2010 CSA Year In Review

Here’s our CSA year-in-review information, for 2010.

The average share contained about 30 different fruits and vegetables.  This counts all different types of summer squash and zucchini as one item, counts “tomatoes” as one item even though there were different types, etc.

What was in the share?  How many times did you get it?  And how did it compare to our season plan?

Carrots                1 or 2  Planned for more, delayed by lack of rain.
Zucchini/ Summer squash  6     Planned for more, too much early rain.
Beets                    5
Lettuce                  5     Would have liked bigger bags each time
Tomatoes                 10    We'd planned to give you more field & heirloom tomatoes and fewer greenhouse tomatoes, but the number of weeks was right about what we'd hoped for.
Garlic or garlic scapes  4
Herbs (basil or cilantro) 9    Probably too many times.
Cucumbers                 6    It was a good cucumber year.
Beans                     4    We ended up buying snap beans.  It wasn't our plan to give you long beans so many times, that's just what happens when the snap beans get drowned by spring floods.
Broccoli                  2
Onions                    6    We'd planned for more bulb onions, but green is what we had.
Cabbage                   3
Melons                    2
Husk cherry               3
Blueberries & strawberries 1 each
Potatoes                   10, about a quart every time
Radishes                   5
Peas                       2
Kale                       2
Chard                      2
Eggplant                   2
Apples                     2
Peppers                    5  Peppers didn't produce well this year, there weren't many each time.
Celery                     1  And, after tasting it, it should have been zero!
Eggs                       2  I'd prefer to keep eggs as a separate add-in
Winter squash              2
Sweet potatoes             2  According to plan you should have gotten them four times and gotten about twice as much each time.
Some of you got okra or a vegetable gourd. I'd have liked everyone to have gotten this at least once.

Survey Results

Out of 18 members, 10 responded to the survey.  We had 3 full share members and 15 half shares.

The amount of produce in the box each week:  80% said “about what I expected,” 20% said “more than I expected.”

The variety of items throughout the season: 90% said that there was an interesting variety, 10% said there was an “adequate” variety of items.  This is an improvement over 2009, when most people said the variety was “adequate.”

Quality of the produce:  70% said it was better than the grocery store, 30% said it was about the same as the grocery store.

Packaging: 100% said the packaging of the share was good and everything arrived in good condition.

Cookbook: 100% said the cookbook was helpful.

Newsletters: 100% said the newsletters were helpful.

What you want more of: Fruit, black raspberries, any kind of fruit, fruit, and lettuce.

What you want less of: Melons, cucumbers, long beans, greens.

The person who wanted fewer melons specifically commented on a quality problem with the melons in their share.   A soil test this fall showed that our soil pH is on the low side- not surprising after two years of spring floods and who-knows-how-many-years of chemical agriculture before we came to this farm.  Melons dislike acid conditions.  The farmer who rents our extra ground is planning to spread ground limestone (a form of lime that is acceptable for organic production), hopefully this spring.  If it doesn’t happen this spring, we probably won’t plant any melons this year.

And, a comment from us on fruit.  Many of you want more fruit.  In 2009 we had a great black raspberry year.  In 2010 we didn’t, largely because our cattle were out in the woods eating all the vines down to the ground.  We don’t have an orchard- we have a couple of fruit trees which may or may not produce anything in a given year depending on the weather, and a few fencerows of berries which may or may not do anything if it rains at the right times, and a smallish strawberry patch.  Vegetables are our bread and butter.  If the high level of interest continues, I can look into more local and organic sources of fruit.  Bramble fruit and strawberries are something we can probably expand on our farm in the future, but right now the vegetables and animals take up all our time!

Specific comments: These are my favorite things to read, good and bad!  I have responded to some of them individually below.

One member commented on some of their favorite items- they especially liked the garlic, lettuce, herbs, and eggs.  Other items, like husk cherries, were only eaten by one person in the family.  They found the recipes helpful.

One person with a full share, and a larger family, said there wasn’t always enough of each item for everyone to get as much as they would have liked. Sometimes the kids were fighting over more vegetables!

Now I’ll put in a few comments verbatim, with our responses:

I know that we are the boring members of this CSA. We are happy with: tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, green beans, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, peas, apples, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, basically very basic, plain vegetables and fruits.

We often compost things that we are unsure of – though the cook book has helped us with some of them this year.

I don’t think you’re the “boring” members of the CSA at all, I think you’re very much normal.  I’m glad the cookbook helped, that’s why it was included!

Of course, another member had this to say:

In my opinion the more variety the better! There was much variety and I like that so I could try veggies I would never even consider eating.

You can see that we have our work cut out for us in trying to strike a balance between “normal food for normal people” and “enough variety to keep it interesting.”

Finally, our hearts are always warmed by the encouraging comments.  There were many, but my favorite was this one, suggesting a change in the name of our business:

Thank you for the freshness and variety each week. I thoroughly enjoyed my shares and trying new things. Good luck in your years to come and I hope your business name will be able to change to The RETIRED Farming Engineers and you and Matt will be able to be farmers full time.

You’re welcome!  We’re only a couple hundred CSA members away from that goal. 🙂

Now take a look at what to expect in 2011.

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