Sunday, June 20, 2010

A successful CSA?

Hi all:
I hope everyone enjoyed the amazingly hot weather this weekend. We just had a major thunderstorm at the farm and the garden is bursting from the heat/rain. I want to take a few posts to discuss some things that don't necessarily have to do with the harvest and what's in each week's share. Plus, I have some photos that don't fit during the Friday posts so I'll include those too.
I want to take this first post to discuss communication. One of the most important aspects of the CSA model of food sovereignty (to learn more about the concept of food sovereignty please visit: is the fact that you get to know the person who is growing your food. That doesn't need to be (and shouldn't be) limited to knowing his/her name or seeing his/her picture on a website. Rather, you get to actually know the person who is growing your food. You get to see where it is grown and ask questions. You cannot get that from the industrial food system. Try finding something out about anything...anything...that you find in the grocery store.
So what does that mean? Communication is possible and vital to the success of the local food movement and it's participants (you and I). As the farmer, I need to tell you what is in the share, how it is grown, why we do certain things, etc. But I also hope to hear from each of our CSA members throughout the season with anything you might be thinking. Do you like the things in the share? What don't you like? Are you getting enough each week? Are you getting too much. If everyone of our members hates chard and throws it away each week it doesn't make sense for me to grow it. (I hope everyone doesn't hate chard :-) Without hearing from our members we can only guess at these things. It's vital that I know, instead of guessing.
As an example, each winter I contact our members regarding whether or not they plan to return to the CSA in the upcoming season. Unless I hear from someone I end up contacting them several times. This season, I contacted one family right up until about a month before the first delivery. I finally heard from them that they would not be participating this year. The reason was that they were disappointed with the amount of produce.
This is a perfect example of a breakdown in the advantages of the CSA model. I never heard from this person after they originally signed up for the 2009 season. Never telling the farmer if you have suggestions for improvement or offering constructive criticism doesn't help anyone. Our farm is out the CSA member and that person/family is out the local, beyond organic produce. I would much rather have made adjustments during the season to the share amounts. It's very rare that I wouldn't have the ability to do that. I routinely have people not return because they got too much food. How do I know unless they tell me.
So I'm hoping to hear from each of our members and families throughout the season with any thoughts you might have. I love to hear great things but I also need to know if you have any issues. I might not be able to fix them but I can certainly try or explain why not. Personally, I think that's the only way we'll be able to keep our local food chain secure and grow our ability to provide for ourselves within the community instead of relying on a global food system that does not have the health of our families, communities or the planet in mind.
Emily and I are also looking at the calendar to find a date to hold our first annual Parker Produce CSA Picnic. We really want to encourage all of our members to visit the farm and see first hand how things are done and meet us (and we'd like to meet all of you). We hope to get out an invitation soon!
Now, onto some photos from the farm! First and foremost, our new salad mixer! We're very happy with the way this came out. I built it over the last two weeks at night and when it rained. Brittany and I tested it out with the share this week and it works great. I only need a few modifications as we work out the kinks.
Also, each day we give the compost pile a good dose of fresh green material from the garden. No day is as kind to the compost pile as harvest day though. You don't get to see all of the things that don't make it into the share. Rotten leaves on the bottom of lettuce are cut off. Any weeds that are easily picked during harvest, tops of scallions, etc. All gets recycled in our compost pile. Here is the pile before the harvest last Friday.

And here it is after! Great amounts of green material are needed to activate the biology of the pile and the temperature inside a well kept pile can reach 160+ degrees F! That's what we're going for as optimal.
Also, we have been moving the baby chickens every day or two onto fresh pasture. Here they are next to the adults. The older hens weren't very thrilled with this move. They seem to be getting used to it now but they wanted to let me know they weren't impressed. Message received! I moved them again today!

Take care until Friday everyone and please remember to let me know your thoughts throughout the season! Talk to you all soon.

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