News From the Farm | January 16, 2017

At this time of year an unusually large number of people join our CSA program for the first time, and that brings our attention around to the fact that getting used to the CSA box is sometimes challenging for new members. Sometimes people ask why they can’t just get one box as a starter, before they decide to commit for a longer term. But we encourage new members to make a commitment of trying at least 4 boxes when they first start, so that they have more of a chance to build a connection with the farm and to try and develop a greater knowledge of cooking ‘out of the box’.

Because there are so many new members right now, this is a good time of year for us to use this newsletter to answer some questions about how the CSA program works.  Here’s an example of one of the questions that we received recently: 

“I have always thought about getting a box but haven’t done it until now. One of the reasons that I would get a weekly box is to be able to get produce that is fresher than what I can get at the store. Can you give me an idea of the length of time between when your vegetables are picked and when they arrive at the drop-off location? I couldn’t find anything about it on on your website.”

At Full Belly, we pick our produce the day before it is delivered.  Every night, we load our truck, and the majority of the produce in the boxes will be less than 24-hours from the fields by the time it gets to your kitchen.

Although it may be counterintuitive in this world of instant communication, this is part of the reason that we need several days notice if anyone wants to change their delivery schedule.  If we had stacks of picked and packed vegetables in our cooler, we could work out of inventory each day. If the number of boxes we needed changed during the day it wouldn’t really matter — we could just save up the extras for the following day. That would be kind of nice because once we figured out how many boxes we needed on a given day, we could just grab them off the shelf and load our trucks, while the crew just picked ahead for the future. 

Maintaining an inventory of produce to use as needed would introduce a lot more flexibility into the farm’s schedule and would take some daily deadline pressure off of the farm, but it would most certainly result in produce that was less fresh, and that is why we don’t do it. Our commitment to our CSA members is to try and get the freshest possible produce to you every week.  There are a few things that may be stored — potatoes, winter squash, oranges – but the majority of the fruits and veggies in your box were growing in the field pretty darn recently when you open the box in your kitchen. 

We have had some frosty, freezing mornings this year, which is great in some ways, but it can damage tender broccoli and greens.  We apologize if some of the vegetables don’t arrive in absolutely perfect condition.

If any of you have questions about how the CSA works, or if any of our longer-term members have stories about their first experiences with the CSA program, let us know!  We can share your stories in this newsletter.