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September 17, 2014

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With this week’s cold temperatures, I’ll take an opportunity to talk a little about the harvest this season and what to expect in the weeks ahead.

It appears that tomatoes (except those in the greenhouse), peppers, okra, eggplant, summer squash, and cucumbers are mostly done. Even though the plants look fine, they’ve stopped producing fruit. They just do not like the cold (me neither!).

Starting soon and continuing into October, our lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts should provide a bountiful harvest. They look great. Carrots, beets, sweet potatoes and cabbage will follow us well into November. I’m getting a little nervous that this early spell of cold weather will impede these crops. That would cause all sorts of problems for us.

Kale, chard, beets, potatoes, winter squash are all ready now and these crops should hang around for a good month.

As far as the year-in-review, it’s a little early for that right now and our season is hardly over at Montalbano Farms. Nevertheless, there are some insights that we’ve gleaned…

1. Most of you LOVE the custom CSA shares. We figured as much. They’ve been a good deal more work than we expected (not what we need) but once folks caught on, it’s been better. We learned alot about what to grow less of, what to keep the same, and which crops to grow more of in 2015. I’m still working on the folks who order just watermelon and cherry tomatoes though. THAT’S hard to pack!

2. Our CSA continues to grow but not nearly as much as we need. To achieve financial sustainability, we need another 200 members. To be honest, I thought the custom shares and a more aggressive marketing strategy would bring in all of the folks who never joined a CSA before. We got a boost but not significantly so. To continue farming, we need to have folks sign up earlier (by January 1st) and we need another 250 CSA members.

3. There is still too much work for the crew and the pay remains lousy. This is something else we’re going to need to figure out before next season. Farming is hard work and not a single person on the farm is fairly compensated. The addition of another 250 CSA members would solve this problem as we are committed to keeping prices stable.

4. Christina and I continue to love the work of farming. We’ve put over 20 acres in conservation acreage which means we’ve been planting trees and pollinator crops. We do not grow crops on that land. We are proud that we continue to improve year after year and remain responsive to feedback from our families. We love growing fresh, healthy food that people actually eat and enjoy.

Our CSA program continues into mid-November although some of the standard CSA shares end much sooner. Remember, you need to use up your entire custom CSA balance before mid-November. It does not carry over into 2015.

The whole crew at Montalbano Farms hopes that you enjoy your produce this week!