News and blog
I’ve seen this as a bumper-sticker mantra for many years and have generally agreed, but hadn’t put much thought behind it. After a 2016 defined by political drama, intense social discussion, and election obsession, I have really been thinking more about that phrase as a guiding principle. Think Globally Act Locally.
Think Globally – humans now occupy nearly all of the habitable land on the planet. Our primary energy source for society is still fossil fuels that were locked away by natural processes hundreds of millions of years ago, a savings account of carbon if you will. Most public and private entities have a stated goal of continuous positive growth (forever?) that requires a steady input of that energy to sustain the system. Our resources are stretched thin, and are not evenly distributed among people. The system is not sustainable.
With that as a backdrop, we cannot ignore global issues. In a time where America is going in the direction of self-focus (America First), it is long past the point where we have that luxury. We are all citizens on a planet with limited resources, as well as citizens of individual nations who want to compete for those resources. I feel torn between retreating to my own community and just shutting off the news and world concerns, or trying to educate myself about every global economic and political issue to be hyper-aware of what’s going on. It is quite overwhelming, and I know many of you feel the same way. On one hand, we have to focus on our individual lives and the concerns of our communities, yet on the other hand we have to carry the weight of global-level challenges.
Act Locally – for most of us, this is the only real action we can take. Unless you are a high profile politician or CEO, you probably don’t have any real impact on world events. I have felt helpless and depressed when I’ve thought in those terms, but I also think that putting my efforts into local action and individual consumer choices is the only way I can make a difference. It can be quite uplifting and empowering. I firmly believe that the real power always is in the hands of the people. Grass-roots and individual efforts have the potential to turn into paradigm shifts. In fact, I think it’s the only way those major shifts in human thought happen – a small action cascades into major social movement.
When I go to a store, I read labels. I look up ingredients. Where was it made? I am aware of the system that produces our consumer goods and food and know that every dollar I spend is a vote for a system I support. If I buy food in a box or can at the grocery store, I am supporting a system that is all about consolidation, commodity, global trade, subsidies, petroleum, and chemicals. I am aware of the global impacts when I spend my individual dollar. Think Globally Act Locally.
So, what does this have to do with CSA? When you purchase a produce share from a CSA farm, your money goes directly into the hands of the producer. You receive high quality fresh food directly from the source. No cross country shipping, no warehousing, no profits to larger corporations and insurance companies. Direct farm to table. It doesn’t take long to figure out the global impact of that choice. The CSA farmers I know are incredible stewards of the land, have a farming system that sequesters carbon and enhances the ecosystem, don’t use many off-farm inputs, and are passionate about what they do. CSA farmers are also very likely to be engaged in community organizations, education, politics, family, and farmer activism. When you buy a CSA share, you are supporting a person who will use the profits from their farm to promote and practice sustainable living. I’d like to think I am one of them.
It is a given to me that the food you get from a CSA share is of superior quality to what you buy in the store. There’s just something about having a farmer pay direct attention to a plant’s needs that makes it better. I’m sure we have all seen the studies showing little difference in organic food vs non-organic food nutritionally, but they do not address environmental and social impact of those different food systems. It’s not just about nutrition for one individual person; it’s nutrition for the global community of people. Spending a dollar on organic food supports a system that could eventually lead to a positive paradigm shift.
A shift from a disposable consumer society to a sustainable eco-community-minded society. One where we are referred to by the media and government as people and citizens, not consumers. I don’t want to simply consume. I don’t want to depend on money to get things, I’d rather make them. If I don’t have the ability to make something, I partner with someone who does and perhaps barter for payment. This is the type of future I want, and is why I have chosen to farm how I do. CSA – Community Supported Agriculture. A community supporting a farm; and the farmer giving back to the community. It’s simple and beautiful, and it’s why I hope you choose to buy a CSA share from us this year!
We are now officially open for CSA signup!! Our online signup page is live so please go there to signup or renew. We are offering a 7.5% discount to returning members until March 15 - our system uses your e-mail address to recognize you as a previous member, so let us know if it has changed and we can help you get renewed.
2015 was our best growing season by far, but we definitely had some challenges balancing family and farm life due to our weekly schedule. We have decided to streamline our CSA pickup choices in order to have more time for evening activities, family dinners, and other farm tasks like baling hay and animal chores. We realized that picking CSA shares 3 days a week was too inefficient, especially when we have wholesale orders to pick during the week as well.
The biggest change we are making is that we be pre-packaging all shares into waxed cardboard boxes, and those who pickup on the farm will get their boxes from our walk-in cooler. We had been placing our produce in crates on tables for folks to pick from (farmers-market style), and although this was the customer experience we desired, it has unfortunately cost us a lot of quality time with our children. Also, we feel your produce will gain shelf life when kept cool in our cooler until pickup, rather than in the open air on warm days.
Another change is that we have changed pickup days (for on-farm pickup). We are offering pickup on the farm and at St. Peter Food Coop on Wednesday afternoons. Additionally, you can come to the the farm during the daytime on Thursday. We are open to other pickup locations as well - basically we need about 10 members and a reliable location to deliver boxes, and we will set up a new pickup site besides St. Peter and the Farm. Please let us know if you are interested in hosting a pickup site, or can help us organize some members in your community so we can deliver to you.
For all members, we will offer pick-you-own opportunities and extras when available. We planted a large strawberry patch in 2015 that should produce well this year, and we will always have extra beans, peas, greens, tomatoes, and herbs to pick when in season.
The change in our pickup day and style will free up a lot more time for us to focus on weed management and our planting schedule. Our workweek has been a little out of balance - too much time picking and delivering, and too little time for crop maintenance. There is always room for improvement on a farm, and after 7 years of experience we feel like we are getting much closer to finding the balance.
A consequence of our busy weekly schedule and growing family the past few years has been newsletters and recipes (and blogging about the farm). We understand the newsletter and cooking suggestions are a crucial part of the CSA experience, and we did a great job at it during our first 5 years, but our time for writing and planning has been very limited since we had our last child in 2012. So along with our updated CSA schedule comes some time built into our weekly schedule to write newsletters and recipes. I am looking forward to the new year and a chance to communicate on a more regular basis with our CSA members!
Every year has brought us a new combination of unique needs based on the ages of our children (school schedules, evening activities, diapers, feeding schedules, etc.) For example, 2016 will be the first growing season EVER where we don't have a child in diapers! That alone will help us be much more effective in growing produce. As the younger one gets a little easier, the older two need more attention (especially in the evenings) and we need more family time away from the farm. This is another reason we have decided to pre-box our shares - members can come at their convenience to get their shares from our cooler, and we can focus on our children and work when needed.
We understand we may be getting some new members this year, and we have expanded our CSA offering to accommodate 60 shares (we had 40 last year). Also, some new members may have been a member of other CSA farms in the past, and we would like to know how to best serve your weekly vegetable needs. Every farm is different and we may not have focused on the same veggies as your previous CSA, but it is early in our planning stages and we can make some changes based on feedback we get from renewing and new members. There is a brief survey on our sign-up page that asks about your top 5 veggies, least favorite veggies, and fresh herbs you like to use. We will also set some member meetings in late winter and spring to get feedback on how to make this a great CSA experience. Also, you can call us or e-mail us anytime to tell us what you liked and didn't like about the CSA.
So please sign-up if you're ready, and call us at (612) 756-3971 or e-mail email@example.com if you have any questions.
Hi! It has been so long since I've written a blog entry here. This is a sorely overdue farm update / blog entry that I've been meaning to write for months. As new year's eve approaches and passes, I am like most of you; pondering life's direction and how to emerge from the winter with a fresh outlook.
I admit that I feel very guilty sometimes for not being a better communicator with our awesome farm customers, CSA members, neighbors, friends, and family. I see other farmers who are able to use social media daily, write newsletters and recipes every week for CSA shares (I used to be so good at it), and I often feel like I'm not doing my job. Honestly, though, my main focus in life right now is my family. I have three boys ages 10, 7, and 3 and it is the most busy I've ever been. I did the college thing while working two jobs, I have started two businesses (carpentry and farming), and yet those now feel like easy times compared to the never-ending flow of dishes, laundry, chores, discipline, laughter, cooking, joy, frustration, diapers, diapers, diapers...
You get the point. As we are now pulling out of the terrible twos, the intensity is letting up a little bit in our family dynamic, I am ready for the new year. I made a resolution last fall to swear off Facebook for a while, ignore politics and world news, and simply live with my boys. Sally has been working the evening shift at the Henderson Roadhaus all fall and winter and for the first time I have been the primary caregiver and homemaker. It has been very refreshing and frustrating, and has taught me a lot about myself and my kids. Another resolution of mine was to start a blog and get back in the habit of regular communications regarding East Henderson Farm.
So this is it!! I want this blog to be a vehicle for farm news updates, CSA newsletters, and my thoughts on our food system. You might see an entry about a project, my thoughts on GMO farming, new recipes we are trying, and so on.
I did want to give a brief update on some farm projects, and plans for our 2016 veggie farming season. I have been working on two farm construction projects this fall and winter - restoration of an 1860's granary (and a lean-to addition), and our salvaged 6000-square foot greenhouse that will be operational by early March for our seed starting.
We raised 8 pigs in 2015, and recently sent 6 of them to the butcher. We kept two females that we will breed for an early summer litter of piglets. They are snug and warm in deep straw bedding in a small barn, and they get plenty of attention from us during daily chore time. We love pigs! The chickens and ducks are doing great too, although egg production has dropped off in the cold. We are collecting just enough eggs to feed our family right now, and we have some mighty fine breakfasts when we mix those eggs with sausage or bacon from our pigs (and pancakes topped with our maple syrup!)
This time of year when we have been lulled into a more relaxed state because of the winter, but there is growing anxiety about CSA member signup, seed ordering, and getting that greenhouse ready! So please bear with us as we get our membership signup details out. We are going to have to make some changes this year to better accommodate our family life. We have thought long and hard about what kind of CSA we want to be, and right now our family lifestyle has to rule our decision making process. To be brief, we are actually adding capacity for more members this year, but altering our distribution. We will fill you in more in a week or two, and offer sign-up with a discount for returning members. We hope you understand any changes we have to make, and continue to grow with us!
I'll leave this first blog entry with a final thought. Food is everything. Agriculture is the foundation for every economy. Local food that bypasses the distribution chain and processors is the best food. You are what you eat, and healthcare begins with your diet. I could get angry about our food system, unfair politics and subsidies, fast food, junk food, but I'd rather do the only thing I know I can do to affect positive change. Grow good food for my community. We are community and I thank you!
Just a little farm update. I went through our seeds from last year to see what to keep and what we will need more of. It makes me long for spring. The chickens we out today grazing on the hill side. Our pigs have really grown as well. I can't wait for the ground to thaw a bit so I can add new panels to their pen. I want to move them into the woods for more digging and rooting and grazing. It definitely feels we are on the path to greater diversity and sustainability on our farm.
stay warm farm friends
We are in the depths of winter here and are very much looking forward to getting out of doors and into our various garden and farm projects. With that being said, we would like to inform everyone of some new endeavors here on the farm and how we plan on going forward as a business and as a sustainable, fully working farm.
Our first major change is a difficult one for us, but it is something we have been contemplating for a number of years. We will no longer be delivering to the Twin Cities Metro area this year. We know this is a disappointment to many of our members who have been with us from the beginning of our CSA endeavor. Since the beginning of our farming, we have added two more members to the family and now our focus must be on our children and home life. Many CSA’s have members or work shares pick up shares on the farm and offer a pickup location on behalf of the farmer, and we would like to see that happen but we just cannot do the driving ourselves with three small children. Please contact us if this is of interest to you and your neighbors or friends so we can continue to serve you in a new way.
Another consequence of this is that we are reducing the number of CSA shares we sell, and we are changing our half share option. Instead of a farm that is focused solely on CSA production, we would like to grow more vegetables for the St. Peter Food Co-op and local restaurants, increase our grain and forage (alfalfa) production and increase our meat production (beef, pork and chickens). One benefit to reducing our CSA offering is that with fewer members we will have more time to focus on more difficult crops to grow like salad mix and carrots. Our share options will also be different this year. We will now offer a full share once a week and a half share will be a “full share” every other week. We feel that this will give all our members more vegetable varieties and larger quantities. Lastly, we are happy to announce that we will once again offer egg shares this year, as we will have more time to tend to our chickens.
In closing we would like to thank all our members for supporting us through the years. You are the reason that our farm business has been a positive force in our life and has enabled us to continue farming all these years. We have also been able to develop and create new ventures on our farm. Even though we will not be delivering to the Twin Cities, it does not mean you are not able to support us. We will still welcome all to our farm during our open pick up hours to purchase eggs, individual vegetables and all of our other farm products (maple syrup, meat products, etc.) and to enjoy our nature trails and help celebrate during our farm parties and harvest celebrations.
Our 2015 member sign-up is now open at http://www.easthendersonfarm.com/members/types We are offering a 7.5% discount for returning members until March 31! Members from any of our past years of operation are eligible. Please let us know if you need assistance in signing up. Again thank you for your continued support!
Sally, Josh and the boys
Hello to all-
I am writing to let everyone know that we have made some changes to our farm and our website. There has been some updating and new pictures posted. Please continue to check out our site as I will be continuing to add new pictures and letting you all know what is happening here on the farm. Our CSA membership sign up will happen this week, and you will be able to sign up here on the web....or just give us a call.....or visit.
Talk to you soon!
Please read our most recent CSA member newsletter - it's a snapshot into what our crazy farm life is like!
Hi CSA Members and farm customers,
We thought you might be wondering about our farm after all of this rain. Here's an update I wrote on facebook the other day. surprisingly, the veggies are doing well despite the rain but other parts of our farm have been affected by wet fields and washout damage. if you are on facebook, please check out our page to see some pictures of our woods and roads - in rough shape!
We wanted to let you know of an opportunity to buy whole frozen chickens!!! we had 90 chickens butchered last Tuesday and they are in our freezers ready for sale now. they average 5 pounds, and we are asking $2.99/lb for them. they are not certified organic because we used non-organic feed. these would be considered all natural chickens however, and they are excellent for roasting or cutting up. We have another 100 birds going to butcher in Mid-july that are on pasture right now, so if you miss out this time around there will be more.
we will open our farm this coming Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3-6 for chicken sales. we have some other products for sale at this time such as maple syrup, eggs, and some produce. these products aren't a part of the CSA share (which will be starting June 30). please call us at (612) 756-3971 if you have questions or need directions to the farm. you can also reserve a number of birds ahead of time.
You have probably heard Henderson on the news in recent days due to the flooding and road damage. Fortunately, our fields are on the bluff above the river and are sloped such that we don't get standing water.
Our vegetable crops are doing well for the most part, except for our sweet corn which had terrible germination in the wet soil, and a few beds of radishes and arugula that were half washed away. There's time to replant those crops when the ground dries out.
Our first cutting of alfalfa sat through all of that rain in windrows and is now leached of most nutrients. it was about three hours from being dry last friday when it started raining, but we'll still bale it when it dries out and it will be decent feed/bedding for our steers this winter.
Much like a major blizzard in the winter, this type of event simply shuts us down for a few days. Our emotions are taxed, our bodies are tired, and we just have to take a few days off to take it all in. I am very sad for those whose houses were damaged, and I'm bummed that some of my favorite spots in the woods have been washed away.
Nature rules, like it or not! I have seen enough floods around here in my 35 years that I don't get too shaken up about it, and all we can do as farmers is adapt and accept what comes our way!
Josh and Sally
East Henderson Farm
So it is 2014 and my new years resolution is to manage this site better....so hopefully you will start seeing some changes....new pictures and information.....more blogging.....I am looking forward to starting the new growing season. Talk to you all soon!
Happy New Year
First of all, we want to thank you for choosing us for your CSA share this year. We are happy to announce we are sold out for 2013. We ended up with 24 full shares and 48 half shares. We have met our goal this year of having a majority of members picking up on the farm, and we are so excited to meet all of you! We are also growing food this year for two food coops, a couple of restaurants, the Emergency Foodshelf Network, the Henderson Farmers Market, and Twin Cities Local Food. We were FINALLY able to take the tractor out yesterday and work some ground and are officially into planting seson!
We're excited today because we get to put our first vegetables in the ground. It's quite late as we usually begin planting in late April. Now we'll be planting Radishes and Peas at the same time as Tomatoes?! At this point it's not too late to plant anything, so I'm not worried about crops not working out. In fact, the late planting is advantageous in some ways, as we won't have to worry about a late frost taking out early planted crops, and the weeds won't be as bad in our small-seeded crops like carrots and spinach.
We will definitlely have to start the CSA boxes later than expected this year. We were hoping to begin the CSA the second week of June, but we won't have much ready then besides a few small radishes and baby lettuce. At this point it looks like we'll have to start the last week of June. For those with early season shares, we'll start your share the first week of June (we have our high tunnel planted already for you) The season will still run for 18 weeks, we just have to start later. Please watch your e-mail as June approaches for an exact start date and pickup details.
We need help!! Because we're beginning to plant a full three weeks later than normal, we have A LOT to do to get cauht up. I know some of you have expressed interest in Work Shares (working off a portion of your share cost) and we could really use your help the next two weeks. A full work share is an 80 hour commitment, and a half share is about 40 hours. You would work about 4 hours a week starting now and throughout the growing season. Or, if you don't want to do a work share but want to come out once or twice to get your hands dirty and help grow your own food, we would love to have you for a few hours. It's truly a great way to get involved in your local food system!
This week and next we'll be working 9-12 am, and 1-5 pm. If you can make it, please call me at (612) 756-3971 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to work all day, we'll feed you lunch. Anyone who comes out is welcome to take home some eggs, radishes, Asparagus, herbs, or salad mix for your time.
Please follow us on Facebook if you haven't already, we post a lot of photos as we're doing farm work.
Thank you all for your support, and we hope to see some of you soon out here for planting!