Full Share: Salad Mix, Sungold Tomatoes, Bulk Beets, Carrot bunch, Spaghetti Squash, Slicing tomatoes, Kale bunch, Onion, and Red Potatoes

Partial Share: Sungold Tomatoes, Slicing Tomatoes, Salad Mix, Carrot bunch, Red Potatoes, Onion, and Acorn squash

Hello CSA members!

You may recall from grade school that plants grow via photosynthesis.  And the main component of that process is sunlight.  As I look out the window at the smoke filled landscape, it’s an interesting thought to ponder.  

It’s been a tumultuous year, and I think the weight of it all is weighing heavy on people.  Here on the farm, we’re feeling a bit fatigued from the grinding schedule, a bit of satisfaction at making it through another season, and a bit of excitement for what comes next.  But most of all, I’m feeling the need to relish and savor what each day has to offer….the last of summer’s warmth, perfectly ripe tomatoes, shorter days with beautiful sunsets (well, up until a few days ago).  I don’t have much desire to think about the season behind us, or the one coming up next spring….there is plenty of time to process those things this winter.  For now, the goal is to simply enjoy the present.   

Perhaps that’s the fatigue talking.  Last week was a hard one.  Busy markets, killing freezes, sensitive magazine articles, corona virus and political overload, and the wild fires out west…lot’s of things to chew up a person’s mental health buffer.

The last few years, I’ve put a lot of time into our community food system, trying to grow the entire system rather than simply our farm.   So much progress has been made, with markets growing and new farmers coming into the fold.  But, at the same time, so much work remains.  The one issue I believe needs to be addressed is that healthy local food needs to become more accessible and convenient for more people in the valley. It needs to be “normalized”.  I am well aware that the current system of short duration farmers markets and CSA pickups is inconvenient, because it’s not only hard on customers, but it is a logistical hassle for farmers as well.  We see it every week with CSA members struggling to make it to their pickups due to their busy schedules, and we are always on the move, schlepping our goods from place to place rather than farming.   So, I entered this year with the goal of starting a food hub near Whitefish.  While I would love to have a store on the farm, I just don’t think we are in a convenient enough  location to attract enough customers to make it worth while.  So we began looking for a place outside of Whitefish that would have ample parking and enough space to feature a retail store, a food distribution company working out of the back (Wicked Good Produce), food processing equipment for better utilizing surplus production as well as offering healthy “grab and go” salads and sandwiches, onsite vegetable and fruit production, grain milling, gardening supplies, greenhouses, maybe even a bakery and cafe.  A vertically integrated local food hub with the  purpose of getting more good food into peoples hands (or mouths) more conveniently, while also using this place as a lever to encourage more local food production to increase the resiliency and character of our community, and to educate folks about the importance of food production and nutrition. 

Imagine a place where you could shop or pickup your CSA from 10am to 6pm five days a week!

It was, and is, a big vision.  And I felt I had found the perfect spot…the old Rocky Mountain Lumber site on Hwy 93 just south of Whitefish.  Thing is, it wasn’t for sale.  But undeterred, I spent months tracking down and finding a way to get in touch with the land owner (I think I need to learn to just be deterred more often).  Much to my surprise, I succeeded, and he was open to hearing a pitch.  Imagine that site with a production farm in the field out front along the highway, with the store and food processing, aggregation and distribution back in the red barns! All with highway frontage. It was perfect, and I got ahead of myself in my vision.  Because at the end of the day, I didn’t make it happen, and the deal fell through last week. It was a big bummer.   But even as it added some extra tumult to an already difficult week, it also made me realize how much I enjoy engaging in farming and community food issues.   It’s funny when you plan on something in your head, and then face the reality that it’s not going to happen, and then you are left figuring out what to do next.  So, now we’re at a cross roads….do we push on to find another site somewhere on Hwy 93 near town (good luck with that!), or do we shrink back to the farm and just focus on a narrower vision? 

I’m open to ideas and feedback on that one 🙂

So what does this have to do with your CSA?  Well, some of you may not realize it, but CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  The idea that a community should play a role in its food production, and that it shouldn’t just be up to the farmer to grow food and shoulder all the risk.  Some times this is as simple as paying for a CSA share up front in the winter to help fund farm activities.  Some times it means eating lots of eggplant, like last week, because it would otherwise go to waste.  And perhaps it means planning  and guiding your community to provide space for food production in addition to all the hotels, car dealerships, storage units, and houses that are popping up.   After all, we all need access to nutritious food, and making it convenient is a win/win for the customer and the farmer.  And so we head into fall/winter with lots to think about.  Whoops, I’m supposed to be enjoying the present!

As far as the heavy freezes last week (we had two nights around 22 degrees), we managed to save everything that we tried to save.  But we also let a lot of things go.  The corn, squash, green beans, and cover crops are a dry and crispy brown right now.  But the carrot tops, the salad mixes, and the tomatoes are all bright green.  So, for the last two weeks of the season, we’re going to try to get you some fresh items, such as salad and tomatoes, as well starting to give out some storage items like winter squash, carrots, garlic, onions, and potatoes.   For those of you who don’t like to end the CSA cold turkey, we also will be hosting our end of the season Stock Up Sale again at the farm on October 8th.  It will be re=designed to minimize Cover 19 risks (possibly all outside with one way traffic), but there will be more details to come, including a list of other farms and products that will be available.   Rebecca will also be doing her limited enrollment fall CSA (limit of 50 people), which runs from mid-October to about Thanksgiving, if anything can grow in this smoky environment.  

We’re putting carrots back in the shares this week, and the new item is winter squash. Whether it’s spaghetti or acorn, the best way to cook them is to split them in half and bake them. The spaghetti then gets shredded with a fork, and served either sweet or savory (pesto and marinara both work). The acorn can also be sweet or savory, but the most common is maple syrup or brown sugar on it while baking.

Also, apologies to anyone whose tomato’s got squashed in the shares last week. We ran low on bags and tried to cram the shares into one bag….bad idea 🙁 Well, take care of yourselves, and we’ll see you at CSA pickup!!

Todd and the Two Bear Farm Team