Farmer John Writes: Housekeeping

Week 5, July 11th – 15th

Your Box This Week – Saturday Deliveries:

Fruiting Crops — Zucchini / Summer Squash, Cucumbers

Cooking Greens — Kale

Salad Greens — Arugula, Lettuce

Brassicas — Cabbage

Root Crops— Beets

Alliums — Scallions, Garlic scapes

Herbs Basil

Sign up for the Free Recipe Service
Make sure you sign up for the Local Thyme recipe service we offer with your share. Local Thyme offers storage and handling tips and recipes customized to each week’s share. It has received many great reviews from our shareholders in previous seasons.

Cabbage

Housekeeping
Readers of Farm News know that I like to include a story in each issue. I suppose that what follows here is a story of sorts, but it’s not the entertaining or illuminating sort of story I typically strive to write.

Our Office Receives a Lot of Requests and Questions. Some of these are Unreasonable.
I’m not going to directly quote some of the emails and phone calls our office receives. I’m going to paraphrase; I’m not going to exaggerate—just paraphrase.

“I forgot to pick up my box yesterday. I’d like a replacement box.”

“I am currently on vacation. I didn’t pick up my box last week. I’d like a replacement box on …”

“My husband brought home a box of fruit, but he was supposed to bring home a box of vegetables. When can we get our box of vegetables? How about next week?”

“I got a bag of green leaves in my box. What is it?”

“How do I prepare zucchini?”

These real-life examples are kind of funny, if you are in a dark mood. You can quickly see that this amount and this level of interaction is a problem for our office. Since you are actually reading this newsletter, you probably aren’t part of the problem. Shareholders who do not read the newsletter–almost half of them, according to a survey we did–who do not read their emails from the farm, who do not peruse our website, and/or who simply glanced at the CSA agreement that they must agree to before purchasing a share are most likely the problem.

We go to great lengths to communicate about our CSA, about our shares each week, including a free recipe service, yet we are flooded with requests that we would not be flooded with if these shareholders put a bit of effort into being shareholders. (Remarkably, many of our shareholders have no idea that we offer a free recipe service—doesn’t seem possible, but it is so.)

I suppose that in today’s escalating frenzy of entitlement facilitated by the Amazon Factor and the Meal Kit Craze, some people assume that our boxes of vegetables just sit on shelves somewhere, waiting for the call. The level of service that some shareholders expect today far surpasses what was expected from us just a few years ago. I’m surprised that we don’t get occasional requests to have me or perhaps Vanna White to come and unpack the box, identify the contents and then prepare dinner for the shareholder family.

We are a very busy farm. We are not a distributor; we are not a wholesaler, not an aggregator nor a consolidator. We farm; we grow the crops–that is our principle course of action here.

We do not have time to tell people who call our office what’s in their box; the box contents are already posted in the hard copy newsletter, in the online newsletter and now weekly on Facebook–with photos. We can’t tell people individually how to prepare their kohlrabi or store the lettuce. We can’t modify our delivery plan on a moment’s notice (or retroactively) to include an extra box or exclude a box, since we determine our harvest numbers a few days in advance of harvesting, which creates our lists of who and how many to deliver to on each delivery day.

I wrote in Farm News last year that for 2017, I planned to vet new shareholders. My discreet way of doing that was to put in place a more clear, more stringent shareholder agreement (if one considers the agreement to read issues of Farm News more stringent.) For your review, our complete updated shareholder agreement may be found on our website at www.angelicorganics.com/shareholder-agreement.

Excerpts from the Updated 2017 Shareholder Agreement

Communication
“The farm communicates important information via email. I am responsible for reading these emails. I will make sure that emails from email hidden; JavaScript is required land in my inbox and not my spam folder. I will read all emails from the farm and I will thoroughly read the weekly Farm News.” 

Vacation Holds
“Shortly before the season begins and throughout the season, I may log in to my membership to schedule vacation holds. I will schedule vacation holds at least two weeks in advance. At this time I may also schedule replacement boxes for when I’m back from vacation. I understand that the farm cannot accommodate delivery changes that are requested less than two weeks in advance. Since I will make my own delivery changes at least two weeks ahead of time, I will not be contacting the farm office with vacation hold requests.” Our complete vacation holds policy may be found on our web site at www.angelicorganics.com/vacation-holds.

Note from Farmer John: we are delighted with the online service by Member Assembler that lets our shareholders make their own vacation holds; however, our office is inundated with requests to make vacation holds, sometimes incomprehensibly complex vacation holds. Our office is unable to process these many, many requests for vacation holds, including last minute vacation holds. Shareholders must make their own vacation holds, and they must make them at least two weeks in advance of the hold.

Still Wondering
For 2018, I’m not sure yet what to do about the excessive reliance on our office. Even if we could figure out how to improve our communications, this won’t help if people don’t read what we provide. I have considered having a shareholder services assistant, who would call each new shareholder and make sure that he or she understand their role in being a shareholder, but this is quite a bit to impart with a phone call. Being a shareholder is a process, not an extended moment in phone time.

New Policy: Future Communications with Angelic Organics must be via Email
The office will no longer receive phone calls for shareholder service. All customer service requests must be addressed to email hidden; JavaScript is required. For the time being, my wife Haidy will field these email requests within 2 business days of receipt. We do not monitor our phone answering system for messages, so no phone messages will be responded to. 

Of course, I like the idea of conversing with our shareholders. I’d like to be the one personally doing the conversing, but I’m involved in all aspects of the farm, and those aspects are plentiful. If you email email hidden; JavaScript is required, you will receive prompt, courteous service from my wife, Haidy. She is an excellent communicator, and she is highly committed to serving the farm and our shareholders 

Not Calling You Out
Again, since you are reading this issue of Farm News, you are probably more invested, informed, gracious and accepting as a shareholder, than those who seldom or never read a newsletter or an email from Angelic Organics, or visit our website. You are a player, a participant in our CSA program. You’re paying attention—thank you. Since you are an engaged shareholder, I thought you might like to know how it is some days for us farmers here at Angelic Organics.

Delivery Incident Last Winter
Farmer on phone to UPS: “You say the package arrived. I can’t find it.”
UPS to Farmer: “The driver said it arrived. He left it at the entrance to your driveway.”
“Okay, I’m walking over to the other side of the road to the farm driveway. Oh, my gosh, here is the package–in a snowbank. You guys can’t throw my packages in a snowbank.”
“Yes, we can.”
“Another snow and it would have been buried. We never would have found it. Our driveway was plowed. UPS drivers always deliver right to our barn.”
“Drivers can throw your package in a snowbank if they want, as long as it’s near the entrance to your driveway.”

Rest assured that Angelic Organics has higher standards for service than UPS.

Farm Field Days, Saturday, July 15 and Saturday, September 16
If you are a shareholder, we hope you will attend our upcoming Farm Field Day on Saturday, July 15. (You and Farmer John can talk in person then.) Please arrive by 11 a.m. and bring a dish for 8-10 people. More details at Angelic Organics Field Days.

Visit our U-Pick Garden on the Field Day
Herbs that are available for shareholders on the July Field Day: Sage and Thyme.

Flowers that are in bloom for shareholder bouquets for the field day: Zinnias, Borage, Bachelor Buttons, Calendula, and Bouquet Dill.

Learn more here: ShareholderU-Pick Garden.

Bachelor Buttons and Borage

4:30 PM to 8 PM Following the Farm Field Day—Family Pizza Night Hosted by the Learning Center Register at www.LearnGrowConnect.org/events

July 27 | 10th Annual Peak Harvest Farm Dinner | Galleria Marchetti (Chicago)
Join Angelic Organics Learning Center for a special farm dinner honoring chef Paul Virant and celebrating the 20th Anniversary of our Upper Midwest CRAFT farmer training alliance. Feast on a 5-course meal designed by chefs & protégés of Virant – Ed Sura of NoMi, Spencer Blake of Naha, Brian Motyka of Spiaggia, Keith Potter of Cindys, Joe Frillman of Daisies. Enjoy the fresh Bang Bang Pie Stand and cocktails from New Holland, CH Distillery, and Candid Wines. Ingredients sourced from Angelic Organics farm and local farms/purveyors. Tickets/Info: www.LearnGrowConnect.org/farmdinner

Please Fold Your Boxes Properly and Return Them, Especially if You have been Stockpiling 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 carefully flatten your box and return it to your delivery site. If you receive home delivery, place it in the location where your box is delivered.

Let us Know
Let our office 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.

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

I hope to see you at our Field Day.

Warmly,
Farmer John

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Showing 4 comments
  • Robin parr
    Reply

    I loved Reading this story! I think you should make a mandatory instructional video for 2018, how to be a good shareholder

  • Jane McMillan
    Reply

    Brilliant!

  • rudy
    Reply

    Nice article John. We love the program you’ve provided and look forward to every week we get our box of fresh produce. I sure hope some of the frustrations you shared this week don’t get you down. Thank you.

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