The ‘Steadcast is back!
We took a bit of a hiatus during the spring and summer to struggle through our veggie CSA program and get our new pork project going. which we’ll be telling you more about as we get back going on a regular schedule here on the ‘Steadcast.
Summer 2016: Worst. Evah.
The summer of 2016 has been described by many around here, including several of the small farms and market gardens that we have come to get to know better over the season, as the worst veggie farming year in the Pikes Peak region in about a hundred years.
Well, we talked before we went on hiatus about how cold the spring was. Our “last frost” date was about normal, but normally we are pretty warm during the day and then have periodic dips below freezing in the spring. That wasn’t the case this year. So the soil temps weren’t warm enough for seed germination, and transplants were easily shocked.
Then, it suddenly got hot. H-A-W-T hot. Anything that got going as far as cool weather spring crops promptly got stunted by the heat. So much so that even the broccoli plants we transplanted in early spring are JUST NOW setting their very first floret heads.
“I’m not comfortable living and farming in a place that measures hail depths by the foot.”
Then, the hail came. And came. And came. The Camire family over at Ahavah farm, who we’ve really gotten to know better this season, got wiped out something like FIVE TIMES by hail. Their hoophouses look like someone took an uzi to it. And it wasn’t normal kinda loose snowball kind of hail like we’re used to in Colorado. This was “knock you on your butt, crack your windshield, and roll away intact” kind of hail like you’d expect in the Midwest or something.
Then with all the damaged plants, the pest insects had an absolute field day… literally, I guess. The grasshoppers were so bad this year that a friend who does pasture management advice (Tate Smith of Regenerative Stewardship) started trying to calculate how many cows worth of livestock the hoppers represented per acre.
Of course this happens our first CSA year!
So, not the best year for us to be starting our very first CSA year. Luckily we gave our new customers just a wicked deal on a full season CSA program, so they’re still getting their money’s worth. But we went from 20+ varieties down to maybe 10 varieties total. And went from expecting a big bushel box per week to a grocery bag per week.
But wait, there’s more!
So we had temp problems. We had hail and wind problems. We had pest problems. What’s left? Oh yes….
“We’re from the state government, and we’re here to help.”
That’s when the Division of Water Resources noticed the small farms of El Paso County and greeted us with a cease and desist order against Ahavah Farm, saying that they – and by extension all of us doing any amount of veg and poultry – were illegally using our well permits for commercial use. That’s about when the entire local food provider world in Southern Colorado about threw their hands up and said “Aaaaaaaaand we’re done.”
As it is, Yosef and his water law peeps were able to figure out a way to get out of the Cease & Desist and save all our butts. But with some pretty significant catches. And we’ll be talking about that more in detail in an upcoming episode.
In the meantime. Sharp-eared listeners will say “wait, he said something about a pork project? So…. y’all have pigs?”