Wow! The final week of our program has arrived. When we switched back to the Extended Season after the Main Season program ended, it felt like 8 weeks was daunting. Now that it's here and we have more produce than we probably have ever had at this point in the season, it's hard to believe we're finishing up.
This past week we felt especially busy on a personal level, and we forgot to order fuel for the greenhouse to make it through this cold weekend. We heat the greenhouse just enough to keep it out of freezing temperature ranges, so it kicks on as needed based on a thermostat. The uncertainty of being able to make it through the weekend encouraged us to harvest as much as we could from it in case we lost what's left. Here's Laina, salvaging what she could on Friday.
And look what else she saved from the greenhouse... habaneros!
From an eco-friendly standpoint, it's important not to keep the greenhouse running excessively. From a business standpoint, it's critical, too. Last year we sold Kitchen Booster Shares in late December, and the amount of fuel we burned to make it happen felt irresponsible and wasn't monetarily worth it. Although we're doing a Stuff-a-Bag promotion on December 18th from 10 - 12 to clear out the last of the veggie inventory, we wouldn't have kept the greenhouse running anyway.
The items in the share this week are all items that were either from storage or were able to withstand freezing temperatures. We've actually had this box mapped out for a few weeks now, planning specifically not to have frost-intolerant crops just in case. So, although we're losing greenhouse inventory, it wasn't in the plan anyway. Our goal in keeping the greenhouse going was to supplement our store variety. The store has been BUSY and we wanted to keep it well-stocked with lots of options.
Randy and I have been reflecting that we've never been so stressed out at this time of year. It feels like there's so much to do in terms of cleanup and business management. Most of the reason why we've been feeling stressed is because the store is still requiring a lot of time and energy. We say this with the most love in the world, and the most gratitude, because it's an amazing problem to have. Next year will be our 10th farming season, and it's really quite incredible how far we've come. In the past we've been able to multi-task a bit more, and it's a shift in mindset to recognize that the sales aspects have increased so drastically. I hope in saying this you all know we truly do not mean it to come across that we are unhappy about being busy or that we don't want to be. More so that we almost have felt unprepared and unequipped to handle what a great turnout we're continuing to have this late in the season and how we feel over-extended in our personal lives.
In talking to many of you at pickup, it seems like you're going through a lot, too... house renovations, illnesses, unexpected expenses, and other holiday time headaches. We hope you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the things that matter the most. I'm getting sappy here, but specifically at this time of the year, we are seeing the most hardcore of our customers - so many of you who have commented on the lifestyle you've created in coming every week - and we want you to know how appreciative we are that you keep coming and that people like you keep us afloat. I will miss seeing you at pickup for the next 4-5 months, as making connections with customers like you is my favorite part of this business. We extend our gratitude and wish you the happiest new year.
Our liquidation sale continues this week (and wraps up on Saturday with our closing!) with some additions. Below are the sale prices, with new additions bolded and italicized:
2021 Season Liquidation Sale
All cheese bars & spreads 25% off
Dash ‘n Drizzle
2 large oils or vinegars for $36 (mix & match!)
2 small oils or vinegars for $9 (mix & match!)
2 sea salts for $18 (mix & match!)
Dave’s Angry Sauce
2 hot sauces for $16 (mix & match!)
Janes Good Food:
All pickles $10 each
2 coffees for $20 (mix & match!)
2 teas for $18 (mix & match)
All grains 50% off!
Southbury Baking Company
All crackers BOGO free
Sugar Maple Farms
Fresh horseradish - $4/jar
2 half pints of maple syrup for $12
BOGO free maple candy
Twin Pines Farm 2 jams for $10 (mix & match!)
2 relishes for $12 (mix & match!)
This week, we're doing "Select a Squash" with your share: you pick what you'd like between butternut, buttercup, acorn, spaghetti, and delicata. Which of those is your favorite? Mine is delicata because it's the sweetest and reminds me of sweet potato. Even if you don't eat your squash right away, you can leave it on your counter well into next month and it'll still be good to use. FYI, of those, delicata has the shortest shelf life.
On the agenda for this week and next:
Harrowing the rest of the crops that can no longer be harvested (kale, collards, and leeks will stick around for harvest next spring!)
Harvesting the last of our storage crops like beets, turnips, and carrots, for the last of our sales events and for donation
Boxing up the remaining winter squash and sending it off to donation (we are all set with boxes now... thank you!)
Cleaning up the store for the winter, unplugging, and cleaning out coolers
Tidying up the barn
Cleaning and storing all black storage crates
Cleaning out the remaining pots and beds in both greenhouses
Turning off the city water for the year
Potting and storing daffodils and tulips for next spring (didn't get to it this week, but it should be okay!)
Meeting with George at Hindinger Farm to discuss planting apple trees of our own! (No, that's not the mystery fruit...)
Thankfully we still have Laina and Eric on field crew to help with all of this. Their final day is on December 17th, so we have to make the most of our time!
The long-term winter plan:
Applying for a grant in January to help cover the cost of putting an additional field at Booth Hill into production. We don't think we'll receive it, but we'll go ahead with the plan anyway.
Ordering seeds and restructing our crop plan and planting schedule in order to increase subscription memberships... right now we're maxed out with the number of members we can take on because of the variety we grow. We need to streamline our plan more.
Tweaking the Library of Resources and adding to it with additional content
Planning and organizing for 2022 subscription fun!
End-of-year business and financial wrap-up
Hiring for 2022
And probably lots of things I can't think of now that Randy will remind me about later!
From a personal standpoint, we have some home renovations to take care of, and we are planning to visit Randy's brother who is in the Air Force, stationed down south
Please keep in touch! And again, our sincerest gratitude and well-wishes.
In Your Share (In approximate order from shortest to longest shelf life)
1 bunch of kale
1 lb. of beets
1 bunch of parsley
1 lb. of potatoes
1 squash of your choice!
1 bunch of kale
2 lbs. of beets
1 bunch of parsley
2 lbs. of potatoes
1 delicata squash
1 squash of your choice!
1 bunch of sage
Caring For Your Share:
Remove any greens from the beets and store them in separate plastic bags in the fridge. Use greens within the week; beets can last up to a month. Wash when ready to use.
Store squash in a cool, dark place such as a pantry, cabinet, or cellar where it will get air flow.
Store potatoes in a mesh bag in a cool, dark place such as a cabinet or pantry, and ensure that they get plenty of air flow. Do not wash until ready to use, but wipe away dense soil, if any. Keep away from onions.
Store dry onions in a cool, dark, dry place, such as a pantry, cabinet, or cellar. Ensure that they have plenty of airflow; you can store them in a mesh bag. Keep them away from potatoes.
Store kale in a plastic bag in the fridge and use within the week. Wash when ready to use.