2022 CSA Newsletter #1

Well folks, the start of another CSA season is upon us. For those members who are returning, welcome back and thanks for your continued support of the TC3 Farm. To the new members, welcome aboard and we look forward to having you part of the TC3 Farm family. You're not only supporting a small farm, you are also supporting students as they learn about sustainable farming practices and how that can impact a local food system. The TC3 Farm directly supports the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems degree at Tompkins Cortland. Each semester I have student interns who work along side me by helping to plan the crops for the upcoming season, figure out a crop rotation, seed in the greenhouse, transplant and harvest crops and everything in between. Most students first semester on the farm is in the spring, followed by the summer and fall. So they have the opportunity to be a part of a complete growing season. 

This summer there are two student interns, Alison and Zach, who have been with me since the start of the spring semester and currently one student worker. Some of you may remember Laura. She was an intern last season and will be hosting most of the CSA pickups this season. It may be a small group but their enthusiasm, passion and pride that they put into the work they do each time they are out on the farm makes up for it. 

Each week I'll use the newsletter to keep you updated on farm happenings so you can be connected to the farm that you all have so graciously decided to support and to give you a preview of what will be in the share each week. Even though we spend a lot of time during the winter planning for the upcoming season, there are many factors that happen throughout the season that are beyond the control of the farmers. You all are sharing the risk with us but also reaping the rewards of our successes. 

It's been a slow start to the season for us. I was juggling a lot this spring with classes, farm work, family, working on two grants and a trip to the Dominican Republic (more on that next week) but we've been making progress getting plants in the ground. Since the start of the summer semester, three of the four tunnels (hoophouses and greenhouse) have been planted with beefsteak, cherry, heirloom and sauce tomatoes (close to 40 varieties in total), eggplant, sweet, hot and frying peppers (a bunch of fun new varieties for us), basil and ginger. The crew has been working hard to transform the farm for the upcoming season. Which leads us to the first CSA pickup of 2022.

As I mentioned, it's been a slow start for us but each week we will gain some steam. I usually try and start the CSA season to coincide with the beginning of strawberry season. And while I was hoping that more veggies would be ready this week, our strawberry planting is raring to go. Late last summer, we did a new planting of strawberries and picking is going to be the polar opposite from last year. We usually keep the same planting of strawberries for 3-4 seasons and picking last year was a weedy mess. We had berries but it was a struggle to harvest what was there. We experimented with a new planting technique for this season by planting into landscape fabric to help control the weeds. As a small farm, we try different cultural practices to stretch our labor as far as it will go. Since we don't spray anything on the farm and cultivate by hand, the landscape fabric helps out. It's also better than the plastic mulch that many farms use because you can get multiple seasons out of it. I think that it's going to work out well but the winter winds got the better of us and pulled up the fabric in some places. We'll have to do a little more work at the end of the season to keep the fabric down. But let me tell you, the berries are tasty! We had a saying at my old farm, "one pint of strawberries is equal to 1000 bok choys". To be honest, I really don't think there's any comparison but lucky for y'all, you will get the chance to compare for yourselves. In addition to strawberries this week, there will be a stir-fry mix that has both bok choy and tat soi. If you're unfamiliar with these greens they are mild to slightly sweet with tender greens and crunch stems. We eat them both raw and lightly sauteed in our house. There will also be rainbow chard, and carrots that were grown in the greenhouse this winter and harvested in mid-May. Additionally, there will be basil seedlings for everyone that wants, as well as some other herbs, flowers, tomatoes, peppers and more. In the coming weeks, there will be lettuce mix, salad mix, salad turnips, kohlrabi and radishes.

Have a great week!

- Farmer Todd