2020 has been a terrible year for so many reasons that it’s easy to imagine many people will have a hard time finding much to celebrate on Thanksgiving. And in the twisted logic of this messed up year, that might not be such a bad thing, since Covid 19 seems to excel at spreading itself through celebration.
At Terra Firma, next week will mark the first time since March that any of us will get a little vacation. And yet I don’t know anyone here who is not aware of exactly how lucky that makes us. Since Covid began, we have been as busy as we have ever been. First trying to keep up with the immediate demand for produce and the huge increase in CSA subscriptions as the lockdown went into place. Then making changes to our short and medium term cropping plans, on the run, in response to the shifts we were seeing in the market for our produce. August started with a giant wildfire down the road from us that destroyed hundreds of our neighbor’s properties, kicking off six weeks of nearly constant smoke coupled with the longest period of extreme hot weather we’ve ever had.
It has been an exhausting nine months. And it would almost certainly have put us out of business if it weren’t for you, our CSA subscribers. In 2019, our income from CSA boxes was approaching one-quarter of the farm’s total — down from almost two-thirds in 2008. As our CSA subscriptions dropped off over those 10 years, we had shifted to growing produce for food service: particularly for tech companies providing meals for their employees but also to the booming restaurant market. That market is now essentially gone.
As our CSA subscriptions increased this spring and into summer, we did have a few mismatches between the crops we know that households eat regularly and the ones that the tech companies were buying. About half of our summer crops were already planted by the time Covid hit, so there wasn’t much we could do about that. And the smoke in August also caused some problems.
But our fall and winter plantings are all about you — based on our 10-year old crop plans from back when we had a bigger CSA — and we maintain that focus in our spring plantings. With promising results from the vaccine trials, there’s very good reason to believe that by Thanksgiving 2021, we’ll all be able to celebrate safely with all our family and friends. We hope that subscribing to our CSA has been one bright spots during these tough times, and even after Covid-19 is no longer threatening our health and well-being, you’ll keep stick with it.
I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday,