Dear Norman’s Community,
Happy Earth Day and welcome to a new season. Things are really taking shape and getting going. The beds and rows are prepped and ready. We’ve been plowing, tilling and setting up irrigation. We’ve planted the crops which can take the cold while our more tender transplants are snugly tucked in the greenhouses at Sharp’s Farm waiting their turn. I spent the day on my laptop at my “Tent in the Woods” overlooking the fields taking shape and the progress of the farm, thinking about the upcoming season. With the dogwoods, lilacs and azaleas in full bloom, the theme which keeps coming to mind is that of emergence and transformation.
2021 is going to be the year of the cicada. In just a few weeks billions of Brood X will put on quite the spectacle of nature. I’m actually looking forward to them. People are asking if they will affect the crops which I don’t think so but I may have to get back to you on that. If they do I’m sure I’ll be drowning in my tears. I’m guessing most folks won’t receive them as warmly as myself, I can’t help but feel some empathy toward the little buggers in that they’ve been underground for 17 years waiting their time while we’ve been quarantined and socially distanced awaiting ours. They’re like our beetle brethren. I realize things aren’t completely back to normal, but I am hopeful that this season will be one of renewal and social connection and that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.
We’d like to welcome new members and welcome back those from previous seasons. In regards to our CSA, if you’ve been a member pre-pandemic this year will feel like a return to the way things used to be. If you were new in 2020, things may seem a bit different. We are returning to a market style program where we load the tables with lots of great choices of fresh produce while our members select and pack their shares. Offering choices as well as a platform to engage with your growers and neighbors over food or just to catch up has been our trademark and tradition and we are looking forward to getting back to that.
For those that enjoyed pre-packed shares or even home delivery we are offering our online store with curbside pickup as well as delivery. Even CSA members will enjoy the benefit and one stop convenience of supplementing their shares by pre-ordering from our entire catalog of fresh produce and new gourmet products online.
Over the winter we hosted a series of pop-up markets as well as a weekly home delivery program. We developed new relationships with local food artisans, meat and dairy farmers, watermen and selective food purveyors. We are excited to continue these relationships and explore new ones. In regards to produce, I had to modify my typical mantra of “shop local, travel wide” to “stay local and experience travel through food”. I’ll confess to enjoying my fair share of satsuma mandarins, rambutan, and pink pineapples. Guilty as charged. Now that our market season is upon us expect a shift back to an emphasis on local produce. We may supplement and extend our supply, especially at the beginning and end of the season with non-local produce. However we certainly favor farms within 100 miles and in particular our own.
This season is also one of transformation. We’ve been expanding and remodeling our packing house to accommodate the increased demand, and our new winter markets have enabled us to keep our crew busy through the off season. While in past years we are typically dusting off the cobwebs this year we are pretty ready to go.
Our crew will be a nice mix of familiar faces, new ones, and some old timers still kicking in the rear. It is not just our produce that is local. We are also a seasonal employer of approximately 40 Montgomery County high school students and graduates with interests in environmental science, food, and farming. We are passionate about reducing food waste and providing nutritious sustenance to those who lack the means by partnering with local charities, food banks, and individuals to ensure the produce that goes unsold and unpicked in the field can find its way to a good home. It’s nice seeing some of our crew’s superstars stepping up and taking on more responsibilities and the next generation of Norman’s getting a sense of the business. Afterall Norman’s began back in 1987 during a different year of the cicada and here we go again.