Updates from the farm


Other updates

2019 Spring Farm Day October 19.

All weather event.

Please buy tickets online.

No eftpos available, cash only.

Upcoming Course and Internship 2018/2019

Wairarapa Eco Farm CSA Agro-ecology Course and Internship

Linking practice with theory


Are you interested in growing and distributing healthy vegetables and fruits? Do you want to learn about agro-ecology, food sovereignty and sustainable food systems? Are you keen to tap into the knowledge of an experienced and innovative farmer? Or, do you have a desire to learn about the challenges and practicalities of working towards a sustainable, healthy, viable food system that is fair and just for the earth, the consumer and the producer? Then why not join Frank and his whanau on the Wairarapa Eco Farm CSA this spring /summer!

Course and Internship Description 

This is an experiential learning program based on agro-ecology and soil quality, the pre-requisites for quality food production with environmental care that lay the foundation for genuine progress/ resilience in community development.  The program is geared toward people interested in producing food quality and community development.

First litter of Maremma puppies born on the Farm

The whole family got excited on Easter Monday when we noticed after dinner that Florence, our purebred Maremma Guardian dog started to show the first signs of labour.  A few hours earlier we had brought inside the newly built whelping box and introduced her to it (she seemed to like it very much, only coming out to go outisde for a perceived pee!)  Sure signs for me (as a mum of 4 myself) that something was about to happen, and when she started to breath very heavily I was sure this was not going to take very much longer. 

We all joined Florence in the whelping room (office) which she accepted and appreciated as a sign of support.  Frank joined her in the whelping crate and she did not want him to leave her side. 15 minutes later her waters broke, which she started cleaning up straight away, and after some contractions puppy number 1 made it out.  With around 3 hours intervals there were 3 more happy and healthy pups. 

Young Chickens for Sale


We have a small number of young chickens for sale.  They are 11 weeks old now and will start laying in about another 9 weeks. 

This week (10-16 Dec) they are $12.50 each. Cost increases with $1 per week after this.  For more info or to order contact Josje on 022 0958479.

Breed: Hyline.

CSA Guided Farm Tours

This 2016/2017 growing season we are opening the gates of our Tauherenikau property, so you can see for your self what we are all about. 

Every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the months September 2016 through to April 2017 we will be hosting regular guided Farm Tours at our Tauherenikau farm. Tours start 1 pm. 

$20.00 pp or CSA members half price (children under 15 free). Book your ticket for your tour by following this link a few days in advance so we know if or who is coming and can plan the day accordingly.

We are a working farm, so there are a few rules:

  • Please sign in on arrival and stay in the group. For more up to date info on health & safety on our farm check with your farm guide.
  • Please bring suitable footwear.

The CSA farmer-member relationship: a precious vegetable!

Earlier this year we had the privilege of hosting young lass Mariarosaria for a week as part of her research project on CSA's in New Zealand. It was a great experience for all of us on the farm as growers, packers, consumers, and lovers of life, to show and discuss our ideas and beliefs with her.  What moves us, through thick and thin, to keep us wanting to grow this concept, but also, what does make you as our CSA member tick?  Last week Mariarosaria shared with us her "first reflections" on her journey down under.  Here it is.  

GAIA award winners

Wairarapa Eco Farm has been awarded not one but three awards in the inaugural Green Agriculture Innovation Awards (GAIA) NZ 2014. We are proud winner of the BIOSEA HORTICULTURE AWARD and the TM AGRICULTURAL INNOVATION AWARD and in addition we've been awarded 'silver' recipient of the PADDOCK TO PLATE award. "Already well established in Australia, this award is New Zealand’s inaugural event in celebration of producers who are championing the use of soil-friendly practices that support ecological and economic bottom-line benefits while improving the quality of the food on which the health of the nation depends."

Frank speaks at the 2014 BD Conference

Frank is back!

It has been a little while since frank last spoke at the New Zealand Annual Biodynamic Conference.  Last Sunday morning the family got up before sunrise and piled into the car, and I really mean piled!  The little ones insisted on bringing pillows and blankets.  This year the BD Conference was in Palmerston North, so we had a bit of driving to do. The speeches started at 8.40 and frank followed on from a Rachel Schneider from America speaking about CSA's over there; a great intro into the ideology of a CSA.  

At Home, Frank and I had prepared a talk and slideshow (which we have posted here below), but after hearing Rachel talk about her CSA, the 10 principles of CSA, and the CSA situation in the US (around 13,000 CSA are operating over there!?!?), Frank ended up giving a very passionate and personal presentation that is still booming in my head.  Watch the video here!

I am sure you will feel inspired too!  So here we have filmed Franks Speech as is was:

Bread, Cheese, Milk and Wine? YES, Bring it on!

Exciting times are ahead of us, with artisan bread, cheese, low intervention wine and raw milk being added or coming soon to our web shop.  This coming week will be the last week for the eggs over winter, but also here we plan to come back a bit bigger and more efficient so we can better keep up with the demand for our wonderful eggs! To order some extra items on a week to week basis, go to the webstore and click on "select some extra items". From there you will be able to choose the products you are interested in.  These extra orders need to be in by Monday evening so we have enough time to organise.

Autumn Happiness

Days of heavy rain followed by a few amazing days with sunshine and warmth – it has been all over the place lately. In the Netherlands we have a saying “April doet wat hij wil”, meaning that indeed the month of April just does whatever it feels like, and although its spring on the other side of the world, it has been the same kind of unreliable weather here. Leaves are colouring up and starting to fall of the trees and it the sunny autumn days are bringing warmth and kindness to everyone. 

The heavy downpours from last week had their effects on some of the crops of the field – we lost a whole plot of Asian greens which were just ready for harvest and we have now given up on more tomatoes.  The chestnuts were harvested in the rain and should be left out to dry a bit. Any mould can be easily wiped off; with a thick skin the mould cannot enter the nut (unless it is cracked) and is safe to eat.

Money & Food ....Otherwise!

Money & Food ...Otherwise!

Last Sunday’s CSA event on Savings pools was most enjoyable and successful. Some 20-odd people from different walks of life, from both the Wairarapa and Wellington, listened to Peter Luiten from Living Economies explaining how savings pools can help communities use money positively to build their own lives and the community at the same time.  To me it was very inspirational; we have become so accustomed to using credit cards and borrowing money for every small and large thing we think we need/want right now!

Some interesting points I learned about savings pools:

It's a fit!

April again!  Middle of autumn and still summer weather galore. Great to warm up our soul and our soil as long as we keep both hydrated enough – which is getting a bit problematic for the latter as we can bring on the water only so fast!  (picture: funny shaped tomato).

Fantastic or what!

Dear Friends of the CSA,

21st of March today – we have arrived at the equinox, halfway between summer and winter. For me the start of autumn. Last week at full moon we managed to sow the last 60 trays (144 cells each, i.e. 8640 cells) of seeds for winter. The quick response of the seed to spring into life was great to see and this week we could already thin them out (take out where there is more than 1 seed coming up per cell) most of them. A great result and if all goes well in their next phase of life, making sure we do not run out of leafy vegetables over winter and early spring.

The weather has been good over the past few weeks. A wee while back I was afraid that autumn was coming very early, and we had the fire going for a few evenings, but luckily the weather gods brought back some warm (hot even) summer like days adding some extra warmth (and growth) to the soil and our hearts.

Building communities together

It has been a little while since my last blog/newsletter; we are defenitely not sitting still! The baskets have been overflowing with produce, and there have been some comments of members wondering if we swapped them to large shares as there was just so much more! Please be aware though that autumn has started and the few cold nights we have already experienced are stating to slow things down.

The last few weeks have been great with lots of produce needing to be harvested and thus what else to do but to share with our members. This is the great aspect of Community Supported Agriculture; With enough support from our local community we do not need to go out to the open market place and try to squeez every cent out of the wholesaler.  As you might have picked up in the ne s recently that it is not easy for small producers to work with large supermarket chains. They are so powerful,in the end they set the price - irrespective of environmental, social and/or economic cosequences for the producer and his land.


"Too bad WEFS CSA is such a best kept secret"

Summer is finally realy here!

32 degrees Celsius yesterday and again today.  It is tough work being on the land harvesting or weeding during these intense hot days – I think Frank lost 4 kg this week and thus imagine how much water the soil and plants need in order to keep functioning as we want them to do!.

I hope by now everyone has been able to login into their new Bucky Box (BB) account and found his /her way around it. If not, please contact us so we can help you get aquinted with the new system. Thanks for the feedback so far regarding Bucky Box and the new way of packing your shares.

Bucky Box

Today Will from Bucky Box is here on the farm to help me getting to know the system better/ and or adjusting the system to make it work better for our CSA.  So far, I am really starting to like the software. Two big plusses from the farm point of view so far.

Firstly, as long as you as our member pay into the right account (the new one: 01-0274-0432230-01), it’s very easy to reconcile everyone’s account (even quicker and more straightforward than Xero). I think that from your side the same can be said in that you have an easy update of where your account is at.

2014 has started with a bang and a shake!

Earlier this week it was the Wairarapa that experienced their ‘own’ earthquake; 6.2!  Thank you so much to everyone who emailed us asking how we faired during the earthquake.

At the moment of impact, I (home in Greytown) was on the phone with Frank (CSA farm in Masterton). He had just been checking out the garden with Antoinette (see photo) to plan the harvest for next week.  It started shaking slowly at first, and we were relatively calm, but when the shakes became more violent we thought it better to hang up and duck for cover. The kids were already under the table clinging onto a table leg and by the time I wanted to join, it all stopped. Everything had stayed in place, no cracks or breaks!  Pff. 

Merry Christmas from the CSA farm!

Our Christmas present came early in that the CSA has become officially our own, back to its roots! Frank and I are now the proud owners of the CSA.  In the next newsletter we will introduce you to our ideas for the future.  For now I just need to let you know our new bank account details for your CSA/RSA payments:  Wairarapa Eco Farm CSA: 01-0274-0432230-01. If you have automatic or regular payments going into the CSA please change it NOW!

Summer weather has been coming and going, the broad beans are almost done for the year and other types of beautiful green beans are taking their place, courgettes are here as well as cucumbers etc.  It’s such a pity that many of our members are away when our produce is most bountiful!

Sexy organics in the news!

As a big first, I sent out a short email yesterday with this weeks CSA share content. Yeah!. I know it's on the big wish list of many of our current and old CSA members.

Our aim is to do this every Wednesday, so you know what is coming, instead of checking it afterwards. Over summer this is easier done as we know produce is plenty and the chance of running out of something and having to run back into the garden to harvest some other crop is much smaller. yes, you cannot get it any fresher than this!

50 extra members please

Last week we had over 100 mm of water coming down on us, bringing huge damage to our cherry crop and disrupting some weeks of our strawberry harvest. Frank was more devasted than I imagined; he had set his plans on investing the extra money from the sale of bulk cherries into a tunnel house and a Dutch weeding machine. Both are very important and the top 2 on Frank's wish list. "This 100 mm of water is setting us a back another year, unless we find 50 extra CSA members really fast". 

Farming Fun

It is nice to see the sun again today! We have seen a lot of rain over the past few days, and with the girls (Sanne 20, Renske 18) back home helping us on the farm, together with some friends, all the wet clothing has been piling up! In these kinds of days, it’s always good to focus on the better days to come; there is always sun after rain!

The rain has both been welcome and not so welcome. It’s been great for everything but the cherries and other soft fruit like the strawberries of course. Frank is out there today, working out the damage and the strategy for the next few weeks. Cherries are so intensely fragile weather-wise that up till the real pick you can’t really say anything about how well the harvest will be. And if damaged, we will have to wait till next year. Strawberries are different, damaged berries will rot away and new ones will keep on coming for a period of time; it might just e that next week and mybe the week after we will have to do without. Just while they were starting to do really well and come on line beautifully.  

New Years Break coming up

The crickets are back – seems early this year, as I seem to remember more like Christmas that I start to hear them, but today they are really here!  Hearing crickets brings me back to my childhood years where we would go on summer holidays to France (I do not think we have crickets in The Netherlands?) and thus a good feeling of lazy summer days galore!  The lazy summer childhood days are far gone, but the good feeling already makes it great!

With regards to lazy summer days, we had to make some important decisions about CSA deliveries around Christmas time and New Year as they fall awkwardly on our harvest, packing and delivery/pick up days.

With our team of harvesters and packers we have decided to work through the weekend in the first week and have a little break in the second week. This way you can still enjoy fresh produce up to Christmas! So here is the schedule:

Thursday 19 December: Normal pick up

Thursday 26 December: Brought forward to Tuesday 24 December (Christmas Eve)

Thursday 2 January:  No deliveries 

New Potatoes for everyone!

At yesterdays' CSA pick up you might have noticed that there were no potato free shares available.  As we had very fresh dug up potatoes we wanted to share them with everyone (also beacuse we did not have much else to replace them with!).  It is not often that your potatoes are so new! This is a one off though. Next week and there after we will be back to potato free shares.  I will add potatoes to our online shop, so you can order extra if you like.

Also this week the first harvest of strawberries. The portions still rather small and some of you missed out completely, but over the next few weeks both the quantity and the flavour should improve with more consistent warm weather.

The broadbeans are getting better too, making it more worthwhile to go though the effort of processing them. It is not often that the smell of broadbeans hangs around the packing shed, as it is such a seasonal crop, but this week the intensity of the beans was amazing - I hope you enjoy them too!

To Grow, Connect and Inspire

It was in the late eighties and early nineties that Frank and I, while studying for our (mainstream) (Sub)Tropical Agricultural Science degrees, realized that Farming for the Future had to be ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, humane and adaptable. This ‘Farming for the Future’ has many different names: organic, permaculture, biological, etc. No matter the name, the main thing is that each individual farming system needs to adhere to all 5 principles! Why? Anything less would in some way or another be detrimental to our mother, the Earth, and to all its inhabitants (plants, animals and humans).

In Central America we ventured into the world of Rural Development Aid Work to ‘help the rural poor’ and came rather quickly to the realization that (at that time) these programmes have more to do with satisfying the agenda’s of the international sponsors than with real sustainable development.  Preaching the green revolution was still high on the agenda and this did not fit with our beliefs for family farming and smallholders.

Goodbye to the apples and yeah to asparagus!

Are you missing our apples yet?  I bet you don’t. There is something to be said about eating seasonal and to eat crops outside their season, either means it has been stored in a (sometimes expensive) chiller or it’s been imported from the other side of the world. It is very handy to be able to store for a period of time as in our temepate climate there is not much fresh to harvest and we all still neeed to eat. Prefarably somewhat natural, with no additives etc to make it still look as if it is eatable. Whatever the story, it always lacks the taste and cruncyness of pure seasonal produce due to storage or due to being picked very early (too early)in order to make is shippable. Sometimes things have to be added to make it ripen appropriately on time for it to be in the shops too. I can remember a time when there were no apples for sale from November to February. These days our new generation believes apples and other fruit and/or crops are harvested every week year round!!!

Bouncing Back after the Storm!

It’s amazing how fast one forgets how strong the wind was last Monday night and the intensity of the rain the next day; On Monday we lost the roof of the greenhouse, the plastic is in tatters as it was just one storm too many this year. Luckily the plastic roof was blown onto the rhubarb plants outside which we just harvested last week (good timin!).  It left all the seedlings inside pretty unharmed; except for the germinating broccoli and kohlrabi trays which the birds found very appetizing. We will have to do those again!  The plastic roof (24 by 8 meters) lasted this time around over 7 years, which is very good as we used to lose it at least every 2 years before that. A testament to the all the trees and shelterbelts we planted over the years and that are now mature enough to break most of the winds. Anyone interested in helping us putting a new roof on in the next week or two, please let us now. It needs to happen on a very calm and dry day as we will be juggling a very big piece of light plastic onto an awkward long and half round structure.

Who needs Ice to build an Igloo?

Spring holidays are here and I am trying my best to keep the kids and myself outside. Away from electronics as much as possible. It’s not such a hard task, the weather is gorgeous, and outside everything smells fresh and sweet, butterflies are starting to fly around and nice flowers are starting to pop up here, there and everywhere! My plan was to take the kids to the big city (Wellington) but it’s too nice to sit in the car and swivel around the Rimutaka’s. Maybe next week.

How well do you know your greens?

September has been tempestuous in many ways for us, not the least for the weather! All seasons in one day.  And yippee, today (Friday) it is stunning once again and we are ready for the Spring Blossom Farm Day tomorrow.  With regards to the blossoms, this week is actually better than last week as last week there was not much happening yet.  I think looking back at last year and this year, we can definitely assume that the last weekend of September is THE day for a spring blossom day.  When organizing the day a number of weeks ago, I was thinking it could be earlier this year due to the mild winter we have experienced, but it looks that it did not affect the start of the blossoms much at all. So, without much more a-do:

Spring Blossom Farm Day postponed to next week (weather permitting)

 “Hi Frank and Josje, Thank you for taking the time to show us around your farms. I would like to congratulate you both on your passion and efforts that have resulted in this unique entity that is WEF. It was very refreshing to see such integrity and delivery of ideals within the program of producing these food items. I was very surprised at the real taste of the raw vegetables - eating them in the field in which they grow - the natural sugars and flavours, textures that exist within a sprouting Cavolo nero shoot or endive lettuce is hard to describe. Too many trendy food clichés could be used but in this case are actually true rather than some scripted marketable verbosity given by a TV chef for example. Roberto and I decided to cook on our return to Wellington some of these items such as the chicory leaves - again it shows that you really don't need overworked food to make an impression. The flavour of the raw fennel bulb was I think the best I have tasted ever - only distant memories of fennel from the markets in Paris compare. As Frank was saying - the soil is obviously so important, no fertilisers even!! Together with planting seeds with good genetic material that suit the soil.

Chefs day out a big hit!

Earlier this week we had a surprise visit by 2 well known chefs from Wellington, enjoying a beautiful day away from their kitchen and in the country side - the wild winds had not yet arrived and the weather was stunning, so calm and sunny.  The mood was set for a great occasion.  Frank took some time to show them around the garden and pick all sorts of fresh greens for them to chew on. They were amazed by the event and blown away by the intense tastes and textures of the different crops. They happily tried anything Frank handed to them: the sweet bitter taste of our endives and chicories, the deep anis-y taste of the fennel, the fresh lemony French Sorrel, crunchy salad greens and hot as hot mustard lettuce. 

Today we became peasants! And we are proud of it!

From my early days as an agricultural student in the late eighties, I have always looked at the word “peasant” with quite a bit of negativity.  The dictionary explains why. Wikipedia describes a peasant as “a member of a traditional class of farmers, either laborers or owners of small farms”. It further explains: “Peasants typically make up the majority of the agricultural labour force in a pre-industrial society.” “The word "peasant" is sometimes used to refer denigrated to those considered to be "lower class", perhaps defined by poorer education and/or a lower income.” And I definitely did not see myself as that! Being a ‘farmer’ looked much more professional!

Prior to the industrial and green revolutions all farmers were more or less peasants and vice versa.  Now, 40 years on and mainstream farming is an industry where profits come before the quality of the animals or the food it is producing. Battery farmed chickens and pigs in crates are the extremes. Inputs are shipped in from everywhere over the globe, there are sometimes even shareholders and dividends to consider. It’s capitalist farming where high inputs are converted in high outputs to maximize profits. 

Natures balance!

According to the New Zealand MetService we are experiencing a very mild winter (the warmest on record or so) and I agree that so far winter has been kind to us all, with the small excpetions here and there. While it feels good for the human soul, we have to see if it also good for Nature; spring has come extra early with fruit blossoming everywhere and a few days or nights with Antacrtic frosts and blistery southerlies  can hugely upset young growth and spoil it for later on.

Another wait and see is the manifestation of pests.  Frosty nights help getting rid of bugs the natural way, no harmful sprays necessary, Nature does a lot of the work for us.  I am always amazed at how nature is so cleverly woven into patterns and cycles that creates and maintains the balance of life! However if Nature does not help us keep the delicate natural balance then we might have a problem on our hands with increased insect population able to damage crops without extreme human intervention. Let’s wait and see, stay positive, focused and keep our fingers crossed.

2nd Annual Spring Blossom Farm Day Coming up

Hi everyone,

Great to see the sun out again; it makes life seem so much easier.  Just had a cup of tea in the sun and it’s so calm here as well! Anyone who has been here recently will hear the difference! This is mainly due to the fact that we brought our older chickens and roosters to the local butcher. The roosters were becoming very loud early in the morning and actually throughout the day, I think the young female chickens that stayed behind are happy to get some space to their own without the constant male attention. 

In the house we are looking after some baby chicks born two weeks ago who will join the flock when they are a bit bigger. They have been joined last night by Socks, our new baby lamb who has a sore leg and could not keep up with its mum.  It’s a cross between a "Zwarte Bles" (Black Bles) and East Frisian,and the kids are already adoring him: Femke could only just get herself from beside his side to go to school this morning- tears in her eyes!

Shaking the foundations!

Hi everyone,

Hope that for our Wellington members your Sunday afternoon earth quake experience (from 2 weeks ago) is fading fast.  Our daughter Sanne was at the 9th floor of her student hall and ended up under the desk while glasses and books fell around her! The scariest moment in her life! She was not sure what the best place to be was, the 9th floor or the 1st? My guess is that the best place to be is here on the farm, so if the next big one hits, fellow CSA members, please feel free to camp out here between the olives for a bit!

It brings back the topic of the importance of community resilience and resilient agriculture.  My little research into resilience points to Locally Grown Food and Community Supported Agriculture as one of the ways to bring about better community resilience and it’s not strange! We need to reconnect!

Changes on the farm

Hi everyone,

Spring was in the air this week and I can see the first daffodils starting to poke their tops out of the soil. It won’t be long before the spring animals start hopping around. I put a new lot of chicken eggs in the incubator, thinking it’s a great start of the season. The days are starting to get a bit longer already and we can all feel it here.  A few more weeks until the main winter CSA season comes to an end and we move into spring. From there on it won’t be too long before the CSA shares start to change from mainly root crops to leafy greens.

Changes on the farm

As of last week Matt is fulltime back in Wellington. After a year and a half part time living and working on the farm it was time for a change. We will sorely miss his presence as his involvement helped us more than anything to grow the CSA. Matt will still be involved (I hope) in the background, helping with the development of the website and customer database.  Thanks Matt, without you I am almost certain we would have given up last year!

On the Radio: Frank's Passionate Love for Deep Ecological Farming!

In the News (again!)

Last week Frank featured on National Radio (again!) and spoke to Jeremy Rose from the Ideas Programme about the technical issues that we face as organic (we prefer the term ecological or biological) farmers. Together with the earlier talk about the CSA back in April, they give you a wonderful insight on what makes us tick here.  Both interviews illustrate the passion, knowledge and commitment that we have to make this farm and CSA work! We just can’t let go of the ‘deep’ feelings we have for organic farming systems!

Shallow versus Deep Organics

One aspect talked about was the steps we are taking to make this farm resilient and ready for the future.  To future proof ecological farming one needs to make the steps from efficiency (shallow) and substitution to ultimately redesign (deep).  

Is there Round Up in your pee?

Hi all,

Winter is definitely upon us; the stormy weather from last week first caused the plants to stand in the wet for a while, and then this was immediately followed by three frosty nights and icy cold days in a row, causing severe rot of our endive lettuces and other fragile leafy greens. On another front, the wild rabbits have found our property back this winter and really like the kale,  broccoli and the young broad beans that are just shooting out of the ground. (John K, we are pleased to invite you for a rabbit hunt, if you are still keen?).

We personally noticed the wintery cold days while harvesting and washing the produce this Tuesday and Wednesday. Hands get soo cold that it takes hours to warm up. It’s pretty tough, but then we know that we have just passed the shortest day and we are heading towards the warmth over again! One of our members emailed us a very lovely Solstice Poem (Thank You, Vanessa) and I have pasted it here to pass it on as it so true for us here on the farm; by working with the land and the plants we are so lucky to still have that strong connection with the rhythms of the earth:

Seasonal Goodness

Note: Hope you all came out ok after the storm last Thursday night.

On Friday, we experienced for more than 6 hours a very local power cut and just as we thought we had to get organized for an energy-less night and got all our emergency gear out, it came back on. Great!

I did however forget to check if the newsletter made it out and it didn’t. So here it is.   


With the weather forecast being so awful for this week and next, I made the quick decision to move the computer/office to the house and out of the drafty cold garage.  It’s actually not so bad yet, but if feels more comfy here.  It is also a good time to clean up, file, and put old files and information away.

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.

Localising Food; Lets make it happen!

It’s Thursday again and newsletter day. Matt is back from a trip up north and is sharing the garage/office space with me – so we have moved the gas heater and it is actually quite cozy! 

Localising Food

The Wairarapa Eco Farms is becoming a prime example of how to localise food production. Its quite tricky in New Zealand where most of agriculture and horticulture has been and still is focussed on export markets. New Zealand is very much an export country. So there is not much support infrastructure to develop local food production systems like ours. 

In 2006 Frank, Laura Beck and myself were asked to investigate local food production developments in the Wellington region, (you can read the summary of the report here) and it was very clear that over the years food production has become less local, making the region more dependant on produce shipped in from other parts of the country and from overseas.

Winter Blues and Growing Pains Necessary

I am keeping it short this week; the garage is just too cold for my fingers to write anything. Even though the sun is out now, the garage is not getting anything of that precious sun and it is outside warmer than inside. Who is to complain though: Frank, Ross and Antoinette spend Monday through to Wednesday in the immense cold and wet weather to harvest this week’s crops.  Just imagine having to wash kilos and kilos of greens in ice cold water on end! Not the greatest time of year to be a grower! 

However, we do appreciate what the cold brings; killing of insect pests in the soil and the air that have built up over the long hot summer, chilling the summer trees enough to bring about plentiful of blossoms later this year.  These are all very important aspects of the temperate climate we live in and the normal yearly cycle. Nature works pretty good! 

Making Positive Steps

Hi All,

It’s quite hard to be a TRULY sustainable business, as to be really sustainable you have to look at all aspects involved: ecologic, economic, social and cultural.  There is always room for improvement as no one/business is perfect and through new developments more eco friendly solutions become available all the time.  However, the crucial decision often comes down to the money side of things.  A business is only a business as long as the money keeps flowing! As you have experienced we are going through quite a lot of plastic bags – we try as much as possible to minimize, but with lots of fresh leafy greens that is not always possible.  The time has come for us to try something different and make a positive step towards becoming more TRULY sustainable by trialing Eden biodegradable bags instead of the ones we have been using. In the next wee while we are going to use cornstarch bags and we like to have your feedback on how they behave while in your fridge or cool room.  In the past we have used some type of biodegradable bag, but they did not last in the fridge; they decomposed too quickly and became one with the fresh veggies that were stored in them!

Natural growth in business and the soil!

Dear All,

It was great to receive all the feedback on last week’s newsletter. Many about the yummy apples and some about our challenges with building a truly sustainable flock of chickens/sustainable business. It is great to find that almost everyone is resubscribing for winter. With around 100 members we have decided to stop the CSA trials for a while as we feel there are limits to growth (in every sense of the word), we want to make sure there is enough to go around and create time to re-organise and plan ahead where ever we can/need. There are still openings to join us for a 13 week seasonal share. 

Humus saves the world

A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of keeping the quality of the soil up by guiding the natural internal processes in the soil, instead of grabbing for the off the shelf products (i.e. externals).  Frank is all about these internal processes (humification and denitrification) which if guided well, help form humus (i.e. natural ultimate compost form) in the soil that feeds the plants.

Winter Season starting next week!

Dear all,

This is week 13 of the Autumn season and next week our winter season starts.  Thank you to everyone who has paid up front for the season, informed me of their weekly/ fortnightly payments and/or let me know if they like to make any changes to their regular order.  Feedback is very important as we like to make sure we get it right and hang on to the progress we have made recently.  We know that the cold and wet winter months are always a bit tougher than summer when everything just grows without much hassle.

Anja, one of our earliest CSA members in Wellington, came to the farmday  with her family 2 weeks ago and emailed me back with the following comment:

" Hi Josje, It was great to visit the farm last Sunday. I have more respect and appreciation for all your hard work, now that I have seen everythingwith my own eyes".

Another very nice comment we received from one of our very new members was: "We LOVE the veges and fruit!! Our kids said, "wow, we've never heard apples crunch like that!". It was very cute."

Life is beautiful!

Life is jolly at the moment as the good stuff keeps on happening, the weather is great and we are getting lots done.

On the radio

Last Saturday morning Matt, who was on duty at Hill Street farmers market,  texted us out of bed to inform us that we were on the national radio. Earlier than anticipated, but good neverthe less. It is always funny to hear yourself talk, but I think we all did very well. Thank you Susan from Country Life for doing a program on us and the CSA. If you have not yet heard it, you can follow the link below. http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/countrylife/audio/2553167/wairarapa-eco-farms.asx.

Shares are ready for Pick up Today!

Its Anzac day Tomorrow and everything will be closed! We have worked hard to get everything ready for your today. Please pick it up today  from you pick up location. Next week everything will be back to normal again (i.e. Thursday pick up).

“An apple in the hand …

Tow weeks ago Russell and Laura from Upper Hutt spend a day on our orchard helping with the harvest of this new season's apples. He Wrote a little piece for our newsletter:

"Yesterday my wife Laura and I discovered that “an apple (um … many apples, in this case) in the hand, … is worth many days in the office”. We had the privilege of working with Frank and the crew picking apples. Doing that was so much better than spending ‘a day in the office’ or, well, pretty much anything else. The day was perfect, with the sun streaming down on us. Our fellow workers did everything they could to get us started smoothly in the work and were nice! nice! nice! to be with and work with. We very much enjoyed getting to know the people who produce our weekly fruit and veg. We worked as hard as we could and it was nice to feel that we had made a contribution too, to the process.

So … like Arnie “We’ll be back!  Thank you Frank, Albert, Joel and Matt!”

and a big thank you Russell and Laura.

Magic 100!

Next week : 24 April 2013
Wednesday Pick Up (Due to ANZAC Day)

Hi everyone,

This week we have hit the magic 100!

We almost thought we were never going to get there, and Frank and I were silently and independently even thinking of giving up by the end of last year. But then, hey presto, suddenly it all started to come together and here we are at 100.  This means that there is a future for our CSA. Finally the buts and ifs are gone!

You're invited to come and get to know your growers!

Hi all,

What a glorious day today (now yesterday!): the sun is shining brightly; the birds are singing and the chickens cackling (is that what they do?)! Fresh air smells even better with these cold autumn mornings. Time for a coffee, computer and a fresh newsletter!

Yesterday morning we had a visit from a lady from Country Life, a rural program on National Radio to interview us for a half an hour session on the radio. It was a very enjoyable and interesting day as she came back in the afternoon to see for her self how the harvesting and packing took place.  I am sure that it will take some time to edit the work into a pleasurable piece, but it’s due to be aired later this year. We’ll keep you up to date. 

All of this is part of the positive spin the CSA is in and I am sure more good things will follow.  A wee while back Matt added on the CSA joining form a question to find out where new people had heard from us and it is great to read more and more that they hear it through the grapevine and from friends who are already a member. That is you! Thank you for helping the CSA grow and its good to find out that we must be something good, else you would not want to recommend it to your friends!

Frank talked about all of you on national radio!

Hi everyone,

This week is not over yet, but already proving to be another great one.  Tuesday evening Frank and I dropped in at the Sustainability Trust building in Forresters Lane to be part of Wellington Local Food Week.  It was the launch evening of the event with short presentations by a variety of local entrepreneurs to showcase their local business. As well as pouring our delicious new season’s juice, giving away apples and CSA brochures, we networked with a fantastic crowd of around 150.

Frank’s presentation was one of the last ones, and although Matt and I had ‘instructed’ him to promote the CSA, by the time it was his turn Frank and Josje’s Wairarapa Eco Farms had already been positively mentioned and/or shown on a slide a number of times, so Frank went off on his own accord with a very entertaining story that only Frank can do (but without any mention of CSA or how to participate or join).  Anyway, it was a tremendous evening and most people did get the gist of things.

Local Food Celebrations

Hi everyone,

Did you see the full moon last night? It was beautiful and we used this incredible force to help our seeds take off with direct sowing in our Masterton market garden and sowings for transplants in our Greytown hothouse.  Just like the moon effects high and low tide of the sea, it also affects water dynamics in the soil and you can believe it or not, we do see positive results (better germination and stronger plants) if we (manage to) sow by the moon.  And this time around we did manage it. It is a good time of the year to sow as we need strong young plants established in the ground before winter kicks in.  We’ve sown different types of carrots and beetroot, radish, peas and parsnip in Masterton and brassica’s (i.e. broccoli, cauli, cabbages, different types of kales), lettuce, endive, leeks, silverbeets and spinach to name the most important ones in Greytown. 

After the big sow it was time to catch up on worldly ecological matters! We receive quite a few magazines to keep us in the loop of what is happening in the commercial world of growing.  From the Netherlands we receive a magazine for the commercial organic grower called “Ekoland” and yesterday I took some time to read a few features.  

Yippee Rain!!

Hi all,

Remember how positive I was in the newsletter last week with us reaching 88 wonderful CSA members.  Half an hour after sending the newsletter into the ether, Frank came home with a power bill for February that was 6 times as high as normal for that month!! A big sigh followed. It’s all got to do with the drought and the hot and dry summer. Although we are very happy that at least we have had a summer this year (we like it nice and warm), and that we have the legal opportunity to irrigate (consent), it has been very costly to run the irrigator and chiller over summer. So, the story of our lives seems to be two steps forward and one step back!

Being in the business of growing nutritious fruit and vegetables the ecological way, we are very much at the mercy of the weather. Due to the effects of climate change, the risk of extreme weather is going be greater every year and it’s up to all of us to do our bit to create a healthy and safe environment for future generations. I was again reminded of this by an organization called “350 Organisation” who stand strong to unite the world to find solutions against climate change.

88 members and growing

Hi everyone,

This week we packed 88 veggie shares (with 2 regular CSA members not counted as they are on holiday), which is a new record. This means we have a third more active members then just before Christmas.  This is wonderful news as business people know because our weekly turnover has increased by a third, but our costs are staying more or less the same. For the first time in the history of the CSA we are starting to break even! This is where we need to be and we look forward to welcoming our one-hundred CSA member in a not too distant future.

A positive future

Hi everyone,

I have just been looking at the summer climate figures out by NIWA, our national forecasting bureau, and checked out the Wairarapa as well as Wellington.  I am sure you have all been amazed by this unusual (for Wellington) warm and dry summer weather that does not seem to stop.  Many record individual figures about New Zealand’s towns and regions are released and it shows that we have been enjoying an amazing warm and dry summer all over New Zealand. Two interesting figures stood out for me: Wellington enjoyed one of its sunniest summers ever, but also was the wettest for our 6 New Zealand main centers. Combining these two figures you must be wondering what that means for the rest of the country if Wellington is both unusually sunny and the wettest at the same time!?!

Thank you!

Hi everyone,

After a great week away from home we’re straight back into our weekly responsibilities. Thank you for not making it too hard on Matt. I was a little bit afraid that I was going to come back to 100's of emails, but it is not too bad at all!

It was a great feeling that we were able to go away and not even think for a moment about the crops, our animals, the weather, the CSA or the kids (maybe sometime about the last one). All these need everyday attention and cannot be shelved for one day or even one week. Fortunately everything and everyone was in very good hands and it is wonderful to finally be in the position that we are able to do this - and I hope a bit more often.  We definitely would not like to wait another 4 years for a one week holiday!

 I can remember other times that we have been away for a few days. You come back and the place looks like a jungle: plants shot up, grass grown heaps. But not this time around. It all has become dryer and browner. The beautiful summer weather is starting to take its toll and sucking up the last bits of water from the soil at our home place. Luckily we have enough water in our Masterton market garden; the struggle there is to get it around quick enough to keep all plants happy.   

Your CSA Shares This Week, 21st of February, 2013

Just a short little note from me this week - I've limited time, due to Josje and Frank being away. I'm trying to keep on top of the office work as well as all the usual work on the land!

Please note:

  • Those of you who receive juice shares have double your usual order quantity this week, to make up for not getting any last week. The weeks you missed in the summer season will have been credited to you.
  • Those who have opted for potato free shares have your name written on the small and large-A bags that are for you. This only applies to the A-bag for those who get a large vege share. The B-bag is the identical for both potato free and standard large orders.

This week in your bags:

Either 1.4kg of potatoes from Bas or 1 squash (potato free bags)
400g carrots
1 pak choy
1 lettuce
500g courgette

Great helpers always welcome

Hi all,

I feel guilty about not having written the newsletter yesterday, but I lost my sunglasses earlier this week while harvesting apples (must have gotten stuck somewhere behind a branch) and I am trying to cope without them, which is completely silly as the intense light gives me immense headaches. Luckily it’s all gone this morning and I am happy back in the ‘driver’s’ seat writing yesterday's newsletter today.

Good things keep on happening!

Hi everyone,

Today is week 13 and we are moving slowly into Autumnand into another CSA Season. The hot weather has passed (for now), and although I like it hot it was good to see some good rainfall.  Everyone and evrything was so thirsty!

New: potato-free CSA shares, carrots and onions.

Hi everyone,

With Frank being a real Dutch-y, grown up on soup and potatoes, the first thing that always pops up when making up the weekly harvest shares is potatoes; a veggie share without them goes against his natural instinct. At home too, he is not the same if there are no potatoes on the dinner menu at least 4 out of 7 days. His body is adjusted to and needs this type of carbohydrates to sustain his active life on the farm. Having CSA members that could do without has been troubling him, but here they are CSA shares without potatoes. Email me with the word “potatoes” in the reference line to indicate your preference. 

This is our first major expansion to our system for a while as we tried to keep things as simple as possible and the main reason we feel comfortable to bring this on now is because of the support we feel we have from our current and long standing CSA members, the steady growth of the CSA (getting over our minimum of 60 active members), and the support we have on the farm to get it all done every week.

A great start to 2013

Hi everyone,

2013 has started very positive with a group of new members joining, some trialing it out and some ‘old’ members who have decided that it is a good time to start up again.  This week we reached a new high with 78 veggie shares going out!! Our aim of 100 shares seems very much within our reach.  We feel very positive and do our best to keep this positive momentum going.

Some positives

Healthy & Nutrient Dense Fruit

We have been very happy with our cherries over summer and the feedback from members has been so very positive; in the end well worth the stress that comes with growing delicate sweet fruit!.  The plums are doing well too (and we are doing our very best to share the harvest out.) We are half way through the season and next week we hope to start with early variety Discovery apples before we head into our main apple harvest of our Breaburn and Pacific Rose in March.

Your CSA Shares This Week, 17th of January 2013

In your bags this week:

Small vegetable bag:

1.4kg Agria potatoes (Bas), 2 pak choy, 200g choho (oriental spinach), 65g basil, 2 kohlrabi

Large vegetable bag:

1.4kg Agria potatoes (Bas), 2 pak choy, 200g choho (oriental spinach), 65g basil, 2 kohlrabi, 1 cabbage or broccoli, 500g tomato, 500g courgette, daikon radish, 200g butter beans

Fruit bag:

1.5kg plums, 600g nectarines

Your CSA Shares This Week, 3 January 2013

Fruit Share: 2 punnets of cherries, or one punnet of cherries and one punnet of strawberries.

Small Veggie Share: 1 kg freshly dug up Ilam Hardy Potatoes (Bas), 2 cucumbers, 800 grams of Broad Beans or 200 grams of Green Beans, 200 gram bunch of baby Leeks, and 1 GSummer CSA Bagreen Cabbage or some Broccoli.

Large Veggie Share: 1 kg freshly dug up Ilam Hardy Potatoes (Bas), 2 cucumbers, 800 grams of Broad Beans or 200 grams of Green Beans, 200 gram bunch of baby Leeks, 500 grams of Carrots, 500 grams of Courgette, a bunch of Spring Onions, 500 grams of Daikon Radish, 150 grams of Salad Mix and 1 Green Cabbage or some Broccoli.

Picture: Large Veggie Share contents from last week.

Your CSA Shares This Week, 27 December 2012

Your CSA Shares

(arriving Friday at your Pick Up point) contain the following items:

Fruit Share: 500 grams of cherries *

* Please be aware that the white carton boxes  (we wont't use them again) we used for packing them are not that great and fall easily out of shape when picked up. probab;ly good idea to bring other means of packaging (even if its just a plastic bag).  

Small Veggie Share: 1 kg freshly dug up Ilam Hardy potatoes, 400 grams of carrots, 1 cucumber, 200 grams of salad mix, 200 grams of green beans and 1 small Bak Choy.

Large Veggie Share: 1 kg freshly dug up Ilam Hardy Potatoes, 400 grams of Carrots, 1 Cucumber, 200 grams of Salad Mix, 300 grams of Green Beans, 1 kg of Broad Beans, 300 grams of Cavalo Nero Kale, 400 grams of Courgette, 400 grams of Baby Turnips, some Broccoli heads and 1 large Bak Choy.

Have a great week,


Weekly Farm Update, December 20, 2012

Hi Everyone,

With the kids jumping in and out of our pool, the flies buzzing around my ear every time I make a move in this overly hot office, and with my skirt dripping wet from watering the greenhouse and the thirsty seedlings outside, I feel it’s time for a weekly update – the last one of 2012. I am giving myself a break for 2 weeks (I will still post what is in the baskets)!

I hope you all enjoy a well deserved summer break and enjoy a great warm hot summer! We love it here. The whole idea of moving to the Wairarapa over 15 years ago was to enjoy Mediterranean style summers, and this year it has come early.   I am sure the tomatoes will do better than last year, as will most of summer crops (as long as we can keep them watered- very regularly).

Your CSA Shares This week

Fruit Share: either 2 types of cherries (Stella and Rainier) or Stella Cherries and punnet of Strawberries.

Small Veggie Share: Ilam Hardy Potatoes (Bas), Green Beans, bag of salad Mix, a Broccoli and Pak Choy.

Weekly Farm Update, 14 December 2012

Important Notice:

 Before I forget and start writing about other (more interesting) things, please note that due to Christmas and New Year we have to change the delivery days from Thursday to Friday for both weeks (transport issues).

Last Wednesday Frank and I went to Palmerston North to join Sita Venkateswar,

International Director at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and more important, also one of our very supportive CSA members in Palmie at the XIX Australian NZ Agri-Food Conference “ Histories/Futures” that was being held at Massey this week.

Together, Sita and Frank presented a paper about our experience setting up and running a CSA in NZ with our Palmerston North hub as a little case study. (see abstract).  


Weekly Farm Update, 6 December 2012

Yeah, the Cherries are here!

It is with much relief and huge excitement to inform you all that we have started picking cherries; all the mad running around by Frank, Justus and Albert to chase the birds away has paid off in that there are enough cherries in the trees still to share between the birds and us.  Wednesday we started with a small harvestable crop that you find in your fruit shares this week and for the next two weeks or so (depending on the weather and the birds still) we plan to harvest from dawn to dusk.  Perfect timing: cherries for Christmas!

Reading the first line back sounds like the birth of a child and thinking back that is almost exactly how stressful it has been. Everything around the cherries has been changing from week to week and day to day.   Scaring the birds mad seems to have paid off so far!  What will be next?  I am learning that growing cherries is definitely not for the faint hearted; there is too much outside influence that can make or break a good harvest! I am looking forward to a good summer’s holiday after all of this.

Weekly Farms Update, November 29, 2012

Hi everyone,

Great summer days are here! I think the grass is already dryer then it ever was last year.  It is always hard yakka bending over the crops in the burning sun, but at the same time it is sooo good for the soul. By the time work is ‘done’ for the day and finally time to sit down and relax, we are totally exhausted but utterly fulfilled.  As long as we keep some beer cold in the fridge, some nice music in the background and the fine company of our kids talking or playing in the background then nothing beats a great hot long summer!  The picture shows our strawbale house during a warm summers evening.

Weekly Farm Update, November 23, 2012

Hi everyone,

summer is in the air, and according to the calendar starting in a week or so.

First of all, we like to thank everyone who replied to our previous 2 newsletters about the organic egg situation and the organic-ness and variety of the produce in the baskets! It has truly been hart warming to read all your emails and your trust in us as the grower to make the right decisions!.  

In short everyone agrees that the eggs and produce should be as true to real organic as possible, in every sense of the word.  You also say that sometimes it might be better to choose for our neighbours’ spray free produce if an alternative has to come from too far away or is not available (it has to make economic sense ) as long as we let you know what is spray free and what is organic.

It was also great to read that most of you enjoy the seasonal produce we grow, and have a great understanding for the difference in seasonal variety.  This week we added a central Wellington office to our weekly drop off’s and it shows that Wellington is going through a truly remarkable growth spirt.

Weekly Farm Update, November 8, 2012

It's Thursday again and the sun is shining although a bit cold still!  I seem to always write about the weather, but then our lives here at the CSA farm are governed by the weather. This time last week time it was so HOT! Realy HOT! I started to get worried that it might not rain again until next autumn (March/April 2013) and Frank for heaven’s sake just decided to plant a whole block of small seedlings into a bock where we have no access to irrigation!. Friday was hot too and I thought our (weather) risk taking was going too far. But then Saturday came (our Hill Street Farmers Market Day) and we got soaking wet; rain, rain and more rain. Not so nice for us, but great for little baby seedlings! (And then to know that until September this same block we could not plant because it was too wet due to all the heavy winter rains we have had.!!!)  

Weekly Farm Update, 1 November, 2012

Hi everyone,

What a nice and sunny week we have had so far, so welcome after the wind of the past weeks! A pity that our whole family got hit by a hard hitting and fast moving tummy bug knocking all but one out for a day last Tuesday.  Luckily Matt and Albert were on deck to take over the ship and make sure everything kept moving forward.  This week we are also joined by Justus, an energetic young man from the US; just in time for summer CSA and lots of yummy cherries! 

Missing a day in the week is not very helpful (last week it was Labour Day) as we have still the same amount of work that needs to be done but one day less to do it in! The tricky bit of growing! I say away with Public Holidays and illness (at least until Christmas)!

Last Tuesday my plan was to visit our pick up points in and around Wellington to see how they are getting on with the increased numbers of CSA shares that arrive every week. I am sorry I could not make it, and Vanessa I'll do my best not to make it a miss next time.

Weekly Farm Update, 25 October 2012

Hi everyone,

Its been realy Spring Equinox weather lately!  Sunny and warm one moment and cold and rain the next. Further, winds, winds and more winds.  On top of that some late frosts and we lost our first batch of Courgette/Zucchini and our early variety potatoes that we planted have now been frosted twice. This is a real shame as many of them are very rare and it would be a shame if we lost them. 

The cherries are still doing fine, we are losing some fruit to the weather, but still more than enough to make it into a great harvest. Hopefully the weather settles soon!

A few weeks ago I wrote about our egg situation. Thank you to everyone so far who has emailed us back with feedback. Much appreciated. We look forward to as much as possible feedback!

Also, please find here the links to the Aro Valley and mt Victoria rosters: http://wefs.co.nz/mt-vic-roster and http://wefs.co.nz/aro-valley-roster to roster yourself in as a volunteer of the week.  

Linda at Aro Valley Community Centre has asked me to inform you to

Weekly Farm Update, October 18, 2012

Hello everyone,

Another week closer to Christmas!  For most of us this means week 10 of the Spring CSA Season and only 3 deliveries left!  It also means that I will be sending our regular CSA members invoices for the summer season, which runs from the 15th of November 2012 till the 7th of February 2013.

Last year we introduced the concept of CSA holidays and for all of you new to the CSA this means that if you go away for a while and unable to cope with your weekly share we will hold it or give you a credit for these week(s) that you are away. 

Weekly Farm Update, October 11, 2012

How do you like your eggs?

No, we do not mean if you like them soft or hard, boiled or as an omelet.   We want to know how organic is organic?

We have just received a letter from our organic chicken food manufacturer who is putting up the price by 20%. This is a large increase and I wrote back telling them this. The lady in the office emailed back explaining the following:

“Hello Josje, Yes it is a big jump. The only thing that I can suggest is if we are able to put 15% Meat & Bone Meal in organic diets (Asure Quality Approved). Our bags say that they don’t contain MBM so we are unable to send out our Organic Poultry Layer Pellets that contain MBM in less we ask. Is this an option?”

Weekly Farm Update, October 4, 2012

Hi everyone,



What a beautiful and interesting day we had last sunday. Around 30 people came to the farm (we forgot it was daylight saving weekend and everyone had to come out of bed extra early! Including ourselves!! ). Anyway it was well worth coming out of bed for as the calm and warm day (24 degrees celcius) turned out fantastic!

Frank did a wonderful job explaining why looking after our farm soil is so important to us. It is like his second body! Alive and kicking!  Our apple and cherry trees showed off their best looking and smelling flowers and Bruce, one of our CSA members, made some wonderful pictures off it all during the day and he offered I could steal some. So here they are scattered in this update.

Weekly Farm Update, 21 September 2012

Hi everyone

It seems the days and weeks go faster every year.  Having the youngest two home with chickenpox this week, as well as Matt on a holiday, defenitely made the week go extremely fast!  The result mainly being that I am late with the newsletter (again) and Frank only realised today that the bags of stir fry mix that should have been in both the small eand large veggie bags were still in the chiller in Masterton!  We will make this up to you this coming weeks with some extra vege, apologies!

Your CSA Shares this week:

Fruit Share: 1 kg each of Pacific Rose and Fuji Apples, 2 lemons and 1 Fuerte Avocado.

Small Veggie Share: 3 Brown Onions, 1,2 kg of Agria Potatoes or 1 Celeriac, a bunch of Rapini, a bag of Salad Mix and some Parsley.  Missing: a bag of Stir Fry Mix!

Weekly Farm Update, 13 September 2012

What a glorious morning today – a very cold start though, but that does not matter after that immensely horrid day yesterday.  The chickens are making a mud dances in their enclosure and the calves where happy to see me with a bucket of warm fresh milk.

Inside we woke up to the sound of 12 chicks that were being born during the cold frosty night. Luckily for them our new incubator is doing a fine job keeping a constant temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius.  By the look of it there will still be a few more today!  Everyone gets so excited by this new life, and one by one all 5 of us open the lid to see how they are coping.

Frank is off to the orchard to see what the damage is of all this cold wet and crazy weather – no good for spring blossoming.  Hopefully this was the last of the frosts as we are still waiting for the cherries to start flowering – the apricots (always the first ones on the block) and the peaches (flowering now) had a tough spring so far.

CSA Shares this week September 7, 2012

Fruit Share: 1.2 kg apples, 3 ea citrus (Grapefruit or Orange), and 800-900 grams of kiwifruit.

Small Veggie Share: 500 grams of Yellow carrots, either 1 Cauliflower, Cabbage or Broccoli, bunch of Leeks, Jerusalem Artichokes and 1 Lettuce.

Large Veggie Share: 500 grams of Yellow carrots, either 1 Cauliflower, Cabbage or Broccoli, bunch of Leeks, Jerusalem Artichokes and 1 Lettuce,  Broccoli, Bag of Mizuna or salad Mix, either bag of Spinach or Chicory or Florence Fennel and a bunch or Rapini.

Farm Update 10 September 2012: The CSA in practice explained (a bit).

We have arrived in the hardest part of the year at the very end of winter when fruit and vege are getting scarce and new direct sowings and young seedlings are still too small/young to harvest.  Luckily we do not live in the pre war years anymore where meals became boring and lacked fresh food; we have access to the convenience of electricity to keep fruit and vege stored (with or without the aid of biochemistry) and a greenhouse to trick plants into thinking we are further in the year than we actually are.  

Our earlier harvested storage crops,  like potatoes and pumpkins will have spent some time in storage without the aid of any risky chemicals and will start to show degeneration and needs to be graded hard meaning lots of it is only good enough for the compost heap.

Come to our Spring farm day on Sunday, the 30th of September!

We would love to have you come visit us here in the Wairarapa! Come along to our farm day on Sunday, the 30th of September!

Schedule for the day:

  • The morning session will be focused on food quality. We'll start at 10am with a walk around the Masterton property and Frank will talk about food quality.
  • A shared lunch at around midday
  • After lunch till about 3pm, a talk and discussion about growing food quality - focusing on your own gardens - how to grow 'gutsy' food for 'gutsy' people (think microbes - in both the soil and your own bodies). We'll have seedlings available for purchase.

The farm day will be an opportunity to learn about ecological growing principles and food quality. It will also be a great chance to have a look at where the produce for the CSA is grown and talk with us about how we grow food.

This event is open to everyone, so share with friends who may like a day trip out of town or with people you think may be interested in joining the CSA.

Farm Update 30 August 2012

Hi everyone,

Week 3 again of our Spring Season and we have a real feeling of spring now.  Although the winter weather does not yet want to let go completely, it is starting to feel that the end of winter is very near. Away with the winter blues, let the sun shine!!!! And dry up all the puddles in the field.

We have a beautiful ornamental cherry tree in our courtyard and at the moment it is in full flower. A family of tui’s is visiting it regularly and they are singing with content. The strange thing is that their song has changed slightly over the last week or so.

Weekly Farm Update 23 August 2012

Hi everyone

A family of tui’s have found out that our ornamental cherry tree just outside our living room door has started flowering.  Last Sunday I was thinking to myself, walking past that the tree should start showing its colours soon and now three days later it has.  Amazing that the birds have discovered it so fast as well! Every time I am so amazed how nature works, how intricate it is and how well it all fits together, … and how little we know!  Last Monday before the rain, Matt and Albert worked until it was too dark to see what they were doing and planted some 4 beds of fresh green vegetable seedlings. Just in time before yet another burst of rain was coming down and just in time to save the transplants from becoming too old to be planted out.  Great, as it ensures us that things will keep on ticking over.

Farm Update19 August 2012

Hi everyone,

It is Friday again and you have already picked up and stored away this week's CSA shares. Apologies for being a day late; Frank is going back home on Sunday and there is/was a lot to organise to make it happen smoothly. Beside renewing his pasport, organising visa's and insurance, Frank's main worry is the CSA and the farm.

Matt and Albert have received a crash course in the management of the CSA and daily /weekly tasks during spring on the farm, and Matt and I are confident we can handle the situation.  Only thing left for Frank is now to relax and pack his suitcase, which according to my mum back in the Netherlands does not have to be big as he only needs some shorts and sunglasses: they are expecting 38 degrees Celcius this weekend.

At home he hopes to support his parents and sister since his father is battling with colon and liver cancer. Frank's father has taken on a lot of advice and support from Frank over the phone and via email, but after 8 years not seeying each other it is time to pack the bags and refresh family ties! Once he finds his way through the airports and get's home safely he can start relaxing and maybe enjoy some time away as his last holiday was exactly 3 years ago (1 week in Tauranga)!

Farm update 9th of August

(by Matt)

Mud, mud, glorious mud

Rain, rain and more rain. Yes, its hard not to talk about the weather at this time of year, but I'll do it again! A few weeks ago things were starting to look really good. The initial harsh cold winter weather that we had early in June had moved along and we'd had enough periods of dry weather so the soil could dry out and we could start to prepare the soil for spring plantings. However, the past few weeks have set things back yet again. Alas, there is nothing we can do but wait! It is muddy, very muddy and there's no chance to get out and prepare the soil. In a few weeks, if things don't dry out, the consequence is that with the lengthening daylight, the seedlings that are all ready waiting to be planted out, won't be worth planting - they will have waited too long in trays and will bolt to seed.

Days and days of rain as we've had here in the Wairarapa, also mean disease pressure for the fruit trees. Apricots and peaches are starting to blossom and the cherries won't be too far behind. This is a critical period for the trees – they need to be pollinated and they also are susceptible to fungal diseases. We'll do what we can and hope for the best!

Farm Update August 2

Hi all,

Hope you are nicely warm, dry and it good spirit.  Our farm is deluged with rain and Frank is finding it hard to motivate himself to go out and work outside. Lets hope it all soon comes to an end and both we, the soil and the plants can enjoy some better weather. Long periods of wet weather have devastating effects on crops as nutrient uptake comes to a stand still in the cold and wet weather and plants stop growing, and nutrients do not reach all parts of the plant with the effect that they become yellow. Even worse, the plants get overwhelmed by bad bacteria and dies from rot. The picture below shows you 2 endives; the one to the right is in perfect condition, the one to the left has rotted away due to the wet conditions. 

Farm Update 25 July 2012

It is great to feel the warmth and light of the sun shining onto where I am sitting to write this week Farm News Update; everything goes a little bit easier for me that way!  The first daffodils are showing the beautiful yellow colours and telling me spring is just about upon us.  Frank just picked up two young calves from our organic dairy farmer around the corner, and they are finding their way in their temporary enclosure near the house so we can feed them easily and keep an eye on them.  

In the house we are also working on new life; we have set up an incubator with 48 fertilized chicken eggs. Hopefully in 21 days we can say hello to our new brood of chickens. Exciting events, as we have so much demand for our eggs but also for the kids as they learn so much from these situations.

Weekly Update 19 July 2012

Hip Hip Hoerree

First of all to my parents in law who celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary today! Sjan and  Piet, In our hearts we are with you celbrating.

Also a hip hip Hoeree to the CSA for having grown recently to a record amount of members. More than we ever had before! Although there was a big drop at the end of last season, we have been able to connect with more people! Great to have you all aboard. I think we are a logic choice for people wanting to do their bit for their health, their community, and the environment. 

We are like "Organic Boxes" in Wellington, but more local (as over 80% comes directly from our far, ours oil), more fresh (harvested often only a couple of hours before it goes into your share), more economical and helping local farmers directly.

This week we have the wonderful opportunity to offer you fresh farm beef from our farm. For more information see the topic a bit further on. Half an hour after I posted it on our website shop the first order came in! Great!!

Farm Update 12 July 2012

Soil Quality, Superfoods and the Dirty Dozen

Frank and I work a lot on intuition, on what feels good. A few years ago when we were updating our letterhead and logo, the phrase “Artisan Growers of Genuine Produce” came up in our mind and we have used it ever since as part of our letterhead, without really working out why. It was mainly how we saw ourselves and what we believe in.

Recently we have gone through some changes in our work area as well as our personal lives, leading us to read up on causes of cancer, dusting off books in our little ‘library’, investigate more on the relationship between soil, food and health, reconnecting with old research friends and new literature and questioning our farming motives and CSA.

So what does “Artisan Growers of Genuine Produce” really mean? It was time I looked it up.

Wiktionary describes the word “genuine” as

“Belonging to, or proceeding from the original stock; native; hence, not counterfeit, spurious, false, or adulterated; authentic; real; natural; true; pure.”

Authentic, Real, True, Pure food is what we aspire to grow, food that is worth (i.e. nutritional) eating. Food that helps you stay healthy or become healthier.

Farm update 5 July 2012

Wairarapa winter is here. This week has been one of rain, rain and today lots of more rain. The soil is soaked and everything is so wet it will take some time before we can go back on the land with machinery without disturbing/distressing the soil too much. Compaction of the soil is so easily done with tractors and equipment after these heavy rains, and will take years to undo once destroyed. This would have a very negative effect on the living soil, soil health and thus plant health and our health. Modern farmers who do not have time to wait will have to use more synthetic or organic inputs to try and set things straight. Our philosophy is like taking care of oneself; when winter is here we take extra care with our own bodies, put on an extra top, keep a hat on etc., we have to do that with the soil as well.  caring for the soil in the long term means that we create a healthier and more resilient soil, one which can produce healthy plants with balanced ratio of nutrients that nourish and create balance in our bodies.

Your harvest Share this Week, 28 June 2012

Fruit Share: 1.5 kg Braeburn Apples, 1 kg Fuji Apples and 800-900 grams of Kiwifruit.

With regards to the Veggie Shares this week there are some differences in contents for the different groups. Due to the winter weather we have to start rotating certain crops as we have not enough every week to go around. For this week it means that we had exactly enough broccoli and cabbage in total for Innermost.  Next week the Broccoli/Cabbage will go to the other groups.

Small Veggie Share:

CSA UPDATE 21 June 2012

This weeks harvest shares

  • Fruit Shares: 1 kg Breaburn Apples, 600-700 grams of Pears and 700-800 grams of Kiwifruit Green.
  • Small Veggie Shares: 500-600 grams of Winter Carrots, 400 Grams of Jerusalem Artichokes, 1 Joy Choy, either 700 grams Beetroot or 500 grams Baby Turnip, and 250 grams of Curley Kale or Cauliflower or Green Cabbage.
  • Large Veggie Basket: 500-600 grams of Winter Carrots, 400 Grams of Jerusalem Artichokes, 1 Joy Choy, 100 grams of the real garlic, 1 lettuce, either 2 kohl rabi or turnips, 90 grams of fresh Bay Leaves, 1 kg of Red Skinned all purpo

Harvest Shares 14 June 2012

Hi everyone

From a wet and rather cold Wairarapa, I’ll bring you the list of items in your harvest share this week.

  • Fruit Baskets: 1.2 kg apples, ca 700 grams of pears and 4 persimmons or kiwifruit.
  • Small Veggie Basket: A butternut pumpkin, Bak Choy, 200 grams of kale, 400 grams of carrots and 1 lettuce.
  • Large Veggie Basket: A butternut pumpkin, Bak Choy, 200 grams of kale, 400 grams of carrots, 1 lettuce, 400 grams of beetroot, bunch of spring onions, 100 grams of rocket, 1 kg of red skinned potatoes, and 1 bag of Mediterranean salad mix.

We are at that point of time were we are going through seed catalogues, and making plans for the garden this upcoming 2012/2013 season. After seeing almost everything slowing down or dying down, shedding leaves, loosing feathers, we are now slowly getting excited again about what is to come after we pass the shortest day next week. Plans are forming in our heads and must now be translated onto paper. This is always very exciting, and exactly what we need after the Dutch lost their second game in the Euro 2012. (Huge sigh). So, if you like to advise us on crops on particular varieties you like us to grow (as long as the climate allows us to) please do.