First, I would like to thank all 370+ of the folks that were members last year for joining to experience one of Erie’s first CSA’s. It is a good experience on many levels for those of us at Post Apples. Good enough that we are going to give it another go. Nothing beats fresh. This is one of the CSA’s best attributes. The perishables are harvested within the day of delivery; being picked either the day before or the morning of the delivery. Perhaps the best aspect of our CSA is the huge reduction of pesticide usage. That usage on our farm last year amounted to four sprays with most of the materials being cleared as ‘organic certified’. In fact, there were so many lady bugs eating aphids, it was amazing.
As we continue to refine our methods, it is seen actual help is needed from our members. To maintain low pricing a small amount of labor will be required from each membership unit unless it is bought off. Individuals who offer drop-off location will be exempt from coming to work at the farm. This year we had many come regularly, helping us work more efficiently. We had far fewer late nights thanks to the help from our members. The work may be given at almost any time during the season. Although there will be extra needs when the season is first starting. Any member can opt out of the work portion for a fee. All of this is outlined on the membership form with all of the payment options.
An effort is made within to further explain what we are doing to produce a wide variety of vegetables to satisfy both the hungry and the curious. When you join, you will experience a very wide variety of all types of vegetables. Many varieties of ranging vegetable classes are raised on our farm. If you are one who likes to try every variation of garden vegetable we are the ones to come to. It is important to note, you will be challenged to find new recipes and try new items. Folks have overwhelmingly indicated this has been a fun experience. If you are timid about this. A CSA membership may not be right for you. However, we are offering a 1/8 share this next season. It will be a 1/4 share delivered every other week. We will be very honored to have you join us in the adventure. Membership forms are included in this packet. There is a discount for joining and paying before the end of December.
What is a CSA?
CSA is the abbreviation for Community Supported Agriculture. A membership in a CSA entitles the member to a share of the production of a wide range of fruits and vegetables produced on a local farm. In this case, Post Apple, formerly A.G. Post & Sons.
And why do I want to do this?
The main reward from purchasing a membership is to share in the vegetable and fruit production tha comes from Post Apple. Under normal conditions I can expect to receive at least double the produce and fruit I could expect to obtain if purchased from a local retail grocery outlet. Obviously the return on this investment will vary depending upon where I shop and the growing season. Last year ,2010, there were weeks the 1/2 share had what would have cost $40.00 at the large chain grocer.
So it appears I can stretch my grocery dollars, but are there any other benefits to taking this potential risk?
Perhaps the most important reward for participating, is the benefit that comes from receiving the freshest possible product. It is always true that the produce on a grocery shelves has gone through a fairly involved process from the field to the store. That process, at times, involves several days and sometimes a whole week or more. Freshness is a key component of membership. One needs to keep in mind that the older a vegetable is the less nutritious it will be.
With a membership in the Post Apple CSA, comes the ability to visit, picnic, learn about cultural practices, and, at times, even pick-my-own items. I also will be eligible to purchase extra fruit and vegetables at or below wholesale price to cover my additional needs.
If I am to do this, I need to know Post has experience, being to perform adequately. What is the history of Post Apple?
Post Apple is a fourth generation farm located, South, 3.5 miles from the center of North East, PA on Route 426. The principles of the farm have over 100 years of agricultural experience in the production of fruit and vegetables. Last year more than 200 varieties of vegetables were grown. All of the pictures in this flier are from the farm, and many from last season.
The picture here is my Great Grandparents. When Charlie started farming, he raised beans and chickens mostly. When you join, I can tell you more history about my Great Grandfather that I am certain would entertain you.
This next picture is of My Grandparents wedding day. My Grandmother lived in Erie on German Street. She was first generation American in her family. In the summer she was picked-up everyday to come and pick beans and berries. When she saw Archie, she decided she did not want to go home. Perhaps she was the first of the ‘modern’ women.
The picture below is of my Father and Grandpa with Jiggers and a truck load of potatoes. This was in the ’40′s. By then the farm produced, chickens, potatoes, beans, apples, cherries, plums, grain, and berries.
By the time I was born in 1953, the farm had stopped raising beans. In 1975 when I graduated from Penn State, the farm had potatoes, oats, and apples.
A few years ago, I decided to diversify once again. It is very difficult to produce crops for processing and make a living. The margins are very slim. The equipment needed is extremely expensive.
The production of small vegetables and fruit is geared more to hand labor which can be supplied more readily. Also I can focus on a larger variety of exceptional vegetables.
What is grown on this farm? Is there enough variety to make it worthwhile?
Below is a listing of what was raised last year. Actually there was enough for about 200 shares (families).
Asparagus, Artichoke, Arugula, Bak Choi, Beets (4 varieties), Beans (4 varieties), Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, regular, savoy, Cantaloupe (5 varieties), Cauliflower (3 varieties), Cilantro, Collards, Corn, Cucumbers (standard 3 varieties), Cucumbers (burpless, 5 varieties), Cucumber, (pickles, 4 varieties), Dill, Eggplant (4 varieties), Endive, Gourds (10 varieties), Lettuce (8
varieties), Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard & Turnip Greens, Onions (4 varieties), Peas (Regular & Snap), Peppers (Sweet 10 varieties & Hot 10 varieties), Potatoes (8 varieties), Pumpkins (7 varieties), Radishes, Spinach, Summer Squash (16 varieties), Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard (4 varieties), Watermelon (Seeded 1 variety & Seedless 3 varieties), Tomatoes (46 varieties, all types) This is last years list of vegetables.
Our apple list is: Macintosh, Cortland, Viking, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Law Rome, Northern Spy, Idared.
This season has been tough though. After the ‘summer in March’, it frosted 17 times. All of the earlier varieties were completely lost. We only had Romes and Golden Delicious for 2012.
What is going to be added or subtracted this year?
I am experimenting with dry beans. If I canfigure out an efficient way to harvest them, they will be added. We will have popcorn again in 2013. Perhaps one day we can do mushrooms.
Do I have to take all of this stuff, even if I do not like some of it?
The simple answer is no. If there is something you just do not like, the membership form allows you to indicate dislikes and loves. This will allow me to develop individual profiles that will dictate just how much to plant.
How many weeks can I expect to get a share of the production?
Last year was very good once May was through. Will this year be as good? I do not know, however, I am sure there will be at least 23 weeks of deliveries, ending the week before Thanksgiving.The very first weeks will not have the variety of items. The end will be filled with many different items. If there is a good crop of Apples this year, fruit they will be available in abundance.
How do you raise all of this stuff?
Both old and new technologies are utilized to bring forth an abundant yield. These technologies are discussed below under their particular headings.
The farm utilizes plastic as much as possible to produce its vegetables. Plastic encourages the soil to warm more rapidly in the spring, or in the case of white, the coolness of the soil is maintaned longer to aid crops like lettuce to be grown farther into the summer without bitterness developing. It thus encourages better ripening. The yields are generally increased. Vegetables are much cleaner when raised on plastic. Water is applied directly to the roots of the plants. This means there is less of a need for fungicide usage. Weeds are kept from growing as they would without plastic. Therfore, the amount of herbicides is greatly diminished. There is even some deterrent to certain insects with plastic. The amount of fertilizer is reduced because it is applied directly to the spot it is needed only. Even though plastic is expensive it helps to make a better quality crop in every way.
Cultivation is one of the oldest cultural practices used by farmers since the begining of time. The one difference today is that agronomic and horticultural engineers are continuing to work to produce better cultivation equipment that can be pulled through the fields with tractors easily removing weeds that stunt growth, in a cost effective manner. Of course, the usage of a cultivator reduces the need for herbicides.
Trickle irrigation is probably the best conservator of water on the planet. When trickle irrigation is used on a dry year there is almost no need for any fungicide what-so-ever. It also ensures a crop even when there is no rain.
High tunnels, perhaps better known as green houses, work well to bring summer more quickly. Without the use of tunnels, it would be very difficult to have tomatoes, cucumbers, or peppers early in July. They also produce an environment that is very controlled. Most of the insects and diseases that have to be dealt with in regular fields are almost nonexistant in tunnels. The generally warmer environment also creates conditions for consistantly larger crops that tend to be fuller flavored. In many cases that also means more nutritious. I will be utilizing at least three tunnels this season for berries, tomatoes, and other crops.
In bygone years, farmers would receive letters from the County Agent telling them when and what to spray. Then they would go out and spray whether or not it was needed. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that this is, at the very least wasteful, and sometimes harmful..
Today it is much different. Yes, I still have a book published by the University, but it does not tell me when to spray or what to use. I go out into the fields carefully looking to see if there are, in fact, insects or fungal disease starting. Only then do I do anything chemically about it. Scouting reduces the need for pesticides greatly during the course of a normal year. 2010 only required four sprays all season. Those were mainly for fungus after it started raining later in the season.
During the season every effort is made to preserve the friends of crop production. This little fellow was in danger of being run over as we were planting. He was moved over to a row that was completed so lunchtime necessities could be accomplished on his part.
Every effort is made culturally to encourage beneficial fauna, reducing the need for spraying. The picture at the end of the proceding column shows a ladybug that has just hatched. In October when this was taken there were millions in the field hatching. That meant billions of harmful insects had been eaten over the summer, because this was the overwintering hatch.
SPRAYING IN GENERAL
I wish I could say spraying is a waste of time and not necessary. Unfortunately this is not true. In fact, Organic growers sometimes have to spray everyday.
Two years ago when the weather was bad all summer, spraying everyday did not save the Organic growers crops. My spraying once a week saved everything. What was the difference? The difference is that I use effective safe materials, not ineffective more dangerous compounds like Copper.
The truth is that the diseases I spray for are far more dangerous than the materials used to keep them from growing on the vegetables and fruit I sell. It takes powerful substances to attach and attack a healthy fruit of vegetable. These compounds can be devastating to humans. So it is very important to maintain a clean crop for human consumption. I always use the best information available to provide a quality product that is very Fresh, Clean from disease, and Nutritious.
Today less than one percent of the population owns and operates a farm. As time has progressed, it is increasingly difficult to profitably operate an agricultural enterprise. This is because there are so many pressures that have to be dealt with unerringly. Foreign pests, resistant insects, and fungi, complicated marketing, fewer customers at the wholesale level, food tracking issues, and food safety problems are just some of them. Then labor and equipment cost factors have to be considered.
Today success involves the ability to integrate many technologies effectively to produce a product the public wants. The days of just sticking some seed into the ground and getting a crop are long gone.
To be successful many classes are taken on a regular basis. Also every farmer that runs a sprayer over his crops has to pass an intitial battery of tests to be licensed. After that license is obtained, it has to be renewed every three years. This involves taking classes on a continuing basis so that enough points are accumulated for the license to be renewed. In my case the renewing agency is the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. The number of credits for renewal is 12. During most three year periods I receive more than that because it only makes sense to be as current as possible on the new materials and technologies that are being introduced into the market.
Back several years ago there was a great concern that we would loose all of the materials enabling any farmer to produce a clean worm free crop. At the time the companies that produced these items did not seem to have any new compounds in the works. What was not widely known is that these companies had taken a new tact to discovery. They sent investigators out into the fields looking for natural organisms that produced agents that would kill competeing organisms. The emphasis was upon the erradication of harmful insects, bacteria, molds, and fungus, leaving the vegetable or fruit plant untouched and healthy.
Those efforts have paid great dividends. Agriculture did lose almost all of the materials it thought it would. However, those have been replaced with a plethera of new ones that in many cases are far more effective and have basically no impact upon surroundings and individuals who will consume the fruit or vegetable. The only difficulty with using these new offerings is that they generally are more specific. It means that the farmer has to work smarter than ever before.
I have redoubled my efforts to keep abreast of changes enabling the farm to continue to produce the cleanest healthiest fruits and vegetables possible.
There is risk with any CSA. When you join, the share is paid for up front and then you have to rely on me and our crew to be able to produce a full range of vegetable and fruit for you. I would be lieing if I told you this is an easy task. This year started late due to so many frosts. Then there was a period of 6 weeks with ninty-plus temperatures and no rain. The first beans and corn were almost completely ruined. I had to buy extra irrigation equipment. Of course, then it rained. The dry kept us from planting more beans for late season and stopped the last planting of corn. Cole crops hate high heat. So there was no cauliflower. Broccoli was terrible and the greens have not done that well. Cabbage was also a bust. Late squash did not do that well either. We will plant it much earlier for 2013. The plan is to have another starting house to accommodate the large number of transplants we will need. I also plan to purchase an automatic seeder to make sure flats can be seeded any time in the growing period. This will prevent large lapses between plantings. We also would like to purchase a bean picker so the beans can be harvested exactly when they are needed in a timely fashion. Having told you about all of the shortcomings of 2012, there still were 1/4 share bags with 18 to 20 pounds in them for eight weeks of the season. This does not include the weight of the watermelon. The drawback was variety was not as wide as I would have liked. 18 pounds is 3x the average weight of a quarter bushel. While there is risk, we still have been able to provide well more than indicated share size. The final risk is allowing soil into your home. I have to say this is planned on our part. We would like folks to know what is involved in growing a crop and where is comes from. Farming sometimes is quite dirty. In fact as I write this we are in the midst of harvesting potatoes. Now that is a dirty job when done by hand. Perhaps we should invite Mike Rowe to come. Seriously, soil is an integral part of what we do. A little of it reminds us each that what we eat does not come from a sterile environment in the back room of a supermarket.
Post Apples also is partnering with Parable Farms. Parable raises, grass fed only, beef, antibiotic and hormone free turkey, chickens, sheep, pigs, and eggs. The items they raise and provide are available year around in most instances. More information will be available about these folks in the future.
Membership Forms are provided with the print version of this publication. If you are viewing this on the internet there is a link to the Forms. Membership registration can be accomplished online or by paper filing.
Costs are outlined on the membership form. This year there are four options. You can sign up for 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, or a full share membership. A full share is one bushel. A 1/2 share is based on a half bushel, 1/4 share is one quarter bushel, and 1/8 is a 1/4 share delivered everyother week.
Payment may be made by cash, check, credit card, or Paypal. Checks are to be made payable to Post Apples CSA.
THIS IS IMPORTANT OTHER OPTIONS
A Membership may also be secured by donating time. If you would like to be a member, but you have more time than money, we are looking for several folks to help this season. Please speak to Gordon, if this is something you would like to investigate
Delivery can be had through various options. There is a paid, at-home delivery option, community drop-off option, and farm pick-up option. The first is charged an additional fee. The other two are included in the membership fee.
Post Apples div.
Post Apple Scientific, inc.
8893 Gulf Rd.
North East, PA 16428
Web Address: www.postapples.com
Thank You for Your Membership!
Pictures were taken by Gordon Post. This publication may be reproduced as a whole. Permission must be granted for reproduction of photography. ©2012