Dear Norman’s Community,
Once again as we transition from our Peak Season to the extended one, I reflect upon this past year and look forward to the next. I’ve just returned from my first parent weekend visiting my oldest child in college at Tulane. Revisiting New Orleans which I first experienced when I was just a bit older than my daughter, while inventing the “Second Gap Year” was quite the walk down memory lane. New Orleans is so distinct with its flavor and style, attitude and creativity. There is beauty and charm but keep your head on a swivel. I’m excited for her to have this chapter in her life. It makes me proud to see that spark in her eyes whether she’s talking about classes, friends, or New Orleans adventures.
Upon my return, I can’t help but feel like DC is throwing me a welcoming party with the peak foliage and bursts of fall colors. But what happened to the sun? All of a sudden it sleeps in? As I walked the dog this morning in pitch dark I thought to myself, “ winter is nature’s way of offering a morning person the chance to feel like a night owl.”
2022 was perhaps our best growing season yet despite some hardships regarding staffing. We finally figured out some watering and weeding issues. We implemented some new trellising techniques which proved highly effective. We planted a new patch of strawberries for the spring and are prepping a new area to bump out our raspberry and blackberry brambles. We said goodbye to one of our farmers as he moved on to greener pastures and we had to figure out how to do more with less. In fact doing more with less seemed to be a bit of a theme this year as inflation and gas prices drained our operating accounts and made it very challenging to sustain the operation early on. Once again we found ourselves pivoting to find a way to work with fewer hands, consolidate supply drives, fulfill CSA shares and keep our shelves stocked. Our saving grace was the increased productivity at the farm whose initial harvest could not have come at a better time.
We developed strong relationships and networks with other farms as well to figure out ways to steady our supply chain and save on miles and gallons of gas. We donated literally tons of surplus produce from our farm to So What Else whose mission it is to improve the lives of children and families living in underserved communities. We partnered with Taras Shevchenko School and stood behind Ukraine as we promoted awareness and donated supplies and resources through St Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral. We also contributed CSA shares to support Ukrainian refugees in our area.
At our farm we are renewing our commitment by breaking ground on building a single family home for our farmer and his family. We have met with an architect and engineer and are in the process of interviewing general contractors and builders. Our hope is that he will be moved in by next season. For another longtime crew member we purchased a new-ish Ford F-150 to help him manage the operation chip in at the farm, packing house, stands and CSA. I’m also thinking it may be time to invest in our events area so we can start inviting our community out to the farm for gatherings more frequently.
Here are a few things to look forward to in 2023:
Peak Season CSA: We will be launching our 28 Week Peak Season CSA very soon. Don’t miss our Early Bird Discount by making sure to sign up by the end of this year to receive it. As far as I know, I don’t see too many changes or surprises. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” Pricing will be adjusted to account for increased input costs including labor, farming supplies and fuel. As mentioned above we absorbed it this season but need to account for it during the next.
Norman’s App & Gourmet Buyers Club: Move over Starbucks! We are excited to be working with Per Diem on developing a Norman’s App that will allow our customers to enjoy a more seamless process while checking out at the stands plus access to news, coupons, online ordering, delivery and the ability to manage balances. We will take this opportunity to launch Norman’s Farm & Gourmet Buyers Club, the alternative to our CSA Program. Our Farm & Gourmet Buyers Club allows members to purchase blocks of market bucks at a discounted rate which can be used to purchase anything from our entire catalog at any time. They may be used at the stands, home delivery, Pop-Up Markets or online. Stay tuned!
Weekly CSA & Pop-Up Markets November thru April. Similar to last year we are planning on continuing with our weekend Pop-Ups where CSA members can supplement their shares with our entire gourmet catalog. Really anyone can come and shop. We plan on keeping our tables filled and supplementing local produce with that grown in greenhouses or from more temperate climates. I am excited to include lots of fresh citrus during its peak season. The way I see it, keeping our tables full and our offerings fresh keeps our community engaged, our lights on, and our crew sharp not to mention employed through the winter. So essentially it is in the spirit of Community Supported Agriculture to assure the success of next season’s crops. While our farm hibernates we are sourcing from abroad as well as local producers. We will be selective with an eye toward quality, freshness and thoughtful growing practices.
Home Delivery. We will continue to offer a Home Delivery program similar to last year with no commitment. Just place an order online, shop our entire catalog of produce, and gourmet goods and we will deliver on the day we are in your neighborhood. We are even offering seasoned firewood!
We are extremely thankful to everyone for their support this season including our CSA Members and loyal customers. I’m especially grateful for our loyal crew, sticking with us another season. From farming and packing, to driving trucks, to managing members, writing recipes, designing posters and operating markets. I am truly blessed to be part of an organization of such hardworking, committed and caring people and I’m looking forward to another trip around the sun.