2015-The Year in Review

20151116_135353-1 (2)After 24+ weeks of hard work, both on the farm and in your kitchens, the 2015 CSA will officially end this Thursday. 2015 will be archived by us as a pretty good year, with mild weather, few diseases, and some marked abundances in production. We are anxious look at the member feedback in our survey results and get moving on year 2016.  While we have grown and raised at least 2 farmers to fruition (we will say goodbye to both Casey Lynn and Dan), we are eager to bring some new blood into the mix next year.  And most of all, we could not have done any of it without the support of our membership. Thank you for all of the energy that you put into making the LotfotL food community successful.

In a nutshell, it was a record year for broccoli, and we were able to get it into almost 1/2 the shares this year. This was the first year in recent memory, too, where our tomatoes never experienced late blight. Along with the successes, came the less than hoped for.  Some of the fall crops didn’t come out as strong as hoped. We will also remember the summer that wasn’t (did we ever even break 90 degrees?), the ravaging effects of Canada Thistle on all cropping, and the warmest fall so far on our new farm. Since the drought year of 2012, the night time low temps of summer have been far below what is required for good summer cropping. Incidentally, these temps seem to be just fine for our most troublesome weed: Canada Thistle. Not only did thistle and cool temps set back summer production of melons, peppers, and once again eggplant, but a resurgence of fall thistle took its toll on long standing fall roots, leaving celeriac, rutabaga, beets, and turnips conspicuously absent from fall shares. The fall shares looked more like spring ones, filled with spinach, arugula, salad mixes, and radishes. Though not ideal, we know that soon all that will be available locally will be root cellar crops, so we may as well enjoy the leafy greens while we can.

The 2015 member survey results have begun trickling in (fill out the survey today, so we can better serve your needs and the needs of our membership broadly in 2016). I’m happy to say that most of the responses so far, even when critical, are in good spirit, and do make substantial impacts on how we crop and pack shares. To those of us who do not eat potatoes all that often, our CSA must seem rather nuts for giving out potatoes as regularly as we do. Year after year though, potatoes rank in the top 3 of crops that members feel we gave the right amount of. The focus on more beets and broccoli early this year was a direct result of the previous year’s surveys. Next year’s push for more cauliflower (a super finicky, tough to grow crop) will be not only because we like a challenge and love eating cauliflower, but because of your feedback. Please do let us know how we did.

I can’t express enough how grateful I am to all of you for helping to fund our adventures in CSA this season. The results of this decision you’ve made have far greater benefits to the farming community of SE Wisconsin than just keeping our bills paid and your meals on the stove-top. Together, we have grown 2 more new farmers for 2016. Dan, our long time crew leader will be leaving in 2016 to begin his own agricultural enterprise on soon-to-be family land in NE Michigan. Casey Lynn, assistant extraordinaire,  will take on full time farm management at Farm290, the ingredient backbone for Pier 290’s restaurant on Lake Geneva.

While we will miss them specifically, there’s a new crop of future growers waiting in the wings to work with us. While with us, they’ll learned how to develop the chops, exercise decision-making tools, and burn into their core the work ethic needed to succeed in the world, as growers of food. Together we are not only growing LotFotL, and growing food for you, but we’re growing the next generation of farmers, so your children’s niece’s and nephew’s local food choices are abundant and diverse. To this end, 2016 starts this Friday, as we look forward to another season of considerable growth.

Thank you all,

Tim Huth
Managing Farmer
LotFotL Community Farm