As the harvest on the farm continues to increase, we often receive a number of questions about what happens with all the crops that we are growing. We wanted to be sure that our shareholders are aware of the many things that this farm is doing with the harvest.
The Share Bin
Unlike a farm market where a person can choose the vegetables they love, a CSA provides a mix of the vegetables. The farm chooses what vegetables to grow that season (some based on experience, some based on the availability of sourcing organic, and some based on shareholder interest). As you can imagine, there will always be vegetables that everyone loves and there will be vegetables that are not loved as much. That is where a share bin comes in – shareholders can “give” to fellow shareholders the vegetables that they don’t want and likewise they can take vegetables form the share bin that they do want. By actively using the share bin, this leaves less “extras” at the end of the night that will then either be composted or packed for a food pantry. Our Farm Apprentices have reported that as the season moves on, the share bin has been quite successful this year!
But, there are times when vegetables are not properly moved over, so our apprentices are keeping track of how many shares still need to be picked up and how much is left in the distribution bins. If they find that there appears to be lots of “extras” of any vegetable, then they will move more over to the share bins. At the end of the night, the vegetables not claimed are packed and taken to local food pantries.
Each year, we make a commitment to plan for and harvest additional crops to donate to food pantries. As the season gets in full swing, we will add unclaimed vegetables at the end of distribution to the food pantry deliveries. This usually begins in July, when we start to see more vegetables coming in. This year, we are delighted to be delivering to Isle Marks in Stoughton (which is also the food pantry for Sharon), a family shelter in Attleboro, and the Foxboro Food Pantry. Thank you to those shareholders who have committed to helping us in this endeavor by picking up and delivering – we appreciate your help.
As with any farm, we are always looking for opportunities to reach new audiences and diversify our income stream to create a sustainable financial future. There are so many rising costs of running the farm and we need to look at ways to bring in new income. Diversifying helps us to keep the cost of the share at a mid-range when compared to other local CSAs and still balance our expenses. The Buy-a-Bucket program is one way to help offset these costs. Our shareholders still get their fair share at distribution but if they are looking for an extra volume of a crop for canning or preserving, this is it. Plus, by offering the Buy-a-Bucket on the weekends, we get to introduce our organic farm to others; it is definitely a win-win! Whether you are a shareholder or new to our farm fields, this is a great deal for these crops and we don’t have to watch vegetables go to waste in the field. For this program, we always offer a special rate for our shareholders and a higher rate for non-shareholders. If a shareholder stops by on the weekend to take advantage of the Buy-a-Bucket, just be sure to tell Jesse or Matt that you are a shareholder to receive the special rate!
the Farm Stand
Another opportunity to diversify our farm and to reach new customers is with a Farm Stand on the weekends. In the past, we only harvested on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – the days of distribution. Even though we had a Saturday pick-up, we did not harvest that morning. In essence we had 2 full days that the fields were left alone. As many of you already know, 2 whole days of not harvesting can mean the loss of some great vegetables that over-ripen by the Monday harvest. With the Farm Stand, we harvest each morning and can continue to get the most from our fields. Don’t worry, we planned for the Farm Stand with our farmer – we planned 300 shares for shareholders and an additional 100 shares for Farm Stand, Food Pantry, and Buy-a-Bucket programs.
the Farm Table
At the end of the Farm Stand sales on Sunday, any remaining vegetables are stored and then placed at a Farm Table located at our Nature Center for camp families and visitors to purchase. Once again we are increasing the awareness of our farm, and helping to cut down on waste.
Over the last 13 years, there have been many changes to our farm and we are sure that in the future there will continue to be additional changes. But, our farm began with a focus on a CSA, and that continues to be our main focus. As you may know, each year we assess the CSA through an end of season survey. It is from these surveys, conversations with our farmer, and our experiences in the fields that some of our decisions for the future are made. Most importantly, we are looking at long-term sustainability and trying to balance all the varied requests and needs of our shareholders while making sure that the goals of The Farm, Moose Hill, and Mass Audubon are best met.
We look forward to seeing you on the Farm!