April on the Farm: in the office

IMG_1529Our Spring-Summer CSA started April 1st!  This is an exciting and busy time of  year.  Our favorite part of this farming business is the CSA, because we absolutely love our members.  Every one of them is so interesting.  We have found there are several reasons that people join a CSA.  Here are the reasons we see most often:

1.  They want to eat more fresh vegetables.

2.  They want chemical free fruits and vegetables.

3.  They want to support the local economy.

4.  They have a specific health concern such as diabetes or cancer.

5.  They are athletes and very committed to their physical wellbeing.

6.  They are foodie cooks!

The key to managing the CSA is staying organized.  There are so many things to remember and keep together.  We use a web based computer program called Small Farm Central to help with this.  This program will give me a weekly print out of all the CSA members, where they pick up, and what they get.  It also allows the member or myself to enter vacations, change a delivery site temporarily, add an extra delivery, or note a different person picking up.  Our week starts with our Small Farm Central Print out and a count of all the members of each type at each location.  We make a tag for their bag and cross reference the number of tags with the numbers of members of each type we counted.  It should all be the same.  If it isn’t, then we have to figure out what went wrong.  You would be surprised how easy it is to make a mistake.  Check, check, and double check.   Once we have the print out, we count how many members get a Standard, Mini, Big, or Juice bag and how many get eggs.  Then we determine the produce we have available, and decide what is going in the bags.  The Standard bags get 10 items and the Mini gets 5.  I try to put only one “unusual” item in the bags each week.  I have found that members get stressed if their weekly bag of veggies is too difficult because of unfamiliar items.  They seem to like lots of the basics and a small bit of the exotic.   Then I make cards that go to the packhouse that tell our helper, Jonathan, what to put in the bags.  Although he is only 15 years old, he does an amazing job.  We couldn’t do without our farm help.  He packs bags on Monday evening for Tuesday delivery and on Friday evening for Saturday delivery.  Each bag has all the right veggies, eggs if they were ordered, and a label with the customer’s name on it.  This works.   Every Sunday afternoon we send an email to the CSA members letting them know what to expect in their bags.  I know they need to plan their meals and their shopping.  The problem with this is that we have to estimate on Sunday what will be ready the entire following week and how much we will have.  It actually works out pretty close normally, however, occasionally we run out of an item or something I thought would be ripe didn’t quite get there.  In this case, I tell Jonathan to replace the item with anything else he can find on the farm.  That is always interesting!  Our members are almost always gracious about small discrepancies in the pack list.  We have only had one who really had a hard time with this.  I felt badly, but she actually ended up leaving the CSA because the bag didn’t always contain exactly what we said it would have.  I think for her, she may not have understood that this is not like a grocery store where we can just go grab things off the shelf.  We are trying to predict Mother Nature.  Being able to live with the ups and downs of Mother Nature is part of being a CSA member.

We hope you are enjoying your veggies, and if someone wants to be added to the waiting list, please contact us.  Next post will be April on the Farm, with pictures of what’s happening around here. Until then…

Eat your veggies!

Bell

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