Genuine Faux News of the Farm
Vol 4 Issue 2 - February 2008
When it comes to using sustainable practices and supporting local business, Tammy and I hear compliments such as: "You guys are doing a great job. I am glad someone is doing this" or "If it weren't for what you two do with your CSA, I wouldn't feel as connected to this area as I do." What can we say? Thank you. It is always nice to hear that what you do is appreciated. But.... well, you knew there was another side to this, didn't you?
The real issue I have is that we stand out from the crowd - perhaps for the wrong reasons. We get attention because we are using organic growing methods - something that is getting plenty of attention now - but not necessarily a world full of adherents. People see what we are doing with the CSA because it is different. Sure, It is a newer way to include people in local food production. But, it is different because it isn't within our current cultural norm. We want organic growing processes and local food systems to be the norm and food from a distance to be the exception!
As a community, we need to stop thinking in terms of "they" and change it to "we." We, the community, want to see healthy businesses, good schools, tasty food supplies, healthy people and vitality in our culture. But, to many think that "they" should provide this for us to use or reject as we see fit.
Simply put, there is no "they" if "we" don't do what it takes to support "them." In fact, maybe "we" should become one of "them." Of course, we aren't all made to be organic farmers. But, each of us can be a positive force in our community.
This is where part of our mission comes in: we seek to be a positive part of the surrounding area, to build a positive community around the CSA and to educate others about local and healthy foods. As members of the CSA (both paid and honorary share holders) YOU are a huge part of our WE. We have become a supportive community that cares about how our food is grown and we hope more people will care about this as much as we do.
This isn't about Tammy and Rob. This is about our entire group making something happen that we should all be proud of! Rob and Tammy may be the owners of the business - but they cannot succeed without you. And, we are just now beginning to succeed. We see changes in attitude and we see opportunities for more small, local family farms in the area. Just read some of the material in this newsletter and you can see the changes.
Let's see what WE can do this year!
The web feature for the month is our Photo Journal, which was added last December to our website. We are hopeful that we can keep it up to date with photos as the season progresses this year. However, this might require your assistance!
For each event (Festival, Tom Sawyer Day, etc), it would be helpful if someone might be willing to take a few digital photographs. Certainly, Tammy and Rob could do so, but they are frequently forgetful of this task. So, if you like to take pictures, we encourage you to do so and to share a couple of the better ones with us to put in the journal. We don't need much, just a couple to provide evidence that fun was had!
For those who cannot make it out to the farm on a semi-regular basis, we hope the journal helps you feel more connected with your food as it grows from seed to fruit!
Overheard at Organic Farming Conference - "Weeds are successful in large part because of cultivar diversity and because they are forced to succeed in difficult conditions. New vegetable cultivars are tested in controlled conditions - no weeds, pests controlled. It only increases our reliance on chemical controls."
4 Issue 2 - February 2008
We farmed last season. Things grew. People received produce. We proclaim this a good thing. We'll try to have a more detailed report in the next newsletter.
At present, we have secured some help for the farm during the 2008 growing season. We have an agreement with Kevin and Mackenzie Grondahl to provide some labor as part of a work share agreement. Some of you may already be aware that Kevin worked with us in the fall of 2007. Yes, he did lift a fair number of winter squash as part of that work detail!
We also have an agreement with Denis Drolet to provide labor for us during the 2008 growing season. Denis was a contributor to our efforts last season, providing us with well-timed and most appreciated help. You received a bounty of cucumbers from us last season in large part because Denis timed a work day to weed cucumbers just in time!
The Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership (NIFFP) is making the move from a vision to an entity that can promote changes in our community. You may have noticed a recent Waterloo Courier article featuring NIFFP and we are working towards setting up a 'kickoff' event in early to mid-April. NIFFP serves the eight county area centered around Black Hawk county, thus Bremer will be an integral part.
We are in the process of developing brochures, a web site, mini-grants, a speakers' bureau and investigating ways to improve the local food infrastructure. As an organizaton we are looking for ways to acquire appropriate funding and support while helping to shape a successful local food system.
Rob is a member of the board and one of two representatives for Bremer county, so feel free to discuss ideas and ask questions regarding NIFFP. We will keep you up to date in our newsletter.
Also, please note that NIFFP is looking for a person to be coordinator. The position is a 1/4 time position that may soon be expanded to 1/2 time. Please contact Rob if you have interest.
Our farmers' market schedule is likely to be the same as our 2007 schedule. The Waverly Tuesday market may be shifting to the downtown location we adopted on Saturdays. Also, the Waverly Saturday market will start at 8:30am to allow local shop owners and employees to visit the market prior to going to work.
Waverly market customers - we may be asking for your support as we petition the city to allow us to have both markets in the downtown location.
After many hours of searching (whilst avoiding other work), Tammy has found the following websites that contain reasonably priced organic and/or fair trade clothing:
Fair trade is about paying fair prices to support jobs that pay enough for people to support their families. If we are going to be consumers, then we should make a point of paying attention to how products are made and how those who make them are treated.
Our tentative Tom Sawyer Day schedule is now on the web site. Expect that there may be some adjustment to this schedule as the season progresses. However, we felt that a set schedule might help interested persons to determine when they might like to participate.
We do ask for RSVPs (attending only) so we can plan tasks for the people expected to arrive. TSDs are fun! Come try one!
Tammy and Rob attended their first Organic Farming Conference in LaCross, Wisconsin February 21 through 23. Looking at the schedule, we were already feeling overwhelmed by the shear number of sessions that promised to provide us with learning opportunities. In some sessions, there were as many as four sessions we felt we might like to attend.
After a late arrival Thursday evening (ok, it ended up being Friday morning), we were up and in the first session of the day at 8:30. By the end of the day, we were both tired AND a tad bit overwhelmed. By the end of the conference, we were on information overload. But, that's a good thing. There was much that we learned.
We also were priveledged to meet many interesting people and visit with persons we already knew. In fact, we were surprised by how many people we recognized - and more surprised by how many people recognized us!
This conference confirmed for us that we are not alone in our efforts. There are many people committed to trying to grow things using thoughtful, organic techniques. And, these people are profitable, sustainable and therefore....successful.
Vol 4 Issue 2 - February 2008
One of Rob's hobby 'projects' is to collect older postal history that references the production of edible crops - in particular vegetables. Eventually, if the material shows up and the story line plays out, there may be an exhibit for a stamp show or two in the Midwest.
The envelope shown above was used in December of 1893 and was clearly a use of a company advertising envelope for family business. Of particular interest is the squash on the cover. But, you could also consider that 2 cents paid for carriage of the envelope within the United States. Sound inexpensive? Maybe not, I suspect 2 cents went a lot further in 1893 than 41 cents does now.
From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce (3d Edition) by the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition. Highly recommended to everyone who wants to get more out of their shares!
Price is $15 (below the recommended retail of $19.95). Email us to order.
[ed. Doughboy (aka DB) has been a part of the Genuine Faux Farm since before it was given the moniker. DB was mildly distressed when Cubby was given first crack at writing - so, here's hoping.]
Dilemma of the Day: Choosing Sides
Left: Selection of this side may require liberal amounts of time and effort to get the desired effect. However, long-term results may be better from a comfort standpoint.
Right: I think a conservative guess would be that temperatures are slightly higher on the right hand side. But the cool-down period is shorter. Probably a decent quick fix for cold feet.
Simply put, both sides of the car hood have their advantages on a cold winter day. The drivers' side is certainly warmer and proper placement of footprints on the windshield will result in attention from your humans - typically desirable when you need to remind them about food. On the other hand, the passenger side is a tad more comfortable for long term napping.
In my opinion, you should choose BOTH sides. Clearly, you are entitled to it, so why not?
Vol 4 Issue 2 - February 2008
We have sent out our mailing for 2008. If you did not receive information and would like to, please let us know. . If you want to see what is coming for 2008, please feel free to visit the appropriate CSA web pages. You can also download the appropriate forms.
Remember, Rob likes real mail with real stamps. :)
We expect to support the food shelf in Waterloo again this season and hope to exceed our volume donated. If you would like to use the CSA as a way to give back to the community, please consider purchasing part of a share for families that can not afford the share price on their own. We currently have sufficient funding to offer a couple of reduced price shares!
While we believe every member should pay something for their share (in work time or money) in order to maintain a sense of value and self-worth, we recognize that many with lower incomes are often excluded from healthy eating choices. Indicate an amount you are willing to donate to this program and we will work with to find families who will benefit from your generosity. We will provide up to five such slots for families in need in 2008 provided sufficient funding is received.
The Genuine Faux Farm will be involved in at least two grant-supported projects in 2008.
First, we will be participating as cooperators in research sponsored by Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI). We will performing trials on three different methods of tomato 'staking' to determine if there is any impact on the production of heirloom varieties. Two other farms in Iowa will also be participating in this study. The variety being used in the trial is Cherokee Purple - so expect to see a few of these on our market tables and in your shares.
Second, we have received seed funding from PFI and support from NIFFP to begin collecting requirements for a field data collection tool for small, vegetable and fruit producers. Most existing tools are either meant for large, single crop fields or take the form of a series of spreadsheets. This project will provide Rob with a way to exercise his Computer Science knowledge and may result in a tool that can help our farm as well as other small growers. The seed money will be used to collect initial requirements and produce grant applications for sufficient money to build the tools.
There is also a possibility that a third research trial involving companion planting radish and winter squash may occur this season.
[Ed. At the risk of providing too much insight into the personality of at least one of your farmers: we bring you the compelling story about a boy, a tree, a box, and a mission.]
Once upon a time there lived a family who had a backyard that was filled with one too many trees. The mighty pin oak and the sprawling locust had left very little sky for the maple tree to reach into with its sparsely leaved branches. While the tree had, in fact, grown to a respectible 20 feet in height and had a 3 inch diameter trunk, it was a bit sickly and was judged to be entirely too close to the human's abode.
The decree came down from the parents of the household that the tree should be removed. And this task fell to their first child on a fine June day. Out he marched, with a saw and a branch pruner, determined to reward the trust placed in him to do the task efficiently and thoroughly.
Taking the tree down in manageable portions, it was soon reduced to a pile of brush. But, what should he do to prepare its transport to the city brushpile? The solution came in the form of one cardboard box that was slated for disposal. This box had once held an artificial Christmas tree. What better container to use for a downed maple?
In a careful and well thought out manner, the tree was cut into lengths that were very nearly a perfect fit for the length of the box. Any side branches were cut off of each limb. As a result, all of the larger branches and the trunk were placed lenghthwise in the box. And, happily, there was still plenty of room!
In went the small branches, covered with leaves. Anything that didn't fit well was trimmed down until it did. By mid-afternoon, there was no pile in the yard, just one box - complete with a lid that fit perfectly over the contents.
Upon the father's return from work, he went to the backyard and wondered out loud where the brush from the tree had gone. His son, of course, proudly pointed to the box.
"Son," he said evenly, "have you tried to move that box yet?"
To make a long story less long - it took a makeshift ramp and both of us to wrangle the box into the vehicle. Getting it out again was only a little less difficult. To this day, I wonder if Dad didn't force the transfer of brush to other boxes just to temper the disappointment I might have felt if we had done so.
Vol 4 Issue 2 - February 2008 page 5