October 2015 Newsletter

Prime Pizza Pi + Ronan joins the team

Ronan rolling out pizza dough

A few weeks ago our good friend Ronan moved out to Amherst to join us and start a retail food business. On Saturday, October 17th we launched Prime Pizza Pi at the Village Hive in Amherst. Through Saturday, December 19th Ronan and Oren will be making hand crafted pizzas for pick-up at the Village Hive and delivery to the Central Waters Brewery Taproom (where Hava will be taking orders!). Polly will be in and out of the Brewery Taproom tending bar and/or delivering pizzas. The pizzas will feature produce from our farm as well as ingredients from 4 other local farms.

We decided to start Prime Pizza Pi as a 10 week pilot to use up extra produce and test the retail food waters. Ronan is preparing to study farm-to-table cooking and cuisine in Ireland this January through March at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. If the pilot goes well, we will resume making pizzas in the late spring.

Come have a pizza (and maybe a beer) any Saturday from October 31st through December 19th between 3pm and 9pm. Check out our menu and specials at facebook.com/primepizzapi
In addition to pizza, Ronan will be making bread and pastries which will be on sale at the Village Hive on Sunday mornings starting November 1st.

Fall Storage Shares and Farmers Markets

Our Fall Storage Shares started last week.  The shares include carrots, winter squash, onions, shallots, garlic, potatoes, cabbage, kale, watermelon radishes, parsnips, winter greens, and more. Our first box weighed in at over 30#, and we were very excited to send home lots of good food with members for the cold months ahead!

We have one more Saturday at the Appleton Downtown Farmers Market and we will be at the indoor Appleton Winter Farmers Market on November 21st. Our produce will also be available at the Village Hive in Amherst until we are out.

2015 CSA Closeout

Cherry tomatoes ripening in our hoophouse

Last week marked the final week of our summer CSA season. This year was a whirlwind of hoophouse building, breaking new ground, carrying loads of compost, and non-stop harvest days. But, if you don’t mind us saying, we are quite proud of the boxes we have provided to our members!

Our tomatoes were hit with a late blight in mid-August, but a hefty harvest of peppers, cucumbers, and summer squash prolonged the taste of summer through early October.  After months of watching the foliage sprawl, we gathered hundreds of butternut, acorn, sugar dumpling, and spaghetti squash for curing and storage.

A page from Elyse’s ABC zine

Our Farm Artist program provided an additional perspective to our farm and food. Elyse-Krista Mische sketched out whimsical and practical pictures featuring components of organic farming, vegetables. Rebecca and Mathias Reed joined us for a CSA harvest/pack day to capture the process in photographs and film (view it here). The growing season passed in a blur, and we’ve appreciated the creative works of the artists as reflections of our daily labors. We plan to continue our Farm Artist program next season. If you or someone you know may be interested, get in touch with us and keep an eye out for our request for proposals.
Onions, squash, and root crops are out of the field (with the exception of parsnips) as we prepare for the hard, cold frosty nights ahead.

2016 CSA Sign-up Open (with discount!)

We are already planning and scheming for next season – CSA 2016!  We will continue to offer weekly and every-other-week options.  Pick up locations will be in Appleton, Stevens Point, Neenah, and Amherst.

We have a 10% early-bird discount for any CSA members who sign up and pay in full on or before December 15. As we prepare for next season, your commitment means a lot to us.  We will be using the early sign-up funds to purchase our 2016 seeds and seed starting materials (potting soil, compost, etc.)
Our CSA sign-up form is available on our website → HERE.

Organic Cost Share

The cost of organic certification can be a turn-off for many farmers whose growing practices may otherwise qualify them to be certified.  This year we certified with Nature’s International Certification Services. We paid $635 for our application and inspection and owe half of a percent of our gross revenue at the end of each quarter. The total cost of certification is pretty significant when we are bringing in less than $40k.

Luckily, the State of Wisconsin facilitates an Organic Cost Share program. The application is barely more than filling out a W-9 and we will receive a 75% reimbursement for our certification costs.

Financial Update

As we close out the season it looks like we grossed around $33,000 total through CSA, markets, and wholesale produce sales. This is at the low end of our plans and expectations, but it has allowed us to make our loan payment for the year and cover our living expenses. Our farm expenses have been pretty close to our budget, totaling just under $15,000 so far. This winter we plan to publish a full financial report.

New Farm + plans for next year

Hava and Oren finishing the securing of a hoophouse endwall

At the end of September we started renting a 15 acre farm just south of Amherst. The farm has a house, barn, two fenced pastures, and woods leading up to the Tomorrow River. We’ve been told the swimming hole is the best around, but the water is a little too cold to test at this point in the season.

Our vegetable production will remain on our 2-acre plot in Custer, but we are excited to have access to fenced pasture and infrastructure for animal husbandry. We are looking into raising a few lambs and laying hens next year.

The new farm is the same distance to our vegetable acres as our previous apartment, but the drive seems faster without the stoplights. We are now just a few minutes from Amherst and the proximity has already made it easier to develop relationships in the community. The house is also significantly more spacious and has re-opened the opportunity for us to entertain guests! We have already planned a large multi-family Thanksgiving celebration!

Where to find your farmers

Appleton Farm Market:  Saturday, October 31
Appleton Winter INDOOR Market:  Saturday, November 21
Prime Pizza Pi:  Saturdays from 3:00-9:00 pm through December 19th.  Ronan and Oren will be making pizzas at the Village Hive in Amherst.  Find Hava and Polly at Central Waters Brewery, where they will be slinging pizzas and beers, respectively.
Midwest CSA Conference:  December 3-4 2015  Oren and Chris Holman from Nami Moon Farms will be sitting on a panel about land access for beginning farmers.

Until the turkeys roast,

Hava Oren & Polly

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