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Archive for March, 2011

Snow. 5″ and Falling!

Raised Beds Under Snow

 

Looking out the window it is hard to believe that there are only 8 weeks until the first vegetable box of the season, but the 2011 CSA season is just around the corner.  We still have room for more subscribers, but we are filling up spots quickly.  If you are interested in the CSA click on the tab above for details on how to join.

The fair weather between this snowfall and the last has allowed us to get some beds prepared for early season crops (carrots, beets and green garlic) and to tend to weeding and thinning chores in the beds of over-wintered spinach and garlic.  The first planting of snap peas is up and reaching for the trellis; we’ll see how it fares the snow.  In the greenhouse, beet, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, spinach, lettuce, leek, onion, celeriac, parsley and tomato seedlings are enjoying more favorable conditions.

This winter we have engaged in much thought and debate about organic food and our position as growers who market directly to members of our CSA (Consumer supported Agriculture) project.  Two issues were discussed at length (eggs and seeds) and I would like to share with our members and blog followers the decisions reached and a little about the debate.  Much of the discussion was about GMO’s ( genetically modified organisms) and the financial and political clout of the Biotech industry.  If GMO’s in your food and the risks they pose are not something you are aware of and terrified by there are several good books out that will enlighten and frighten you:  Genetic Roulette by:  Jeffrey M. Smith,  Seeds of Deception by: Jeffrey M. Smith;  Lords of the Harvest:  Biotech, Big Money and the Future of Food by:  Daniel Charles.  The first directly addresses 65 health threats caused by GE foods in a very straightforward bulleted approach that is easy to read and understand, but all make their point clearly and are backed by science and research.  With the stories of GE (genetically engineered) alfalfa and sugar beets (http://www.grist.org/article/food-2010-10-19-food-monsantos-losing-bet-on-GM-sugar-beets) in the news it was clear we had to support organic seed suppliers and source organic grains for our animal feeds just as we are asking you to support our effort to produce clean healthy food.

First.  Eggs.  We are a small operation and farm animals take up a lot of our resources, so we considered not offering eggs this year.  However, the more we read and educated ourselves about the danger of a diet of factory foods and the almost ubiquitous nature of GMO’s inanimal feed the more convinced we became that we owed it to all involved to offer organic free-range eggs.  This is the real deal.  Eggs laid by chickens that are raised on the ground eating organic grains (our organic grain is ground and mixed by Desiree and Lindell Rutherford at Rutherford Farms) and plenty of insects and weed seeds.  Eggs from chickens that eat insects and green plants lay eggs with a balanced  fat profile (lots of Omega 3’s) and tons more beta carotene that can be seen in the color of the yolks.  Have you seen the alternative?  Tom Laskawy has the story. We decided to avoid all the up front labor of hatching and brooding chicks and to buy pullets (young hens who are just beginning to lay).  The result is that we have eggs for sale right now and we will have enough to offer eggs “a la carte” this year, but still not enough to include as a regular item in the boxes.  A pre-K class at Washington Montessori in St. Louis is going to hatch chicks from our  eggs this spring so we will be adding to our laying flock in the hope of meeting demand for organic free-range eggs.

Secondly.  Seeds.  Although we have always prided ourselves as being the organic farm you think of when you think of organic as opposed to a factory operation that adheres to a watered down organic standard, it is difficult to find certified organic seed for all the varieties of the vegetables we love to grow and eat.  In the past we have taken the tack of looking for organic first, but if a favorite variety was not available we would use conventional non-treated seed knowing that once planted they would be organically grown.  This year (especially in light of the sugar beet disaster) we decided to put our money where our mouth is and use only organic seed even if that meant that we would have to drop a variety  from our list.  One casualty is a personal favorite.  We were unable to find certified organic hakurei turnip seed this year, but I am hoping you find the substitute, an heirloom variety called white egg just as tasty.

Yours,

Chris

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