You know they say time flies when you are having fun.This year must have been a blast! As we close in on the end of the outdoor farming season, we are doing so with a bit of relief and satisfaction in a job well done. We talk about it often – the roller coaster weather, pests and disease, marketing, – challenges that face small scale, organic growers each year. This one, of course, was no different, but through it all we have come out on the other side with a pretty solid overall crop mix. Not bad, considering we had two of the wettest months on record in July and August followed by one of the driest months on record in September.
Each year we become more resilient with better systems in place, a more experienced professional crew, and well thought out plans. Our diversity of crops is really what helps us survive years like this, the spring onions, beets and carrots did awesome while the melons and beans were a disaster. There are many other crops that have complemented each other in this way, not only this year but in years past as well. I have a farmer friend who only grows green beans – 22 acres of them. Last year he had 100,000 pounds produced at the end of the year. This year, only 20,000 pounds! It gives me chills to think about that dramatic difference and really great perspective on why the diverse line up of crops, customers, and rotations really matter.
Emily and I continue to try and find balance within our farm life. The demands of the farm in the midst of the season can be quite high and no doubt the farm will take all you will give to it. We made the decision to drop markets and focus on our members and wholesale accounts this year. As you know that backfired a bit in June as cash flow became very tight. We made it through and are really dedicated to making this life and farm work together, which means building on what we know we can handle and do well in both crop production and marketing and sales.
One of the things we have recognized over the years is when everyone is excited about getting our veggies, entrance into our “CSA” is closed and getting our food on their table can be a challenge. We also recognize that “CSA” is also a bit of foreign language to most folks as well. What can we do to make the process easy? Easy to understand, easy to buy, convenience. The new season begins in November but from here on out it will not have a definite beginning and end but rather a 12 month subscription from the time you sign up whenever that may be. You will also notice with the new model that you do not need to pre-buy any share type you can simply pay a $50/year membership fee and pay each week as you go with a credit card or e-check. There are also 3 levels of investment in the farm that you can make and receive extra cash to spend on the online store. Payment in the form of monthly installments or pay in full are options.
Our previous model was based on an idea of eliminating value from each item and trying to place the value on the farm as a whole. What really happened was most folks were confused, and we had a really hard time explaining it to new members who didn’t already know we were crazy.
Now for the simplification part. The guessing about how much am I spending? Can I take this week off and add it to next? What am I allowed to spend each week? All these issues have been eliminated.
Each item has a dollar value associated with it and you are just spending down your account balance as you order each week. The site will track and show you your remaining balance. Or you may purchase what you want each week without using your store credit. No limits, no worries about if your order is over or under, no problem if you miss a week your balance automatically follows your orders. You will have only 12 months to use any credit you purchase with us as tracking it out any further is a bit cumbersome for us.
Some of you may know we started another business within Silverthorn this past winter and we call it Local Link LLC. We use this part of the business as the delivery and marketing arm for Silverthorn as well as many other local producers into the wholesale markets. What does this mean for you? It means that not only will you be able to purchase our veggies each week but also many products from our partner farms. A variety of fruit, meat, eggs, dairy, syrups, honey and grains will become available as the seasons allow. These folks are doing great things in our state and we are excited to let you get to know them and their products over the next few months. Imagine if you can an online local farms market that you can look up the bios of farms, research their practices, and then have their goodies delivered along with your vegetable order to our existing distribution sites. We hope you are as excited about this as we are! It is going to be awesome to build our product line-up for you and we can’t wait for this new model to come your way.
Thank you all for trusting us with the important job of growing your food. There truly is nothing we would rather do than feed our community.