A Tough Season, But We’re Still Standing.

Here is the electronic version of our annual year-end newsletter  (We also are sending it your way through the mail in case you like to curl up and read it by the fire).  Either way, we hope you check out the sweet pictures of the year that was and start to thinking about fresh greens in the spring and the barefoot days of summer to come!! 

Winter comes and goes these days, but even if it does feel like spring sometimes, there are still a few minutes to take some time for a good look back at last year.  It’s tempting to turn away from the past season; from what ended with one difficulty after another. It might be more fun to forget about all of the rain, all of the mud, all of the rot and set our sights on a mythic future – a hopeful place where all seeds turn into bountiful fruits. That’s how I approached this year-end review, but, as the ray-of-light-curmudgeon that I am (at times), I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The mud was certainly there. And the rutted roads. The rotten broccoli and non-existent Brussels’ sprouts. But so was the bounteous sweet potato crop, and big melon harvest, the new young families making first memories in the sandbox, the unsolicited donations, and acts of kindness.  Eventually after it was all written down, and we began to try and make some sense of it all, a picture of our vibrant little farm, in the midst of a turbulent world, emerged.   

Overall, the growing season was the most challenging in our history as managers here at the farm (24 years). Record rainfall caused widespread crop losses after August. Still, with a great crew and three very big storage crops (squash, sweets, and spuds), we harvested and distributed over 250,000 lbs of fresh produce. We were not able to successfully implement our desired management restructure. However, we learned some very important lessons along the way, and re-committed ourselves to our previous management scheme with enthusiasm. And, largely due to cost control and some timely unsolicited donations, we find ourselves with a larger profit margin than anticipated, a fully-funded capital account, and all loans paid off on time. Our senior share was three times more popular than we expected and our overall retention rate remained steady-and in some categories hit an all-time high. We were able to maintain a full and dynamic slate of outreach activities, which continue to help us to live up to one of our commitments-to make this farm about “more than just vegetables.”

None of this could be possible without the continued contribution and commitment of shareholders, donors, friends, and relatives who support us financially, emotionally, and spiritually. This is brought into focus when we go through such a challenging season. We are more convinced than ever that the most important work we do on this farm is stewarding our relationship with our supporting community of eaters, cooks, nature-lovers, parents, seekers, children, activists, sisters, and our land.  For this we thank you, as always, and hope that through the following pages you can get a glimpse of some of what your contribution has helped to grow and nurture in the past year.  

Your Farmer,

Dan (for Karen, Abbe, and Ellen)