Bottom line is this, 2021 was a fantastic success for Chi’s Farm! We grew more produce than ever, sold more produce than ever, had more employees than ever and were able to give more raises to employees than ever, (which was awesome to feel ok about doing,) and had more CSA shares than ever, so all in all it was a success MORE THAN EVER!
Highlights of 2021 include the completion of six high tunnel greenhouses which radically changes our ability to grow more (than ever!) in all seasons.
Community lenders played an amazing part this year, over and over I am humbled by the community support, it has made it easy to come up with the money to be able to fulfill the grant. Over the year we recieved $75,000 in community loans. We completed the 6 and then were recently awarded a grant for yet 2 more. The outpouring of support has made it a seamless transition to keep moving forward on these generous grants.
The CSA membership continues to grow. We had 170 CSA shares and have already filled up 70% of those for 2022. So jump in if you haven’t signed up! With the high tunnels, we are able to include more hot weather crops in the CSA shares than we have in the past years, which is a real win.
We lament that we are now two summers without pizza parties due to navigating covid. Growing the CSA membership with less interaction with the members, is a bummer. It would be great if in 2022 we could gather together as members of this farm community. Those were good times and reflected the values of the farm, which are rooted in community building.
Wholesale sales went up this year by over 80% as compared to 2020, which was about even with 2019. The majority of that is from Country Aire in Port Angeles carrying our products on the shelves and in the deli offerings. We did have increased sales from one restaurant, but various other restaurant accounts have lessened or disappeared due to the pandemic.
The Olympic Peninsula Farmers Fund (OPFF) also played a role in the wholesale increase. OPFF was basically a covid relief loan repayable by farm products to food banks, the amount went from $500 in 2020 to $12,500 in 2021. This was all paid back in produce that we sent to the Sequim and Port Angeles Food Banks. That funding essentially made up for the losses in covid related sales to restaurants.
Chi’s Farmstand continues to be a powerfully strong outlet for moving mad amounts of what we grow. We love that people make our farmstand their regular shopping spot.
Scott shares, “It means a lot for me to be able to provide for people what they want and when they want it. I also really appreciate that folks are willing to flex with the seasons.”
Exciting developments this year include the successful building of a root washer that is much more efficient at getting all the mud off the roots. This has sped up the fall root processing significantly. We also succesffully turned part of our insualted container into a refrigerated walk-in unit, which made it possible to handle the volume of produce from this year.
This is first year we are keeping this much staff on all year long, we have two employees on nearly full-time right now which is a huge change from previous years. Last year at this time we had less than one full-time employee hours wise.
Goals for 2022, on top right now is improving green house transistions from overwintered greens into hot weather stuff and then the transition back to fall salad mix. This year we didn’t accurately account for all the labor those transitions take. Hence we have a gap in salad production right now. This feels like a minor growing pain considering all the relative growth that took place this year. Next year we will have a better feel for it.
Top priorities for growth are continuing to build the CSA membership and building the farmstand customer base and sales. Those are the best focal points, being that they have the shortest route from the fields to the tables and has the biggest gain for the farm. So the best way people can support a small local farm is to be a member and shop on site. We are grateful to have such a robust relationship with Country Aire, that is also fantastic.
None of what is happening here could happen without all the people who were, and are now, on the crew. Some crew members have gone on to do new things and new people have stepped in and all have been essential. Scott shared, “It honestly amazes me how dedicated everyone who comes to work here is about doing a good job in whatever task it is they are working on. There is no need to try and incentivize people, they want to do a good job, and that is incredible and humbling for me. I feel very fortunate for the crew members we have had and have today.”
Thank you for caring about, supporting, and eating well from Chi’s Farm!
We are grateful, MORE THAN EVER!!!