Since then, our CSA program has grown to over 100 shareholders in 2013. Our operation has become larger and our practices more efficient, and we have diversified our crops based on shareholder requests. We now have nine greenhouses, seven of which are strictly used for vegetable production. This has enabled us to extend the season of many vegetables, bringing more vegetables to shareholders earlier and later in the season.
Soon after beginning the CSA program, we developed a unique setup for our pickup shares. Instead of handing out a box or bag with preselected produce to our shareholders, they are able to select which vegetables they would like to take for the week based on a list of available produce. This enables them to take the produce they know they will need for the week, with the option of picking up unfamiliar items to try (and suggestions for ways to use them).
Joining us as a shareholder in that first year was our good friend Carole Hinners and her late husband Richard. Today, Carole remains a shareholder and a dear friend. Recently, she reminded Stephen of the 20th year anniversary. She and Richard used to come out to the farm in the fall to help cover the rows before a frost. Here's what she had to say:
"It will be 20 years on March 18th of this year that I first purchased a half share of that year's wonderful crop, when you were on the Blissville Road. I think back to helping with the weeding and picking back then. Do you remember Richard and I helping you with the row covers when frosty evenings came too early? I wasn't tall or strong enough to work with the big boys but I could run behind and shovel dirt to hold down the covers quite quickly. How about when you rented land from the Eagans and a big wind sheer came across the hill and destroyed your entire field of lettuce. You were beside yourself, thinking you will have to repay the shareholders. I told you that we as shareholders must take the risk as part of the deal. If the crop fails due to an act of God or no fault of your own, then that has to be part of the risk we share with you, the farmer, as shareholders. In those early years there were even droughts but you made every effort to irrigate, and when that was not possible the following year you rented land closer to the water so you could irrigate. I would say that is good and responsible farming. How you manage to make everything you grow taste so absolutely wonderful I don't know, but you do. It's your magic Stephen."
It is because of Carole and many other loyal shareholders that even through the droughts, floods, hail, and snow, we have successfully grown our business for so many years. It is a pleasure growing for you and seeing you all each week, and we hope to continue for years to come.
A recent addition to our CSA program are our delivered shares to workplaces. We deliver shares to several businesses in Rutland, and have also begun delivering to Castleton State College. This is been a mutually beneficial addition to the program, and we hope for it to grow in 2014. We would love to bring shares to your business--feel free to call or email us to discuss it further.
Even with all of these changes, our mission has not changed--our produce is extremely local. It never travels far, and gets to our customers within 24 hours of being picked, often the same day. Produce that fresh is better for you, lasts longer, and above all, tastes incredible!
We hope to see you in our barn, at the farmers market, or at your workplace this year. Here's to a wonderful 20 years, and a healthy and delicious 2014!
Click here to buy a share for 2014 or download a brochure!