You’ve probably been wondering why you haven’t seen our eNewsletter in a few months. I am truly sorry that it’s been so long since the last edition. The last few months have been filled with so many things; things both close to home but also things in the greater world. I am not sure where to start because indeed sometimes just saying nothing works best. Listening to nature could hold some truth though. I’ve always felt there is wisdom in the silence of the Earth. It knows all and it doesn’t need us but we, for sure, do need IT.
Maybe we can start at the end, since this is the end of the year cycle and our last CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box of the season, a time when we can assess and look back and see what we have done and what we have learned, and where we are going. Trying to see where we are going through the fog can be confusing these days. After all, when deciphering what’s real or fake is now a daily requirement for us. What can we do to keep it real? Taking some quiet time doesn’t mean we haven’t wanted to communicate about the goings on in the fields and beyond.
The changing economic and ecologic landscape of agriculture here on the Central Coast has been nothing short of monumental. Change is essential and I accept it as a matter of course. Balancing all the variables that go into farming in a way that makes the end result a success is a challenge we have accepted. But acceptance of reality doesn’t mean complacency. We have and will continue to speak out about trends that are destructive and not based in reality. The ongoing shortage of labor is real and will likely continue so we have to compensate for that for sure. Since working harder is not a good option, it’s time to work smarter not harder. Trying harder to be smarter may be the 2018 motto. Developing a crop plan that meets the demands of our supporters is our priority now that we’re into mid-December. We think we have a pretty good idea but there’s always a little guess work involved.
Each year now we have to make a decision as to whether or how to continue, and we will continue again in 2018, but not without some pretty radical changes. One change is that we have to respond to the widespread lack of available and capable field labor. As many of you already know, California and especially California agriculture is in the midst of a huge workforce shortage brought about by a combination of high housing costs, low unemployment and a hostile immigration policy which ignores the historical seasonal back and forth movement between our border with Mexico. We will likely be reducing our cropland and production in response as it doesn’t make sense to plant land that we can’t take care of. It’s a shame but it’s reality. We hope it reverses somewhat soon.
Another negative trend which we hope will reverse itself is the move towards more convenience in our food supply. Namely the consolidation and more indirect to home delivery of food such as the large scale meal kit services. Convenience has its place but when it becomes pervasive enough that the cost of that convenience becomes an issue we have to speak up.
This is having a rapid negative impact on locally based farmers who efficiently supply local retail stores, and those who seek to go direct to the consumer without the middle man such as through CSA’s and farmers markets. KQED recently did a story that highlighted this ever growing phenomenon.
We hope this trend evolves towards something more sustainable, but in the meantime we will continue to try hard to provide unique offerings, dialog and experiences for those who take their food and how it is produced seriously.
We did have a pretty productive year considering all the trials and tribulations. I can say that an extremely high percentage of what we produced and harvested this year did make it to market with no major crop losses due to plagues, water shortages or weather factors.
Some of the newer crops and trials we grew show a lot of promise for the future as well. Experimenting keeps things interesting and we are always looking for new things to try. The spring rains helped to replenish some of the aquifers, springs and creeks which we depend on. Even though those rains continued well into spring planting times they didn’t really interfere with our weekly planting schedules.
I do want to take the time to give thanks and express gratitude for all those who have supported us this year and also to the hard working field crew who keep things moving here on the farm as well as our market and delivery crews. We are sadly saying goodbye to Andie Hernandez in the office and to Leslie Jones who has been the familiar face at the markets for us for almost 20 years.
Happy holiday wishes and good luck to all in 2018!….annnnd…don’t forget to eat your beet greens!