Steve’s Weekly Update for 6/2/10

Dear members,

Climatology 2010: June 1, and frost on the lettuce mix.  I am glad I left it uncovered because we are about to start transplanting out the squash and cucumbers, and I had been toying with the idea of doing it without row covers.  So now I know not to take THAT risk.  We have the most beautiful squash and cucumber plants that have ever been produced here!  We are working hard to get the beds ready and the plants out of cell containers and into their new homes.

Steve’s Soapbox:

I got some feedback that my “soapbox” message last week was a downer.  Oh dear, my apologies!  First off, the resilience of the CSA is based on our ability to support and collaborate with an increasing number of farms.  All of our “member” farms are going through their own ups and downs, seasonally as well as from year to year.

As for Mesa Top, its current travails really hit in earnest in 2007, and nearly led to the end of the CSA.  It was the support and encouragement of you, our members, that led me to the business decision to scale up the CSA, to fully separate it from Mesa Top, and to develop it consciously as a venue for the support of more farms.  What a success!

It is hard to believe, but I had actually closed the CSA in fall 2007.  Over the winter, member encouragement and support helped revive and reorient the CSA into the vibrant and lively local food access point that it continues to be.

With regard to Mesa Top, the transformation that I referred to last week is ongoing and is both scary and exciting.  I have had 34 years of the best education I could have wished for through my commitment to the stewardship of the land at Mesa Top.  The personal and professional lessons that I have learned are invaluable, and are now accessible to the farmers that I work with, in NM and all around the country.  I am hugely grateful for all that has come my way as a result of my steadfast commitment to stewarding this land.  It has raised me from an immature, idealistic kid into a seasoned adult with a broad range of capacities to share with others and have a positive impact in the world.

The Mesa Top site is an incredible place.  There are archaeological sites galore.  We literally find fingerprints of the people who have come before us.  The landscape is healthy and despite the drought shows a resiliency that comes from care and stewardship.  Springs are renewed, vegetation is diverse.  I mentioned the wild turkey that was spotted here a month or so ago.  Migratory birds stop at the pond.  Wildlife is flourishing.  And it is a healthy place for people to live and learn.

Great food will be grown here for the foreseeable future!  My agricultural development projects such as the Ayrshire cheese and Beneficial egg projects are already well intermingled with partner farms around New Mexico and Colorado.  That will continue as I look to create successful and resilient agricultural enterprises through more partnerships and sharing of resources and opportunities.

Regardless of the form and function of Mesa Top Farm, the incredible array of agricultural initiatives that have been born here will live on!  Including Beneficial Farm CSA. You can count on it!  Your support makes it happen.  THANK YOU AGAIN!

This week’s Cow stories:  update on Mesa Top cows, Jim Miller Ayrshire projects and more:

I got word from Andy at Twin Mountain that we have had 4 heifers there this spring!  And our last Ayrshire at High Desert Creamery had her calf, a bull.   In 2010 so far we have 7 Ayrshire heifers and 2 bull calves. We only lost one calf.  We also had 2 Tarentaise bull calves, a Holstein bull calf and a Holstein-cross heifer calf – 13 calves all together.  That is great news!

Our next 6 heifers born in summer 2008, are being bred now and will be the first new blood to enter the herd since I bought it in late 2007.  Next summer (2011) we will have only a few new heifers to breed, as 2009 calf crop was small, due to problems getting the cows into the right places with the right bulls.  2012 will be a year of greater growth in the herd.

The partnerships with Twin Mountain and High Desert are working.  The herd building process and the production of cheese from the Ayrshire herd is progressing well.

This week’s cheese share update:

This week we will again honor our Ayrhsires and hopefully tantalize your cheese loving taste buds by giving a pound of Ayrshire cheddar for each cheese share.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:

I hope you all enjoyed the wonderful lettuce from Mesa Top last week.  I thought the butter lettuce was particularly flavorful.    This week we have the first Mesa Top salad mix.  We are giving you all a big bag because, as often happens at this time of year, two beds planted two weeks apart matured at the same time.  There may be a lull in salad mix next week, we shall see…

Our friends Seth and Willie at Vida Verde Farm in Albuquerque are having a bigger impact on this week’s share ingredients, as we are including endive (A tangy addition for your salads), green garlic, and a tender cooking green mix.

Look for information on the blog about how to use garlic scapes, which are very similar to green garlic.  You can use the whole plant!  It is milder than fully cured, fully headed up dried garlic.

Desert Gardens in Salem NM, near Hatch, are harvesting their spring cabbage.  Depending on the size of the crop, we will offer this on and off throughout June.

We also have the last potatoes of the season from White Mountain Farm in Mosca, CO.

Membership news:

This week we are announcing our distribution point in Albuquerque, scheduled to begin full operation on Friday, June 25.  Meanwhile we are bringing “pre-bagged” shares to our pioneer members.  Help us make the opening of the Beneficial CSA in Albuquerque a big success by passing the word along!

Keep eating our great local food!  And enjoy the bananas while we have the space for them in the CSA shares.  And watch for the first fruit from Shiraz vineyard, coming soon!

Steve Warshawer

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