From the Farmer

November 15, 2017 – Week 27

2017 CSA Survey
Just a dozen short questions. Help us get better! Click here for survey.

Winter Shares
Fresh veggies in winter! Begin Wednesday, December 6. Nine weeks of vegetables, eggs and/or chicken.

Farm Stand Debit
Come use your Farm Debit Cards! The Farm Stand closes next Tuesday, 11/21. You can also use them for:

  • Personal freezer sale, all freezer items (chicken, pork, soups, pot pies, pesto and romesco, and more). Contact Deb by email (, schedule a time, and bring your debit card.
  • Thanksgiving Orders. Pick up your orders at the Farm Stand on Tuesday, the 21st between 3 and 7 PM. Remainder of turkey payment due at pickup.

Willowsford Farm Tomato Sauce, Strawberry Jam & More
They make great gifts. Find them at the Farm Stand and stock up for yourself or for your friends and family for the winter.

Here it is, the last week of CSA. It sure came in with a bang this weekend, too! STOP GROWING VEGETABLES, the cold said. And we said, No Sir, we’re going to keep on. And keep on we will into Winter Shares (sign up now, not many spaces left!).

But winter shares are a different thing, and there’s something about the end of the main CSA season that is a little bit like the end of the World Series. Now what? As the last rounds of planting and cultivating play out in October and November, things do slow down here. They become a little less complicated. Certain tasks aren’t quite as pressing as they were. There’s still plenty to do, more than plenty, but tasks don’t have the same demanding schedules – RAIN COMING, MUST TILL-PLANT-HARVEST-CULTIVATE NOW, NOW, NOW. We can start to catch up on the unfinished business of the season. So, as we finish our last big projects – cover the walls of our high tunnels, plant garlic, harvest carrots, we catch our breath some. We look around a little. Our pace slows some (not too much right?). The days are short of light and we start to go home at reasonable hours and we find ourselves sleeping more. I don’t know what it is – exhaustion catching up? Another year under the ol’ belt? Is this becoming an adult? But this year, I feel particularly attuned to light and winter and the very primal season of rest and hibernation that modern society has so well tried to insulate us from, with light bulbs and electricity and indoor swimming pools and such.

Most important, before you go please recognize again the people who turned sunlight into food for you this season. You know Deb. I think I tell you every year how she is the glue that keeps this place together. She gives tirelessly of herself, because she loves the Farm and because she is dedicated to this strange new model of farm and land and community. You see her at the Farm Stand but she is everywhere: processing chickens, caring for goats, covering at the Farm, on social media, attending meetings, on the news, hosting school groups and camp, and crunching Farm Stand numbers. The Farm truly wouldn’t be what it is without her. I know I wouldn’t, personally or professionally.

Al and Anya led vegetable production this year, and they have done a fine job. Together they’ve sown and overseen seedling production, field prep, planting and cultivation, CSA harvest and distribution, and the team itself. Congratulations on a great year!

Lex has done much the same with animal production this year. This spring we moved into a third farm, grass and woods for livestock. We increased our flock of laying hens, raised more broilers, and introduced two new groups of animals: a trial flock of turkeys and our first Willowsford pigs. As you all know, moving is a process, and he helped the Farm nest in its new home. He is a careful and observant husbander of animals, has a good touch with both poultry and pigs, and he did all this largely on his own this year. Meantime, we worked on installing the infrastructure to take the livestock program to new places.

Veggies wouldn’t grow or get to you without the veggie team of Bree, James, Nate and Jennifer. Bree is new this year but she quickly became one of the farmily. James and Nate returned this season, and together the three of them had the endurance, attitude and diligence to do the real work of producing vegetables. Jennifer returned to us this spring after having a new baby (and just in time!) and has done much of the unseen work of organizing for CSA, deliveries, milk shares, and various orders. Her taking on that work reminds us each week that farming for market involves so much more than soil science, tractor operation and harvest days.

Many of you will be more familiar with the Farm Stand team: Annie came on early this season and was a regular face and force of nature. She is one of the most indominatable spirits we’ve ever met. Julia and Elizabeth are both familiar from years past; Julia (still in high school!) is a steady presence at the Stand and can be counted on for all things needed at the Farm Stand. Elizabeth came through this spring when we needed her. Carlisle is a new face and has taken to the Farm quickly; we hope she’ll be back next year.

There is also a group of volunteers to recognize. Ken, we owe you big time! Bill, Asha and Nancy were a weekly presence at the Boat House weekday pickup, and Jill, Jill and Deborah the weekend. It means so much to us that there are those of you who enjoy engaging with your neighbors and doing so on the Farm’s behalf. This is a very special place.

Finally, thanks to all of you for trusting us to grow food for you. I never get tired of saying that. Community Supported Agriculture in its many forms is a rewarding and enjoyable way of being in this world. You are our Farmily and you mean much to us both as partners in the CSA endeavor and personally as our friends.

This summer for the traditional CSA program we raised veggies for over 278 families in CSA alone; 210 egg shares each week; 77 flower shares; 84 chicken shares (around 1,000 birds!), and over fifty in a Dinner-to-Go trial. We raised many tons of food in vegetable and protein, for CSA, the Farm Stand, Kitchen classes and events, for donation to the Loudoun Interfaith food bank and Dulles South food bank, and for one wedding.

In Your Share This Week
Oh yes, about those shares. Lovely shares this week, we’re happily surprised many veggies in the ground survived the January-like temperatures. We protected all that we could, harvested some early, and lost sleep over some others. So, veggies take well to cold, sweetening up (carrots, spinach) even more. Leeks did great, what a surprise! Greens and radishes also made it, covered with a thin blanket of agricultural fabric called “row cover.” The Broccoli took it the worst: they don’t like the hard freeze, and you may notice their stems looking a little rough. That’s just cells on the surface of the stem having frozen and perhaps burst. But the “leaves on the trees” have their integrity and the broccoli tastes and cooks well.

Also in your shares this week: canned goods for the winter. Tomato sauce made with our tomatoes full of sunshine and summer heat. Sauerkraut made with our spring cabbage. The tomato sauce is shelf stable and the kraut should be put in the refrigerator. It is sprightly and naturally fermented, it’s the real deal. Very good for you and your gut. Put it on all sorts of dishes – I had a burger last night and used it as a topping in place of greens. Yum.

Don’t forget about us this winter! We expect some exciting changes heading into next season and will stay in touch. In the meantime, sign up for Winter CSA and stop by the Farm Stand to stock up on tomato sauce, strawberry jam, pot pies and soup.

As always, be great.

Mike, Deb, Al, Anya, Bree, Carlisle, Elizabeth, James, Jennifer, Julia, Lex, Bella and Radish, Goats the many faces of Mr. Burns, Camillas x 375, Zoey the New Girls x 70, Ben and Not Ben, the rest in the freezer, Rosco RIP and Popcorn, who sent a postcard from the Toaster House in Pie Town, NM

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