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Farm News & Blog

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Posted 8/30/2015 7:39am by Nate Parks.

What's Happening on the Farm?

After 6 weeks of incredible harvest, we are finally hitting a wall this week. One of the great challenges of this endeavor is not only producing the first fruits of the year but to consistently produce those fruits week in and week out. Considering the early weather problems, I feel pretty good about the year. We are entering in a two week lull of the last of what is left of the summer crops and the beginning of the fall greens and root crops. Timing is everything from here on out; as daylight decreases, so does plant growth. What took 45 days in mid-summer will now take at least 60. The last of the field crops will be seeded this week and next before we begin clearing our the greenhouses and seeding them for December harvests.  

There will be a three week slow down from us until we hit our stride again late September/early October, when broccoli, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, Napa and green cabbage, beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, rutabaga, spinach and all of those tender fall lettuces come on strong!   


 

Beware - this is long, but includes some very valuable thoughts and information! Please take time to read!

We have appreciated the dialogues we have had during this past week regarding the content of last week's newsletter.  It helps to hear your thoughts and opinions.  Here's the breakdown:

~One common theme is that 90% of you love our current system of ordering what you want when you want it each week. We agree! That part of our system is here to stay as we have no intention of changing it. Our problem has come this year with trying to make the entry into our system more affordable for those wanting to try it out.  In doing so we have dropped our overall average share price significantly! This has resulted in a real hike in the actual cost to us per member, from the labor and management side of our model.

~Here's what we have to do: We must design our membership options around the concept so that it makes sense from a labor/cost standpoint.  With five years of our CSA program under our belt we feel good about how to handle the crops and plan for this type of membership.

~Challenges: The biggest challenge of our current model is not the crops and how much of each to grow (we have five years of records showing us what percentage of each item most of you order). The challenge is the added cost of managing, packing, and tracking 320 people each with different orders, balances and delivery locations. Packing a traditional CSA box is very simple to structure in the packing shed - each box is identical.  With our system, first, each location must be broken down into the total quantity of each of the 40 different items into correct counts. Second, each order is read, packed, checked and set aside until that total delivery location is completed. Third, we double check that all items are packed, boxes labeled correctly and move on to another delivery location and repeat. This is a much different process than assembly line packing of 300 identical boxes. This IS the model we believe in for the future of our CSA model. We also believe that at the moment 300-350 members is our capacity as far as how many of these custom orders we can manage correctly in any given week.

~Here's the dilemma:  If we want to continue with this system we MUST make sure that it is priced appropriately so it is sustainable for us as a farm for the long haul. I have said this before and I will say it again; our farm is what we plan to do for another 20 years and hope to pass it down to another generation someday so that they can continue this mission.  We must these make critical decisions along the way so that we can stay viable, sustainable, and profitable.  

~Here's what we're thinking: The idea of making our shares affordable is something we like.  A system of 12 monthly installments automatically deducted from the member's account or a member could choose to purchase the share in whole for a 10% discount.  We will go back to offering two share sizes: one for two adult household members and one for single adult households. Many of our members travel for work or vacation and we want to accommodate those types of situations.   

~One last change that we really want:  We set our share price according to what we need to earn per share for the year.  How about eliminating prices and available credit?!   SAY WHAT?!  Yes, that is what we're brainstorming.  There is no need for credits or cost per unit of vegetable! Prices and available credit will go away - how will you order,  you ask? We want you to order whatever you need for the week without concern of using up your available credit.  We want to get back to the notion that you reap the benefits of the farm you are supporting. Let's be rid of that price tag on each item every week, we never have liked that.  We would much prefer a price tag of the total share cost divided into 300 members. Then each of the 40 weeks or so that we have vegetables and eggs available you just order however much you need to feed your family for that week!

(Side note: How we integrate meats is still a work in progress - we have very accurate cost and demand for our vegetables and eggs, the meats will more that likely be an add on with monthly deliveries of some sort.)

After several years of trial and error, we truly feel this might be the way to make this work, a community coming together to support the cost of a farm and this type of agriculture.  The community truly sharing the weekly reward and the risk of that comes with it.

Keep your thoughts coming, even though we haven't had a chance to respond to all of you, w have read and appreciate all your input. Let's continue to make Silverthorn Farm better for all of us every year!

AT THIS TIME WE WILL BE DISABLING NEW MEMBERSHIPS.  EXISTING MEMBERS MAY ADD CREDIT AS USUAL AS WE CONTINUE TO BRAINSTORM AND MAKE THE CHANGE TO THE NEW SYSTEM.

Posted 8/9/2015 9:26am by Nate Parks.

 

What's Happening on the Farm?

One of my favorite and most challenging crops to grow are tomatoes. Our wholesale accounts have taken such large quantities over the last month - a great thing for us!  Filling those orders in June is such a challenge; searching every plant over and over to find enough fruits to fill the orders. Our field tomatoes start coming on slowly through July and by this time in August the amount of fruit on the vines is incredible! To give you an idea of just how much, we harvested 2,000 pounds on Friday! An awesome haul and an awesome job to try and move all that product as soon as we can. More than half of that amount were already spoken for and the market was able to take care of a large portion of the rest of them. It's hard to believe that here in about three weeks or so we will probably be back to searching for enough fruit to make up orders again! The ebb and flow of the season always keeps you on your toes!  

NOW is the time to can, freeze, or juice tomatoes for your winter treats! At $1.25/lb for Romas and $1.50/lb for medium red tomatoes (all sold in ten pound boxes), this is the time to really save some money and stock your pantry with some great food! If you are NOT a CSA member but would like to order tomatoes in quantity, click here!


CSA MEMBERS Click here to place your weekly order with Silverthorn Farm.

If you need to add more money to your account, here's a quick link to help you get started.  Remember, we give you $$ FREE money $$ for spending more of yours! AND you still have 24 months to use it!   

From Emily's Kitchen

In being obsessed with a certain food website, I find that most of my posts are from this same one!  I can't apologize for this because ALL of the recipes are SO good!  Today's recipe includes cherry tomatoes, basil, and eggs.  It's super easy and makes for some "light eating", plus who can deny how good our cherry tomatoes are?!  Especially those sweet, little, yellow Sun Golds! Get the recipe!  


 

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Posted 7/12/2015 9:30am by Nate & Emily Parks.

Farm News:

Take time this week to go for a drive. Find any road that leads you away from urban area.  Drive slow and observe your surroundings - rural Indiana is in a world of hurt! I am not not just talking about my farm, not just vegetables, this is wide spread  damage that will have a far reaching impact through our communities and into our food system. I think it is important for all of us to do this.  Go out and see what is happening in the countryside; it won't take long for you to understand the severity of the last 4 weeks of non-stop rains.

What does it mean for us and our supply of food for you?  Right now if you go to order your food for the week you will find 40 options from which to choose, the bounty certainly seems great from a distance. But from my end, the loss in production and increase in labor is dramatic and really is the difference from profitability and trying to hang on another year.  I think the only total loss this year will probably be the cantaloupes and watermelon.  Other items like sweet corn, green beans and now carrots will be in short to no supply for the year. These fields have been saturated for so long they have lost the ability to "breathe" and absorb the nutrients they need to survive and thrive. 

The reality is that we have about three weeks left until our last fall root crops can be planted - August 10th to be exact. We will be doing all that is possible to pull out a fall harvest to salvage some of this wild season. So the lesson of the year for all of our supporters is eat as much locally and seasonally as you can right now! Don't wait anticipating the next crop or that the bounty will explode, eat what we have now and support as many local farms as you can. This is the third year out of the last four of wild weather, struggling crops and limited profits. Keeping farms in business is priority one for our local food system to survive and thrive, and this year will no doubt be a test of that!

CSA Member News:

The online store is open and will close Tuesday at 8:00am for mid week deliveries and Thursday evening at 8:00pm for weekend deliveries. Click here to place your order!

New in the store this week:

Sweet bulb onions

sweet corn - limited quantities

Butterhead lettuce

New potatoes

Ancho poblano peppers

 

***Please remember to return your produce boxes. They should stay at your delivery location after pickup for us to reuse from week to week. We will also reuse your egg cartons as well.

When ordering, remember you MUST receive an email confirmation in order to ensure we received your order. If you don't see one in your inbox your order did not go through. Feel free to email us to double check if you are unsure.

Green curly kale is back! After the first few months of delivering, you might remember the kale we had to offer was a flat leaved green kale. We had more than a few comments on it and members wondering where that curly kale was! It's back on the ordering page now. Bursting with vitamins K, A, and C it's ready to be prepared in your kitchen!

Coming in the next few weeks is a new look to our newsletters! Stay tuned!

Nate, Emily & kids

 
Posted 6/28/2015 8:16am by Nate & Emily Parks.

CSA Member News

The online store is open and will close Tuesday at 8:00am for mid week deliveries and Thursday evening at 8:00pm for weekend deliveries. Click here to place your order!

New in the store this week:

Tomatoes

Jalapeño peppers

Hot banana peppers

Shishito peppers

Red and Savoy cabbage 

Cucumbers

EGGS

The mystery item remains!

 

Farm News:

I have tried to keep a real positive tone for our newsletters this year - maybe to keep myself in check! The reality of this  season is getting pretty nerve racking. We brought in 4 extra people last week, and will do the same this week trying to keep ahead of weeds and searching for windows of opportunity to get our fall crops, and summer greens plantings in the ground. With 12 of us running around we can definitely make some real progress. The challenge now is when do you commit people and assets to saving crops and when do you stop the hemorrhaging and till a crop under? The problems are not just weed pressure - we are actually in ok shape there with only a few crops that need tilled under and started again.  It's the endless and excessive rains that are stunting, killing, and bringing in so much disease pressure. These are the areas where we have to make difficult decisions, the last planting of cantaloupes for example were set about two weeks ago right before this weather set in. The plants are yellow, stunted and under weed,disease and pest pressure. That planting is our last chance really to get late melons out; replanting now risks frost before they are ready, saving them means more than likely low yield and poor quality. This example is repeated across the farm on several different crops and really poses the biggest management challenge for me personally.  Thankfully, it's still relatively early and I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet!

CSA News:

Tomatoes are ready and we are packaging them a bit differently this year. You will notice a count with each type and a typical size range. This is going to make packing much easier for us and hopefully give you a better idea of what to expect when you receive your order.

Eggs are finally available this week as well! ***Please limit yourself to one dozen per order for the next couple weeks as they begin to lay more each week.

Head lettuces were shredded this past week by either heavy rain or some minor hail. It may be a couple weeks before the next plantings recover and they become available again. Arugula is about the same, but lettuce mix will continue for the time being.  We will probably have a void in the mix here in a few weeks because of all of the missed plantings in the last couple weeks.

 

Thanks for your continued support!

Nate, Emily & kids

 
Posted 6/21/2015 10:51am by Nate & Emily Parks.

CSA Member News

The online store is open and will close Tuesday at 8:00am for mid week deliveries and Thursday evening at 8:00pm for weekend deliveries. Click here to place your order!

New in the store this week:

Broccoli

Fennel

Salad/pickling cucumbers

The mystery item remains!


 

 We are back! Did you miss us?  Or did you even know we were gone?!

Last Saturday morning we sneaked off to Ouray, Colorado with 16 of my cousins, aunts and uncles for a summer camping trip that we have wanted to go on for years. Winter vacations are usually easy enough for us to put together; summer vacations are unthinkable!  I hate to admit it has been more than ten years since we took a week off in the summer months. Thanks again to our whole crew who made this opportunity a reality for us. I was a very difficult week for them to manage with the weather and they came through just as we knew they would.

Farm News:

As all of you know, it was incredibly wet last week. I am having nightmares of last summer really. As I walked the fields this morning for the first time in 9 days I can see that there will no doubt be some crops that will be lost to flooding. With more than 5 inches in the last week, the fields are a mess. The seedling house is full of plants that need to go out, but the reality of the soil conditions say 'no way'! Last week's transplanting and direct seeding will be pushed to this week as we hope to dry out a bit. These events will not really show up until late July/early August, when the crops planted last week would be ready for harvest. The other concern now is disease pressure.  Excessive rain with no drying period brings many concerns for vegetable crops. We will, of course, have to monitor the situation and do the best we can with preventative organic applications and a little bit of hot, dry, July weather!

Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, corn and cucumbers are all coming on quickly and should be available within the next few weeks. Looks like the hens have decided to start laying eggs for us and should finally become available to CSA members next week.  Some of our pigs, who we have grown especially fond of, will be available by the first of August.

Let's pray for a dry week!

Nate, Emily & kids

 
Posted 6/7/2015 9:14am by Nate & Emily Parks.

CSA Member News

Online Store:   The online store is open and will close Tuesday at 8:00am for mid week deliveries and Thursday evening at 8:00pm for weekend deliveries. Click here to place your order!

New in the store this week:

Tuscan Kale

Mystery item??

 

What's happening on the farm?

Ah, the serenity and simplicity of farm life.  Simple?  One would only hope!  I love waking up on mornings like this: sun rising, birds chirping, crops growing.  Everything looks beautiful around here.  Tomatoes & peppers are staked and mulched, planting and seeding is on schedule, and cultivation seems like a round-the-clock job but we're staying on top of it.  There's always something to do around here!  The pigs are fattening up nicely and love to munch on the scraps the kids take to them daily.  The chickens are just starting to lay those tiny pullet eggs so it won't be long before they'll be available in the online store.  The trees in the orchard are growing and the newly established asparagus patch is looking great as well. 

We are still waiting and watching a lot of these new crops that are coming on and can't wait to get them to your tables, which brings me to my next thought - the mystery item is back this week!  What it is will remain a, well....mystery!

Our refrigerated delivery truck that we mentioned last week is working out better than we could have imagined.  We wonder how we ever got along without it!  At pickup, please remember to collapse your produce box after removing your items and place in the designated area.  This helps us and our host site managers.  Thanks!

Have a great week,

Nate, Emily & kids

Posted 5/31/2015 9:49am by Nate & Emily Parks.

The online store is open! Don't forget the ordering deadlines this week: the store will close Tuesday at 8:00am for mid week deliveries and Thursday evening at 8:00pm for weekend deliveries. 

Click here to place your order!



CSA NEWS:

After years of trying to cobble together delivery vehicles, trailers, and routes. We finally made the decision to borrow the money and invest in the quality of our product. As the farm has grown, so to have the delivery routes and the length of time that we are on the road. With some days being a solid 6-7 hours on the road we really have no other choice but to use a refrigerated vehicle to keep product at its freshest. We have known this for a few years and have always been looking and saving money to try to get to this point. This year it was finally time and we couldn't be more excited! We want our product to look and be of the highest quality when you open your box to take home the fruits of our labor. With refrigeration from the time it's picked from the field, washed and packed, to the time it is delivered to your location we will no doubt be making huge strides in accomplishing our goal. Now, for some clever signage on our new rolling billboard!

 

 

FARM NEWS:

Well we received exactly what we were asking for. We got just about 2 inches of rain between all the little rains this past week. We are sufficiently soaked as we write this newsletter this morning. Summer squash are in full bloom, tomatoes are beginning to really set fruit. Broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, fennel, beets, carrots, beans and corn are all racing ahead with this extra shot from mother nature. The bounty is just around the corner, we can see it daily around the fields, and it feels good to know we will begin to be more than just a salad bar here in the few weeks to come. We will finish up planting the 7,000 sweet potato slips and the dry bean planting by late this week, and then it is on to mostly succession plantings as all of our main crop has been set out in the field. It has been an unusually chaotic planting season between planting all of the new perennial plantings, establishing new grassways & pasture along with the main vegetable crops.

I am happy to see the end of the spring planting rush! We will have one more large planting at the end of June into the first of July for fall crops, otherwise it is just our weekly greens plantings to worry about. We now begin the shift into maintenance and soon full on harvest mode. Not only is the bulk field work behind us but this also means the bulk of the expense for the season is now behind us as well... Always a relief to know we made it through that part as well! Cruise control? Not quite, but definitely a welcome shift in tasks.

Plant sales are pretty much done for the year with the exception of some annual flowers that we will continue to bring to market and have for sale at the store for a few more weeks. 

Happy ordering!

Nate, Emily & kiddos

 

 

Posted 5/24/2015 9:33am by Nate & Emily Parks.

Happy Memorial Day! Thank you to all of our men and women who serve this great country of ours.

The online store is open as the spring salads continue. Remember the ordering deadlines this week: the store will close Tuesday at 8:00am for mid week deliveries and Thursday evening at 8:00pm for weekend deliveries. 

Click here to place your order!

 **please make sure you are clicking the submit order button at the bottom of the order page and also check your inbox for the email confirmation of your order!  We receive several phone calls and emails weekly from members wondering where there order is when, in fact, the order wasn't completed to its entirety.  

**Also, we will be better about labeling boxes.  In our farm family, there are a lot of duplicate last names which causes confusion during pickup.  We will be labeling some boxes with first and last names.  Please pay attention when grabbing your box that you are getting the right one. 

Hope for some rain and ripening tomatoes :)

Nate, Emily, Jensen, & Macy

 

 

 

Posted 5/17/2015 9:11am by Nate & Emily Parks.

The online store is open until Tuesday at 8:00am for mid week deliveries and Thursday evening at 8:00pm for weekend deliveries. 

Click here to place your order!

 

We have had many questions about the weather and how it's been affecting us this spring. With scattered rains almost daily, it seems we may be in the target often. We have actually had a great run of nice rains followed by a lot of field work. So far the spring has been cooperating with us. Talking with all of my other "farmer buddies" we are all still a bit puzzled by the slow growth of outdoor plantings.  Last week's cool down definitely slowed growth, but it seems something else must be affecting us. Overall, the fields look great and are filling up rapidly. Although planting will continue weekly through September, the bulk of the establishment for the year is in the ground and growing well. 

This is a panoramic view of all of the outdoor tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and the first planting of cucumbers. 

We have four fields that are really exciting to see this year! We have wanted to establish some long term perennial fruit and vegetable plantings for several years now. This spring we made huge strides in getting that accomplished. 150 trees have been planted in our new orchard!!  We planted mostly apple trees along with a few pear trees.  All are a beautiful site as you pull into the farm now. Along with the orchard, a half acre of asparagus, raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, grapes, strawberries and goosberries are all established and growing well! This is so exciting for the long term future of food coming from our farm! Those first apples are no doubt going to be the best we've ever had....even though it will take 4-5 years to get there!  The trees are hard to see in the pictures below because they're still small, but they're there!

apple trees

Speaking of strawberries, you will probably notice the first fruits beginning to show up at markets in the next week or two. For the first time in 7 years we will not have May/June strawberries. Ours will become available mid-July and last through frost sometime in mid-October. We had been using an annual based system of planting plugs in the fall and harvest the following spring. The last two years that system just hasn't worked for us and has been a real frustration and money pit! So we have changed back to the standard system of planting in the spring, maintaining all year and then harvest the following year. This will mean huge bounty next spring with more than an acre of berries planted! To make sure we have berries for our members we are using a "day-neutral" variety in one of our greenhouses. This type of berry will bear 60 days after planting and continue to fruit until frost. A much more labor-some type of berry to pick because the fruit is spread out over a long season instead of a large flush all at once in the spring. But it means we will have some berries after the main, local season is over!

We have our first tomato beginning to turn pink! We will be eating it by June 1st, I'm sure which is awesome! Should have a nice supply by July 1st I would imagine, as June is the month when the bounty explodes. 

Egg cartons, calling all egg cartons!  The nesting boxes have been placed back inside the chicken wagon and so the girls can get ready to lay like crazy.  Until then, we need to replenish our supply of egg cartons.  If you've been collecting them all winter, we'd love to take them off your hands.  Drop them off at your pickup location and we'll put them to good use.  Thank you!

More good news is that our family is growing as the farm does!  Yes, we are expecting baby Parks #3 in mid November!  Emily is feeling great as usual and the kids were excited to hear the heartbeat last week and are full of questions.  Jensen says, "it better be a boy because we have WAY too many girls around here!"  We shall find out in November!

Have a great week!

Nate, Emily, Jensen, Macy, and #3

 

 

 

Posted 5/10/2015 8:24am by Nate & Emily Parks.

The online store is open until Tuesday at 8:00am for mid week deliveries and Thursday evening at 8:00pm for weekend deliveries. 

Click here to place your order!


 

We had another rocking day at the Broad Ripple Farmer's market!  Both kids tagged along and were fantastic helpers!  We will continue to have plants - vegetable and flowers - through the end of May for planting in your own gardens and containers.  Don't forget you can visit us at our farm store on the farm as well to purchase your plants,

We are anxiously awaiting for our hens to start laying eggs.  We are anticipating it will be mid-June.  Please help us replenish our egg carton collection by upcycling yours to us!  You may leave them at your pickup locations or drop them off to us at markets.  Thanks in advance!

The infamous mystery item returns this week...what will it be????

Happy Mother's Day!

Delivery Day on 10/25/2017March 6th, 2017

We deliver to the following areas on Wednesdays: Kokomo, Lafayette/West Lafayette Logansport On Farm - Rossville

Delivery Day on 10/18/2017March 6th, 2017

We deliver to the following areas on Wednesdays: Kokomo, Lafayette/West Lafayette Logansport On Farm - Rossville

Winter delivery season has come to a closeJanuary 14th, 2017

We made it! Your Farmers made it! This week will be the last of our winter deliveries. Not to worry, however! We will resume weekly deliveries the first week of May. Winter greens and veggies have

Happening on the Farm