2014 was another learning year for us here at the farm. Most of the lessons were good ones and we will carry that knowledge forward into the 2015 season. Here is our latest update for the upcoming season. You may contact us with additional questions or comments at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2014 season is a distant memory now…and 2015 is just around the corner. With that being said, we’ve been been making plans with the hope of tweaking things a bit and making our little CSA even better. Thanks to those of you who took time to fill out our survey at the end of the season. We read through them, found a couple of areas for improvement, and will focus on getting better in those areas.
2014 also taught us that there is no advertising like word-of-mouth advertising. So if you enjoyed your produce this past summer and know of someone else that you think might enjoy becoming a shareholder, please tell them about us. We spent a ton of money on advertising last season and we’d much prefer to spend that money on other things-like education, outreach, and charity.
You can go here to sign up: http://www.thegoodearth.us/#membership
So…here’s a roundup (not that kind of roundup!) of the plan for next season!
PRICES Full Share ($595), Half Share ($350) Quarter Share ($225) Same as last year
SEASON 12-13 weeks beginning after July 4 and ending early October
LOCATIONS Tuesday afternoons Great Outdoor Store, Downtown Sioux Falls
Thursday afternoons The Co-Op Natural Foods, 18th and Minnesota
Saturday afternoons JJ’s Wine and Spirits (57th and Western)
HOME DELIVERY Add $60/year for delivery to your home. Usually before 7am…may add a few evening deliveries.
OFFICE DELIVERY Add $15/year for afternoon delivery to your office. Ask your HR person to call us to arrange your office as a drop off spot. Delivery waived with 5 more more stops at the same office.
FARM PICKUP No additional charge. Any day but Sunday or Monday
SIGN UP/PAYMENT Basically same as last season. If you choose to pay by credit/debit card, you can pay in full or pay 25% down and the balance in 4 equal payments on the 1st day of the next 4 months. If you choose to pay by check, select the “invoice me” option. You will receive an electronic invoice on the 1st of the following month for the 25% down payment. This is our preferred method of payment as we do not have to pay credit card processing fees. It also allows you to be flexible in scheduling your payments. You can switch this to electronic payment later if you wish. We ask that you pay the remaining balance by September 1st. If you have any questions or need special arrangements, please call or message us.
Finally, we are limiting the number of available shares at each pick-up location as well as for home deliveries. This helps us plan our picking and allows us to balance our work week a bit. If you have a stand that you prefer, please sign up as soon as possible at that stand to ensure we have a share for you. Also, there will be a price increase of $25 on all share sizes for shares ordered after April 1st. That’s a crazy time of year for us and joining early helps us order the right amount of seeds, fertilizer, and irrigation supplies.
THE CROPS: Overall, we were pretty happy with the selection of things that we delivered. Of course, the rain in late June wiped out lots and lots of varieties of things. Hopefully we won’t have another deluge like that one for another hundred years or so! Here are some thoughts on a few particular plants…
-More onions, beets, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, garlic, and herbs.
-Fewer varieties of tomatoes (just as many plants but maybe only 15 varieties)
-Fruits-we’ll plant more melons and cantaloupe and in larger quantities
-Greens-several varieties of greens, depending on the weather (they need cooler weather)
-Experimental Items: we will grow several experimental items that will be available only to multi-year shareholders. These are trial products and will be expanded if successful. Leeks, shallots, sweet potatoes,broccoli rabe, and radicchio just to name a few.
-Sweet Corn. We’re on the fence on this one. It takes up a lot of space and is difficult to control the ear worm organically. The fact that GMO sweet corn is being sold in the area for $1/dozen devalues corn in the eyes of consumers. 3 dozen ears for every share would take up around 20% of our garden space.
Potatoes-we will grow several varieties of potatoes again.
Beans and peas: We will plant green beans and peas and plan on having them in shares once. They are incredibly difficult to pick in any quantity. We will have several “You Pick” events throughout the summer for beans, peas, and other items.
Flowers: Laura (our apprentice from 2014) is going to grow flowers here at the farm that will be available as a CSA add-on from week to week!
GROWING TECHNIQUES-We have made the decision not to continue with Organic Certification. There are a few reasons for this: first of all, it’s just one more thing for us to do that we just don’t have time to do. Our summers are insanely busy and, even though the paperwork isn’t as bad as many would have you think, it still takes time and requires us to be organized…not an easy task in the midst of summer. It also adds some cost-again, not a huge amount but enough that a small farm needs to think about it. Finally, we increasingly feel that local is more important than putting that USDA sticker on our stuff. So we’re going to compost our own local manure rather than pay to have more expensive, organic fertilizer trucked in from hundreds of miles away. We also have a couple of places in town that brew beer. The left over brewing grains make great soil amendments even though they aren’t certified organic. And we’re going to buy some seeds locally, even though they aren’t certified organic. We’re also going to use local businesses to help us manage our soil health even though they are not certified organic. Now, with that being said, we will largely comply with the USDA Organic Standards. No synthetic materials will be used in the production of our crops. No man made fertilizers. No synthetic pesticides. No GMO’s. Period. We just intend to use local suppliers as much as possible.
CHANGES AROUND THE FARM: We are currently working on plans to add a summer kitchen to the farm. This will allow us to do some fun stuff! First of all, it will give us the opportunity sell a few value-added products from time to time. Think: salsa, sauces, soups, preserves, etc. This will give us the chance to add revenue throughout the winter when our gardens are frozen solid. The kitchen will also enable us to have group/corporate events at our farm. Working with local chefs we will be able to offer special small group farm dinners for employee rewards, family events, and special occasions. We’ll also be able to offer cooking, canning, and preservation classes here at the farm. And finally, it will allow us to have regular events (like the pizza night we had last season) for our shareholders. We’re pretty excited about the summer kitchen and look forward to all the fun that it will bring us!
EMPLOYEES: We had great success with our apprenticeship program. One of our apprentices fell in love with farming and moved to another farm in Hawaii to continue her education. The other is making plans to grow flowers professionally. Jared and Jen are still figuring out how they can get into their own farm business. We will continue the program this season and will let everyone know when we begin taking applications. We also ended the season with a great group of part-time farm hands. I don’t think you could find a nicer group of people. I sure hope we can come close next season!