New and improved guidelines about picking up your share

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We thought you, our dear CSA members, deserved a few changes that would simplify the CSA pick-up and add some convenience for you in 2017.  We've removed the 8-day rule, and now you can skip and double as you'd like, all season.  Don't know what the 8-day rule was?  Don't worry.  Here's the new rules:

  • Your purchase of a CSA membership gives you 26 "shares".  A share is the portion of food we have allotted for our CSA members for that week.  The CSA is 26 weeks long (mid-May through mid-November with one week off in July), so for most of you, you will continue to take one share per week for 26 weeks.  
  • You may take those 26 shares any weeks you want, and you may take a maximum of 2 shares per week.    
  • Some weeks you might choose to skip, and some weeks you might choose to double your share.  As long as it all adds up to no more than 26 shares by mid-November, we're all happy.    
  • This new system makes it a little harder for us to anticipate how many shares our members will pick up in a given week.  We consider it a top priority to make sure you have the same WEIGHT and QUALITY of vegetables from the beginning to the end of the pick-up period.  However, the people coming in the last 30 minutes to the pick-up might not have the same number of items to choose from.  In other words, we will not save all the bruised tomatoes for the end, nor substitute turnips where the early-comers got carrots.  But if the people who show up at the beginning get to choose either strawberries or mushrooms, the people at the end might choose between strawberries and sugarsnap peas--same amount, quality and desirability, but not exactly the same choices.   

What remains unchanged:

  • You do not need to tell us in advance if you plan to skip or double your share that week.  
  • You may send anyone you'd like to pick up your share.  The person should simply tell us that they are picking up for you, and we'll take it from there.  We know you're not trying to fool us.  It just simplifies our check-off list if the entire family and friend network is not included on the list for each member.  
  • You may U-pick any day, any time during those 6 months. (Watch the weekly email and check the white board to see what's available on U-pick that week.) It does not matter if you've taken a CSA share that week..
  • Every week we donate nearly half of what we harvest to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food pantries, and other social service agencies in our area that serve people in need.  Any vegetables that you don't take will be part of that donation.  
  • We will list the items in your share on a dry erase board at the pick-up site.  So that you may select the items that you like the most, we ask you to weigh out your own share.  We do not pre-bag it for you.  

How do we calculate the amount of food in a share each week?

It's tricky!  First, we add the number of CSA members we expect to show up that week (90% of 270 paying members = 243) to the number of worksharers we anticipate (usually about 20).  Then, if we know we want to donate a mimimum of 40% of our harvest to social service agencies, then we divide the total I just gave you (263) by 60%, which gives us 438 as the number of shares.  (It's worth noting that we do not weigh out 175 individual shares for donation.  Rather, we donate a total weight that, by the end of the season, is at least 40% of what we have harvested.  So we do not try to make sure the selection of food in our donation matches precisely what was in the CSA shares.  The agencies might get more squash and fewer sugarsnap peas, for example.) 

Once we've weighed all of our harvest on a Wednesday (usually around 1:00pm), we calculate how many pounds total of each item we expect to harvest the following Saturday.  This can be tricky!  What if it's cloudy for the next 3 days?  What if it rains?  Are the tomatoes at their peak or are they on a decline?  At any rate, we take our best guess, and we've gotten pretty good at guessing over the years.  For each item we harvested, we divide the total pounds for the week by the total shares, and that gives us the weight of each item that our members should take.  (For example, if we expect to pick 876 pounds of squash, then we can put 2 pounds of squash in the share that week.)

But we're not done!  We also consider how many pounds we could put in the share if we only offer it to paying CSA members, and do not donate it.  Are beets in high demand?  Maybe we choose to offer extra beets in the share and donate more turnips, instead.  We also consider what we can group together as choices.  If we have Easter Egg radishes and Hakurei turnips, maybe we can offer 1/2 pound total of those two items.  It would be easier for us to make the choice for you, but not as nice for you.  (Some of you have strong preferences!  I, for one, love Hakurei, but can't be bothered with tiny radishes.  But little kids love those colorful radishes.)    So whenever possible, we put items together in groups, so you can choose the things you like.  But we have to choose wisely.  If we do it wrong, you're left with awkward amounts (one ear of corn, for example, is not half as useful as two),  or we run out of the favorite items before the pick-up ends.  

Hopefully, by 2:00pm, we hemmed and hawed and made a decision about what's in the share, which items we put out first, and which we hold for later, which items we send to Dupont this week versus leaving at the farm.  And then we send the list to our marvelous volunteers, Clay and Zach, who post the week's share on our blog (as well as photos, recipes and announcements), and send it out to you as an email.  There's even a careful consideration about which items we mention to you in the e-mail.  If we only have enough peas for half the members this week, and the other half next week, do we mention it, or just leave it as a happy surprise?

It's a complicated system, as you can see.  We're always trying to adapt to make the most positive experience possible for our CSA members.  Let us know if you have any questions.

Haven't purchased your CSA share yet, or know someone who wants to buy one? Sign up now!

Mark your calendars:

  • Saturday April 29, 2017, 12:00-4:00pm - Spring Open House.  All are welcome for this free opportunity to meet the farmers, take a hayride tour to visit the cows and sheep, and check out the place where you'll be picking up your share this season.  Know anyone who might like to join the CSA?  Bring them along!  
  • Wednesday May 10th & Saturday May 13th:  Your first CSA pick-ups (tentative).  We'll confirm as the date is closer, so we make sure we give you the vegetables as soon as they are ready to be picked.
  • Sunday May 14:  Our medicinal herbalist, Holly Poole-Kavana is planning medicinal herb garden party.  This is a new idea for us, so stay tuned...

We're planting our first seeds and transplants outside this week.  We're excited!

Your farmer,

Carrie 

FHCASA field day Lindsay Smith

[Photos by Diane Williams (top) and Lindsay Smith.] 

 

 


Have you purchased your CSA share yet?

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This is your chance to get the finest, nutrient-dense, organic vegetables from your local farm at reasonable prices, all while contributing to a healthy Chesapeake Bay and to under-served neighbors suffering from hunger and poor food access.  We do it all! Join NOW!  We still have memberships available for both new and returning members at both pick-up sites.

  • Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland; Wednesdays 3-7pm or Saturdays 1-4pm
  • 1737 Fraser Ct, NW, Washington DC 20009 (Dupont Circle neighborhood); Wednesdays 6-7:30pm

We will share our harvest with you for six months--mid-May through mid-November.  The week's selection will change with the weather, but if you'd like to see what we gave out last year, check out this chart.  

Did you know...

 Don't wait too long!  Join Clagett Farm's CSA now!  And be sure to pass this to anyone who you think might be interested.

[Photos by Haley Baron]

 


The Member Survey--What you said, and how we respond

You speak, we listen!  We got 90 responses (out of 270 CSA shares) to our survey this year.  And we all know what happens when less than half of the eligible voters take the time to vote--we can’t be confident that the results reflect the true feelings of the public.  But unlike our national elections, I don’t mind leaving the survey open a little while longer to catch those of you who still have some things to say.  

Below, I've distilled the information that I thought you would find most interesting, I've included a few of the comments, and I've responded to some directly.  If you'd like to look at the data in full, here’s a link to the survey results.  I haven't give you access to the open-ended comments, because some of them were rather personal in nature, and I don't want to compromise anyone's confidentiality.  

 

87% of you were glad you purchased your CSA share.  That’s wonderful!

“I am so happy to be a CSA member!  Having Clagett farm so close to my home is a huge blessing for my family and I.”

Consistent with past years, some people who have to drive a long way to get to the farm or who missed a lot of weeks of the season commented on their lower satisfaction.

 

There was an even split between the people who thought their CSA share met 50-75% of their vegetable needs, versus 75-100%.  That’s a little better than last year, where the majority of members said their share met 50-75% of their needs.  It’s still not as high as we would like.  And since we haven’t found funds for a well yet, next year’s harvest will depend as much on the weather as it has in years past.  We continue to add more deer fencing though, and we saw the benefits of that this year with some nice sweet potatoes, winter squash and sweet peppers.      

 

74% of you thought your interactions with staff were terrific.  This is great, but a little lower than last year for all the pick-up sites.  Satisfaction with staff was especially low at Dupont (although only 10 Dupont members responded, so my confidence in that data is not great).  

“Picking up my share in Dupont was pretty awkward every time.” [Dupont]

“They seemed not too happy this year and I sensed a coveting attitude.” [Farm Saturday] 

“Wonderful, caring, thoughtful farmers and volunteers!” [Farm Saturday]

“Everyone was SO friendly!” [Farm Wednesday]

Thanks for your candor, patience and supportive attitudes.    

 

Mushrooms were the crop mentioned, by far, most often among you as a crop that you wish you had received more this year.  I, too, love mushrooms, but unfortunately, the ones we love most (shiitakes) are quite finicky.  There’s a few weeks in April/May and again around October/November when the weather is just right for the logs to flush their mushroom fruits.  To coax the logs to fruit we have to carry the heavy beasts into tubs of water and then pull them out again a day later.  It’s a tiring job that yields very few pounds of mushrooms per pound of wet log lifted.  Plus, we have to keep the logs misted regularly throughout the summer, when water can be at a premium.  So we will continue maintaining the collection of logs we have, but we probably won’t increase our production in 2017.  

 

Other most commonly mentioned crops that members said they wanted to see more include: potatoes, beans, asparagus, onions, carrots, beets and lettuce.  

 

On the opposite side of mushrooms, are turnips--the crop that was head and shoulders the one that respondents wanted to see LESS in their share.  Sweet potatoes and spicy mix were also notable mentions.

 

It’s interesting to me that okra was not mentioned often, since past surveys tell me that most of you dislike it.  But apparently, with okra we’ve hit the sweet spot of growing just enough for the people who like it, but little enough that it’s easy to avoid by the many of you who don’t.  Whereas with turnips, they grew quite well this year, and we had many pounds of them in weeks when we didn’t have a lot of choices.

 

74% of you said you came to pick your own vegetables, flowers, herbs or fruit at some point in the season.  That’s wonderful.  A number of people mentioned how much they appreciate you-pick--both from people who were happy to get what they did and others who were expecting more.  

“The u-pick was one of our favorite things about coming out to the farm, and many weeks there was nothing but herbs and flowers on u-pick.”

“We utilize the u-pick often, great for the older kids to learn where their food really comes from.”

“LOVE the pick your own option.  We picked tons of tomatoes to freeze and strawberries to eat.  We also made pesto a few times with your basil and got flowers weekly for our table.”

I, also, would love to see more crops available for you to pick for yourselves.  But in the months when we feel limited in what we can offer in your share, we pick the fields clean, and don’t leave anything for you-pick.  We do grow herbs, flowers, chiles, ground cherries, tomatillos and a few thousand feet of tomatoes (including all of our cherry tomatoes) just for you-pick.  Most years we can put spring kale and collards on you-pick, but this year it was so cool and wet, everything that was available to pick went into your share.   

 

General Comments and Questions

“The pickup operations were not consistent with missing items or items gone in the first hour”

“I wished I could've gotten more variety, and the reason I feel I didn't get much variety is because the weight allowances for some groups of vegetables (e.g. take 1 lb of A, B, and C) only allowed me to select one of those items if I wanted everyone in my family to be able to eat it.  And other times I felt like the thing I really wanted in the group always ran out early in the day and I never got any.”

Most weeks we had a few items that we couldn’t harvest in great enough quantity to be able to offer it to everyone.  Mother Nature does not always provide her bounty in easy multiples of 270.  Our general system was to hold onto some of those items and put them out once other items ran out.  So for example, if we knew our members wanted lettuce and carrots, but we didn’t have enough of either, we might put the lettuce out first, and then put out the carrots when the lettuce was gone.  There were a few weeks when we didn’t anticipate a shortfall, and it’s true, the people who came later had fewer options.  We did our best to remedy those situations the following week.  

 

Why limits on items you had PLENTY of- garlic, winter squash, beets?”  

It’s true, we did have a lot of winter squash, but they are quite heavy, and if members took more than their portion of them, we might quickly have dropped below our commitment of donating 40% of our total harvest to the soup kitchens and homeless shelters that use our produce.  As for garlic, we had a fungal disease that wiped out about half our crop.  We thought this might cut into what we were able to give out in our CSA shares, but in the end, we resolved that issue by reducing the amount we used as seed for 2017, and the amount we sold wholesale to MOMs.  Don’t worry--I think we’ll still have plenty to harvest in 2017, in spite of the fact that we’re planting less.  Again, we might not sell any wholesale, but assuming we have taken care of the fungus problem, we should be in good shape for CSA members.  I don’t know what gave the impression that we had plenty of beets.  We always have trouble growing beets, and felt pretty excited to have the few that we got this year.    

 

“I would love if there were more farm events in the coming years and more volunteer opportunities.”

Thanks for the encouragement for more farm events.  This is the moment when the ideas brewing in my mind start to turn to action.  As for volunteer opportunities, if there is anything we have in abundance, it is volunteer opportunities.  In April, we take helpers in our native tree nursery on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  And from May through November, we take helpers every Tuesday through Saturday.  Do call ahead (301-627-4662), but don’t be shy!

 

“I am a senior citizen with a fixed income above the federal poverty line. I wish you had a senior citizen discount. I doubt that I can afford next year. I make $40,000 gross income and the almost $700 fee is more than I can continue to pay.”

I can certainly sympathize.  It wasn’t until I’d worked at the farm for 16 years that I passed the $40,000 salary mark, and $650 is a big chunk of money.  On the other hand, I think it’s a reasonable price for fresh, organic, nutrient-dense, environmentally-sustainable food.  We have considered a senior discount, but we felt that offering reduced prices to people whose income was below 185% of the federal poverty level did a better job of targeting people in the most need.  If we had extra funds for our operation, a higher priority for us is to begin offering a living wage to our seasonal staff, whose starting hourly wage is currently only $10/hour with no benefits (that comes to about $14,400 for 9 months of work, full-time).  

 

“I was surprised that the 2017 share is already open for purchase.  Did you tell us?  I budget for the purchase in January / February.”

Thanks to our marvelous volunteer, Deborah Starobin Armstrong, we were able to start selling shares early this year--I believe it was the week after CSA shares ended in November.  I didn’t do such a great job of getting the word out, but that’s a good goal for 2017.  We were keen not to leave any of you out, though, so we’ve held slots for our returning members.  There’s still plenty of opportunity for everyone to buy their shares, and plenty of room for new members.  Tell your friends!  Wrangle your neighbors and co-workers!

www.cbf.org/clagettsignup

Thank you to all of our CSA members this past year.  And thanks, of course, to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts.  CSA is a true community endeavor.  Sometimes I get a little down when the shares are light, and I feel responsible for not providing the bounty we all crave.  But you all keep reminding me that we're in this together.  No farm can do it all every week.  Our job is to enjoy what we have when we have it.  

Have a terrific winter, everyone!

Your farmer,

Carrie


New Year's Resolution?

Resolved to eat more vegetables in 2017?
Clagett Farm CSA can help!!

Join now for 26 weeks of organic, freshly picked vegetables.
Season runs from May to November 2017

Also get access to a beautiful farm for walking, you-picking and exploring.

More information and order form can be found at:
http://www.cbf.org/join…/more-things-you-can-do/clagett-farm

and you can purchase your share here: https://www.cbf.org/clagettsignup

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Photo by Deborah Starobin Armstrong


Survey time! Also, a harvest chart to help you remember the season.

We'd love to hear your feedback about the 2016 season.  Did you enjoy being a member?  Is there anything you wanted more or less of?  Speak now, before we buy seeds for 2017!

Respond to our survey HERE

Also, we've created a handy chart that you can check out to see what you got in your shares each week this year: Download 2016 Clagett Farm CSA Harvest Chart

You'll notice that we struggled quite a bit before August.  It was a cold, wet spring.  So the shares were smaller than normal when we started in May, and again in July when our summer crops (such as squash, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant) should have kicked in.  But our overall pounds harvested this year (72,835 lbs) came back up to average for us because we had some bumper crops of sweet potatoes and winter squash in the fall.  

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Photograph by Jared Planz, June 2016.
 


Now Available: Christmas Trees and Handmade Wreaths!

Wreaths

 

Local Trees and Wreaths Available for Members and Non-Members 

Wreaths and trees from Clagett Farm will be on sale starting this weekend. Trees can be purchased at the farm, in front of the barns (Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clagett Farm, 11904 Old Marlboro Pike, Upper Marlboro MD 20772) from 10am - 2pm on the 4 weekends after Thanksgiving:

Saturdays and Sundays: Nov. 26 - 27, December 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, or by appointment (301-627-4662) any other day.

About the Holiday Trees

  • Locally grown, minutes outside D.C.
  • Just $40 for any size!
  • All sizes available
  • Pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer-free (you won't find that from any other tree dealer near you)
  • A fun outing for the whole family.
  • We can help cut the tree and strap it to your car.

U-Pick trees are Scotch Pine and White Pine, which grow best in our region. Firs are also available as pre-cut trees.

Why Holiday trees?  Clagett Farm is a hilly place--not the right spot for a lot of plowing.  The hills have been heavily eroded from the years of tobacco farming before our time, which makes them a poor spot for most crops.  Holiday trees are a way of keeping the hills covered in vegetation, providing insect and animal habitat, and still making some money.

About Holiday Wreaths

You can now browse our assortment of beautiful, handmade wreaths.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Supplies are limited so order ahead, and we will prepare the wreath fresh before you arrive at the pick up date you select
  • Please order no later than 9am on the Thursday before your selected pick up date
  • Pick up your wreath during Christmas Tree sale weekends
  • CSA members have the option of farm or Dupont pick up (please see the message in your email)
  • Pay at pick up with cash or check made out to Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • After you place your order you will receive a receipt in your email
  • Check this blog for notifications about availability as the sale goes on

More info and more about the wreaths is available at http://goo.gl/forms/IYTGlJbM8a


This Week's Share: The Final Share of the Season

Winter squash

Thanks to Instagrammer delventhal for this beautiful photo of winter squash!

Welcome to Week 26 -- the final week of the season for us! We hope you've enjoyed this year's CSA. We've certainly enjoyed bringing you fresh vegetables each week. 

ANNOUNCEMENTS & REMINDERS 

This is the final week for 2016: No more shares after today! 

We're looking for a new Dupont pick-up for 2017. As we emailed last week, we're losing the alley space that has been the location of our Dupont pick-up for the past few years. If you have an idea for who might host us in 2017, please let us know

Share sales will start next Wednesday. Shares for 2017 will be available for purchase starting Wednesday, November 16. More to come on that soon! 

Gleaning will start November 18. This year's gleaning at the farm will run from November 18 through November 20. Likely items available include: small amounts of collards, kale, lettuce, turnips; reasonable amount of spicy mix, arugula, broccoli leaves; herbs: mint, sorrel, celery leaf, sage, oregano, thyme, garlic and onion chives. 


THIS WEEK'S SHARE

  • 1/2 pound greens

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes

  • 1 pound total combination peppers, sunchokes, garlic, turnips

WHAT'S ON U-PICK:

  • Herbs 
  • Flowers. As always, any flowers on the farm are fair game. 

 

 

That's it for week 26! Enjoy the final share of the season! 

~ The Clagett Farm Team


The 2017 CSA Needs a New Dupont Pick-Up Location

Hey there CSA members --

We're hoping we can get your help with something. We've been notified that the parking spaces we've been using for the past few years for the Dupont pick-up will no longer be available in 2017, so we're on the hunt for a new spot that can host us once a week for the pick-up. 

Do you have a lead on a potential host? Or have an idea of someone we can contact? If so, please share your idea with us by sending us an email. We'd be very grateful. 

Best,

~ Clagett Farm Team 


This Week's Share: Sweet Potatoes, Greens, Sunchokes and More

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Thanks to Instagrammer delventhal for this awesome photo of a winter squash!  You can always email us your own photos or post them to Instagram with the hashtag #ClagettFarm, and we'll feature them here! 

Welcome to Week 25 -- the penultimate week of the season for us!

Fun fact: We harvested a total of 12,000 pounds of sweet potatoes this year from the acre we planted -- our best-ever year for sweet potatoes! We credit the effective deer fence.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS & REMINDERS 

Only one more week to go: Mark your calendars -- the final shares of the 2016 season will be distributed next Wednesday, Nov. 9 and Saturday, Nov. 12.


THIS WEEK'S SHARE

  • 6 pounds total combination  sweet potatoes + radish + turnips + butternut squash (limit 1 squash per share)
  • 3/4 pound total combination salad greens + sunchokes + kale + collards + loose garlic cloves

 

WHAT'S ON U-PICK:

  • Herbs 
  • Flowers. As always, any flowers on the farm are fair game. 

WHAT TO EXPECT:

The final couple share of this season will include sweet potatoes, radishes, turnips, greens, garlic and sunchokes.

 

That's it for week 25! Enjoy the share! Let us know if you have any questions!

~ The Clagett Farm Team