June 2014 Letter

June 17th, 2014, 6:25 pm

Greetings Hope’s Edge CSA members,                     June 13, 2014

I am taking advantage of a heavy rain this afternoon to write this letter welcoming you to the 2014 version of Hope’s Edge Farm CSA. This letter is also a means of informing you of starting dates, pick-up days, potluck schedules, and farm news. I suppose the fact that I am writing to you via snail mail rather than using an electronic form of communication says something about my age and my preference for simpler technologies. Using snail mail is also my way of supporting my local postal delivery person.

I have been receiving a lot of “electronic” mail recently asking when the CSA would begin and my response has been sometime around the third week of June. Until now, however, I have been unable to nail down a specific date. My crew and I have been working long hours seemingly non-stop all spring preparing ground, planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, putting on row cover, taking off row cover, husbanding/midwifering sheep and cows, etc. In spite of the fact that we are now receiving heavy rainfall, it has not been a particularly wet spring. But it does seem like it has been colder than recent years. I mention this as a possible explanation for the slow growth of some of our transplanted seedlings. Despite the fact that our planting dates have been consistent with other years, our lettuce, scallions, and parsley, for example, have been slow to grow. A fact which I suspect may be due to cold soils and hence a slow awakening of soil life. This slow growth has in part been one of the reasons that I have been unable to decide on a start date. We cannot begin distributing vegetables until they are ready.

The recent spate of warm (hot) weather has however awoken the soil bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes which in turn have given the lettuce, peas, chard, kale, strawberries et al the jump start they needed. Things are growing and we are looking forward to the first week of produce beginning next Monday June 23. The first Tuesday pick-up will be the 24th and the first Friday pick-up will be the 27th. The season will run 18 weeks with the last market on Friday October 24th.

That hard-working crew that I mentioned earlier includes Amanda Labelle, returning for a third consecutive year, Bradley Dickanson, a young future farmer, and Thena Webster, an experienced gardener from Vinalhaven. They are awesome!! I am still looking for one more additional helper 2-3 days a week. Anyone interested?

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: The following information is IMPORTANT.

TUESDAY AND FRIDAY SHAREHOLDERS: The pick-up time is from
11am (please DO NOT come earlier) until late evening. If for some reason you cannot come on your assigned day, your share will still be available for up to two days later. After that, your share will be recycled.

MONDAY SHAREHOLDERS: Monday shareholders have the option of picking up their share in Rockland on Park Drive, across from Hamilton Marine between 10:30-11am. If you miss this narrow time slot you can pick your share up at Avena Botanicals barn by 7pm. You will be notified when cut flower, strawberry, cherry tomato, and pea-picking seasons are upon us. It will be up to you to come to the farm for these items.

ALL SHAREHOLDERS: At the top of this letter is written the pick-up day you requested. PLEASE LET US KNOW IN ADVANCE IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO PICK UP YOUR SHARE ON ANY GIVEN WEEK. This way we avoid over-harvesting and wasting food.

At the end of this letter is a schedule of potluck get-togethers for the season. These events offer you an opportunity to meet other participants and a chance to enjoy the farm in a relaxed and convivial way. Please post this schedule and try to come to one or all of these events. For those of you who use Facebook, you may “like” us and in so doing receive updates on what’s happening on the farm such as pot luck reminders, colorful photos, recipes, and more.

Directions to the farm for those of you who have never been here are given at the end of this letter. Follow Morse Road past a pair of corrugated metal buildings. On your right you will see yet another building with brightly painted murals on the doors. This is the pick-up shed. Come on in. Welcome to Hope’s Edge CSA. I am looking forward to seeing many of you again or to meeting you for the first time. We are looking forward to feeding you food and beauty during the coming months.

POT-LUCK SCHEDULE

Tuesday June 24th  6pm
Friday August 1st    6pm
Friday Sept.  12th    6pm
Sunday Oct 19th     4:30pm

DIRECTIONS
FROM CAMDEN VIA 105. Take 105 into Hope Center, continue two miles past Hope General Store. Turn left onto Ludwig Rd. Travel one quarter mile to Morse Rd on left.
FROM APPLETON/SEARSMONT VIA 105. Travel approximately 3 miles from 105/131 intersection. Turn right onto Ludwig Rd. Continue as above.

Your Farmer,
Tom

Pre-Spring 2014

March 7th, 2014, 9:10 am

Dear Hope’s Edge CSA members

February 19, 2014

The light is returning! All those bonfires we had at the winter solstice have had their desired effect. The Sun it seems doesn’t require much in the way of encouragement to make the long trek back North. He -the Sun- has already traveled more than half the distance back to the Spring Equinox position where He shines directly on the Earth’s mid-section dividing our days into equal parts light and dark. With the Sun’s return comes the renewed faith and hope that the Earth will once again flourish- that She, in unison with her brother Rain will reawaken the Soil Life which in turn will awaken the Seed and at the same time create the ideal environment for Plant growth. These Plants will in turn create nourishing sustenance for all the Animals who depend on them- both non-human and human alike. Everything is connected!

Here on this piece of Earth, that we like to call Hope’s Edge Farm, this yearly renewal is about to enter its thirteenth cycle. This letter marks the thirteenth time I have written to shareholders, in mid-winter, with teasing thoughts of strawberries, fresh greens, new potatoes, garlic scapes, green beans etc., etc.., trying to cajole those same shareholders into joining us once again in this yearly cycle with Sun and His kin. We hope that you, last year’s shareholder, will once again consider purchasing a share (for a second or perhaps even for a thirteenth time) and in so doing join us for another cycle of food and celebration.

This year’s permutation of Hope’s Edge Farm will be in many ways different than it has been in the recent past. Tommy, who has, over the last five years, diligently tended cows, sheep and pastures in addition to being my right hand assistant /co-farmer in the vegetable operation, has decided to move back to Pennsylvania to be closer to his family. This decision was, for Tommy, not an easy one but one that he feels is necessary for his own personal growth. Tommy’s departure means that Kat will also not be returning after nearly two seasons as an apprentice. Personally, I am going to miss them both as they have become dear friends. Energetically, they will be missed for the unique personalities that they each brought to the social dynamic of the farm. Practically, they will be missed for all that they did and were responsible for – a list too long to enumerate. Suffice it to say that their departure, particularly Tommy’s, leaves some large holes in the way that the farm has been managed.

This unfolding of events is happening at a time when I had hoped to begin handing over some of the responsibilities that I, as the primary farmer, have been carrying since Hope’s Edge Farms’ inception. My energy and hence my capacity to continue working at the same pace is not what it was even compared to three years ago. I am now in the process of trying to form a crew for the coming season. This crew would hopefully include someone with hands-on farming experience and ideally would also include someone who is already familiar with Hope’s Edge. As of now, there are some possibilities.in the works that may bear fruit, but regardless of the crews’ composition, I have also felt the need to make some immediate structural changes that could make the management of the farm less demanding. And this is where you as members of our community will be most affected. First of all, I am reducing the number of available shares from 105 to 85 in hopes that this will reduce the work load. (Please take note: More than 30 shares are already spoken for leaving just over 50 shares available. This may result in demand outstripping supply. If you seriously want to participate again I would advise that you respond quickly. Even a $75 deposit will secure a place for you.) With this reduction in share numbers comes a significant reduction in income and since many of the costs in operating the farm are fixed i.e. insurance, lease, fuel, etc., I have chosen to make up a small portion of this loss in income by increasing the share price ($25 for half shares;$50 for full shares). In addition, in an attempt to defray some of our fuel expenses I have chosen to add a $10 seasonal delivery fee to the Monday and Wednesday shares.

Other more aesthetic changes, which will be noticed primarily by those who visit the farm each week, will include fewer critters grazing in the pastures and fewer traffic tie-ups due to animal movements. The sheep and one of the cows belong to the farm. At this point I plan to continue managing the sheep as their day to day care is not as demanding as a milking animal. The fate of the one remaining cow is somewhat dependent on who my assistants will be. All the other cows belong to Tommy. He has already found a home for two of the cows at Terra Optima in Appleton and another cow is heading for Oyster River Winery. Most of the young stock are also spoken for. Another obvious outfall of this change is that there will be no raw milk available, a fact which I know at least some of you will be disappointed about.

While I am sad by Tommy’s and Kat’s departure, I am also encouraged by the belief that when doors close others open. I have a t-shirt espousing the sentiment “Celebrate Change”. Change, after all, is inevitable. It is part of the cycles I refer to in the initial paragraphs of this letter and it is part of the biography of people and place. Change after all is one of those aspects of life that is guaranteed (kind of like death but not necessarily like taxes). Change by its’ very nature is unpredictable, and so, as I write this letter the affect that these changes will have on Hope’s Edge are unknown. Only time will reveal how these changes manifest.

In closing, I want to wish Tommy and Kat all the best in their new endeavors. They are also about to embark on a new beginning fraught with uncertainty. I am sure that those of you who have come to know them would join me in wishing them love and Godspeed.

Very Sincerely Yours

Farmer Tom

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