Thank you for your Feedback
The vegetable fields are already covered in snow, and I miss being outside in the sunshine all day long, playing in the dirt. While mother nature may think she has given us another good smack-down by sending us an early snowstorm (we got about 10″ here), the reality is that we have a lovely view of our quiet, dormant, farm.
Here on the farm, winter is a time for regeneration and planning for the future. As I begin making plans for the 2015 CSA, I first take into consideration the feedback you provided me from this year’s CSA. So here are the results of the end-of-season survey.
Total 2014 CSA members: 48
Full share members: 22
Half share members 26
Total number of surveys returned: 33
Participated in a CSA in the past – yes: 19 No: 14
Quality of produce – Excellent: 29 Satisfactory: 4
Quantity of produce in each box – Not enough: 1 Just right: 29 Too much: 4
Variety of produce – Not enough: 6 Just right: 26 Too much: 1
Communication: Satisfactory: 33
Overview of comments
- Overwhelmingly everyone agreed that they enjoyed the weekly updates and appreciated the sense of humor and creativity. (thank you!)
- Many comments of praise and encouragement which I genuinely appreciate – in fact I’m smiling right now as I browse through the surveys once again.
- Several comments expressed acknowledgement that the weather was terrible and recognized that this affected the variety of produce in each box, but understood it could not be controlled.
- One survey expressed disappointment due to not enough variety and will not sign up again next year.
- One survey stated they wanted to order two full shares next year.
Common comments about produce:
-too many cucumbers
-want more lettuce/greens
-too much lettuce/greens
-want more kale
-too much kale
-loved the broccoli
-loved the tomatoes
-loved the eggs (those who purchased eggs)
What I learned
The 2014 growing season was extremely difficult. The non-stop rain and cold in the spring turned the soil into jiggly, gelatinous slop, making the fields unplantable until the end of June. In fact it was so bad that many farmers in this area still had standing, unharvested corn from 2013 still in the field as late as 4th of July…a time when their new crop should be knee high. Overall, for Kanabec and Pine Counties, it was a horrible growing season.
So what did I learn from this?
Better communication with my CSA members - Farming is a tough and risky business that is completely dependent on the weather – something no earthly being can control. As a farmer, I accept that risk. But one of the key components of being a member of a CSA is that you share the risk with the farmer. In my weekly newsletters, I work really hard to keep the news up-beat, and not whine about the weather or all of the other dilemmas encountered each week. And the truth is, even through all of the hardships I face, I don’t let it discourage me and I press on through it. But I realized that I do need to do a better job of telling you, my CSA members, the problems I face. If I expect you to share the risks with me, you need to know the risks I deal with to grow, harvest, clean, pack, store, and deliver your produce. This year I had a LOT of crop failure. Of the 65 different kinds of produce I planted, about 20% of them failed, due to the crazy cold, wet spring…and I should have kept you more informed about specifically what was happening out in the fields and how it will affect the harvest. And then there was the day I woke up to find that the thermostat in the walk-in cooler failed and ended up freezing everything I spent the previous day harvesting. Sigh.
Grow more in the hoop house – I love my hoop house. I know you’ve heard me say that over and over. And this year, well over half of all of the crops for the CSA were grown in the hoop house. It doesn’t matter what the weather outside is doing, inside the hoophouse, all is good. So now I’m going to figure out ways to grow even more in there. This will be fun.
Experiment with unusual crops - The hoop house also gives me the opportunity to try growing things that are not normally grown in this region. So this next year I’m going to try growing ginger, turmeric, wine cap mushrooms, and artichokes inside the warm and cozy hoop house. Stay tuned.
Thank you all for your kind words, encouragement and your candor. I am fired up and excited for the 2015 growing season, and ready for the holiday season as well.
Small Business Saturday
This coming Saturday is “Small Business Saturday” where you can “shop small” to show your support to local businesses. You can also support our small business by doing your holiday shopping via our online store. Maple syrup and honey are gifts that makes anyone smile. Or you may even consider giving the gift of a CSA share as well.
I frequently make trips to St. Cloud and the Twin Cities, so if you want to avoid the cost of shipping, just give me a holler and I can connect with you to deliver your order in person. Mora and Cambridge folks – stop by the farm or I can meet you somewhere in town.
Jim and I wish you all a very blessed Thanksgiving and holiday season.
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