“In the loss of skill, we lose stewardship; in losing stewardship we lose fellowship; we become outcasts from the great neighborhood of Creation. It is possible – as our experience in this good land shows – to exile ourselves from Creation, and to ally ourselves with the principle of destruction – which is, ultimately, the principle of nonentity. It is to be willing in general for being to not-be. And once we have allied ourselves with that principle, we are foolish to think that we can control the results. -Wendell Berry, The Gift of Good Land

Hi Friends & Farm-ily!

We hope October has been treating you well.

This week’s newsletter was inspired by the Farmer to Farmer podcast. Farmer Brian and I have been enjoying the Farmer to Farmer podcast with host Chris Blanchard. Back in August there was an excellent interview with Dan Kaplan (long-time manager of Brookfield Farm, a nonprofit 501(c)3 farm and one of the first CSAs in the U.S.) In this episode they discussed at length the core values of CSA and how CSA, like no other farming model, is about consumers and producers sharing risk (which means sometimes sharing loss). Check it out here!


Farming is the ultimate adventure. (ad·ven·ture “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome). Every growing season is different. It’s the same farm, farmers, types of vegetables, animals, etc but in nature things are constantly changing. A method that you might have used successfully in years previous may not pan out in years to come. There are new challenges, new pests, new diseases, crop failures, drought, extreme change of weather patterns and many other things in nature that are beyond our control.

There are of course many successes throughout the season: abundance of certain crops, better management techniques, better successional plantings, more adaptable varieties, healthier soils, healthier plants, many bountiful meals, experiential learning, growth, and know how to get through the challenges mentioned above.

At heart of farming there is risk. It takes the experience of these successes and losses to manage that risk and it is through its management that Brian and I become the most productive members of society we can be.  And ultimately, it is this concept of shared risk that allows us to be the best farmers we can be.


Our CSA members know the true meaning of shared risk.  The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model is rooted in the transparency of relationship and immediate community that allows them to understand that they are in this with their farmers through the thick and thin of the season.  And they also understand that nowhere else in our modern day lives does the producer want them to know about loss. Our culture hides it well. At its core is the modern day conveniences of finding an overwhelming amount of abundance at the grocery store any time of the year. This modern day model tries to create a very controlled experience and as much as this model tries to hide loss or risk it comes at a great cost… whether “the cost” is an underpaid farmer or the exploitation of migrant laborers, or the many miles food travels when it doesn’t have to, the fossil fuels it takes to get to where its going, the runoff and pollution of our streams and rivers, or the great disconnect between the consumer and their food (i.e. “Do carrots come from the ground mom?”) Our members understand that this system does not provide our community with the opportunity to live the most healthy and productive lives, or ensuring the health of our families and the health of the ecosystem its derived from.

In nature, nothing is guaranteed. Months of planning, prepping, planting, and tending to crops can be lost in an instant. When I was farming back east, after months of tending to our tomatoes, the dreaded late blight would roll in and take the crop and sometimes before the crop had really even begun. Once a hurricane whirled through and shut down my season early.  A whole seasons worth of effort shut down in a matter of 24 hours. Loss is a part of nature despite all the work and all the plans… nature waits for no one.


As you guys know this year has been an unseasonably hot and dry season (and continues to be). At times it was unbearable to labor in the heat but it forced us to come up with better ways of working around the sun. In order to produce the same amount of produce we produced last season we had to work twice as hard and even then some crops never paned out. Our summer carrots had to be tilled under because they were enveloped in a carpet of weeds. The weed pressure among other things this season had us scrambling but again, forced us to come up with better strategies for management as we are just two people and there are only so many hours in the day (especially when it’s blazing hot outside). Through these challenges we come up with the best solutions that we can. Nothing is a silver bullet solution on the farm but we hope that being adaptable helps us to grow better and make the unpredictable nature of farming a little bit more controlled.   Nature has a lot to teach us and by golly, do we learn.

We experienced a major crop loss this year for the first time with our potato crop. Normally, this crop is a no brainer for us. For the past 5 years our potato crop has always gotten better with each passing season. For the last two years, we even had enough of a bumper crop that we were able to save our own seed potatoes so that we could plant even more than the seasons before. This year we’ve been watching our potatoes (all 2,000 ft) and although they all had “eyes” when they were planted, the plants that emerged were spotty. We wondered if water was an issue. So we replaced drip lines and watched closely. A little while later after we hilled it looked as if they were under attack by a new to us kind of flea beetle. Despite our best efforts of amending, composting, watering, hilling etc it is the first time where we have experienced a total crop loss. In June we were worried that the crop wouldn’t produce and we planted a few back up rows of taters for our Winter CSA. Thank goodness for the quote “the only way out is through” because when you’re digging up rows, upon rows of taters and coming up short it’s hard to stomach the idea of pushing through and continuing the job. But we got through it. It was a hard blow because we spent so much time composting, fertilizing, prepping, cutting seed, hilling, watering.. you name it only to experience loss in such a real way.


It’s interesting, that as a farmer, even though you experience loss on a daily basis, that loss never leaves you.. it still very much affects you. I feel as though it is this connection to loss that we grow to appreciate nature and the world around us. We see things differently and our perspective changes. No matter what the circumstances, we do our best – giving it 110%. We respect the World around us and sometimes despite our best efforts it doesn’t always work out like you think it will. We work long hours and devote much of our time to growing the best damn food that we can for our members and our community. To ensure that everyone is fed well week by week. To build the soils and invest in this piece of dirt so that it will feed our community for generations to come. This model looks towards the future…

Through loss our community is connected to the shared risk on our farm and I feel that is truly a special and unique thing. That by supporting our farm their understanding of nature, the seasons, the bounty, the loss …all of it brings them closer to their own place in nature with the added bonus of supporting a farm that they can get behind, know, trust and thrive with. That together we can live more productive and healthier lives and feel connected to the piece of dirt that nourishes us all. Together we are investing in the future… one that we believe in!


And to put it in perspective just how quickly things do change.. just a few weeks after we harvested spuds, we harvested the most sweet potatoes we’ve ever grown in the past 3 years. One variety was even pumping out twice as much as we had projected for. In farming, you just never know what a season, week or day will bring…. and the success of farming is based in optimism… for both the farmer and the consumer (our members)… we have to hope for the best even if we’ve just experienced the worst. Through experiencing both the shared loss and shared bounty, both the Farmers and CSA members experience satisfaction of doing something and having it work. Despite all odds we’re in it together and whether things go smoothly or nature throws us a curve ball that community is there rooting for us every step of the way.

Thank you all for believing in us and this farm and for partnering with us in this adventure. We will continue to give it 110% with the goal of feeding you all the best damn food possible while being good stewards to this land, learning from nature every moment that we can and growing better with time.

All the best,

Your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts