The 2018 farm season will be burned into our psyches forever as the wettest and most devastating year on record for our farm. In the past 13 years we’ve been farming here in Perkasie, and the 19 we’ve been farming overall, we have never experienced a year like this. If you’ve been following along with us on social media, then this will come as no surprise to you. Or maybe the rain has impacted you personally- you’ve tried to garden, or have your roof repaired, found mold growing in the dark corners of your house or your basement flooded for the umpteenth time. Maybe you suffer from SAD in the winter but actually felt it this summer, or you are a contractor, landscaper, or arborist struggling to find days to work. Perhaps you just noticed the prevailing gloomy weather and the constant downpours, or you’ve seen the reports that we are about 20 inches of rain above our entire annual average for the region, and the year is not over yet.
Here at Blooming Glen Farm we lost field after field after field of crops- to flooding, to rain stress, to rot. We saw a noticeable lack of pollination in crops that were still able to survive- tomatoes and eggplants and sweet corn that either was unable to pollinate during the extreme summer heat events, or dropped blossoms in the heat, or didn’t see enough sun. Crops we have consistently seen succeed in the past, through no fault of our own, were complete and utter losses. Yet we kept trying- we sowed carrots 5 times- that’s seed and labor costs, to see no rewards. The same for fall broccoli- early successions rotted before harvest was possible. We lost our entire field of brussels sprouts, all the fall cabbage, at least half of our winter squash and 2/3 of our potatoes. Fennel and radicchio and lettuces either bolted from the extreme temperature swings or water stress. Weekly plantings like salad mix and green beans were unable to go into the ground consistently due to a lack of any dry ground, only mud. Early spring plantings struggled along, stressed and stunted, like our pick-your-own cherry tomatoes, or completely died, like all our spring peas.
As much as the farm has struggled under the strain of endless extreme weather this year so have your farmers. The most challenging part of this season was simply having to find a way to keep going, to not hide under the covers every. single. day. Our best efforts were not enough to bring crops to harvest and it is really hard to feel so helpless week after week. We always carry the notion that things are about to get better, the weather will turn, the plants want to grow, the harvest will come. This year really tested that belief and our spirits.
We are not telling you all of this so that you can throw your hands up at supporting a local farm (please don’t!), and return to the comfort and convenience and glorious array of trucked and flown in produce at your local grocery store. We are telling you all this so you can be reminded even more so then ever, of the connection that the weather has to your local food system. Your local food system is not Florida or California or even New York; it is Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, and most specifically right here in Bucks County. Your local farmers faced an undeniably crippling season and we need your support now more than ever.
Despite all the challenges we faced this season, the opportunity to grow food for you all is still what keeps us going year after year. Cultivating this community of eaters is one of our proudest achievements and we are not ready to throw in the towel quite yet. If there is a silver lining to be found in this terrible year, it is in the strength of the model of a CSA farm. Without the commitment from the CSA to share the successes, and failures, of whatever the season may bring, we’d be sunk. And at the backbone is the idea that we are all interconnected, a web of the weather, the farm, its crops and its ecosystem, the growers and the eaters. If nothing else we want our loyal supporters to walk away from this season seeing the connection between the weather and the food on your dinner plate, and hearing the voices of your farmers, who I truly believe are on the front lines of climate change- the canaries in the (pollution spewing) coal mine so to speak. And to really understand that though there are many ways to buy and support local (and we need them all), it is truly the CSA model that will keep farming viable in a changing climate.
And call us crazy but we are optimistic (or we will be after some time away to reflect and re-energize) that it can’t be this terrible again, and hopeful that if it is, then we, with the support of our community, will find a way to adapt (more high tunnels!). Though we know that this year did not have the same diversity of offerings, and certainly not the top quality that we so pride ourselves on, we still managed to provide a share of delicious organic vegetables every week to our CSA members. In order to do that we completely eliminated our wholesale sales, and saw a drastic reduction in our farmer’s market income. Despite efforts to cut our biggest expense, labor, there was still always work to be done, and those repeated attempts at planting, came at a cost.
How can you help? We are asking, we are pleading really, if you are planning to return as a CSA member for the 2019 season, and we hope that you will, that you register before Jan. 1st , and pay in full if at all possible (if you can’t, that’s ok too- we’d rather you register and just pay the down payment then not register at all!). We will not be able to offer an early registration discount- we are in a serious financial bind and need every dollar of the share cost- however we will also not be raising the prices at all. In addition, if you are at all able to make a small, medium or even large donation on top of the cost of your share- whatever you can afford- it will help us immensely to weather this storm, and be able to keep paying our fixed costs like rent, insurance, and payroll throughout the winter, as well as move forward with ordering all the seeds and supplies for a new season of sowing.
We are so grateful for those of you that reached out to us over this past season- whose kind words of encouragement and support bolstered our morale. And for the CSA members who’s delight in their shares each week was unwavering, for those of you who strapped on your rain boots to tromp out to the muddy fields and returned with smiles as bright as your flower bouquets. We are so grateful for the farmer’s market customers who came out every week, despite more limited selections and a seemingly endless streak of rainy, windy Saturdays. We are so grateful for all of your support, in receiving the gifts of the harvest that were hard won this season, for taking the time to cook, eat and enjoy a nourishing meal with your family (and in turn for going easy on yourself when maybe a head of lettuce went uneaten or a kohlrabi lay buried in your crisper drawer). We know that meal preparation can often be an incredibly difficult task in its own right in these busy and challenging times. Just as in farming, we can only learn by trying, we may not always succeed but hopefully we triumph more often than not. Thank you for being with us on this crazy farming journey, whatever the weather may bring.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving and have a restful, healthy, joyful winter. Here’s hoping for sunnier skies in 2019. (The last CSA shares of the season are the week of Nov. 13th.)
With many thanks and a grateful heart, your farmers at Blooming Glen
Tricia and Tom and the BGF crew
**Click here to Register for the 2019 season.** Returning members, look for the green bar at the top that says “Returning Member? Click here to Continue”. Please email us at email@example.com if you have any questions or issues with your registration.
Post and photos by Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen farmer and co-owner. Tricia and her husband Tom have been farming together since 2000. Blooming Glen Farm is celebrating its 13th season bringing high quality certified organic vegetables, herbs, fruits and cut flowers to our local community.