We’re a week away from our first pickup, and I’m excited to welcome all of you new and returning sharers (back) to our beautiful farm.
Whether this is your first season or you’ve been a member for many years, you’re part of a farming tradition on this land that goes back more than 200 years. At a time when there are farmers’ markets in every town, and large grocers (even Walmart) offer organic vegetables, you’ve chosen to make a connection to the land where your healthy food is grown. You’ve joined a community where you have the opportunity to learn about the process of vegetable production, preserve farming on the landscape, interact with your farmers and enjoy food picked only one day before you bring it home.
That large supermarkets offer products that are similar to ours is no doubt a positive development. It means that healthy, organic food has become more popular and mainstream. It also means that it has become more affordable and thus more accessible to shoppers. According to the Organic Trade Association, in 2006, organic food accounted for $15 billion in sales; by 2015, that number more than doubled, to $35 billion. This is better for our planet, and its people!
The proliferation of purchasing options has, however, made it a little bit more challenging for us to sell our shares. We’re not alone. Only seven or eight years ago, CSA shares were a hot item, and hard to find. Stearns had a five-year waitlist to get a share! Nowadays, many area farms are having a tough time selling out, as have we. (In fact, we still have some shares available. Tell your friends!)
As an organization, we’ve been talking a lot about why this might be, and collecting feedback from you all as well. It’s true that we have had a couple of transitions in management over the years. But we’ve also heard that people’s lives have gotten busier, making the convenience and cost of other options more attractive. I understand these factors, believe me. I shop at Market Basket, too.
It’s hard for small businesses like CSA farms to adjust to the demands of the market as quickly as national retailers can. We are continuing to evolve. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to us celebrating, all season long, the value that small farms bring to the landscape, and the legacy of the pioneering farmers who laid the groundwork for the current popularity of organic food. There is nothing like coming out to beautiful Stearns Farm to gather your just-picked veggies, pick your flowers and herbs, and to eat the most delicious food all summer long.