Monday, October 1, 2007

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Our yearly CSA farm share comes to an end the last week of October. It seems like not too long ago (5 months, almost exactly) that I was so excited about the first pickup of the season. We'll go back to buying most of our groceries at my favourite store, which isn't a bad thing- the produce is fresh, the selection unusual and varied, and they carry local items whenever possible.

But of course, it's not quite the same as bringing home crisp radishes still dusted with good black earth, lime-green tomatillos bursting out of their husks, firm-skinned baby zucchini, and flavourful tomatoes still warm from the sun.

As is the risk with any CSA, there were some hardships this year. Hungry woodchucks severely damaged the summer squash, cucumbers, watermelons and fennel, though the farm staff did their best to dissuade them with portable fences to physically keep them out, and low-strung flash tape interspersed with tiny pinwheels to scare them away.

Boston had the second driest August in 130 years, forcing daily irrigation, with special attention paid to the cover crops (oats, peas, winter rye and hairy vetch) that make the soil fertile again for next year's crops. Unlike the productive year before, we brought home just one small watermelon and no strawberries- the berry plants were completely destroyed by a late frost.

On the other hand, we made new friends and delighted in seeing familiar faces at our weekly pickups. The farm produced enough food to support families of shareholders and hunger relief programs alike. We were able to try some neat new heirloom varieties, and we've discovered new ways to prepare vegetables (never a bad thing). The apples and plums are thriving, and our fruit share has given us enough to make quarts of preserves; I've learned a lot about the basics of preserving fruits and vegetables. And this year we were offered winter CSA shares, which means that we'll bring home potatoes, garlic, winter squash, onions, and greens once in November, and once in December.

The farm managers decided to try something new, and if enough shareholders sign up, we will be able to purchase a monthly meat CSA share from Chestnut Farms when the new year begins. My excitement about this might sound strange to people who know me: I'm just not a big meat eater. Unlike L, I don't crave meat, though we both have reservations about the way many meat animals are raised and slaughtered. To tell you the truth, I could happily live without meat. L, on the other hand, would be miserable.

Planning and cooking separate meals is just not something that either of us have the energy for, so we compromise by purchasing organic meat that we are certain is raised and processed humanely; since this can get expensive really quickly, we simply eat less of it. The meat CSA is a great chance for us to support local farmers and buy meat that we feel good about.

All in all, I'd say it's been a really great year for the farm, and I can't wait for the 2008 harvest to start again next May!

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