Genesee Valley Organic Community Supported Agriculture

Notes from the Farm - June 1997
By Elizabeth Henderson

No snow on Mother's Day this year!  It's been a cool spring, but compared to Minnesota or the Dakotas, we have much for which to be grateful. The many dry days have made planting easier, yet there has been adequate rain.  Spring planting has gone according to "schedule," but the cool air has slowed plant growth.  Once again, the early weeks have had slim share packets, but we will make up for it.

The trilliums were in full bloom for our May Day Celebration which was attended by enough neighbors and CSA members to fill all the ribbons on the May pole.  With Glenda Neff coaching us dancers and Nancy and Jim Sloboda providing the music, we wove a tight pattern around the pole, hopefully an omen of good fertility this season.

After the low number of shelling and snow pea plants last year, Elizabeth was determined to get a better stand.  She seeded the peas extra heavily.  Each bed got over a pound of seed, enough to supply one plant every inch or so.  We also treated the seed with a new biological seed treatment called Trichoderma 22, a naturally occurring fungus that has reduced root rot in early season corn.  Whether it was the trichoderma or other factors, we'll never know, but the results are a decent stand of peas. Practicing our cultivating skills with the tractor, Greg and Elizabeth did not reduce the population by very many. If nature continues to cooperate, there should be abundant sugar snaps, (we are trying a new variety - Sugar Ann), shelling peas and snow peas before too late in June.

With last season's survey as our guide, we changed the crop mix a little for this year.  We’re planting more spinach, zucchini, peppers, and eggplants.  Like last year, we are trying to stretch the tomato season as long as possible by setting out large plants of the early varieties and growing Longkeepers to store for October distribution.  Everyone loves red peppers, but you have to understand that red peppers are ripe green ones and our season is short.  We will try to coddle some of the peppers by covering them with a floating row cover to speed their growth.  We always use floating row cover on the early greens, like pak choi, arugula, Chinese cabbage, mizuna and radishes, to keep off the flea beetles and the root maggots.  The row cover is a mixed blessing.  You have to put it on and then take it off to kill weeds.  Strong winds often take it off for you.  The winds of early May whipped the row covers off twice and wound them into tight coils.  Elizabeth can now give workshops on disentangling row cover.

As in the past, we will include some greens in shares almost every week.  Please consult the FoodBook for recipes! For those who are special greens fans, we plan to have collards, kale and senposai (the Japanese collard that made a hit last year) available for bulk ordering all year.  We decided to move a couple of vegetables out of the shares and onto the bulk list.  Brussels sprouts, tomatillos and hot peppers will be available only as bulk.   (bummer! -Ed.) We may try to organize special packets with all the ingredients for salsa, tomato sauce and pickles.  Jerusalem artichokes are back by special request and our inability to exterminate them.

David and Greg have done a lot of work in the woods this spring, clearing debris from the little streams that help drain the land and digging out clogged sections.  In a large area of woods, David selected the trees which are best for lumber and, with the help of Greg and a group of Hobart-Williams student volunteers, cut out everything else. If you take a walk over the bridge and into the woods, you can see their work.

Twenty years have worn away the shingles on the main barn at Rose Valley.  We hired a roofer-neighbor to tear the old  shingles off and recover the roof with sheet metal, a $3900 job.  The roof at the church garage pick-up received some attention too this spring, not a total refurbishing, but at least a solid repair to the leaks of last year.  The church and the GVOCSA are sharing the costs and some of the work on the roof and the dismantling of the interior wall of the garage. Pick-up should be more spacious with this change.  The farm and the CSA are cooperating on a new walk-in cooler for the garage which uses a recycled air-conditioner as the cooling unit.

Those of you who picked beans with us on the Burry field last year and remember the mosquito population may not mind this news.  Our neighbors, the Burrys, plan to build a house on the field, so we can no longer use it for crops.  David cleared the one-acre field from heavy brush and small trees in 1993.  Keeping it cleared was the price of the rent.  It takes a few years for a new field to respond to additions of compost and green manures and reach its potential of fertility.  We are sorry to see
it go to housing.
We have not been successful in finding an apprentice for this year.  Due to health reasons, Megan McAmmond decided not to work at the farm.  We gave another candidate a two week trial and found we did not want to work with him.  We will graciously accept any extra offers of help!

Elizabeth is acting as mentor to Jim Pecora, the farmer at Nature Berry Farm in Macedon, whose eggs Alison has been selling.  The Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY (NOFA-NY) is running a mentor program for the second year: more experienced organic farmers advise less experienced ones about farm planning and the steps towards certification.  Elizabeth does not have much to tell Jim about his chickens, only his vegetables and small fruit.  Jim is offering GVOCSA members weekly egg and monthly chicken shares.  You can also order turkeys from Nature Berry for Thanksgiving.  A neighbor in Rose, David Fox, invites you to order pen raised "wild turkey" for Thanksgiving.  The pick-up point for all this fowl play is at the usual place, the Lutheran Church.

The three of us at Rose Valley want to give special thanks to the many GVOCSA members who have done so much this winter and spring to help with outreach and sign-ups.  We remind you that we are willing to grow special crops to order.  We also hope you understand that you are all very welcome at Rose Valley to join with us in the work or to come and enjoy just being at the farm.  We look forward to this new season of sharing the farm with you!

Copyright © GVOCSA 1997. All rights reserved.