Steve’s Weekly Update 9/28/11

Climatology 2011:   A couple of nights have been very close to freezing.  But so far it is a warm fall.   We had an unusual rain last night, although it was not even visible on the radar we had a steady rain for over an hour.  Now the forecasters are telling us to be prepared for a wet weekend.   That would be terrific since it is still not too late for some grass to grow this fall.  Since it has gotten warm, and the grasses have all gone to seed, they are now ready to grow again if we get the right conditions.  The cool season grasses and clover would love the extension of the growing season.

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project: Ray reports that the new dairy project is going forward.  He has neighbors who are looking to pasture some goats and cows, and eventually start their own herds.  Slowly things are moving toward a collaboration where Mesa Top livestock can be moved to Roswell in the winter for green pasture, and even a few can stay there in the summer for finishing.  Since our processor is just a mile away from Ray’s farm, this can be very efficient.   In the next month they are hoping to be ready to receive some livestock for winter pasture.

This week’s cheese and herd share update:   The only news on the cheese front is that FINALLY we have started the project of moving the electrical system control and batteries out of the cheese room.  This is a big job.  It is the third generation of solar power equipment and controls.  We are fortunate to have the help of a very experienced Solar Electric consultant who lives nearby.  We are trying to raise money for some new components.  This system will be designed to support expansion in the future in a more systematic and organized fashion.  We estimate that it will take 2 weeks from when we start the work until completion of this phase.  And hopefully there will be more to follow.

This week’s cheese share includes: garlic basil mozzarella and asiago

Mesa Top Meat (Protein) update:  Sorry that we are shy of ground beef this week.  We will have lots again next week.    We still have lots of pork and hope that more members will enjoy it also.   We have new beef coming next week, and finally the hams and bacon also.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:  

This week’s share looks more like a mid summer share.  Lots of variety!

The share includes potatoes from Gemini, chard from Synergia, and winter squash from Schwebach Farm, and sunflower sprouts from Sungreen Living Foods.  Also cherry tomatoes and summer squash from Rancho La Jolla.

We also welcome Richard Berenger back as a supplier of the CSA.  Richard operated Harmony Farm for many years and supplied a range of different products to the CSA.  Now he is in partnership with Red Mountain Farm, and we are receiving spinach from them this week for the first time.

The only fruit in this week’s share are some blemished apples from Elijah Farms in Albuquerque.  This is an unusual situation where we can help one of our farmers and create a value opportunity for members:  The apples are suffering from a condition called “cork pit,” which is a calcium deficiency on the skin that creates a blemish which, as the fruit grows, becomes a black spot with poor fruit behind it.  If you cut away the 1/16 inch “scar,” around and behind the black spot, the rest of the fruit is unaffected.  We have tasted the red delicious and the Rome beauties and they are GREAT!  Except for the extra work cutting them away they are as good as any apple we would ever hope to see.  We order to cover the farmer’s cost and all of the handling along the way, and will be selling whole bushel boxes of the apples for $30 each.  We can sell them by the pound for $1 per pound (minimum order of 10 lbs).

These apples will store well, probably for 60 days easily if kept cool (50 degrees or lower, though refrigeration to under 40 degrees would be even better.  These are terrific eating apples if cut and cored, and would process beautifully into apple sauce or butter, or cut up and cooked and saved for pie filling.  We are looking to get your order for these by Monday night.

Enjoy the new varieties and the continuing bounty !

Steve’s policy and advocacy corner.  I had a terrific trip to DC last week, well, except for the trip itself, to and from.  Traveling is not much fun any more.  But while I was there a lot of good was done.  I worked at the NSAC office and got some things going for our food safety task force.  And the USDA Meeting was interesting and worthwhile.

One of my great concerns these days has been the impact and motives of a new initiative called the US Farmer and Rancher Alliance.  This is a collection of major farm and ranch organizations with strong allegiance to the Agribusiness technology and service providers such as Monsanto.  This group is armed with $30 Million (yes, I did mean MILLION) of corporate “gift” money with which to go out to the American public and win over your hearts and minds.  This group believes that high tech, industrial ag is the only truly sustainable agriculture, and that local and regional food systems are not important and cater only to the elite.

The problem is, they have a point!  It is very difficult to develop local and regional food system’s that are accessible to citizens of all ways and means.  And advocates for local and regional food do not seem to take into consideration the need for affordability.  Scale drives cost.  With many foods there is a great need for technology and equipment and large scale farm operations.

The sad thing is that over the last few years, small and local farmers have gained the attention and interest of a growing public, but they have used that “bully pulpit” to demonize big farms, and technology rather than to acknowledge the vital role that all farms play and to set an agenda of accountability that is good for farms of all scales ad types.

USFRA is using Monsanto’s money to sponsor a series of “food dialogues.”  I hope some day to see this same type of dialogue between farmers of different types and scales to strive for a path of constant improvement based on preservation of scarce resources, support for community, and fairness to everyone in the food system, from workers to citizen eaters.  Unfortunately we are nowhere near the point where those conversations are ready to happen.

Membership news:  Thank you for your investment in the CSA .  We appreciate your continued support!

Steve Warshawer

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