In last week’s newsletter, we mentioned that we had been short of help at the farm. On Tuesday, The Daily News, which is the daily newspaper for Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming counties, also discussed a major farmworker shortage in this area.
Many farms in the surrounding area depend on something called the “H2A Program”, which allows United States farmers to employ temporary legal workers. These workers are provided housing and a guaranteed set rate of pay. Many of these workers are Jamaican citizens that travel each season to harvest cabbage and apples in Western New York. However, this year, the United States government is refusing to certify workers from Jamaica because the Jamaican government takes a percentage of the workers paychecks.
Jamaican workers are very important to local farmers as they depend on their labor for the harvest. If this issue is not resolved, many farmers may be left short and could potentially go bankrupt.
We are hoping that this issue is resolved quickly before the fall harvest season begins!
Some of you may have noticed that some of your tomatoes are not holding up well. We have even noticed that our grape tomatoes, which are usually the hardiest, are not holding up as well as they have in the past. Many members have contacted us about purchasing extra tomatoes for canning or making sauce, and we want to let you know that we will not have any available. What good tomatoes we do have in the field will be picked for our members.
This season we planted well over 20,000 tomato plants, which is the most we have ever done. We are disappointed that for the second season in a row we will not have the yield we were hoping for. We are looking forward to next years planting and are formulating ideas on how we can change the way that we grow them. Hopefully we will have a better crop next year!
It was a cool, wet week at the farm. Three inches of rain fell over the weekend and into Monday, leaving us with many puddles and weeds. We were not able to get any fieldwork done on Monday because of the rain, so we had to spend the remainder of the week weeding and harvesting the vegetables.
All of our vegetables are handpicked, which is very time consuming. Each week our crew does a great job of picking the best vegetables in the field for you to enjoy. This year has been especially difficult to harvest the vegetables because they must battle through the weeds to get to the crops. When you cannot spray weeds to control their growth, they can only be hand weeded or cultivated. Since the fields have been so wet, our tractors have not been able to get in the fields to cultivate, and our workers cannot keep up with the fast growth of the weeds. This year we have an especially great crew, and we would like to thank them for all of their hard work!
Some of our members may be wondering where the onions are this season. In order to store onions in our barn, we first must pull each onion in the field and let them dry on the ground. Once they are dry, we bring them all into the barn. If they are not dried completely, they cannot be hand cleaned to remove dirt and may grow sprouts.
We pulled some of our onions a few weeks ago, hoping that we would have onions available for you in late August. However, every time that we think we will be able to bring them into the barn, it rains and we have to begin the drying process again. Once we are able to bring our onions to the barn, you can expect them in your bags almost every week!
What’s in this week’s bag??
• Assorted Grape Tomatoes
• Green Bell Peppers
• Cubanelle or Light Green Bell Pepper
• Swiss Chard or Leaf Lettuce
-2 tablespoons butter
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1 ½ cups skim milk
-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-salt and pepper to taste
-4 medium leeks, halved lengthwise
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9x12 inch baking pan.
2. Melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk and cheese until cheese is melted. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat. Arrange the leeks in a single layer in the prepared pan and cover with the cheese sauce.
3. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until leeks are tender and sauce is bubbly.