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Weekly Updates

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 8/25/2018 2:53pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

Downtown Harvest CSA is well into its 14th year of bringing healthy New Jersey food to our urban community.  Despite the unusual weather this summer, Farmer John has come through once again with generous quantities of high quality organic produce and eggs from pasture-raised free-range hens.

Farmer John Krueger of Circle Brook Farm in Andover, NJ can supply more food, so we can still enroll new members!

The fee for a Full Share each Wednesday until November 14 is $30.00 multiplied by the number of Wednesdays remaining until and including November 14.

The fee for a pre-bagged “more than generous” Half Share each Wednesday until November 14 is $18.00 multiplied by the number of Wednesdays remaining until and including November 14.

Enrollment for eggs is currently closed for the remainder of the season.  

Members are also asked to pay a $25 administration fee to Downtown Harvest CSA.  We are a 100% volunteer group that is separate from the farm, and money for our expenses comes solely from the administration fee.

Click on this link to go straight to the enrollment page! http://www.downtownharvest.org/members/types  

Note: New members will not be asked to pay at the time of enrollment, and the initial payment instructions may contain incorrect fees.  The proper discount for missed weeks will be calculated, and new instructions with revised (lower) fees will be e-mailed.

Please contact us if you have any questions: csa@downtownharvest.org

Posted 7/30/2018 7:07pm by Judy Crane.

Hello Folks,  

“And the rain let up, and the sun came up, while we were getting dry”- Van Morrison.    So it was a challenging week but it could have been worse. So I guess I’ll forego my usual whining about the weather. I won’t even mention how many inches of rain we got (6).  The fields have mostly dried out and on Sunday I was able to work some ground. This afternoon I am going out to plant some seeds while my crew tries to get caught up on the transplanting work.    

The melons have begun to ripen and last week a few lucky folks received watermelon as a surprise.  We will be starting to ship watermelon, cantaloupe and other melons in rotation during the next five or so weeks. August is melon month!  

It should be tomato month as well- if only they would start ripening!

The plants are healthy so far and are loaded with green fruit. I expect we will have enough to ship some out to you by next week.  Soon we will have red and yellow peppers too, as well as another sweet treat (I don’t want to give up all my surprises). The share for this week will be: Garlic, lettuce, squash, cukes, peppers, eggplant, rainbow carrots, beans, either broccoli, cauliflower or red cabbage, choice of an herb and probably melon. There will be tomatillos as an “extra”. Premium shares will include a second lettuce and kale.

Enjoy!   

Farmer John

Posted 7/16/2018 7:27pm by Judy Crane.

Hi Everyone,

We received a bit of rain this past Sunday morning, about a half an inch. We need more and it seems we have a shot at some precipitation tomorrow. We have begun harvesting the garlic but we broke the under cutter blade that we use to loosen the ground for easier pulling. When the soil gets dry it also gets very hard.  We should have the parts to fix it in a few days and hopefully with a good rain and softer ground we can proceed with the harvest. 

As promised, eggplant and peppers are beginning. We should have enough for a pepper or two for everyone; the eggplant will likely be in a 2 week rotation. We are still trying to get some more peas out to everyone but hot and dry is not what pea plants like. 

The beans are beginning as well, so there will be peas for some and peas for others.  Broccoli is also still in rotation, with red cabbage as the alternative.  Cukes and zukes are abundant but greens are starting to get scarce.  We also have some nice carrots for you!

The share for this week will be: Kale, carrots, lettuce, eggplant for some, peppers, broccoli or red cabbage, summer squash, cucumbers, either peas or beans and choice of an herb (dill, parsley or cilantro). Our shares will also include chard and choice of radicchio or dandelion greens.

Enjoy!   Farmer John   

Posted 7/16/2018 7:26pm by Judy Crane.

Hello Folks,

So it’s hot and it’s dry but that’s what it’s like in July!  At least temps have moderated a bit from last week’s brutal onslaught. We did get about a quarter an inch of rain from some passing storms but they mostly went around us. I was hoping for more; what we got was okay for watering some recently planted seeds but not the deep soaking that the roots of the crops need. So we will be moving the sprinklers around.  There’s not much chance of precipitation in the forecast for the next week but that could change.

 

Cucumbers are coming in heavy now and peppers and eggplant are starting up as well.  A few groups may get some of the latter this week. We have finally managed to get everyone some peas and so we are starting in on a new rotation this week. We will probably still not have enough for everyone this week but hopefully by next round. Broccoli is also coming in heavier now.  We also have some more fresh onions with tops for you- red this time.

The share for this week will be:  Swiss chard, lettuce, choice of arugula or tatsoi, summer squash, salad turnips, cucumbers, red onions, either broccoli or green cabbage, possibly peas or peppers and choice of dill or cilantro.  We will also receive kale, kohlrabi and choice of fennel, sage, marjoram or savory. 

Enjoy! 
Farmer John

Posted 7/16/2018 7:24pm by Judy Crane.

Hi Folks,

 As Cole Porter wrote and Ella Fitzgerald beautifully sang- It’s too darn hot!  “I’d like to sup with my baby tonight, refill the cup with my baby tonight, but it’s too darn hot”.   I guess the worst is over –for now.  The temps will gradually moderate as we go through the week and we have a couple of good shots at some rain. We did receive some of the wet stuff last Wednesday night which was fortunate because the moist soil has helped the crops to bear the heat. 

The summer crops like the tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons accept the heat with aplomb but it’s hard on the lettuces, peas and the brassicas. Many thanks to the hardy volunteers who braved this sweltering weather for nearly 3 hours on Sunday to help pick peas.  The peas are coming in a bit heavier now so if you haven’t had any yet this should be your week!   Spinach is on it’s way out (it hates the heat more than I do!) and is being replace by it’s more adaptable cousin- Swiss chard. Cucumbers are becoming more abundant so some of you may receive a few this week and others the next.  We have some nice basil for you but unfortunately no tomatoes to go with it just yet.  Peppers and eggplant will start soon.

The share for this week will be: lettuce, choice of arugula or tatsoi, either salad turnips or beets, summer squash, kale, either broccoli or Napa cabbage, choice of spinach or Swiss chard, basil and peas/cukes for some. Shares will also include a second head of lettuce, choice of radicchio or dandelion greens and choice of an herb. 

Enjoy!  
Farmer John

Posted 7/16/2018 7:22pm by Judy Crane.

Hello Everyone,

So I guess I should have known better than to have believed the weatherman.  I postponed the farm visit based on a forecast of rain and thunderstorm through most of the weekend.  We received virtually no precipitation except for a few moments of drizzle and two brief showers; both of which occurred when I ventured out on my seeding tractor to try and get some planting done. In a way this was a double whammy because we were counting on a good rain to help germinate the thousands of row feet of seeds that were planted during the week. 

As I previously noted we are also hoping for rain to help the many crops planted on bare ground that do not have the benefit of drip irrigation.  We are now riding the tractor slowly over the rows dribbling water from a water tank onto the marks left by the seeder and moving sprinklers around frequently.  I go out at midnight to close one valve and open another. The well pump is running around the clock!  Rain is forecast for Thursday; let’s hope they’re right this time.

 We have a nice crop of radishes at the moment so we are holding off on the turnip/beet rotation we began last week until the next round because with the heat and dryness the radishes won’t hold.

We are coming to the end of the spring spinach crop so this week we will offer it as a choice with Swiss chard.  There is still a paucity of peas and we are struggling to get some to groups that have been shorted thus far.  I expect more abundant harvests soon.  Broccoli is poised to head up in great quantities soon but for now we will start a rotation with Napa Cabbage. Late week groups are more likely to see some broccoli.

The share for this week will be:  Lettuce, radishes, summer squash, Napa cabbage or broccoli, kale, choice of spinach or chard, possibly peas, choice of arugula or tatsoi and choice of an herb (cilantro, dill or parsley). Premium shares will include daikon, fennel and choice of a second herb.

Enjoy!  
Farmer John
 

Posted 6/11/2018 8:35pm by Judy Crane.

Hello Everyone,

I am happy to report that the weather has been uncharacteristically cooperative this past week. The temperatures have been moderate and we have had several nice gentle overnight rains. I think that there are few people other than farmers who can find such joy in a nice rain; perhaps an Englishman away from home and missing his native climate. Despite a late and difficult beginning to the season things are coming along well here at the farm.

We have mostly caught up with our planting and almost all of the crops are growing nicely. The first planting of peas came up poorly and did not grow well after that; a consequence of the cool,wet conditions. Conventional farmers plant with fungicide treated seed but the second and third sowings have fared better. We began picking peas today and we will have enough for some but not all groups this week. We will begin a rotation over the next week or two until everyone has had some. After that I expect there will peas all around (my wish for the world) after that for a few weeks.

The beans are up and growing and should be ready to take over in the legume slot when the peas peter out. We normally have garlic scapes for the first delivery but even they are running behind schedule; just another of those things we have no control over! Next week! So it’s mostly greens and herbs to get started with for this week. The lettuce is beautiful, the spinach is nice and the arugula is as fiery as a hot pepper. You can chop up a little and mix into salad if you’re brave enough, but I recommend braising or sautéing it to mitigate the heat a bit. There are radishes as well, which can also have their spiciness tempered by cooking (perhaps in a stir fry with the bok choy you will receive).


The share for this week will be: lettuce, radishes, spinach, bok choy, possibly peas and choice of herbs (garlic chives, oregano, parsley, chervil and mint). Premium members will also receive arugula and escarole or endive (frissee)

Posted 6/6/2018 3:47pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

Hello members,

We are getting excited about our first delivery date of the 2018 season. Farmer John has informed us that the start date will be June 13th due to the weather conditions he has been experiencing.

We are moving our pick up location to Sussex and Van Vorst Streets. It is two blocks from our original location of 120 Sussex Street and once we are settled in, we will inform you of the exact address prior to the first delivery.

Save the date for our annual farm day the weekend of June 23rd and 24th - more details to follow.

Thank you,
Downtown Harvest CSA Core Group
Jeff, Maria, Phil and Judy

And now a word from Farmer John....

Hi Folks,
I hope you had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. I apologize that I have not been able to get a farm update out to you until now. It has been a very difficult spring for us here at the farm. I am sure that most of you noticed that winter hung around well into April this year. We still had snow flurries flying on April 13! As a result we were unable to begin planting until Mid- April; about 2 weeks later that normal for some crops. In addition the cold soil caused poor emergence in some of the early direct seeded crops such as peas. We worked diligently to get caught up with our spring planting and had largely succeeded. We were then a bit behind on setting out some of the warm weather crops. We were getting caught up on these when we had a week of rain, including a strong storm which ripped the plastic off one of our high tunnel greenhouses and knocked power out for three days! We are now back on track and continue to work hard to ensure a bountiful season.

Unfortunately the delayed start and slow plant growth we experienced has caused delayed maturity of most of the early crops. We simply will not have a sufficient number of items to make a delivery worthwhile at present. The original plan was to start deliveries during the week of June 3rd, next week. We will have to postpone the start of the season until the following week, June 10th. Farming is an endeavor replete with challenges and setbacks. In so many ways we are at the mercy of the weather. As veteran members know, we do not give up. We roll with the punches and keep moving ahead. In 15 years of CSA farming this is the first time I have needed to delay the start of the season and it is very disconcerting for me to do so. The early shares are always somewhat small and we will do our best to make up for the missed week during the rest of the season. I thank you for your patience and understanding.

The Farm visit will be held on Saturday, June 23 with Sunday June 24th as a rain date or for those who cannot make it on Saturday. Save the date! I will have more info out about this event and other opportunities to visit the farm and help out as a volunteer in the near future.

Best, Farmer John

Posted 5/30/2018 12:05am by Jeff Schrimmer.

The first pickup is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6 from 5:30pm to 8:00pm at our pickup location on Sussex St.

Despite recent rains that made Farmer John's fields too muddy for tractors and other large equipment for days, he and his staff are getting things done. 

We should be getting an update from John soon. Membership is up this year, but we still have room for more!  Please tell family and friends about us, and let us know if you would like copies of promotional materials.

We need to have accurate numbers for the farmer, so if you have not yet sent us payment for membership, please do that as soon as possible.  We will also send out payment reminders, soon.   Please e-mail us at downtownharvestcsajc@gmail.com if you have questions or if you do not intend to send payment due to changes in plans.

Wishing you a good and meaningful Memorial Day Weekend, and looking forward to seeing you soon,

Downtown Harvest CSA Core Group

Posted 4/23/2018 7:46pm by Jeff Schrimmer.

Hi Folks, Happy Earth Day!

Although I’m not really sure that the happy part is appropriate. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 50 years since the first Earth Day. While progress has been made on some fronts we still face many challenges. Our oceans are in dire trouble, the species extinction rate is a thousand times higher than the normal background rate, greater than at any time since the dinosaurs went extinct. There are millions without access to safe drinking water and we are recklessly threatening our water supply further by fracking.

And climate change, the single biggest threat to human survival (beside thermonuclear war) continues to be denied and ignored by our government. There is an obvious need for political change but we are so polarized as a country that it’s hard to see the path forward in this regard.

For me, for now, the only recourse I see is individual action. We all need to try to change our lifestyle in a way that that reduces our impact on the environment, leading by example toward becoming responsible global citizens.

Agriculture is one of the largest sectors contributing to environmental deterioration and energy consumption that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Our industrialized food system and the long distance transportation of our fruits and vegetables needs to change. But while agriculture is a part of the problem it also has the potential to be a big part of the solution.

When I first became interested in organic farming it was because I believed we needed to learn to grow food without the use of toxic chemicals that not only poison the consumer but also proliferate in the environment and pose a threat to other species. As time went by I came to believe that organic Ag had a role to play in the battle against climate change by maintaining high levels of organic material, i.e. carbon and keeping it out of the atmosphere. High organic matter has many benefits to the soil; better water retention, less compaction and slowly released nutrients to name just a few. Research over the past several decades has now demonstrated what organic enthusiasts have believed for years is true- that the soil is a living entity; a microbiological ecosystem. A healthy, balanced soil produces healthy plants and when the system is disrupted, bad actors (bacteria, fungi etc.) take over causing disease. In conventional farming this then leads to use of more toxic chemicals to control the disease and further degradation of the ecosystem. This is very similar to the understanding that we have come to have regarding the microflora of our gut and it’s relation to human health. The implication for the carbon cycle is that this soil food web ties up lots of carbon in the bodies of the microbes (and larger animals like earthworms) and keeps it out of the atmosphere.

The Rodale Institute has been researching the carbon cycle for decades and is convinced that transition to organic farming practices and proper grazing of animals can not only account for current carbon emissions but actually begin to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere. A new paradigm for farming has emerged and has been dubbed Regenerative Agriculture. Through cover cropping, re-mineralization, composting and reduced tillage we can restore our soils and begin to mitigate the deleterious effects of CO2 and other greenhouse gases on the atmosphere.


This is what we will be moving towards here at Circle Brook Farm. It is not easy; it requires new equipment, more fallow time for the fields, additional expenses for cover crop seed and rock dusts and most of all the courage to abandon tried and true practices and risk failure by implementing new planting systems. For these practices to be implemented on a wide scale local organic farmers need the support of consumers. If you are already a CSA member I thank you and if you are still reading this lengthy tome I thank you for that as well. If you are thinking of joining the CSA program I hope you will.

But if you cannot, please seek out local organic produce at a farmer’s market or demand it at your local grocery store. Please do not buy over packaged meal kits that don’t contain local produce. Please help to spread the message.

Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising we have. Please take the time to speak with your family and friends about the importance of eating local and organic and share the message on social media.

For your health and the health of the planet!

Best, Farmer John

Enrollment for Produce Is Still Open for the 2018 Season! September 3rd, 2018

Downtown Harvest CSA is well into its 14th year of bringing healthy New Jersey food to our urban community.  Despite the unusual weather this summer, Farmer John has come through once again with

Farm Update as of July 30thJuly 30th, 2018

Hello Folks,   “And the rain let up, and the sun came up, while we were getting dry”- Van Morrison.    So it was a challenging week but it could have been worse. So I guess

Farm Update as of June 11thJuly 16th, 2018

Hello Everyone, I am happy to report that the weather has been uncharacteristically cooperative this past week. The temperatures have been moderate and we have had several nice gentle overnight rains.

Have a question?
2018 Enrollment