THE BEET: VOLUME 16; ISSUE 10

FULL SHARE & YELLOW HALF SHARE

Pick up today: 5pm - 7:30pm at PS 56 on the corner of Gates and Downing

Of CSA Note!

  • PLEASE, PLEASE bring any extra plastic bags that you might have on hand!! We are running desperately low on extra bags for members who've forgotten to bring bags for their shares. And, on that note, please bring your own (ideally reusable!) bags for your shares :)
  • If you haven't placed an order from Lewis Waite Farm, give it a go! Lewis Waite offers a la carte meat, poultry, dairy, bread, and a number of delicious pantry staples from a variety of farms and small-batch producers. Orders are placed via Lewis Waite Farm’s easy-to-use online platform. You pay as you go, and order only what you want. Delivery to our CSA pick up site is free, and arrives every other week. 

This Week's Share

  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Lettuces
  • Garlic
  • Kale or Swiss Chard
  • Sweet Corn 
  • Radishes or Cabbage
  • Fruit: Blueberries

News from Windflower Farm

On this Monday following our open house on the farm, we are pleasantly tired. Heavy rains on Saturdaymorning threatened to spoil the weekend, but in the early afternoon, just about the time CSA members began to arrive, the sun broke out. Turnout was good, the food was great, and we all made new friends. Thanks to all who came.

I have just abandoned today’s bean harvest. Nearly a quarter of an acre of beans are ready for harvesting, enough to keep all of our shareholders and the food pantries we serve in fresh green beans for the next two weeks, but my machinery has broken down. I’ve been on the phone with my John Deere sales rep and the manager of his service department, making sure that the tractor isn’t the cause of the problem, and I’ve spoken with Jim Watson, the man from whom I purchased the harvester, but to no avail. The problem has to do with the hydraulic motor that powers the vacuum that separates the leaves from the beans.     

Jim, who is from Ontario, is one of two men (the other is in Kansas) who seem to control most of the secondary market for green bean harvesters in North America. The biggest names in harvesters had been Byron, Pixall and Oxbo, but now, because they have purchased the other two, there is only Oxbo. A new one-row unit sells for just under $50,000. Mine is a 20-year old Byron 105, and I purchased it for $17,000, which I imagine is several thousand dollars more than it sold for new. But that is how it is in agriculture: farmers make their equipment last, and it’s value –new or used – relates closely to the market value of the work it can perform regardless of age.

Two sets of hydraulic motors power the unit: one turns a gang of fingers that rip the beans and leaves off the plant and deposit them on a belt that delivers them to the top of the harvest bin. The other sits atop the harvest bin and powers a fan that sucks the leaves upward and blows them out the back, allowing the heavier beans to drop into the bin. I was on the first row of beans when hydraulic fluid began to rain down on the beans in the harvest bin. The overhead fan motor sprang a leak. Back in the barnyard, and with the assistance of an ice-cold Hair Raiser, I removed the motor and began ripping the seal apart. It will take a couple of days to get new parts here.

Salvador, who has worked on the farm for over 10 years, questions if the purchase makes sense. He knows the machine’s cost, he knows his own wage, and he knows how fast he and the members of his family can harvest beans. For this week, at least, the question is academic. We’ll have no choice but to harvest by hand. Replacing people with machinery (a long-time trend in agriculture) has never been a goal of ours. We’d simply like our work to be easier, our time well spent, and to earn enough of a profit to be sustainable.  

Have a great week, Ted