Archive for October, 2017

Week 19 – October 18, 2017

Well we made it to 19 weeks of shares.  Thank you to all of our members and to everyone else that has helped and support us.  It was a very good year.  The last share included:  greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, peppers, tomatoes, winter squash, eggplant, basil, and mint.

The pictures of the share this week also include some of the garden at this end of the season.

I am writing this post a week after the share on the 27th of October.  We just had our first hard freeze last night. We picked the peppers, eggplant, tomatoes (red and green) and all of the basil and lemon grass over the last two days.  I just started about 2 gallons of sliced peppers fermenting.  We should have plenty of spicy pickled pepper rings for the winter.

This year we did not have good luck with Brussels Sprouts.  It is the third year we have tried them and we have not picked any yet.  The broccoli romanesco  also did not really produce.  We did not have any to share with members but did get a few small sprouts in the last few weeks.  If the weather holds maybe we will get something from them.  Growing sweet potatoes in big pots was a really good idea.  They produced fairly well and I know that I was able to find all of them when I emptied the pot.  I will do that again next year.

Both the summer and winter squashes did very well this year.  I’m not sure we will waste the space on sweet corn next year.  It just didn’t produce as much as I would like and I wasn’t happy with the quality.  Many others do it much better than we do so maybe we will save the garden space for something else.  I think we planted the right amount of potatoes.  We had them for several shares during the year and we have some for us as well.

It is time to get out and plant garlic so we will have it again next year.  We also have walking onions that have been added as perennial.  We have 1 more cherry tree, 2 plums and 2 pears that were added this season. My Dad (Richard) transplanted a couple more peach trees; we will see if they survive.

One of the best things we had this year was dill.  My Dad planted a bunch of dill seed back by the bees and wild flowers.  It did very well there and we weren’t sure what we were going to do with it all.  We included it in shares to our members but were also able to sell almost $100 worth to Hy-Vee.  Next year we may plant more and space it out so we have it for a longer period and fresh green dill during pickling season.

The early cabbages were a big hit and we will do them again.  We cut them off and they grew little ones that were ready for fall shares.  The fielderkraut did not produce enough to share but I used it to make sauerkraut (that should be about done fermenting).

We planted 21 varieties of tomatoes and I think I took pictures of all of those for a different post.  Of all of those tomatoes the only ones I wouldn’t grow again are the green verisage and the atomic grape.  All of the others were good producers and worth the time and effort.  We used landscape cloth under the tomatoes and peppers this year.  I don’t know if I will ever plant them without landscape cloth again.  It was a huge labor saver in terms of time spent weeding.  They took a little longer to plant but it was well worth it.  I have already purchased landscape cloth for next year and am trying to figure out how to use it between row crops.  It was that good for our little operation.

We still have the one active beehive.  Hopefully they will overwinter well.  We have 12 hens and 6 rabbits as well.  We have found local suppliers for beef, pork and lamb.  If you are looking for local meats let me know and I can put you in touch with some great suppliers.  It is really amazing how good meat can taste compared to what you get in the store.  I still buy some at the store, the prices can be hard to beat but I also want to support our smaller local farms.  They spend their money right here in Grand Island and benefit the whole community.

Our plan is to continue with GI Acres next year in a very similar format.  We will offer 10 shares.  Those will be offered first to our member from 2017 then to our 2016 members that may have missed us last year.  If we have any left we will offer them to the general public so if you have friends or family that are interested tell them to follow us on Facebook @urbanfarmadventures or on twitter @giacres and to watch this website.  We don’t know the pricing for next year yet but will let you know as soon as we determine what we need to charge to come out ahead or even on this venture.  Last year new shares were $300, it is likely that price will increase for 2018.  We may offer a short season share in July and August with a weekend pickup but haven’t decided on that yet.  If you would be interested in the short season of summer foods (green beans, Swiss Chard, summer squash, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers) let me know.  This would help us keep thing picked and insure that we have a market for the produce.

Our pantry and freezer are full of the produce from this season and we will be able to enjoy the fruits of this summer all winter long.  I am already starting to see catalogs for next year….

Week 18, October 8, 2017

Our last share of the year should have been on September 27 with any bonus shares, because of good weather beginning in October.  But we needed a vacation and had the opportunity to visit Kathy’s sister in Atlanta at the end of September and beginning of October so we moved the final pickup from the 27 of September to the 8th of October.  The first week of October was very rainy.  We got more than 6 inches of rain.  While that meant that Keith and Joanne (Kathy’s parents who were staying at the house and caring for the animals and collecting eggs) did not have to worry about watering the garden it also meant that the tomatoes got too big too fast and were splitting by the time we picked them.  They were not really pretty this week.  We did pull carrots though (the carrots came out really easily in the damp soil) and harvest spaghetti squash for everyone. We also through in half a dozen eggs.  The chickens have been producing well and we were starting to get over run.

We are hoping to have one final (bonus) pickup on October 18th if the weather holds.  The night of October 10 the temps dropped to about 32 degrees but we kept the water on all night and the basil did not even get kissed with frost.

This has been a really good year.  The response from our members has been very positive.  I have had a couple of people contact me about starting CSA’s in the area, one of them hopes to include a meat share.  I think there is plenty of market for the CSA model in our area right now.  We are planning to continue with the CSA next year, though many long term CSA’s across the country are beginning to fold up.  Most of those are people that are doing it full time and have reached the point where they can no longer continue to afford the CSA lifestyle.  I say lifestyle because for many of them they would have made more money working a minimum wage job than they did producing healthy food for their communities.  We are in a fortunate situation.  Our CSA is not a vocation it is an avocation.  We are not really looking to expand.  We want to limit the number of members to what we can handle; at this time that is 10.  We have talked about adding a short season during the high production time with pickup on a different day.  This would hopefully give us a market for tomatoes, greens, green beans, etc… a second time during the week.  We wouldn’t have to add to the garden but would be able to pick a couple of times a week and the veggies do just keep coming.

About GI Acres CSA

GI Acres is located on the western edge of Grand Island, Nebraska. The garden takes up about half of an acre. We also have chickens, rabbits and bees

Our farm is not USDA Certified Organic and we do not anticipate applying for such status. We strive to produce healthy vegetables using natural methods of fertilizing, building soil, and controlling pests such as insects and weeds. Those healthy vegetables will begin in mid to late May with herbs, asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries. During the season you can expect a variety of greens, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn and potatoes along with tips about how to cook and preserve your weekly share. The season will conclude in late September or early October. We aim for a 20-week season.

We did not grow up on farms but we did grow up in families with large gardens, eating a variety of fresh produce and canning/freezing the excess. We have maintained the tradition of growing and preserving food for our family for the past 20+ years. GI Acres is our attempt to share that passion for good food with our community.