This week, we're up to our arms in tomatoes! To give us time to finish harvesting, U-Pick won't open till 1:00 p.m. If you have any questions, please call the Clagett office at 301-627-4662.
Things are looking green out here on Clagett Farm, so we're announcing our Spring Open House, happening Saturday, May 9. We hope you can join us!
The event will run from 1-4 p.m. There will be hay rides and field tours and we'll show off our six brand new sheep, who will be thrilled to meet you. CSA members will be able to take a seedling. This is a free event, open to the public. Please join us!
For members who are unable to make it, we look forward to seeing you at the first CSA pick-ups of the season. We hope the first pickup will happen Wednesday, May 13 (farm and Dupont pick-ups) and Saturday, May 16 (at the farm). We're not 100% confident of that date yet. Expect to get more information about that, and everything you need to know for the first pick-up, shortly.
We look forward to seeing you all on May 9!
~ Farmer Carrie
The washing machine at the farm gave out on us recently, which means that the dirty rags and gloves are piling up.
We're hoping that you, or someone you know, might have a used washing machine that could be donated to the farm.
Any ideas, we'd love to hear them! Send us an email if you have ideas.
We have a few items we need to pick up from a greenhouse supplier (Maryland Plants and Supplies) on the southern edge of Baltimore city. If anyone will be driving from there to Upper Marlboro (or Takoma Park or Bowie) in the near future, we'd love it if you could pick up a few boxes for us.
Wondering how your crops are progressing? Here's a few updates:
- The greenhouse plants are growing well! No groundhog invasions this year. Here's a photo I took on March 27th. In the foreground, you see some kohlrabi that we planted last week and some cabbages that we planted today.
- We planted 50 Asian pear trees. It will take a few years before they produce much, but we have high hopes!
- Elysian Energy's monthly volunteers just helped us plant 100 rhubarb crowns, and today we put in the last of 1000 new asparagus crowns. Again, we won't pick them for a few years, but you're patient, right?
- We're midway through the job of putting up an 8' fence around the perimeter of our newest crop of strawberry plants.
- The first carrots just germinated! Lots more seed are in the ground and nearly ready to sprout: lettuce, mustard greens, kale, collards, radishes, turnips, fennel, bok choi, spinach, arugula,
- Looking especially good in the greenhouse right now: tomatoes! Peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, swiss chard, herbs and flowers are also coming along nicely.
- Here's a photo of the new turkey that one of our volunteers, Alla, brought to wander our fields. He's surprisingly friendly--a show-off, really.
I hope that's getting you excited for the new season!
This year, we installed a new safari camera at the farm, over by the field with the winter squash. It's motion sensitive, so it starts recording as something (or someone) enters the field. We've been fascinated to watch the diversity of creatures that have slipped into the field over the last few months. We thought you might enjoy seeing exactly what we caught on camera.
Here are a few photos and videos for you to check out!
Here's a ground hog, walking around like he owns the place:
Wild Turkeys pecking around:
A deer chomping away:
Here's another deer we caught on video eating winter squash for an hour (don't worry, the video is only 11 seconds):
And here are two bucks, gnawing away as they wander through the field:
And here's a very fat groundhog making a run into the field to no doubt eat himself silly:
You can see a few more videos, including strangers on horseback, a cat, and a possum and more deer over at YouTube.
Have a great day! We'll be back tomorrow with this week's share information.
Each year, the farm offers some grass-fed beef for sale in the fall. The sale is now underway, and the meat will be available for pick up at the farm on November 23rd. If you are interested you read all about how the cows are raised and about the meat.
Remember how you used to write your checks to the Capital Area Food Bank? We've changed! Now you'll be paying the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It's more of an accounting difference than anything substantial. Clagett Farm is still a property of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. We still work closely with the Capital Area Food Bank. We still donate at least 40% of our harvest to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other agencies that serve people in need. We still offer half-price share to low-income households. The only thing that changed is how we shift the money around.
So here's what's new for you:
- When it's time for returning members to renew for 2013 (beginning Monday), we'll send you an e-mail with a link to a Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) web page.
- Now that you are paying through CBF, we get the same amount of money whether you pay by check or credit. So we encourage you to pay by credit card, since that will probably be simpler for you and us.
- After you sign up, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will ask you (by e-mail) if you would like to be more involved in CBF. Maybe you live on the water and you'd like to raise oysters, or maybe you'd like to volunteer to plant trees, or donate money, or come to an event. I'm a pretty enthusiastic supporter of the work that CBF does, so I hope you all check out those opportunities. But above all else, we want you to be happy customers. CBF is very serious about wanting to send you ONLY the communications (by email, mail or phone) that you want. So you will always have the opportunity to log in to their web site and make specific choices.
- Don't forget we've changed the pick-up from Tuesday to WEDNESDAY. I know I've mentioned this before, but I'll keep reminding you just to be sure. Also, the time for Dupont pick-up has shifted a half hour earlier (5:30-7:30pm).
Sorry it's taken me so long to invite you to renew your CSA shares. It's taken a bit of time to work out some of the logistics of this move. There's bound to be some hiccups--we had to move your contact information from one system to another, and we've had to create some new sign-up arrangements. I hope you'll bear with us as we do the best with the systems we have. Thanks!
[In case you feel like getting into the weeds, read below for the details of our transition:]
- You paid the Capital Area Food Bank for your CSA shares, and gave them donations.
- I paid for seed, tools, vehicle fuel, etc., and the Capital Area Food Bank reimbursed me.
- The Chesapeake Bay Foundation paid the staff, both permanent and seasonal.
- Since CBF was paying the bulk of our expenses (labor), and taking none of the income, the Capital Area Food Bank paid CBF several big checks every year so their income and expenses were equal.
- The Capital Area Food Bank (with help from a Church of the Brethren Volunteer) collected applications from social service agencies, decided which ones could best use our produce, made a schedule for the agencies, gave recipe and storage advice, and acted as the farm's liason with those agencies.
- The Chesapeake Bay Foundation takes the income, employs the staff, and pays for supplies.
- The Chesapeake Bay Foundation charges the Capital Area Food Bank (a mere 20% of full price) for food that is donated to social service agencies.
- The Capital Area Food Bank still organizes our donations.
This new system is a bit more efficient, and everyone gets about the same amount of money in the end, so we all seem pretty happy about the change.
Congratulations! Sioban won our raffle for a 2013 share.
Everyone who purchased on-line was given paper tickets (one ticket for each $10 donation), and we added them to the ones purchased in person. Altogether it was 142 tickets. Michael Heller closed his eyes, reached into the basket and chose a winner. Now the Reyes household can let us know which pick-up site they want.
Thank you everyone! This raffle allows us to offer three half-price shares--that's a full season of produce for 3 families in need.
Last fall we took a chance and planted twice as much garlic as we normally do. We're pretty happy with the garlic we grow, it keeps well in the barn til we need it, and we thought we might get a decent price for it if we could sell it wholesale. Fortunately for us, MOM's Organic Market has been a great store to work with. Their produce manager, Soren Huber, came to the farm to meet with us and help us clean a bit of garlic. And she's agreed to buy whatever we can sell, which should be about 1000 pounds this year. Hooray!
Every purchaser does not fit well with every farm. For example, some of the larger chain groceries like Whole Foods or Wegman's, have a time-consuming set up process and it can be difficult to commicate with their regional produce buyers. So it hasn't been worth the trouble for our small, spur-of-the-moment sales.
MOM's, on the other hand, has been happy to buy from us, even when we just have a little that we deliver to our nearest store. Glut Food Co-op, in Mt. Rainier, and the Maryland Food Collective, in College Park, have also been easy to work with over the years, but this time we have more garlic than they can use.
Another critical factor is that MOM's offered us a good price. They are trying to source local produce when possible, and they're willing to pay a little extra to do it. Some of the wholesale distributors (such as the sole supplier of Yes! Market) could only offer us the price they were getting from California, which is too low for us.
We would be happy to sell to restaurants, but most chefs use pre-peeled garlic from a jar. If any of you know some chefs, or have a favorite restaurant that uses whole, organic garlic, encourage them to buy garlic from us next year!
We don't want to make wholesale a big part of our farm's marketing. We have plenty of great CSA customers now, and we've commited to donating everything we can. But these few sales, mostly at the end of the season, are a great little boost to our bottom line, with a crop that doesn't take too much extra work from us. Thank you MOM's!