CSA Renewals & Winter Share Registration
Half Share: $695
Full Share: $1,290
Egg Share: $60 (half)/$180 (full)
Pickup Insurance: $40 (half)/$75 (full)
Partner Fee: $100
Early renewals qualify for a bonus Thanksgiving pickup on Nov. 17, Nov. 18, OR Nov. 21—renewal deadline: Nov. 10
Current members will have their shares reserved until January 15, 2024
Members can reserve shares, and qualify for Thanksgiving pickup, with a 50% deposit (balance due May 1, 2024)
September 24, 2023
Here we are, at the close of another season. Seems like just yesterday we were welcoming everyone back, and in the blink of an eye, it will be June again. But this being September, it’s time to talk about CSA renewals.
This season was like none other. We farmed with a mostly-new staff. We installed a deer fence. The field map underwent its biggest change since 2012. There is much to be written about all of this, but I’ll save it for my annual December reflection. For now, here’s a quick run-down of lessons learned and changes on the horizon.
This season brought into sharp relief just how much the farm benefitted from the underpaid labor of Steve Cecchini and Peter Notarnicola. From 2016-2022, they went above and beyond the call of duty because they loved farming and didn’t care much about money. Dan and I knew we were lucky to have them, but we also knew it wasn’t sustainable. As it happened, our luck ran out last winter, when Steve passed from cancer and when Peter moved on. At that point in the calendar, however, we already had a full roster of CSA members, i.e. it was too late to scale back. So instead, we prioritized hiring as many new crew members as the budget would allow to replace the talent we had lost. To alleviate pressure, Dan quit his part-time Cornell job and shifted his focus from groundskeeping to fieldwork.
Though the season began with many unknowns, I’d say we knocked the ball out of the park, if success is to be measured by CSA harvests. Maybe we simply had a “good” year, but it’s also true that our crew pulled together and worked like a family, despite being strangers to each other a mere five months ago. Our full-time field assistant, Mike Simpson, was and continues to be as hard-working as they come. Our apprentices, Adam Li and Mia Goren, got us through a long summer of weeding, mulching, and harvesting. And our veteran crew members Nancy Galgano and Jackie Ford provided a crucial link to our established systems, upholding the standards our CSA members have come to expect. All in all, I’m proud of what our team accomplished this year.
Nevertheless, every farmer must remain clear-eyed about the future, and the truth is that in its current capacity—250 CSA members—the farm still needs more than what we can sustainably provide. Dan and I worked many 12-hour days to ensure abundant harvests for everyone while also making sure our staff got home on time. It was the sort of rise-to-the-occasion performance that provides an adrenaline rush while it’s going on, but which also leads to burnout. Now as we look ahead to 2024, we must plot a more humane path forward. We can’t afford to hire more staff, so all that’s left is to downsize and trim fat wherever possible. This might sound disappointing, but if we keep a sharp focus on what’s working, and scale back what isn’t, we’ll come out stronger in the end. Here's what we have in mind…
The biggest change is eliminating the Thursday pickup and farm stand. Ideally, all of our Thursday members will all be able to switch to Tuesday or Saturday, but we understand that for some, it’s Thursday or nothing. We don’t take this loss lightly! Nevertheless, from an efficiency standpoint, it’s the low-hanging fruit. Each 4-hour pickup requires 1-2 hours of set-up, 1-2 hours of cleanup, and a crew of 3-4 people to run. By diverting the Thursday members to Tuesday and Saturday, we can free up an entire day for field work and reduce the burden on Dan and myself.
We also intend to downsize our field operations by 10-15%. This should not impact current members, given our 25% turnover rate, but it does mean we will have fewer openings in January, when CSA shares go on sale to the public. So a word to the procrastinators—if you’re certain you want to renew, don’t wait until the last minute.
Lastly, this season delivered a slight shift in share contents—fewer summer greens, more summer fruit crops—and we intend to make that shift permanent. Our survey results indicate that most members were happy with the change, and it works to our advantage, given that greens harvest is hard to teach, but that beans and zucchini are fairly straight-forward.
We hope these changes make sense to you. Though the farm has undergone many changes through the years, downsizing has rarely been one of them. Nevertheless, we’re confident it’s the right move for now. Here’s where I could launch into a high-minded speech about the broken state of our food system—about the ubiquity of cheap food and why it’s so hard for small farms like ours to survive and thrive—but this is not the right time or audience. You, our CSA members, are part of the solution! You pay more than most, and assume more inconvenience than most, to support a model that is local, ethical, and (we hope) sustainable. So while there is much to be said about the sorry state of current food affairs, at the end of a long and grueling but ultimately abundant and successful season, we want to thank you for the critical role that you play. We wouldn’t be here without you, we are so grateful for you, and we look forward to many more seasons with you.
Back to renewals, here’s what to know:
Checks are always preferred. Click here for registration form.
Online registration is easy and welcome, too. Password: RENEWAL2024
All current CSA members will have their shares reserved until Jan. 15, 2024.
Members who renew by Nov. 10 will qualify for a bonus Thanksgiving pickup on Nov. 17, 18, or 21.
Members can reserve their share, and qualify for the Thanksgiving pickup, with a 50% deposit. All balances are due May 1, 2024.
Thanks for everything, and see you back at the farm soon.
All the best,
Caroline & Dan