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farm newsletter for June 12th

Posted 6/12/2019 12:12pm by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members and farm friends,

We have been growing vegetables in the Upper Valley since 1997. This has been the coldest and wettest combination spring along with a freak wind shear that ripped apart the greenhouse. We are not alone amongst farmers suffering from the wild weather. For dairy farmers in New England and across the US the flooding and continuous  rain has delayed the planting of corn, soy and other annual crops. Between tariffs, low prices and natural disasters farmers in the US made had a median income of -$1,500 in 2018. This year has some hope in rising prices for farm products but the farm grown and purchased feeds will drive the cost of production up. So what does this mean for consumers in the Upper Valley? Being part of a CSA, purchasing your food from a store that sell locally grown food or buying directly from the farmer makes a difference. You have the opportunity to meet the farmers and have your food dollars make a bigger impact on the farm's bottom line. The price for the food might not be any cheaper but it will be fresh and have a smaller carbon footprint since it does have to travel as many miles from farm to plate. Many farms have open farm days to visit, ask questions about how the food is being raised and learn how the animals are cared for.

On our farm the weather slowed down the field preparation, and once ready the soil temperatures delayed planting and growth of the transplants. For our dairy cows the weather has been great for growing pasture. The cows are able to harvest all their forage needs without fossil fuels for the months of May to October. As for making hay, we are waiting for 3 dry days in a row. When the warm weather and rain came this past week the corn grew 2 inches overnight. The other plants which had been sitting in the garden soil have taken off. In the garden we have potatoes up, the peas are climbing, the lettuce and spinach are filling out. The 1st and 2nd planting of carrots are up and getting weeded. The garlic is getting ready to send up the scapes. The tomatoes, winter squash, cucumbers and melons have been liberated from the greenhouse. The onions, celery, herbs, celeriac and greens are in various stages of growth. The first beans are poking up and the fall broccoli and cabbage starts in growing in the greenhouse. It is time already to plant the fall storage crops. Many of them take more than 90 days to reach maturity. With our high tunnel rebuilt we can start fill it up next month with vegetables for October and November harvest. Our neighbor has been able to truck the backlog of compost off to points north and into New Hampshire. Thanks to the Peeler Brothers more than 500 yards or 825,000 pounds of compost has gone to fertilize vegetables in the Upper Valley. The cows are the fertility engine for our farm and many others in the area as most vegetable growers do not raise animals.

In the middle of getting the garden ready we have a had a few cows give birth. Zara had a bull calf in late May and Bessie calved on Monday with a heifer calf. In the middle of all the financial and weather stress plaguing farmers has been the story of document animal abuse at Fair Oaks Farm in Illinois. It is important to know that most farmers are not abusive to their animals. On this farm we do not tolerate mistreatment of animals. Our farm crew works hard to provide food, water, shelter and care to all the cattle and horses. Last night Bessie, the new mother required iv support. The farmers were in the barn at 11PM taking care of the cow. This often means a short nights sleep ( 3 hours) but as the caretaker of the cows, the animals come first. We are fortunate to have neighbors willing to lend a hand when a farm emergency requires more bodies. At least one kid went to school sleep deprived after helping the cow last night.

Until next week,

Kerry