<p>Happy holidays to all!</p> <p>I suspect this does not qualify as holiday reading, but here is a summary of the results of our 2003 CSA Members Survey. First, thanks to all shareholders and worksharers who went through the trouble of completing the survey. The response rate was good, and this, of course, helps us to do a better job in the future.</p> <p><strong>Where did you pick up?</strong> 32 percent of responding shareholders picked up their shares at Dupont, 8 percent at Anacostia, and 60 percent at the farm (45 percent on Tuesdays, and 15 percent on Saturdays.) Responding shareholders ran the gamut from first year newbies to ten-year veterans (CSA members who were with us right from the beginning.)</p> <p><strong>What do you want us to grow more of? </strong>Your selections were very wide: 29 different vegetables were listed! Here I’m mentioning only the ones that got that most votes. <strong>Winter squash </strong>was the winner, closely followed by <strong>eggplant</strong>, <strong>peas</strong>, and <strong>sweet potatoes</strong>. A little bit behind, but also part of the leading pack were <strong>broccoli</strong> and <strong>corn</strong>. </p> <p>These results reflect the peculiarities of the 2003 growing season. Last year shareholders got plenty of eggplant. Alas, not so this year. While in 2002 shareholders only half-jokingly said that they were being overwhelmed by the amount of sweet potatoes in their shares, 2003 was the exact opposite. While in 2002 we harvested a significant amount of winter squash, in 2003 stem rot destroyed all of our winter squash crop. Ironically, this year we actually spent more time working in the winter squash field. Oh, well.</p> <p><strong>What would you rather not see?</strong> Once again, <strong>okra </strong>was the most polarizing vegetable. By far it was the veggie that got the most negative votes, but then it also had a significant share of enthusiastic backers. Somewhat surprising for me, <strong>kohlrabi</strong> followed okra among the least popular crops (even though there was so little of it this year). Those two had the highest negatives. Although behind them, <strong>cauliflower</strong> and <strong>collards</strong> also got a significant number of negative votes. All of these veggies, however, also had loyal backers. <br /><br /><strong>Of what we didn’t provide, what would you want us to add to your share?</strong> The clear winner here was <strong>strawberries</strong>. This is good news, because next season will be our first strawberry season. Last spring we planted two strawberry varieties and they should be ready for harvest this coming year. If they do well, we will probably plant more. Other crops that several of you want us to grow include <strong>asparagus</strong>, <strong>fennel</strong> and <strong>parsnips</strong>. We are thinking about planting them. Keep in mind, though, that asparagus is a perennial that needs at least a couple of years to be ready for harvest.</p> <p><strong>Pick-Up. </strong>Most of you were happy with your pick-up sites. 21 percent did suggest some changes: a second scale at the Dupont site, the expansion of drop-off hours, and the addition of another site (in Takoma Park, Silver Spring or College Park) were the most common suggestions. Taking the latter into consideration, early next year (wait for our announcement) we are willing to coordinate a shareholder-driven effort to find an additional site. A critical mass of interested shareholders is needed, however. Also, Clagett Farm would not be able to provide transportation for it. This is something that interested members would have to organize among themselves.</p> <p><strong>U-Pick.</strong> According to the survey, 54 percent of shareholders “you-picked” extra vegetables while visiting the farm. The most common suggestion among U-Pickers was for us to provide better signs. We will.</p> <p><strong>Staff.</strong> You were generous with us, the farm staff. 95 percent stated that we provided adequate assistance. Thanks! </p> <p><strong>Was the share price worth it?</strong> 64 percent replied that it was indeed worth it. 24 percent thought that usually it is, but not in 2003. 12 percent stated that it was not. </p> <p><strong>Weblog. </strong>The majority of shareholders found the weblog useful, but a significant number have never checked it. Many of you would like to be notified by email when there any changes in the weblog. We will do that. We will implement a system in which shareholders will be notified (once a week) if there are additions to the weblog. Shareholders will also be notified by email of any time-sensitive information posted on the weblog. These email notices will include the relevant link.</p> <p>Some of your suggestions for the weblog: inform members about what to expect in the coming share, include recipes for the veggies provided in any given share, write more about the season and life at the farm, keep on with the pictures. <br /><br />A quick reminder. This weblog supports comments. If you want to comment on anything posted on it, just click on <strong>comment</strong> at the bottom of the post and write. If you want a more interactive weblog, do not hesitate to comment. </p> <p><strong>5K. </strong>According to the survey, 42 percent of shareholders are interested in participating in a 5K run/walk at the farm, 21 percent wrote that maybe they will participate, and 37 percent are not interested.</p> <p><strong>Dinner and Dance. </strong>Similar numbers. 38 percent are interested, 31 percent are maybes, and 31 percent are not interested. </p> <p>Nothing has been decided, but these numbers are very encouraging.</p> <p><strong>What you liked the most? </strong>Common responses: variety and freshness of the vegetables, exposure to previously unknown veggies, going to the farm, the CSA concept itself, and being informed about the progress of the growing season. Honorable mention: Cassie, the one and only, was also cited (for those who don’t know her, Cassie is the resident farm dog.)<br /><br /><strong>What you liked the least?</strong> Common responses: rush hour commute to pick up the share, lack of sweet potatoes, smaller shares than on the previous year.</p> <p><strong>Do you plan to continue membership next year? </strong>Despite the fact that 2003 was not a good harvest year, we are encouraged that 71 percent of you stated that you will indeed renew your membership. 16 percent wrote that maybe you will renew, while 13 percent said that you will not.</p> <p>This wraps up the survey summary. Thank you very much and enjoy the holidays!</p>
Seven photos were added to this year's photo album (a couple of them were already published in the weblog.) To jump directly to these last photos click <a href="http://kolya.typepad.com/photos/farm/barn_at_sunset.html">here</a>. To start from the beginning, click on the photos link on the left sidebar.