Thanks for another great season!

How did it get to be October?!? I can’t believe how fast this season has flown by!

Wyatt and I want to express our gratitude to all of you for making another farm season possible. We truly couldn’t do it without our CSA members. You are the core of our farm and make it possible for us to grow a huge variety of vegetables each year. I’ve said many times that having our CSA makes it so much easier to keep our farm in business. I’ve tried to articulate the reasons many times. But I still don’t think any of you realize how important you are to us. We really couldn’t do it without you!

This was our 7th CSA year and our 10th year of farming. We successfully fed 425 CSA members this season. We take our commitment to all of you very seriously and feel like it is a huge success when we get to the end of the season and have fed you for 22 weeks. You have no idea how much thought and energy Wyatt puts into making a crop plan to make sure we have a great variety of food for you each week. For any of you home gardeners, just imagine how much energy it would take for you to grow all of your CSA vegetables each week and not have any weeks where the only thing you have to eat is zucchini.

Each farm season seems crazy and this one was no exception. In March we were feeling panicked because we thought we would be heading into a record-setting drought year. Then in April we had record snows and while this greatly improved our water situation, it was too cold and wet to plant anything. It was another hot summer, followed by the devastating floods that affected so many of us. Our farm has thankfully recovered from all the rain in September, but it was difficult to have such a huge disruption at the peak of our harvest.

We had a great farm crew this year to do all the work that is involved in bringing you your food each week. We have about 20 people who show up at the farm at sunrise each day to work long, hard hours growing food. We try to pay them as well as we can, but farm work just doesn’t pay that great. Our farm crew works unbelievable hard and most of them do it for the love of feeding people. Speaking of loving to feed people, we owe a huge thanks to Mo for telling us what to do with our CSA veggies each week. Her passion for food really comes out in her weekly recipe posts. We also had a handful of amazing volunteers to help with logistics like handling missed CSA pickups and redesigning our web page. The Tuv Ha’Aretz core committee also did a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes. Thank you so much to all of you!

Our fields still have a lot of food growing, so we plan to have our Mini Fall CSA again this year. And we are currently working on putting together our first ever Winter CSA. We’ll send out details soon. And of course we’ll keep you posted on signing up for our regular season CSA for 2014.

Once again, you have our sincerest gratitude and we hope to see all of you again in 2014.

Amy & Wyatt

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5 Responses to Thanks for another great season!

  1. Dawn Kimble says:

    Thank you so much for all the work you do to provide us with this wonderful food. We ate all of it and loved it! We’re especially grateful for the abundance of fresh greens which we add to smoothies, salads, and soups. Your organic farming expertise helps to keep our bones, cells, and immune systems strong. We are grateful for you.

  2. One-time Customer says:

    Thank you for growing such delicious and healthy food; Red Wagon provided top-quality produce all summer. However, we will look for another CSA next year – one that actually provides for a shared reward IN ADDITION TO shared risk, as per the traditional CSA model. I was quite disappointed to see another share purchase was required to lengthen the season.

    • Wyatt Barnes says:

      It is easy for CSA members to not understand that the food we grow is not magically free. It costs ten to fifteen thousand dollars a week to pay our staff. We spend three hundred thousand dollars a year on farm labor. We have diversified the farm to reduce some of the risk to the CSA. It keeps the amount of food the CSA gets more even week to week and year to year. We could move to a 100 percent CSA model but I don’t think many members would be happy with the number of crop failures that happen that can not be avoided due to weather or disease. This spring we planted 10,000 transplants that we grew to full size and had them fail. The ground was too wet to plant on time and we planted the transplants after they had become too root bound. Each plant would have yielded $5 or a total of $50,000. We usually plant 3 times the amount of Cauliflower that we will need for CSA to ensure enough actually makes it. We sell the extra when there is extra but usually at least have enough to cover the CSA. Our early spinach died from too much moisture in the spring. The tomatoes got disease and yielded very poorly. The Jack O’lanterns were planted in a new field and did not do well and we had to purchase pumpkins for our farm-stand. The parsnips did not germinate. The strawberries were hit with extreme cold in April and most the flowers died resulting in a very poor yield. CSA members never see the failures because they never even know they existed. We have seen many CSA’s default and not feed their CSA’s or have cash flow problems which the farm solved by giving second quality or undesirable crops like purple turnips or just canceling the end of the season.. The number of years that we have seen an unbelievable upside bounty for the season remains zero while the number of years that have been a tremendous struggle just keeps increasing.

      It costs about $6000 a week to harvest for the CSA. This does not include any of the other costs we incur like seeds, compost tractor and truck payments, insurance, fuel or land leases. Even if we have food in the field it is very expensive to get it to CSA members. Amy and I don’t get paid until the end of the year and we get what is left over. We strive to make a living and we do not get paid well by any standard. We have reinvested about $50,000 every year back into the farm to improve our infrastructure and buy equipment to make the farm more efficient. I could easily spend another $200,000 on irrigation and equipment to get what we really need. We pay better than most farms and do not take advantage of interns and skirt minimum wage laws. We constantly walk a fine line between bankruptcy and success. For our fall mini CSA we offer it to people who would like to extend the season a little further. We don’t have enough food for all 400 members and we don’t have $12,000 to pay out to harvest and process the food for free. We do not offer the fall CSA up front because we are not sure we will have food and that the weather will cooperate.

      Our CSA is incredibly important to us. We did give everyone one full share worth of food more than was paid for. The $25 is not that significant to each member but times 400 it was $10000. I usually don’t explain all the things we do to reduce risk to our CSA because the CSA is still risky and I don’t want to downplay the risk. One of the things we do is lease 100 acres to have enough water in a drought year to farm 30 acres. We overproduce to make sure we have enough food every week. We diversify our crops to try and make sure that if it is hot that some will do well and if it is cold others will do well. For the last 3 years we have had enough food for the CSA every week and by the end of the season given 1 extra share to each member. We appreciate the members who understand and value what we do and the produce we grow.

  3. Red Wagon First Tier says:

    This was the best CSA experience I’ve had. The quality of the food was uniformly high, the variety was better than any other I’ve found and I loved the convenient pick up locations, egg/fruit/mushroom options. It was also wonderful to have the opportunity to meet Wyatt and Amy and visit the farm. Unfortunately we lost our kitchen in the floods so have not been able to use all of the food the last few weeks but offering wonderful fresh veggies make us welcome dinner guests. We LOVED every bit of it. Looking forward to next year.

    Thanks to Wyatt, Amy, Mo and the incredible team of staff and volunteers for feeding our family so well this year.

    • Red Wagon First Tier says:

      Sorry – mean to name myself “First Timer” ……I have no idea what “First Tier” means and didn’t mean to confuse folks by thinking there was some weird system of CSA tiers :-)

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