2021 – Three Sisters Community Farm’s 10th season – is coming to a close next week! And what a season it was.
We trialed our first Spring Share in March – the most challenging time of year to produce local produce –and it was a success. We hope to expand this offering in 2022 and beyond.
Our Summer Share filled up earlier than ever. We delivered (working with new local delivery company Farmstead Logistics) about 180 boxes each week, serving over 250 families – the most we’ve ever served.
We weathered – through lots of sweat and extra work moving irrigation around -- an epic early dry spell with minimal crop losses.
We learned, in August, that Kelly’s 100+ hours of toil on a USDA Rural Development Grant earlier this year paid off. This funding gives us a real boost to take Three Sisters to the next level – more on that to come.
While a few finishing touches remain, we largely completed a 3-year, member-financed infrastructure upgrade project. The final component -- a new packshed, complete with a big new cooler and more professional vegetable washing and handling equipment – is ready to go for the 2022 season (for which signups will open in December!).
Not many small, local farms make it to 10 years, and we’re pretty grateful to be where we’re at. After 10+ years of this crazy work we’re also, to paraphrase Willie Nelson, “surprised to find our minds (and our bodies!) still fairly sound.” So, what’s next? What do we feel is being asked of us, from you our members and from the times we live in? And how can we artfully steward Three Sisters into a new phase in a way that meets everyone’s needs?
Even before the past couple years, the message we’ve gotten from supporters and from observing our larger societal situation is clear: our work is needed! Specifically:
• We strive to grow healthy, fresh food with integrity and openness. Such food, unfortunately, is rare. It’s understandable, then, that our customer base has been asking us to serve for more people, and for more of the year. For the past few years we’ve reached our membership goals earlier and earlier, often having to turn many interested people away.
• Nature in general and agricultural lands in particular need help and healing. The land is asking for more attention and care. Such efforts take time and resources. We’re blessed to steward 33+ acres of land and have implemented (in partnership with our like-minded landowners) a host of practices aimed at building soil, encouraging biodiversity, and increasing pollinator habitat.
•Friends, acquaintances and people we haven’t even met yet are asking for a positive place to volunteer, work and contribute to the greater good. We strive to create a space for farm-centered social healing, a place where urban and rural people alike can exchange ideas, increase awareness of and participate in responsible land stewardship, and engage together in meaningful, mindful and enjoyable work.
•Internally, Jeff and Kelly are asking to reduce the burden of too much responsibility and be more realistic and proactive about drawing a salary from the business to meet modest personal needs – all while compensating other helpers fairly and equitably.
How will these needs be met? Stay tuned for the next installment.