Winter Conference = New Ideas
Well, there goes January! Our much-anticipated month of rest is drawing to a close, and while the first seeding is still several weeks away, it’s time to sharpen our focus on spring.
Last weekend Dan, the kids and I attended the NOFA-NY conference in Saratoga, along with Steve, Peter, and Paul. It’s always a treat to hang out with other farmers and to consider different methods in a relaxed setting. We came away with lots new ideas, free pencils, a motorized root washer, and one big "Aha!" moment.
While catching up with Denis Lepel, a former volunteer now running his own farm near Rochester, I was intrigued by his system of running CSA pickups directly from his farmer’s market stall. For Denis, this arrangement helps dispel the notion that farmers “dump their seconds” on the CSA while saving the best for market. For me, it seems like a great way of killing two birds with one stone, and it gave me the idea of merging our Sunday and Wednesday farm stands with the weekly CSA pickups. This schedule change—our first in six years—has multiple advantages. For one, it will free up Wednesdays for fieldwork and Sundays for family time. Second, the farm stand will be open ten hours a week, instead of just five. CSA members will also have a convenient opportunity to take advantage of the 10% farm stand discount included in CSA membership. Finally, we won’t have to turn away passersby looking to purchase vegetables during CSA pickup.
Obviously, there are many details to be ironed out. We’ll need to expand the Saturday hours to accommodate more foot traffic. We’ll need a system for monitoring the pick-your-own items so that they remain exclusive to the CSA. And we'll need to figure out how to arrange all the produce in the Tin House. But we’re excited to tackle these details head on, and to embrace a change that makes more efficient use of our space, labor, and time.
Meanwhile, back in the Tin House, the usual assortment of winter projects is underway. There are broken pipes to repair, tools to sharpen, and supplies to inventory. In the office, we’re finalizing the annual budget, ordering seeds, and preparing our organic certification paperwork (we resumed certification of our greenhouses last year). Oh yeah, and no matter the weather, there are chickens to feed.
Finally, we’re hiring! We’re seeking a full-time apprentice for the 2018 season. A full job description is posted here: https://www.restorationfarm.com/helpwanted