Farmer John Writes: Customized Shares Coming in 2019

Harvest Week 18, October 16th – 20th, 2018

Your Box This Week – Saturday Deliveries:
Please note: this summary is written before we pack your box—be aware that some guesswork is involved. Share contents often vary over the course of the week. And, as always, be sure to thoroughly wash all of your vegetables.

Fruiting Crops — Popcorn, Decorative Gourd (maybe)

Root Crops — Potatoes

Brassicas — Broccoli or Cauliflower or Cabbage

Cooking Greens — Daikon Radish Greens, Arugula (a bit frost tattered)

Stem Crops — Kohlrabi (likely)

Salad Greens — Lettuce

Alliums — Onion (maybe)

Weather and Your Box
We had a hard frost over the weekend. Fortunately, we harvested the Chinese cabbage ahead of the frost. Though Chinese cabbage is somewhat frost tolerant, I doubt it would have survived the recent overnight temperatures in the high 20’s.

To protect head lettuce from the frost, we covered it with Reemay, a lightweight translucent row cover. The baby lettuce was already covered, as I have been trying to hasten its growth with added warmth from the cover. I’m not sure that the baby lettuce will get big enough to harvest.

I planted a whole field of broccoli late in the summer, because of our extensive crop losses from rain. The broccoli might mature. It’s forming little heads now, so I am optimistic.

The Brussels sprouts are marginal, due to the rains—small with rather blighted leaves. I examined them carefully today. I think they are too compromised to give, but we’ll see.

We have some lovely Daikon greens to give, which some (not all) of our shareholders love. And a pretty nice crop of arugula is forming.

Mud
The last heavy rain here was many days ago on Oct 7. In spite of fairly good drying weather since then, the fields are still saturated with puddles and mud. The tractors and trucks we use for harvest have been getting stuck almost daily. I recently went to check on a lettuce field, and I sank so fast and far into the mud that I actually wondered if I would find bottom. I found bottom at about 12 inches. 

Popcorn
You will receive an ear or two of popcorn this week. It seems like it is cured enough to pop right away, but you might want to put it on a window sill to dry it a bit further. You can shell the kernels by hand and pop them in a pan on the stove. You can also pop your popcorn on the cob in the microwave. To learn more about popping corn, visit www.tinkerlab.com/corncob-popcorn-experiment/.

Decorative Gourds
We have thousands of decorative gourds that were left over after our Fall Field Day, so we are including a few gourds in each box this week. Most shareholders will use the gourds as decorations, but you can also experiment with eating gourds.

Gourds

Daikon Radish Greens
You will be receiving daikon radish greens this week, and daikon radishes later. Click here to learn more about daikon radish greens.

New for 2019–Receive Your Vegetable Share Customized to Your Preferences!
In case you read about the Daikon greens above and groaned at the prospect of receiving them, or noticed the mention of arugula and were beside yourself with hope that you will receive a portion, we have good news for you: Angelic Organics will customize vegetable shares starting in 2019. You will no longer receive unwanted items in your vegetable share and you will receive more items that you want—more food enjoyment; less food disappointment; less food waste!

This is the first truly major change in our Community Supported Agriculture program since we started our CSA in 1990—back when we were one of the sole sources of fresh organic vegetables in Chicagoland.

This improved CSA model was introduced by Small Farm Central. Small Farm Central has provided our CSA member management system called Member Assembler, which we have been using since 2010. This new CSA management system developed by Small Farm Central is called Harvie (a play on the word harvest).

Harvie is a dramatically upgraded CSA membership management program. Besides providing the technology for customizing shares, Harvie offers many other upgrades and innovations, such as a much-improved vacation hold system, the opportunity to purchase extra produce from the farm, and payment plans. I am sure that you will find these new features more convenient and appealing.

Learn more about Harvie at https://www.harvie.farm/about and from this blog post by Harvie’s founder, Simon Huntley.

Harvie Has Proven Itself
Farms that offer customized shares through Harvie retain more of their shareholders from year to year. In addition, the Harvie program attracts former shareholders back to their former CSA farm. We anticipate a surge in signups, once we officially launch Harvie.

I yearn for the days when our CSA would simply sell itself without much marketing, as I never started up the CSA program so that I could market it; I started it as a service to others. Given the great proven performance of Harvie on other farms to date, I suspect we’ll be doing less marketing soon. Perhaps we will even be selling out early again.

We’re Not Up and Running Yet with Harvie
We have not re-vamped our web page yet to reflect the Harvie program. We anticipate that this transition will be made by the end of this week. Then you can more fully explore Harvie and how the farm and our shareholders will engage it. 

I realize it’s perhaps premature to introduce our migration to Harvie, before we have actually migrated. However, an article about CSA by Chicago Tribune staff reporter Greg Trotter is scheduled to come out soon that will at least mention Angelic Organics’ partnership with Harvie, and might even profile our transition to the Harvie system. I would rather you find out this news from me first.

If You Have Already Secured Your 2019 Share 
Fear not if you have already signed up for 2019, or if you have a multi-year share. All shareholders who are already signed up for 2019 (and beyond) will be migrated to the Harvie platform and will receive customized vegetable shares from 2019 on. The transition to Harvie will be quite seamless. Still want surprises in your box? No worries. The Harvie system also allows for you to not customize your box and to continue to receive both vegetable regulars and outliers.

More to Come about our Partnership with Harvie
If you join us for 2019, or if you are already joined for 2019, you will receive more details about Harvie and how to interact with it over the next few months, so you and the farm are up and running smoothly come the first delivery of 2019. Once you are in the Harvie system, you will be contacted by email to select your vegetable preferences and aversions. 

Questions?
If you want to learn more now about Harvie, please visit https://www.harvie.farm/about.

If you still have questions about Harvie after studying their website, please hold off until we officially launch Harvie within a week or so. Then we will be set up with more information about Harvie on our website. We are extremely busy with harvests, so our office is not really able to handle a surge of questions yet.

Office Support
Soon, we will provide phone access to our office again, now that we have the help of our gracious new office assistant, Denise Glasenapp. The phone line will likely be the same that we’ve had at the farm since before I was born—I have it well-memorized by now. Office hours will be announced in the next few weeks (maybe even in the next few days), so you can more easily contact the farm with your questions and needs.

We want to be more accessible to our shareholders. The few times I have called shareholders this year have been most enjoyable for me. I love communicating with our shareholders, but I have to restrain myself from reaching for the phone, due to my many other farm demands.

We will also soon be available for web chat—a most convenient feature of the internet. Stay tuned.

Excited
We are very excited to partner with Harvie and offer these new conveniences to our shareholders. We hope you are excited as well.

Warmly,
Farmer John

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