Friday, March 13, 2015

Lafou, I've Been Thinking

It's a dangerous pastime, this thinking.   But, somebody's gotta do it!

First order of business - join the CSA!:
Do you want fresh veggies from the Genuine Faux Farm this year?  Well, you'd better sign up for the CSA.  Go to the website and take the link to send us an email.  Or you can just send us an email from here!

Second order of business - visit us at the Cedar Valley Local Foods Fair this Saturday:

Saturday - March 14 from 10 AM to 3 PM.  Waterloo Center for the Arts 225 Commercial Street.  If you want to sign up, we'll have paperwork with us and we can get everything taken care of during your visit!

Third order of business - did you use our web form to reserve a spot - Uh oh...
In an effort to make a long story less long - if you signed up using the web form at any point over the past couple of months... we didn't get it.  A change in providers apparently resulted in the form breaking.  Apparently, the code was not supported with our configuration on the new service.  We apologize for the inconvenience, but we do encourage you to sign up.  We are not ignoring you - we just never did hear from you - despite what the internet said!   If you are reading this and know someone who might have tried to sign up, help us out and let them know about the problem we are dealing with.

Reasons to NOT join a CSA?
Liz Kolbe of Practical Farmers of Iowa wrote a piece for their blog regarding CSAs that gives some pretty common (and pretty good) reasons for not joining a CSA.  If you grow your own fresh produce, prefer to purchase local in other ways, etc - then it makes sense that you are not part of a farm share program.  She also makes some pertinent points that you can find ways to support a CSA even if you travel or if you feel financing it is a difficult thing.

But, if you want some tongue in cheek blogging, then you can read this other piece by Liz.  It's true.  If you despise the idea of locally produced food and you hate veggies, then I suspect a CSA program isn't the right thing for you.

We'd like to add one more addendum to what she writes.  Please remember that if you DO join a CSA, then you need to take the time to figure out what that means for you AND for the farmer.  Read the communications your farmers work to provide you that describe their services and procedures.  Many programs differ for many very good reasons.

Des Moines Water Works
I am watching with some interest the case of the Des Moines Water Works versus areas up river for agricultural pollution of the water.  This online article can bring you up to date on the latest responses by many Ag organizations.  I would encourage you to read this and see what they are saying.

Then, we have to ask the question - if the voluntary approach to addressing the problem is 'working,' then why is it that the water works have to do what they have to do to make the water safe for drinking?  I also wonder how it is that they ignore the studies and data that show the erosion that happens as a result of our most common agricultural practices in this state?

My opinion?  We've done the voluntary approach long enough.  It seems that, for many people in ag, they will only do what is best for the environment if it is made financially expedient to do so in the short term.  That's not a recipe for advancement.

Nice Picture
This photo Rob took from our farm was featured as part of the MOSES Organic Farming Conference in LaCrosse this year.  Pretty cool!  If you wish, you can scroll to the bottom and download the PDF that is the conference program.

It's nice now - but when is the last frost date?
One of the things that we have to remember is that our farm doesn't warm up as fast as other locations.  Hey, you folk in Waverly, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, take a look at this map - and for that matter, you can look at the rest of the USDA information by downloading the PDF found here..

Take note.  We are in Northeast Bremer county.  We're not situated in the nice little bubble that Waterloo/Cedar Falls and Waverly are in.  And, if you grow in town, you have some micro-climate help.  Nope, we're not complaining.  But, we are educating.  Every year, we try to push the boundaries of the growing season without being dumb about it.  We expect to lose a few things every season because we pushed the envelope too far in one direction or the other.  Just as long as we don't lose too much, we will be fine.

Curious about first and last NORMAL frost dates for your zip code?  Well, you can go here and enter your Zip.  The dates for Tripoli are April 28 and October 3.  However, I can tell you that over the last three years, we have had frost dates in mid-September and have even had freeze dates in week 3 of September.  The dates given as the normal first/last frost dates are the point where there is a 50% chance that the last frost date will be LATER than the Spring date given and EARLIER than the Fall date given.

If you are more serious about this, you can go to the NOAA climate normals page and download information there.  According to this date, Tripoli has a 50% chance of having a 36 degree F or lower temp after May 6 and a 50% chance under 32 degrees (freezing) after April 28.  Simply put, frosts that can impact our crops can occur at temperatures 36 degrees and colder.    Clearly, the prior site is taking the numbers for a FREEZE.  But, fine, it all depends on the year.  Sep 25 is our 36 degree marker and Oct 3 is the 32 degree marker for Tripoli.

But, before you get too crazy with these numbers, consider some of the other numbers in the PDF from NOAA.  How is that Waukon actually has dates that look like a longer growing period than we do, but the map above shows Waukon (Allamakee) as much shorter?  We all need to remember that the stations for which data is collected all have their own micro climates.  After all, we don't want things to be too simple, do we?

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