Mar 30, 2012
As Jessie and I get every last detail in place for the upcoming launch of our CSA –supplies ordered, newsletter template designed, seeds in the greenhouse, planting calendars dialed in, etc – my excitement about opening our farm to the community continues to soar. I’m so honored and thrilled to introduce our version of the CSA model to our friends and neighbors, and to have the opportunity to spread BOCA goodness to the peeps.
For us, our CSA members will truly be shareholders in our business. They are an integral part in the sustainability of our program; they are our allies and our network. They’ll visit the farm each week, see the dramatic changes that occur from June through October, taste beans and tomatoes right off their vines, try new flavors, learn new recipes, get to know each other and get to know us, the happy and hardworking farmers who are so in love with what we do. Really, we can’t wait.
A lovely graduate student from UC Davis visited BOCA a few days ago. She recently conducted an in-depth study of California CSA’s, focusing on the Central Valley. It was very enlightening to chat with her about trends that she noted among CSA programs in that region, and I’ve been reflecting on the conversation since.
Based on our conversation and on personal experience, it seems like many California larger-scale CSA’s seem to bend over backwards to accommodate their shareholders, whether it’s allowing them to sign up by the week, delivering boxes to their doors, or buying produce from distributers to make their boxes more loaded and diverse, and obviously more appealing. Every farm within the region that my friend from Davis surveyed was functioning with this attitude and these practices.
While it’s of course admirable and worth noting that these programs are making relatively locally grown items more accessible to a very wide range of people in a wide range of places, I’m happy that our tiny weenie operation allows folks to really get to know the farm, to see it in action, to occasionally see us struggle, and to see us busting our butts to do the right thing on a very local scale.
My friend’s attitude about her findings was diplomatic and scholarly. She noted that the farms’ “the customer is always right” attitude differs from models more commonly found on the east coast, where CSA shareholders have more hands-on experiences with their farms.
Jessie and I both grew up in Massachusetts, and Jessie has years of experience on east coast farms. We both agree that having items such as flowers, husk cherries, herbs and beans as "Pick-Your-Own" for our shareholders is a bonus, a treat, and that it makes our CSA better. It involves a few extra minutes on the shareholder’s part, but it helps us, and it is an opportunity for us to share some of the simple pleasures of this lifestyle. We have a lot of families signing up, and I imagine this will be fun for the kids too!
We want our shareholders to be happy, satisfied…beyond satisfied. But we also want them to see what’s really going on here- it’s pretty, it’s fun, it’s exciting… but it’s also tricky, hot, and heavy. It’s real. It's pure good!
We can’t wait.