2020 Vision (Reflections on the Season, Part 2)

2020 Vision (Reflections on the Season, Part 2)

January 10, 2020


17 years ago I started Blue Moon with the hope of creating a farm that would be a creature of its own--a farm that offered others a place to connect, to unwind, and to enjoy the land where their food is lovingly grown. When I think back to the year when we bought this farm, I remember it being so far from the idyllic setting that I had envisioned. We dismissed it as an option several times before taking the leap and giving it a shot. What I learned, as time went on, was that a place is what we bring to it. We’ve worked hard over the years to bring out the land’s potential to feed us, and you all have made this place a community farm with your commitment and care, your excitement and hunger for good food. I am so grateful for the life that our amazing community of members and friends, and my own family, has brought to this farm. It is a vibrant, enriching, healing place, thanks to all of you.

Today that vibrancy is being challenged. Growing food in the Upper Midwest is not what it was even 17 years ago when Blue Moon was born. We are in new territory. Weather patterns have been disrupted, resulting in extreme events and prolonged wet conditions that threaten to degrade our hard-won soil quality, usher in unprecedented disease issues in our crops, and increase the labor and energy (=cost) needed to produce our vegetables and serve our community.

We are taking a hard look at these issues this season.

We are in this for the long haul.

Growing good food for ourselves and our community will only become more critical to us as climate change threatens our larger food system.

Our vision for 2020 is of Restoration, Mitigation, and of course, Great Food! We are taking stock of our resources, thinking about the changes that will be necessary to continue Blue Moon's success in the face of these challenges, and making plans that serve the needs of the land and keep our community rich in delicious, local, nutrient-dense vegetables.

So what are we up to?

First, we are reducing the acreage that we plant each year. We are a small farm by any measure, but have expanded over the years to meet demand to the point where we are working our fields too hard for the stresses of climate change. This year we'll begin taking 25% of our land out of production each season.

Second, we are investing in soil building and conservation. We’re bringing in soil-building compost and organic matter, increasing our use of cover crops, and reducing tillage. The 25% of our land that is set aside will receive what we’re calling the Royal Treatment—intense soil building efforts and cover crop rotations that will restore the fields to a high level of productivity and health.

Third, we have adjusted some of our On-farm CSA offerings to help mitigate seasonal challenges and better serve the needs of our members. We are starting our main share season one week later, and ending it one week earlier—a small change that will take the pressure off our systems during the early and late season and allow us to avoid planting and harvesting in those more uncertain (read WET) times.

We also added a “Basics” share, offering members a smaller and more “staple vegetable” menu—2 things (smaller, and more basic) that members have requested. It benefits the farm as well, by allowing us to plant less of our more specialty crops and free up land for our soil building program. Win-win!

Fourth, we have adjusted our production plans to scale back crops that have been hit the hardest by the changing weather. Seed breeders and pathologists are working hard to solve some of the disease issues that are now prevalent in our region, but it will take time to develop solutions. Our crop plan this season includes less broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Members and market customers may not even notice a reduction at all since disease has reduced our yields to a small fraction of our former glory these past few years! We’ll be trialing new varieties as they become available, and will scale back up over time.

As a farm, we have been cultivating every field with as much care as we could while in a high-production mode. It’s a whole different challenge to continue to produce high quality, abundant vegetables while integrating these new practices. As we head into our 17th season here at Blue Moon, we have the expertise to meet that challenge and pursue both goals with the support of our AMAZING members and farm friends.

Thank you so sincerely for being on this journey with us. It means the world!

We’re so honored to be your farmers and have the opportunity to do this important work.

Here’s to a season of growth, health, and fabulous meals

Online Registration Opens on January 17 and shares are limited—mark your calendars!