We've spent a lot of time preparing for Winter months, even recently during this strange Arctic weather so unlike the seasons of the past. We are thinking fast and reminding ourselves that conditions are not what they were and will never be what we can anticipate again. Folks, we have arrived. Climate CHANGE and all that implies. As farmers, we must learn to adapt to what we do not know. We must meld with the unfamiliar. We must adjust to accommodate the seasons of CHANGE. Our animals must, too. Only the heartiest of farmers and animals will survive and the greatest hope is that all will thrive. It is time for us to hunker down and think clearly, reflect, talk, and make important decisions to guide our planning for the future. We do this every Winter. Dormancy, if you will, though we never fully stop. There is always thinking and doing and doing and thinking and tinkering with new ideas to adapt. The time is now when the pastures are at rest and animals eat the summer's work of putting up green to sustain themselves until Spring. We farmers do the same. Happy Winter.
"Even when necessity takes us away
From our homes, our farms,
Time after time we return
To a table under a tree
To share our stories, our dreams,
The abundance of gardens
And fruit trees well-tended.
Our hearts call us together
Across the miles, across the years,
Call us to reach out and share
This beautiful world
With one another."
Russell W. Libby
MOFGA Executive Director
Convenience SPEAKS THE LOUDEST in this crazy-busy, hectic life. So, how do we make it possible for our friends and neighbors to eat well so they can live well, too? We do everything in our power to make it easy!
Over the years, we've made changes on so many levels. We've set a precedent for the truly dedicated entrepreneurs by adapting over time to what we have control over and to what we don't. We have made great strides over the last 12 years to build a culture focused on the importance of local foods, local products, and a strong local economy. For optimists, this quote is just wonderful: "If you build it, they will come." I've heard this line a million times and I support it's true meaning fully. I've also learned that "If you make it easy, they'll keep coming." And that is just what we try to do each year. Going back in time over the last 6 years, here are some of the changes we've made...
2012: First, we offered different sized shares to accommodate different lifestyles and eating habits. Next, we offered a Shop for Your Share Program so everyone can choose what they wanted every week. We built an entire shopping area on the farm for this purpose!
2013: After that, we threw in a second shop-for-your-share day instead of just one. We created the Add-On Share Program so our Shareholders could purchase more local food products beyond produce at fair prices!
2014: We offered 3 flexible payment plans for our shareholders to join us on a budget and made handmade market bags that reflected our four share sizes to make shopping easier than hefting baskets. We also added cheeses and meats to our add-on offerings and added a WHOLE DIET FOOD SHARE to our program.
2015: We expanded our options for payment methods and offered Share Shopping at two farmers' markets where we set up shop every week. We further shaped our Whole Diet Food Share Program and offered year-round options to a handful of dedicated CSA members. We also offered DELIVERY TO YOUR DOORSTEP service!
2016: And then we jumped off the wagon completely to offer Shop For Your Share Wherever We Are at farmers' markets on 6 days and in 7 locations every week! Our PYO ShareProgram expanded on the farm every week, too!
2017: And now, better than ever, we are offering our first official SHARE CARDS so you can shop WHENEVER and WHEREVER you want with us! That's right. You read it correctly. True convenience is finally here!
And believe it or not, there are more planned changes on the horizon. With time, there is change. That is the one thing I have learned to count on. Please do browse through our website to learn more about our expansive offerings and find out how to sign up for this year's SHARE CARD.
GET A SHARE CARD and GET ACCESS all season long WHEN AND WHERE IT WORKS FOR YOU.
You won't be disappointed!
We thank you again for supporting our small family farm and helping to boost our local economy. Every dollar is a vote and we appreciate when you spend it here at Cold Spring Farm. Thank you for your dedication to our mission.
Until next time, be well, everyone!
Winter is a time to reflect and get organized with goals for the new year and to make plans with family and friends. It's also a time to get serious about your health and well-being so you can be around to set goals and make plans for the long haul. It's time to think about YOU. And it's important to prioritize what you want your life to be like and work toward making it happen!
FOOD = HEALTH
What you put in your body really does matter. What are you eating these days? How do you feel? Where do you rank on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being un-well and 10 being well? Do you feel healthy? If you can make the connection that what you eat matters, now's the time to set a goal: SIGN UP FOR OUR SUMMER FOOD SHARE and treat yourself to the healthiest food you can put in your body. Local. Fresh. Beyond Organic. Delicious. Nutrient-dense. Grown With Love. Today is the day. The time is most definitely NOW. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to take the lead in your life and your path to good health, now's your chance to find out. Contact us for an application and make the best decision you ever made. Go to our "Common Ground Food Shares" page to request an application for the 2017 Summer Food Share. Eat well. Be well. Live Well. We hope you'll join us!
Written by Jessica M. Stone in 2009 for Voices of Tomorrow
Despite their relative anonymity, community gardens are cropping up in rural and urban Americana. And, judging by the way the typical American now spends her grocery dollar, we’re changing the way we think, act, and eat.
Recent economy woes have shaken consumer trust in big business, and this trend is certainly true in the agricultural sector of our economy. In the last two years alone, food prices have risen dramatically, and Americans are increasingly looking elsewhere to get the foods they want at affordable prices. This trend, combined with the so-called “green movement” and the myriad food contamination cases in recent years, have given rise to a generation that wants to know exactly where its food is coming from.
And thus, the community garden. So what exactly, is a community garden? It is but one form of small-scale agriculture, whereby local residents participate in both the production and consumption of a community plot. It’s a very communistic idea, but, as radical as it may sound to capitalistic-minded ears, the community garden exists primarily because its participants are willing to ante up the time and the cash to make it work.
Another form of small-scale agriculture has historical roots, so to speak. It is known as the victory garden. In order to support the war effort during the Great War, many individual landowners began planting gardens for personal consumption. At its peak, victory gardens accounted for almost 1/3 of all vegetables consumed in America.
Nowadays, the victory garden is having a Renaissance of sorts. The practice of growing vegetables in the backyard remains an attractive option to those who would gladly place their sweat-equity in the field rather than at the checkout counter.
Not all small-scale operations are meant for personal consumption, however. In fact, most small-scale operations are profit-making enterprises in which local growers take their produce to market.
Regardless of the intention, small-scale agriculture keeps food costs down by avoiding the “middle man” so often present in large-scale operations. But that’s not the only difference.
Large-scale farms tend to invest in agricultural practices that produce a high yield at the expense of soil degradation. In other words, large farms feed the plants, not the soil, and that’s exactly what they get.
The crop plants soak up the fertilizers applied by large-scale farmers, and the soil, already depleted of essential nutrients from heavy annual tillage, gets nothing. When the crops are harvested, the soil is left bare again and whatever fertilizers remain, run off the surface of the soil with the next rainstorm.
Most of this water run-off enters wells where households’ water supplies come from. This contaminated water pours out of kitchen sink faucets and showerheads, and is ultimately consumed by humans. It is easy to understand how the perennial reliance on pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides creates a litany of long-term medical concerns and environmental hazards.
But big business is big business, and it’s difficult for the small-scale farmer to compete when the government subsidizes the non-sustainable growing practices of large-scale farming operations.
Nevertheless, all is not lost for the small-scale operations. The little guys have their own dedicated lobbyists in Washington, and their concerns have gained some traction with policy-makers. As it turns out, elected officials share the same concerns as many of their constituents in regards to food safety.
But even with the support of Washington insiders, small-scale farms will thrive in the long-term only by fusing a solid business plan with human creativity, which considers both the plants and the soil. Necessarily, small-scale farms will find success in the array of niche markets deemed “small potatoes” by large-scale agricultural standards.
As an example, a small-scale venture known as Community Supported Agriculture or CSA allows consumers to become shareholders of a farm and take a percentage of the weekly harvest. This venture works because consumers purchase their shares prior to the growing season to offset the farmer’s initial costs.
Other niche markets include sales to specialty food stores, high-end restaurants, farmers’ markets, and farm stands. Some farms even generate additional income by offering educational programming geared for the general public.
Perhaps the most essential element for the success of small-scale farming is its connection to the communities it serves. Community members invested in their local farms will be sustained by them, and in return they’ll sustain the farms. It’s a synergistic process, and one that mirrors the self- sustaining practice that is the hallmark of small-scale farming. And it’s also a process that allows a community to know just where, exactly, their food is coming from.
Here's an article that was shared with me and now I'd like to share it with you.
Finally, there's enough data to settle the long standing debate on whether organic growing practices are better than conventional practices. Over 1,000 studies have been done in recent years proving that organic foods are best for your health and for the environment.
Read on. The cost of your health and on future generations depends on it.
Welcome to 2016! I am here in a new year collecting the pieces of myself that get scattered throughout the landscape during the busiest seasons of our year. A little time away from the busy hustle and chaotic scramble of our work to appreciate the resounding noise of a successful year. A time to breathe, a time to plan, and to regenerate excitement for what's next.
I find myself feeling reflective as I regain control of my daily life to remember who I am and what I love most about Winter, which is finally here. Yes, it is here.
The ground is frozen. Nature is taking it's course to prepare for dormancy. It is the time for ALL life to take a rest in an effort to gain and also to reserve energy for what's coming next.
I love the flexibility that Winter brings to my schedule and to my daily activities. It is good for my body and for my brain. Farm chores certainly get trickier with frozen water and trekking through snow to feed animals. Plowing, too. We keep ourselves busy in Winter, but many of our activities are different.
We walk around our neighborhood, we hike old and new trails in forestland, and snowshoe around our hay fields. Perhaps we will even get to cross-country ski. The freedom of choice!
Exercise is key for renewing myself in Winter. Friends and customers often say, "But you get so much exercise farming." And I inform them that there are many forms of exercise and even though farming keeps us active, it's primary benefit is core strength.
In Winter, I get to move farther and faster with no task to complete except breathing. It's another form of exertion-- it's mental and physical exercise at a faster pace with a different intention. On the farm we are often taking care of things-- animals, plants, people. In the Winter, I am still doing that but less intensely, which means I am taking time to take care of me.
In Winter, we do more with our children. Rather than incorporating them into what we are doing (our busy season protocol for spending time together), we get to focus more on what they want to do. We play games in front of the fire. We watch movies. We visit museums and attend community events, and explore the science center's latest exhibits and interactive displays. We visit the library more frequently. We make big meals together. And of course, we bake cookies!
In Winter, we spend more time doing work in our community. He coaches girls basketball and I spend time serving on boards, working on projects and tasks for local organizations. I read books. I write. I reflect. I cook and bake more frequently. I listen to the news, read magazines on various farming topics, and drink tea. I organize spaces and regain control of the house. I shed old attachments and create new ones.
In Winter, I play with our animals more often. The goats especially. They love to play. And so do our kids.
In Winter, we RENEW ourselves. We REMEMBER what is ours. We REFLECT on the past, present, and future. We RECYCLE ourselves and become something new again.
Who: Farmers and Shareholders
What: Shareholders purchase vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruits in advance of the growing season
When: Pay in Late Winter/Early Spring; Get Food June-October
Where: Pick Up at Our Farm or Request Delivery to Your Doorstep
Why: It's good for you and good for our farm!
More about the CSA Movement and It's History
And learn more about why we offer a CSA
Join us for the 2015 Common Ground CSA!
Send us an email or call us if you would like an application.
Many people ask us what we do in Winter when the hustle of growing season comes to an end. When we are spotted doing our errands around town, we are frequently asked how we are enjoying our vacation. I can assure you there is no true vacation for farmers, but Winter does allow for a small amount of downtime. That 'downtime' allows us to think more clearly so we can plan for the next growing season while we manage our livestock and do repairs on barns and buildings, cut firewood to keep our home and those of our neighbors' warm in the Winter months, and order seeds and supplies for the upcoming season. There's also piles of paperwork for memberships and dues, tax preparation and accounting, hiring for the year, record keeping and analysis, marketing, updating websites, and all the other joyous work of managing a business. Oh yeah, and we also try to have a social life.
Where Food and Nature