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Author Topic: One customer
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  L'il Farmer
  Big Lake, MN
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One customer    (Posted Fri, Sep 14 '12 at 05:18 UTC)

I do a survey mid season and end of season online anonymously at Survey Monkey. I always get great reviews for freshness. I pack the shares fresh into coolers with ice jugs and they stay cold as people pick up. Well oddly one customer has complained terribly on the survey that they have stuff that goes rotten and claim it is market leftovers. I am sure it is one of two sisters who pick up on Tuesdays. My market is Thursday so they have never gotten market leftovers. The only thing that could have possibly rotted was heirloom tomatoes since they are cracking bad this season and maybe some of the cracks got moldy and I didn't expect it would. Maybe there was a too ripe cantaloupe; beyond that I cannot guess what could be considered unfresh 'leftovers' or rot in 2 days. I grow thin-skinned cucs that some think get too wrinkly but that isn't my fault. That is what those cucs are like. I am really floored. Everyone else has always said the freshness was 'excellent' or 'very good'. This year has been better than ever and all the other reviews were wonderful. If it is the one sister I have had problems with her from the start but if it is the other one I would be very upset by it.
Well I sent an email out to everyone talking about when and how I pick and how to store the produce. If someone is storing stuff wrong that isn't my problem. Maybe they will see that and realize they haven't been storing certain things correctly.
When the one gal picks up she is all smiles and the other one that complained at first about not getting what her sister got is all crabby and dour when she picks up so i suppose it is her. Really strange. In looking over what they have gotten all season I can only see great stuff.
Any insights or advice?

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 rosysage
 Delmar
Re: One customer    (Posted Fri, Sep 14 '12 at 01:54 UTC)

Smile sweetly, be like a duck and let it roll off your back. Perhaps next year state a policy to allow you to reject members. I know that I work too hard to put up with mistreatment. CSA members need to allow for a few things that are not perfect or that they don't like. None of us are perfect and neither is the produce.Please don't this personally. The fact that it concerns you shows how much you care ! :)Sharon

Sharon Carson
 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: One customer    (Posted Fri, Sep 14 '12 at 03:34 UTC)

Here is your biggest problem: "I am really floored."

Since you are subsidizing your customers and you have only one complainer in the bunch, I would say you are doing an excellent job.

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: One customer    (Posted Fri, Sep 14 '12 at 03:38 UTC)

And for those who don't get it, all of us small-scale farmers are subsidizing our customers because we don't get a fair wage and those who get our produce are. Food in this country is underpriced because the corporations control the marketplace. Farm products should be double or triple the price. When you the consumer pay $3.00 for a box of cornflakes, the farmer gets about 5 cents. The rest goes to the corporations.

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: One customer    (Posted Sat, Sep 15 '12 at 02:36 UTC)

Definitely agree. They get so much for so little and no one thinks about what goes into something! Walmart has ruined people. It takes a good hour to pick beans for instance and what do I get for it?
I do take it personally and wish I didn't. Then again legitimate criticism or advice should be used to improve. The thing that bothers me is that they think you are a mind reader and exactly what they want should be exactly what they get. They are so fussy! Now I have a couple that want to know what they will get before they get it so they can plan. The survey was interesting, and I told them all about it, 3 people want more kale and one wants none. 1 wants more edamame and 1 wants none, etc. They know it is anonymous but I think they think that their desires must be what everyone wants. So I told them in the newsletter that 3 want more kale and 1 wants less and I have no way to know who they are! I hope they got a kick out of that and maybe realized they can't just get disgruntled but have to tell me things.
It seems like a customer may get disgruntled for something at the beginning and then brew on it with a woe is me attitude and not notice how good things are. Well the rest of the reviews were great so I should be comfortable.
So I know it is one of two sisters that reviewed this way. Should I email or call them or not?

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: One customer    (Posted Sat, Sep 15 '12 at 11:18 UTC)

I would let it go.

I have found over the years that surveys are not particularly helpful to me, maybe because I don't know how to create a good one (and I have had just enough sociology to know a bad survey when I see one but not enough to know how to make a good one). I do know in every group there are always one or two complainers and if you cater to these folks than the rest become unhappy (but will rarely say anything). If it is one person doing all the complaining I generally pay no attention to them and I have been known to kick such people out of my CSA as life is way too short for such stress.

I do ask what people want but I make sure this information is never anonymous as I need to know who wants what and in what quantities. I do have a couple of long term members who are good at giving me constructive criticism and I have made changes based on what they have said. For example, going to a market style system to pack shares where the members to the choosing and packing-this has pretty much stopped all complaints of people getting too much of some things and not enough of others.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 rosysage
 Delmar
Re: One customer    (Posted Sat, Sep 15 '12 at 11:41 UTC)

We only have working members here so It is different but a friend of mine has a larger CSA and members pick up at the farmers market . I think she has a good system. Members select from bins. She has a separate table for the extra stuff she sells . It helps market her CSA when people see what the CSA folks get and they can't buy any of it! If you show up to get your share late you don't get the best stuff. If you don't show at all, It gets gifted to the needy which sometimes are the goats . :)Sharon

Sharon Carson
 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: One customer    (Posted Sat, Sep 15 '12 at 03:58 UTC)

And I bet the goats don't complain!

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: One customer    (Posted Sun, Sep 16 '12 at 03:29 UTC)

The last couple days my husband has been telling me to shake it off etc. So today I let him read what she said and boy was he mad. He also wondered if she was drunk. If it is who I am pretty sure it is she has been a problem from the start and I should have nipped it in the bud back in April when she did the spring shares. Seems like an unhappy person.
He asked if I could do something little to show I know who it was and I said I could write 'picked today' after everything on her post it note list of what is in her share.
I have contemplated the idea of setting up the produce and letting people pick it out but there are many difficulties with this. I have thought about next year doing some sort of program of letting people email me lists but selling the stuff at market price with not much of a CSA rebate on it. I think I need to gradually get enough really committed people who understand what it is about. It is always a rough time of year isn't it!?

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 rosysage
 Delmar
Re: One customer    (Posted Sun, Sep 16 '12 at 01:30 UTC)

I went through a similar thing and switched to doing a sort of farm market the next year where people gave me a $100 deposit up frount and then ordered what they wanted from that credit . when they ran out of credit they gave me more funds The prices were like a farmers market however so they paid for the service I picked everything and had it ready for them on Saturdays here on the farm as well as had the surplus available to buy That system did not work for me as I had all this food but people did not order it or come buy it except a few . it is hard not to let that sort of complaining get under your skin but you should let it go or it will hurt YOU! Instead think of all the nice people who appreciate your hard work and your food. :)Sharon

Sharon Carson
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: One customer    (Posted Tue, Sep 18 '12 at 03:05 UTC)

I know what you mean about if you let people choose exactly what they want you may end up short on certain things and very long on others. Although my customers are surprising me this year and keep asking for kale. One said this week to give her kale instead of ground cherries. I complimented her on eating healthy. Another customer wants more sunchokes for her diabetes diet.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 Vbrook
 Clarksville
Re: One customer    (Posted Tue, Sep 18 '12 at 01:33 UTC)

In March/April we sent out a survey to CSA in members asking then to vote on a list of 55-60 items they'd like in their shares and how much of each.
The result has been MUCH more satisfied members and a farmer with little waste.

Mike Brabo Vesterbrook Farm Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Ps 34:8
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: One customer    (Posted Tue, Sep 18 '12 at 11:54 UTC)

In spring I let everyone fill out a chart of the crops there are and how they like them. Evidently for some it doesn't make too much of a difference.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: One customer    (Posted Mon, Oct 8 '12 at 01:13 UTC)

Well the one customer emailed me to ask for fall shares. I was dumbfounded. I said, 'I get you and your sister mixed up, which one brings the containers back?' She replied we both do. I said well I have fall shares reserved but assumed one of you would not want them. I haven't had a reply. I still cannot fit her survey response to anyone else because they all live by me and the survey person did not. So I am assuming she is insane or an alcoholic I guess. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: One customer    (Posted Mon, Oct 8 '12 at 03:16 UTC)

The thing that worries me about this thread is the kowtowing to the consumer. Community supported agriculture is supposed to be about supporting the farmer, not the consumer. Since you, the farmer, are making less than $5.00 an hour and have to get an outside job to support yourself (or be supported by your partner/spouse's income in many cases), why kowtow to someone who is making $15-20 an hour and doesn't appreciate the work you do?

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: One customer    (Posted Mon, Oct 8 '12 at 11:06 UTC)

Well the customers don't view it that way. They think $400 is a lot of money and they better see golden baskets of perfect produce or I am ripping them off and rolling in the dough.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: One customer    (Posted Tue, Oct 9 '12 at 08:38 UTC)

True member don't see the $400 as cheap but i do make a poiunt of telling them several times a year that my CSA operation is not making me or my g=hisband rich and that we generally are working for about $4 an hour which is a lot less than any of them. When they learn that we are not some sort of organic robber baron but in reality quite poor as far as money goes, they quit their bitching and don't have as high of expectation. the other things that gets them is to mention just how much food is wasted just so they get the perfect items. When my member find this out they, on many occasions, they have asked for the less than perfect produce.

It's all about constant education and building a relationship with these people so that they understand that a CSA is not a grocery store but a totally novel way to get food.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 idigbeets
 Laurel Highlands PA
Re: One customer    (Posted Tue, Oct 9 '12 at 12:38 UTC)

Agreed Lucy!

 rosysage
 Delmar
Re: One customer    (Posted Tue, Oct 9 '12 at 02:47 UTC)

in our gardens I and my customers always eat the small and imperfect produce first saving the larger things that will keep better for latter I also teach them how to can and freeze so there will be something for winter . I also barter I value help at minimum wage and get much more done in an hour than any helper. I probably also get $3-4 /hour as people could not afford the food if I charged $10.00/hour for my time. What counts if having plenty and friends to share it with.

Sharon Carson
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: One customer    (Posted Tue, Oct 9 '12 at 02:53 UTC)

Just venting there for a minute is all. I have been sick for 3 days and I think it was the outdoor market Thursday in extreme cold and then the indoor market Friday night so late and smarting off to Michele Bachmann and then not sleeping enough until Sunday morning, my body said no more for now. LOL.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: One customer    (Posted Tue, Oct 9 '12 at 03:01 UTC)

But to many of my customers $400 is a lot- even $100 in the 100/120 program. Two of my customers had to save the $100. I try to empathize with that but we are not in that situation. The economy is tough for many although some brought it on themselves I think.
Well I have to go pick but just trying to feel better first.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
 L'il Farmer
 Big Lake, MN
Re: One customer    (Posted Wed, Oct 10 '12 at 12:01 UTC)

Ok this is crazy. I confirmed by her IP address that it was the woman I suspected. The one that emailed who wants a fall share. And the one who just handed us a check for a fall share. What to do? She must be a drinker.
The stuff she wrote on the survey was not from someone ready to pay for a fall share! So strange.

Grandma's Garden, naturally raised veggies, herbs and cut flowers.
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