Walking the talk!

Hi everyone,

Happy Tamariki!

It feels good to celebrate the New Year in this part of the year and follow the natural cycle. We have almost arrived at the middle point of the year where all natural processes outside have slowed down and everyone and everything is waiting for fresh, new and young things to come again.

At the moment it’s pretty wet on the land and Frank and the boys have not been able to do any cultivation or even harvest carrots. Before you know it, you compact and/or damage the soil beyond easy repair. Luckily Frank had already worked up new soil prior to the wet patch and we are planting garlic for next year and we have also invested in 2000 new strawberry plants that we are planting and mulching as I write.

With this winter weather about us it’s the perfect time to reflect on what we have done over the past year and where we want to head next; we are very keen to grow the CSA to 200 members this coming year and we are now trying to answer the logistical questions that come next. Where are the bottle necks going to be to prevent us from being able to serve 200 members.  There is enough land to grow for 200, we have the skills, but we need to sit down and look at the equipment we currently use as there are some good improvements to be made on this front, especially when it comes to weeding equipment. We will need to work on improving efficiency, planting bigger lots at the time and with more people joining us to help on the farm, it’s also time to write procedures and protocols for the harvesting and especially the packing side of things.

It’s also time to work out crop rotations, seed and crop requirements, drawing up our new yearly sowing calendar. Normally I find it hard to sit inside and work these things out as there are always so many other (important) things to do. But with the short and wet days it actually feels good to sit inside and still feel we are making progress. It is all looking forward and upward!!

The road to resilience in food production

This week we had a visit from Robina, Susie and friends who I wrote about last week. They have been touring New Zealand and still are to help people understand why it is important for all op us to become more resilient and what we can do to get there.  They are including our CSA story in their documentary film as well and it will be interesting to see what they make of it.  From their observations there are not many (if any) like our CSA in New Zealand and we should all feel quite proud with what we are achieving here. 

Fresh local direct food is being talked and written about a lot at the moment. Big chef Martin Bosley is speaking next month at the Horticulture NZ 2013 conference. His topic:” Eat what is in season, what’s local and what’s fresh”. Would be interesting to see if he uses that slogan for his restaurant too as he did not yet show much interested in our stall at the Sunday City Market last yea when our stall faced his one. Great advertising anyhow.

Horticulture New Zealand magazine, the national organization’s magazine for the commercial hort sector, had several articles recently on this topic.  Apparently overseas it’s the next big thing! And according to NZ grower magazine “New Zealand future trends for vegetables are often derived from innovations in the United States”.

Farmers markets, CSA’s and other direct marketing ideas are on the rise because as they explain ”in the market place the grower is always the one who loses out”. The “Rachet Clause”, a term more used in lease agreements, is one of the reasons why growers producing for the wholesale market have a hard time. The rachet clause works like a rachet spanner: You can turn it only one way. In this case in favour of the produce wholesaler. It is also known as the “rat-shit” clause, and I can see very clearly why! (NZ Grower, vol 68, No5, P78).

A large lettuce grower has a crop of lettuces coming ready for harvest and contacts the wholesaler on Monday.  The wholesaler buys lettuces on Monday for $10/crate, and then on Wednesday when the lettuces arrive the price has goes down to $7/crate. The grower gets $7. If the price where to go up to $13 per crate, the grower still gets $10 and the wholesaler makes some extra profit.  This is typical of the fresh produce industry everywhere over the world where the price movement results in a one way street.  

Some other interesting figures I picked up from the magazine this week:

  • Bees in danger: Of the 100 food crops that supply 90% of the worlds food, 70% is pollinated by bees. Bee death rates are currently greater than 50% of what is normally expected  across America and the EU due to colony collapse disorder, which is caused by a multitude of factors. No one wants to blame anything in particular yet but attribute them to possibly the increase of monocultures, the use of pesticides, various pathogens, including varoa, and climate change.  Interesting to me is that most (all) of these factors are caused by man.
  • $4.25 is spent per week per person on fresh and processed vegetables on average In New Zealand (statistics NZ, 2010 survey). This equates to $11.50 per week per average household (11% of the weekly spend). “If one o two more servings of fruit and vegetables were eaten daily, this would prevent an estimated 300 deaths a year”. NZ Grower Vol 68, no 4 p 18 &19.

With most things in life, it’s easy to do the talk, but you have to do the walk as well to make things real and to make real progress.

With an average of 100 CSA members the average spent in our CSA is on fresh fruit and vegetables is $35/per member; we are serving a very healthy bunch of CSA members, who are talking and walking Martin Bosley’s talk by eating  fresh, local  and in season every week of the year. Good on you!  By supporting our diverse organic farm, you help not just yourself to a healthy serving of tasty food, you also help the bees, the local economy and the environment. A win win situation!

Frank must have been thinking what I am writing as he just calls me from the Masterton plot. He is having lunch and watching a video from our inspirational friend Joel Salatin on U tube- where Joel discusses the challenges of fresh food producers. It is very interesting to watch. Here is the link to part one:  


Your weekly CSA shares:

Fruit Share: 2 kg Braeburn apples and 700-800 grams of kiwifruit.

Small Vege Share: either 1 cauliflower, a cabbage, 300 grams of broccoli shoots or 200 grams of kale, 450-500 winter carrots, 300-400 grams of leeks, 1 kg pumpkin and either 250 grams of Swiss chard or bunch of radish.

Large Vege Share: either 1 cauliflower, a cabbage, 300 grams of broccoli shoots or 200 grams of kale, 450-500 winter carrots, 300-400 grams of leeks, 1 kg pumpkin, either 250 grams of Swiss chard or bunch of radish.400-500 grams of baby fennel, 400-500 grams of beetroot, a bag of Mizuna greens or salad mix , 150 grams of radishes and a bunch of coriander.  

From all of us on the farm, have a healthy-licious week,