Week 15 (Chicago Week 13)

List of this week's vegetables

  • Trombicino Squash (cut off what you want to use in cooking; save the rest for later) 
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Provider and Maxibelle OR Kentucky Wonder green beans
  • Bell peppers
  • Red Roaster UW organic trial sweet peppers
  • Boxed hot peppers
  • Cabbage
  • Arugula
  • Beets

Humankind’s calendar took us into fall this week, but climatic conditions over Labor Day weekend didn’t easily let go of summer. Gratefully, friends and southerly breezes made work through the holiday more than tolerable.

We labored, Dela and I, with great company through almost all September’s first weekend. New subscriber and great farm friend Aaron of Oregon, came a second time in a week to repair one of four farm pickups. His children helped dig potatoes and vigilantly checked for eggs in the hen house while Aaron completely changed out the 25-year-old truck’s exhaust system.

Our longest subscriber, Pat of Madison, at least 19 years (we can’t remember exactly), spent a day of her holiday with us, mostly picking Provider bush beans, but consenting to lunch before helping hunt for tomatoes mid the tired vines at summer’s end. Blake and Megan, beloved and long-time members from Madison, too, shared another day finishing up a bumper crop harvest of Provider, which all the summer’s rain has revived.

Son Micah mowed our grass paths in the home garden, and son Joel mowed the grass paths in our rented field. Jonas and Heather’s family, who rent us that field, have been helping harvest, too. Their kind pitching-in allows Dela and me to keep weeding new plantings of kale, mustard greens, spicy greens, carrots, and this week’s arugula – more planting and transplanting, too.

All the help through the weekend made it possible, too, for your farmers to slip away after work Monday to a meal and movie in Madison. “Hell or High Water” powerfully depicted the poverty and injustice of farming people in west Texas, and a desperate means two brothers employ to stave off foreclosure.

This film deepened my appreciation for all of you who subscriber to our farm, for all of you who help us face difficulties that other farmers confront alone. Incomes that cannot keep up with production costs, foolhardy public policies and higher interest rates have vexed farmers in this nation at least since the Civil War.

Even those of us who’ve found solutions and sustainability in direct contact with subscribers are not unchallenged. We face a new threat from a new electronic ordering service that won a Wisconsin Innovation Award a couple of weeks ago.

The company’s co-founders claim to have married computer technology with “timeless traditions of small-farm farming and small-batch food production. At the same time, they belittle farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture for not providing electronic ordering on demand and door-to-door service.

A colleague of mine from a newspaper where I worked in the early years we established Scotch Hill Farm, forwarded the UW Madison press release heralding this new company’ innovation award. I’ve not stopped since thinking about its implications for 7,500 CSA growers across the United States.

This service calls itself “CSA on steroids” for offering so much more, from so many more “local farms and businesses” than a single CSA grower or market can provide. It completely dismisses the dimensions of community, health and personal relationship in what we do as a family and supporters practicing CSA.

This electronic service dismisses the benefits to subscribers who volunteer for or at the farm. It dismisses those who potluck with us, who share in our lives, this place, this knowledge of organic and sustainable farming. It dismisses the friendships that form over food, food preparation and food preservation.

This service has also already limited numbers of locals who can provide their wares through its medium, so as not to confuse consumers with too many choices.  Those excluded  are out of luck. Or are we? At least, we have Scotch Hill Farm, its 22nd season’s bounty, rich memories of our work together. Most of all, we have each other.