Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Guest Post: A farmer reflects on 2012

Happy new year! I caught up with Sharon from Tree Gate Farm to ask her to reflect on her farm's successes during 2012. Here's what she had to say:

From Sharon:

Perhaps our biggest success in 2012 was our CSA. We're a relatively young farm and this was our first year committing to a CSA, so we embarked with a bit of trepidation. We decided to go with a market-share model (customers have credit at our farm stand and choose what they want, week by week; if they're away or not hungry for what's on offer, the credit just waits for their return). The flexibility seemed like a good fit for us and appealed primarily to small families, single people, and travelers for whom the bigger box delivery model can be overwhelming.

Enrollment was solid and we adored the people who participated in our CSA. Writing the newsletter for them each week helped us articulate the highs and lows of an incredibly challenging season. Translating what was going on in the fields into digestible nuggets for non farmers included such events as the loss of our entire fruit harvest (I expect your readers all remember the late frost,) and then a drought that had Dean re-designing our irrigation system three times (we started with rain water capture, transitioned to the creek, then a spring, and then the well!), and even a little episode where all of our pigs took a 3-mile walk-about through the woods of West Hill before returning home. phew!

Through it all, we managed to feed the most good-natured, supportive CSA members farmers could hope to work with. They gushed about the flavor and quality of their veggies, offered encouragement when we felt down, and kept renewing their memberships and telling their friends about the Tree Gate CSA. What an honor to feed such delightful people and see them each week at market. 

For the year ahead, we're exploring some partnerships to expand our offerings so we can also expand the CSA membership. Already, the first of three seed orders has been placed and in just a few days we'll start trays of leek and onion seeds in our mud room. Spring is almost here!

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