Steve’s Message – February 27, 2014

Member message for Beneficial Farm CSA, week February 27th, 2014

Climatology 2013: NOAA LINK: http://www.weather.gov/forecastmaps

Droughtiness and early warmth. Time to start working the soil. Scary early.

This week’s Cow stories: Mesa Top cows and Jim Miller Ayrshire project: No new cow stories, nothing to update.

This week’s protein update: Beef shares are back, and there is plenty of ground beef, veal shares are well stocked. Large turkeys: reduced cost to members! Order ahead please as they are stored in Albuquerque in a commercial freezer.

This week’s cheese making update: No new news from the cheese room either

As if the drought and climatic irregularity were not enough, the governmental world (local, NOT State or Federal this time) has placed another burden on Santa Fe County farms that can lead to no good. Santa Fe County recently passed its comprehensive zoning ordinances that are supposed to reflect the principles of its “sustainable land use plan.” The zoning plan contains nothing except trouble for agriculture in Santa Fe. It will prevent existing operations from growing easily and will reduce the ease of entry of new operations. The further gentrification and elimination of young farmers is now enshrined in the land development code. I say this because formerly Santa Fe County was “unzoned,” meaning that agriculture could be practiced anywhere, now there are restrictions and various kinds of permitting required according to the zoning map. Formerly, permits were not needed for farm/ag related structures. Now they will be required, with associated fees, costs, and delays. There would have been a number of ways to mitigate these consequences. For example, transfer or purchase of Development rights programs, or dedication of a portion of development related fees to a fund to “buy down” the value of ag land. There are countless tools, developed and utilized successfully in other communities to support farming in the mix with robust development activity. But Santa Fe County decided to turn its back on these solutions, and to proceed with its commitment to development with no tangible support for or public investment in agriculture. The other day I was looking through correspondence produced over the last 20+ years of my tenure as steward of this farm and land. I have repeatedly tried to initiate thoughtful action to reduce the debt of the farm so it could continue and become more economically sustainable. ALL of this debt focuses on costly land that is of very limited agricultural value. Absent a set of land use policies that invest in land to help reduce its cost so it can be affordable for agriculture, there is no other way for a farmer to eliminate or reduce debt than to develop their land. Santa Fe County has stuck it to us farmers. Maybe it is time to give up, develop the land, take the money and move the farm to a friendlier community. Most of the time, development means the end of the farm. Mesa Top needs to now begin to honestly face that possibility. There is and always has been also the possibility of limited development where a portion of the farm’s land is used for higher valued purposes such as residential, so that the rest can be paid for. This idea has been floated often. The idea of living next door to a working farm or a significant body of open land with natural and cultural resources available for recreational access does make sense. The last time it was poised for success the Global Financial meltdown came along and the market for vacant land in Santa Fe came to a dead stop. The only “good news” update I can think of from the Mesa Top is the arrival of fiber optic telephone service. Plateau, our amazing Telecom COOPERATIVE has decided to invest massive monies into extending fiber optic service to the valley that Mesa Top sits at the edge of. This is good news for Mesa Top Farm and for others who might want to live here or near here: virtual access to the rest of the world will be easier. If you are interested in learning more about the present or future possibilities for Mesa Top Farm and its land, especially if you might be interested in owning your own home at the edge of the 400+ aces of open land that the farm has created or leased, let Steve W know!

(stevew@plateautel.net)

This week’s Veggie/Share Update: This week your share includes a nice mix of produce and more. Especially exciting is the first of the early season produce from our Northern NM farmers: Scallions from Talon de Gato! Also from the North are spicy daikon sprouts from Sungreen Living Foods, and mixed potatoes from White Mountain Farm in Mosca, Colorado. From the South, we have grape tomatoes, zuccini, and red bell peppers from the greenhouses of Preferred produce, and spicy salad mix from Sol y Tierra Farms in Anthony. Our fruit this week is grapefruit, this time from Arizona, as the Texas grapefruit season is over. And from beyond the fresh produce world we have otebo beans from Olathe Bean coop, in Olathe Colorado. As we move into spring, we will begin to see produce from a wider range of farms and farming regions within and around our state.

Membership news: Please follow us on line at Facebook and Twitter. This is a great way to show your friends our weekly shares, recipes and updates. Remember when you help us spread the word and sign up more members; we add $10 to your Farm Account for every member you refer. Thank you for your investment in and continued support of the CSA.

We appreciate your support!

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