Hello and let us welcome you back (or for the first time) to Big Train Farm’s 11th Three-Season CSA program. We are extremely excited to be starting our first full season at our new property in Chepachet, RI. For the past three years we have been transitioning off of the farm we called home for ten years. After three years of preparation we are finally making the move complete. In 2018 we will be living and growing on the Snake Hill property. After all we have been through to make this happen it is a huge thrill to be taking these last steps to independence. We will greatly miss our friends and colleagues at Urban Edge Farm and Southside Community Land Trust.
Our outlook for 2018 is pretty positive. We are transitioning all of our annual vegetable fields to permanent raised beds this year in order to realize a long-held goal of growing our produce “no-till”. In order to manage a soil to produce the most excellent crop we believe this is necessary. Although a difficult system to implement (and we’ve tried many approaches) we are optimistic that we have the equipment and the know-how to make a complete transition to no-till organic vegetables this year. To read more about our methods check out this page of our web-site. Let us know what you think.
We’re going to have awesome produce again for you this year, and a lot of it. After 2-3 years of prepping the very raw soil we purchased at Snake Hill we are starting to see the benefits. Fertility and composition of the soil is becoming more uniform and crops are healthier and more reliable. It takes time to renovate land to organic annual vegetable production and we have made the investment. In 2018 we expect the land to pay some handsome dividends.
This will of course will contribute to an outstanding CSA season we hope. In 2017, if you are a returning member, you will remember how difficult the spring weather was for farmers in the northeast USA. The spring rains severally effected some of our most important crops. Despite this difficulty we were very pleased to have so many satisfied customers with our CSA. We are confident that with last years extra remediating of our soil and with our raised bed system we will have the integrity built into our land to be more resilient when difficult weather presents itself in the future.
Another greenhouse on the property will help our season extension into the Fall and Winter. We are going to expand our offerings with different varieties of cucumbers, beets, basil, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, winter squash, and others. We also will be planting some perennials in 2018 and perhaps some fruiting plants like strawberries and blueberries which will be ready in 2019.
Economic realities have influenced us to raise our prices in the CSA a little. By adding less than $2 per week to a half share and less than $4 per week to a full share we will be able to meet our economic obligations to our employees, our mortgages, and the farm itself. We have also decided that if these prices are too difficult for our lower income customers we can negotiate a share price for the season on an ad hoc basis. We want to be clear that we are not charging our customers more for the same amount of food. Rather we are adding a small amount each week to your share.
We are so thankful for the people who support Big Train Farm year after year. We hope you will join us again for another trip around the New England agricultural calendar.
John and Big Train Crew