The biggest decision we made at our annual year-end farm review is that we won’t be offering a CSA this year. This is something of a leap of faith, given that the CSA is the hub around which our farm economics are built. We still believe in the CSA model and in seasonal eating, but I’m looking forward to seeing how we do without it.
In our meeting we were trying to figure out what changes we should make to the CSA. We discussed starting it later, breaking it into 3 ten-week blocks, offering fewer shares and many other variations. At one point I just looked at Cherie and said maybe we should just drop it. It was so obvious, but hadn’t even been on the table. In just a few moments we’d agreed. No CSA in 2014.
Not having to worry about making sure we have a variety of things available every week of the year is a great relief. Now we can concentrate on what we grow best. Best of all I won’t have to worry about whether or not we’re satisfying folks’ expectations. As I told Cherie, if I want stress on my job I’ll go back to being a lawyer, where at least I was paid well for the stress.
A few of our members were very disappointed. They’re the ideal CSA customers. They want to be partners with their farmers and they want to share in the risks and rewards and the ups and downs. They want to eat whatever is in season and they like the variety and uncertainty. I felt bad breaking the news to them, but they understood. Nearly all of our members have told us they’ll continue to support us in our new model.
Our direct sales grew significantly once the CSA ended. We allowed people to order off a “menu” and we’d deliver exactly what they wanted and in the quantities they wanted. I really preferred that. They were happy (no risk of disappointing or baffling anyone) and it meant no waste. We just picked exactly what was ordered.
We will continue to do deliveries into Danville, Chatham and Altavista. We’re also going to supply another farm and we’re going to move to a more active farmer’s market. I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to sell everything we grow.
And this year if the ground is too wet to till, then I’ll just wait till it’s dry. If the blight kills the tomatoes I won’t worry about disappointed folks who prepaid for shares, expecting tomatoes.
We won’t have anyone sharing our risk, but I won’t be worrying about that either.
Hoping for a great (stress-free) year in the gardens.