When the sun shines in Ohio, I like to say to our crew members, “Today is the nicest day of the year. We should remember how nice this weather is. It won’t last.” That’s a pretty fair representation of my feelings towards the weather and organic farming, and their uniquely dysfunctional relationship.
In the Upper Midwest we never have a consistent weather pattern. It makes organic farming even more of a “craftsman” type economic activity. You troubleshoot, you zig, and you zag. It gives you grey hairs, you drink more coffee than you should, and you lose sleep for a couple nights. And then, a hard storm hits your crops. Uniquely, the weather this season graced our farm with cool temperatures, adequate moisture and relatively low disease pressure. (And I say this even with two hail events that devastated midsummer crops and mid-November temperatures that approached 5 degrees F.) Yes, my wry sense of humor has enjoyed these extremes of Ohio weather lore. I saw a beautiful crop of beets get shredded into confetti by hail and in the same field, have our pepper crop go unscathed. We love it though. The risk, the reward, the loss, the renewal.
With the exception of 2009, 2014 will go down as one of our best years at Wayward Seed. Why though? Why was this year a turning point for our operation? It’s the culmination of management systems and experience, but mostly the hard work of our staff. Adam Utley has been with our farm for 5 seasons. His dedication and ethics have truly helped us overcome countless challenges over the years. We also have many staff members that returned in 2014 for a second season and that helped to focus our daily organization. I can’t thank our staff enough. They are the people who pick, care for and process our CSA members’ food day after day. They work rain or shine, and come in early to make sure we get the product to its destination on time.
There are too many to thank, but I mostly want to thank all of you who have stuck by Jaime and me through thick and thin. Loyalty means so much when life beats you down. It’s the people who show up every day to work with Adam Utley and me that makes this endeavor worth the stress and pressure. The organic movement, for the most part, has been corrupted by the now corporate slogans of “local, sustainable, and natural.” Those facts aren’t lost to those of us who carry on with the real work of building organic farming systems here in Ohio. My staff works too hard and long for the pay they receive. Its difficult work. It takes skill and stamina to do what we do. How does it feel for us to see a Golden Corral commercial marketing “Farm Fresh Vegetables” for their buffet? It pisses me off, that what it does! Because no bullshit slogan or marketing ploy can steal this fact…OUR FOOD IS BETTER. It is better quality, better cared for. It makes you feel good when you are preparing it, when you taste it, when you talk about it with friends and family. I want our vegetables to be a sense of pride for those of us who grow and consume the product. We might never be Vermont or Northern California with our lack of ideal climate or kitschy tourism, but I think we might be able to create something less flashy, yet more practical. Why can’t we make this type farming and food a small, successful industry? We can and we will. My move to Northwest Ohio is a good step in our effort to regionalize production and distribution for Wayward Seed and my fellow organic growers. We are making progress, and I see the potential for greater heights of professionalism.
Lastly, I want to thank our CSA members for their continued commitment to our operation and vision. It has been the CSA movement and its organizing principles that created this opportunity. We have had good seasons and bad ones, both personally and professionally. All I know is that I’m committing my life to this journey and Wayward will work tirelessly to feed your family. Let the naysayers and skeptics dispute the tenets of organic farming. I believe we are on the right track; investing in soil quality, protecting our watersheds, improving food and worker safety, increasing biodiversity on our farms and mostly, trying to build lasting value chains for farmers.
Thank you everyone for your efforts in 2014! I hope we have exceeded your expectations and that your food tasted great. I look forward to the new season, which is very fast approaching.
PS: Sign up today to reserve your CSA share, and a discount! Details are below in case you forgot.
The 2015 CSA will remain the same, with one exception. The fruit supplement will be 20 weeks instead of 25. This will result in a $2 per week decrease in price for the Vegetable Share with Fruit Supplement.
And a discount? Yep! For all shares purchased and paid-in-full by January 1st, we will offer a $50 discount on weekly shares, $25 on bi-weekly. We will add this discount to your account once your payment schedule has been arranged. Shares are a bit more limited this year because of the move, so don’t delay!
As always, if you have any questions, please let us know. We have enjoyed feeding you, your friends, and your family for the last 20 weeks, and look forward to many more!