Riverbend Farm Spring Newsletter March 21, 2020
This year has turned weird early. The strangeness comes from a virus. A very contagious and, for some, deadly virus. Restaurants are closed. Grocery stores are getting swamped with panic buying. People are told to stay home, wash their hands and quit hoarding toilet paper. With virtually no testing and no information available on how widespread the disease is there is only a lot of uncertainty. Hopefully there is still time to get ahead of the pandemic so half a million people don’t die.
The past few years have been odd for a variety of reasons, mostly weather related. This winter has been easy, relatively warm and dry. All of our snow has disappeared. Lows still get down into the teens but we have had significant runs of days in the 40s. I am sure all of that is not an indication of the coming season.
What do we do this coming year ? Prepare for a ‘normal’ season ? Cut our losses and look for jobs in a locked down economy ? Restaurants and the coops are a big part of our business and they both operate on very thin margins, same as farms for that matter. Hopefully this situation clears up quickly. Any shut shutdown is hard. A months long closure will put a lot of places out of business. Maybe to- go groceries and take out fine dining will become a thing. For now we are going with business as usual.
The greenhouse is starting to fill up with tiny seedlings. Peppers are up and tomatoes that were seeded three days ago are coming up. Flowers and herbs are at the point of being repotted. Once repotting starts the greenhouse fills up very quickly.
This is inside a low tunnel inside the greenhouse. It keeps the little plants 20° warmer on chilly nights/ In the morning I roll up the cover and let the sun shine on the plants during the day.
Winter came on suddenly last year and I never had potting mix delivered before it snowed. The fall was so wet that driving a loaded truck back to the greenhouses would have made a huge mess even if it didn’t get stuck. This year I am trying out Mississippi Topsoil’s potting mix. They are much closer than Cowsmo and I can get 3 yards in my pickup. The mix has been working fine so far.
Mary and I are still planning on doing plant sales. If everything goes really sideways people will want to have a garden. The number of varieties will be pared down a little. Fewer eggplant, kale and green heirloom tomatoes. We will still have lots of flowers and a little bigger selection of herbs and medicinal plants.
\I just heard that the Friends Plant Sale has been canceled along with another big one, Usually we do a sale in the Birchwood parking lot but maybe this year we will have to do something like online orders and figure out some kind of drop off / pick up option.
The custom CSA that we have tried out for the past year has worked pretty well. One difficulty has been getting the orders assembled on the same day that they are harvested. One problem on this end came from packing them alongside the regular orders. Busy harvest days make for late night. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a way around that.
One thing that we are thinking, with all the uncertainty, is to expand our Custom CSA to more people. And maybe even work out a way so everyone doesn’t have to come to the farm. I would miss the chance to talk to everyone who picks up produce.
If you have any good ideas about any of this please let me know. Stay well and WASH your hands.