Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What's On The Horizon?

We've been giving a lot of thought to the 2014 growing season in the past weeks. The 2013 season featured many successes. The collective efforts of a hardworking group of producers/growers yielded  a more vibrant Potter County Farmers' Market. We changed locations  - moving just a block to a county-owned lot across from the courthouse square. We have additional vendors and more products offered for sale. And we hosted our first-ever "Chef At The Market" event showcasing fresh produce from our regular vendors.

As positive as all of this sounds, I think all of our vendors will agree that going to the Farmers' Market each week is a lot of work. Every Friday we're up before the sun in a flurry of harvesting, cleaning, pricing, packaging, transporting and then setting up for a 1:00 p.m. start time. The goal is to bring enough produce to make it worthwhile but not bringing so much that it doesn't sell. I have also observed that there is no pattern in what appeals to the customer week in and week out. The beet greens that flew off the table one week will languish the next week and then the following week when we decide to let them stay in the field to grow into beets, everyone is looking for beet greens!

We continue to explore how we might more efficiently meet the food needs of our customers. For example, if you're interested in leafy head lettuce on a regular basis, would you consider setting up a standing order for a couple of heads each week during the growing season?
These little plants grow to become tasty heads of leaf lettuce.
Or maybe you really want to freeze snap beans when they're in season. Would you be willing to contract with us to grow them for you? We'd know how many seeds to plant - and when to plant them - to meet the specific needs of customers who are committed to buy when the harvest comes.

The concept could work for all the vegetables we might grow - from the first peas of summer to the luscious heirloom tomatoes to the fall crops of potatoes, squash and pumpkins. Would you have an interest in helping us plan what to grow this summer based on what you would buy? It's a bit like a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) 
...from Wikipedia: Community-Supported Agriculture (sometimes known as community-shared agriculture) is an alternative, locally-based  economic model of agriculture and food distribution.

Would our concept of growing produce for specific customers provide a stable base of support for our efforts while giving us a clearer picture of how much to plant knowing we have a market for that produce?
Would you be interested in a weekly box of produce, based on what's in season? Would you pay up front to support this effort?
On New Year's Day, I don't know what the 2014 growing season will look like. What will fill the raised beds in the prime high tunnel space? What will be planted in our fields and garden spaces?
I'm counting on hearing from you - potential customers - to let us know what you're looking for. Feel free to comment below. (Please note that all comments are reviewed by us before they're published on the blog so your comments needn't be published.) I hope to hear from you soon!


Anonymous said...

Wow, Jane and Art, this sound just like what I'm looking for. It would be awesome to know that I won't miss out on the Swiss Chard if I order in advance. Sign me up!

Anonymous said...

We at Wooleylot Farm were thinking about buying club. A buying club is a member based program where members have the opportunity to shop conveniently from home. Buying club membership provides our farmer market customers with the best selection of available seasonal produce offerings. Members will have access to preview and ability to pre-order items from the "basket of offerings" from the member farms prior to the farmer markets. Members then pick-up their orders at the farmers market.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested in having a selection of fresh vegetables each week but I live alone and can use only a limited amount. How would this work for me?

Anonymous said...

In a buying club, customers would select what you want in the amounts that you need from available seasonal produce offerings. Member farms would receive the orders to know in advance what and how much to bring to the market.