Steve’s Weekly Update for 4/15/10

Dear members,

It is April 13 and for the first time since last summer we will be working the soil in the gardens at Mesa Top Farm.  This is about a month later than usual.  We will also be transplanting tender young transplants into the greenhouse, and sowing the first seeds in the garden.  We begin with the application of a biodynamic preparation, which is a kind of “homeopathic” remedy to stimulate the vitality and activity of the seen and unseen “beigns” of the soil and root zone.   It is great we are finally gardening again!

There is still a lot of cleanup to do, which also fell by the wayside as we struggled to keep cows and chickens fed and healthy through the extended snow and mud seasons.  All we can do now is chip away at it over time…

We had another calf at Mesa Top last week!  Martina, a holstein cow who we received in trade last summer as part of our first “sale” of ayrshire bulls to the organic dairy world, who was supposed to be infertile, and was supposed to become beef last fall, had a handsome little bull calf.  Our run of mostly bull calves being born at Mesa Top continues…  It turns out that this is Martina’s first calf.  She is a very big cow, being a purebred holstein.  Her breed does not do well without a significant amount of energy in their feed:  they are not suited to grass feeding.  She is thin but healthy.  I am not sure where she will end up, but she will not become beef.  We need to get her onto a milking line.  Meanwhile we are milking quite a bit, and not too sure what to do with all of the milk…  Many people have asked for raw milk, but it is a pretty big job to organize and to keep safe and healthy.  For a little while we have some, though.  If we can figure out a way to share it, we will.  Members who could use a short-term supply of raw milk, especially for cheesemaking, should contact me by email at stevew@plateautel.net

This week’s update on cheese value chain and Jim Miller Ayrshire projects:

All is quiet with the ayrshire herd.  It is decision time on the 6 young cows that are ready to be bred.  When will I be able to get a bull up here for breeding?  Where will they go for their fist calves?  I very much need a location that is closer to home for cheesemaking and small herd milking.  But it may not be possible before these gals need to drop calves and get onto a milk line.

Meanwhile, this week you will receive your first taste of the ayrshire cheese.  These are moderately aged cheddars, 6-8 months.  Twin Mountain will have a wider range of cheeses as the season progresses.  The cheese share will be composed of goat and cow cheeses from several New Mexico and Colorado farms.  I plan to start including more information about cheesemaking and local cheeses in the weekly blog entry and with Amy’s help, on the web site on a more regular basis.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:

This is the last week of the fuji apples for 2010.  They are not the prettiest looking things any more, but they are still awfully tasty.  We also have a nice pairing of greens with Mesa Top spinach along side chard from Graves family farm, nearby to Gard-n-hers in the Rio Grande Valley north of Las Cruces.

The cheese sample takes up a fair chunk of the share value this week.

We are rounding out the share with a large bottle of organic apple juice from Big B’s.

This time of the year is the most unpredictable in terms of local fresh supplies.  Many farmers who plant for early crops have mixed success.  The pressure to deliver is very high as so many buyers are hungry for the first crops of the season.  We are doing all we can to keep the variety up, and to emphasize our local and fresh foods.

Another project that I have been working on for over a year is to help Equal Exchange, a worker owned, fair trade oriented importer, to bring Fair Trade Bananas to New Mexico.  Equal Exchange offers coffee and chocolate. You can see their products at the COOP.  They have been successfully bringing bananas to the East coast and as part of my work with La Montanita I have been working to help them develop West coast logistics and supply chain.  We expect our first Equal Exchange fair trade bananas late this week.  In a partnership with an Albuauqerque company that ripens bananas, we hope to offer banana to our members.  We are expecting the excellent fair trade avocadoes again soon.

So patience and persistence are the watchword as we slowly resume local food production and volume.  The shares will be a bit “mixed up” through this transition.

Gardening

Thank you to Amy and Eliza Kretzman of the Railyard Stewards and Jan Deligans of the Eldorado Community Garden for organizing last week’s gardening outreach day.  I made presentations to interested folks at the Railyard Garden and at Eldorado about spring planting and soil preparation.  A brief comment to all members who have garden plots to work in:  this is the best year for deep soil work that we have had in years due to the long wet, cool winter.  I demonstrated double digging at two community gardens and highly encourage that you try it in your garden this year if you can.  Take advantage of the subsoil moisture and “open up” your soil!  You will see long term benefits from doing this!  See the garden menu of the blog for the May garden class schedule next week.

Membership news:

Please visit our new website at the same address http://www.beneficialfarm.com and sign up for continuing local and regional food from your CSA.  The dollars in your Farm account gives the CSA the revenue it needs to invest in our local farmers, thus assuring you a more diverse supply of local and regional foods as the season progresses.

We are standing by to help with member questions as we transition to this versatile, convenient, efficient mechanism for member support and overall CSA management.  Dena has sent an email today and there will be a flyer with information at distributions on Thursday.

All my best and thank you for your support,

Steve Warshawer

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