2018 CSA Survey Results: What You Loved and What You Hated (Post 2 of 3)

Clagett tractor
Moving hay bales at the farm. Click over to Instagram for a cute little video of this.

We're back with more results from the 2018 member survey. Here's the first post about that, in case you missed it.

In sifting through all the responses, it turns out that most of you just want more of everything, and more choices generally.  

But here’s a few highlights worth mentioning:

  • Of the crops we grow, your favorites, in order of preference, are: tomatoes, kale/collards, strawberries, garlic, sweet potatoes and peppers.  Excellent!  Those are all crops we can grow in abundance in a reasonable year.  2019 is going to be a winner -- I can feel it!
  • Your least favorites, in order of distaste are:  stinging nettles, turnips, okra, rhubarb, kohlrabi and ground cherries.  I could have guessed all of those except the ground cherries.  But the ground cherries had an early demise this year, so perhaps some of you got some bad ones while those plants were petering out.  We’ll be more careful next year. For those of you who chose okra, the deer had you covered -- I’ve never seen an animal make such quick work of complete crop destruction.  I was a little sad about it, but I’m glad many of you were not. And while strawberries look VERY promising for 2019, the rhubarb does not (it’s another perennial, so its plant health in the fall is a good indicator for spring success).  Again, I’m a big rhubarb fan, so I’ll do my best to bring that one back to life for 2020 -- I just won’t make you take it if you don’t want it. One thing that’s worth noting is that many of your least favorite items (nettles, turnips, rhubarb and kohlrabi, as well as microgreens, spicy mix and radishes, which were next on the unfavored list) are crops we grow in the spring.  Spring is a tough season -- cold soil, not enough sun, and wild variations in temperature and rain -- so we don’t have as many choices of what to put in your share. Fortunately, almost any fresh spring vegetable is an improvement on winter, so we’re grateful for those of you who take May and June as an opportunity to get creative.
  • 68% of you dried, canned, froze or otherwise stored some of your CSA produce for use in the 6 months we’re apart.  Well done! Almost all of you wished you could have stored more.  I am like the 23% of you who didn’t stock away enough for lack of time, which is why I’ve been muttering lately about not having enough pesto in my freezer or jars of tomato soup on my shelf.  We had SO MUCH BASIL! And even though I regretted not having our normal deluge of tomatoes, there were many weeks with full bins of damaged tomatoes to pick through. Alas... But the reason most of you gave for not storing enough for winter was that we didn’t offer you enough of the vegetables you desired.  Well, indeed, you’re right about that. Here’s hoping for a more prosperous 2019.
  • You wanted more flowers.  I mean, you wanted more of a lot of things, but for you-pick, you wanted more flowers as much as you wanted more strawberries and tomatoes, which is saying something.  As it happens, our flower grower had a baby mid-summer. She was pretty exhausted before, during and after that happened. But she assures me that she is in no mood for a repeat performance in 2019, so we’ve heard your plea for flowers and we’re on it. We’re putting Baby Teddy in charge of the trellis.  I’m kidding. That baby never does what I tell him to.

 

Getting excited for 2019 yet?  You can sign up for a share today! www.cbf.org/clagettsignup

In my next post, we’ll get to the fun part, where you’ve tossed out barrage of questions, requests, imperatives, complaints and compliments, and I do my best to respond.

Your farmer,
Carrie


2018 CSA Survey Results (Post 1 of 3)

Clagett tree
Farmer Carrie shared this image today on Instagram. 

Happy New Year, everybody!

A huge thank-you to everyone who completed the 2018 CSA member survey we sent out. Your answers and comments will help guide us for the upcoming 2019 season and beyond. 

We want to share the survey results with you, and we're going to do that in three separate blog posts. Below, you'll find some basic stats from the survey that give kind 0f a demographic snapshot of who's in the Clagett CSA, and how satsfied everyone was with the 2018 season.

In the next post, you'll find specific details about what everyone liked -- and didn't like -- about last year's mix of produce. 

Finally, the third post will include some of your comments from the survey, along with responses from me.

I hope you find all of this informative and interesting. And thanks again for sharing your thoughts. Your feedback is incredibly valuable.

Now, on to the survey results!

First, the basics:

  • 95 people responded to the survey. Thank you!!
  • The large majority of you (82%) were glad you joined this year.
  • When asked what percentage of your vegetable needs were filled by your CSA share during the 6-month season, the most common response was 61-80%.
  • Almost half of you feed a household of 2.  

Perhaps you are a person who would like to read the results yourself without all my own interpretations muddling it up?  You can! The survey results, straight from SurveyMonkey, are here.  And remember, you can sign up for a 2019 share anytime!

Who is most satisfied with their CSA share?

  • Dupont! 92% of members who picked up at Dupont were glad they joined, compared to 76% and 74% of the people who picked up at the farm on Wednesdays and Saturdays, respectively. Hats off to Garrett Waters and Blake Reichmuth for doing such a great job managing that pick-up! That one took me by surprise, actually, because Dupont members get the same CSA share as everyone else, but seldom come out to the farm for you-pick.  It’s worth noting that our membership at the Dupont pick-up has been slowly declining. Word-of-mouth is our best advertising (especially since we don’t get any walk-by traffic now that we’re tucked in the back of an alley). So Dupont members, tell your friends to sign up!
  • People who thought the share offered 81-100% of their vegetable needs on average, over the 6 month harvest season, were the happiest with their CSA share.  That seems obvious: If the CSA is meeting your needs, you’re happy.
  • Households of 4.  This bit of the data is mysterious to me.  I would have guessed that households of 1 would have had the largest proportion of their vegetable needs met by the CSA share (in fact it is households of 2, if survey responses are to be believed).  And I would have guessed that our success meeting your needs would decline proportionately with household size (turns out it’s not a linear function at all). And I would have guessed the households of 1 would be the most satisfied with their CSA share.  In fact it is households of 4 that are most satisfied, and they are the ones who claim the CSA met the smallest proportion of their household’s vegetable needs (even lower than households of 5-6). Households of 2 were the next happiest with their CSA share (after households of 4).  I have a lot of theories about this. Perhaps people with children value the experience of visiting the farm as much as getting the produce? Perhaps a pair of adults can accommodate an unpredictable medley of vegetables better than a single person who has very particular tastes? But none of my theories hold any water, because why, then, are the 3-person households less happy?  So my dear customers, you are as unpredictable as the weather, and my crops. Naturally.
  • People who commute fewer than 20 minutes.  This one, thank goodness, was a linear function.  The less you have to travel, the more likely your CSA share was worth your investment.  It’s interesting that the people who travelled the farthest were the ones who had been members the longest.  Is that because driving a lot makes you want to be a CSA member longer? No. It’s because you are my stalwart, long-time community.  We’re dear to each other, you and I. We have history. Maybe you’ve moved, or maybe you changed jobs, and you think you’ll try to stick around a little longer even though your commute is longer now.  Maybe you purchased a 13-week share, so you can still enjoy your favorite tomatoes or those fall greens. You still remember what a rush it is when you’re picking gobs of sweet-ripe strawberries or don’t have enough room in your trunk to fit one more basket of ripe tomatoes.  Some years aren’t the greatest? It’s a gamble. We’ll take it.

 

Much more to come in posts 2 and 3!

Your farmer,
Carrie


Christmas Trees and Wreaths 50% Off -- Plus Other News Updates

Carrie wreath

Farmer Carrie displays one of the gorgeous Christmas wreaths avaiable at the farm -- now half off!

Happy December, everyone! 

We have a few notes and news we want to share with you:

  • First, please please please respond to the member survey if you haven't had a chance to already. It's super helpful for us as we plan out the 2019 season.
  • We also want to let you know that our Christmas treets and wreaths are now on sale for 50% off. Call to come by and grab a tree for yourself and a wreath for the hosts of your next holiday party. Pre-cut trees and pre-made wreaths only, while supplies last. There aren't many left! 301-627-4662.
  • Our very own Farmer Carrie was just elected president of the board of Future Harvest - Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture! Congratulations, Carrie!
  • Finally, did you see the news that 2018 is officially the wettest year on record for the Washington, D.C., region? Our veggies love water, but here's hoping 2019 returns to something a bit more normal.

Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season, and a great new year! We've got exciting things in store for 2019!


Please fill out our survey!

This is a QUICK survey this year.  You can do this!  We want to hear your preferences, joys, opinions, cravings, irritations...lay it on us.  The more people answer, the more accurately we can respond to your wishes.  Say what you'd like--we won't know it's you (unless you tell us in the comments).  CSA members and regular volunteers only, please.  

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PF67PPK

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2018--The Debrief

Wow, that was a heck of a year, my friends!  It’s the kind of year that makes me grateful that you, our customers, can support us when weather puts a strain on our ability to grow food. Without you, we surely would have gone out of business.

Image2 (2)

Here’s a round-up:

  • We harvested a total of 36,258 pounds of produce.  That’s a lot of food, but it’s actually our lowest yield since 2001 (our average is 67,194 pounds). Yikes!
  • To prevent giving you half-sized shares all season, we did a few things to get you a better product.  
    • We bought a few things from farmer friends on a couple of occasions (sweet potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers).  
    • And we donated only 25% of our harvest, instead of our 45% target. In fact, our contact at the Capital Area Food Bank said that farms across the area were suffering large losses in yield, so donations of fresh produce were way down this year.  
  • And fortunately, although it was not our intent, we sold only 205 shares (21 of which were half price for low income families), which is down from our typical 270.  Although financially unsustainable for us, that allowed for more food per member this year.
  • Our average weight of one share per week was 5.5 pounds (our average is 7 pounds).

 

A few bright spots:

  • The Capital Area Food Bank connected us with an organization called Brighter Bites, which brings our produce to elementary schools for free distribution to low income families, along with ample nutritional and culinary guidance.
  • We had a lot of wonderful greens this year.  They don’t weigh much, but are a high value item in your shares in the spring and fall.  We also were surprised by how well the onions and fennel grew this year, and our old standby, garlic, was back up to its old rock star yield.

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  • In fact, while the first 13 weeks were slim, the second half of the harvest season was quite good.  The crazy weather moderated for a bit in August and September, and the tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and then the fall greens and roots had a chance to grow normally.  
  • Next year’s strawberry crop was planted this past spring and they look fabulous!  So even though this year’s strawberries were mauled by deer, 2019 strawberries are well-protected and are looking to produce abundantly this coming May.  
  • This is our 26th consecutive year (out of 26) without an outbreak of E.coli contamination.  There were no reports of major illnesses or fatalities. No chemical spray drift accidentally harmed wildlife, our customers or our workers.  All of our employees were paid a fair wage and worked reasonable hours with time off for illness and vacations. Every ounce of food you brought home was good for you and your family’s health, and supported a vibrant ecosystem.  We care about you. You belong here. Romaine, anyone?

 

Why was the year so challenging?

We were hit by one extreme weather event after another.  In March, a tremendous wind storm ripped the brand new cover off of our high tunnel, which set back our earliest tomato and carrot plantings (thanks to warmer weather in May we were able to put it back on, and this time a little more securely).  We had an unusually cold and wet spring that set back the rest of our summer crops. Then June and July we had 6 weeks without a drop of rain. And since then it’s been rain, rain and more rain interrupted by a few weeks here and there of sun and moderation.  Even now, this is the wettest November on record.

Climate change is making life tough for your dear farm, and we are examining our options for adapting to a future of weather extremes.  We will be digging a new well this winter to augment our irrigation during dry spells, and we’ve been working on our strip-tillage system to stabilize the soil and improve absorption of rainwater during wet spells.  But nothing beats a moderate combination of sun and rain! Keep the pressure on our legislators, friends. We must dramatically cut back our production of greenhouse gases.

 

THANK YOU

There’s a lot of new, sustainable growers in our region right now--many of them were trained right here at Clagett Farm.  The average age of farmers in Maryland is 58, which means we need all those new farmers to succeed and train the next generation that will be taking over.  Now is not the time to start buying produce from some other state, delivered to your door.

Nothing supports a farmer like a customer that greets us with a smile and uses our product every single week, all season long.  We need you! You need us! We love you! We’ll see you next year!

-Carrie Vaughn (Vegetable Production Manager), and the rest of the farm staff

 

  


This Week's Share: The Final Week!

Turnips
This photo comes from Jared on the Clagett Farm team, who has been taking beautiful photos of the farm. Thanks Jared!

ANNOUNCEMENTS 

It's the final week! Today and Saturday are the final pick-up days of the season. Thank you for joining us this year. We'll have info about next year available very soon. We hope you return!

Gleaning begins Nov. 16. Every year after the end of the official share season, we give CSA members the opportunity to come harvest whatever produce is still available on the farm. During this time, CSA members can come out to the farm any time of day to pick whatever produce is left. More details to come soon, but here's what we expect to have in various quantities:

  • cabbage leaves
  • bok choi (a little rough looking)
  • broccoli raab
  • spicy mix
  • some turnips (past their prime)
  • tiny fennels
  • arugula
  • Tokyo bekana
  • tiny rutabagas
  • small, red radishes

 

The Fall Beef Sale is happening now! Online ordering of grass-fed beef is now available. Questions can be sent to mheller@cbf.org.  

Christmas tree and wreath sales will begin in December, and will be available to both members and non-members. Wreaths and trees from Clagett Farm 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 12pm - 4pm on the 4 weekends after Thanksgiving: Saturdays and Sundays: Dec. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, or by appointment (301-627-4662) any other day. An online order form will be coming soon -- we'll email you!

Worth a read! Brighter Bites is one of the location organizations to which Clagett Farm donates produce. They published a great article showcasing the impact that the produce has had on their clients, along with adorable photos. Check it out!

Garlic for Sale! We are still selling garlic, at $5/pound (there's about 14 heads in a pound). Garlic can be purchased at either pick-up location.

 

WHAT'S IN THIS WEEK'S SHARE?

  • 1/4 pound loose garlic cloves
  • Choose 1 head savoy cabbage OR 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 pound total combination rutabaga + radishes + peppers
  • 2 pounds greens [options may include kale, collards, lettuce, arugula, Tokyo bekana, spicy mix, tat soi, bok choi)

ON U-PICK THIS WEEK:

  • Herbs: thyme, oregano, sage, mint, garlic chives
  • Flowers: As always, any flowers on the farm can be picked. 


That's it for the week! Enjoy the share! And thank you for a great season.

~ The Clagett Farm Team


This Week's Share: Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Eggplant and More

Clagett 10-31-2018

Check out this lovely moonrise over the farm, posted on Instagram by elaine_lutz. Beautiful!

Want to see your photos featured in this weekly email? Just snap a pic and either email it to us or post it to Instagram with the hashtag #ClagettFarm!

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS 

Sorry about last week's email. Apologies that you didn't get a share email from us last week. We were very short-staffed and managing a large group of volunteers on the farm. We just weren't able to get it out on time. Sorry about that!

Burger & Brews for the Bay was a big success! You can see lots of great photos here. Thanks to everyone who came out to join us at the farm on Oct 21!

Just one more week left in the season. The final pickup days will be next Wednesday, Nov. 7 and next Saturday, Nov. 10.

Gleaning begins Nov. 16. Every year after the end of the official share season, we give CSA members the opportunity to come harvest whatever produce is still available on the farm. During this time, CSA members can come out to the farm any time of day to pick whatever produce is left. More details to come!

Christmas tree and wreath sales will begin on Dec. 1. More details to follow on that as well.

Planning for 2019: We're already thinking about next year! We have already begun our planning for the 2019 CSA season. As a preview, we are looking at adding a Thursday pick-up in Annapolis. Once we have our plans fully baked we'll be sending out emails to everyone to register.

 

WHAT'S IN THIS WEEK'S SHARE?

  • 1/4 pound garlic cloves
  • 2 pounds total combination sweet potatoes + carrots
  • 2 pounds total combination peppers + eggplant
  • 1 pound greens [including arugula and spicy mix, both of which will have a 1/4 pound maximum]

 

ON U-PICK THIS WEEK:

  • Lots of herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, sage, onion chives, garlic chives, cilantro, basil, lemongrass, lemon balm, malabar (a spinach susbtitute), mint 
  • Flowers: As always, any flowers on the farm can be picked. 


That's it for the week! Enjoy the share! 

~ The Clagett Farm Team


Burgers & Brews for the Bay is THIS SUNDAY! Plus, All the Info on This Week's Share

Burgers-and-brews-for-the-bay-header-2017

 

Burgers & Brews for the Bay is this Sunday, Oct. 21

Come out to the farm for an afternoon of hay rides, crafts, bluegrass and other family fun. Oh yeah, and 7 different food stations manned by some of the top chefs in the area, plus 7 different regional beers. Here's a sneak peak at the menu.

The weather looks beautiful and crisp -- the perfect way to spend an autumn Sunday afternoon!

So buy your tickets now!

Proceeds go to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's efforts to defend and protect the Bay.

 

MORE ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Worried about vampires this Halloween season? Garlic is for sale at the farm pickup for $5 a pound. (Also, since a few of you have asked, we also have larger garlic, which we set aside to use as garlic seed, available for $12 a pound.)

End-of-the-season: Just a friendly reminder that we're winding down the 2018 produce season. The final CSA pickup days will be Nov. 7 and 10.

 

WHAT'S IN THIS WEEK'S SHARE?

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 1/4 pounds sweet potatoes (from our friend Mike Protas at One Acre Farm. Note: We're leaving them mostly unwashed because they store better that way. Be sure to wash them thoroughly before you eat!)
  • 1 1/4 pounds total combination cabbage + acorn squash
  • 1/4 pound total combination salad greens (including spicy mix, tat soi and Tokyo bekana) + kale
  • 1 pound total combination peppers + collard greens
  • 3/4 pound turnips
  • 1 3/4 pounds eggplant

 

ON U-PICK THIS WEEK:

  • Lots of herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, sage, onion chives, garlic chives, cilantro, basil, lemongrass, lemon balm, malabar (a spinach susbtitute), mint 
  • Flowers: As always, any flowers on the farm can be picked. 


That's it for the week! Enjoy the share! 

~ The Clagett Farm Team


This Week's Share: Winter Squash, Cabbage, Greens and More

Clagett 10-10-2018

Farmer Mike's last day with Clagett. He stepped in for a couple of months when Elissa and Jared welcomed baby Teddy into this world. Thanks, Mike, for the hard work and good conversation around the farm. This photo was posted to the Clagett Farm Facebook page. To see more photos and posts from that page, head over there and click the "Follow" button. 

Want to see your photos featured in this weekly email? Just snap a pic and either email it to us or post it to Instagram with the hashtag #ClagettFarm!

 

Keep vampires away! Garlic is for sale at the farm pickup. It's $5 a pound.

 

Burgers & Brews for the Bay: Seven chef stations. Seven local beers. One awesome bluegrass band. Eight days left to buy your tickets!

The annual Burgers & Brews for the Bay event is coming up fast -- October 21, at Clagett Farm. Don't miss it! Here's the link for tickets and more informtaion.

Proceeds go to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's efforts to defend and protect the Bay.

 

End-of-the-season: It's that time of year. Counting this week, there are only 5 shares left of the 2018 produce season. The final CSA pickup days will be Nov. 7 and 10.

 

WHAT'S IN THIS WEEK'S SHARE?

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 1/4 pounds total combination kale + collards + spicy mix + chiles
  • 1 winter squash
  • 2 pounds total combination peppers + eggplant
  • 1 1/2 pounds total combination radishes + bok choi + turnips

 

ON U-PICK THIS WEEK:

  • Lots of herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, sage, onion chives, garlic chives, cilantro, basil, lemongrass, lemon balm, malabar (a spinach susbtitute), mint 
  • Flowers: As always, any flowers on the farm can be picked. 


That's it for the week! Enjoy the share! 

~ The Clagett Farm Team