At the end of each year, it’s common to hear people talk about how the time has “flown by” or otherwise passed in a blur. I have never found that to be true on the farm. Every year that goes by feels like a long, long time.
2019 had the potential to be a rough year. The weather was challenging almost from day one, offering few breaks between the storms. February in particular was off the charts for precipitation, and we fell way behind in harvesting citrus and preparing fields for spring.
Cold, wet springs rarely lead to bountiful summers. In 2017, for example, both our tomato and peach crops were seriously impacted by the weather in March and April. 2019 seemed to be following the same trajectory. But it changed course.
Summer arrived late, but ended up being one of the nicest we’ve had in years, just about perfect for our tomato, peach, melon and other crops. It was also relatively pleasant to work in. Everyone on the farm’s stress and exhaustion level goes up as temperatures rise, especially when the nights are hot. We didn’t have many of those until fairly late in the summer.
Another factor that made the summer more successful was the lack of smoke from wildfires. This was the first year in five that we haven’t had at least a week or two of smoke blocking out the sun. Smoky air is not just unhealthy for humans, it is extremely damaging to plants and causes crop reductions or outright failures.
In the end, summer of 2019 ended up being our best since 2014. And while our fall season is less important to the success of the year, it can make a difference one way or another. Heatwaves early on or hard freezes can wipe out multiple crops. Fall of 2019 was pleasantly uneventful (although we did lose some green beans to an early frost) and that theme has continued through December.
Farming is a frustrating pursuit for humans, as you can get it 98% right and still fail catastrophically thanks to the weather or the markets. There’s not much that we can do about the former, but by choosing CSA farming, we’ve tried to hedge the risks of the latter. Over the last five years or so, though, we’ve been concerned about that strategy as we’ve seen our subscriber numbers steadily trending down.
But 2019 seems to have bucked that trend. We are ending this year right where we ended last year. Maybe next year we can push that trend line the other direction — up.
Terra Firma’s CSA is the heart and soul of what we do. Your support is what keeps us in business, no matter what Mother Nature throws our way. We hope you enjoyed the fruits of our labor in 2019. Thanks for joining us on the ride, we look forward to having you back again next year.