• team Prema

Tenacity and Tomatoes {Week 10 CSA}


Perseverance is the name of the game in the high desert. The plants need it as much as the farmers do, and this season is no exception.


We've brought up how humbling farming is before. In fact, it's likely our most used adjective as we face a steady stream of challenges each season. This year, the most prominent hurdles have been a wildly late frost on the heels of a long stretch of hot weather, much stronger winds than we normally see in the summer, blowing seeds and irrigation all over and limiting germination rates, irrigation challenges stunting growth in certain crops and decimating thousands of baby plants, quail and vole pressure on new plantings, and a mysterious and sudden drop in tomato production about four weeks too soon.


Most of these hurdles go unnoticed by our shoppers. Sure, we might have a two week gap or so in our carrots (voles) or sell out of chard sooner than normal (wind), but there's never much speculation around it. Our latest challenge, however, is a more obvious one. The truth is, our tomatoes wouldn't be producing for much longer this summer, since we start them so early in the season. We're typically the first local farm with ripe tomatoes for sale (minus indoor hydroponic systems) because we seed our tomatoes in January and carefully prepare them for a March planting in the ground. By mid to late April, our cherry tomatoes are ripe and ready, and our larger tomatoes follow shortly behind.


We have to do it this way. Tomatoes are by far our most expensive crop to grow—from the early season propane to the high season labor costs—the economics of growing tomatoes on our small 1.5 acres requires us to have tomatoes when very few other producers do. We also have to get a head start on our very tight growing season. As a year-round farm, we need to clear out our greenhouses in August for planting fall and winter crops. This means pulling all of our tomatoes up when most local farms and gardeners are just getting theirs to ripen! Alas, we wouldn't have winter crops if we didn't. But losing over 70% of our tomato production in July is not part of this calculation. This was a sudden turn we faced last week when our plants literally halted growth, including ripening. There are numerous factors to consider, like limited nutrition (tomatoes are huge feeders), failures in our irrigation or air circulation systems, over-pruning, and on and on. Our approach was to immediately augment nutrition with a heavy dose of compost while awaiting soil test results, test our greenhouse systems for any faults, and to pause pruning while watching how the plants respond.


While we still have some older fruits to harvest, it's wait and see on how the new growth will shape up. We increased our tomato production by 300% this year to meet our goal of having tomatoes in the majority of our CSA boxes this season and we're hopeful they'll make a comeback so we can work towards that goal. When you do see them brightening up your box, you might just savor them a bit more knowing that the end of their run with us is near! It's worth mentioning that this is when a CSA really shines. A farm connected to it's community (via Community Supported Agriculture) yields a mutual understanding of each others' goals and limitations. Garnering support for our work before the season even begins requires that we're transparent in our operation, as you deserve to know how your pre-season investment is fairing. While it's easy to focus on the disappointing hiccups a season presents, it's an unbalanced view. The bounty of this season cannot be overshadowed by the hurdles. The spread of more than thirty crops we display at market and in our online shop each week is a testament to nature's generosity, and we're far more humbled by her gifts than our gripes.

Our "tomato forest"might not look lacking, but it needs to produce an

incredible amount of fruit to break even.

Inside Your Box This Week


Beets

Carrots

Collards

Spring Mix

Napa Cabbage

Oak Leaf Head Lettuce

Cucumber

Bok Choy

Scallions

Recipes Worth Trying...

{click images to go to recipe}




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For helping pave a way forward for regenerative agriculture.

For investing in young farmers.

For buying local.

We're honored to nourish you!







PREMA FARM

Located 20 minutes North of 

Downtown Reno,

1350 Long Valley Road

Phone: 775-513-1518

Email:  info@premafarm.com

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