GOOD FOOD NEWS
Volume 8 Number 36 September 6, 2016
FIELD NOTES and REFLECTIONS: MLH president Emily Beals, Harmony Hill Farm, Mount Aukum
Harmony Hill Farm has been relatively quiet this year as we scaled back our vegetable gardens and upscaled our involvement with Mother Lode Harvest. We have recognized for quite some time that a new model must emerge in order to continue as a CSA. We are somewhere on that path and awaiting word on whether or not MLH got the grant we applied for last May. We should know within the next two weeks. If we are successful, we will move full steam ahead to become a larger, more robust CSA. If we are unsuccessful, we will continue on our current path and build our producer and customer bases as well as a new website. Either way, we’re committed to continuing to implement our new business plan and become a stronger more successful CSA.
Finding new producers is our biggest challenge. Having just returned from visiting the lush farmlands of Washington State and the Talatin Valley, west of Portland, at the northern most end of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, I was blown away by the number of small farms and Farmers Markets offering a bountifully diverse array of fruits and vegetables.
What is the difference between there and here? The answers are many, soil, climate, culture.
Oregon and Washington grow fruits and berries so easily. The climate is gentler than here in our foothills. Beyond that, Amador Co. does not have the young farmer population or culture to encourage start-up farms and provide easy markets for their produce.
In order for MLH to grow, we must think outside the box and find the farmers who do exist in our and neighboring counties and contract with them on their terms, not on our “membership only” model which has been a major area of discussion and disagreement for a long time.
For example, while driving recently along Pleasant Valley Road in South El Dorado Co., I came across a new sign next to the road which read, “Vegetables for Sale.” Of course I stopped, talked with the farmer and found out that he not only is growing organically, (not certified but using organic methods) but would be happy to sell to MLH. What he would not do however, is become a member and use the website to offer his produce. He simply wants to sell to us directly, offering a price that we could easily afford, and keep it simple. His reasoning goes thusly: “Why would I want to become a member when I am over an hour away from your DC, and take up my valuable time logging onto your website, etc. every week. Why can’t I just sell you my produce directly and be done with it?” He is not alone. There are others who have great produce to sell, who live over an hour away from the intake depot (DC), and logistically not able to become a member with all that membership currently requires.
Some of our producer members feel that this dilemma sits at the heart of who MLH is as a producer/customer membership organization and that we cannot buy from anyone who is not a member of MLH. Others of us feel that although we would prefer all producers to be members, the reality is that they do not exist geographically so we must think creatively and offer the option of a new category for producers who live over an hour away from our Distribution Center.
I believe that our primary reasons for existence are twofold:
1) To offer an outlet to small local farmers/gardeners/value added producers to sell their wares
2) To provide as varied and high quality produce as possible to our customers within the standards we have developed.
We are coming up short in all areas so its time to make some smart decisions and get MLH on track to become the vibrant and successful CSA it has the potential to become.
THIS 'N' THAT CORNER:
Well, it's This n That time again. Everyone keeps saying summer is over but it's supposed to be in the 90 's this week! It's not Indian summer yet either! Our grandchildren are home for the three day weekend. Their daddy gave the girls their older cell phones and email addresses. Well, Grammie is getting lots of emails and videos! Their ages are 7 and 9. It's very interesting what we talk about! I think it is helping their spelling and grammar. (I hope!). Have you picked up your 2017 calendar at the DC? There are several to choose from and they are free!! Guess that's it for this week's This n That Corner. Cheri
Saturday, September 17: Summer Quarter Open House
Get a taste of Fall at our Summer Quarter Open House, hosted by Steve Wilensky and Pat Noll of Humbug Creek Farm in Glencoe. This year, in addition to helping with their apple pressing to make their famous cider, we will be treated to a tour of their property which will highlight the forest restoration which has been done since the Butte Fire last year.
8-10 am: Apple picking
10 am-noon: Pressing (cider making)
After lunch: Forest tour
Humbug Creek Farm is at 17425 Hwy 26 in Glencoe. Attendance for children is free. MLH requests a $5 donation per adult to help us continue our work. For more information or to register for the event, please contact Michelle at 209-419-2503, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.