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What a weird spring!

One question we get at every farm tour and event is "how is climate change affecting what you do?". It's a very good question to be asking, and something that's always on our minds as farmers.

It's not hard to see the impacts anymore, but this spring has been especially unpredictable. It's been overall a chilly start to the year, with some sudden hot spells that confused the plants, and then lots of rain and little sun. All of this is definitely affecting our CSA!

A chilly spring means the plants grow slower. And while that isn't abnormal in and of itself, having a few days and weeks of unseasonal warmth in March and April definitely confused the plants. They got all excited and started putting energy into growing but then all of a sudden it was back to cold, wet weather and they slow down again. This back and forth isn't the most conducive to steady growth unfortunately!

The first half of March was relatively temperate with overnight temps in the 40s and the cherry blossoms in DC were at peak bloom on March 17th, nearly a new record for earliness! But then the last few weeks of the month came with freezing nights, and cold, wet, and windy days. All the plants in the ground were definitely not happy and took quite some time to catch up.

Another challenge this spring has been the rain! We recently reached out to our network of fellow farmers in the county and found that we're not alone in our struggles this season. One farmer keeps rainfall records and said that from December 1st to May 15th we are looking at 8" over 'normal' rainfall. For May alone, we are already exceeded the normal rainfall for the whole month, and we're only halfway through!

With all that rain comes very wet fields. Depending on what kind of soil you have, and our farm has a wide range depending on the specific field, it's going to take varying amounts of time to dry out. And when you have a big, heavy tractor you need to use to prep these fields, the whole timeline gets pushed back.

If you're a CSA member, you'll know that all this has meant that your first shares have been somewhat reduced in size. We decided to start our Summer CSA 2 weeks early this year because based on last year's experience, we had so much stuff ready to go in mid-May. Looking back at our first couple shares from 2023, we had broccoli, beets, and lots of kale, none of which is ready yet this year!

What it all really boils down to is unpredictability. When you can't rely on your experience from years past to inform your planning and prepping, it becomes a much harder job! One year is warm and sunny and the fields just explode with growth and your May 25 start date feels too late with everything that's ready to harvest. Then the next year is cold, grey, and wet and the plants just sit there, growing at a glacial speed.

Climate change will continue to make things weird for farmers and our food, there's no question about that. We will adapt the best we can and we always appreciate our CSA community and their flexibility as they weather these changes along with us.

We also need to advocate for change at the governmental level, so we encourage you to call and email your representatives. Make sure they know how their local agricultural community is affected by climate change. Because we can employ all the strategies we want for soil conservation, cover crop management, water reduction, and more, but we are but a small drop in the bucket. The big entities out there need to step up and do their part if we're going to see any positive changes on a larger scale.

Luckily, plants are resilient and we can learn much from them. Happy Spring and thank you for following along and supporting our little farm!

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