I like the numbers game. A quick glimpse at 2014:
21 weeks of arugula seeding
20 weeks of pak choy transplants
42 harvests of cherry tomatoes (one planting, outside)
22,715 lbs of produce harvested
– 2,115 lbs of salad
– 1,961 lbs of arugula
– 1,912 lbs of heirloom tomatoes
– 1,631 lbs of cherry tomatoes
33,067 sq ft of planted/seeded area (aprox. 3/4 of an acre not including asparagus and fruits)
2014 proved to be a great season. A good year. We spent more time eating dinner with friends, playing cards, and dancing than we did posting here. I say that’s a win. I can attribute much of that success to our decision to quit our traditional CSA model and move to a Farm Share (market share) system. It meant that we had more time and head space to focus on the land, animals, and our own well being. It also meant that we could focus on growing food that we’re good at growing and that we profit from instead of growing crops to fill out the CSA boxes.
Our members, on the whole, approved. They weren’t all psyched about coming to market to see us (market around here can be overwhelming and very crowded), but they seemed to put up with it for the benefits: any produce, any time, in any quantity as long as we have it on the stand. No missed pick ups and guilty calls asking for a drop off, no extra kale in the fridge that you just can’t seem to eat another bite of, no more wishing there were another eggplant in the box for that one recipe. On our end, we received cash early when we needed it and increased our productivity and sales by 30% largely because of our move from CSA boxes to Farm Market Share. So, thank you to all of our share members who stuck with us through this transition!
This season also marks our first with smart phones. Which means exponentially more photos of our land, our veggies, our friends, and our lives. The farm has its own instagram (@countyrailfarm), which I encourage you to follow for news, happenings, cute goats, and updates, but I’ll also continue to post the best ones here.
More firsts! Our first Farm Dinner! What a success. The men of the Burns St. Bistro hit this one out of the park. We hosted 50 guests for a 4 course plated dinner with our produce (and some other local fare) and then danced under the stars with the music of Caroline Keys and Chelle Terwilliger. This event allowed folks who don’t usually come to our harvest or planting parties to tour the farm, see where their food comes from, and eat a meal with their farmers. It really was priceless, for us and (I think) for them. Read and see more about that night here. Look for notices about the second annual – we can’t wait.
We couldn’t have done any of the above without our awesome summer farm hand, Kitty Galloway. It’s not easy to work an entire season with only two other people, especially if those two are married. Kitty sailed through this year with grace and hard work. She lead the charge this, our first, year at the Tuesday Missoula Famers Market and nailed it, every week. Thank you, Kitty. We couldn’t have asked for more. There’s a truly special place in our hearts for all the volunteers, friends and family, who have come up and lended a hand this season – thank you. We believe in physically connecting with the land we eat from and it is our honor to share it with you. Specifically, Morgan Clark-Gaynor, thanks for the laughs and the music and the endless sass. We love you and wish you the best. As always, we’d like to thank our most generous landlord, Steve Dagger. For the fruit and the chickens and the endless support. You make this awesome life possible. We are in your debt.
Finally, we’d like to extend a giant thank you to all of you for your support this season. We love feeding you, your families, your friends. To the Clark Fork Farmers Market, Missoula Farmers Market, Western Montana Growers Coop, to The Good Food Store, Orange Street Food Farm, Burns St. Bistro, Biga Pizza, Bridge Pizza, and many many more who stock and/or buy our produce, thank you, thank you, thank you! We’re looking forward to another year of growing and enjoying the winter’s calm and warmth while we can.
Keep an eye out for Farm Share info in January!
Tracy & Margaret