Hello CSA Members! It’s Donovan & Kaitlin here!
I wanted to take a minute to give you a few updates about our service, where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we’re heading.
Let me start by saying a thank you to everyone who helped us by getting on our new system and set up on the new www.huntsvillefarm.com website! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the change.
Related to that, we notice many of you doing a fair bit of shopping and adding to your CSA every few weeks using our CSA add-on page, and even coming down to the farm shop on weekends. I cannot stress enough how much we appreciate this and how thankful we are for it. Your decision to continue to support us through add-ons really, really helps us out as a farm. It allows us to continue to invest in our land and drive your pricing DOWN over time. It gives us the opportunity to create wonderful new experiences in our community and for you and your family to experience here on our farm and through your membership in our CSA. It honestly cannot be overstated how much we appreciate this. (My eyes welled up with tears typing it - seriously)
Where have we been?
Over the last 12 months we, like everyone, rode a few major roller coasters.
Meat Availability - COVID had a tremendous impact on the availability of meats, processors, and created an overall disruption in the supply chain, some of that benefited us. For the first time, many people couldn’t buy meat in stores, and instead came to our small farm, and other small farms in the area. It was amazing to see renewed interest in local foods, local farms, and relationships with farmers. What an amazing change we witnessed in real time and we hope people continue to value local food security and establish a relationship with us, our land, and our produce.
Our small farm, and others, faced challenges too as meat processors across the country became backed up - which meant it was very hard to get animals processed, and mistakes happened much more often. If you’ve noticed more Pork Bratwurst with Cheese in your CSA this year than last - you’re experiencing the outcome of one of our pork processors having been so backed up that they kept changing our custom sausage orders to cheese bratwurst only (to save time on their end), so that in their eyes they could deliver us “something” vs. not taking our orders at all. We also had to travel to 4 different facilities in the last year to find a processor who was still open and could meet our quality standards and take our orders. Thanks for your understanding on the variety of meats, specifically the cheese bratwurst, and we’re glad they are delicious and still a favorite! Thankfully grilling season is around the corner for anyone who’s been stocking up in their freezer.
We were happy and honored to be able to work with lots of local chefs and creators to enhance the CSA (products like local fresh bread baked the day before your delivery) . By sourcing our local communities and finding like-minded people who share our same passion for sustainable, fresh and responsible products we are able to provide you with an assortment of local goodies that you can be confident in. It gives us the ability to support our local community in a broader way than just here at the farm. This seemed like a good change and we’ll continue to do it - please let us know if you have any suggestions here regarding some of your favorite creators that might fit well into our model!
We beefed up our infrastructure on the farm a fair bit, but fell short on the level of diversity we wanted to include in our baskets. While we always aim to go well over $50 in value, we want to make sure that we have enough variety of products that are easy to use and very delicious. For veggies we’ve had to default to things that grow quicker over the winter and were easier to save/store (lettuce, onions, potatoes). While we didn’t completely fail on the diversity and quality we strive to put in our CSA this fall/winter (I’d give us a C+) - we passionately want to do much better in 2021 and have some exciting plans to share with you about how we’re doing that. You’ll notice a much heavier rotation of produce in spring and summer, and a more diverse range of produce in the winter months this coming year, and a little heavier on local makers and our proteins in winter than we do in the summer months. We are very excited to share with you what we are growing this year, and we know you’ll love the variety.
Where are we now?
The winter was an excellent time for us to pause and plan. We took up the bulk of our non-breeding stock to be processed, we’re resting lands, and making big plans for 2021.
We’ve installed a large cooler and freezer at the farm, opening up a tremendous amount of new produce opportunities coming to you in 2021. We’ve beefed up our egg layers (lots of fun colors coming!) with two new coops and a new young and vigorous herd of birds that will start laying next month. We’ve purchased a new delivery truck that will allow us to keep products fresher directly to your door. We’ve started a new business! (Huntsvillecompost.com) which will help supply the farm with many more raw materials to make world-class compost and provide tremendous nutrient value to the crops we grow in 2021 - passing those nutrient rich foods on directly to you and your family. We’ve launched a new website that is easy to use, tracks your orders better, and allows for add-ons to be easily delivered with your standard CSA. We’ve done hundreds of hours of research into new product lines, new partners, new produce we want to grow, and new ways of operating on our farm that will streamline and support you best in 2021. We’ve just finished (almost) adding gravel to all of our walking trails and are going to be announcing spring and summer tour dates for CSA members, permanently opening up the farm to our members and their families to come experience what we’re doing, see their food first-hand, and share in the journey of clean eating and local living with us.
Where are we going?
We’re planting A LOT in 2021. I say this because we just put in a $2,000 seed order. We’ve had 2 new very talented folks join us on the farm who are fully focused on growing unique, easy-to-use, and incredibly tasty produce. This includes things like - over 12 heirloom tomato varieties, over 20 different types of herbs/spices, dozens of types of cucumber/squash/melons, edible flowers for our salad mixes, 4 types of carrot, 5 types of radish, 5 types of beans, 3 types eggplant, muskmelon, okra, and so much more. We’re going to have this garden walkable, tourable, and fully optimized in a companion planted and permaculture fashion.
On the fruit side, our trees and vines are finally coming of age and we expect the investment we’ve made in the trees and vines over the last several years to benefit everyone! We hope to have pawpaw, pears, apples, plums, fig, muscadine, kiwi, and of course lots of blackberries in the summer! We’re focused on more rare and unique fruits too - which will often mean maybe we can only give out samples until we hit full production, but we’re eager to share these experiences and flavors with you.
On the animal side, our herds have never been stronger. We have a young egg laying herd that will be producing beautiful colors this year (greens, blues, grays, browns) and two new coops we invested in last summer that will help streamline our production and benefit the animals greatly. Our pastures didn’t get as wet this year as they have in the past and we were able to get lots of seed down for forage. Our sheep, cattle, and pig herds will all greatly benefit from the continued planting we do into these pastures and the mild weather we had this year. We’re also working on expanding our bee hives so we can provide more honeycomb to our members this year.
We have exciting plans in 2021 and are working hard to provide you an excellent CSA experience. We’ll be sending out our annual survey to your email and would love your feedback on what we’re growing, and your guidance on how we can best serve you and your family. We’ll report the data back to you in a wrap up report and talk more about what we learned from the survey too in our effort to enhance the CSA experience and to provide you with more of what you want.
If you’d like to help us out please use the referral system on the website, both you and a friend can earn store credit when you refer someone to sign up for a CSA! The more folks we have the better pricing we will have on containers and it also helps drive down our delivery costs!
Thank you for taking the time to read these updates and for being part of our farm and CSA experience!
Please check your inbox later today for our yearly survey.
- The Duncan Family & Team