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