Genuine Faux Farm
FARM SHARE CSA PRIMER
Welcome to the Genuine Faux Farm Community Supported Agriculture program! We realize that many members are returning from prior years, but many of you are new to the program. The following is a rough 'primer' for the Farm Share CSA.
What is a Farm Share CSA?
In short, share holders are investing in the farm and are hiring us as their personal farmers.
In the farm share subscription model, CSA members buy a share of the farming operation which entitles them to a variety of produce during the growing season. The customer receives freshly picked, locally-grown food from someone they know and can talk to. They are provided information on how the farm operates and are given the opportunity to reconnect with the land and their food sources.
Share holders take on some of the risk and rewards of the growing season, receiving produce as it ripens. Members share in bumper crops as well as crop failures. If we have a good season, as we did in 2007, members found that they could not eat everything they got during the week. However, we encourged people to prepare excess and store it for the off-season. On the other hand, in 2010, we had a very poor growing season. As a result, there were a number of items that none of us (including the farmers) received to put on our tables.
As we have gained experience as growers, the tools in our toolbox have increased. In other words, we are better able to do things to make sure you get your fair share of product despite difficult growing situations. Just ask some of our members who have been with us for many years. It takes a lot to prevent us from getting you top quality vegetables for your investment.
How does this work?
What is in a share?
You can expect to receive 5-14 different types of produce each week ranging from 5 to 20 pounds of food, depending on the season. Obviously, early deliveries will be heavy in greens and cool weather crops. Perennial crops, such as asparagus and rhubarb only appear early in the year. The peak of diversity occurs in August and continues deep into the Fall (November). Late Fall features greens, squash and root crops.
Members receive whatever is ripe and ready to be picked. This means that there will typically be much less in the share in June to early July with steadily increasing amounts as the season progresses.
How do I know what is going on?
We use the internet extensively in an effort to not use excess paper. So, we will typically send out notes via email to keep you informed of season start dates, special situations, crop updates and other items. In addition to weekly emails, we also have a blog and we periodically create web newsletters. If you do not use email or the internet, we do not wish to exclude you. Please let us know what we can do to stay in touch with you.
Also, the weekly deliveries are a good place to learn what is going. Talk to us, we will answer your questions as best we can. Either Tammy or Rob (and usually both) will be at each distribution - giving you consistent direct contact opportunities with your farmers.
When does the season run?
Please view our calendar for the year.
How do I get my produce?
We have three pick up locations. You are responsible for arranging pick up during these hours to acquire your produce. Bring bags and/or containers to carry your veg. We would like to encourage you to reuse containers whenever you can (reduce, reuse, recycle!).
What if I can't get to the pick up location during the specified time?
If your schedule prevents you from making a scheduled time, please let us know ahead of time and we can adjust. You may opt to send someone to pick up your share in your place. The kind folk at Hansen's may hold a share for an individual who may not be able to make the 6pm end point on Thursdays. However, we do not feel it is right to take their valuable cooler space and have them hold shares indefinitely for your convenience, so please do not abuse this. Similarly, we can arrange to leave your share with someone in Waverly if that provides us with the best solution.
We strongly encourage you to attempt to make it to the distributions regularly. This brief visit period establishes a stronger connections between you and your farmer. We can be more responsive to you if we can see you semi-regularly. You will learn more about your produce and have opportunities to ask questions about how to prepare the foods your receive. Also, you can take more advantage of the choices afforded you with our distribution system.
Keep our card with you, or post it on the fridge. Give us a call if you are running late. We can get your share together and have it ready to go if you need us to do this. Ending times are also the point when we usually begin packing up. So, we can hang around a bit longer so you can get your food if you let us know you are coming!
What do I do once I get to the pickup location?
There will be a check off list that we ask you to mark prior to gathering your produce. Produce will be set up in 'assembly line' fashion. Signs will indicate how much each share will receive of each produce item. You can then select the produce to fulfill your allotment of each vegetable type. The good news is that you can select produce that fits your likes and dislikes with respect to size and variety. For example, if the sign says you get four tomatoes, you may take ANY four tomatoes from the indicated display.
Please be responsible and take what is allotted for the share size you purchased. There have been times when people have over-selected on an item - which can result a poorer than planned selection for those coming later in the pick up period. We carefully count and plan for our distributions. This includes picking excess so there is selection at the end of many items. Sometimes, the plants only produce exactly what we need! If you take less, tell us.
What if I don't like certain vegetables?
There are opportunities to trade or donate unwanted produce. Typically, we donate what is left at the end of the day to either Cedar Valley Friends of the Family or the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Talk to us - we are usually quite aware of what we have excess of that you can take in exchange for items you do not want. However, we do encourage you to TRY new things! Regardless, ask if you really don't want something and prefer another item. The answer might be 'yes.'
You might be surprised by some of the vegetables that you believe to be less desirable. Rob is/was the prototypical "picky" eater. We can certainly share how he and Tammy have worked to increase the variety of what he will eat. In many cases, we have identified "gateway" vegetables that make introduction to the diets of the reluctant much easier. Similarly, there are methods of preparation that are often more "acceptible" to those who are unsure of what they are getting into. We have personal experience with the process of learning to eat more veggies and we can give suggestions.
How do you know whether I've picked up my share?
There will be a clipboard with a member list. We ask that you check your name off for the week prior to collecting your share.
What if I know I'll typically arrive on the later end of a pickup time?
We work to make sure there is as fine a selection at the end of the distribution as there is at the beginning of a distribution. With some crops, we do this by overpicking for a distribution. In other cases, we may only have exactly as many items as is necessary for a certain item - but we guard these jealously to be sure everyone gets their chance at them. At the end of the day, we find that things almost always work out. The varied likes and dislikes of members works to our (and your) advantage. For example, some people love small onions and others must have larger onions. By the time a distribution is completed, there is usually some of each in the box. In those rare cases where something is missing at the end of distribution, we find ways to substitute other remaining items - often in accordance with the likes/dislikes of those arriving later.
Typical Production List
To give you some idea of what to expect, here is an idealized set of produce for the Regular Season Farm Share CSA. This is only an approximation of real life!
A common share list for August 15 might look like this:
2-4 tomatoes, 2 peppers, 2 summer squash, 2 zucchini, 1 eggplant, basil, 1 head garlic, bunch carrots or beets, 1 # beans, bunch kale or chard, 3-4 cucumber, 2-4 onions, broccoli or cauliflower, melon or lettuce, and the choice of taking hot peppers, okra or other spices. A farmers' market value of approximately $34.
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background photo copyright by L.E.Bartel
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