Sunday, March 6, 2011

Winter Journal Post and CSA Letter

February 28, 2011

Hello to all returning and potential CSA members, neighbors, friends and family!

As I type this, Sadie is napping and her little sweet sister, Delia Mae is laying by my side watching me type. Sadie can spell her name now and is very excited to be a big sister and she is a huge helped in all the winter shores with the sheep, bunny and all the chickens.

This winter has been quite eventful- Sadie turned 3, Delia Mae was born December 10, the 30 x 72 hoophouse is built, and we have started the process to buy the land that we farm - on both sides of the road - 31 acres of land. At the end of the growing season, we were notified that the land that we live on and graze the sheep on was going to be put up for sale. This was the catalyst to get things in motion with the Vermont Land Trust and their partners to try to buy this land and some of Roy's land - where we grow all of your/our vegetables. To make this more affordable, we will be conserving the land - so it will always be in agriculture - open land - a small diversified, organic family farm - in Grand Isle, right here on Quaker Road. This is very exciting and we will share with all of you as we go through this process in conserving and buying this land - so Blue Heron Farm will have a stable land base into the future.

We feel very blessed for all the support we received from our CSA members and community from last growing season. We were very blessed with a beautiful summer, the energy and excitement of 4 interns (who rocked and learned so much about organic farming (and potty training a then 2.5 year old), luscious heirloom tomatoes that had juice that dripped down your cheeks, more watermelon and melons than we knew what to do with, harvesting pumpkins and watermelons in September together- all the glory and abundance of a prolific growing season. We are looking forward to another great growing year with the hopes of extending this growing year into December with our new hoophouse - which many hands helped us build.

CSA: nitty gritty, work shares, drop offs, and Supported Shares
This year we are staying at 50 shares and making sure we have enough variety and quantity for all of you. After a very successful fifth year with the implementation of the sliding scale fee structure for the CSA, we will continue that this year. We want to continue to make organic produce affordable to all and be able to pay our costs. With members buying upfront their vegetables for the season, it helps our costs immensely and we can budget for the rest of the season. We would like to get payment by April 15th. If any of you can pay sooner than that, that would be great since most of our buying is right now through March (I know, I know I should have mailed this in January). Shares will start the first or second week in June. **For those who pay by March 15th – you will be entered to win 5 dozen of eggs.

Also, we will be having a working option along with your share which can help with cost of the your share – more info in the brochure. We will also have CSA member work days scheduled once a month where you can come out to the farm and help us with big labor projects that are family friendly. Also, this year we will continue to work on and post on our farm blog

Also, we will be delivering to Fort Ethan Allen, Pinewood Manor (thanks so much Beth) in Essex Junction right past 5 corners in Essex off of Rte 15 across from IBM, and CCV in Winooski on Thursdays. If you know anyone in that area that maybe interested please feel free to pass a brochure to them or give us their name and number and we will send them a brochure. There will be a small one time delivery drop off charge of $35 for the Colchester/Essex drop off sites (to cover our fuel and time costs).

We value your support and friendship. If these costs are a hardship, please call us and we can come up with a payment plan. We are also hoping to provide 3-4 supported shares for families who are in need of this. If you are in need of financial aid this year please let us know and we will get you the financial aid info for a supported share. Also we are accepting donations for the Farm Share program that supports our farms supported shares. Last year we were able to give financial support to 4 families from our community and provide extra food to the Round Barn through generous donations from our members. Our goal is to raise $500 for supported shares so NOFA-VT will match it and make a share more affordable to families in our community. If you would like more info, please give us a call. You can send the donation in with your registration form or send it directly to NOFA-VT with “Blue Heron Farm supported share” in the memo.

Our Community Service (Yours and Ours):
Because of you, our CSA members, we are able to outreach to our community here in Grand Isle County with food and goodwill.

Last year, we had our second year with the Senior Shares at the Round Barn here in Grand Isle. We delivered fresh veggies to 20 residents at the barn and have had community dinners with them once a month since October. We are looking to expand this for this upcoming year and look forward to having them out at the farm with us. If you would like to join us for our monthly lunches, just let us know and we will let you know when they are. We will continue this program again this year with the hopes of expanding it.

Also, we donated and sold a bunch of food for the Food for Thought program last year, which fed over 125 children in Grand Isle County for 12 weeks. This was started by Kaight Althoff (one of our CSA family members) and Melissa Hood and they are doing it again this year with the goal of feeding even more children countywide during the 10 – 12 weeks of summer vacation. Last year, Sadie and Christine, along with some of the interns, would go and help pack boxes on Sundays and bring leftover produce from market or extra veggies that CSA members donated while they were away on vacation. Each week, Blue Heron Farm was able to donate or sell (at a reduced rate) fresh veggies. Our farm plans to help out again with this year by donating veggies and if any of you would like to help with volunteering on those Sundays, delivering food to families, growing veggies here at our farm or your own place, buy a CSA share for this program or with financial support please call Kaight at 372-5843 or give us a call.

This summer we will be working with area churches and community groups to put in community gardens in our community. We will also be working on growing certain crops for the food shelf here in the county. If you would like to help with any of this, let us know.

Chickens, Eggs, Bread, Pasta, Pork and Turkeys (Oh My…)
So we are going to try out having add-ons this year of our chickens, eggs, and food from fellow CSA members Gloria, Daniel, Matt, Aimee and Eric. We are excited about this and we think it will help lighten your grocery shopping having these items available. Later in the season, we will let you know about organic pork and turkey shares from Aimee and Eric. Their pigs get a ton of veggie scraps from our farm, and their pork is quite yummy.
Blue Heron Farm Certified Organic Pastured Chickens & Egg SHARES These chickens are a heritage breed from France (not the Cornish crosses that many producers use). There is more meat all around the bird and the birds are great foragers on pasture. There is a deposit of $50 and then the chickens will be $6.00lb when they are finished. Shares are 5 or 10 birds - fresh or frozen. Egg shares are: $90 for 18 weeks for 1 dozen a week or 1/2 dozen for $45 for 18 weeks. This year we have partnered with Wally's Place(Matt) and Grand Isle Pasta (Gloria and Daniel) to offer weekly deliveries of fresh bread and fresh pasta with your share.
Thank YOU!

We couldn’t do this without all of you. It is because of you, we made it through last year with the hope for this growing season. Adam, Sadie, Delia and I look forward to walking out to the chickens with you and your children, meeting our sheep and their lambs in the pasture, picking sungold cherry tomatoes and ground cherries, uncovering treasures of potatoes and carrots from the earth, and enjoying that you know where your food comes from.

When we sit and plan this year and reflect over the last 7 years – we are truly blessed to have this as our work. We are honored that we are one of your farmers and you are our community. Whew – that’s a lot of writing – well, there was a lot to fill you in on too Hope you are all well. We have enclosed this year’s CSA brochure. We have also enclosed an extra one to pass to a friend. Thank you and we look forward to seeing you walking in the fields - smelling the basil, having tomato juice run down your cheeks and eating fresh lettuce again .

Christine Bourque, Adam Farris, Sadie Farris and Delia Farris.