Transition Farm - Summer CSA- 2018

 Pear Tree blossoms Oct 2018

Pear Tree blossoms Oct 2018

Its Spring! The fruit trees are flowering, the winter green manure crops are being incorporated, the glass house is full of seedlings, radishes are popping out of the ground, the bees are busy!

 Heirloom tomatoes in the glasshouse Aug 2018

Heirloom tomatoes in the glasshouse Aug 2018

 French Breakfast radish Oct 2018

French Breakfast radish Oct 2018

 Snow peas climbing Sept 2018

Snow peas climbing Sept 2018

 incorporating green manures in preparation for the planting of field tomatoes Sept 2018

incorporating green manures in preparation for the planting of field tomatoes Sept 2018

 Spring weather Sept 2018

Spring weather Sept 2018

Our biodynamic practices have continued and feel further enriched as we connect with more bd farmers. Having traveled to farms in North America this June and July, we realise that our practice of building humus to feed the “cash” crops as opposed to using organic/synthetic fertilisers is not frequently done. Our principles of nurturing our whole farm ecosystem, using flowering hedgerows throughout our growing space and making soil health a priority all support the vibrant diversity of life on the farm - Healthy soil leads to healthy plants, animals and people.

After taking a break last Season, we are happy to be growing crops for our CSA again - the harvest will begin in November! We will be growing a smaller number of weekly/fortnightly boxes this time around and we have put those for sale on our website. We have split our seasonal blocks up into shorter commitments - to try and work in with School Terms, Christmas Holidays etc - our first 6 week box season will start Friday 16th November and run through until Friday 21st December. If you would like to get a box for this 6 week season please purchase it via our website at http://www.transitionfarm.com/farm-store/ - you have the option of a weekly or fortnightly box. All boxes are available by Farm Pick Up only and the Farm Pick Up Hours are Friday 10am to 6pm.

 Market style farm pick up at transition farm

Market style farm pick up at transition farm

This season, we will also be growing to order for four restaurants - collaboration with these chefs is exciting and offers us a different perspective of our produce. We will be running variety trials this season - “blind” tastings of different varieties of carrots for example and asking chefs to fill out a questionnaire about the taste and texture of each variety. It is a wonderful opportunity for them to experience different flavours - and it helps us as farmers to have further information about the flavour and usability of certain varieties as we pursue the art of seed saving and selective breeding. We are growing several new onions, lettuces, carrots, capsicums, cucumbers, pumpkins and beetroots which we will be trialing in the field and on the plate. Many of these varieties will also be in our CSA shares.

 Onions transplanted in the field Oct 2018

Onions transplanted in the field Oct 2018

 Tomatoes transpiring - these early tomatoes have been planted in a polytunnel with the aim of having christmas tomatoes for our csa - Sept 2018

Tomatoes transpiring - these early tomatoes have been planted in a polytunnel with the aim of having christmas tomatoes for our csa - Sept 2018

The majority of growers, large and small scale, use hybrid varieties. Plant breeders are offering growers disease resistance, heavier yields, crops which “travel” and, in the case of supermarkets, lettuces which do not rust when cut. And while these are all great traits and/or advances in plant breeding, we have found that many of these hybrids have less flavour.

We are pursuing farmer led breeding - choosing varieties which have great flavour and texture and then selectively breeding other traits we need as market growers such as disease resilience, hardiness through unusual climate events (such as 5 straight days of 40C+ temperatures) and high yield. We are trying to produce seed that can rival a hybrid making it worth the space in a market garden. This is a new endeavour for us and we are excited about how it furthers our goal of local food security.

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This season, we are growing 45 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. And we are also growing heirloom/open pollinated lettuces, onions, celeriac, cabbages, capsicums, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, radish, turnips, eggplant…the list goes on! With all that, we also do trial hybrids as we have found some great ones which preserve flavour even while offering the other benefits. We believe in flavour and strive to offer our CSA members and restaurants produce with beautiful colours, textures and tastes.

 Lettuce trials - october 2018

Lettuce trials - october 2018

We wrote a post last Autumn and then never sent it…If you are interested in our “time off” musings, you can read them here… http://www.transitionfarm.com/seasonal-notes/transition-farm-autumn-2018.

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And as we are in the season of wildflowers…our six Warre bee colonies are prospering, having survived Winter very well! We continue to find them a source of interest and their honey is outstanding! The Warre hives are managed so that the bees are constantly renewing their wax and the honey that we harvest (when there is excess that the colony does not need) is filled with fermented pollen. This will be available at farm pick up to our CSA members. We are so lucky to live in an area where our major nectar flow is leptospermum…manuka honey - It’s healing qualities are amazing!

You can follow the seasonal changes on the farm on social media:

www.instagram.com/transitionfarm

www.instagram.com/transitionfarm_robin

www.facebook.com

With Spring comes hope - with more small farms striving towards regenerative practices growing throughout Australia, we hope that more people can access clean local food. You can view a directory of CSA’s online and also there is a directory of farmers accredited markets. Know your farmer and support those who are nurturing our earth and our communities through their great growing practices!

Wishing you all a wonderful growing season ahead!

Robin and Peter

 Randomly selected CSA weekly share Autumn 2017

Randomly selected CSA weekly share Autumn 2017

Transition Farm - Autumn 2018

 Peter sowing the winter green manures APRIL 2018 - Autumn/Winter brassicas

Peter sowing the winter green manures APRIL 2018 - Autumn/Winter brassicas

It has been almost a full year since Peter and I admitted that we were dead tired.  We had hit a wall in late February, which is pretty normal for us vegetable farmers.  We can usually manage to pull together the last of our strength to get through March.  But when summer stretched into April...late Autumn/early Winter 2017 feels a bit like childbirth- we got through it and even though the Winter rest blurred how exhausted we had become,  we decided to take a year off from running our CSA. The 2017-2018 growing season saw 2/3 of the farm fallowed with green manure crops. We grew just for our family and a few restaurants.

 sunflowers, pumpkins, squash, rosemary - FEBRUARY 2018

sunflowers, pumpkins, squash, rosemary - FEBRUARY 2018

And we took time. Time to spend with our children and each other. Time to nurture ourselves. Time to enjoy where we live. Time to research more about soil, farming techniques, seed. Time to connect with other growers.

We continued to experiment with new crops and also grew to order for the restaurants - the chefs ordered in July 2017 for the whole season ahead.  We were a state winner for our chicories in the Delicious Produce Awards - in great company with many other small scale sustainable producers.

 Cicoria Photo Credit Mark Roper Photography for Delicious Australia - MAY 2018

Cicoria Photo Credit Mark Roper Photography for Delicious Australia - MAY 2018

So what have we been thinking about...this whole growing season… 

We love growing food.  We love soil, soil life, ecosystems in relationship, plants, vibrant produce, health and community thriving.  We love why we started farming and we believe that those ideals are the ones to carry forward.

 Lavender, green manure crop and pumpkins - DECEMBER 2017

Lavender, green manure crop and pumpkins - DECEMBER 2017

When we were thinking about starting a CSA, we  identified several sustainability indicators that we wanted to achieve on our farm:

  • Providing local food security

  • Conserving the natural resource base

  • Being socially responsible

Interesting that one large sustainability indicator that was left out was us and our family.  We approached our farm as a business...which a financially viable farm should be. But farming is so much more…

We now think if this farm is to continue as a CSA- instead of asking how can this business make money, we need to question what does the farmer need; what does the farm need; what does the community need.

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What does the farmer need?  Our farm is like another child.  Its needs are acutely felt, with high priority.  This is not unusual...we are learning...among farmers. So we need to accept that the farm needs to be equally balanced in our lives with the health of ourselves and our children

 buckwheat, rosemary and sunflowers - FEBRUARY 2018

buckwheat, rosemary and sunflowers - FEBRUARY 2018

What does the farm need?  The farm needs to be healthy...that seems like a given.  To keep the farm healthy, we need to view it as a whole ecosystem, protect its resources, help to build humus, continue to proliferate diversity, and grow nutrient dense produce to sustain ourselves and our community - The farm needs the community just as it needs the farmer.

 summer lettuce

summer lettuce

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 trialing new crops

trialing new crops

What does our community need?  That is such an interesting question.  Our larger community continually tells us that they want access to our produce - BUT...not everyone likes our CSA system nor do all restaurants want to preorder.  Throughout the last eight years of running our CSA, we have spoken of balance, crop rotation, food waste, economic sustainability.  And balancing all of this with offering what people want when they want when it suits them is not always possible. We would love a consistent weekly farmers market here on the peninsula but as of yet, the farmers markets move from place to place. And we have explored farm gate options with the council. We costed building a suitable farm stand, putting in the ample parking required and the additional costs of manning that stand. At this time, we are not able to pursue that option and question the amount of land we would need to clear.

We continually feel such gratitude to our CSA community and the restaurants we supply for supporting our farming endeavours and ideals and really making us the farmers we are today.

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We have looked at this time off as a sabbatical - a learning holiday. But as that time draws to a close, we are finding ourselves lingering in the space of being - and staying committed to our promise to each other to not make any decisions until July-2018. We just wanted to share with you our musings and gratitude for all this season has brought.

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We do hope that you are all revelling in late Autumn too.

Robin and Peter

Moving from Summer into Autumn

 A randomly selected CSA share from Week #10 of our Summer Share

A randomly selected CSA share from Week #10 of our Summer Share

With Autumn approaching, and a forecasted hot week ahead, we are reflecting on the cool, moist summer we have had here in Southern Victoria.  Many of our farming friends in other states have been coping with very dry and hot Summer conditions, while we have been hoping for more heat to ripen field tomatoes and doing what we can to ward off the mildews and fungal diseases encouraged by the moisture.

Our Autumn CSA begins on Wednesday 8 March (Fortnightly Boxes) or 15 March (Weekly Boxes). If you would like to learn more, read through our online Farm Store. You can also use this link to see what crops we are growing this Autumn and/or check out our album of CSA shares from last year on facebook.

Growing within polytunnels has helped our harvest of warm weather crops like tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants and chilies through the summer and with some of the bounty of these crops just starting, we are looking forward to continuing to harvest them into the Autumn.

 Eggplants...the plants are over a metre high now.  We have been using string lines to help them support their fruit.

Eggplants...the plants are over a metre high now.  We have been using string lines to help them support their fruit.

 Capsicums maturing within this unheated polytunnel Peter and my nephew Aleix built this Spring

Capsicums maturing within this unheated polytunnel Peter and my nephew Aleix built this Spring

 Field tomatoes and pumpkin patch

Field tomatoes and pumpkin patch

 Field tomatoes finally ripening!

Field tomatoes finally ripening!

The beans, potatoes, greens and other roots have been thriving in the fields. Most have enjoyed the cooler weather although sudden heat waves have caused more stress then we have seen in the past...the plants have not had the chance to acclimate to temperatures over 30!

 Summer Beans

Summer Beans

 Wheel hoeing beetroot.  Potatoes to the left, herbs to the right and Autumn leeks and celeriac in the background

Wheel hoeing beetroot.  Potatoes to the left, herbs to the right and Autumn leeks and celeriac in the background

 Summer Beans and Lettuce - with green manure crops preparing soil for Autumn Pea plantings

Summer Beans and Lettuce - with green manure crops preparing soil for Autumn Pea plantings

We choose to not plant corn and melons this season.  Last year we lost three corn plantings to foxes...yes the foxes here eat not only rabbits and chickens but corn, melons, tomatoes, capsicums, berries!!  Corn takes up alot of space.  Without a great solution to keep the foxes from the corn, we choose to use the space for other crops.

Melons can be a hit or miss in our temperate climate.  The hot summers we have had have produced wonderful harvests.  But in cooler seasons, it is difficult for the plants to thrive. 

Our Summer Share CSA members have received Basil, Beetroot, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Beans, Capsicums, Carrots, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Chilies, Coriander, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Garlic, Kale, Lettuce, Onions, Pimiento de Padrons, Parsley, Peas, Potatoes, Radish, Rocket, Silverbeet, Spinach, Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Tomatillos, Tomatoes, Zucchini. Each week the shares continue to be varied - with each share receiving between 10-15 items.  You can view photos of the shares here.

 Market Style Farm Pick Up

Market Style Farm Pick Up

We also changed our CSA structure so that all the shares have been collected on the farm this season.  Many CSA members have told us how much they enjoy seeing the seasonal changes and choosing their vegetables at the market style pick up.  Several have organised pick up groups sharing the weekly collection between 2-4 families.  We have enjoyed the more direct relationship with many of our members.

This season we have also been providing a few crops to restaurants - building relationships with chefs!  We are enjoying the shared passion about ingredients, the continued desire to grow high quality, tasty produce, and the exposure chefs can bring to small scale agriculture.  Our farm will be featured in this weeks Weekly Times and Organic Gardening Magazine Australia is also interviewing us for an article and photographing some of the beautiful pumpkins we will begin to harvest this week!!

 Part of a restaurant order

Part of a restaurant order

 Harvesting these  'P  otimarron' or 'Red Kuri'  pumpkins this week

Harvesting these 'Potimarron' or 'Red Kuri' pumpkins this week

Pumpkins growing this year for the Autumn CSA include: Marina de Chioggia, Queensland Blue, Galeaux d'Eysines, Red Kuri, Musquee de Provence. Japanese Futsu ... Pumpkins are starting to rival tomatoes in the availability of so many different varieties!  And while many squash originated in Mesoamerica, the heirlooms from all over the world are finding an audience.  We continue to trial new ones looking for varieties that thrive on our farm and that have great flavour!

 Farm filling up with Sunflowers for the end of the Summer season

Farm filling up with Sunflowers for the end of the Summer season

 Red Frilled Lettuce

Red Frilled Lettuce

 coloured heirloom carrots

coloured heirloom carrots

 The first broccoli for Autumn forming heads

The first broccoli for Autumn forming heads

Biodynamics describes this time of the season as the last big exhale of the earth.  We can see that in the expression of fruits and the height of many plants.  As farmers we too are still working hard to bring in the harvest of so many crops and seed, transplant and nurture the crops for Autumn - in the next few months we will be "reaping what we sow" as the seeding slows down for Winter, we harvest the crops for Autumn and Winter...some sown in August of last year...and store the pumpkins and potatoes that will feed us through the Winter. The colours and shapes of the Autumn CSA shares are a reflection of the Spring and Summer.  And just as the Earth starts to breathe in, as the days shorten we contemplate the growing season we had and plan for the next.

To our CSA members who support our growing endeavors - Thank you!! We could not grow the way we do without you!

Our Summer Share sold out and we expect the Autumn too as well.  If you are interested, please read more on our online Farm Store.

Spring Planting - Spring Weather ...lots of photos!

There are three weeks to go until we start harvesting for our CSA!!  Even though it has been a grey, cold Spring with lots of rain, most crops are growing well and thriving.  The greens and onions are loving the weather and we have managed to get on top of the weeds during the sunny days. And the polytunnel tomatoes are flowering and setting fruit.

 Lettuce and herbs growing in Mandala

Lettuce and herbs growing in Mandala

 Tomatoes for the Christmas boxes coming along in the Polytunnel

Tomatoes for the Christmas boxes coming along in the Polytunnel

 Salanova lettuce

Salanova lettuce

 Zucchini mulched and gaining size with the few warm days we have had - still covered at night for extra warmth and late frost protection

Zucchini mulched and gaining size with the few warm days we have had - still covered at night for extra warmth and late frost protection

 Frosty morning late October

Frosty morning late October

The eggplants and capsicums have been held a few extra weeks in the greenhouse while Peter and my visiting nephew Aleix constructed a new polytunnel.  Getting the plastic on in between the wild winds we have had (70km gusts for days!!!) was a challenge but it is ready for tomorrows planting!!

We are growing eight different varieties of capsicum this year -  white, yellow, orange, red, purple, brown and of course green - bell shaped and the Italian longs.  We are also growing several varieties of "frying peppers' who's flavour is enhanced through a quick toss in a hot pan. Some are sweet and make a great addition to pastas, salads and sandwiches and some like the 'Pimiento de Padron' may have a bit of a bite...one of their endearing attributes!  Others can be pickled to enjoy through the Winter.

And we have extended our eggplant varieties as well to include more heirlooms known for their lack of bitterness.  These are great to put on the barbecue or over a fire as well as using them in ratatouille, stir fries and curries.

 Eggplant ready to plant out in the field

Eggplant ready to plant out in the field

 Capsicums ready for transplanting

Capsicums ready for transplanting

 Polytunnel being built in Front Paddock

Polytunnel being built in Front Paddock

 new (recycled) polytunnel almost completed and ready for planting this seasons eggplant, capsicums and chillies

new (recycled) polytunnel almost completed and ready for planting this seasons eggplant, capsicums and chillies

The snow peas we want to harvest for Christmas are looking good.  And while the carrots have germinated, we expect them to take off with more warm weather. The beetroot are happy with the cold.  And the potatoes and first bean planting have just started emerging from the soil.

We have been using Biodynamic 501 (ground quartz crystal) which helps plants to tighten their pores (ward off fungal diseases) and supports their use of light!! We hope this will help the tomatoes, garlic, zucchini, and cucumbers ward off any fungal diseases during this moist and cool Spring. And have continued to use Biodynamic 500 when we incorporate green manures to help the transformation from organic matter into hummus.

 Snow peas and carrots for the Summer Share

Snow peas and carrots for the Summer Share

 Applying BD501 in the early morning - Kale and bok choy growing well

Applying BD501 in the early morning - Kale and bok choy growing well

 Manadala Fruit Trees, Herbs and Flowers

Manadala Fruit Trees, Herbs and Flowers

 Chicken tractors working through the market garden

Chicken tractors working through the market garden

While we attend to the crops, our CSA for the Summer (15 weeks from 30 November - mid March) is filling up with members purchasing their shares through our online shop.  There are 20 CSA shares still available for Wednesday pick up - the Friday/Saturday pick up option has sold out. If you wanted the Friday/Saturday option, you can join for Wednesday and send us an email to go on the wait list for Friday/Saturday.  If a space becomes available, we will let you know. 

We have had many families making small pickup co-ops to share the weekly vegetable collections.  Some have used the Facebook group TRANSITION FARM CSA to find each other.  If you would like to find other families to share the weekly vegetable collection, and use facebook, please find the group and ask to join.  There may be other CSA members in your area. We have members in Balnarring, Merricks, Red Hill, Frankston, Langwarrin, Mt Eliza, Mt Martha, Dromana, Rosebud, Rye, Blairgowrie, Sorrento and Portsea...I could be forgetting a suburb. 

We have a few work share volunteers joining us for the summer share.  A few more would be great!  Our work share volunteers commit to working with us one day a week throughout the 15 week season.  In exchange for their help, they learn alot about our ecosystem and market gardening techniques and leave each week with a box of vegetables.  We have loved working with our work share volunteers and have also loved seeing them branch out...some have started their own market gardens!!  There is more information here...

This season we are focusing on growing higher quality crops - better tomatoes, bigger capsicums, a larger variety of greens and herbs.  We are excited by the variety we are growing and by the challenge of continuing to harvest tasty food grown using biodynamic principles.  We have chosen to try and grow better -as opposed to growing bigger- and are trying to ensure that our precious resources are preserved and enhanced throughout. 

And while I ponder concepts that seem highly managed, I also continue to be amazed at the intricacy of the natural system and inspired to work within it.

 Integrated Pest Management...Lady bird in the chervil!

Integrated Pest Management...Lady bird in the chervil!

 The bees drinking their honey...and capping virgin comb.  The bees are enjoying the abundance of nectar this season,  We have housed a swarm and are converting two langstroth hives into warre boxes - 4 warre hives on the farm all thriving!!

The bees drinking their honey...and capping virgin comb.  The bees are enjoying the abundance of nectar this season,  We have housed a swarm and are converting two langstroth hives into warre boxes - 4 warre hives on the farm all thriving!!

Peter and I continue to share photos of the farm and thoughts on farming on instagram (@ transitionfarm  and @transitionfarm_robin ) and facebook.  We wonder if home gardens are having an easier time with the frosts and wind.  Here's hoping you have fruit setting, greens thriving and beans and potatoes popping out of the ground!!

Summer Share November 2016

As we prepare more of the paddocks for planting and keep on top of the seed sowing and transplanting schedule, we move closer towards our harvest season.  Our CSA shares for the Summer season are now available through our online farm store!

 Prepping the fields

Prepping the fields

 Tomatoes in the 4" soil blocks being transplanted in the polytunnel

Tomatoes in the 4" soil blocks being transplanted in the polytunnel

 Zucchini tucked under a row cover to protect them from the wind, hail and cold nights of Spring.

Zucchini tucked under a row cover to protect them from the wind, hail and cold nights of Spring.

 Lettuces, endive, escarole and celery - hardening off to prepare for field transplanting

Lettuces, endive, escarole and celery - hardening off to prepare for field transplanting

 Kal, bok choy and broccoli hoed in between Spring rain.

Kal, bok choy and broccoli hoed in between Spring rain.

We are excited that our CSA Summer Share boxes will be starting on Wednesday 30th November. The Summer Share will run for 15 weeks and then will be followed for a 15 week Autumn Share.

 CSA harvest box from Autumn 2016

CSA harvest box from Autumn 2016

In taking the time last year to thoroughly evaluate our business - reviewing everything from the health of our soil, the quality and variety of our crops, our business model and our financial viability, we thought alot about our CSA model, pondering the advantages and disadvantages.  We are often asked why we do not have a farm store? Why don't we sell our produce at markets? Why do people who would like to buy our produce need to sign up to our CSA? 

 Heirloom Carrots - June 2016

Heirloom Carrots - June 2016

Currently on the Mornington Peninsula, there is not a consistent weekly farmers market.  There are many markets available throughout the month but they are in different locations on different days of the week.  While we did consider trying to attend the accredited farmer's markets, it is impossible to grow produce for harvest on two days each month.   And if we took to traveling to a different market each week, it would be very hard to establish a consistent clientele who would know and value our produce.  This was one of the first reasons we choose the CSA model.  We wanted to connect with those consuming our produce.  And we wanted to provide them the opportunity to interact with where and how their food was grown.

 Heirloom Greenhouse Tomatoes - January 2016

Heirloom Greenhouse Tomatoes - January 2016

Once we started our CSA, we realised that one of the biggest differences between this model and the way we had sold the produce from our first farm in 2003, was the concept of market value.  We had experienced the stress of the rise and fall of market value with our first potato crop.  There are many variables in farming which are completely out of the farmer's control.  We could bear up to those that came with nature.  But it was disheartening when the variables controlling the "worth" of your produce could offer you a fair income one week and then not even make it worth the effort to harvest the next.  But market value extends to the consumer too.  How is it that the first season tomatoes or zucchini or beans are so much more then those later in the season?  We enjoyed that through our CSA model, our produce was removed from market value.  Instead we have based the cost of the share on the actual true cost of growing the food, using biodynamic and organic methods, hand tending, hand harvesting.  It has taken us several years to work out what this "true" cost is.  And it has also taken us several years to become better growers.  I feel as if throughout the process, our CSA members supported us and in return they received wonderful produce at a great price per kilo.

 Field Crops on the farm - January 2016

Field Crops on the farm - January 2016

And here we are today with award winning produce.  Why don't we open a farm store, making our produce available to our greater community without them committing to our season?  While I appreciate that there are many people within our community who would like to support our farm but do not want to join our CSA, we cannot quite get our heads around having a farm gate.  Firstly, we would need to build a farm stand closer to the front gate and then ensure it was always attended to protect the quality of the produce (and honesty in payment).  But another draw back to the farm gate in our opinion is the first come first serve nature of it.  At this time, our harvest is completely divided fairly between all of our members - whether they are the first to pick up their box or the last.  They all receive the same.  I love this concept of sharing.  I also love that there is virtually no waste within this system.  We are not left at the end of the week with extra produce.  And if we do have a huge surplus, we give it away to several organisations within our community which offer meals to those in need.

Another reason why our produce is so tasty, nutrient dense and also why we can grow it without chemicals is our crop rotation plan.  We have a ten year crop rotation which ensures great diversity and balance throughout our farm.  While we have spent the past five years gathering information about what our CSA members like and what they would like less of, and we have used these guidelines to plan our crops, our crop rotation does limit what we can grow.  The CSA boxes allow for the diversity. We are unsure if a farm stand would.

 Transition Farm - Market Style Farm Pick Up - June 2016.  This was a huge success last year and we look forward to tables piled with the colours of the season at CSA pick up days.

Transition Farm - Market Style Farm Pick Up - June 2016.  This was a huge success last year and we look forward to tables piled with the colours of the season at CSA pick up days.

Commitment and shared value.  Our CSA members pay in advance for their produce.  Their payment comes when we have spent thousands on seed, have already invested hundreds of hours nurturing crops, have purchased additional specialised tools and/or new systems which allow us to grow better.  All of these costs happen throughout Winter and early Spring.  And in return for their commitment, we grow the best food that we can.  We put row covers on and off each day...sometimes three times a day...to try and ensure early season warm weather crops.  We shade crops to help them withstand the intense summer sun.  We seek out the best tasting varieties.  We share the triumphs and the struggles of the season.  We establish a community that has the health of its food and of the system that grows it at its core.  This is a very different system to that of a farm gate.  It is quite amazing!!

I would like to have more options for the community to access local food.  But for this year, we are only offering our CSA.  Within that model, though, there are options.  Members can receive their share weekly or fortnightly.  They can share their box with a friend.  They can choose the zucchini they want or the size carrots they like.  They can swap items with other members at pick up. They can have a say in what we grow by communicating with us about what they have liked and what they would have liked more of.

This season, we have also made the decision to only offer our Market Style Farm Pick-up of our CSA boxes - no longer delivering them. While we understand that this decision may prohibit some of our past CSA members from supporting our farm – we feel that having members come to the farm to collect their produce offers our CSA members more choice and furthers our goal of connecting people to the farm, how it changes with the seasons, how the crops are growing and how the season affects the harvest.

Our farm continues to evolve.  The CSA model is a new concept to most Australians.  We have sought to educate the community about its benefits.  We hope that the community continues to support a model based on reciprocity.  Our experience thus far shows that farmers can grow great food in a sustainable manner which directly benefits the community supporting them.

If you would like to learn more about our CSA and join our Summer Share – the boxes are now available on our website Farm Store.  We continue to reflect on how best to serve our community while farming in the way that we do.  We feel supported by our CSA members who work together through joining our CSA for the season, sharing the pick ups and/or sharing boxes to make this model work for all of us. If you are interested in communicating with other CSA members about these options, please request to join the Transition Farm CSA facebook group

As our CSA season gears up, it is interesting to compare our small scale, regenerative farming practices and the hand tended vegetables we harvest to this NY Times Magazine photo essay of large scale industrial farming.  The UN states that small scale farming can feed the world. 

Sending our best wishes for a fruitful growing season!

Robin and Peter

 Receiving the National Trophy for the 2016 Delicious Produce Awards from Matt Moran - September 2016 - only marginally out of our comfort zone - but thrilled to have our vegetables judged alongside so many wonderful growers for their taste by Matt Moran, Andrew McConnell, Peter Gilmore, Alla Wolf-Tasker, Maggie Beer, Guillaume Brahimi, Christine Manfield and Shannon Bennett.

Receiving the National Trophy for the 2016 Delicious Produce Awards from Matt Moran - September 2016 - only marginally out of our comfort zone - but thrilled to have our vegetables judged alongside so many wonderful growers for their taste by Matt Moran, Andrew McConnell, Peter Gilmore, Alla Wolf-Tasker, Maggie Beer, Guillaume Brahimi, Christine Manfield and Shannon Bennett.

PS. Peter and I have both been posting photos of our farm activities on our instagram accounts.  You can view them using this link and this link .