May is the best month for your CSA, but most difficult for your farmer!

Bell's Best Berries

In May, our CSA bags contain lots of leafy vegetables, asparagus, strawberries and lettuce.   A typical bag might include lettuce, kale, chard, new potatoes, asparagus, strawberries, turnips, arugula, and plenty of fresh herbs.  In the field, things are not quite so easy and beautiful.  May is the time when many of the fields are turned from winter crops to summer crops.  That means that there is a fine balance between having enough of all the beautiful leafy vegetables and tearing down the leafy vegetables to make room for tomatoes and other summer crops.  May is also the time when labor intensive crops are ready to be harvested such as crops that must be dug and washed (potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets).  Harvesting all the beautiful leafy vegetables gets harder and harder as the weather warms up.  Leafy vegetables don’t do well in the heat and have to be harvested when it is still cool.  So, we are out there at daylight cutting kale and lettuce, working at breakneck speed to get it all done before it gets too hot.  Yesterday we harvested 18 CSA bags of lettuce, kale, chard, mizuna, pac choy, and herbs.  Then we harvested 50 pounds of other leafy vegetables for local restaurants, all before 9:00 am.   After a quick morning break we immediately went to digging carrots and harvesting root vegetables.  Cleaning and packing it all happens in the afternoon.   I’m so happy to have our amazing farm help during this time.   

We have a great young farm helper named Jonathan.  His number one responsibility is to prep and pack our CSA bags.  We have been working closely with Jonathan to check and double check everything that goes in those bags.  Did he include eggs if they were ordered?  Does everything look perfect?  Jonathan is only 15 years old, but we couldn’t do this without him.   He is accountable for not only putting the right things in the bag, but also making sure it all looks perfect. 

We also struggle with the question of what to do with special requests.  Traditionally the CSA model was that the customer gets whatever is in local and in season.  There were no special requests unless maybe someone wanted to buy an extra dozen eggs or maybe some extra berries.  This year several of our members have asked for special things such as “no onions please” or “no potatoes please, replace with onions”.   We love our CSA members and honestly would do about anything to keep them thrilled with their CSA bags.  Thus far we have simply written these requests on the card that Jonathan uses when he packs the bag.  So far, he has managed to accommodate these requests without too much trouble.  I can imagine that if everyone in our CSA decided to start emailing me their special requests, I might go crazy and probably would not be able to keep it all straight.  But, for now, Jonathan seems to be able to manage it and we are really glad that we can help these members be thrilled with their produce bags.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can maintain this balance between taking some special requests and not going crazy. 

-Robin

 

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