Earthkeeper Farm

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Would not recommend

By: Valerie Vranish    (Sep 22, 2011)

I will not be signing up for next year nor would I recommend this farm to others. Let me first say that this is not my first experience as a CSA shareholder. I strongly support local, sustainable and seasonal food. My family happily held a share for three years prior with another farm. We split our share with another family that wanted to try this one as the pick up worked better for them.

The reason we have been unimpressed, and in fact disappointed with Earthkeeper is both the quality and quantity of food. First, the quality of produce seems downright sad when compared to what is available at the farmer's market. Over the season we got the feeling that what we got in the CSA was what wouldn't sell in the farm's market stand. Second, compared to our experience with other CSA's we were shocked by how little we received. I understand that part of the CSA experience is rolling with the bounty or lack thereof but this was not even in the same ballpark. (Just a note that this share was even more money then at the other farm).

I understand that this is a new program for them and I do wish them well. But until there are significant improvements I will be signing up with another farm for oncoming seasons.


Comments on this Review:

Andrew Bostwick says:    (Jan 5, 2012)
Farming is inherently a very fickle profession. During several points in the year there always exists the possibility of a weather related disaster, equipment breakdown, poor fertility, too little rain, too much rain, heat, employee meltdowns, and the ever changing process of marketing crops. A very close farmer friend once said, "Farming is hard." Since our beginning experiences with farming CSA's, we have come a very long way. Every season is different, and every season is exponentially more rewarding and gratifying. Ultimately what keeps us continuing on through late frost, early frost cycles, and all the aforementioned potential disasters that await at the drop of the first seed, is the community that surrounds us. The Community in the Supported Agriculture understands these nuances. Our members respond to us when we ask weekly how the share is going. We send email surveys out post season for review. Wholesale accounts meet with us in the off season for review and planning of upcoming season plantings. Our time in the fields with a new farmhand who has never seen a Tomato hornworm, or doesn't quite grasp the concept of, "until its done," is priceless reward for a day hard worked. In addition to all these things, we, and our Family, friends, members, business accounts know and understand that we are not producing an in the box product. Some weeks we may have 30lbs of cucumbers, the next 5. You cannot get tomatoes in season in Michigan, in April. Well you can, but you are probably compromising something, like propane from the earth, or fuel in semis from Mexico. Our share is expressly designed for a family of four and our half share is for a couple of two. As with many CSAs, milk or meat shares, there are always going to be exceptions. Many of our full shares split with another family, some half shares split too. But, there is a limit to the threshold that our produce can handle, or not handle after it leaves our hands. Ultimately, our community responds to us in a humane action of communication, love, and respect. We get feedback, directly. So please, we ask all of our community to respond to us with this in mind. We are producing a ever changing product. We know this, and you know this. If our members need to give us some support, advice and criticism, we are always here. We just ask that it is in a direct and respectful manner. Andrew Bostwick Earthkeeper Farm


Rachelle Bostwick says:    (Jan 6, 2012)
From Rachelle Bostwick- Head Farmer and Founder of Earthkeeper Farm ...................................................................................................................................... I am sorry that you did not enjoy the share this season. And I am disappointed that you did not bring your feelings to me earlier in the season. I really value member feed back, and try to adjust the share to fit what people want. Each week I ask different members how they are enjoying the share and how the quantities and crops are working for their family. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Also, I didn't see your comments on the end of season survey that went out to Ada CSA members. If you are in a CSA in the future, and are not happy with what you are receiving, I would recommend talking to the farmer as soon as possible, as opposed to waiting until the season is over and still not talking to the farmer directly. ............................................................................................................................... The quantity of the share is designed for a family with two adults and two or three kids. After looking at my notes, it seems that you were splitting your share among multiple families. I don't mind members splitting shares, but please know it simply will not be as many vegetables for each household. The number one reason why people leave CSAs is because they get more veggies then they can use. I try to keep the share manageable and useable for one family. Too much kale is just too much kale. ............................................................................................................................... Multiple Grand Rapids chefs have told me we grow some of the best produce they have ever tasted. The best. I take pride in my product and know that it is of the highest quality. Chemical-free, non GMO, biodynamic, full of life, vitality, and nutrients. There will be bug bites, it is organic. .................................................................................................................................. The Ada farmers market poses a special challenge in that it is a long market (8 hours from set up to tear down) and it is during the afternoon heat in an asphalt parking lot. All these factors take a toll on the greens. We do what we can to keep them fresh away from refrigeration. If you would like the freshest produce possible, we offer on-farm pick on Fridays. Direct from our walk-in cooler to you. I would also like to add that we are only certified organic vendor at market. In addition, many of the other vendors buy in some or all of the produce they sell. We are proudly 100% homegrown, 100% organic. ............................................................................................................................... When deciding what produce goes where, I allocate to the CSA first. When a crop comes up short, I simply do not sell it though our other markets and it all goes to the CSA. They get the best of what we have. For example, our potatoes did not do well this year; first because of a cold spring, followed by colorado potato beetles, and then blight. We were still able to give each share member a few pounds, but we did not sell a single potato. ................................................................................................................................ We work really hard at Earthkeeper Farm, and deliver top quality produce while having a positive impact on the environment, community, and local food system. I am sorry that you did not get what you expected. I hope that this comment addresses some of the concerns you had last season. And I would encourage anyone with questions or concerns about the farm, CSA, or share to contact me directly. With Love, Rachelle Bostwick, Earthkeeper Farm 616-403-0526 rachelle@earthkeeperfarm.com