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Little Farm Store Update September 2023

A State of the Farm Update: Little Farm Store Fall News

Welcome, Fall! The leaves are beginning to turn, and we have enjoyed the slightly cooler temperatures. With the changing of the seasons, I found myself reflecting on our second season in business and looking forward to what’s to come. Little Farm Store has grown this year. Thanks to all of your support, our vendor network has increased to 35 local producers and we are on course to keep close to $100,000 within our local food economy this year!

It is very satisfying to know this revenue is staying in our region to benefit the producers and help grow the abundance for our communities. We can’t wait to see how much we grow moving forward. We, meaning all of us connected here, are truly creating a local food system; the success we have had so far is encouraging and makes me optimistic about our continued growth.

As we move into the colder seasons, customers can expect availability changes. There will still be plenty of items to choose from, but obviously, gardens are already slowing down and most will not be in production over the winter. We are looking for producers who have year-round facilities, but that has not happened just yet. In the meantime, we will do our best to bring you as much variety over the winter as possible.

From the Gardens

This was a tough year for gardens! It’s amazing how much nature affects food availability when you are living close to your food! Seasonal eating can be quite the adjustment sometimes. We increased the overall availability and variety of items significantly this year. We were much more prepared; the farmers had time to plan and so did we. But in small farm production, even planning can’t account for the fickleness of nature.

The late frost and the sudden temperature change from cool to HOT caused problems for a number of growers. Several growers also struggled with Blister Beetles that came through in waves and stripped the kale, chard, and potato crops. Heat hammered the high-tunnel tomatoes and shriveled the carrots, and the surprisingly cool nights we had midsummer were nice for us, but shocked the green beans and cucumbers into an early standstill. Missouri’s fruit production was really impacted by the late frosts this year, too. Many of the blossoms frosted in the spring, making peaches and pears low in production. Weather plays a lead role in the farming ballet.

Nevertheless, we are hoping for a nice fall season. We should have plenty of squash, and it looks like apples will be available for a few weeks, too. The cooler temperatures should allow a short second season for some greens, like spinach and salad greens. Be on the look-out for new products and take advantage of those while the season lasts!

From the Protein Producers

The meat producers have been very successful so far this year. Several new members have joined that department. Even so, the demand was so loud that we struggled to keep up! Bacon was a noticeable shortage after Circle B Ranch, our primary supplier, shut down their pork operation this spring. Then Air2Ground joined, and supplemented by Morning Sun, we were able to manage. Air2Ground is depleted in a few pork items, currently, like bacon and sausage, but they will have a new supply by mid-October.

In the meantime, Bulmanski Farms will be able to cover most of that supply. Similarly, Peace Valley Chicken chicken thighs were another popular item this summer that was frequently sold out, so we were glad to connect with a second supplier. Bulmanski Farms has been able to help in that department also. The shortages were an inconvenience, but in another light, such a great problem; it means that people are wanting the good food local producers have! You will be able to continue getting great proteins through the whole winter. If you haven’t yet, check out Air2Ground’s “Dust-r-Mud” Podcast. It will shed light on the work that goes into raising livestock; it’s a great listen.

Important Update on Dairy Products

Pleasant Valley Farm is awaiting the birth of a number of cute little calves, but that means milk and dairy products are going to be in short supply for a while. The ladies are getting some much needed rest from summer production before the littl’uns arrive throughout the fall and into the holiday season. So, we will have to be patient for the new mammas to start sharing their milk. Pleasant Valley thinks we will see increasing availability in December/January. By February or March, the milk will be fully flowing and life will be good again (in no small part because I will have real cream for my coffee again). Milk, cream, butter, and yogurt have been some of our highest demand products this year. Customers may be able to get yogurt in small batches this winter, but it will go quick for sure! We will be sure to post pictures of the calves.

Kitchen & Crafted Items

This summer saw an increase in awesome kitchen producers. Multiple bakers have joined with truly amazing breads and bagels. We also now have delicious and nutritious sauerkraut, kombucha, kiefer, and other fermented foods. There are a number of additional products making their debut shortly. Naked Chicks (you may have purchased her chicken at the farmer’s market) is listing some absolutely fantastic sparkling honey and tea drinks. Specialty sauces, vinegars, and honey infusions are coming soon along with tinctures, salves, and additional soaps. We are excited to add these vendors and their wonderful items to the network. It’s so wonderful to see all of these local people coming together and creating a functional system.

Little Farm Store Update

The summer garden season has been busy! The systems for connecting farms to our tables grew and evolved to match the expanding network of farmers and customers. There was an increase in everything, it seems, and what a blessing it has been - a ride, for sure, but a worthwhile one! In between on-boarding new producers and packing and delivering orders, we were able to do a few events where we connected with buyers and the community. You may have joined us at Baker's Creek this spring, or at Seymour’s spring festival, or been one of the lucky few who came to the Air2Ground farm tour. Those events were a lot of fun and we have a plan to do more next year. You will also see new faces as we bring on some helpers. We are growing our infrastructure to handle the steadily increasing success of the network. There’s a lot on our to-do list for the winter in preparation for the next big steps of growth. We have awesome things brewing behind the scenes and can’t wait to share! If all continues as planned, we will have exciting news to share later this year concerning the future of this budding food network.

We are so thankful and optimistic about the progress made this year. Each person who has made the choice to purchase local goods is doing a huge service to the community. Members of this network are mutually benefiting each other. Purchases within this network build local businesses, who in turn provide transparent and healthy food choices. We are so glad to be part of this positive venture. It’s a beautiful food system we are creating together.

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