As 2017 approaches

Here we are with one foot in 2016 and one in 2017.  We've been plowing snow for a couple weeks now, so I guess we didn't have to wait until December 22 to say that winter is here.  The crew has dwindled, many going off to college or winter jobs, or their homes in Jamaica;  leaving the rest of usto finishpacking out onions, potatoes, and carrots for the Coop.  The wreath and Christmas candles areup in the farm stand and I am wearing long underwear full time, soyup, it’s winter….

Anne is trying to tie up the fiscal year 2016as tax work has commenced. Our tax year is a bit different than most folks with taxes due the 15 of March.    Most of the flower seed orders have gone out, but vegetable seeds have to be reviewed and ordered.  Most of the things that need to be stored away have been, andthose that have not will appear in the spring when the snow melts.  

We, as I imagine all farmers do, are wondering what 2017 will bring.  The new administrationis clamoring for some drastic changes that will affect us all but what changes are going to directly affect the ag community? Yes, I suppose one could say that because we grow potatoes that no matter what happens we will always have food to sell.  But it is really the subtle changes that can make the difference to us. We serve the general public, and if subtle policy changes affect the public, that can be reflected in our sales. And it does look like there could be some big changes. My guess is that the current president elect knows, or cares, precious little about agriculture. His experience with the environment and ag seems to be pretty much limited to what he sees from his golf cart or from his airplane. I suppose that this deregulation of bureaucracies- EPA, FDA, Dept. of Labor -could play to our advantage. However, I think I heard him state about a month ago that he would do away with the H2A guest work program-the program that allows us to get Roy and Bill up here from Jamaica- and that the work that they do should be done by Americans. The problem is that getting seasonal labor is a hard job order to fulfill, and Americans haven’t shown interest in those jobs given what they pay and the seasonality of those jobs in the northeast, especially here in the Upper Valley where the unemployment rate is 2-3%.   That could dramatically alter how we go about doing things here at Edgewater and I expect we will bewatching that one closely in the coming months.  As far as deregulation of DOL, OSHA, FDA, EPA or USDA…I think those bureaucracies have enough critical mass and political pull to withstand a great deal of battle, and will survive, but may have to survive underfunded at current levels.  Surely the next 6 months are going to be epic as far as our system of government is concerned and what that government will look like at the end of this president’s term of office. 

Otherwise the change of year will bring a change of faces in the ag community. I have been meeting some of the new growers in the upper valley, a young crop of folks who have youth on their side and smarts on their side that I wish I had when I only brought youth to this farm.  We will be seeing a change at the Killdeer Farm Stand in Norwich.  Scott Woolsey who has managed the stand for Jake and Liz Guest deftly for the last 14 years is tradingin his foodie hat for some new ski gear as he moves to Utah. Jake and Liz, mainstays in the Upper Valley ag community, are going to downsize their operationand I am not clear what that specifically means, but I don’t expect it means that Jake will be seen doing a lot of fishing on the Connecticut River, more likely fighting with his irrigation pump..  We tip our hats to them as they embark on their new directions,  and pay tribute to them for setting a high standard of service and quality for the rest of us to emulate.

I am now about to trundle off to the upper greenhouse and start taking rosemary and geranium cuttings for 2017 spring greenhouse sales.  Just as it is  “5 o’clock somewhere”  as Jimmy Buffet would sing, here at Edgewater there is a small expanding spring somewhere in the corner of the upper greenhouse. So, on behalf of the family and staff of Edgewater Farm, we wish to thank you for your past support and patronage and wish you the best for the coming holidays and new year.