Seedling CSA Shares, Pre-orders and Bright Summer Memories

We know.  It’s cold and snowy and spring feels oh so far away.  However, in a few short weeks we will begin seeding in the greenhouse and soon enough we will all be in the throws of the spring planting rush.  If you are anything like us, you spend some of these dark and cold winter days daydreaming and perusing seed catalogs planning your crops for the summer.

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For the 2018 growing season we will again be offering our seedling CSA shares. We also will give a 20% pre-order discount to those of you that know specifically what you want to plant this season.  You send us your order, we give you a total minus your 20% off for pre-ordering and you send payment via check or Paypal.  We are also now accepting credit cards. You can always check our plant offerings page to get some inspiration for your pre-orders.

If your growing style is more like ours, then mayyyybe you’re not sure exactly what you will need for plants this spring.  No problem, we offer gift certificates  at 20% off as well.  You commit to getting your plants from us before the growing season starts and save money by doing so.  In return, we receive much needed cash flow during the beginning of the year when many of our seed, soil and container expenses are incurred.

This past December, we were able to rebuild the end walls of one of our original hoop houses and put a new skin over it just before the snow fell.  Right now the space is filled with (frozen) winter carrots. In March we will seed our early spring greens followed by tomatoes and sweet potatoes for summer.  We also built several new raised beds from reclaimed lumber this past fall and installed small hoops on them.  It will be nice to have a few new options around the farm for season extension.

 

While there seems to never be time to post on the website during the rush of the growing season, we did manage to take some nice photos this past year.  Here are some of those luscious and magical colors of summer in case you need a little reminder in all of this snowy grayness.

 

We hope you are as excited as we are to be embarking on another season of growing food.  Please visit our Seedling CSA  page to sign up for a share or our gift certificates  page to purchase online and save on your seedling costs for the spring.  If any questions come up for you please do not hesitate to email us at: windyridgeorganics@gmail.com.  As always, our little organic family farm appreciates so much your early season support.  Let’s get growing!

 

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Spring in the Greenhouse

Spring has sprung and the greenhouse is full full FULL of plants here at the farm.  The new greenhouse still feels fancy and shiny going into year two of growing in the space.  It weathered all of the snowstorms this winter well, but we’re super excited to get into plant season and out of greenhouse clearing season17990454_1331780613556068_7442128078928866473_o!

If you are ready to get planting in your own gardens and need organically raised vegetable, herb and edible flower seedlings you’re in luck!  We’ll be at several spots in Central and Eastern, MA this spring starting this Friday with the Earthday Celebration at the Ecotarium .  From there we head to Townsend Earth Day  on Saturday.  Next weekend we’ll be at the Framingham Earthday Celebration on Saturday.

After our rounds out east we will head west for the beginning of markets.  The Berkshire Mall Farmer’s Market will be opening Saturday May 6th and the Downtown Pittsfield Farmer’s Market will be starting Saturday May 13th!


Seedling CSA members will be picking up during the month of May.  Every year we are so thankful for the many growers that come back year after year to get their gardens started with our plants, you are a big part of what keeps our farm functioning in the early spring!

We are open on Sundays at the greenhouse from 10-4 in May and June.  It’s always a good idea to call ahead if you are thinking of making the trip to the Hawley hills, so we can put away the attack goose!

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After plant season dies down in June we’ll be back to bringing you delicious produce for the summer.  The exciting news for July and August is that we will be offering CERTIFIED ORGANIC BLUEBERRIES at market and bulk quantities by pre-order.  Shoot an email over to windyridgeorganics@gmail.com if you are interested in bulk berries this August for your freezers or your pies (and your bellies).

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone this spring at markets and out and about.

Ready. Set. Grow!!!

 

Why We Chose to Become a Certified Organic Farm

Exciting things are afoot on the farm for the 2015 growing season!  The farm applied and was accepted last year into a matching enterprise grant program.  This grant is providing half of the funding for our new propagation house which is being constructed this coming summer.  In addition to the grant, this program involved a large amount of technical assistance and business planning.  During the planning process, the idea came about of going for organic certification.

The dance of being an organic practices farm that is not certified has been an interesting one for the past five seasons.  Like many other farmers who are not certified, we spun a myriad of terms to avoid using the word organic in our marketing 10570398_543102479152532_4636554029894150616_n and signage.  ‘Sustainable’ was often our word of choice.  It was great at the farmer’s market when customers inquired about whether or not we were organic and we could respond with, “We’re not certified, but we follow organic practices.”  At that the point the customer knew us and we formed relationships based on their trust that we were farming with integrity.

From an ecological stand point, we are entering into a very scary time for the food chain.  Honey bees, Monarch Butterflies and various song birds are literally the canary in the cage for a large scale experiment in the rampant use of pesticides in the agriculture industry.  We’ve known from day one that our farm is a form of resistance against massive agribusinesses and the chemicals they support.  At the same time, the rebels in us also balked at the idea of shelling out the money and time involved in applying for organic certification.  It seemed to us it was just another agency trying to make money off of our already meager farm earnings.1013992_10151288197019364_1360999945_n

What became apparent during the grant business planning process was that as the farm grows over the next five years, we may not have the luxury of meeting and chatting with every single customer that wants to do business with us.  Without that face to face interaction the consumer has no way of distinguishing between our product, which is produced organically and another farm’s product which they call sustainable, when in fact it could be sprayed with who knows what and grown using chemical fertilizers that are ending up in our waterways and oceans.  We’ve been sensitive to the term ‘greenwashing’ since day one.  It hurts to watch conventional farmers sell plants and produce to consumers and know that the customer is assuming it is organic and ethically grown because they are at a farmer’s market or the product is local.  This is why we always encourage customers to ASK their farmer and not assume they are purchasing an organic product.

So what were we to do as a small farm with limited resources?  We couldn’t follow our plants and produce around with a bull horn yelling, “We don’t spray!” to every customer that comes into contact with our products, especially as our business grew.  We also began to find that many of our potential wholesale customers could not purchase our organic produce for their organic products because we did not carry certification.  So, we took the leap and dove into the long process of applying with Baystate Organic Certifiers.

The application process in itself is daunting to attempt as a small farmer who already wears so many hats in the business.  The only time of year when there is time to go through the process is the dead of winter.  The huge road block with this is that it is also the time of year when the farm has no income AND when many of the material expenses are incurred.

Millie and grace tips Fire CiderEnter team Fire Cider.  This local company has taken their spin on a traditional tonic and turned it into a great example of a successful and ethically run business in our area.  When Fire Cider was founded, they received community support from other businesses and they wanted to be able to extend this gesture to the next generation of sustainably minded scrubber horseradish june 2014entrepreneurs.  They chose to assist a farmer with certification costs because they want to be able to source more ingredients for their product from local farms and not many in our area have organic certification.  They also recognize that the food system needs to be fixed and consumers need to know that the products they consume (whether it’s a tonic or a turnip) is clean, safe and actually good for them.  Coincidentally,  the busiest time of year for Fire Cider Sales, a tonic that supports the immune system, is cold and flu season, the dead of winter.  It was a perfect match.

Shortly after writing the painful check to our organic certifying agency, Fire Cider approached the farm about assisting with our certification costs.  A program already exists which reimburses farmers up to 75% of the cost of certification, but it doesn’t happen until October.  Fire Cider provided us with a loan for the 75% we will be reimbursed for and a donation to cover the remaining 25% of our expenses.

It was surprising for us to hear the great news that someone wanted to help us cover our certification costs, but we reallyIMG_4910 shouldn’t be surprised after doing business in the Pittsfield area these past 5 years.  Through all of it’s struggles, this community is emerging as a resilient and innovative area with a strong pulse in the sustainable food and business movement.  We’re excited to announce that we are now certified with Baystate Certifiers as an ORGANIC producer.  Thanks so much to everyone over at Team Fire Cider for lending a hand at just the right moment, we can’t wait to get growing in 2015!

CSA Pickups Begin

Week one of our produce CSA started last Saturday with the following going home with our shareholders:20140619-155953.jpg

Chioggia Beets with greens

Swiss Chard

Siberian Kale

Collards

Bunching Onions

Spring Garlic

D’Avignon Radishes

We hope everyone enjoyed these spring delights. As is the case every season, share boxes will vary in size throughout the year. The beginning of the season tends to be on the lighter side and the volume grows throughout the summer and into fall. This coming Saturday we are headed to markets with these delicious items:

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Collard Greens

Kale

Peas – Predominately Snow peas and a few sugar snap.

Beets with Greens- Detroit Dark Red and Chioggia

Salad Greens- Mostly Red Oakleaf because this is the variety that the deer seem to like the least out of all of the varieties of greens they have desecrated this spring.

Cheriette Radishes

Spring Garlic

 

We are still busy planting here on the farm. The winter squash, eggplant and pepper are all still waiting in the greenhouse for the next rainy day. Fall seeding is almost finished up for Kale and Collards. The next planting of beets is not looking nearly as nice as the first, so savor those beets and greens while we have them!20140619-160052.jpg

The farm has picked up a third market. We will be driving to the Winthrop Farmer’s Market for eight Sunday markets this summer. Opening day went very well for us. And yes, part of the draw is the beach trip that happens after the market. 🙂

We still have lots of lovely plants growing in the greenhouses too so please think of us if you need to fill any space in your gardens as Spring turns to summer.

These days on the farm we sweat A LOT and work ridiculously long days that
string along for weeks. Our shoulders are tan and sore. The bounty of food for the season is just beginning and it never seems like there is enough even though there always is. Planting is not yet finished and seeding is continual. The jungle of weeds is just barely at bay thanks to constant hand and tractor cultivating. It all seems like an endless whirlwind until suddenly we are at rest again in November. Please, if you can, remember to thank all of your farmers this time of year. We are tired, but still so happy to grow you food.  See you at the markets!

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