Welcome, again, to this first year of partnership with Oakleaf Mennonite Farm! This first day of harvest has been a long time in coming. In January, we started planting seeds with all of you in mind. It was still chilly then—if you can remember – but we were able to coax most of the plants into life inside the greenhouse. We had a longer winter than usual. One local farmer told me that last year the daffodils bloomed in late January, this year: early March. But once the warmth came, it really came. At the farm, we set broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collards and kale out in early march – as soon as we could get into the ground. The quick warmth, however, was really hard on a lot of those crops. We have as much as given up on broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage for the spring. Hopefully, we’ll have more conducive weather in the fall! But, rest assured we will have plenty to eat! Greens are growing well now.
We have arugula, mustard, mizuna, tatsoi, turnips and lettuce all growing at the farm. We’ve also had really good fortune with onions and radishes. We have some good stands of carrots and some beets that should be coming in the next month or so. And of course all of our summer stuff is out and growing happily in this warmer weather. Before we know it, we’ll be enjoying the first tomatoes and peppers of 2010!
We want to thank you all – once again – for deciding to be a part of our CSA. You are the reason that this farm has been able to get off the ground…seriously. One thing the Community Supported Agriculture model does is help farmers guarantee themselves a certain amount of income. Your payments allow us to meet necessary expenses without borrowing money.
Since you have decided to join with us, it is possible for us to see a future growing healthy produce within the city limits of Atlanta. And beyond just growing food, you enable us to work in other areas toward food justice for all. Already this spring, we’ve had classes from Candler School of Theology (at Emory) visit us – learning what we’re up to and considering how they might work for food justice as leaders in their own communities. We’ve received over 40 volunteers who’ve put in hundreds of collective volunteer hours – learning first-hand what it means to grow fresh produce close to home. Your memberships have also helped pay for our seed, which are not only now growing in our gardens, but in gardens all over the city. We were able to sell some plants and have shared many with others who are doing good work with food around town. And we feel like the breadth of our work has yet to be realized.
One congregant at Berea Mennonite Church plans on organizing a few free meals from the garden and conducting a few classes on food preparation and preservation. We’ve been in contact with a community organization that employs young people (who otherwise can’t find jobs) to work in various places around the city. We hope this connection is fruitful and hope that we can be a part of keeping local youth, money and talent where it should be – right here in Atlanta. In November, a group of religious scholars from around the country will convene in Atlanta and tour the farm as we all consider what role church communities might play in the food justice concerns in this nation. We are excited! And we’re glad you’re going to be a part of it all!