As the 2016 season winds down, we are deep in the planning stages for 2017 and I wanted to share some of our plans with our share members. Each season we review our crop choices, productions methods, and marketing strategies and try to decide what worked and what needs improvement. We love feedback from our share members so please don't hesitate to send me an email or chat with me at the pickups and let me know what you think! In our first few seasons I had share members complete a survey to help me recognize which crops they desired and in what quantities. I no longer do this as I am better at seeing the trends and choices people make at the pickup. As I notice these trends I tweak our crop plan to accommodate people's preferences. But beyond the crop choices, we have some great plans in store for next year! And many of these choices are focused on making our share members' lives easier and increasing choice.
Here are some of the changes in the works for next year:
CSA Share Prices & Discount: Our share sizes will remain the same for next year with similar choices of vegetables. We are committed to ensuring there is at least 1 choice item each week in the share (ie. kale or chard) and, of course, will continue to use the trade-in bin and bonus items weekly. The share prices for 2017 will be: $425 for small and $600 for large. This is a modest increase of $1.25 and $2.50 per week respectively. The reason for the increase is twofold. First, with the poor Canadian dollar our cost of inputs have remained consistently higher over the last year and a half. Second, the price reflects our certified organic status. We will continue to offer an early bird discount but have extended the deadline to February 15th. If you pay in full prior to February 15th you will receive a 5% discount on your share. We will continue to offer customized payment plans for those that prefer to pay in installments.
New Add-On Options: We will continue to offer our popular Potato, Carrot, and Lettuce Add-ons for next year. We will also be adding two other options: a Pea Shoot Add-On and a Leafy Green Add-On! We regularly include pea shoots in the first 4 weeks of the shares. For those that purchase a pea shoot add-on you will continue to receive pea shoots for all the remaining weeks of the shares. The leafy green add-on will include 1 extra bunch of greens (kale, chard, or collards) for every week of the shares. This is a great choice for juicers and smoothie makers or large, greens loving families!
Pickup Day: Since our first season we have had a pickup at St. James Anglican Church on Wednesday afternoons. We hate to change it for those that are used to the Wednesday pickup, but in order for us to grow we need to change the day. We are planning to offer pickup at St. James on Thursdays from 4 - 6:30pm. This will allow us to make two weekly deliveries of vegetables to Guelph without having them be on back-to-back days. We will be discontinuing the Tuesday pickup at Priory Park Baptist Church but will have another exciting option on Tuesdays (see below).
Home Delivery: This is one of our most exciting changes for next year! On Tuesdays, we will be offering home deliveries of shares in both Mount Forest and Guelph. This option is for share members who struggle to get to pickup each week due to work and life scheduling conflicts. Or for those that love the convenience of arriving home to a basket of veggies. The cost for home delivery will be $80 for Guelph ($4/week) and $40 for Mount Forest ($2/week). No need to be home when it is delivered! Share members will leave a cooler in a designated location (front porch, back patio, etc.) and I will arrive and fill it with your veggies. And if someone forgets to leave the cooler out, the veggies will be left in a bag in the designated location. While best suited for those living in houses, we can chat with those who think their apartment building or place of work would be a feasible drop-off. If you can convince your neighbours or co-workers to give us a try, even better! We endeavour to offer the same choices in veggies for those choosing home delivery. We have to work out the logistics but home delivery members will be able to specify which choice item they prefer and let me know if they want to trade-in any one item. Most likely this will be done online each week in a 'members-only' section of our website.
Vacation Weeks: We are making two important changes to vacation weeks. Now, share members can use two vacation weeks per season! And, you can choose when you receive the double share owing from your vacation weeks (it no longer needs to be on the week immediately after your vacation week). One week's notice must be given for both the vacation weeks and the double shares.
Credit Cards and PayPal Accepted: Share members will be able to purchase their shares and other add-ons online using all major credit cards or PayPal. And even better, we will accept credit card payments at pickup for items like honey and chicken! There is no added cost to share members and we will continue to accept cheques, cash, and e-transfers for those that prefer.
Text Message Service: As an free option for share members, you can register with our text message service. This service will send a reminder text 1 hour prior to pickup or at the beginning of the day for home delivery so that shares are not forgotten! We will also send the occasional reminder text of important dates (early bird cut off and special events, for example). Multiple family members can sign up to receive the reminder texts, if desired.
More Eggs: We know our eggs are popular! To help fill demand, we will be doing two things for the 2017 season. We plan to increase the number of egg layers on our farm and we are considering partnering with our neighbour, who also raises pastured egg layers. We would provide our neighbour with the same organic feed we use with our chickens to ensure consistent quality and flavour. Same price, same great taste!
New is shares this week are winter radishes. Like their name suggests, winter radishes are types of radishes that are grown in the cool weather of fall and store well into the winter. We grow two varieties: Watermelon Radish and Daikon Radish.
Watermelon radish are golf-ball sized radishes with a greenish white rind and a bright pink interior. When sliced, they look like mini watermelon slices. I love adding these in salads for a beautiful pop of colour. Fresh, rustic bread smeared with butter and layered with thinly sliced radishes and a sprinkle of salt is a delicious treat!
Daikon radishes are long, slender white radishes commonly used in kim chi or other fermented vegetable dishes. We also like them grated or sliced into salads or marinated in soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and brown rice vinegar.
Like spring radishes, winter radishes have a spicy bite although I find them mellower.