. Check your name off of the list for the week. Look on the 'menu' to see what you get for your size of share (single, small or large). Pick up the produce allotted to you.
2. When will you start?
We anticipate a start during the third week of June this season. We will contact you if this must change. The season has had a rough beginning.
3. Do I have to take everything on the list?
We encourage you to do so, but you don't HAVE to, of course. We want you to try new things and we would like you to consider making some effort to put extra produce away for the many weeks of the year when fresh produce is not available. Consider sharing with a neighbor, or swapping things you don't like with another CSA member. If all else fails, we donate the remainder to the food shelf.
We are hopeful that we will have enough to deliver the third week of June. Anticipated deliveries for the first few weeks will be very small - but the spring weather has not cooperated to do much else. The first delivery MAY consist primarily of radish, but we are watching our first lettuce crops with great anticipation. A little sunshine would do wonders in a short period of time.
The peas are germinating and were put in on time - but the cool soils have not encouraged growth.
Perennial spices, such as oregano, marjoram and chive are likely to be a part of your early shares.
Rob grew up in town. His family had a small yard. And, yet, there appear to be a fair number of stories about him and that yard. Why is that? We shall allow you to ponder that whilst we tell our tale.
The back yard was bordered by a series of mulberry trees that were trimmed into a hedge (of sorts). If you know mulberries, you realize that they can grow VERY quickly and an established group could rapidly grow from 10 feet tall to 20 feet tall in a season. The birds loved it, of course. And, it did a fine job of providing privacy for our neighbors (hey, there were four kids at our house and none at theirs - so I suspect it went this direction more than the other).
The job of taming this hedge fell to me - the boy with the pruner and the box. In this instance, an 8-foot step ladder was also pressed into service. Typically, I was trying to cut the hedge down from 16 feet to 10 feet in late July/early August. And, since I wanted to do the job well, it was important that I not leave any stragglers and that the top be as level as possible.
The hedge was also probably 10 feet wide in places. Do you see a problem with that? Consider my height of approximately 5 and half feet at that time.
How does a person reach the middle of that hedge at the ten foot level in order to trim those branches? There were many hours of leaning into the hedge with one foot on the ladder. Arms and legs fully extended. Eventually leading to the successful trimming of some of the middle branches.
There were a few bruises, scratches and pulled muscles - but I usually succeeded. Until I fell into the bush.
Yes, you knew this was coming. I lost contact with the ladder and lost my grip on the bigger branch I was using to stay on top of the hedge. And, I fell. Well, no, I didn't fall. I just kind of slid through the bushes....slowly.
I suppose I could have quit for the day. But, the pruner was still up at the top of the hedge. Oh well.
Vol 4 Issue 6 - June 2008 page 5