This past spring was the first spring we had strawberries on our farm in a location that we could have you pick, and the most common question asked was "will you be having other vegetables". In 2010, we had a landowner that raised other vegetables, and we had spring cabbage to offer along with our strawberries. Last year it didn't work out that way, so all we had to offer were the strawberries. We decided right then that 2012 was going to be a lot different. We were idiots for not maximizing our potential. People are coming, why not offer more? Maybe if they were coming back for cabbage or potatoes or squash they'd buy more strawberries. It works in theory anyway, right?
When we were at the ANA conference last year I heard about CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture). It wasn't a term I was familiar with. When I was growing up, everyone I knew had a garden. My parents had one, my aunt and uncle had one, my grandparents on both sides had one. If we had too much or if they had too much we'd give it away and share it amongst (not quite sure how to spell this, and spell checks not helping) ourselves. The idea of going to a fruit stand wasn't even something I was familiar with then. Why would you buy vegetables when you can grow your own?
But as Dylan says, the times they are a'changing, and this society we find ourselves living in is a lot different than the one we had twenty years ago. Most people don't grow up on farms, they have a modest back yard that they use for recreation. Even if they had room for a garden, who has the time? They're always needing something...spraying or tilling or picking or something. And when it comes time to pick it has to be done right then, regardless of the clothes that need washing or the kids that need to be taken to dance or baseball or that vacation you've planned. It never fails, you plan to go to the beach and that's the week your corn will be ready. Then there's the weather to deal with. Last couple summer's it's been very hot and very dry. This year is another La Nina year, which means it's probably going to be another very hot and very dry summer (hopefully not, forecasters are saying that right now it looks weaker than last year, but I like to plan for the worst). So then you spent all that time getting your land right and planting and spraying for nothing, because nothing will grow if it doesn't have moisture, and not everyone has the money or water availability to irrigate.
However, people still want vegetables. We need vegetables. Most people like vegetables (I say that because I have a very discriminating palate, and do not enjoy the consistency of most vegetables). And people are starting to realize that the ones they can buy from the farmer down the street are a lot better for you and taste abundantly better than the ones you get at Wal-Mart. Sure, you can get a quart of berries for two dollars, but how are they going to taste? And what is their nutritional quality if they aren't ripe when they're picked?
Enter the CSA. For a season long fee, you get a 30-40 lb box of vegetables every week (depending on the size of share you sign up for). You don;t have to plant a garden, you don't have to weed or spray a garden, you don't have to pick anything. All you do, is come to our farm and I'll load the box in your car and you get to go home and savor the deliciousness. I first mentioned this as a good idea to The Husband then, but he comes from a row-crop tradition, and it wasn't until we seriously started talking about this this fall that I was able to talk him into trying it. Hey, what's the worst that can happen? If it's not successful we don't have to do it again. But I hope that it is successful, because one of the things I enjoy most about this job I've found myself in is having happy customers, and seeing them over and over and getting to take part in in their lives too.
So if you're one of those people who want quality produce at a reasonable price and a chance to actually know where your food comes from (seriously, I'll take you to see the place it was picked even), check us out. Even if you don't sign up for the CSA we'll have produce for sell every day out here. Come see us!