Summer

CSA, farm tasks, high tunnels, rotovator, Spring, Summer, time

Farm Time


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Below is an entry from last week’s newsletter for the CSA (Week #3; May 7, 2012). Read on if you’d like to know more about what Ben and I have been up to out here. 
Farm Time

The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, Conquest of Happiness
Whew! It feels great to have received some good, drenching (and cooling!) rains! Last week was quite the hot and humid time. Tuesday and Wednesday in particular, I had to give up working outside much past 10am. Instead I chose to do paperwork inside and run errands with the car (which, unlike the truck, has air conditioning).
This week we broke down and transported the high tunnels we originally built in October last year for use for the fall and winter crops to the spring and summer fields. We’ll re-build the tunnels to use for some of our summer crops – especially tomatoes. Monday, CSA member, Charlotte, came out and helped us transplant tomatoes and peppers. Ben direct seeded green beans, dill, and radishes and cultivated the spring garden. In the process of prepping a bed for tomatoes, he managed to get some row fabric (which he used to cover the closest crops to the tractor to keep them protected from thrown soil) caught in the tractor implement (the rotovator). Not only did we lose about 250 feet of row cover, we spent quite a lot of time working to get that stuff out of the rotovator so Ben could finish prepping beds. After quite a lot of frustration, we triumphed over the mangled row cover and high-fived each other for getting through it! 
Last week, we also managed to keep ourselves pretty busy with our daily chores and weekly harvest, wash, and CSA drop/market days. If you came out to the farm today, you’d see that our “lawn” is in desperate need of being mowed and we have every intention of getting to that task someday – it’s just such a low level item on our already lengthy regular daily and weekly chores list. Our spare time is spent working on the tasks on our weekly to-do quadrant. This week we have a TON of transplanting to do. Also, the weeds are catching up on us and we need to get out there and hand weed and cultivate (with the wheel hoe and the tractor, depending on the crop). We also need to go ahead and thin the green beans and stake the tomatoes. I don’t know about y’all, but we can see July just over the horizon! We’re also going to finish the transport of the high tunnels and re-construct them this week. And Ben needs to get on that tractor and put in the cover crop on our fall/winter field as well as the new, big field we added on this year. It’s going to be another whirlwind of a week! See you soon!

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

DOUGLAS ADAMS, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
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2011 CSA, awesome, CSA, share, Spring, subscribe, subscription, Summer, vegetables

Announcing Summer 2011 CSA!


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Ben’s Produce offers vegetables, strawberries & flowers of the highest quality and taste in the Triangle. Our mission is to strive for healthier people, community, agriculture and planet by growing and sharing the best tasting food we can. Our farming practices may surpass organic guidelines but we choose not to be certified because we are confident the quality and taste of our produce, as well as our direct relationship with you, speak to our commitment to healthy food and holistic agriculture. 2011 will be our second year farming as Ben’s Produce, though we have been farming with family and friends for many years.

Community Supported Agriculture
CSA is a mutually beneficial relationship between us. By making a seasonal investment in our farm with a CSA share, you become a seasonal farm member who shares the rewards and risks of the harvest season with us, your farmers. Your investment allows us to afford annual start-up costs, to pay ourselves fair wages, and to share the many risks in growing food. In return, we provide you and your family with abundant, fresh, healthy and local food. Our food not only tastes better and lasts longer, it’s also helps us all nourish local agriculture, economy and environment.  Taste the difference!
Is CSA right for your family?
It is good to be aware of the rewards and challenges involved in CSA. If you and your family want to explore the wonderful tastes of our farm-fresh food by eating it straight from your CSA pickup bag or transformed in a wonder dish you cooked, CSA is for you! If you want to expand your taste-bud horizons and strengthen your skills at cooking and preparing fresh food, CSA is for you! If you want to be surprised with new vegetables, CSA is for you! If you want to eat healthily and enjoy eating, CSA is for you!

Please understand that nature’s abundance varies. What you receive is based on our harvest schedule which is subject to the weather, pests, disease and a large myriad of influences. Some weeks your CSA share may be less than the retail farmers market value we try to maintain. However, we usually provide more bounty than you could buy at market value. If you find yourself with too many items, do not despair, share the bounty with others! .


How It Works
Join Ben’s Produce CSA by purchasing a CSA share at the beginning of the season. You then visit the weekly pickup site to pack your own vegetables from the harvest table. We will post a guide at the stand explaining what each share contains that week. The CSA harvest season runs for 20 weeks from late-April through September.
We shortened the length of our Summer 2011 CSA to 20 weeks because we found 23 weeks too long and fatiguing, for both you and us. We are also experiencing higher fuel prices as well as the need for livable salaries. Last year, we worked for minimal wages (in the case of Ben) to no wages (in the case of Patricia). Shortening the length of our CSA is our best solution to these challenges we faced in 2010.
Pickup Sites & Times: We have two weekly CSA pickup sites. Our main pickup is Tuesday evenings from 4pm to 7pm at the Raleigh Five Points CSA site, 1911 Bernard St., Raleigh 27608.  We also offer limited pickup every Saturday morning from 8am to 12pm at the Western Wake Farmers Market, 1225 Morrisville Carpenter Rd, Cary 27519. Please consider signing up with the Raleigh Five Points CSA Yahoo Group through the link above, to access information regarding the pickup site and opportunities to support the other farmers who attend as well as local food events and information.
Sharing with others: Some members find it enjoyable to split CSA shares with other families and friends. We also like to share food and enjoy such arrangements. If you choose to split a share, please let us know on your registration so we may avoid confusion.  
Flexibility: We know you may miss pickup for many reasons. We prefer 24 hours notice, if possible. You may send friends or family in your place to pickup if you wish. Missed pickup is forfeit of that weeks share but we will try to make other accommodations if possible.
Communication: Our main mode of communication is email. We will send all members weekly emails usually a day or two before pickup. Our emails are meant as pickup reminders and usually include farm updates, a list of that weeks veggies, a link to our latest blog entry and any notifications regarding pickup. Our blog functions as our farm newsletter that includes farm news, anecdotes, reflections, recipes, photographs and more.
Feedback: Your satisfaction is very important to us and our business. Please give us your feedback! Please give us your suggestions and tell us your concerns. We want our CSA to be fulfilling and pleasing for everybody!
Refunds: We will make no refunds after shares are paid in full. Shareholders are welcome to sell or give away their shares to others. We can provide assistance in transferring shares to others.
Weekly Share Contents
The available produce will change as the season progresses. Regular Shares will contain about 5 to 8 items each week and Full Shares will contain about 8 to 12 items each week.  Ben’s Produce determines the contents of each weeks share. We will try to include all the veggies listed to the best of our abilities.
Vegetable Availability
April:  Arugula, Asian Greens, Green Onions, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Rutabaga, Salad Greens, Spinach, Strawberries, Swiss chard, Turnips.
May/June: Arugula, Asian Greens, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Corn, Flowers, Green Onions, Herbs, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Rutabaga, Salad Greens, Spinach, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Turnips.
July/August: Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Sweet Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Flowers, Herbs, Okra, Onions, Potatoes,  Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Tomatillo, Assorted Melons, Hot Peppers, Sweet Peppers, Special Hot Weather Greens.
September: Arugula, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Flowers, Green Onions, Herbs, Lettuce, Okra, Potatoes, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Tomatillo, Assorted Melons, Hot Peppers, Sweet Peppers, Radish, Salad Greens, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash.
  
Pricing
Regular Share – $400
 Our Regular Share is a suitable amount of produce for a small household of 1 to 3 people, or one well eating vegetarian to eat for one week. 
Large Share – $600
Our Large Share is a suitable amount of produce for a large household of 4+ people, or a couple of well-eating vegetarians to eat for one week.
Payment Options
Our CSA is first come, first serve. You must send payment to secure a share. We prefer you send us Full Payment but our Payment Plan of a deposit and consecutive payments are accepted for your flexibility.
Full Payment – Enclose a check for the total due.
Payment Plan – Enclose a deposit to secure your share. Please send the amounts listed below 30 days and 60 days after the date of your deposit.
 
Due Date
Regular Share
Large Share
Deposit
$160
$240
30 days
$160
$240
60 days
$80
$120

You can find our Summer 2011 CSA Brochure here. Please use the brochure to sign up with us. Please enclose a copy with your information and payment. We hope you will afford us the honor of being your farmers in 2011 and we are looking forward to a great year. We wouldn’t be able to be farmers without you and your support!
Sincerely,
Benjamin Shields & Patricia Parker