30083 290th St Henderson, MN 56044 Google Map 612-756-3971
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Happy Holidays from East Henderson Farm! - please read

Posted 12/30/2012 11:42am by Joshua Reinitz.

Dear CSA members and Farm customers –

First of all, happy holidays, and we want to thank you so much for joining our farm this past year!  It’s been a while since we’ve communicated with you, mostly because we’ve been so busy with our newborn baby.  We had a baby boy on December 5th, and named him Sam.  The last part of the CSA season and late fall was a time for preparing our house and getting ready.  Now we’re adjusting to having a newborn in the house along with our two older (and VERY active) boys Henry and Miles. 

We are making some changes to our farm for 2013 we wanted to let you know about.  We have thought long and hard about how to design our CSA for the next couple of years in a way that best accommodates our new family member.  We have chosen to “slow down” a bit for the next few years. 

2013 will be our 5th year of growing vegetables at a commercial scale.  We have spent the last four years growing our business, investing in equipment and facilities, and learning how to grow a diversity of crops in our challenging Minnesota climate.  We are settled into farming as a life-long career and are excited to continue to grow a unique, diverse, and sustainable farm business that meets the needs of our community. 

We feel very strongly that the CSA movement has grown to the point where there are an abundance of farms serving the Twin Cities area, and rural communities are being underserved.  We had to turn away members in our hometown last year because we sold out too quickly and we didn’t feel good about that. To fulfill our core value of providing local foods to as many people as possible around our farm, we have decided to become a “local CSA" next year.  This means the core of our customers are people within 30 miles of our farm who pick up at the farm or in surrounding communities, or those who live farther away but want a weekly on-farm experience to enjoy the countryside and know where their food is grown.  To our members in the Twin cities - we will not be delivering the CSA shares ourselves next year, but please read on because we do have some ideas about delivery...

So what does this mean for next year???

First, we have decided to offer a greater diversity of crops and varieties than we did in 2012.  We would like to improve our cooking and salad greens production so there is a consistent supply of those all season long.  We would like to grow way more root crops next year, like beets and carrots, and add rutabagas and parsnips.  We want to increase our winter squash varieties, and add sweet corn and jack-o-lanterns to our crop mix.  We have already planted 7 varieties of garlic for next year, hoping to prevent the disease that wiped out our 2012 garlic crop.  Also, we have signed a contract to rent a strawberry patch at a neighbor’s house!!  This will allow us to add strawberries to the CSA next year while we establish our own crop here.

Second, we have had a goal for a few years of establishing orchards on our farm so we can offer fruits like raspberries, grapes, plums, apples, currants, cherries and pears in the future.  These will take 5-6 years to establish, but we are going to start planting in 2013.  We are still dabbling in beekeeping, and we would like to start growing some edible mushrooms like shiitakes and oysters (we have the perfect farm for mushrooms).  We will continue to partner with other farms for fruit in the time being, primarily the apple orchard at the Minnesota New Country School.  We are planning on raising some meat chickens again, and we will be trying hogs for the first time next year!  And we hope to put our team of oxen, Buddy and Gozer, to work as soon as winter begins to fade.

We have sold egg shares the past few years as a CSA add-on.  We love raising chickens for eggs, but have found it difficult to maintain production year-round, especially with the heat waves and drought we’ve had the past two summers.  The hens stopped laying eggs in those conditions around late summer and we have been unable to fulfill egg shares all season.  So, we have reduced our laying flock to 25 hens (from 175) and will not be offering egg shares next year.  Eggs will still be available for purchase on the farm, and may show up in CSA boxes if we have a surplus, but we won’t be selling a guaranteed amount with the CSA. 

We want to describe how our CSA will look next year.  We will be offering on-farm pickup as our primary pickup option.  We will be offering a farmer’s market style CSA, where you will come and pick your produce from bins and baskets inside our pack shed, rather than pulling a box from the cooler.  We started out like this our first two years but had gotten away from it as we increased our business towards a more delivery-based system.  We love having people come out to the farm and we want to make it a more enjoyable and inviting place to be.  The farmer’s market style pickup will achieve that, and we will be around to answer questions, chat, and talk about recipes rather than being busy in the fields when you pick up.  We will also be growing a U-pick field of veggies, herbs, and flowers for members.  We have tried this a little bit in the past, but we are going to make this a high priority and a core part of our CSA from now on.  We believe this will make your CSA pick up a valuable part of your week and will define our farm as the place to be for local organic eaters!

We understand not everyone can make it to the farm, so we will still offer pickup in St. Peter and Belle Plaine.  We are lucky to have found pickup hosts in each of those communities who offer help and advice when you pick up your produce.  We are open to new pickup locations too, particularly in Le Sueur and New Prague.  Please let us know if you want to host next year.

We have fantastic and loyal members in the Metro area and would like to continue to serve you.  But we are not going to be delivering to the Twin Cities next year due to our new family situation.  However, we want to discuss with interested folks a member-initiated delivery system.  One scenario is where metro area members pick up boxes at the farm and deliver to pick up sites so the farmer can focus on growing the food.  The members share the responsibility so each member may only have to drive to the farm once or twice a season.  We would love to see that happen so we can continue to serve the twin cities as we have in the past.

We will be sending out another e-mail very soon that will be an invitation to join for 2013 and will include a link to our signup page.  We hope you will join us again – it’s a new direction for us, and we are excited to offer a more locally focused, diverse, and high quality CSA.


Happy New Year!

Josh, Sally, and the boys

East Henderson Farm

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