Farm Handbook (CSA nuts and bolts)

TIMES AND DAYS:

Summer shares are distributed on the farm every Tuesday and Friday from 1-7pm.  The distribution shed is also open from 8am-noon on Saturdays. Quality and selection are not guaranteed on Saturday, but usually you can get a good share.

Members may get their share either day – depending on what is most convenient for them that particular week. There is no need to contact the farmers about a switched day. Members may only pick-up once each week, and missed weeks may not be made up. If you will be out of town you can offer your share to a friend or neighbor, or let it return to the farm via chicken food!

SHARE PICKUP:

One side of the distribution shed is the “One Bag Side”.  We provide appropriately sized bags at the farm and members may only use these bags for this part of distribution. Members may fill (to the brim – nice and full) the bag with any assortment of produce from that section. This means that members need only take produce that they want, and in the amounts that they can use. For example, don’t take rutabagas and turnips if you don’t like them.  We really mean it – if all you want is onions and broccoli from the “One Bag Side” then fill your bag with only that.  Selection is, of course, limited by seasonality.

 “Free choice” means that you may take as much (or as little) of the item as you need for the week. Free choice items are not intended for freezing, canning, or giving away to friends and neighbors. It simply means that we let you decide how much your family needs for the week. One way to think of it is that we do not pick enough produce for members to “stock up”. If you find that you are not using all of the produce in a week, take less next time. On the other hand, u-pick crops described as “unlimited” may be picked and then frozen, dried, and canned to your heart’s content for your family’s future use.

You should leave the farm with what you will use for the week. Please don’t take produce to give away to friends and neighbors (of course sharing dinner with friends is fine!). If they would like to share in the harvest, encourage them to contact us about becoming a member.

Please do not come early to distribution – we harvest and wash almost all of the produce the day of distribution and are very busy getting everything ready by 1pm. You may, of course come early and spend your time picking u-pick crops or simply enjoying the farm.

U-PICK:

U-pick crops are available throughout most of the season. Most of the u-pick crops are unlimited, meaning that you can pick as much of them and as frequently as you wish. Some u-pick crops are limited. We send out weekly emails stating which u-pick crops are available and what the limits are, if any. The crops are also listed on the u-pick board in the distribution shed, along with a map of the farm indicating where the crops are. In the field the crops are marked with signs. We do not provide containers for the u-pick crops – so if the strawberry limit is 2 quarts, please bring a container to measure with, from home.  U-pick crops may be picked any day, and any time during daylight hours. We do have to turn on the electric fences at dusk, so please respect our chores (and bedtime!) and finish picking before dusk.

CUMULATIVE SEASON LIMIT (FOR BERRIES): 

The limited u-pick crops are quantified using the concept of a cumulative season limit.  For example, the first time that strawberries are opened for u-pick we will post the season limit, lets say a quart. You may pick this quart any time you wish. Then, in a week, or in a couple of days, depending on how the crop looks, we will establish a new season limit, say 2 quarts.  At this point you may pick a total of 2 quarts to-date for the season. And etc. By the end of the strawberry season the limit may be up to 8 quarts.  This means that you could pick all 8 quarts at the end of the season; however, it is best to pick each time the limit increases because this helps us assess the crop more accurately, and also ensures that you get your limit.

Throughout the summer season we carefully perform crop estimates to insure that all members have a chance to enjoy their share of the allowable u-pick. 

HARVEST YEAR:

CSA’s are seasonal. This means that members eat seasonally. This can be one of the more challenging aspects of being a first-time CSA member.  It is important to understand this concept. We find that members who are well supplied with cookbooks geared toward seasonal, CSA, or farmer market based recipes are better equipped to eat on the CSA schedule.  Consider buying several good cookbooks that are written around seasonal eating. We recommend Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin. You can also look online at http://Smittenkitchen.com   http://www.thekitchn.com   http://food52.com   http://cooking.nytimes.com

We also maintain a recipe blog on the farm website. We find that members who go home with their share and immediately cut and clean the produce are well set up to effectively use their share through out the week. 

CSA GROWING SEASON:

Central New York has a long spring season, a nice, not-too-hot summer season, a lovely fall season, followed by quite a long winter season.  Being a CSA member in June means eating a lot of greens, some strawberries, some peas, radishes, and turnips. Those early weeks of the CSA can feel long, with the first “hard” or “real” vegetables seeming a long way off in the future.  We do many things to mitigate a cool spring. We have 3 large passive solar greenhouses that supply extra early basil and cucumbers, and use row cover extensively in the field. Both of these season extension tools take extra work and money, but we think that it is important to provide the best share that we can to our members.   Seasonal eating also means that the weather has a direct effect of what we distribute every week. If it has been a cold, rainy spring, the warm weather crops will grow slowly, and everyone will be eating cool weather crops for a while longer (cool weather crops in the Spring means greens). That’s what nature provides.  It is good to remember that the spring passes fairly quickly, and that the 3- 5 weeks of the season that it takes up is not much compared to the full 23 week CSA season. Seasonal eating, once you are accustomed to it, is quite pleasurable and natural. By early to mid July the early season warm crops are coming in – broccoli, beets, cucumbers, and summer squash. By August most of the traditional vegetables are around – tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, cabbage, peppers.  Fall brings winter squash, onions, garlic, plus all of the summer vegetables. By late fall we are back into more greens, leeks, winter squash, plus lots of roots – carrots, beets, turnips, celeriac, rutabagas, radishes, parsnips, and potatoes. 

PAYMENT:

Payment secures your share. Payment may be made in full upon joining, or paid in four installments. We require that the payments are kept current with the distributions, and that summer shares are paid for in full by September 1st. 

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT PLAN:

If you need a special installment plan, please speak with a farmer. Usually this means that the payments are made in smaller amounts, but more frequently. (I.e. – weekly).  Members on a special payment plan still need to keep their payments current with the distributions, and still pay the full amount for the share.

METHOD OF PAYMENT:

Payment can be mailed to the farm, or placed in the “money jar” in the distribution shed. If you pay with cash please be sure that your name and date is secured to the cash so we know whom it is from. You may also pay in full, through Paypal.

During the summer we distribute 12-30 items in the shed.  The average retail value of the distributed share is 30-40 dollars per week.  A few of our members have commented that they use about two thirds of the offered share and feel like the share is a good deal.  

A dollar value for the u-pick is not included in the price of the share. We include u-pick in the share as a gift to the members because we value opening up the farm for people to enjoy.

We provide you, the member, a wholesale value of the harvest, a large array of you- pick flowers and vegetables and access to the farm and the beautiful outdoors.  We do not truck our food, provide a paved parking lot, provide air-conditioned shopping, or sell gasoline, magazines and bubble gum. Thank you for letting us concentrate our efforts on providing you the healthiest, freshest produce we can.

FARM RULES

1. Speed limit – 10 mph. Please keep to the speed limit on the farm road. We have 2 children and there are usually CSA children at the farm.

2. U-pick hours – any day, as many days as you wish, daylight hours only.

3. Please supervise your children. This is a working farm and there are real dangers such as the pond, electric fences, cars, trucks, tractors, and farm machinery. 

4 Pets are not allowed at the farm. Keep them in your car or leave them at home.

5. Greenhouses are off limits. 

6. Do not play on equipment.

7. Assume that all fences are electrified. 

8. The pond is off limits to everyone – adults and children alike.

9. Parking – Please park ONLY in the 2 parking lots. Do not park along the farm road. We do not own the farm road, and the farmers that granted us right-of-way frequently drive large equipment and need all the room they can get.

These rules are for your protection and farm efficiency.

Thanks again and see you at the farm!

Best Regards,
Paul Martin