It’s hard to believe this season is winding down and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I’m writing this letter sitting on the porch of our new “tent in the woods” at the farm, in an adirondack chair with a big mug of coffee. It’s chilly out but the wood stove inside feels cozy and warm. I’m watching the sunrise while overlooking the farm which feels a bit symbolic as I look toward planning a new season.
I hope everyone enjoyed their farm share and the experience of being a part of our community. I am very thankful to our members, from those who have been with us for over a decade to those that just joined last week and everyone in between. I am very proud of this organization and honored to be a part of it. We couldn’t do what we do without you and your support so I’d like to say thank you.
For the upcoming season we are planning on continuing much down the same path as this one. With the major tasks of installing deer fencing and a berry orchard behind us, we expect to begin reaping the rewards early next summer. I’m hoping for lots of raspberries and blackberries on the tables at CSA Pickups. For those of you concerned that we are changing our system next year please don’t worry. We plan on being back with the same staff and same setup as previous seasons with lots of choices piled high on tables.
Perhaps the biggest change for 2020 has little to do with farming but rather how members will sign up online. As many of you may have heard, the online platform, Member Assembler, which we’ve used to manage our CSA accounts for the past 12 years is dissolving. Initially we thought we would be transferring to Harvie, designed specifically for CSA farms by the same folks that designed the previous one. Even though we were pretty far down the path, we recently realized that our systems and perspectives were very different. Harvie gave the impression that we were no longer going to let our members customize their shares at pick up and that we would be packing boxes for them. It seemed like a very complicated system trying to replace a very simple one. To heed the advice of my grandfather, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Sincere gratitude and apologies to our three and five year members whose feedback and concern were crucial in our decision to part ways with Harvie.
So now what? In the past 48 hours I’ve gotten to add web designer to my resume as Eris and I frantically figured out how to launch our 2020 season about three weeks later than usual. It has been a great opportunity to make some changes and repackage our membership plans in ways I’ve been considering for awhile. Here is the lowdown on some key changes to look forward to:
Pricing. The initial idea of our CSA was to establish an up front commitment to and from our members to help us through the winter months. In exchange we would provide the goods in season at a substantially discounted rate along with some other perks. This cash flow during the winter months is imperative for the farm’s well-being. It helps us cover mortgages, equipment loans, salaries and start up costs. This year we have adjusted our pricing to reflect more the value of the weekly share while offering a substantial 20% discount (via coupon code, EARLYBIRD2020), to those that sign up over the winter. As we approach the start of the market season that discount will diminish.
Cash on the Barrel, 28 & 34 Week Seasons. In general the weekly share rate is optimal for those that pay up front and in full. This provides the farm the majority of our winter funds and enables us to keep things going.
Pay as you Go, 28 & 34 Week Seasons. We appreciate that not everyone has the funds to pay up front and in full so we have our installment plan. We have divided the dues into seven equal payments, a down payment followed by six monthly installments, ideally with a credit card on file.
Monthly, A’ la carte. I’ve been mulling over this for several years. Finally we can discard the vague early, mid, and late sub-seasons for a clearer and simpler monthly membership. This should allow members to pick and choose which months they would like to join as well as vary the size of their share as frequently as they like.
Eggs. We are really enjoying the quality and freshness of our eggs from Creekside Pastures in Leola, Pa, whose chickens are free range and all natural. We have simplified our egg shares to correspond with each membership type in a drop down menu. You will be able choose bi-weekly, weekly, or 2 doz/week.
That’s about all for now. We are launching our 2020 Season and would love to invite you to join us for another trip around the sun. Happy Thanksgiving.