We are super excited for this season and how we are streamlining our process to better connect with our farm supporters. We have adjusted our model to provide a better offering from our farm to your table. Taking three main factors into consideration: cost, time, and ease of access.
This season, we are rolling out a way of connecting with the farm that is more convenient and cost effective. We will be offering online ordering of what is available, to be harvested fresh and delivered to your home or workplace weekly. The selection will consist of unique and easy to make meal kits, individual produce, fresh cut flowers, and houseplants all available for purchase and weekly delivery in the local and Rochester area. We look forward to sharing our favorite recipes with you, because one of the main reasons we have always enjoyed growing our own food is that you can develop delicious recipes directly from what you grow. This includes recipes from our background with Thai recipes we enjoy making, and some Lebanese recipes as well. But there will also be plenty of traditional easy to make dishes that are loved by many, with healthy ingredients and farm to table freshness in mind.
Check our farm store for items added regularly throughout the season, and sign up for our email list to be notified of new recipes + weekly produce availability. Our goal is to offer a diverse selection that builds as the season progresses.
We decided to go in this direction based on feedback from our CSA members last season and assessing the benefits and shortcomings of the CSA model. One of the largest factors for joining a CSA is the cost, you need a large lump sum upfront payment early in the season which can be very challenging for a lot of people to afford depending on your total household income. Even with sliding scale pricing we noticed this high payment of anywhere from $325-$750 for our CSA members in 2018 (some other local CSAs charge up to $825), definitely limited the members that could easily and readily join a CSA. The general standard CSA pricing for most farms is members usually place a $100 payment to reserve their spot, and the remainder is due before the season begins in April. Or some farms allow you to split the payment up throughout the season. Not every household is able to afford this type of high payment, greatly limiting the access to fresh locally grown food. It's really great to see other farms throughout the country starting to implement a weekly or monthly CSA payment system throughout the season instead of that lump sum up front early season payment, as that definitely will expand the amount of people who can support local farming. We do think the CSA model is great for connecting with people who want to support small local farming if you are able to afford it, and hope that all CSA farms are successful if they take this approach. For us though, we want to make our produce more accessible for a wide range of income levels and households, not just those who can afford the high cost of a CSA share. This lowered cost also makes it easier to support multiple local farms, and for those who can afford the cost to join a local CSA but may still want to purchase produce/flowers/plants our farm or other local small farms.
Another factor that influenced our decision was the time and commitment it would take for CSA members to come pick up their share. Since a lot of people lead very busy lives including work and family obligations we would hear from members how challenging it could be to make it to the market or farm for CSA pickup for such a large number of weeks (20+). Market pickup being on a weekend day during the entire summer, this at times interfered with many member's schedules for work, vacation plans, or just having the freedom to enjoy their weekend with no obligations. This was a reason that members had mentioned to us why they had left other CSAs as well, because of the difficulty of making it to the pickup location or time(s) based on their schedule. We also noted that having around 50 members a week that are driving to either the farm or the market for multiple weeks to pickup their CSA shares is consuming a lot fossil fuel, creating a negative environmental impact. If 30 people drove to pickup at the market and 20 to the farm, that is 50 different vehicles coming from multiple and various distances. In contrast, if we were to do 50 deliveries it would be only one vehicle making the drive and only one vehicle that is being used affecting the environment with as small of an impact as possible. By offering weekly delivery to the Rochester area and locally, and by using a fuel efficient vehicle, we are able to get fresh produce to multiple households for a lower price, easier access, and less driving.
Ease of access was the last main factor in our decision on how and what we would offer our farm supporters moving forward into 2019. Through weekly online ordering by what is available and in season, it allows you to have complete freedom both in your selection and the affordability of what you would like to purchase, combined with delivery makes it even easier. All you have to do is order, sit back and wait for your freshly harvested produce to come to you. With the addition of meal kits available to order as well, we help take the guesswork out of coming up with new farm to table recipes and also give you a selection of options to make throughout the season connecting you to what's in season locally. You may have to pick up a few other ingredients that we don't grow at the farm, but we will do our best to keep this to a minimum so that the majority of what you need to cook a fresh delicious meal is available locally and directly from the farm. While we provided free choice for our CSA members last season and grew as best of a variety and selection as we could based on both the positive and challenging aspects of the season, it is difficult to meet everyone's individual tastes or cooking ability every week. CSAs are great if you can get creative in the kitchen, and don't mind getting what the farm has available for that week. But meal kits are definitely a much easier option for those who aren't as well versed in coming up with recipes for their CSA shares. Since members aren't necessarily farmers, it can also be challenging to fully understand how a drought can affect seasonal crop production, or other real farming factors such as pest damage, crop failure, etc. By purchasing weekly, and what we have available, we are completely eliminating any of the risk that is involved with being a member of a CSA.
A large benefit of our weekly order and delivery system is that everything is harvested fresh to order and it also minimizes any food waste associated with leftover produce from the market, or CSA shares that weren't picked up.
As an added bonus to the fresh vegetables, we will also have freshly harvested beautiful farm grown flower bouquets and unique houseplants available for purchase and delivery with your order as well. This can increase your farm to table dinner experience, providing a delicious meal combined with a bouquet as a centerpiece for your table, and plants to give to your dinner guests or enhance your living space. Bouquets will be available starting in May and houseplants will be available starting in June.
With all of that information out of the way so you understand how to purchase and support the farm, now on to the details of the 2019 season! Visit the Farm Store to see what is currently in season at the farm and what will soon be available, check out Farm to Table Delivery to learn about the details of ordering and delivery along with our delivery range, and check out Meal Kits to see what's available and also coming soon.
We had a great time connecting with our local and Rochester CSA members last season, and look forward to reaching and connecting with even more people who want to support local regenerative and sustainable farming!