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Highs and Lows {Week 7 CSA}

The undulating nature of high country farming meets the uncertain future of climate change to offer more proof that local farmers are, in fact, totally insane.

Or just up for a wild ride. Be it a 22-degree night in the middle of June or triple digits at the very start of it, you agree to expect the unexpected when farming up here. But that doesn't mean it won't hurt.

Despite now having four solid years of hard-earned lessons under our belts (and the system upgrades they've inspired) we are keenly aware of how little we know out here. How easy it is for nature to remind us who's in charge. Farmers are the most tangible investors out there, and just like Wall Street, our best approach in the face of endless risk is to diversify. We accept that some amount of failure is certain, and we move on to the many successful harvests ahead.

Amid a booming season, failures linger everywhere. The recent steep dips and climbs in our daily highs and lows (with our hottest day in the last two years coming at the start of June, followed by two nights below freezing just a few days later) created some unprecedented challenges for our young outdoor beds.

You see, we've learned which varieties to grow outside up here and we cherish them. Romaine that can withstand 70 mph winds (and even taste better with them!), roots that will faithfully search deep for water, brassicas that revel in the cool, high altitude nights. But like all creatures, even these hardy varietals are vulnerable when young. The intense fluctuations of the last couple of weeks have meant that many of them (too many of them) just couldn't make it. It's hard enough to promote root growth when sweltering heat makes irrigating a full-day affair, but add in a swing to freezing temperatures and the odds get stacked against them. Our 12-day streak of nonstop winds also made survival impossible.

Losing hundreds of baby plants now means losing a sizable portion of the late summer harvest in a couple of months. We're replanting and reseeding to try to make up for as much as we can, but so much of farming is quickly lost to time. The seeds that needed to be planted 3 weeks ago to be harvested on time. Or the hours needed to reseed and replant immediately that are tied up in the harvests due now. With the majority of our operations hinged on the proper timing of each stage of plant growth, a failed crop is often just that.

The biggest threat to this delicate dance of managing crop schedules and vulnerabilities is the worsening uncertainty of our climate. High country farmers like us ironically have it a bit easier than our coastal compadres, since we're more adapted to and equipped for intense temperature fluctuations. The thing is, we like outdoor crops. We enjoy eating them more, we enjoy growing them more, and we're opposed to covering our entire farm in greenhouses and all the plastic, energy, and complexities they bring. Besides, even greenhouses are susceptible to the unknown terrain ahead.

So what does the future for farming look like up here? Or anywhere for that matter? Where is climate change pointing us, even without diving into all its tangled causes? The answer is that climate change is placing everyone else where farmers have long been: in that ever murky space of more questions than answers.

From our own practiced comfort amid discomfort, our lesson to share is one of flexibility, diversity, and that the closer we are to the soil, the better listeners we become.

Farmer Zach perusing the beauty and demands of peak season farming.

Inside Your Box This Week

Slicer Tomatoes

White Kohlrabi Purple Radishes

Napa Cabbage

Head Lettuce Curly Kale

Salad Mix Bok Choy Scallions


Recipes Worth Trying...

{click images to go to recipe}


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