September 10, 2010

One Small Farmer to Another



As many of you know, we helped organize a second CSA in the neighborhood this spring when our own wait list overflowed and the movement for a LES Food Coop turned on more people to the idea of locally grown, organic produce. Many of you probably know people who get their veggies Thursdays from the LES CSA. And some of you have mentioned to us recently that their yield has been much better than ours, even though lack of rain has affected the whole region.

I posed this question to the LES core group, and they confirmed that they've been overall very pleased with both the quantity and variety of their produce in this, their first season.

But my question also got a response from their farmer, Melinda Rowley of Monkshood Nursery in upstate NY, which I thought would be interesting to share:
Hi Jeremy,

At first I felt proud to hear your members feel our CSA is more bountiful than theirs this year, but then I started feeling sorry for your farmers. I just feel the need to "defend" your farmers, because I know some day we will have an "off" year. Each farm is so individual, there is no way to truly compare and say "All these other farms have plenty of produce and they didn't get any rain either, so what's wrong with our farm?" For instance one farm may have a 5 acre pond to pump water out of, another has a deep well that only gets 4 gallons per minute. Plus microclimates are all over, another example, our farm is next to the Hudson River and therefore our temperatures run warmer about 2 weeks earlier and later than other farms 10 minutes down the road. As small farmers we are all individuals also, maybe there was illness to deal with, equipment breakdowns happen all the time, etc. My husband David works 16 hour days M-S and on Sundays drives to NYC for farmers market making it a 19-20 hour day. He never complains, he loves his job, you have to or no one would work that hard. So instead of trying to find fault with your farmers, give them some thanks for all their hard work and appreciate what they HAVE been able to produce this year. Next year will be completely different!

Melinda