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ICMI: What's New at Great Oak Farm!

Posted 10/23/2017 10:33am by Stefanie Jaeger.

Greetings From Great Oak Farm!

Fall on a produce farm is like the grand finale of the season, an exciting time that is always worth the wait. The storage crops – many buried under the ground or hidden from view beneath large canopies of broad leaves – lie waiting to surprise us with their bountiful colors and shapes, and we farmers are waiting too. Waiting like sprinters that have stepped up to the line – poised, focused, prepared, ready to burst into motion when the time is right. Waiting anxiously for the fall carrots and beets to grow as long as possible before harvest, waiting for the frost to sweeten the fall crops juuust enough but not let them freeze, waiting for the root cellar to cool enough to keep the harvest through the winter. Then, when the time is right, the fields are dry enough, or the freeze is coming, we spring into action and sprint to the finish. But there are many legs to this annual race against winter, so we stretch, plan together, and get back up to the line to wait for the next heat to begin.    

This season here at Great Oak Farm, we’ve spent a lot of time waiting for parts, or tractors to come back from the shop ready for field work again. As I write this, both of our field tractors are unfortunately in the shop – one needed an engine rebuild and the other hydraulic repairs. Perfect timing. My fingers are crossed that we will get at least one tractor back this week as we race the waning daylight and waves of fall harvest come closer together as they crash upon our shores. Thankfully, we are able to rent our neighbor’s skidsteer to help move bins of produce from the field and into storage. It’s times like these that remind me of the subtle but mighty power of community, of helping our neighbors when they need a hand and we are able. Fall is also an important time for reflection about how the growing season went. Overall, despite the cool summer and steady rainfall, most crops did better than expected, and the weeds didn’t get out of hand (well, most of the weeds anyway!) The warm summery weather in September/early October was well received by many crops, and I could almost watch them grow and ripen in the field from day to day. Unfortunately our largest planting of broccoli – the fall planting – did not fare so well in the heat (nearly 90 degrees in late September!) and all flowered prematurely instead of making heads, so you may have noticed less broccoli in your boxes this fall compared to last year. As far as what has been (or has not been) in your boxes this summer, we’ve also tried to follow through on your feedback from last year’s survey. One standout request was more sweet corn and green beans, so I hope those extra quantites of corn and green beans have been well received. We will be sending out surveys soon for this summer’s boxes - PLEASE take a few minutes to fill them out and let us know what you thought of your boxes this season. We carefully read each and every survey - including all of your comments and suggestions – and welcome your reflections on the meat, vegetables, fruit, and plus items you have gotten in your boxes over the season. Let us know what you liked, and what we can do better. Once the results are all in, we’ll compile the data and send each of you a summary. Meanwhile, enjoy the final box of the summer season and the last gorgeous days of fall colors and warm sunshine!

We’d love to keep you stocked with veggies and meat through the fall holiday season and into the winter with our winter shares that start on Nov 1st – we’ve got mini and regular sizes available for both meat and veggie boxes this winter. There are also plenty of special orders available, from one-time boxes of meat to a case of carrots or other produce - check out the website for details.

We farmers continue to be humbled by your support, and are deeply grateful for your steadfast commitment to eating locally and seasonally with us. Together, we’re rebuilding a robust and resilient regional food system, one bite at a time.

Yours in community – Chris Duke, Great Oak Farm