Hello everyone

Hello CSA and friends of Shalom Orchard,

Some of you will be getting this newsletter from us for the first time as you have indicated you want to join our CSA. We welcome you to our farm family and thank you in advance for your support and friendship. We, in turn, pledge to do our very best to bring you wonderful, organic fruit, veggies, chicken, lamb, eggs and wines throughout the season.

We hope everyone had happy holidays and we wish you the very best in this new year! Even though it is cold and ??snowy, the seeds and plants know the days are lengthening and that spring is just around the corner. I spent three wonderful days last weekend planning and ordering some seeds that I will need early for growing seedlings. We don’t have a heated greenhouse, so I contract with Chuck Webber in Lamoine, who is certified by MOFGA, and he will grow our seedlings. It was such a wonderful time laying out the garden on a grid and thinking about how many row feet we need, what varieties to plant this year and, generally how to grow things smarter and better. We will plant our early spring hoophouse in March with lettuces, mesclun, spinach and other greens. We hope to have greens available in April this year!!

It looks like we will have close to twenty members in the CSA this season! News of good, fresh organic veggies spreads quickly! This will be close to our full capacity. We have doubled the size of the gardens this year and as I was laying out the space I was moaning “it’s not enough space”, much to Jim’s and Khimba’s protests!

I want to take your preferences and suggestions into account in my planning so now is the time to make them known! What are your favorite veggies and varieties. Here are some of the suggestions so far:

-more lettuce mix
-can’t get enough peas
-more fall storage veggies (we didn’t have a long enough season last year due to the May rains)
-14 weeks of pickups rather than 12 to include apple harvest and fall veggies

Please send us your ideas – after all, this is your farm too! We are thinking of adding, in addition to the harvest dinner, May Day and Solstice celebrations. We think it would be fun to celebrate the turning of the seasons with all of you more often! More on this later.

We are planning to extend the pickups to 14 weeks and to offer a “half share” price. So the shares will have three levels: $10/week = $140.00
$20/week = $280.00
$30/week = $360.00

Payments are due March 1. However, we will be glad to work out installments as long as they are not spread out too late in the season. I’ll send out a reminder and more info in Feb.

We are happy that about five of our members are from Mt. Desert Island!! This will enable them to carpool. We hope we can get a couple more people in the Bangor area, so you guys will have less driving to do. Spread the word!

We had a good holiday with the boys home from college for a month and a house full of their friends. I skipped out for a week to RI to get my grandkid fix, and Jim joined me for New Year’s weekend. While there, I met with my son Ben’s boss, Chef Ed. As you all know (since I go on and on about my kids), Ben is a passionate and accomplished chef, working at a very exclusive golf course owned by the Mashintucket Tribe who runs Foxwood Casino. Ben is in charge of the Member’s dining room – there is a visitors dining room as well. Last summer I took a cooler of veggies down to Ben to have fun preparing. Chef Ed was very taken with our veggies and wants me to supply the Members dining room! This will be a logistical challenge, probably involving overnight shipping, but will be fun for Ben to cook with our veggies and I was very gratified by the interest!

Jan. 6 our first lambs were born!! They are both males and really cute – bring the kids to see them. We still have one ewe about to lamb any minute.

We are interviewing apprentices now and hope to have two with us this year. We have had applications from two different couples with a young child, so maybe we’ll have a little one on the farm this summer.:)

We still have potatoes, onions (especially large, beautiful red ones) and garlic, chicken and some lamb chops available. And, of course, the wines are always for sale.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you all soon!

Thank you,

Jim and Charlotte
Shalom Orchard