Many of you confirmed that you would like to re-up for the CSA program this year. My sincere thanks go out to all of you for your wonderful support last year. I know some of you signed up with blind enthusiasm and a somewhat vague notion of what the program entailed! As with any new venture, there were many positive outcomes, several areas for improvement and a few unqualified disasters! I posted an online survey for your feedback at the end of the growing season and would like to pass on the following summary:
• 81 % of respondents heard about the CSA program via word of mouth.
• 73% of respondents felt the concept of Community Supported Agriculture was made adequately clear; 18% were a bit foggy and 9 percent pretty much in the dark!
• Over half of respondents cited buying local as their main reason for joining a CSA and the remainder were fairly evenly divided between eating organic and supporting local agriculture.
• 82% of respondents felt they had chosen the correct share for their needs; 18 percent did not.
• Basket quality was rated as follows: freshness got top marks; people would generally like more variety; packaging was overall rated very good with some good and a few fair; serving size and overall amount were primarily rated fair to good with a few at the low and high end of the scale.
• The pickup arrangements suited all of the respondents provided they could make alternate arrangements when needed.
• 55% of respondents would like to be more involved with the farming operation
• 82% have recommended the CSA program to someone else
Based on your comments, I will be providing a “trade” or “choice item” bin on a regular basis to provide alternatives to those veggies that simply don’t work for you. I have also provided a link to the farm blog in this year’s membership newsletter so that people can get a more complete picture of what our CSA program is about.
Two of the major “lessons learned” from our 2011 CSA year were that we desperately need drainage in our low-lying fields and that the operation requires more hands for optimum production. With this in mind, we will be hiring the services of a back hoe operator to dig ditches and taking on two interns who will live onsite for six months and train to be the next generation of small farm operators.
New in 2012…
This year’s projects include the construction of a much needed cold storage in the hillside and a second greenhouse along the back of the garage. The cold storage will allow us to store produce from fall through to spring and house 30 shares each week. Fertility is an ongoing preoccupation in organic operations, so in addition to the fifteen tons of manure we hauled onto the fields last fall, we are planning to expand our composting capacity with more tumbling composters. Our first foray into raising pastured poultry for meat was so well-received that we are increasing our production significantly this summer and trying a few turkeys as well. We are also planning to market in Chalk River and Deep River this year. That being said, CSA is our core farming model and the members are our priority.
We realize that CSA is not for everyone and that some of you will choose not to continue. Your participation was much appreciated and we hope you will continue to eat fresh and live well 🙂