The first farm: January harvest and a forecast

by Kia Kozen Armstrong

This article was originally published in January 2009

The New Year on the Dungeness Delta brings Brussels sprouts, kale and super-sweet carrots to our tables — as well as gratitude for such bounty to our hearts and busy hands.

While many other farms wound down a while ago for winter, our crew at Nash’s Organic Produce is digging deep into a cold, wet harvest season. Over the next three months, we will pick, pack and sell more than 35 varieties of roots, greens and grains.

As we look back on the last 10 months that brought us to this abundant moment, I recall a flurry of vegetables, fruits, grains, pigs, chickens and seeds.

In 2008, we trialed 14 varieties of wheat, grew five acres of red chard seed, significantly increased our production of wheat, rye, barley, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), buckwheat, field peas and oats, and grew open-pollinated vegetable seed crops including carrots, kale, cabbage and spinach.

Nash is excited about the emerging markets for local grains and seeds. He’s working with local bakers and farmers to determine what grows well in our climate to meet their flour and livestock needs. As a whole, the 2008 growing season was consistently cool and slow — and we still are feeling the very real consequences of such abnormal weather.

Labor shortages
We also had a less efficient workforce in 2008 — largely due to failing immigration policies. Combined with high energy prices and the uncertain state of the economy, the farm is at a precipitous point.

Our fall and winter harvests typically pay back the debt we accumulate over the spring and summer to plant the farm. 2008’s challenges have reduced the volumes in our harvest while our overall costs of production have increased significantly. Our fingers are crossed that the winter weather holds no surprises that would impede our sales goals. We are counting on every carrot and turnip we pull to meet our financial obligations.

As we look ahead to our winter crop inventory and continue to believe in the future of farming, we’re humbled by the time and energy that so many people in our extended community give to fortify our local food systems. We thank you for your continued support. We truly appreciate it.

Kia Armstrong is the sales, CSA and special projects manager for Nash’s Organic Produce.

Also in this issue

Shopping and eating on a budget

No doubt the financial meltdown is causing us to rethink spending on even the most basic necessities — and food is no exception. Some people are choosing more economical meats (indeed, sales of Spam are skyrocketing), while others are eating out less frequently; 45 percent of Americans report cutting down on the number of meals they ate out in 2008.

The value of organic certification

All natural? Non-GMO? No antibiotics or hormones? Aren’t they just as good as certified organic, just a little less costly? No doubt, when buying food the savvy shopper faces a dizzying array of labels and choices. Feeding the family never has been so complex.