ANNUAL REPORT/OVERVIEW 2019
Greetings in this mid-winter January as we prepare and coordinate the Farm Seasons ahead.
We hope your Holiday and New Year's Seasons were a restful and joyful time.
We stayed somewhat close to home, with special visits and gatherings from children and grandchildren. Always wonderful memories as we gather on in years.
FARM & GARDENS
We continue to plan and plant for an abundance in this our 38th year. As of early January, the winter has given us relatively little rain or snow here, though higher reaches have received a bit more. Irrigation reserves may be impacted unless the coming weeks prompt an opening of the skies.
Temperatures have ranged relatively warm overall, other than several quite low night time stretches in December.
Many fall seeded field crops are in the ground, (we’ll see how well some germinate as we warm up)…. 1000 or so garlic cloves planted last fall should begin to emerge in the coming weeks. Most hoop-house areas, and numerous field beds are seeded. Cold frame beds are yet to be turned over.
The dry weather last fall again gave us time to get most field areas cleaned up, and will be much easier to work in the next months.
Last fall's drier qualities also allowed us to finish prepping our pond in readiness for a liner and fencing to finish that area, increasing our irrigation storage efficiency and safety.
We also used the presence of a track hoe to pull old fence posts, unwanted Russian olive trees, and regrade / landscape our knoll / barn area, and other general cleanup, particularly old steel. We are currently refencing numerous perimeter garden areas with 8 foot fencing to keep the deer away from places they do the most damage.
We'll again strive to fill in some of the gaps in last season garden production, with protection, coverage, and planting schemes. We'll not promise much again with sweet corn or larger pumpkins, perhaps looking to other growers for that.
We'll maintain strong plantings of butternut winter squash, as well as carrots, beets, brassicas, greens, summer squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Most other production items should remain somewhat similar to past years. We'll hope to up the later season lettuce production, always a bit tougher as the season gets busy.
We'll continue to works also with several other small local organic vegetable growers (Randy Murr, Jim Becker) helping to augment our weekly production of potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers.
This year we'll hope to improve our PV fruit year, with the help of Ma Nature of course. This past year was definitely a rough fruit year for us as frost took out most all our crops (and most other Western Slope growers). That kept us scrambling through the Season coming up with fruit to fill shares. You probably noticed that lack of some fruits, notably apricots, plums, pears and apples. Weather is always a factor in these production areas, but such is the risk (and art) of field / orchard grown agriculture. We'll hope it was a once in a generation happening.
We'll again lean on fellow fruit growers, Kokopelli Orchards (Palisade) and First Fruits Orchards (Paonia), for larger amounts of cherries, peaches, and other summer / fall fruits.
BIRDS and BEES
Bees dropped again in honey production this past season. Our one hive produced a nice flow in September, but collapsed later in the fall.
We have decided to relocate several new hives, for at least a year, see if we can redirect some of the lack of success we have encountered at the current location. We’ll perhaps try a new horizontal hive formation, which we’ve heard good things about. We have routinely stayed away from using antibiotics against mites / critters, so we’ll continue to research some alternative strategies for that issue.
In the meantime, we will work this year, as last year, with Paul Limbach, Western Colorado Honey, and breakdown his larger plastic tubs into glass quarts and pints. Mark on your green sheets if you would like some. Also, very clean, low processed, local honey.
Laying hens are again producing more steadily this winter. Perhaps the warmer weather, or timing for getting chicks, have been factors. We’ll have new layers arriving next month to again help us keep egg production strong for the season.
We’ll plan to do a few heritage turkeys this year, after a break last year. Let us know on the green sheet if you are interested.
Last season field labor and share pack outs, were accomplished with three full time workers: two farmer / owners and (two to zero) interns, as well as help from eight working members (1/2 day per week) through the 30-week spring/summer/fall season. A lot to coordinate, but lots of great experiences to accompany the work, daily routines, and shared meals.
Our overwinter activities include accessing last year’s activities: actual production levels, income, expenses, workers involved; we also inventory and order seeds, plants, supplies for farm and orchards, while also keeping the lights on and the mortgage company happy.
That look at the past allows us to update current year’s prices and make adjustments in the budget, based on actual figures from the last year’s activities. Past years have seen our expenses inch upward, and we try to reflect that in yearly adjustments, including this year.
We then put out our “Green Subscription Form” to last year’s members, and other interested persons, based on responses from last season CSA, Saturday Farmers Market, as well as our early sign-ups from last fall.We ask that those wanting the “Spring Garden”, Shares, let us know and pay at least a deposit by March 1. Those wanting “Summer Season” Shares should sign up, and pay at least a deposit by May 1.
We’ll plan to keep share numbers similar to the past several years. We have put forward a share price increase of 2 - 3%. For now, we’ve kept our delivery rates the same, and will hope for gas prices to not go through the roof as we move through the summer. We’ll continue doing more doorstep deliveries.
For those that signed up last fall, your green “Subscription Form” sheets will be filled in with the share items you indicated. Please double check, and make any changes, before returning with payment.
Our goal for CSA has been to empower one and all to become involved in the farms and gardens that feed us, to build family and community security, and to ascertain and insure for ourselves, the quality and nutrition of the foods we eat.
Our model promotes small scale, low tech systems, with emphasis on field grown, seasonally tuned, yet creative, profitable, and accessible operations. We emphasize the value, of small, independently owned farms, and how to be productive, profitable, and sustainable.
We know that large, corporate, high tech, “industrial organic” operations will continue to fill a role in our local and national food scene. We simple prefer to keep strong our local sources of all types of production.
We are grateful for your past participation in building this local, small farm revival. We hope your experience was palatable, satisfying, and worth repeating!
WHAT ELSE ?
We will again host our yearly Spring Equinox Gathering and Open House, Sunday, March 18, from 1-6 PM. Modified potluck, some meats, drinks, and vegetable dishes provided. Music, Spring Stories, Space limited, please RSVP, by Mar 16.
Some working member positions are full for the coming season, but need continues for Wednesday, Friday pack outs, general field help, and driving runs. Information also online; don’t wait too long to ask.
Subscription form also available online if you prefer doing it electronic. It works this year!!
Of course, you are always welcome to join us for some of the work, for lunch, or both, as we continue garden work in the Season to come.
Ken and Gail Kuhns
Peach Valley CSA Farm
3465 Peach Valley Road
Silt, Colorado 81652
Phone: (970) 876-2850