Farmer John Writes From Diad to Triad

 In Farm News

Welcome to our Fourth Harvest Week

I used to hold two aspects of my farm as the keys to success (or perhaps the keys to survival). The two are efficiency and quality. Every member of our farm team knows that these are cornerstones of my approach to your satisfaction as a shareholder and our viability as a farm. Our diversity of crops has to be harvested efficiently (speedily) and be of a high quality (good texture, color, flavor, form, and sheen.)

A weeding machine (the power wiggle hoe) helps Victor increase our weeding efficiency

A weeding machine (the power wiggle hoe) helps Victor increase our weeding efficiency

Hoeing corn can be done more or less efficiently (speed). Quality is determined by the percentage of weeds destroyed vs the percentage of corn that is nicked. Volume (yield) increases according to how well the weeds are controlled. (Trevor, Austin, Chris and Katie above.)

Hoeing corn can be done more or less efficiently (speed). Quality is determined by the percentage of weeds destroyed vs the percentage of corn that is nicked. Volume (yield) increases according to how well the weeds are controlled. (Trevor, Austin, Chris and Katie above.)

One can quickly detect a potential conflict within these parameters: efficiency can increase to the point where quality suffers, or quality can increase to the point where efficiency suffers. For example, a crew member can harvest a crate of spinach super fast—let’s say in 15 minutes (high efficiency)–but she cannot harvest the crate in 15 minutes without including an unacceptable number of weeds and yellow spinach leaves (low quality.) Another crew member harvests a crate of spinach in 50 minutes (low efficiency), but the leaves are all perfect and there are no weeds (high quality.) Obviously quality and efficiency have to be harmonized in order to achieve a suitable quality (shareholder satisfaction) with suitable efficiency (farm viability.)

I was never super satisfied with this straight-lined, dyadic, binary approach to excellent farming. I have been seeking a more satisfying, stable form.

I recently added a third element to the diad, hence a triad. (For a stretched analogy, think geodesic dome.) The third element is volume (yield.) Quality can be high; efficiency can be high; but without volume or yield, we still can’t be an effective CSA. Volume is a result of cultural practices, such as weeding, fertility, insect management, irrigation, timeliness of greenhouse and field activities, variety selection, harvest timing and discernment, storage practices, etc.

I am admittedly obsessed with each week’s harvest of vegetables being efficient, abundant, and of high quality. I tour the fields regularly asking myself: can we get the job done in a timely way? Will there be enough volume to fill the boxes? Is the quality high enough?

I realized that I approach the farm triadically rather then diadically when it was recently pointed out to me that my three most (let me search for the best word here—strident? assertive?impassioned engagements with the crew this season so far have had to do with:
1) quality The beet bunches had too many ratty leaves.
2) efficiency I needed to know how long the crew was taking to sort through each crate of spinach so I could determine when we would pack. We had to be done packing in time to load the delivery truck on schedule. No one knew how long the sorting was taking.
and 3) volume Some of your boxes were not being filled full enough on a recent packing day, even though there was plenty of volume on the pack line to fill every box to the brim.

This box is full enough, but the contents will settle a bit in transport

This box is full enough, but the contents will settle a bit in transport

I don’t relish being a triadic taskmaster, but I want for our farm to bring a fabulous box to you every single time. (I also think that being a triadic taskmaster sounds better than being a dyadic dictator.)

Serving You Better
We recently uncovered some very useful features in our online shareholder management system, Member Assembler. Click here to log in to your record, make changes to your address or phone number, pick up at a different site or schedule a vacation hold. The guidelines for scheduling a vacation hold are a bit complex for certain types of shares, but manageable, I believe. (Creating them made me feel like I was back in college feeling daunted by my logic course.) You can access the guidelines from your Member Portal through the link above, or have a  preview here: Once you read through the guidelines, you need to enter your shareholder email and you will then be taken to the same set of instructions again. At the bottom of that page will be your options for making temporary site changes or vacation holds.

We think this system is going be slick. We’ve tested it in several different ways, to the point where I didn’t even know what I was testing any more. If it works as planned, besides helping you manage your vacation hold details, it will provide you with very efficient opportunities for checking out alternate sites near you, in case you are wondering if a different site might suit you better. All the details for picking up at the new site are automatically provided to you in an email reminder the day before your scheduled pickup, so it will be fairly easy to determine if an alternate site is better for you.

Sorry, in case you wanted to make a change to your delivery this 4th of July week—vacation holds and site changes must be made by midnight, Sunday, a full week before the changes are to take place.  For instance, the first week for which you can actually make a vacation hold or delivery site change during this week we are now in is the week starting July 13th.

A New Format for Weekly Email Reminders
We will soon be sending a new format for your weekly emails, reminding you to pick up your delivery. (You may have already received your first email in this new format.) These emails will be regular reminders of your share details and pickup instructions for your site. Our former system of just providing one confirmation of share and pickup details at the beginning of the season was not adequate; many people called our office wondering about their share details. Now you will receive this information every week.

Open House at the Farm, July 18 and Sept 19
We hope you can attend one or both of our Field Days, Saturday, July 18, and Saturday, September 19. Plan to arrive late morning for hayrides, a potluck feast, a visit to the animals at the Learning Center, and a trip to the U-Pick garden, perhaps for some green beans and a bouquet of flowers. It’s a great day for all. Schedule and more details here.

Sign up for the Free Recipe Service
Make sure you sign up for the Local Thyme recipe service we offer with this year’s share. It received many great reviews from our shareholders last season. Go to . Enter the farm code AOLTFREE under “I am a member of a CSA farm.”  Click the sign-up button.

Let us Know
Let Shelly know anything you’d like to share about this week’s box email hidden; JavaScript is required. Please note the week and day of delivery, your site, when you picked up your box, and any comments about your box.

Please Fold Your Boxes Properly and Return Them
The farm re-uses the vegetable boxes. Flaps are easily torn when the boxes are dismantled improperly, and then the box bottom might later burst open with fresh, organic local produce heading towards the floor. Please return your empty, flattened vegetable boxes to your delivery site. If you receive home delivery,  place them in the location where your box is delivered.

More from Shareholders
Visit us often at , where we post exciting farm developments regularly, and shareholders post recipes, tips, and photos.

Saturday’s Box Contents
Please Note: this summary is written before you receive your box—be aware that some guesswork is involved. As always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

Salad Greens – lettuce, pea shoots
Cooking Greens – kale, Chinese cabbage
Root Crops – turnips
Stem Crops – kohlrabi
Herbs – basil
Fruiting Crops – zucchini/summer squash
Brassicas – broccoli
Alliums – garlic scapes

Farmer John

Adventures at the Angelic Organics Learning Center
I scream, you scream, we all scream for (goat’s milk) ice cream! Come out to the farm on Sunday, July 19 from 1pm-3pm to make farm-fresh ice cream, learn about bees and honey, and even milk a goat. Sign up in advance at

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment