Blueberry season has concluded at JenEhr Family Farm. Our fourth variety, Blue Ray, is a terrible variety for this farm. We hoped that it's lateness would provide another week of blueberries. Instead, the lateness affects pollination and the berries soften before they ripen
Not picking blueberries does not however, leave the crew and Farmer Paul with extra time to loll around the farm. Broccoli is full on (look for it at our farmers market stands, the four Outpost stores in Milwaukee and very occasionally, the Willy St. stores in Madison). Big full heads full of flavor. After broccoli, you'll find us spending a lot of time harvesting slicing tomatoes.
Beyond harvest, Farmer Paul is busy with the final plantings of the season and then of course is the endless weeding. Plenty of work to make up for the end of blueberries.
JenEhr @Madison Farmers Markets
Every Saturday, you will find the folks at JenEhr busy busy busy.
1. Dane County Farmers Market at the Capitol Square - Ready to sell by 7AM, usually starting to pack up at Noon. We're located just to the left of the East Washington and Pinckney Intersection, at the bike rack.
2. Westside Community Farmers Market, Madison's Near Westside at 750 University Row, Madison, WI 53705 (corner of University Ave and University Row, behind the UW Health Digestive Health Center. Chelsea has her crew unpacked and set up by the market start at 7AM. You'll find our big yellow tent at the south end of the market.
Changes at JenEhr
Farmer Paul and Kay are into their second decade at JenEhr (longer than either has worked for someone else). Each year, things change, as dependent on the season as on market trends and the farmers themselves.
1. Fewer, but better Farmers Markets. For years, JenEhr farmers market stands were found in Madison, Milwaukee, West Allis and Wauwatosa. This year, we're focusing on our two Madison Farmers Markets (see above). We've found that Milwaukee area farmers markets simply were not providing the opportunities we needed to make the trip and extra produce economically feasible.
During these past two decades, we've discovered that a successful farmers market is as dependent on the quality of vendors and the persistence in the market management. After years of experience, we found that the two Madison markets provide excellent management, making sure that vendor selection is balanced, that vendors are following the rules and that market integrity is at a high level. So, we're focusing on those markets.
2. Fear not Milwaukee customers. While we no longer have a farmers market presence in Milwaukee, you'll find more of our products at the four Outpost stores in the region. JenEhr is the primary supplier of spring lettuce, broccoli, lacinato kale, tomatoes and leeks. Ask for us by name when you shop at the store.
3. No CSA - two years ago, after running exhaustive financial analysis of the farm's "books" along with long discussions of area and national farmers and farm groups, we discovered some trends. One is that the CSA model has changed and the changes didn't fit the farm model at JenEhr. In order to be financially sustainable, we couldn't justify the high cost of marketing, servicing and specialized growing that the "new" CSA customer required. While a very difficult decision, we dropped the CSA as part of our market mix.
4. No strawberry Upick - We found that finding people who want to pick strawberries difficult. Organic strawberries need the combination of people willing to pick strawberries as well as families willing to come out and pick their own strawberries. This combination allowed us to constantly keep the field picked at the prime of harvest, eliminating rotting berries along with issues associated with unpicked strawberries.
5. Trying Other Things - While the strawberry Upick is finished, the blueberry Upick offers opportunities to come out to the farm and pick blueberries with easier scheduling and payment.
This year, Farmer Paul is planting sweet corn. This experiment will allow us to better utilize our existing crew talents and possibly offer organic sweet corn at our farmers market stands. Stay tuned for these experiment results.