- Butternut Winter Squash
- Brussels Sprouts
- Frisée or Castelfranco
- Sweet Peppers
The Summer CSA is winding down with just two more weeks left after this Tuesday’s pick-up. Before the end of the season, we would like to get feedback from all of you—our members—about this year’s CSA program. In order to do this, we’ve made an brief, anonymous online survey which you will be receiving a link to in your email. Please do take the couple of minutes to give us your input, it really helps us learn what people do and don’t like so that we can continue to make the CSA better for everyone. We hope that you give us an honest critique (even if it is negative) and let us know exactly how the CSA went for you and/or your family.
While making the survey we thought back and took our own account of the season. It was a high pressure year with the intensity of the heat combined with a significant increase in our acreage in production. For the second year in a row, we had the hottest summer on record here in Salem, and the heat affected everything. Eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes had a hard time setting fruit. Greens got blown out quickly. Broccoli buds were unable to mature, making the heads look like Franken-broccoli. The Green beans were fibrous. Almost everything was stunted to some extent.
Despite this challenge, our farm faired quite well. With the purchase of some extra irrigation pipe this year, we were able to keep most things watered adequately.
There were a handful of things that were disproportionately harmed by the hot weather. Our tomatoes and eggplant were stunted early on and ripened multiple weeks later than in previous seasons. Our potato yields were much lower than usual, we think due to water stress during the hottest part of the season. Some varieties of broccoli were ugly to the point of being unsellable. We will be cutting those varieties out and replacing them with more heat tolerant ones next year.
On the other hand, we had the best winter squash crop we’ve ever grown. Our melons had the best flavor out of any other year, and the peppers produced prolifically.
We learned a tremendous amount about growing during very hot conditions (hot for the Willamette Valley, that is). We expect summers like the one we had this year to become common in the future, so we will continue to adapt our growing practices in anticipation of longer, hotter, and drier summers here in the Pacific Northwest.
When it comes to the CSA, there are definitely improvements that we can make—heat or not. We are always trying to increase the diversity of produce that we offer to our members. This year we added quite a number of new varieties of vegetables that we have never grown in the past. We added entirely new vegetables as well, like amaranth greens, endive, and sunchokes.
We are also constantly striving to improve our consistency for those staple items that we know folks would like to see on a regular basis. Things like salad greens, cooking greens, summer fruits, carrots, potatoes, onions, etc.
Our goal is to continually make the CSA a more reliable and desirable source of produce for our customers. We do not take your support for granted. This is why we chose to do a market-style instead of a box-style CSA. We want your choices and your feedback to have an influence on our farm management decisions. So take the survey, tell us how we’re doing, and help us make the CSA even better next year. Thank you!
Enjoy another week of fresh produce from the farm.