Trustees: Brian Drayton, Naomi Schoenfeld, Donna Riley, Lincoln Geiger, Alice Groh, Ashley Renwick, Anthony Graham.
Farmer: Elad Sadeh
Lincoln read a farmer meditation by John Rollinson.
There was no study. We decided that our next study item will be Essay 5 in ‘Farms of Tomorrow Revisited’ by Trauger Groh and Steven McFadden.
Ashley briefly reported that ReVision is finishing up the survey for the solar electrical system and that they feel that the project will soon be moving forward.
Brian opened the meeting by stating that the main topic would be to focus on an exploration of future possibilities and that it would include a financial report from Naomi.
He then announced that Elad would see out the season and be leaving the farm, both for personal reasons and also because he feels that the state of the fields does not allow him to produce the amount of vegetables that are needed by the membership.
Elad provided an overview of the fields. With more than 14 inches of rain in July and continuing cool, cloudy conditions with constant bouts of rain, a lot of the crops are suffering. Recent plantings of broccoli and kale might be alright but a lot of the brassicas suffered from early drought and heat, along with flea beetles, followed by anaerobic conditions in the soil due to the constant rain.
Tomatoes are slowly starting to turn red and some peppers are beginning to ripen. Onions are weedy but it looks like we could get a decent crop. Winter beets and carrots will need a lot of weeding and thinning but could be ok. Summer and winter squashes are not happy but the pumpkins and butternut are looking better than the others. The potatoes, celery, celeriac and leeks seem to be doing well.
We have checked around and a lot of local farms are suffering the same issues.
We are looking into purchasing vegetables and are contacting Brookford Farm, near Concord NH, and Harlow’s in Vermont.
There have been a few complaints from members about the amount of produce and we discussed how to help them put this into context, given that other farms are experiencing similar problems.
It was suggested that members be asked to help with weeding and that perhaps we should see if those who have the funds could help those who are having difficulties paying their pledges.
Elad will send an email to tell members about the season’s issues and the board will also be informing them that Elad is leaving. We need to come up with a departure date and we need to have an idea of what will happen next year, so that we know, for example, whether to plant garlic and save potatoes for seed.
In looking at next year we need to look at options that might be different from the current model in order to continue.
Young Farmer Group
The sub-group of the board (Brian, Alice and Anthony) that has met a couple of times with Elad to look at how to attract younger farmers, has discussed a number of options, but there has not been time to deal with them. The following points were raised:
- it seemed important not to rush to come to a solution.
- perhaps a year or two of rest for the farm – a ‘jubilee year’ or two
- having Matt and/or Anthony growing some vegetables and supplementing with bought in vegetables
- allowing a natural attrition of members and restarting with fewer members and a better rotation
- growing starter plants for people to grow their own gardens and teaching them how to do it
- finding a vegetable grower who can see our vision and grow into the position organically, so that their vision becomes a part of our vision
Elad stated that he cannot commit to grow the food that is needed because the fields are worked out, so we have to keep that in mind in looking for a new farmer and try to mitigate the situation in some way.
We will have to put together a fairly immediate plan for next year, and something more comprehensive for the longer term.
Naomi has been doing a lot of work on the farm’s budget and shared some of her thoughts with us.
She noted that the form of our budget has come from QuickBooks and is driven by the needs of a tax report, whereas she feels that as a community looking at how our farm functions we should keep the same line items and numbers but rearrange them in a form that makes sense for the farm, rather than the IRS.
This would mean that we would have a ‘QB budget’ for tax purposes and a ‘farm budget’ for everyday use. As the year goes along the two budgets will have to be reconciled with each other.
She shared copies of both budgets so that we could experience what she was telling us.
Naomi also has been working on the financial status of the creamery in relation to the farm. She is still working on the details but at this point it appears that we are not as financially dependent on the creamery as we had imagined. When the final figures are worked out it might turn out to be the other way around!
Lincoln closed the meeting with a blessing that he had written.
Monday 16th August at 7pm in the Garden Room.