Friday, February 20, 2015

Winter Vegetable Farming in Michigan

This is both an exciting and scary venture we are on. Having a 48 week CSA means even in winter we have to harvest, wash, pack, and deliver our produce. We have two unheated hoop houses that we grow vegetables in all year. In winter we can grow things like Collard Greens, Kale, Salad Mix, Swiss Chard, Carrots, Turnips, Beets, Mustard Greens, Onions, and a few more things. We like to have lots of storage veggies as well (although even that is risky!) like Squash and Potatoes.

I really like grading in winter, it's like a mini getaway into the 75 degree hoop house on a 15 degree snowy winter day. And having your own produce ALL WINTER LONG! It's amazing!! So the way it works... everything we plant for winter has pretty amazing cell structure. It can freeze and thaw and not change. The cells just expand as the water expands in it. Anyway....

One good thing about the CSA model is the members know when they sign up that there is a risk. That if a crop fails (for a number of reasons) they might loose out. By taking a risk with the farmers the members are like "part of the farm". You know without having to do all the work. But, just because the members know they are taking a risk doesn't mean we want to take advantage of that.

Last year we had a horrible cold winter, we lost a lot of crops and we learned a lot. Ooops, looks like we didn't learn enough. This year we had to take an extended break from harvesting. We didn't loose as many crops as we did last year (Because we planted things that would take the colder temps better.) But we also didn't plant enough of them! Every time we hit a wall is just a new way to learn more. This year we have so many plans to make next winter AMAZING!! Not only is Mike working from home and farming full time... but we are expanding our winter planting space (twice as much space to fill with green vegetables for the winter!?! Sounds amazing to me!)

Here are a few pictures of the things holding on.

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