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November 2019
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March 2020

Happy CSA Day!

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Have you considered what an amazing model Community Supported Agriculture is?  Thanks to you, we can grow organic produce, sell it locally, give a huge portion of it away for free to food pantries, mentor new farmers, keep farmland in an area zoned for high-density development, and give you a reasonable price for nutrient-dense, delicious food and a genuine farm experience.  Phew!  That's no small feat!

Thanks for all you do, CSA members!  And if you haven't joined us for 2020 yet, don't delay!

www.cbf.org/clagettsignup

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Ready for spring? Sign up for your CSA share!

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This Friday is CSA Day, so this is the perfect week to support your farm!  

Sign up here

If you've already signed up, then thank you!  This is a great opportunity to remind your friends that if they don't sign up now, they're going to miss out on all those juicy sweet peppers this summer.

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You'll notice a few new options when you sign up this year:

  • You can now pay on-line in 4 installments--once per month for four months.
  • You can use the installment plan to purchase 13-week (half season) shares.
  • Returning members get a discount for both 26-week and 13-week shares.
  • The on-line registration is a little simpler, and quicker.

2020 is going to be a fabulous growing season--we can feel it!

Photos courtesy of Fred Delventhal.


2019 CSA Survey Results

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This is the planning time of year for us, and we've reviewed your survey responses at length.  But we never shared them back with you!  In the spirit of getting you excited about the season to come, below is our summary of your survey responses.  The awesome photos are from CSA member, Fred Delventhal.  And by the way, CSA registration will open up soon, so stay tuned!

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We like to run a transparent operation here, so if you'd like to read the complete survey results, you can find them here.

A whopping 148 of you responded to our survey.  That's huge--thank you!!!   

Let's start with the most fantastic thing we learned: On average, there is a 91% chance that you would recommend us to a friend or family member.  That's fabulous!  Thank you!  What a wonderful boost of confidence.  Only 5 people of 146 said gave a lower than 50% chance that they would recommend us, which is incredible, since we do not claim to offer a product that suits everyone.  Half of you said there is a 100% chance that you would recommend us, which implies that you already have. 

Your favorite 5 crops: tomatoes, strawberries, summer squash, peppers and garlic.  Your least favorite: okra, turnips and radishes.  No big surprises there.

I was proud to see how many ways you were able to put our over-abundance of hot chili peppers to use!  You dried, roasted, froze, canned and fermented them.  You made salsa, pepper jam and chili pepper oil.  Nicely done! 

The vast majority of you found a way to store some of your crops.  It sounds like it might help some of you if we give more information about how best to freeze excess vegetables, and give more advanced warning in our emails (to the extent possible--sometimes it surprises us!) when there is sufficient quantity of something on u-pick that it is worth a long drive to come.  

The crops you would most like to u-pick in 2020 are strawberries, tomatoes and flowers.  No surprise there!

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There were many very helpful, specific critiques and compliments, and we took a lot of notes.  There were several of you that mentioned that you would have liked to get more heads-up about when items on u-pick were abundant enough to get significant quantities, since coming to the farm for some of you is a big investment of time.  And there were a few who mentioned that you would have frozen or canned items if you'd known when and where they could pick enough of them.  We can definitely work on that.  

We also noticed several of you wished there were more opportunities to enjoy the community aspect of the farm with events and an easier spot to hang out at the washing station after you pick up your vegetables.  Good ideas!

For the people that have asked for more of an installment plan for the CSA, we are working on that right now.  It's created some technical hurdles, but we're hoping to have that ready shortly!

I'd like to end with just one of many wonderful compliments.  Thank you all for your thoughts!

"Going to the farm is something we look forward to every week. We appreciate what everyone does and how hard the staff and volunteers work to provide us with delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables. While this year was a difficult one with circumstances beyond control, we understand that it is not the norm. We got APPLES this year! Yay! The radishes were so sweet they were like fruit in our salads. The staff were always so nice when we arrived. They greeted us with a smile and answered all of our questions and provided ideas on what to do with things we didn't know anything about. Love love LOVE Clagett Farm."

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2019 Farmer Review

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Hey friends, we've been ordering seed, revamping our greenhouse, attending conferences and making lots of plans.  Winter on the farm is pretty fun!  I even broke my wrist (don't worry--it's healed now), and you can see in the photo above, the warm winter has allowed us to keep picking salad greens (you can too--come on over).  One big project has been upgrading the CSA on-line registration, which involves several other departments at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  Since we're just moments away (fingers crossed!) from having it ready for you, we thought this would be a good time to refresh your memory about the year that was...  

2019

No, we didn't drown in months and months and months of rain.  That was 2018.  

No, it did not get so hot that my sandals melted off my feet in the field.  Twice.  That was 2017.

2019 we had the drought.  

It all started so perfectly.  We had a warm, early spring.  There were u-pick strawberries in your first week and zucchini in your second.  Unheard of for us!   By mid-June we had green beans and weeks upon weeks of onions--our best onion/shallot/scallion harvest ever!  The kale and collards punked out, but there's always something that doesn't grow quite right.  

We tried an extra-early crop of Korean melons that garnered mixed reviews.  Some of us loved the crunchy, mildly-sweet, little yellow melons, but others were left wishing they were sweeter.  The same seemed true for the Asian pears.  This was the first year our pear trees produced enough to provide everyone a respectable few pounds.  Maybe it's because I'm often a little dehydrated from working in the fields all day, but again, a fruit that's crisp, juicy and mildly sweet really hits the spot for me.  Some of you wanted something sweeter.  Regardless, we were surprised and delighted that this year every month we were able to offer some kind of fruit in your share--strawberries in May and June, Sun Jewel melons in July, Asian pears and watermelons in August, sun gold cherry tomatoes in September (I don't usually call tomatoes fruits, but these little babies are so sweet they sail right past fruit into the category of candy), apples in October and November (thanks, Homestead Farm!) and persimmons in November (thank,s Jennifer Amerkhail and Dave Vernon!).

I was a ball of positive energy until about July when we had our last rain.  Then in the August heat, the plants started to wilt and we could feel our own bodies shift into heat survival mode.  By September, it was a true miracle that so many of our crops were still churning out peppers, tomatoes and squash. 

I'm grateful that our soils were healthy enough to retain what little moisture we offered.  We were able to irrigate our fall salad greens and roots, since they're planted in a pretty small space, so all was not lost for the end of the season.  But sweet potatoes and winter squash took our biggest hit.  They were munched on by desperate groundhogs and deer, and some water-thrifty weeds outcompeted them.  Without rain or irrigation, neither crop was able to recover in time by the first frost.  Honestly, we had replaced a water pump on the well that feeds that section of the farm at the end of 2018, and at first it seemed like that would give us the water pressure we've been needing for those back fields.  But it turns out we were wrong, so it's back to the drawing board.  

Speaking of irrigation, I want to give a shout-out to a spot on the farm you rarely hear about--the native tree nursery.  The nursery has a new metal fence to keep out deer, a new well, and a spectacular volunteer named David Laughlin who spends a dozen hours a week weeding.  This was our best year yet for the nursery--we potted 10,000 trees in the spring and their survival rate was terrific.  Thousands of those trees are now protecting streams across the state of Maryland.    

Overall, I was incredibly pleased with our dear farm in the 2019 season.  We hit some rough patches, but we pulled out all the stops to make sure you got a good share throughout.  We bought sweet potatoes (thanks, Potomac Vegetable Farms!), we made flower bouquets, we dried hibiscus for tea, and even my 11-year-old daughter baked cupcakes--all to make sure you all know how much we appreciate you.  And I think it's a beautiful testament to the concept of CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, that we were able to withstand variable weather conditions, while still growing organically and donating 20,435 pounds of our harvest to low-income members of our community.  Phew!  It worked for another year!

Ready to sign up for 2020?  Stay tuned!  Prices will be the same and pick-up sites and days will be the same.  And we'll have a convenient new option to pay in 4 installments for all options (26-week, 13-week and low-income).  Can't wait to see you for 2020!

Your farmer,

Carrie Vaughn

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