Author: Patrick Zhang

Notes from the Field: 9/1/2020

Notes from the Field: 9/1/2020

Well, we finally got some rain on Saturday. As welcome as it was, we have a lot of catching up to do, water-wise. Irrigation continues. We’ve gotten cover crop on the field where our onions were this year. It’s coming up nicely. Hopefully it will […]

Notes from the Field: Week 3

Notes from the Field: Week 3

Week three has us moving irrigation non-stop, catching up on transplanting, dealing with persistent weeds and feeling harvests get heavier and taking up more of harvest days. Summer is almost (officially) here and the plants know it. With daylight hours stretching to their longest of […]

Notes from the Field: CSA This Year

Notes from the Field: CSA This Year

We are excited to begin harvesting this week, and welcome you back to the fields. Usually this space will include an update on what we’re up to on the farm but this will serve as a brief orientation to our CSA for new and returning members.

This season will look different here at LexFarm, like much of the world. We’re working hard to create a safe experience for our crew, staff, shareholders and customers. Our Community. We have new sanitation protocols in place in addition to a newly installed hand washing sink and contactless payment options we’re working on. We plan on pre-bagging shares for shareholders for the foreseeable future.

This means more staff time packaging shares, and less choice built into the CSA than previously. Instead of perusing the CSA tables to pick your favorite bunch or veggie, I hope you’re excited to see what is in your share each week once you get it home. Who doesn’t like surprises?! I also hope you understand the reasoning behind not being able to offer as much choice, and that you find ways to creatively use (or hide) veggies you (or others in your household) won’t typically eat! Please feel free to forward these ideas to me so I can share them with the community.

Our 20 week CSA shareholders will pick up produce every week and our 10 week CSA shareholders have received an email assigning you “odd” or “even” weeks. This newsletter is sent to our entire mailing list every week and includes in the header whether it is an odd or even week. We’ll try to get the newsletter out by Tuesday at noon each week so you can plan your meals and shopping accordingly! We do our best to tell you what will be in the CSA but occasionally unpredictable forces make for last minute changes.

When you come to pick up your CSA, please check in at the front counter. If you are picking up for another member, please be sure to give their name. We will give you a container to havest you PYO crops into. We recommend that you then check out the PYO board (on the back of our info kiosk), so you can head out to the fields and pick while you’ve got your hands free. We will provide new single use containers to harvest PYO crops into. MDAR guidance has new rules for PYO operations which we will have posted. Please fully comply with them. They have been thoughtfully written to keep everyone safe. These include, but are not limited to, maintaining 6 feet of distance between individuals, not sampling or eating anything in the PYO fields, and mandatory mask usage.

Many folks take a photo of the PYO board to remember instructions. Next, come back to the farm stand and pick up the harvested portion of your share. If you would like to use your Farm Bucks, you may do so any time when the stand is open. 20 week shareholders have a $70.00 store credit and 10 week shareholders have a $35.00 store credit to spend on any plants, fresh fruits or vegetables in the stand. We will keep track of your credit at the stand. If you have any questions, our staff is happy to help!

How to make the most of your CSA experience at LexFarm:

  1. Be safe! Use farm roads to get to the field where you’re picking, and watch your step and your children. Masks are required for anyone over the age of 2. We will have new guidelines that we expect everyone to follow concerning PYO, handed down by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (MDAR). Always wear shoes at the farm. We will close the PYO fields during thunder or heavy rain to protect you and our crops. Check for ticks when you leave the farm. Please respect the farm rules to ensure that we all have a safe and enjoyable experience at the farm!
  2. Embrace the seasons! After a long New England winter, each new vegetable in the share is a celebration! I stop going to the grocery store for produce and readjust to eating with the season, savoring every new flavor as it comes. Farm fresh lettuce and spicy radishes tastes so good with very minimal adornment. In fact, most everything in your seasonal share tastes pretty good with minimal adornment. It does mean waiting (patiently, I hope) for tomatoes and basil, cucumbers, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and the like, but they’ll taste all the better for waiting!
  3. Trust your farmers! Cool, wet New England springs aren’t ideal for growing most crops, so during the beginning of the CSA season shares are smaller than in August.  We track the value of your CSA share during the season to make sure we are delivering 10-15% more value than you have paid for. Please trust us–a great deal of planning goes into giving you the best CSA experience possible. That said, we welcome your feedback throughout the season at [email protected].
  4. Do the Pick-Your-Own after 5:00 pm, at least once! When you’ve had a long day at work or you’re juggling children and scissors and a bag we understand picking your own produce can be low on your list of priorities. This year we will track the PYO portion of the share to make sure the vast majority of your vegetables are harvested by us! That said, the farm is too special a place not to share, and the best means we have of sharing it  is to encourage our shareholders to harvest produce directly from the fields. At least once this year, I hope you’ll have time to pick-your-own during the golden evening hours right before we close, when you’re often alone in the field with the bird songs and humming insects to yourself.
  5. Try something new! Joining our CSA allows you to try vegetables or varieties you’ve never had before. We’ll include suggestions in the newsletter for each new CSA item, and our farm stand staff has great cooking ideas for you. If you can’t use everything in one week, preserve it for later. We’ll include easy recipes for pickling and freezing throughout the season, so you can keep eating local into the winter!
  6. Use plastic to keep veggies fresh. All of our greens, and most of our veggies store best in a plastic bag in the fridge. We don’t like using plastic either, but reusing plastic bags to keep your greens fresh will cut down on food waste and help your veggies last through the week.
  7. Thank yourself, and each other! Know that without you, LexFarm wouldn’t be able to hire the staff, buy the seeds and fertilizer, and keep the equipment running that keeps the farm a working farm. CSA income is our greatest annual revenue and it allows us to keep growing on this special piece of land. Without you, the farm would not exist. Know that without you, LexFarm wouldn’t be able to hire the staff, buy the seeds and fertilizer, and keep the equipment running that keeps the farm a working farm. CSA income is our greatest annual revenue and it allows us to keep growing on this special piece of land. Without you, the farm would not exist.
Notes from the field: fall/winter pickup 4

Notes from the field: fall/winter pickup 4

This week Allison and I attended the 2019 New England Fruit and Veg Conference. It included three intensive days of seminars, trade shows, and talking with farmers from all around. We saw many familiar faces along with meeting some great new contacts. Here are some […]

Notes from the field: Fall/winter pickup 3

Notes from the field: Fall/winter pickup 3

Who else used some of their share veggies to brighten up a holiday meal last week? I know I sure did. One of my favorite things about being the field manager here is the ability to share the harvest with others. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, […]