I am busy tilling up fields and sorting through seeds getting clear on what deliciousness the CSA will become this year. And, guess what?? I’m growing in a greenhouse this year! So many exciting realizations of all that I have envisioned for the past several years including a Junior Master Gardener program, a Homegrown by Heroes project supporting Veterans learning to farm and market their produce and a true cooperative farming effort in our area.
For the 2016 CSA program, you will notice a few shifts toward realizing our dream of farming profitably:
#1.South Ottawa Location. In an effort to abide by our commitment to restore farmland in Illinois, our Grand Ridge farm will be in cover crop this, our 4th growing season. In perfect alignment with ‘having it all’, I have been invited to manage a local (much bigger!) produce plot just outside of Ottawa, about 8 miles from our family farm. CL Farms is just one of many large farm operations seeking to transition to specialty crops and (one of the few) interested in becoming an agricenter of all aspects of connecting community through food.
#2. More farms. One of the toughest decisions planning our CSA menu January is deciding what crops to grow. Do I grow 5 kinds of peppers or cut back to 2 and explore some heirloom squash that takes up a ton of garden real estate? Do I risk a field on a new crop that I’m not sure how will perform, or do I stick with the known varieties that I know do well in our area? This season, three other farms and I have come together to diversify our fields so that you might have ten different kinds of peppers this season. And even a watermelon or two. By planning our season together, your CSA box will have a wider variety of vegetables and herbs and will even include some small fruits.
#3. Farmers Market pickup. With Grateful Plains as a cog ready to turn as many spokes as will join the wheel, I will be organizing the booth for CL Farms Farmers Market in Ottawa. Not only will you find me in Ottawa on Saturday morning, but we will also add an evening market on Wednesday nights along Route 23 between Ottawa and Streator. Plus, you will be able to pickup at CL Farms just outside of Ottawa’s south side any week that you cannot make one of the pickup locations. For a $5 delivery charge, you can have your CSA share delivered locally as well. Ride share is an option for those of you living beyond the Ottawa area. Talk to me and I will introduce you to your neighbors who are part of our CSA.
I am looking forward to an incredible season! Hope to see many of your smiling faces when pickups begin!