Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Last of CSA After An Unsettling Growing Season

Is there hope?

I received the letter below today from our farmer, Tammy, whom we bought our CSA from this year.  It's been a terrible and unusual growing season and even she, who's been farming naturally for over 25 years, is at a loss of what's happening.  This is unsettling to say the least. 

My own raised-bed first year vegetable garden didn't produce much but our pumpkins are doing great.  It did seem unusual to me to have so little come from our garden, but I found it hard to tell as it's my first year.

Has anyone else been having difficulties with growing your produce this year?  Any theories on what's happening to make the crops suffer this year?

September 21, 2010

CSA Members,

It is difficult for me to announce that the rest of this growing season’s shares are cancelled.

For the first time in twenty –five years I have not preserved any food for my family. What little food we have and may be able to produce will go to restocking our pantry.

All across the nation and globally gardens have severely under produced this year and we have not been immune. We have had beautiful plants and thousands of blossoms and little to no fruit. Even zucchini that usually explodes in production failed. We planted potatoes three times, sweet corn three times, beans four and five times. The 375 tomatoes plants produced ¼ of what they normally do. Late August we started planting our fall crops in the high tunnels and other beds. I’m at a loss. The seeds are germinating at about ½ the rate they normally do and are just sitting there . . . . . not growing. Even what our goats, cow and chickens generally produce has not been normal.

This is causing me great concern.

I have been in communication with other growers here in this area and nationally and theories are flying as to what is causing this phenomenon. The most troubling part is I feel strongly that we have not seen the worst of it. I believe we could be facing food shortages very soon on a global scale. Many share these same thoughts.

I suggest you do your own research. I also strongly suggest that you store extra food that will keep for several years. Don’t be fearful . . . . . just be pragmatic and prepared. Look around you and observe what is happening with the weather patterns and how this extreme weather will affect almost every aspect of your life. Also, do research on what is causing this extreme weather, earthquakes and volcanic activity. I can voice my own opinions and thoughts but the most powerful truth is the truth you determine on your own.

Even though contractually this would be considered a “crop failure “and therefore we would share the monetary loss I feel moved to return at least 1/3 of your membership fee.

It will take me two or three months to return everyone’s portion. I will return in the same order I received the contract and fee.

I am not giving up. I will continue to experiment with seeds and procedures in growing. If the high tunnels begin to produce I will share what I can.

Thank You for being a part of the farm and even though I’m very aware this has not been a favorable experience, I hope you will not give up on supporting local growers.

Faithfully, Tammy Crandell; Foxfire Farm


  1. That is scary, isn't it. But, yes. It was a horrible season here, too. Tomatoes had blight (not in my yard, but throughout the region) though not many got the chance to turn red... not enough sun. It was a very long and late Spring. A very short and cold summer and the frost has come very early. For sure.

  2. It wasn't good for us either. The only thing that went crazy in our garden was the swiss chard. I don't even know why! The fruit trees bloomed, but did not produce any fruit (the late frost ensured that we lost that chance.

  3. I am not an expert. However, if the plants blossomed, I wonder if they did not bear fruit because there were not enough bees around to pollinate them. I've been reading in the paper that large amounts of bees are dying off, probably due to insecticide poisoning. Our bee population is in serious decline. Even organic farmers suffer from this problem, as bees fly everywhere, not just around organic farms. I saw a TV program which showed Chinese farmers pollinating pear tree blossoms by themselves. There were no bees around to do the job. They dipped feathers in pollen and then climbed the pear trees to pollinate the blossoms. Concurrently, they started large scale bee keeping. It will take many years though before the problem is fixed. Also, here in the US bee farmers are losing more and more of their hives, to the point of where the farmers are going bankrupt. I don't know if the shortage of bees is the reason for recent crop failures, but I am sure it's a contributing factor, as is climate change. What a shame!

  4. Ack! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one, but then again,I'm not really. As for the pollination, we had mass die off of our zucchinis due to pollination issues...the ones to survive and thrive where the ones where we'd manually pollinated with a soft paintbrush. (This was our second year with this problem...last year we investigated and eliminated the possibility of soil inadequacy--our soil was fine. There was no plant sex going on.)


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