News From the Farm | November 21, 2016

Full Belly Farm started offering veggie boxes in 1992 and from the very start the program has had an influence on the farm that was perhaps bigger than might be expected from the number of boxes we pack each week.  Along with the economic relationship, it has created a source of constant feedback about what is working or not working. We can trace changes in the farm directly to comments and suggestions we received from our members — increases in  the diversity of fruits and vegetables that we grow for example. 

Some of our long-time members have always had a fierce desire to support our farm through thick and thin. We remember some of our first “work days” on the farm when small groups of members would arrive with their work boots and gloves, ready to take on whatever we had in store.  Now, faced with too many legal and liability complexities, we have morphed the work days into farm visits and tours, but the sense that we have of ready support and commitment as well as a two-way relationship with our membership hasn’t gone away.

We still have many members who joined the program when it started all of those 24 years ago. The farm now offers a summer camp to CSA members, and some kids tell us that they were raised on Full Belly fruits and veggies from day one, spent many summers at Camp Full Belly, became camp counsellors, and now take on responsibilities volunteering at the Hoes Down Harvest Festival in October every year. These are the kind of long-term relationships between a farm and its community that go deep and mean a lot to us, your farmers.  

In addition to the members for whom the program “works,” and who continue to be a part of the farm, we have, at any point in time, a majority of new members, trying out the CSA program to see if their busy lives can incorporate the challenge of cooking out of the box, sometimes with products that they might not have chosen to buy at the supermarket.  Hoping to make the CSA more accessible, we created our member portal, so that all of our members can create their own accounts, (and soon be able to add-on special orders through those accounts).  Our recipe archive (accessed through the recipe page of our web site) is built around the fruits and vegetables found in the box. Every day we respond to questions and concerns of members unsure how to use a new vegetable.

Each week, when we choose what we will put into the box, we think about and discuss the diversity, quality and value of the CSA box, knowing that our members are putting their trust in us — allowing us to choose.  The whole thing turns the modern food system topsy turvy — in the supermarket vegetable aisle, products from all over the world are on display! In fact just one bag of salad mix from the store almost surely contains greens grown in several different states, and hamburger meat from the meat department probably contains meat from cows that grew up in several different countries! Asking our members to build their meals around the products from one small farm facing the vagaries of our own local climate and weather, is actually a revolutionary concept, put in the context of the global food system.

It is Thanksgiving week, and we are thankful for many things, including the loyalty, flexibility and open-mindedness of our CSA members, both long-term and new-to-us. In this newsletter we are announcing a modest 5% increase in the price of our CSA boxes for 2017.  The last time we increased our prices was five years ago! We will, in future issues, perhaps talk to you about the significant increases in the cost of labor that lead us to make this change in our prices.  We may describe the challenges we face as we try to grow smallish quantities of such a diverse spectrum of fruits and vegetables in a food system focussed only on narrowly defined “efficiencies.” We may tell you about our commitment to soil-building with compost, cover crops, crop rotations, animal grazing and other experiments that we think will increase the flavor and nutrition of your fruits and vegetables.  For now, we hope that our price increase will not present a hardship to any of our members, and we trust that you understand that it is a necessary change.

We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving week.

—Judith Redmond

New Prices for 2017

Boxes purchased 4 in advance will be $19 per box or $76 for 4 boxes (was $18/box)

Boxes purchased 12 in advance will be $17.50 per box or $210 for 12 boxes (was $16.50/box)

Boxes purchased annually will be $16.50 per box or $792 for 48 boxes (was $16/box)

Our flower season starts in April.  Flower prices will be $8/bouquet for the entire 26-week season, or $8.50/bouquet if you purchase 4 bouquets in advance. In addition, we will be charging sales tax on flowers.  In the past we have backed sales tax out of the price of the flowers after purchase, but we will be doing it the more standard way (adding it on top of the purchase price) from now on.

These prices will go into effect for any renewals starting from December 12th, 2106 forward.  (Remember that the farm is on winter break from December 12th through January 8th.) The last time that Full Belly raised our CSA prices was in 2012!

Thank you.