CSA Week 2: Working out the Kinks

Clockwise from Top Left: Italian Parsley, Green Garlic, Green Shallots, Kale, Purple Radishes, Fresh Thyme, and Purple Sprouting Broccoli.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:

Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Green Kale with a few Broccolini mixed in
Green Garlic
• Purple Radishes (try making pesto with the tender greens!)
• Green Shallots (use like Green Onions or Spring Onions)
• Fresh Thyme (not in Mini Shares)
• Italian Parsley (Large Shares only)

COMING SOON: Salad Turnips, Spinach, Stir-Fry Greens, Pea Shoots, Lettuces

Chris and I have been talking about opening a roadside farm stand since last year. And with the closure of farmers markets, we decided that this was the time to start. Phase 1 is this Sunday-only conversion of the CSA pickup shed. A big tent is on the way for upcoming weeks in the near future. Check the farm Facebook page for updates and open hours. So exciting!

The first week of CSA is always hectic and frazzled. I’m not the most organized person, so I inevitably put a few people in the wrong pickup location, or on the wrong day. But this year’s first week was even more special.

Usually by mid-April, I’m also preparing to go to farmers market for the first time. But even though the governor includes farms and farmers markets in his list of essential businesses, Seattle’s mayor believes otherwise. She believes that farmers markets are “events”, like a street fair, and that they are expendable. Farmers markets were closed for over a month. And even now that University District and Ballard have been allowed to open again, it is only with heavy-handed security and scrutiny. We farmers have been watching the farmers market scenario warily. And a few weeks ago, the uncertainty became a real concern. We were all worrying about how we were going to make any money for the summer and high season. How much should we plant? How would we distribute it? As restaurants shuttered or closed-down for good, those of us who were able to, changed marketing plans overnight. My email inbox started blowing-up. So many people were suddenly interested in joining the CSA. 

This is the new face of CSA distribution, pandemic-style. I don’t want to use all the bags and disposable packaging, but I don’t really have a choice while we’re social distancing. I am doing my best to use as little as possible, I assure you.

My plan going into this year was to shrink the CSA to about 75 shares, and increase my farmers market sales and restaurant sales. Obviously that was no longer going to pan out. So I increased the CSA to 120 shares. In two days. And then I realized that I could handle another 30 families if I really cut back on farmers market plans. CSA is a sure thing that customers want and that I can fulfill. Because we still don’t know when the farmers market will be open again. 

I literally spent three days at my computer last week. Answering emails, creating and tracking new Seattle pickup locations, and reworking planting plans. I wouldn’t be able to reuse packaging, so I needed to come up with an inexpensive, but disposable way to package everyone’s share so that there would be no cross-handling. I don’t want to use disposable plastic and paper, but I don’t have a choice right now. I am using as little packaging as I possibly can. Please don’t return any bags or rubber bands, because I can’t reuse them. 

Got a bunch planted before the rain came Tuesday night! This is my new seed hopper for the mechanical planter I use for direct-seeding crops. Somehow the farm tool gremlins came over the winter and took my old one off the planter… no idea where it went. The seed goes in the hopper, and there are various sized rollers that slip inside depending on the seed size being planted.

That brings me to my next note: Spring is an incredibly crazy time, with a never-ending to-do list. If you don’t hear from me when I say I’ll update, I’m probably still in the field. As Shawna, my friend and marketing partner says,  “After three days of pulling a farm stand out of nothing and fielding CSA inquiries the forecast finally switched to rain so instead of calling it a day I started a whole new day of planting on top of deliveries.” And so I did! I had a little nap after deliveries, and went out to plant until dark fell: spinach, cilantro, dill, stir-fry greens, arugula, beets, carrots, turnips, and pea shoots. And then the rain came, and it felt like a miracle after this unusually dry April. 

No Contact doesn’t have to mean No Community! Come down to the farm stand and chat at a distance while you pick up some fresh produce! Updates on the farm Facebook page.

The other piece of this new marketing plan is the opening of our roadside stand at the farm! Chris and I have been talking about it since last year, but couldn’t quite make it happen until now. But with farmers markets closed, and the future of farmers markets in question, or at least high-security, it seemed like a good time to dive in. I was so happy to offer contactless shopping and payment, AND an opportunity to socialize. It was a huge success, and we plan on being open on Sundays only through May, and then Wednesday-Sunday beginning in June.

And now that we have the second CSA Week and the first farmstand opening under our belts, hopefully things will level out and normalize. I’m looking forward to finding some semblance of a routine in the chaos of spring. 

Thank you all so much for your incredible support and for your patience! ❤️❤️❤️

One response to “CSA Week 2: Working out the Kinks

  1. Great news about the farm stand. Do you need more subscribers? Due to pollen season, I don’t go out this time of year, but will try to get down your way, perhaps after Mother’s Day. Jim is working from home, as I always do. Thanks for posting here–for security reasons, we don’t do FB.

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