By: Mary Nathe (Jan 8, 2013)
We chose this farm after finding ourselves buying from their stand at the farmer's market every week. He always had such wonderful items and just the items we wanted. Why not let them create a box for us each week and go with that, right? Wrong.
The quality of the produce we found in the box was FAR less than the quality we had become accustomed to at the stand. Nearly everything in the box seemed to be wilty or starting to "turn", while the stand at the farmer's market continued to have robust, fresh produce. I really felt as though the boxes were an opportunity for him to get rid of what hadn't sold after being displayed for days at various farmer's market locations.
The weekly emails mostly contained a combination of "just wait, the boxes will get better" assurances and complaints of the weather being too dry, too hot, too wet, etc. Granted, it is stereotypical for farmers to lament the weather, but I grew up on a small family farm (homesteaded in 1863). All my life I've heard farmers talk. Not every year is picture perfect and some years different crops aren't going to be stellar producers, I get that. His continuous complaints really were over the top. (And not at all evident in the abundant offers found at his stand at the farmer's market.)
I won't be buying a share this year.
I will instead spend my money each week at the farmer's market, likely from a stand just down the row from his. I love the concept of buying a share, but really did not feel that this was a positive experience at all.
Comments on this Review:
Jim Lacey says: (Feb 5, 2013)
Our farm prides itself on quality and food safety is of paramount importance us. I was so surprised to see this note that I went back through over 2000 emails and our written call log for the season and this member had never contacted us, returned a survey or showed up at any of several open house events to share her experience and to pick up extra produce that was available to all our members. We consider our members as an extended family and only want only the best for them. If we do make a mistake by chance and we are only human then we certainly will make it right but that means that we have to be aware of it. We value everyone's opinion because it allows us to be what you want us to be. However, it is impossible to act on it in a timely manner if the concern is not brought to our direct attention promptly not 3 months after the season ends in an out of place posting.
These are a just a few comments from other members who pick up at this location:
Jim - Your corn is the best! I've not had sweet corn that good in a very long time!!!!
Thank you! We had an amazing dinner last night with fresh eggs and greens - FANTASTIC!!
We ate strawberries for dessert and felt like we had had the meal of kings.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Our farm has found success through growing for two distinct markets: CSA & Farmers Market. Our CSA which is 95% of our business is our first priority and growing for other markets allows us to reduce the risks usually associated with a CSA membership. For example, we don't grow just enough cucumbers for just our CSA membership, we grow enough to sell at farmers markets as well. Therefore, if there is a problem in the field, we can send those cucumbers originally intended for market to our CSA members & they don't miss out. However, at the farmers market on that given day there would be less of that product or maybe none at all. Produce that has gone to market is never shuffled into a members share but we do donate it to one or two local food shelves each week. Our produce is sorted so that the first and best goes into our members shares.
We did have the misfortune of hiring a couple of employees during the season last year that were passionate about collecting their checks but didn't share our passion about our CSA members and quality control. Everyone deserves an opportunity to learn from their mistakes or to make things right. Since they were unwilling to learn from theirs we provided them the learning experience to find out where their passion lays and to collect a check elsewhere else.
We are also hiring a farm manager this year to oversee production, harvest, deliveries and farm safety.
A CSA experience can be many things to different members. Quality produce is only the start of this relationship of the member and their farm of choice. For any relationship to grow and last there needs to be communication both ways. At the minimum that would be in a newsletter the farm and a survey back from you the member. Just like one size fits all doesn't work in clothing. One newsletter doesn't fit everyone's needs in terms of information needs or sense of humor. I think that it is very important to relay what is going on at the farm and what I might take for granted or feel is mundane like the weather, 20 hour days or irrigating around the clock members find very interesting because they want to understand the lifestyle and how their food is gown. Some members tell me that they really enjoy the news letters with recipes, food facts and snippets of the farm life. Some members don't read their emails or couldn't care less what is going on at the farm. Yes, everyone is aware that 2012 was the worst drought since 1936 but does that mean that I shouldn't mention it. I do think that back to back 5 inch rains are a freak event and members should know that sometimes due to the timing of events such as this we may have to replant several times to get a certain crop.
On average between a 75 to 80% of our members return each year which tells us that we are doing something right. We know that not everyone will find a home in our farm but we continue to make changes to our farm based upon the feedback we receive.