With a few weeks left in our current summer season, we’re excited to let you know about our plans for 2017. As we detailed in the email you received on Sunday (which we recap below), we’re making some changes to our shares, work requirements and pickups based on your feedback.
Beginning next Monday, September 26, we’ll be offering 2017 shares exclusively to current sharers for three weeks before shares are offered to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Read on to learn more about what’s new!
Over the past year, we’ve talked to many of you about what you love about the farm–the high quality, fresh vegetables and berries, and your part in supporting local farming, a rich history, and environmental sustainability. You’ve also told us, in our annual surveys and when we see you at the farm, about ways we can meet your needs better.
The familiar full share isn’t going anywhere, but we’ve cut the number of required work hours in half. Meanwhile, we’re replacing the alternate-week share with a new weekly share designed for smaller households or anyone who wants a smaller quantity of their favorite farm vegetables than the full share offers. We are also making important updates to prices, pickup hours and work hours.
2017 summer share choices
Classic Harvest $740 + $10 membership fee
Our traditional full share, picked up weekly
Feeds 4+ per week
6 work hours (can be paid out for $10/hr)
- A wide variety of vegetables
Perfect for you if …
- You have a large household or older children with big appetites
- People in your household will eat most vegetables
- Cooking is your hobby; you enjoy having a variety of ingredients to work with.
Farmer’s Choice $435 + $10 membership fee
NEW! A selection of our best-loved vegetables, picked up weekly
Feeds 2-4 per week
4 work hours (can be paid out for $10/hr)
- A manageable quantity of popular crops (including lettuce, mixed greens, scallions, radishes, peas, carrots, eggplant, sweet peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, Swiss chard, kale, cabbage, string beans, zucchini, and tomatillos, )
- Occasional specialty crops, such as husk cherries.
Perfect for you if ….
- Your household is two adults or a small family with young children.
- Not everyone you live with likes vegetables
- You love salads, vegetable snacks, juices and smoothies, but you’re too busy to cook.
- You aren’t home much. If you have too much produce around, it goes to waste.
Why we’re raising share prices
We grow high quality food exclusively for you. That means share prices must cover all of the farm’s operating costs; while we occasionally wholesale surplus to other farms, we can’t earn more from selling at farmers’ markets because the CSA program is our primary source of revenue.
Because farming is labor intensive, the wages and salaries we pay our farm staff account for a large portion of the budget. While our share prices have remained the same for the past three years, our labor costs have gone up. We are proud to pay our farm staff a living wage and standard benefits; this is one of the ways we honor our commitment to creating a sustainable community.
Other costs are also increasing. The severe drought this year caught us by surprise. However, unpredictable weather patterns related to climate change suggest it may not be a fluke. We are budgeting more for water next year. Finally, organic farming methods make producing your food more expensive than conventional farming, and we must continue to cover those costs.
Share options you want
The alternate share has become more popular as our shareholder demographics have changed and competition from grocery stores and farmer’s markets has increased.
However, you’ve told us it’s an imperfect solution.. So we’ve designed the Farmer’s Choice share to provide a manageable weekly collection of well-loved vegetables and the occasional specialty crop.
Shareholders who pick the Farmer’s’ Choice will have a regular weekly pickup. Compared to past seasons’ alternate share, you will receive a consistent supply of fresh vegetables–and more of what you want–over the course of the season.
More Convenient Pickups
During the past year, you’ve asked for more flexible pickup times and to be able to collect your vegetables more quickly.
Extended Friday pickup.
Next season, Friday pickup will run from 10 am-7 pm. The extended hours are intended to provide an option for parents who want to do their pickup while kids are in school or camp, as well as enable Friday sharers to collect their shares before leaving town for the weekend.
All your vegetables on the stand.
We know some sharers enjoy picking their own vegetables. But we received tons of positive feedback about our decision this season to put most of the traditional PYO vegetables on the stand.
In addition, putting vegetables on the stand–especially high-value crops like cherry tomatoes and Swiss chard–has made our crops go farther by limiting waste in fields due to inefficient harvesting.
We will still offer PYO favorites: berries, herbs, and flowers.
Revamped work hour requirements
Many shareholders have told us that it’s becoming more difficult to complete your required hours due to your work schedules and other commitments.
Beginning next year, we’re cutting in half the number of hours required with a Classic Harvest (formerly “full”) share–from 12 hours to 6. Farmers’ Choice shareholders will be required to work 4 hours, two fewer than this year’s alternate share work requirement.
We’ll be providing more information about how to purchase your 2017 share in upcoming newsletters and on our website. Meanwhile, if you have a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll answer as soon as we are able (remember, aside from the farmers, Stearns Farm is run by volunteers). We will also be answering questions about the 2017 season at the Fall Festival, Oct. 1, from 12-2 pm.
We’re looking forward to spending next season with you!