We tapped some of our maples’ yesterday – February 19th – the earliest we have ever tapped – so here comes spring – this rounding third base in the homestretch to spring. The girls are excited- they love taking a sip out of the tree and asking the tree fairies that live in the mama maple tree if there is sap today. The sun is shining and it has turned out to be a sunny afternoon. After nap we are going out to see the mama maple and her maple family and the tree fairies to see if there is any sap and to collect wood for the boiling that will make yummy syrup for our family.
As I type this, Delia is napping and Sadie is “napping” (really what 4yo naps anyways – trying to be quiet in her room while reading books so mama can type – wait a second I hear a guitar).The girls are getting big, Delia is saying many words (she is 14 months now) and Sadie is writing more and more letters and teaching her little sister the ropes on being a little human in this world. Sadie loves feeding the sheep hay and brushing our new baby calf Maggie. Maggie came to us from another farmer who wanted Miss Maggie to have a good home and have lots of love – she is mostly jersey calf. She came to us just a few days old. Sadie will tell you she was born on Ephinany, and that we named her Maggie after the Magi. That girl does not miss a thing. Annie, our jersey/brown swiss family cow, is pregnant and is due in August. Her steer, Texi, is quite big for his 7 months of age and growing rapid pace – almost bigger than his mama. Our sheep are well too – We are expecting lambs in April – we have 6 expectant ewes. Oh and those chickens those silly chickens went on a bit of a strike for about a month and they are slowly getting back up to speed – Seriously, It was like the children’s book Click, Clack, Moo for awhile here.
This winter has been quite eventful- we are planning for the upcoming growing season, have 1 of our interns already in place to start in June and interviewing a few people for the second position. We are looking to hire Sophie (one of our first interns) back to help with day to day farming, marketing, CSA, farmers market and delivery help – and probably some kid wrangling in there too – but no potty training like the year she was here:) We are also hoping to close on the land this summer. We are in process now of getting a mortgage for the land. The VT Land Trust and our community has raised enough money for the easement – so we will be able to buy the land at its agricultural value – all 30 acres on this road. Also, this land will be in conservation – it will never be subdivided and will always be affordable farmland for generations to come. We are hoping for a summer closing. After the closing, there will be a big celebration with food and music and of course hay rides to see it all. And we are hoping, crossing every limb, maybe have enough money/resources/mortgage/sanity to replace the aging mobile home we live in, with a small, modest home with stairs, energy efficient, solar hot water, woodstove, a pantry – oh goodness I could go on and on. When this little house happens, we will have a huge open house to share it with you all.
Christine is also taking a Whole Farm Holistic Farm Planning Course through UVM extension. We are hoping (and we are already seeing some of the benefits) to use this information to help us plan the huge growth our farm is going through this year with buying our own land and introducing cows to our farm and our growing family. This course looks at the whole picture – farm and family – and how we can have the farm nurture our family and community and how we can nurture the farm and our community – and make a sustainable living for ourselves.
We feel very blessed for all the support we received from our CSA members and community from last growing season – it was a tough one with a really, really wet cold spring to the strange weather that Irene brought to the warm fall into November where we were picking greens in the fields at Thanksgiving and now the lack of snow cover (but hey March could go out like a lion instead of a lamb). This year really makes you think hard and fast about global warming, about resources, about community about the earth we live on. We were very blessed with a summer that finally came, the energy and excitement of our volunteers on the farm, luscious heirloom tomatoes that had juice that dripped down your cheeks, and best sweet corn we have EVER had – we had sweet corn in September for 3 weeks straight. Woot! All this veggie growing while we were learning the ins and outs of a family cow and her offspring and farming with two little ones..
CSA: nitty gritty, work shares, drop offs, and Supported Shares
This year we are staying around 50 shares (give or take – Christine has a hard time saying no sometimes)and making sure we have enough variety and quantity for all of you. After a very successful sixth year with the implementation of the sliding scale fee structure for the CSA, we will continue that this year. We want to continue to make organic produce affordable to all and be able to pay our costs. With members buying upfront their vegetables for the season, it helps our costs immensely and we can budget for the rest of the season. We would like to get payment by April 15th. If any of you can pay sooner than that, that would be great since most of our buying is right now through March (I know, I know I should have mailed this in January). Shares will start the first or second week in June. **For those who pay by March 15th – you will be entered to win 5 dozen of eggs or those will refer someone to our CSA, you will be entered to win also – the more you refer – the more chances to win. Just have those people write your name at the bottom of the 2012 membership registration.
**New this year** So after a lot of feed back from past members and folks who wanted to be CSA members but thought the food was too much – we have added a third share option – the Salad Share. This share provides an average of $12 of produce per week at market prices. This share is perfect for those who want some salad greens, some quick snacking veggies or simple veggies/fruit that have little fuss. We’ll see how it goes and would love your feedback on it. And if you happen to sign up for a Salad share and you realize you would like to move up to an Individual share half way through the season – we can adjust it- just let us know.
Also, we will be having a working option along with your share which can help with cost of the your share – more info in the brochure. We also have 1 CSA membership to barter to 1 person or family that can commit to working 8 hours a week. Please get in contact with us if you are interested in this. We will also have CSA member work days scheduled once a month where you can come out to the farm and help us with big labor projects that are family friendly. Also, this year we will continue to work on and post on our farm blog www.blueheronfarmvt.com and we are pretty active on facebook too – please “friend” us.
Also, we will be delivering to Fort Ethan Allen, Pinewood Manor (thanks so much Beth) in Essex Junction right past 5 corners in Essex off of Rte 15 across from IBM, CCV in Winooski, and School St in Burlington on Thursdays. If you know anyone in that area that maybe interested please feel free to pass a brochure or our website/email to them or give us their name and number and we will send them a brochure. There will be a small one time delivery drop off charge of $35 for the Colchester/Essex/Winooski/Burlington drop off sites (to cover our fuel and time costs).
We value your support and friendship. If these costs are a hardship, please call us and we can come up with a payment plan. We are also hoping to provide 3-4 supported shares for families who are in need of this. If you are in need of financial aid this year please let us know and we will get you the financial aid info for a supported share. Also we are accepting donations for the Farm Share program that supports our farms supported shares. Last year we were able to give financial support to 4 families from our community and provide extra food to the Round Barn through generous donations from our members. Our goal is to raise $500 for supported shares so NOFA-VT will match it and make a share more affordable to families in our community. If you would like more info, please give us a call. You can send the donation in with your registration form or send it directly to NOFA-VT with “Blue Heron Farm supported share” in the memo.
Our Community Service (Yours and Ours):
Because of you, our CSA members, we are able to outreach to our community here in Grand Isle County with food and goodwill.
Last year, we had our third year with the Senior Shares at the Round Barn here in Grand Isle. We delivered fresh veggies to 15 residents at the barn and have had community dinners with them once a month since October. We are looking to expand this for this upcoming year and look forward to having them out at the farm with us. If you would like to join us for our monthly lunches, just let us know and we will let you know when they are. We will continue this program again this year with the hopes of expanding it.
Also, we donated and sold, at a reduced rate, a bunch of food for the Food for Thought program last year, which fed over 125 children in Grand Isle County for 12 weeks. This was started by Kaight Althoff (one of our CSA family members) and Melissa Hood and they are doing it again this year with the goal of feeding even more children countywide during the 10 – 12 weeks of summer vacation. Last year, Sadie and Christine, along with some of the interns, would go and help pack boxes on Sundays and bring leftover produce from market or extra veggies that CSA members donated while they were away on vacation. Each week, Blue Heron Farm was able to donate or sell (at a reduced rate) fresh veggies. Our farm plans to help out again with this year by donating veggies and if any of you would like to help with volunteering on those Sundays, delivering food to families, growing veggies here at our farm or your own place, buy a CSA share for this program or with financial support please call Kaight at 372-5843 or give us a call.
We will also be working on growing certain crops for the food shelf here in the county. If you would like to help with any of this, let us know. There are times – for example – last summer, a bunch of lettuce mix came up that was ready and we had way too much to sell or give to you all. We called a few people and folks came out and we harvested over 75lbs of lettuce mix, that we washed, spun, and bagged and brought to the Grand Isle Food Shelf. None of it went to waste, it didn’t get plowed under, it went right to people in our community. We are always looking for folks who would like to help come glean veggies for the food shelf – let us know if you are interested.
Chickens, Eggs, Bread, Pork and Turkeys (Oh My…)
So we are going to try out having add-ons this year of our chickens, eggs, and food from fellow CSA members l, Matt, Aimee and Eric. We are excited about this and we think it will help lighten your grocery shopping having these items available. Later in the season, we will let you know about organic pork and turkey shares from Aimee and Eric. Their pigs get a ton of veggie scraps from our farm, and their pork is quite yummy.
Blue Heron Farm Certified Organic Pastured Chickens & Egg SHARES These chickens are a heritage breed from France (not the Cornish crosses that many producers use). There is more meat all around the bird and the birds are great foragers on pasture. There is a deposit of $50 and then the chickens will be $6.00lb when they are finished. Shares are 5 or 10 birds – fresh or frozen. Egg shares are: $90 for 18 weeks for 1 dozen a week or 1/2 dozen for $45 for 18 weeks. This year we have partnered with Wally’s Place(Matt) to offer weekly deliveries of fresh bread with your share.
We couldn’t do this without all of you. It is because of you, we made it through last year with the hope for this growing season. Adam, Sadie, Delia and I look forward to walking out to the chickens with you and your children, meeting our sheep and their lambs in the pasture, picking sungold cherry tomatoes and ground cherries, uncovering treasures of potatoes and carrots from the earth, and enjoying that you know where your food comes from.
When we sit and plan this year and reflect over the last 8 years(!) – we are truly blessed to have this as our work. We are honored that we are one of your farmers and you are our community. Whew – that’s a lot of writing – well, there was a lot to fill you in on too Hope you are all well. We have enclosed this year’s CSA brochure. We have also enclosed an extra one to pass to a friend. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you walking in the fields – smelling the basil, having tomato juice run down your cheeks and eating fresh lettuce again .
Here is the link to the CSA registration: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0By3U03bbE9hiNWRiYmE5NGMtZTc2Zi00NGZlLTk5NWMtZGM5ZWViNTMwZGM3
Christine Bourque, Adam Farris, Sadie Farris and Delia Farris.