2014 CSA information

The 2014 CSA season is closer than it may appear; seed orders are underway and within a few weeks we’ll be starting the first onions indoors. Now is a great time to start thinking about how you’ll feed your household in the coming year, and to start dreaming about all the tasty, healthy meals you can prepare with a weekly bag of interesting fresh produce from our farm. Full information on this season, including the potential for some new membership options, is now available here on our site. 2013_share_16


For more context on what you might receive, check out our Share Photos page, on which we documented every week’s standard full share throughout the 2013 season. The 2014 season should be pretty similar as we’re making only minor tweaks to our planting plan, other than not doing a January share this year and thus starting distributions in late April or early May (as conditions allow).

We strongly encourage prospective members to visit the farm. Please contact us to arrange a visit. We’ll also announce tour opportunities on the blog as we schedule them.

The sooner we fill the membership, the easier it is for us to focus on growing produce.  If you think you know any friends or neighbors who might be interested in the CSA, especially if they live/work near you and could make home/work delivery more cost effective for you and us, please spread the word online or in person. Any marketing help we receive keeps our own cost and time down, letting us focus more on growing great food for you!

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Bird list & natural events, December 2013

December felt like winter, with mostly below-average temperatures and several winter storms that kept us inside doing much-needed office and housework. The significant temperatures swings related to this month’s storms (64ºF to 7ºF, 58ºF to 1ºF) got us thinking about which months in Missouri have the widest possible range of temperatures, which produced an interesting result: Continue reading

2013 CSA survey results

We’re hard at work planning for the 2014 CSA season (seed orders go out in January!), with all the discussion, analysis, and debate that involves. As part of this process, we compiled the results of our 2013 end-of-season member survey, and will share some of the data below, with a representative selection of written comments and our thoughts on the results and their influence on next year’s plans. Thanks to all those who responded to the survey; all of the feedback does significantly shape our plans for the coming year, whether or not any specific response made the cut for this post. We encourage any readers, members or otherwise, to share their thoughts on these results in the comments. When reading and thinking about these results, it may be helpful to review our 2013 share photos page, which has photo documentation of a standard full share for each week of the season. Continue reading

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Bird list & natural events, November 2013

November was a dry & cool month, with about half the average precipitation and average temperatures below normal. It was a pretty month, with fairly stable weather and lingering fall colors, another in our string of very nice months this fall. We somehow managed to take a few nice photos during the month, despite the intense busy-ness involved in wrapping up the CSA year, hosting Thanksgiving, and myriad other demands on our time. Continue reading

Tour on Dec. 7 for prospective CSA members

This coming Saturday, December 7, we will be hosting a free farm tour. We realize the weather forecast is less than ideal, but this will still be an excellent chance to see the farm and discuss the CSA program with the farmers.

Who: Anyone considering our Community Supported Agriculture program for 2014, including current members. 
2 p.m. on Saturday December 7. Our farm tours usually last ~1-2 hours.
The farm is about 12 miles north of downtown Columbia. We’ll send a map to those who contact us about coming. The driveway leading to the farm is rough but passable to most vehicles with a little care. Due to the driveway, if meaningful snow accumulates, we will postpone to a future date.
What: We’ll take a half-mile walking tour of Chert Hollow Farm, discuss how the CSA works, look at growing areas and farm animals, and talk about our farming ethics and thoughts on ecosystem management. The weather forecast looks chilly, so we’ll finish by answering any remaining questions by the wood stove over a cup of hot, farm-grown herbal tea.
How: Send us an email (contactus@cherthollowfarm.com) if you’re interested so that we’ll know to expect you and so we can send you a map.

Please spread the word to anyone who might be interested!

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CSA distribution #27 & newsletter

The final CSA share of the year will be on Monday, November 25 for all members (because we won’t be delivering on Thanksgiving day). We hope you’ve all enjoyed this year’s productive season, and will miss us over the winter! Members will be receiving a couple of important emails in the coming days or week; one will be an end-of-season survey, and another will contain information about rejoining for next year. We appreciate your membership and support for healthy local foods this year. We’ll be working throughout the winter, albeit at a more relaxed pace, to have the farm ready to go for spring.CSA27_1

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Our official comment on the FDA’s FSMA proposed produce rule

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) was mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act to provide “science-based” standards for production of safe food. The rule that most concerns our farm is open for comment through this Friday November 15; the rule is known as “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.” We don’t think highly of it, for many reasons including that it does little more than to promote the paranoid Pasteurian paradigm, essentially suggesting that the solution to food safety is to kill more microbes.

See our post from yesterday for some “highlights” of the proposed rule, as well as websites of organizations that provide good advice on how to comment.

The text of our official comment to the FDA follows:

Continue reading

Quiz: Do you think like the FDA on food safety?

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) was mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act to provide “science-based” standards for production of safe food. The rule that most concerns our farm is open for comment through this Friday November 15; the rule is known as “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption.” We’re not at all impressed with it or the supposed science behind it, and we’ve written up a lengthy (but still not comprehensive) comment to submit to the FDA via regulations.gov (assuming the site starts working again; it seems to have picked up a bug from healthcare.gov). We challenge readers to this quiz about the proposed produce rule, which highlights just a few of the features that we consider to be most astonishing.

1)      The FDA defines what soil amendments it considers safest and least safe by defining the waiting period between application and harvest. Try ranking the following according to the FDA, bonus points for knowing/guessing the application interval:

  • a) Manure from feedlot-raised (overcrowded, antibiotic-fed, unhealthy) animals that has been heated and treated with ammonia–and that is at least momentarily a microbial blank slate waiting for microbial opportunists of unknown character to colonize it.
  • b) Raw manure from feedlot-raised (overcrowded, antibiotic-fed, unhealthy) animals.
  • c) Raw manure from pastured animals (such as our chickens or goats).
  • d) Compost made from bedding from pastured animals (such as our chickens and goats).
  • e) Treated human feces (and all the medications and other sketchy stuff that comes along with the sewage).

2)      How many illnesses attributable to produce has the FDA documented in an average year and how many does the FDA forecast that this rule will prevent?

  • a)      Documented: ~2 million/year. To be prevented: ~1.75 million/year.
  • b)      Documented: ~1,000/year. To be prevented: ~1.75 million/year.
  • c)      Documented: ~100,000/year. To be prevented: ~50,000/year.
  • d)      Documented: ~50,000/year. To be prevented: ~100,000/year.

3)      Which of the following items does the FDA consider to be “rarely consumed raw” (and thus exempt from  the practices that the FDA considers to be necessary for safe produce production)? Hint: 7 of the following are on the FDA’s “exhaustive” list of produce that is “rarely consumed raw.”

  • a) black beans
  • b) kale
  • c) chestnuts
  • d) water chestnuts
  • e) bamboo shoots
  • f) thyme
  • g) beets
  • h) figs
  • i) kidney beans
  • j) tomatillos
  • k) ginger root
  • l) garlic
  • m) sweet corn

Answers below the break.

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CSA distribution #26 & newsletter

The next CSA distribution will be Thursday November 14 and Monday November 18.This is the second-to-last share of the season, which will end with the Thanksgiving share distributed to EVERYONE on Monday November 25. It’s pretty clear at this point that these last two shares will be quite diverse, ending what’s been a very productive season on a fitting note. If you’re planning to travel but not cook for Thanksgiving, keep in mind that pretty much everything expected to be in that share should store in your fridge or on your counter just fine until you get back. Continue reading

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