Thoughts about the CSA membership and Feeding 147 Families!
The Chi’s CSA Farmshare was designed to provide families with a consistent weekly supply of salad mix along with a few popular vegetables. The salad mix doesn’t change a whole lot throughout the season, but the additional vegetables do. Variety in the additional vegetables is a foundational concept here. At the same time, some items are repeated because of their short season coupled with their relative popularity.
It’s important to note that for many of the vegetables we grow, there is a cost to grow them that is only justified if we can harvest and then sell them repeatedly. Cucumbers are a great example. They take a long time to get from seed to harvest, they take up valuable greenhouse space, there is a lot of labor to manage the trellising, pruning, watering, and harvest, not to mention the work to remove all the plant material at the end of the harvest season.
If we grew cukes just for the CSA to recieve a few times a year, we would lose money. They are quite popular with most people, so they appear many times during the peak summer in the CSA and at the same time I try to balance the popularity of cucumbers with our profitability when I decide to grow them and schedule how often they appear in the shares.
The number of families in the CSA also impacts our ability to grow certain vegetables at a profit for the CSA, based on other possible places we could sell them. If we don’t think a vegetable is popular enough to put in the CSA shares multiple times, then we need somewhere else to sell it, especially if its profitability is like the cucumber example. Are there restaurants, stores, or farmstand sales that we can send the harvest to in the weeks we do not put that vegetable in the CSA shares? This becomes more important as our CSA Farmshare grows in number of families.
This year, 2021 we are currently feed 147 families! It takes a lot of any one vegetable to have enough to put in all the shares. Where do all those vegetables go during the weeks that they are not in the shares?
If we don’t have another outlet for certain items in that large of a volume, we often grow just a little bit of it, and stock it in the farmstand. A few CSA members have commented that they wish they could receive more of the “summer” vegetables in their shares. Unless most members would want to see those things in their share every week for 4 to 8 weeks of the 20 week season, then I don’t plant enough to put in the CSA. I leave it up to people to purchase these special items separately from the farmstand.
Hopefully this explanation helps people understand our decision making processes and the various challenges regarding the CSA Farmshare and the items we include, or do not include. There are many factors at play here!
Thank you for choosing Chi’s Farm! We hope you will join us for the 2022 season!