The Local Harvest

THE LOCAL HARVEST   The Weekly Newsletter of Honey Brook Organic Farm CSA, July 15th, 2017


Like otherfarmers in New Jersey, Jim and I are concerned about the rising cost of food production and how that is affecting our business, now and in the years to come.  Like with many small businesses, employee salaries are our largest expense.  We employ field workers whose hourly rates are set by federal standards, and every year these rates increase. This cost is passed onto our members but each time we raise membership fees to cover increased costs, we know we lose members as a result.  I’ve been speaking to some members about this dilemma and have been gratified by their words of support, including the following from Susan Bozarth-Smith: 

"I've been a member of the farm's CSA program since 2013, and expect that the fees will increase every year. In order for the farm to offer raises and other benefits to their staff every season, I expect  that the fees will need to be raised to cover those costs.  Just as I like to receive a raise from my employer to cover my increase in yearly expenses, I understand that Honey Brook Organic Farm's expenses increase yearly necessitating an increase in membership fees.  Even when I pay more for the membership fee, I still feel I'm getting a good value."  

Like every other landowner in New Jersey, our property taxes only increase, as do our insurance costs (last year, we paid over $70,000 in insurance premiums alone).  Expenses for packaging like the plastic boxes, bags and waxed boxes we use to distribute our produce never decrease, and fees for accountants and labor specialists who help us stay on the right side of the law, whether it be immigration or tax law, have risen as well.  We are in the process of streamlining some of our production costs, with an eye toward improved efficiency, in the hope of counter balancing the rate of our production cost increases. New staff is already helping us realize considerable savings in our box packing area. 

We have prided ourselves on our ongoing ability to provide our members with the highest quality organic produce at a reasonable price. Our hope is to be able to do the same in future years, but the rising costs of producing our 100% organic produce will need to be shared in order for the farm to remain economically sustainable.  


This week, unfortunately, brought fog, overcast skies and more rain than we needed; in fact, in Pennington and Chesterfield during the period from the 13th through the 15th, both farms were saturated with rain, some in thunderstorms, with Chesterfield receiving more than Pennington.  The rain and overcast skies are inhibiting ripening of some crops and some of those same crops were already planted late due to spring’s overabundant rain.  Crops such as eggplant, hot peppers and the second planting of green beans are expected to be later than in past years.   

The crows have found our sweet corn at one of our Pennington farms and are sampling quite liberally from the healthy stalks of golden goodness!  We are in the process of obtaining a noisemaking device permit so we can scare the crows out of the cornfields.  Typically crows only ravage the corn during dry years when they’re searching for moisture, but I guess word has gotten out in the crow world that ours is the best tasting sweet corn in Hopewell Valley.  If the noisemaking device is successful at keeping the crows out of the crop, we expect to have corn available until late August! 

We’ve opened the PYO specialty basil at both the Pennington and Chesterfield farms.  Not only is this basil popular with our members, but also some of the varieties are resistant to basil downy mildew, a disease that will surely kill our Genovese basil later this summer.   Here’s a primer on the varieties we have chosen to grow for you: 

Lemon Basil - Sweet and pungent lemon flavorand scent with a high citrus content (68%) in the essential oil. 

Lime Basil - Adds a unique citrus flair to fish and salads. 

Red Rubin Basil - Purple Italian large leaf type with great flavor!  Nice complement for flower arrangements. 

Sweet Thai Basil - Strongest spicy anise-clove scent for cooking. Wonderfully full aroma makes this the Thai basil most commonly used for cooking in Thailand. 

Cardinal Basil - Thai basil with larger leaves. A mild and sweet basil with a subtle aroma gives it great culinary latitude.


Download the 5/21 newsletter here.

Download the 5/28 newsletter here.

Download the 6/6 newsletter here.

Download the 6/13 newsletter here.

Download the 6/22 newsletter here.

Download the 6/28 newsletter here.

Download the 7/8 newsletter here.

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