Jun
03
    
Posted (Lori) in News
CSA BASICS
HOW IT WORKS
Our CSA delivery begins around 2:30, when volunteers set up tables, post signs, and get ready for the truck. The truck arrives around 3, though traffic plays a role on the exact time. We usually get set up in plenty of time, but there are a few weeks each year when the truck comes late. The farm delivers all items in bulk.  Regular volunteers help unload the truck and arrange everything on tables for pickup.  Signs are posted with the final item list and quantities.
We keep half share produce on a separate table, with a separate list; volunteers split up full shares for half share members at the beginning of the evening.
Some items have to be weighed; we have scales available and we try to get volunteers to pre-weigh as much as possible to avoid lines. Half share and full share members pick up weighed items at the same place, half share members just take half the amount.
Volunteers are onsite to check people in and help as needed.  As a member you simply check in and take your items according to the allotted quantities. Please make sure your name is checked off. If I see you and say don’t worry, I’ll check you off—ignore me. I’ll forget and then at the end of the evening we don’t know who has picked up.
We don’t put all the vegetables out at once; we keep some covered so that it remains at peak freshness and put out more through the evening. If stock on the tables looks low, ask someone.
We keep a “swap box” on the table. If there’s something you don’t want, put it in the swap box and take something that someone else has left. Try to be reasonable—don’t leave a sprig of parsley and take a butternut squash. And if you have a half share, leave an item that represents a full selection if you’re taking a full selection. The system works if everyone is flexible and considerate—but you can’t count on finding something that you want.
We do occasionally run out of an item, in which case we replace it with something else that acceptable to you or give you the same item the following week.
By 6:30, we start the process of packing up. There is still food on the tables until 7 pm sharp, but the volunteers become busy; in other words, if you get there after 6:45, we won’t be as friendly or talkative. The church has to be locked by 7:15—otherwise a church staff membesr has to work overtime without pay and we don’t ever want that to happen.
When you can’t pick up
If you can’t pick up your share, you may send anyone to pick it up in your place. We have a very simple security system. If someone says they are picking up for a member, we let them. Please tell whoever is picking up–whether it’s a regular such as a nanny/maid or a one-time substitute–about the time and about not squeezing all the vegetables. You’ll find a “cheat sheet” for surrogate picker-uppers at the end of this email.
I try to take a couple of shares home and leave them with my doorman (370 E. 76th Street) for people to pick up later in the evening. So if you can’t or forget to pickup, email me and you may get lucky. If you let me know early in the day, I’ll try to take your share home for you.
Food that is left over at the end of the evening goes into the church’s meal program for homeless people (volunteers are allowed to take some extra).
Volunteering
There is no mandatory volunteer commitment, if for no other reason than to avoid oxymorons.  If anyone wants to get more involved, please email back. I will get back to you within the next few days or weeks. Volunteering is fun—and we are also looking for someone to take over running the site in the near future.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
The first four weeks or so, we’ll get a lot of lettuce and greens.  A lot.  So much that first-year members sometimes wonder if they will ever get anything to sink their teeth into. But by the third or fourth week, we should start getting a wider variety of items like turnips, kohlrabi, cucumbers, peas, and zucchini. By the sixth or seventh week, we go into high summer–peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and more—when the tables are piled high with gorgeous produce. As summer turns into fall, the cool-season crops start—broccoli, fall greens, beets, cauliflower, onions. And if you wondering what happens in late fall—we get winter squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, turnips, plus some lesser-known items like celeriac. (When I first joined, I thought I wouldn’t like the fall vegetables, but I find that I look forward to them.)
The site sometimes gets a little crowded, but in a good way. Some people grab their food and go (it can be done in less than five minutes); others hang around, talking about their shares and everything else. We’re an incredibly diverse group. Last year, we had people who were born in 32 different nations, and of many professions (scientists and medical professionals are the best represented), economic levels and ages. For me, one of the best parts of CSA (though the food is certainly the most important) is being part of this group.
We try to set up some special events; we have food demos and tastings a couple of times a year, and will try to do it more this year. And I would love to start some new ones. Steve has suggested a soup swap—participants each prepare 6 quarts of one type of soup and bring them to the site in jars; we swap so that participants go home with six different soups. And I haven’t given up on gadget night, when people bring their favorite gadgets to the site so that we can all play with them—I’ll bring my spiralizer.
WHAT WE EXPECT FROM YOU:
We’re a laid-back group. There are not a lot of rules and we often break the ones we have.
–Most important is not to come late—we really can’t extend our hours. We thought of closing at 6:45 so that we would not have to race to close properly, but we know that a lot of people come straight from work and can’t get to the site any earlier. So we have a lot to do between 6:45 and 7:15 and that’s not the right time to chat. Everything has to be inside by 7:01 so that we can pack it away and cover it up.
–Treat other people’s vegetables as you would have them treat yours. Don’t squeeze anything, especially not our fragile, non-corporate tomatoes. Please refrain from handling every item on the table in hopes of finding that one magic radish on the bottom.  We have been doing this for twenty years and have never received a single magic radish.
–Bring your own bags. We’ll probably get a tote bag from Stoneledge at the first delivery and we do keep extra bags at the site if you forget or if you are coming from someplace (a board meeting; an operating room) where you really can’t be holding shopping bags. If you take our bags, please limit to a couple; if you like to cushion each tomato in a separate bag, bring your own. And if you have clean, large (grocery-size), plastic bags, please bring them (but not the first week; and not paper—sorry, I prefer paper, too, but we have no reliably dry space to store them and wet paper bags smell bad).
–Children are adored at the site; we try to find jobs for them (like spraying the vegetables with hoses on hot nights) and provide educational materials. And stickers, which makes our many young members excited about coming to pick up their vegetables. If you have any ideas on how to make the pickup more enjoyable for children, please let me know.
–Pets are welcome at the site (they’re even adored by some people, just not by me). We only ask that you keep them away from the food. I remember only one incident of a pet that lifted its leg over the food, but once was enough. If you need someone to hold a leash while you pick up, many site managers and members are delighted to do so.
–If you have to make a payment, please don’t give it to me at the site; I’ll put it in my pocket and then put it in the laundry. If you have to make a payment for CSA extras, make sure that it goes into the envelope on the clipboard.
–If you’ve ordered extras from Stoneledge Marketplace or Lewis Waite, make sure to take them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent Tuesday nights delivering things that are left behind. We will try to remind you; and we will feel guilty if we fail to give you something you’ve ordered—but please try to take everything.
–And we want your suggestions, recommendations, and feedback. We’re not asking people to whine, but the farm does need to know what we like and what we don’t. It’s hard to please everybody—I was shocked to find out, through our end-of-survey, that some people actually want the cinnamon basil and tomatillos that irritate me. But constructive criticism and reasonable suggestions, by email or verbally, are valued.
RECIPES AND WASTE-AVOIDANCE
If you’re a new member, you’ll receive a copy of Recipes from America’s Small Farms, our CSA cookbook during the first few weeks; there are recipes that help you use your share and show you how to adapt basic recipes to use whatever is in our share.
We do ask each member to contribute one or more recipes. A few of us have been compiling recipes sheets each week, but they’re getting old and we’re repeating ourselves. With 150 members, there are probably lots of great ideas out there. We want that old family recipe that everyone asks for; or the go-to recipe that is perfect for busy nights; of the eureka recipe that you just found in the NYT. We look for recipes wherever we go, and provide links that are useful for each week’s share—but that’s not nearly as good as getting recipes that people have tried and love. They don’t have to be original, just things you like enough to recommend. So even though I have no clue how to enforce it, we make a recipe contribution part of the deal.
We’re also going to be including a lot of information to help avoid food waste–preserving, storing, using leftovers. If you have any good ideas, please send them. I think we’re all aware that food waste is a huge, unnecessary drain on resources; the least we can do is make sure we don’t add to it by wasting our great CSA vegetables. And one of the site managers is going to be working with me on finding a way to compost waste from the site; we got a composter once, but it didn’t work out and there’s no longer room it. Again—any ideas, please send. And maybe we’ll set up a brainstorming meeting one night at the site.

CSA BASICS

HOW IT WORKS

Our CSA delivery begins around 2:30, when volunteers set up tables, post signs, and get ready for the truck. The truck arrives around 3, though traffic plays a role on the exact time. We usually get set up in plenty of time, but there are a few weeks each year when the truck comes late. The farm delivers all items in bulk.  Regular volunteers help unload the truck and arrange everything on tables for pickup.  Signs are posted with the final item list and quantities.

We keep half share produce on a separate table, with a separate list; volunteers split up full shares for half share members at the beginning of the evening.

Some items have to be weighed; we have scales available and we try to get volunteers to pre-weigh as much as possible to avoid lines. Half share and full share members pick up weighed items at the same place, half share members just take half the amount.

Volunteers are onsite to check people in and help as needed.  As a member you simply check in and take your items according to the allotted quantities. Please make sure your name is checked off. If I see you and say don’t worry, I’ll check you off—ignore me. I’ll forget and then at the end of the evening we don’t know who has picked up.

We don’t put all the vegetables out at once; we keep some covered so that it remains at peak freshness and put out more through the evening. If stock on the tables looks low, ask someone.

We keep a “swap box” on the table. If there’s something you don’t want, put it in the swap box and take something that someone else has left. Try to be reasonable—don’t leave a sprig of parsley and take a butternut squash. And if you have a half share, leave an item that represents a full selection if you’re taking a full selection. The system works if everyone is flexible and considerate—but you can’t count on finding something that you want.

We do occasionally run out of an item, in which case we replace it with something else that acceptable to you or give you the same item the following week.

By 6:30, we start the process of packing up. There is still food on the tables until 7 pm sharp, but the volunteers become busy; in other words, if you get there after 6:45, we won’t be as friendly or talkative. The church has to be locked by 7:15—otherwise a church staff membesr has to work overtime without pay and we don’t ever want that to happen.

When you can’t pick up

If you can’t pick up your share, you may send anyone to pick it up in your place. We have a very simple security system. If someone says they are picking up for a member, we let them. Please tell whoever is picking up–whether it’s a regular such as a nanny/maid or a one-time substitute–about the time and about not squeezing all the vegetables. You’ll find a “cheat sheet” for surrogate picker-uppers at the end of this email.

I try to take a couple of shares home and leave them with my doorman (370 E. 76th Street) for people to pick up later in the evening. So if you can’t or forget to pickup, email me and you may get lucky. If you let me know early in the day, I’ll try to take your share home for you.

Food that is left over at the end of the evening goes into the church’s meal program for homeless people (volunteers are allowed to take some extra).

Volunteering

There is no mandatory volunteer commitment, if for no other reason than to avoid oxymorons.  If anyone wants to get more involved, please email back. I will get back to you within the next few days or weeks. Volunteering is fun—and we are also looking for someone to take over running the site in the near future.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

The first four weeks or so, we’ll get a lot of lettuce and greens.  A lot.  So much that first-year members sometimes wonder if they will ever get anything to sink their teeth into. But by the third or fourth week, we should start getting a wider variety of items like turnips, kohlrabi, cucumbers, peas, and zucchini. By the sixth or seventh week, we go into high summer–peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and more—when the tables are piled high with gorgeous produce. As summer turns into fall, the cool-season crops start—broccoli, fall greens, beets, cauliflower, onions. And if you wondering what happens in late fall—we get winter squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, turnips, plus some lesser-known items like celeriac. (When I first joined, I thought I wouldn’t like the fall vegetables, but I find that I look forward to them.)

The site sometimes gets a little crowded, but in a good way. Some people grab their food and go (it can be done in less than five minutes); others hang around, talking about their shares and everything else. We’re an incredibly diverse group. Last year, we had people who were born in 32 different nations, and of many professions (scientists and medical professionals are the best represented), economic levels and ages. For me, one of the best parts of CSA (though the food is certainly the most important) is being part of this group.

We try to set up some special events; we have food demos and tastings a couple of times a year, and will try to do it more this year. And I would love to start some new ones. Steve has suggested a soup swap—participants each prepare 6 quarts of one type of soup and bring them to the site in jars; we swap so that participants go home with six different soups. And I haven’t given up on gadget night, when people bring their favorite gadgets to the site so that we can all play with them—I’ll bring my spiralizer.

WHAT WE EXPECT FROM YOU:

We’re a laid-back group. There are not a lot of rules and we often break the ones we have.

–Most important is not to come late—we really can’t extend our hours. We thought of closing at 6:45 so that we would not have to race to close properly, but we know that a lot of people come straight from work and can’t get to the site any earlier. So we have a lot to do between 6:45 and 7:15 and that’s not the right time to chat. Everything has to be inside by 7:01 so that we can pack it away and cover it up.

–Treat other people’s vegetables as you would have them treat yours. Don’t squeeze anything, especially not our fragile, non-corporate tomatoes. Please refrain from handling every item on the table in hopes of finding that one magic radish on the bottom.  We have been doing this for twenty years and have never received a single magic radish.

–Bring your own bags. We’ll probably get a tote bag from Stoneledge at the first delivery and we do keep extra bags at the site if you forget or if you are coming from someplace (a board meeting; an operating room) where you really can’t be holding shopping bags. If you take our bags, please limit to a couple; if you like to cushion each tomato in a separate bag, bring your own. And if you have clean, large (grocery-size), plastic bags, please bring them (but not the first week; and not paper—sorry, I prefer paper, too, but we have no reliably dry space to store them and wet paper bags smell bad).

–Children are adored at the site; we try to find jobs for them (like spraying the vegetables with hoses on hot nights) and provide educational materials. And stickers, which makes our many young members excited about coming to pick up their vegetables. If you have any ideas on how to make the pickup more enjoyable for children, please let me know.

–Pets are welcome at the site (they’re even adored by some people, just not by me). We only ask that you keep them away from the food. I remember only one incident of a pet that lifted its leg over the food, but once was enough. If you need someone to hold a leash while you pick up, many site managers and members are delighted to do so.

–If you have to make a payment, please don’t give it to me at the site; I’ll put it in my pocket and then put it in the laundry. If you have to make a payment for CSA extras, make sure that it goes into the envelope on the clipboard.

–If you’ve ordered extras from Stoneledge Marketplace or Lewis Waite, make sure to take them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent Tuesday nights delivering things that are left behind. We will try to remind you; and we will feel guilty if we fail to give you something you’ve ordered—but please try to take everything.

–And we want your suggestions, recommendations, and feedback. We’re not asking people to whine, but the farm does need to know what we like and what we don’t. It’s hard to please everybody—I was shocked to find out, through our end-of-survey, that some people actually want the cinnamon basil and tomatillos that irritate me. But constructive criticism and reasonable suggestions, by email or verbally, are valued.



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