CSA Week 17, 2021

CSA Menu:
“Red Gold” Potatoes
Zucchini or Pattypans (not in Mini Shares)
Assorted Cucumbers
Garlic
Assorted Lettuces (not in Mini Shares)
Basil
Eggplant (Large Shares only)
Galia Melon (Large Shares only)

We are half-way through the 2021 CSA season. The last time I wrote a post here was in May. Week 2. That was a very long time ago. I’ve been posting photos and lists of CSA contents every week on Instagram and Facebook, but I know that not everyone goes there, and for that, I apologize.

Cosmo and his cousin transplanting the last lettuce and radicchio for fall and winter in front of the blooming Sunflower Patch.

I am extremely grateful to have Emily here this year. She has learned quickly, and loves the farm. She’s building up her endurance for long farm days, and hopefully she will be back next year. I had hoped to hire one other person this summer, so that we could lighten our collective load, but I still have not found anyone, and the most intense part of the season is nearly over. Thankfully!

This week we finish all of the planting for the rest of the year! Today the last of the transplanted greens were planted, and all of the rest of the spinach, arugula, and other tender greens will get sown. As the hot crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are ripening, the remaining greenhouse are being cleaned up for winter greens like chard, Napa cabbage, fennel, and more spinach.

The Sunflowers are in full-bloom, so I hope that you will all come down and walk among them and be happy. There is no charge for CSA members. The cut flower garden is in its prime, too, so I encourage everyone to come grab a pair of snips from the CSA shed and cut an armload of blooms to take home. The pumpkin patch is coming along nicely, and in just five weeks or so, that will be open for CSA members only as well.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

Seattle Deliveries will Change beginning the Week of September 20!
I start school at Green River Community College September 20. After doing prerequisite classes last year, I’m finally in the Natural Resources program, where I’ll be pursuing a degree in Parks Management/Forestry. I’ll have classes Tuesdays, so I’ll be doing deliveries Wednesday mornings through the end of the year beginning September 22. Dropsites and times remain the same. On-Farm pickups will continue to be on Tuesdays.

The Sunflower Patch, in full bloom and waiting for you to visit! Free for CSA members!

UPCOMING CHANGES IN 2022:

Now that the farm workload is starting to wind down, and days are short enough to have some thinking and planning time in the evenings, I’m starting to think about how to change next year. It’s clear that I can’t count on finding workers, and I definitely need to lighten our work load somewhat so we aren’t so overwhelmed and exhausted all summer. Also, the FarmStand was generating a fair profit last year while everything was closed, but this year business has been very slow; most shoppers have been CSA members adding on little extras when they pick up their share.

Challenge 1:
Spring was the most challenging time for us, because we were working on harvesting spring crops for everyone, while hustling to plant everything for the rest of the year.

Solution:
I will be breaking up the season into three smaller ones: still harvesting 35 weeks, April-December, but separating into a large Main Season, and smaller Spring and Winter seasons. While we will continue with the larger CSA model of 150 families in the Main Season (mid-June through Thanksgiving), I will be limiting the number of Spring and Winter shares to 75. Spring will run early April through mid-June and Winter will run from late November through the end of the year. So if you are one of those die-hard CSA members who chomps at the bit for farm-fresh, unusual produce in April, you’ll want to sign up early. The CSA enrollment form goes live this weekend.

Challenge 2:
The FarmStand is unprofitable in its current state. This summer, the FarmStand has barely broken-even, and often a fair amount of product that I buy from other farms is wasted. I am more than happy to make product available for CSA members! That makes me happy! But what doesn’t make sense is setting up a big spread for people to come shop, and paying someone to cashier. Also, Tuesday CSA members, as well as Seattle CSA families, are left out of this model. (I don’t like that part!)

Solution:
I want to purchase a large glass-fronted refrigerator, maybe two. I can put small amounts of product inside daily, and offer self-serve/honor system sales every day. Product won’t be wasted on hot days or slow days, and I can keep it stocked daily. If I put the refrigerators inside a shed, I can lock them up at night instead of needing to haul everything back to the walk-in cooler at night, and I can also stock honey, jams, and other value-added products.

Also, I have signed up for online ordering services with Barn2Door.com. They are still helping me set everything up, but by next week, I hope to have online CSA enrollment, as well as add-on ordering of specialty and bulk items available for ALL CSA members, including Seattle families. I hope to have my site live by this weekend.

Challenge 3:
The farm needs to generate income in the summer to cover payroll and the water bill when CSA income runs out.

Solution:
Emily and I have been discussing how to incorporate a for-profit cut flower garden and pumpkin patch, in addition to the CSA-only free versions. I am asked every fall if we have a small pumpkin patch by local families; not everyone wants a giant pumpkin extravaganza. Also, there are no u-pick cut flower gardens in this area, although they exist in other places. We’d like to give it a try, because so many people have found joy in the flower garden this summer! One more idea is to start hosting campers here, to enjoy the oasis of birding, picking food and flowers, and encounters with wildlife. I’m hoping to crowdfund conversion of the old butcher shed into a community bath house to make that possible, so keep an eye out.

So, those are the big changes we’re planning for next year. I most likely will not return to farmers markets full time, but I may pop in again in August, like this year. It’s just too exhausting with everything happening at the farm. I’m truly loving the community aspect of our new, big CSA model, and I’d really like to draw more people directly to the farm.

Please feel free to tell me your thoughts and feelings about these changes. You are part of the WTF community, and we do all of this for you!

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