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Monday, March 6, 2017

LocalHarvest Newsletter: Winter Thaw Springs Hope

LocalHarvest.org

LocalHarvest Newsletter, March 6, 2016
Winter Thaw Springs Hope

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

It has been a long, hard winter for us and certainly others too. There has been at least a foot of snow covering our entire acreage since late November- we call it the permafrost because it never seems to melt. Just today I heard a couple red-winged blackbirds down by our pond, a sure sign that spring will be coming soon. Last year at this same time, my daughter and I were going on hikes to look at the earliest wildflowers (the grass widow) and we were starting onions from seed in our cold frame. This year, even though it is early March, I haven't ordered seed yet. It's like the thought of gardening is so remote for me, I can't commit to buying seed. Is it really true that spring will come back to us?

Seeds are the stuff of life, these miraculous little orbs of dormant cells just waiting to multiply with the right conditions. While I can always buy ready-to-plant transplants come May or so, starting crops from seed is so much more gratifying and economical. They also seem to produce stronger crops, better root development, and pest resistance that the store-bought transplants. We either direct seeds crops, such as lettuce, cilantro, carrots, radishes, and beets into the soil, or we start the seeds in our little propagation greenhouse 5-6 weeks early and then set them out in our garden once they have a few true leaves and moderate root development.

I was just at the Oregon Small Farms Conference in Corvallis, OR where many of my favorite seeds companies were displaying their catalogues and giving away free packets of seed. I hesitated to pick up any packets, worrying that they may not get in the ground this year of the big freeze. But the catalogues enthralled me and had visions dancing in my head of fat onions, rosy tomatoes, multi-colored radishes, bitter greens, crunchy beans, zesty parsley, and other favorites that I plant every year. LocalHarvest works with a number of small-scale, regional seed farms and companies offering a wide variety of seeds for sale. From artichokes to zucchini, flower seeds, grains, herbs, and more, consider supporting these farms and buying your garden seeds from them. I promise I will break out of my winter stupor and order my seeds straight away.

Not only is it time to think about buying seeds and designing your garden, it is also time to sign up for a CSA share, especially if you don't garden. Even though you have many options for how you buy food, including pre-chopped, pre-portioned, and almost pre-masticated these days, consider that one of the best ways to support your local farmers and receive the highest quality produce is by becoming a member of a CSA farm.

CSA numbers are way down- we get it. Ordering food on the Internet and getting it at your door 2 hours later seems attractive. But there are a few drawbacks to instant gratification- lots of packaging, lots of transportation, lots of food waste, and your dollars leaving your community and often your state entirely. Now, more than ever, we need to strengthen our local economies and our relationships with our neighbors.

The United States used to be a net exporter of fruits and vegetables. Starting in 1996, we became a net importer. We now import $11.4 billion dollars more fruits and vegetables than we export. This is due to more factors than I can describe in this short essay (see Congressional Research Service report RL34468 to learn more), but suffice to say, it's a lost opportunity to support more family farmers, create jobs, improve our rural economies, and reduce our food miles.

By joining your favorite local CSA farm, you are becoming part of the support network that keeps them in business, keeps dollars circulating in your region, and helps turn back the ever growing trade deficit in US agriculture. Be the change.

Kindly,
-Rebecca




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From the LH Store

It seems strange, but the season for tropical fruits is in wintertime for the northern hemisphere. Many of these plants adapted near the equator, where our winter is actually their summer. I don't eat a lot of tropical fruit on a regular basis except for bananas, avocados, and coffee. But the LocalHarvest store has some really intriguing and delectable choices that come from California, Florida, Texas, and other warm-winter regions. Custardy cheriomoyas, sweet passion fruits, tangy sweet satsumas, tart lemons and limes, and many others are available by the box via the LocalHarvest store. Check it out and be pleasantly surprised!



CSA Manager

TRY our recently developed CSA management software: CSA Manager is designed to provide small to medium farms with sales, scheduling, and broadcast e-mail capabilities, all from your LocalHarvest listing. No need for a separate website or merchant account and it's affordable! Need a more powerful software package? CSAware has provided critical technology for hundreds of CSA operations for over 8 years now. We help you run the business end of a CSA. Not sure which package is the best fit? Compare the two! Looking to bring your CSA tasks online? Check out this quick overview of CSA Manager.



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