Agriculture Supported Communities
Agriculture Supported Communities: Notes from the Field
November 5, 2013: Greetings from the farm! Here it is, the last week of deliveries for the season. It has been a wonderful stretch this year and, at the risk of sounding like an awards show, I want to thank everyone who has participated in any way for adding to the richness of the ASC Farm Share Program.
Besides all of our loyal and committed members, with which this program could not exist, I would like to take a moment to recognize some of the other contributors that that make this program a success. First, I would like to thank all of the community sites who have been hosting ASC distribution days for six months: Lehigh Valley Academy, Sacred Heart Hospital, 13th and Green Elementary School and Rodale, Inc.
I would also like to thank all of our other collaborating partners in Allentown: Envision Lehigh Valley, Jordan Heights Neighborhood Association and Buy Fresh Buy Local Lehigh Valley for reaching out and activating the community as well as staffing our Allentown site each week. And we want to give a big thanks to St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for opening up their site to start our first season of a Saturday Farmer’s Market on 7th Street in Allentown. Thanks to all for increasing access and availability of fresh, local organic foods to our community!
We have also received support for the ASC this year from many outside organizations that came in different forms. Thanks to Johnny’s Selected Seeds, High Mowing Organic Seeds and Seedway for their donations which have grown into the delicious food you enjoy each week. Thanks to Ames Tools and Corona Tools for their donations that helped to plant and harvest our crops. Thanks to Global Hunger Foundation who supported the growth of the ASC this year with their funding. And thanks to Lehigh University who we partnered with to create a wonderful new education program that links the community with their food and became an excellent teaching tool for our internship program.
We have had so many dedicated volunteers this season who really lent a hand when we needed it most. Thank you to the Lehigh Valley Flames, to the teens from Goodwill Industries, and all the other folks who spent anywhere from few hours to many days working with us regularly over the weeks harvesting, weeding, planting, processing, prepping seed starting mix, and many other field chores needed to get delicious fresh food to you!
The ASC Interns this year have been a dedicated and extremely hard-working group that deserves recognition here: Sam Moll, Erica Parker, Amy Baringer, Heather Smith, and Chris West. You see at least one of them each week when you pick up your produce. These people have committed their lives for the better part of a year to growing food, learning all they can about different aspects of organic vegetable production, and developing their own business plans. The Rodale Institute is a stepping stone for these folks; they are gathering tools to continue this work in their own communities.
We grew food for the ASC Program on four acres this season but, within this acreage, each intern also had their own individual quarter acre plot that they were solely responsible for managing throughout the season. They had to design a scaled-down plan that included all the varieties we harvested throughout the season, then maintain, harvest and record their yields. This was in addition to the work that needed to be done on the larger production area. Very often they would choose to work long extra hours to upkeep their plots and increase their production. Their individual yields were integrated into your shares each week; sometimes they were added to the larger harvest and sometimes they were smaller amounts offered in a choice. They did a fantastic job!
The intern team also committed months of their time to composing a business plan with the help of Lehigh University’s Business School, ILR Program and the Small Business Development Center. On their “down time” these individuals have been preparing presentations, doing market research, composing mission statements and cash flow analyses. Plus they are regularly adding to our website in the form of recipes and blog perspectives. They are fully immersed and I cannot imagine a better group of people (mind, body, and spirit) to come together for the success of this program. Thank you, guys! You rock! And I know that this experience will shape the next step of your path in some way; I look forward to the next chapter.
Speaking of next chapters, 2013 ASC Intern, Sam Moll, was recently hired as the Rodale Institute’s Seasonal Greenhouse Manager and we are excited and happy to have him on staff!
If you had a positive experience this year and would like to renew your ASC Membership in 2014 please click here. We will soon be opening up membership to the public, so reserve your space today!
Since this is our last week, we are cleaning out the fields and harvesting everything that is close to being ready. It may be a bit of a hodgepodge with lots of choice, but it is sure to be fun and delicious! Here are some of the things that we will be harvesting:
This week we feature BEETS and ESCAROLE! Soup season is upon us and a nice warm bowl is a perfect cozy meal when the wind chills outside. I offered up a couple of beet soups; they both looked so good, but different, it was hard to decide!
There is an entire recipe pagein the ASC section of our website (see navigation menu to the right). Feel free to visit and use them over the winter and dream about the 2014 harvest! Thank you all for a wonderful season. Have a wonderful winter!
Until next season…Eat well!
Food Production Specialist
Rodale Institute’s ASC Program