Join Us for the Spring Open House: Saturday May 9!

Clagett spring open house

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

 


Headed to Baltimore?

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.  

Much obliged,

-Carrie


Bring on spring!

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.           Greenhouse 3-25-14
  • 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.                                    Mr gobble 4-9-14

I hope that's getting you excited for the new season!  

-Carrie


Caught on Camera at Clagett Farm

 

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: 

Carrie_groundhog

 

Wild Turkeys pecking around: 

Carrie_turkeys

 

A deer chomping away: 

Carrie_deer

 

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.


Clagett Fall Grass-Fed Beef Sale is Underway

Fall Beef Sale

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

Orders can be placed at the website.  If you have any questions feel free to reach out to Michael who heads up the beef sale. 

 

 


Tweaking the farm's relationship with the Capital Area Food Bank and Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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!

-Carrie

 

 [In case you feel like getting into the weeds, read below for the details of our transition:]

BEFORE:

  • 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. 

NOW:

  • 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. 

 

 

 


Raffle winner: Sioban Reyes

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.   

 


Thanks MOMs!

Roshani 2006 garlic

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!

  MOMs

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! 

-Carrie


This Week's Share: Farm Updates and Share Details

Clagett sunrise
(This photo: CSA member Krossbow on Flickr)  

Before we get started today, we have a few updates related to the farm: 

  • The biodegradable bags at the pick-up site seem to be working out well.  Most people are bringing their own bags, so we haven’t had to buy more yet.  And we’ve only seen two plastic grocery bags drifting through the pastures in these past 4 months, which is a huge improvement.  Thank you!  That said, the people who have used the bags have only paid for half of them.  It adds up to $125!  So don’t forget to drop some money (10 cents per bag) into the can at your convenience to cover the cost of bags you’ve used. There’s always coins and bills there to help you make change as needed. 

Here's what you'll find in Week 18 of the CSA:

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 pound greens, including choices of arugula, tatsoi, purple mezuna, tender greens, Southern Giant, Red Russian Kale and Dwarf Siberian kale
  • 1 pound total combination turnips + Scarlett globe radishes + yellow beans + okra + squash
  • 2 3/4 pounds total combination of tomatoes + potatoes + eggplant + peppers + hot chiles 

On U-Pick this week:

If you want to come and u-pick, you can find a map of the fields and locations at the Wash Station when you arrive at the farm, denoting where to find the fields listed below. Here's what's on offer this week. 

  • New: Greens! Almost all the greens except the kale are on the u-pick list. 
  • Tomatoes -- still available, though there are not many of them. 
  • Cherry tomatoes. 
  • Ground cherries. They're sweet and still a good amount of them. 
  • Tomatillos (these are dwindling)
  • Chiles (lots)
  • Update: Celery. The celery is too tough to eat raw, but it's great for cooking. There is lots of it -- pick it and make stock!  
  • Swiss Chard. It will improve as the weather cools. 
  • Beans are in two fields as of this week. Lots in C1. The ones in B3 are more suitable for shell beans.
  • Okra -- there's lots of okra right now. Come and pick it! Especially on a Monday or a Friday -- we want you to pick it and enjoy it. 
  • Herbs: Basil (in the high tunnel). Plus Oregano, sorrel, parsley, onion chives, coriander, dill seed, stevia, lemongrass, anise, Mexican sour cucumbers, thyme, lemon balm, sage, garlic chives. 
  • As always, any flowers are always fair game.  There are a lot of nice flowers on the farm right now. 

 

A preview of what's to come:

  • Next week should look a lot like this week. Tomatoes will continue to dwindle. Lots more greens on the way, including more kale. Bok choy will also make an appearance.  

Enjoy this week's share, and let us know if you have any questions about your produce or how to use it! 

Have a great week,

-- Clay