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

Final Letter of 2013 Season

October 14th, 2013, 5:03 pm

Greetings Hope’s Edge CSA members                                                                                                                 10/14/13

The final installment of the 2013 version of Hope’s Edge CSA is rapidly approaching. In relative terms this has been a very good season, above average in many respects. Many of you have noted this by expressing your pleasure your satisfaction and your gratitude for your weekly bag(s) of vegetables. From my point of view, this year has been filled with many successes (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant etc…), a few disappointments (lettuce, carrots, Chinese cabbage), a couple of major improvements (a new cooler and a new hoop house), and even a few challenges (herbicide contamination).Through all of the above I have tried to maintain a state of gratitude with the belief that everything that comes my way even or perhaps, especially, the difficulties have something to teach me.

Today is Monday the 14th of October. In this country we are celebrating the founding of this continent by Columbus. Our neighbor to the North, however, uses this third Monday in October as a day of thanks giving. As I write this note to you, Kat (our Canadian import) is cooking up a Thanksgiving feast for all of us farm workers and guests. As a farmer in these far northern climes I am more apt to agree with the Canadian choice of a Thanksgiving date than our traditional 3rd Thursday in November. Regardless of ones preference for which date should be called “Thanksgiving Day”, it is my practice to try to give thanks every day. Thanks to the soil, sun and rain for working in unison to produce the miracles that sustain us. Thanks to the animals who convert grass into milk and meat which also find their way to our tables and whose waste products ultimately becomes food for our food. Thanks to Holly Miller, the owner of this land for allowing this venture to happen here on Hope’s edge. Thanks to all the people whose hands plant, hoe, harvest, wash, weed, milk and do all the other various tasks (too many to mention) required to bring food to our plates. Thanks also to the unseen and often underappreciated life forms which convert dead and decaying material into a form which is once again made available to new life thus completing the birth to death to birth cycle. And finally, thanks to you our Community of Support. It is so much more satisfying for us to grow food for people we know than to grow for the unknown marketplace.

We hope that you feel similarly. And we hope that having a connection to the source and to the people who grow your food is something that you value and that you would, therefore, want to participate again. If this is the case then a $75 deposit now will guarantee you a spot in next year’s garden. We like to refer to this deposit as “seed capital” as it is used to purchase seeds and other supplies necessary to get started. These start-up costs come long before you ever get to take a bag from the cooler.

It has been such a pleasure to provide you with food and beauty over these last six months. I know that I speak for all my crew when I wish you a healthy, safe, warm and nourishing next six months. We hope to see you all once again come June when the earth and we farmers are once again renewed.

Your Farmer, Tom

PS Our last potluck and bonfire will take place this Saturday the 19th at 4:30  Please come celebrate with us.

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