We hope that you are enjoying the winter. Winter is a wonderful time of year. Both the land and the farmers need the rest, we need the time to regenerate, we need an opportunity to find balance. This year we fully embraced the shortening day length, as a time to reflect upon our lives as farmers. This is something we do every winter. However this year, it has been more poignant. 2019 was our most difficult year to date, and it was the 3rd consecutive difficult year. Each marked by extreme wet weather. We saw record crop losses and those that did survive resulted in catastrophic yield reductions. We struggled to find employees and significantly raised wages as a means of recruitment. Because the fields were literally waterlogged the harvest and field work took more time and labor. In wet heavy soils machines and equipment are more likely to break. More cost for lower yields is not financially sustainable. By August, it was clear that we needed to adjust as we faced the reality of farming in our changing climate and modern world.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu
Life really is a series of natural and spontaneous changes, finding happiness or sorrow depends upon how we respond to those changes. After a decade of working together on the farm and raising our two children, on the Monday immediately following the last CSA box of 2019, Cate returned to work. She is now employed as a Certification Specialist at Midwest Organic Services Association, a USDA accredited organic certification agency. Even though there was great sorrow, we were blessed that Cate was able to find a good job in such a timely manner.
As the family adjusts to Cate working off farm, we are taking a hard look at the reality of our situation. In doing so we have decided that we will no longer grow for our CSA customers. It is clear in today’s wet climate, along with a shrinking and ever more costly labor force, we can no longer afford to grow the wide variety of crops the traditional CSA model demands, nor at the scale or price that makes a CSA profitable. We cannot express how scary and difficult this decision was to make; after all CSA has been the foundation upon which we built this farm and much behind our identity as farmers. But honestly this decision has been 2 or 3 years in the making. There was a mourning period and plenty of sorrow, but as Lao Tzu states above, we are letting things flow naturally and have found a sense of happiness in letting go.
We still have many questions that we need to contemplate as we chose our path forward. As we begin to think outside the box, there is a sense of freedom and excitement. We know we’ll continue farming, focusing on fewer crops, drastically reducing our annual production, and planting a more diverse perennial landscape. Our focus is on farmers market, our local food coops, and local restaurants. We are not letting go of our connection to the land, we have two young boys who need this farm more than anyone. A farm offers them so many opportunities. A place for them to learn cooperation, gain a work ethic, connect with nature and all its elements.
Thank you to all who have supported us over the last 20 years. It has been an incredible journey and we feel so grateful to you. We hope to hear from you, see you at the Dane County Farmers Market!
Eat well - Be well!
Your appreciative farmers,
Cate & Mat
Still want to support the farm and local food?
Here is how you can help:
Continue to read our newsletters, connect with us on Facebook and/or Instagram
Look for bulk purchase opportunities- we will email when we have produce to sell in bulk- great option for those who love to stockpile
visit our stand at the Dane County Farmers market or he one on the farm
Consider making a donation to the farm. We suffered heavy financial losses last year so that you would have full boxes every week. Some are certailly still eating our food. If you are able, we could use all the help that you can offer.