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Kicking off a New Season!

Date: Sunday, June 4, 2023

Hi Folks,

I want to thank all of you who have signed up for the 2023 season; I appreciate every one of you and all your support. The circumstances of the start of this season have been unprecedented and the bottom line is that we will need to cancel the first delivery and begin the share on Tuesday, June 13th. The season will still conclude with the delivery on November 14th, with the stock up share during the week of November 20 th (Thanksgiving week). We will compensate you for the missed week during the course of the season by adding volume to the shares. (The delivery on June 13th will include a double delivery

of the mushroom share and the egg share to make up for the missed week.) The early deliveries will be a bit small as usual, but I can assure you that we do not give up and as the season progresses, we will do our best to provide you with the quality and value that you have come to expect.

A confluence of factors has affected our production. The weather is, of course, a challenge that we must contend with during every growing season, but it seems to get wilder and weirder every year. This season began very dry; a dearth of snow or any type of

precipitation over the winter left the soil moisture exceptionally low as we began to prepare ground for planting in March. A heat wave in early April exacerbated the situation. On April 8th , after planting peas in what was basically dust, we began to lay drip lines over the rows to help germination. Shortly thereafter we received the first of several deluging rains, rendering our efforts unnecessary. The ground, being so parched, quickly soaked up this excessive water but soon thereafter we experienced a week of showers and drizzle which left the fields too wet for prep or planting. At the end of April, we had another deluge- 3” in less than two hours! This left the fields a muddy mess, that when the sun came

out the ground was baked to a rock-hard crust that our potatoes and recently planted seeds could not break through.

Two weeks ago, we spent over a hundred man-hours chopping away at this crust, so that

the spuds could sprout (which they have!). After this we returned to dry conditions and have had less than a half inch of rain during all of May. Additionally, the heat of early April caused the emergence of our most damaging and difficult insect pests - flea beetle, several weeks earlier than normal. They quickly descended on our tender transplants and germinating seeds and did extensive damage before we were able to protect the plants. We now finally have them under control. For almost all the challenges that we experience on the farm there are solutions or workarounds. The one thing that all these remediations require is labor. Labor is one of the most difficult challenging issues in agriculture. My solution has been to use a Department of Labor guest worker program called H-2A.

I bring my workers from Guatemala and Nicaragua with temporary visas. The Guatemalan contingent is the most important part of my crew. Many of them have worked for me for more than ten seasons; three of them have NJ driver’s licenses and experience operating tractors. Esperanza manages the greenhouse, the CSA distributions, and the markets. Her brother Manuel is the crew leader, managing all the workers, the irrigation system, and pest control. I began the process, as usual, of receiving the approvals from the DOL in December and by March they submit their forms and documentation to the US embassy and within a week to ten days they receive their passports with visa by courier. This year the paperwork was submitted on March 8th and after a week only three had received their passports

back. Two weeks later Esperanza and Marco received theirs. For 5 weeks I tried to get answers and action from the embassy to no avail. I finally contacted Congressman Gottheimer’s office for assistance and the embassy ignored their correspondence for two weeks before stating that the visas were approved on March 27, but that there was a technical problem with printing the visas.

On May 20th, the remaining six workers finally received their passports and on May 22nd they arrived- more than two months after I needed them! We have forged ahead during this time, with a skeleton crew of less experienced workers. We have worked long hours to keep from falling behind and now after a week with a full crew, we are getting back on track. We are moving the irrigation system around the fields; the well pumps are running, and we are planting and transplanting constantly.

I appreciate your support and understanding,

Farmer John

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1 commento

Hello, this is my first time picking up and I don’t see any stands at the Grove Street farmers market area. Where is it dropped?

Mi piace
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