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Archive for August, 2008

Hey there Folks!  At the suggestion of a few of our members, we decided to start a blog for the Fall season to keep you well informed about the happenings at the farm and what is in your box each week.  It will be similar to the weekly e-mails of the Spring, but you will have a chance to post your comments, questions, recipe suggestions, cool foodie happenings around town, and all around to enhance the community of this farming experience.

For those who may have forgotten the basic principles of this style of farming, let me refresh your memories.  Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs were created for a few reasons.  The first is to feed people locally from small, area farms.

The second is to do it in a way that is sustainable for the farmer and the folks eating.  Traditionally, the farmer does not have an income until the actual sale of the crops, often times having to take out a loan to get to that point. With the CSA fee paid upfront, the farmer is now able to buy seeds, fertilizers, pay labor costs and so forth without making a trip to the bank.  In return, the customers receive a box of the freshest produce each week from their local farm.

The CSAs also sustain the farm in case of weather, pest or disease issues.  Signing up for a CSA is the customer’s agreement to the farmer to take on the same risks the farmer must endure each season.  If a tornado strikes and most of the crops are wiped out, the CSA will suffer, too.  The farmer will still have that initial CSA money to get through those trying times, so they are able to maintain their livelihood.  If all goes well, and the weather cooperates, the CSA members will share in the bounty of the harvest with full, freshly picked vegetable boxes, often times exceeding the value of what they initially paid.  Each season definitely has its successes and its failures.  It is very important for each member to be aware of the potential risks, but not to worry as the farmers will do everything within their power to get those veggies to their customers!  Just like any business, we want you all coming back smiling for more!

We are excited to grow food for you all this Fall and have a greenhouse full of seedlings coming your way!

~Rita’s Roots

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Tractor Time!

The tractor has been bought!  The search took a little longer than expected.  We went all the way to Virginia following some leads, gathering information, but not purchasing a tractor.  Our truck did, however, come back to Charleston loaded down with Harmony Organic Fertilizer, Bloodmeal, Fertrell Liquid Fertilizer, Potting Soil, Calcium and Boron supplements, Row Covers, and a few other goodies from Seven Springs Farm (www.7springsfarm.com) near Floyd, Virginia- a great resource for Organic materials.  And what an inspirational place- rolling hills with terraced vegetable and flower gardens, apple orchards, old wooden barns, wild blackberries everywhere, solar powered houses, apprentices and experienced farmers working side by side, composting toilets and a pond to cool down in at the end of the day.  Sign us up.

So back to Charleston we came with our minds made up that we would invest in a new Kubota L3400 with a frontloader.  With some money down, we were able to get financing and 0% interest for three and a half years.  Instead of a monthly car payment, I now have a tractor payment!  We wanted a machine that would be reliable and come with a warranty, since our experience at tractor repair is limited.  In case we decide to sell in a few years, the Kubotas also have a high resale value.  The tractor has been great so far, and we have been actively disc harrowing the fields to turn under the grass.  We just need a break in the rain to get going again!  I keep worrying about everything with this farm, but so far we are pretty much on schedule.  We even found a small walk-in cooler within our budget from the Subway in West Ashley.  We have cabbage, broccoli, fennel, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts chugging along in our makeshift greenhouse- pvc pipes made into an arch with 4 mil clear landscaping plastic zip- tied to the pipes.  We planted some sunflowers today to have ready between Halloween and Thanksgiving for the market.

Last week we got our soil test back from Clemson Extension (make sure to call them for the results as they are 2 for 2 at not sending them to me).  The pH turned out to be a 5!  A little low for the liking of most of our selected vegetables.  We got in touch with a neighboring farmer and have arranged to rent a little piece of his land just for the Fall until our pH can be balanced out to a 6.5 or so in the Spring.  We are adding 80lbs of lime/1000 square feet, so about 2.5 tons total to our parcel.  Another local guy is coming to do this for less than $300- lime, spreading and fuel included.  If we decided to do it on our own the lime alone would cost more than that.  We are able to plant some veggies that like it a little more acidic at the Backwoods Farm- spinach, winter squash, cucumbers, turnips, carrots, scallions and a braising mix.  The rest- beans, peas, beets, lettuce, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, radish, sunflowers, parsley, cilantro, and summer squash will be planted at the neighbor’s land.  We are making it work!  Every day is full of learning and growing in our knowledge of efficiency, economy and teamwork!  Even with all the challenges, I love it more and more.

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