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September 10, 2014

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This was one of those weeks when I wondered why I farm. As you know, it’s our busiest season of the year. Harvest is in full swing. The fields are bountiful and it takes alot of work to bring it all in, wash it, cool it, and pack it up. We thought we were ready.

Then, we had some employees unexpectedly leave. This caused all sorts of problems on the farm, pushing us further and further behind. The remaining crew doubled up but the work kept piling higher and higher.

We called some old friends and they offered to lend a hand. That helped. We asked for volunteers (and we are still looking for more!) and volunteers showed up. While we’re still in a tough spot, we’re keeping our heads above water.

On top of that, we didn’t get as many CSA shares as we hoped for this season and then we had some unexpected expenses. I’m not sure why I call them “unexpected expenses” because they seem to come along pretty reliably year after year. I should just plan for them (I do, actually, but never enough it seems). The weather was hot, rains came at an awkward time, and I’m still seeding crops that should have gone in a week ago. We’re working every single day, sleep is never enough and I’m craaaaaaanky.

Why am I doing this?

As many of you have noticed, we offer an option in our CSA store to “donate $25 of produce to the food pantry”. Long time customers know that Montalbano Farms already donates lots of food to pantries in Chicago, around the farm and quite a few in between. To be honest, it’s expensive. The pantries get our #1 produce and it costs money to grow, harvest, and deliver it all. Nonetheless, we know that our families support this part of our mission and we wanted to give our CSA members a chance to contribute directly.

And you did. Oh boy, you did.

Last week, we brought hundreds and hundreds of pounds of food to pantries in Chicago, Dekalb, Yorkville, Aurora, Oak Park, Somonauk. Tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, beets, squash, cucumbers and more. It was alot. So much produce, in fact, that I had to take our big box  truck on deliveries when I usually take the van. It was impressive. This week, and the next, we’ll take still more.

Have you ever been to a food pantry? You should go. It’s not an experience that was any part of my world growing up. Volunteer. Or just drive by on distribution day and look at the long lines of people. Mothers tow their children behind them and look scared, uncertain. It’s the face of hunger.

Holly, Morgan, Karen, Dionna, Jill, Jill #2, Tim, Terrell, Ellyn, Patty, Hilary, Denise, Darnell, Kathleen, Kathi, Shalley, Lisa and Matt, Ellyn, Scott, Mandy, Allison, Paul, Jacob, Stephen, Wendi, John, Jon, and Michael, you should know a few things…

Fewer people went to bed hungry last week because of you. Families enjoyed our farm’s finest, most delicious, freshest organic produce because of you.  Our crew walked with a bounce in their step because of you. Food pantry volunteers and coordinators had double the work because of you (they were glad to do it!). Kids were able to focus on school instead of their bellies because of you. Hardworking moms and dads worried a little less about dinner because of you. We didn’t change the world, of course, but we put our values into action. We didn’t solve all the problems in our communities but we made a difference. Thank you.

All in all, it seems, not a bad week on the farm.

Christina and I want to thank you for supporting Montalbano Farms. We hope that you enjoy your produce this week!