Farming is inherently a gamble, Rebecca explained to us over our morning salad harvest. You ultimately have to play the hand you are dealt, and what a dealer we’ve had in 2020! Even if you play your cards right, sometimes the game just won’t work out. At least the weather has been favorable.
This is not a scary newsletter, if that’s what you’re thinking, but it is a glimpse into the reality of farming in all this chaos. From the beginning of the season, we recognized that certain parts of this style of farming were at risk due to Covid. In March, our fields were brimming with early spring produce and we had a greenhouse full of plant starts we’d carefully potted up to sell at the Bainbridge Island Farmer’s Market. And then, no market. And then still no market. And by the time a safe plan for re-opening was formulated, the season of selling all those little seedlings had nearly passed.
One after another, the wedding flower orders we had booked were cancelled or postponed. We wondered, is this the year to just till in the flower crops and focus on growing only food? Or will this be the year people need to brighten their homes and hearts with flowers more than ever?
We also rely on restaurants to buy our veggies, and our fresh sheet (which is a list of all of our offerings) has still been sent out to local chefs every week.
Everyone is concerned about viability for themselves and for their favorite places. We’ve seen beloved restaurants close, or struggle to stay open at partial capacity with Covid. Just when we learned the rules for how to work this modified restaurant system, then came the fires. Wildfires continue to keep people in their homes, staying safe from the smoke and away from the farmers market.
It seems that 2020 has dealt our local food system an exceptionally unpredictable hand. We’ve been growing and picking beautiful veggies – we’ve had some legendary harvests – note the copious cauliflower recently (check out the photo below!) and yet there’s always a chance that it won’t work out. As farmers, we recognize that we are tied up in a vulnerable system, one that could change at any moment. We have to follow the ebbs and flows of the world in motion and make it work. This year, Mother Nature’s ups and downs have been the easy part!
Mostly, we are so grateful to have a CSA full of wonderful folks, and that we can bring this food to you all. Without it, this food would have no home. But even with the largest CSA we’ve ever had, we’re still trying very hard to make sure that we don’t let food go to waste. With fewer restaurant orders due to Covid and wildfires and with smoky markets keeping folks home, we’re still uncertain about meeting our financial goals off of the care and time we spend weeding, harvesting, and washing our crops.
We’ve donate produce to Sharenet and Helpline House and participated in the Farm to Food Bank program, but farming on a small scale, it’s not in our budget to be able to give much food away and still remain profitable. In the upcoming season, our CSA subscribers will be able to donate to our local food banks through us. That money will be translated directly into produce that goes to these valuable organizations, and ensures that we are able to continue doing what we are doing.
With all of these gambling metaphors, I’ve just been listening to The Gambler by Kenny Rogers, and enjoying the fact that the sun decided to peek back through the smoke and fog today.
Until next time,