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November 2004
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January 2005

Summary of 2004 Survey Results

<p><span face="Arial">Remember those surveys? Here is our summary of the results. You know your particular likes and dislikes, but by reading this summary you will have a fairly good idea of the preferences of your &quot;average&quot; fellow shareholder.</span></p> <p>Let’s start by combining the results of the first two questions: Of those who completed the survey, 68 percent were shareholders that picked up their shares at the farm. Among them, Saturday and Tuesday members were equally represented at 34 percent each. 27 percent of responders were Dupont Circle shareholders and 5 percent picked up at Anacostia. Responders ran the gamut from seasoned ten year veterans to first-time members. </p> <p><strong>Which three vegetables would you like us to grow more of next year?</strong></p> <p>If we are talking of favorite veggies, there is little doubt that tomatoes would top the list (or certainly be among the top two), but that is not what we asked. In any event, judging from your answers, we can state with confidence that you love variety. Forty-three different crops made the list! Here we will only list the eight most frequently mentioned. Broccoli was first--31 percent of responders wanted more of it. Second place goes to green/purple beans, requested by 21 percent of responding members. Corn took third place (18 percent). Beets and spinach were next (17 percent each), and after that carrots, lettuce and peas were tied, each getting 16 percent.</p> <p><strong>Considering our space limitations, if you were the sole decision maker which three vegetables you would not grow in our farm in order to have more space for your favorite ones?</strong></p> <p>This year, poor turnips won the dubious honor of being the least popular veggie, 29 percent of shareholders expressed willingness to give turnips the ax. Okra, which usually wins this competition, was selected by 24 percent of the responders. Kohlrabi came in a distant third with 14 percent. In addition to these three, twenty-eight other crops were mentioned, but all of them lagged behind considerably. Nevertheless, even the unpopular veggies had fans that wanted more of them. If 29 percent of shareholders dislike turnips, this means that 71 percent like them or at least do not mind having them. </p> <p><strong>Of the vegetables and herbs we didn’t provide, which ones you would want us to grow?</strong></p> <p>Asparagus and rosemary were the most frequently requested (at 15 percent each), followed by onions (12 percent). Thirty-two other crops were mentioned, but those three were clearly ahead of the pack. As some of you know, asparagus is a perennial crop that takes a few years to establish. Once established, though, the same bed should produce for fifteen years or longer. We planted asparagus last spring and in the spring of 2005 we expect to harvest only a small amount. In 2006 we expect to harvest it fully. We will plant rosemary and hope to have onions in our shares next year. </p> <p><strong>Is there anything you would change about your pick-up site, or how the vegetables were displayed and distributed?</strong></p> <p>Over two thirds (68 percent) of members expressed satisfaction and did not suggest any changes. Although we are happy with that, we appreciate the feedback of those who thought that we should improve. The most common pet peeve (10 percent of responders had the same complaint) was that the farm pick up area has become too crowded. This is interesting because this was the first year we had this complaint. It means that we reached a critical mass and that in order to serve the same number of shareholders we should rearrange our set up at the wash station. We will. 8 percent of members wrote that they wanted us to add more scales. This, of course, is related to the perceived overcrowding--an additional scale or two would ease any bottlenecks. The next most common suggestion was to move the Saturday pick up from the afternoon to the morning. At this point we are not inclined to this because of two reasons. First, only a very small percentage of shareholders had this suggestion. Second, most of the produce is harvested in the morning and distributed in the afternoon (or evening) of the same day. If we switch to Saturday morning distributions, besides additional work for us (storing the produce for the next day), the veggies will not be as fresh. </p> <p><strong>Did you have adequate assistance from the farm staff?</strong></p> <p>We are grateful that most of you thought that we provided you with good assistance. 96 percent of the responses were unambiguously positive. There were no outright negative comments, but 4 percent of the replies were somewhat mixed. </p> <p><strong>Did you ever &quot;you-pick&quot; extra vegetables for your share? Is there anything you would change?</strong></p> <p>Plenty of &quot;You Pickers&quot;! 65 percent of members you-picked at the farm. And this also included several Dupont and Anacostia shareholders. Among your suggestions, the most common was to improve the signs and have more of them. It addition, it was suggested to have a have a large laminated map of the farm in the wash station, as well as smaller maps for shareholders to take during walks around the farm. We will work on all those suggestions. </p> <p><strong>Was your share worth the price this year?</strong></p> <p>Well, the vast majority (85 percent) thought that the share was worth the price. 11 percent was not quite sure, and 4 percent felt that it was not worth it. </p> <p><strong>If this is not your first year as member, is it worth the price most years?</strong></p> <p>78 percent of old-timers think that our share prices are worth it most years. 22 percent replied with some ambiguity, but no old timer stated that the price is not worth it most years. </p> <p><strong>Have you checked the weblog? Do you find it useful?</strong></p> <p>Although most of you (63 percent) had checked the weblog, it was surprising that a full 37 percent of shareholders had not. Of those who had read the weblog, 87 percent found it useful or very useful, 11 percent had a mixed opinion and 2 percent did not find it useful at all. </p> <p><strong>Is there anything you would change or add to the weblog?</strong></p> <p>There were several suggestions. By far the most common was to have more posts and to update the weblog more frequently. We heard you! Our weblog will be more active during the growing season. Other common suggestions: preview the veggies coming up in the next share, notify weblog updates by email, have more input from shareholders and worksharers, and add more recipes. All these are excellent suggestions. Let us just add, though, that members can increase the interactivity of this weblog by sending comments to it. Just click on the comment link at the bottom of the post you want to comment on, write, and send. </p> <p><strong>Did you have enough access to information about the farm?</strong></p> <p>Although the vast majority (78 percent) thought that you had enough access to farm information, we will try to improve on this and make it easier for everyone, including those who think we are not quite up to par on this score (18 percent gave us mixed reviews on this and 4 percent thought we did not provide enough access.)</p> <p><strong>What was the thing you liked the most about your CSA this year?</strong></p> <p>It’s always fun to read what people liked about their year as CSA members. Fresh, quality produce was the number one response. The wide variety of veggies was the second most popular response. Coming to the farm itself was also one of the things you liked the most about being CSA members. Other common replies were U-Picking vegetables and strawberries, trying new veggies, our commitment to low income people, and the fact that the farm follows sustainable practices. </p> <p><strong>What was the thing you liked the least about your CSA this year?</strong></p> <p>Even though so many of you loved to visit the farm, somewhat paradoxically the most common &quot;least liked&quot; aspect about the CSA was the commute to the farm (this was mentioned by 17 percent of those who completed the survey.) There were other items in the &quot;things you liked the least&quot; list, but those dislikes were not nearly as common as the commute issue.</p> <p><strong>Do you plan to continue membership next year? </strong></p> <p>We are happy that 71 percent of shareholders wrote that they will continue membership next year. 16 percent were unsure and 13 percent stated that they will not be renewing. </p> <p><strong>If not, what are the two main reasons for not continuing?</strong></p> <p>The primary two reasons for not renewing were (1) the long commute to the pick up site, and (2) member either moving to another place or changing jobs making the pick up impossible or much more difficult.</p> <p><strong>Anything else you would like us to know?</strong></p> <p>The most common response here was &quot;Thanks!&quot; And we thank you back for your feedback and support. If you are curious you may want to peruse the summary of the 2003 survey. Click <a href="http://kolya.typepad.com/clagettfarm/2003/12/summary_of_2003.html">here</a> to do that.&nbsp; </p> <p></p>

Clagett Farm 2005 calendar

<div>Roshani Kothari, a friend of the farm, volunteer and worksharer, created a 2005 calendar with images from Clagett Farm. It's a one page pdf document that you can view and save by going <a href="http://www.globalmosaics.com/2005farm.PDF">here</a>. Thanks, Roshani!</div>

Reflections of a postmodern farm worker

<div id="message"><div><p><span face="Arial"><em>We are grateful for having Hans Friedhoff work for us during the 2004 season. His intellectual curiosity and wry humor combined with a good heart made him a wonderful companion while we toiled in the fields. We asked him to write a piece about his farm experience. Here it is</em></span><span face="Arial"><em>.</em></span></p> <p></p> <p><span face="Arial"><a href="http://kolya.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/hans.jpg"><img title="Hans" height="195" alt="Hans" src="https://kolya.typepad.com/clagettfarm/images/hans.jpg" width="140" border="0" style="FLOAT: right; MARGIN: 0px 0px 5px 5px" /></a> In our postmodern world, where pretension and angst are fashionably adorned with perverted moralities, one is sometimes hard-pressed to reflect positively about our experiences. Sullen and brooding always inspires a trendier contingent. Certain brands of twenty-four year olds (myself excluded, of course), enthusiastically press each other for evidence of latent pathologies, self-torture or psychotic episodes; the more twisted, outlandish elements being taken as evidence of a healthy skepticism and a life richly lived over traditional morality and conventionality. So when I announced that I would spend the summer working on a farm in Maryland, reactions frequently hung between incredulity and outright suspicion. A reluctant suspicion among the more traditional, &quot;adult&quot; element, that either I had lost all sense of the progress America had made since the industrial revolution or that finally that twisted liberal arts postmodernist morality had taken me over the edge of reasonable behavior and into bed with the cows. And as for the younger, darker element, the farm was just a touch hokey. So much the better if we were to start in with the cows, surely that would be cooler and more subversive, I imagined them thinking. </span></p> <p></p> <p></p> <p>Prior to arriving at Clagett Farm, I had been working at an office job in downtown Seattle – a truly mind-numbing activity that, ironically, never aroused the same suspicion about my sanity as has my presence on the farm. The office is a place that helps one breed a darker sensibility and while that may be popular with the cynical twenty-something existentialist crowd, it does not do much toward nurturing a healthy mental space.<br /><br />Despite being far too positive to have much effect on my more sardonic arguments about the depravity and absurdity of human experience, my tenure on the farm has revived a fundamental curiosity about basic structures that is too often absent in everyday life. Throughout the summer it has forced the question <em>–why this is so? </em>It can sometimes be a difficult question in a culture that frequently forces us to sell ourselves as the final arbiters of truth on matters about which we speak and which, in terms of questions, generally regards simple and stupid as intimate bedfellows. We have long been a society of proud answerers in which humble questions are seen more as signs of weakness or naivete. I suppose that any job has the potential to force this question, but my experience on the farm has had an elemental quality that places that question above others. </p> <p>There is the sense that one is among basic elements here. Uncovering the shape of those elements means uncovering the answer to essential questions bigger than asking why is it better to hoe during the mid-morning than in the late afternoon or why should we pluck the flowers in the new strawberry field. It inspired in me an itchy sort of intellectual groping aimed at uncovering the essential qualities of those things that we face every day and frequently think nothing more about. It’s a form of discovery more profound than most of us have regular occasion to make and one that has troubled authors and scientists alike. It’s an exercise undertaken by farmers all the time and it’s ironic that as a class they are so often regarded as unsophisticated as they may seem to be. In any case, my experience on the farm has reminded me of the sheer excitement of curiosity and discovery, and that questions regarded as simple generally prove to be the most honest and often uncover the sharpest understanding. </p> <p>So passed the 04 growing season, light on the angst, not even a touch of psychotic behavior to help us ‘keep it real,’ but all the more substantive for it. Working on Clagett Farm is an experience that I wish was more reflective of the way I have lived. I will always perceive how integral the work we’ve done here is to us as individuals and community. Thank you to all.</p></div></div>