Monday, April 13, 2020

First 2020 Farmshare Newsletter

Hello Farmshare members!!

I sit here wanting to tell y'all so much stuff that I don't even know where to start!  We have SO many new members this year that I guess I should start this email with a warning that I can get a little wordy (it might be worse since y'all are the only adults outside our house that I've conversed with in weeks!) so I will always start the newsletter with the important information that people need to know.  Everything else is just farm fluff.  

Most important....despite the craziness happening throughout the world, we are still growing a LOT of food this summer.  Other than y'all, my captive audience, I'm not sure who's going to buy it, but we are growing as if our markets are going to be open and our restaurant customers are going to survive.  We are taking extreme social distancing precautions to ensure our health, our employees' health and the safety of handling your food.  Because of this, our Farmshare pick-ups are going to look a little different than normal at least for the month of May.  We love holding market style pickups at any location possible.  Market style means we set out a lot of food and tell you how much to take of each item and you actually come through the line and pick out your produce, weighing and bagging it yourself.  For the time being though, this year, we will be pre-bagging your Farmshare bags on the farm.  All individual items will be bagged and your entire basket will be placed in a brown bag for you to pick up.  This limits the exposure your food has to no more than two people (the person that picked it and the person that bagged it), in all likelihood, the same person will pick and bag your food.  This also limits our exposure to who is handling scales, tongs and bags.  Finally, this reduces any exposure for our partners that hold the Conway and Tarrytown pickups. 

Please keep of today, there are no changes to the pickups that will be held at the farm, at Julie's house on Tarrytown or at Jazzercise in Conway.  Hillcrest folks, though, we don't yet know what is going to happen with the market this year.  The church is confident it will happen but they are not yet saying when it might open.  If it does not open by the first week in May, my first attempt to distribute your food will be to ask the church if we can distribute from their parking lot.  I am not confident that they will say yes.  Because of this we have spoken to two of our restaurant partners about the possibility of distributing from their parking lots.  To keep distribution as close to Hillcrest as possible, our first choice would be to work with Zaza's in the Heights.  If that is not possible, we have been told we can park outside of the Root Cafe.  Rest assured, we will get your food to Little Rock, we are just figuring out what our best option is.  I will keep you updated as I know more.   

Now to a report on how things are growing on the farm.  After last year's May floods we have taken every precaution possible to play this year as safe as possible.  This included saving our high tunnel space for early Farmshare crops.  Typically, we are harvesting the crops we planted in December out of our high tunnels in March.  This does not leave much time for turnaround to start new crops in the tunnels in time for the Farmshare so we rely on the outside fields for the Farmshare.  This year we planted all of the high tunnels for early Farmshare crops.  Over the years, y'all have repeatedly asked for MORE CARROTS.  While we do a great job of growing carrots all winter, it much harder for us to grow them outside, the weed pressure is tremendous.  This year I planted an entire high tunnel in carrots.  50,000 carrot seeds.  If even a quarter of them produce carrots, that's a lot of carrots.  My goal is to swamp y'all with carrots this year.  ;)  And so far, that high tunnel is looking fantastic.  In another tunnel we have swiss chard and japanese salad turnips, both are looking beautiful.  In the third tunnel, sweet candy onions, a small round of radicchio and lovely chioggia beets.  The fourth tunnel currently has the first two rounds of our lettuce mix planted on both sides of heirloom tomatoes.  Right now, I could not be more pleased with the way things look.  As of today, outside the only crop planted is sugar snap peas which are about hip high and starting to bloom.  On Friday though, Mike and I were able to get into the driest field and pull beds covered with plastic mulch.  This is the field that will hold squash, cucumbers and winter squash and the great thing about us getting those beds pulled is that they are ready now.  No matter what the rain does (okay, another 100 year flood would affect things), we have a place ready to plant those crops and they will go in the field on Thursday after we get through the low 30 degree nights we have coming up.  On Saturday we were able to get into a second field with the tractors and while it wasn't ready to pull beds, we did get initial tractor work done and I'm hopeful that if we can string together several warm, dry days, we will get beds pulled in that field soon.  In one more field, we pulled beds over the winter that have been covered with large silage tarps for two months.  On Thursday we will pull those tarps off and plant green beans, more salad turnips and purple hull peas.  Cross your fingers and say a prayer that we catch a little warm dry weather and we will be off to a good start for the season.