Farmer John Writes: Rain, Cold, Heat, Crops, You and Us

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 1, July 4th – 9th, 2022


Welcome to the First Week of our 33rd Year as a CSA Farm

Dear Shareholders, 

I feel a little cramped in bringing you the first newsletter of the delivery season, because I first included many particulars/requests/suggestions about being a shareholder and how you can help streamline and enjoy the process.

That took up most of the space, when really, I just wanted to tell you a story about rain, about nuances of rain, the training that rain provides, that no rain provides—maybe in the next issue. In a way, rain has become new to me, the way a word that one has heard for years suddenly is experienced in a new way, as though it is a new word.

This Season

We have never had such a cold start to the growing season. If we had planted our crops at the normal times, we would have lost at least half of them to frost. The crops are looking good, though.

I’ll add that it has also been a very dry start to the season, and recently, it’s been extremely hot. Oh, weather…

Chinese cabbage did well

The Help

We get our seasonal workers from Mexico through the government sponsored H-2A program. If not for this program, we would not be able to power our farm. It is impossible to find local workers to do the job.

Longtime employees Bartolo and Victor inspect work boots before the arrival of the H-2A workers

Deliveries

This year, we are trying a new system for deliveries by incorporating for several days per week both home deliveries and community site deliveries into the same route with one truck. We will reduce our number of trips to Chicago from 11 per week to 7 per week. Each trip to Chicago has become wildly expensive, so the savings will be considerable. Well, I think a better way of putting it is that with the reduced number of total weekly deliveries, we might be spending about as much per week this season on 7 trips to Chicago as we did last year on 11 trips to Chicago, in light of the higher fuel costs.

We are not quite sure how this will work out schedule-wise. We will know more after the first few weeks of deliveries. Thankfully, we will have our charismatic, lively, helpful, comedic driver back, Zdenek Zverina.

good we have irrigation; gives us crops to deliver

Box Liner

We will continue to use box liners, because they keep the boxes clean and they also keep the box contents cooler. Many shareholders simply take the liner filled with vegetables out of their box, flatten the box and leave it at their site. If you pick up at a community site and it’s more convenient for you to take the box home with you, fine. Please return the box to your site on your next pickup day. Do not return the liner; we cannot re-use it. Perhaps you can use it as a garbage bag; also, it is compostable.

Box Return

Please fold your box flat for return to the farm. Please do not rip the tabs when opening the box or when flattening it. This will make the box unusable. The boxes cost the farm over $2 each, so in one unfortunate ripping motion, presto, the farm has to order a new $2+ replacement box. Watch this one-minute video on how to flatten your box.

Money Reality Check: Ripped Box Tabs Cost the Farm Dearly

Many shareholders rip the box tabs when flattening their box. We sort through the returned boxes at the farm, and probably dispose of 1/4 of them, due to ripped tabs. This costs the farm over the course of the season around $10,000. We have many other places we would rather put that money into than box replacements. 

If You Miss the Window to Customize Your Box Contents

If you first notice your email to customize your box after the customization window has closed, don’t despair–your box will still be customized according to the original preferences you selected when you signed up for your share. You’ll still get more of what you like and less or none of what you don’t like (unless you never entered your original preferences, in which case, you will receive Farmer’s Choice).

From now on, we will typically project the crop availability for customization by 10 am on the Monday before the upcoming week of deliveries. (Last week’s customization window of one day was admittedly narrow.)

Your deadline to customize will be Thursday morning at 9 am.

In Case You Have an Issue with Customization 

It seems there is a glitch or two with the CSAware customization algorithm. It sometimes assigns too many of an unwanted item to a shareholder or doesn’t even offer something that a shareholder likes, even if we have a lot of it available. We have urgently brought this to the attention of the CSAware programmers. We are doing our best to mitigate this serious issue.

Pollo mows our fertility-building cover crop (the yellow blossoms are sweet clover)

How to Log in to Your Membership Account

Please log in to your membership account to do things such as view your delivery calendar, reschedule deliveries, customize your share, enter your vegetable preferences, etc.

Please be Nice to Our Lovely Site Hosts

Our site hosts provide a service to your community. Please respect and appreciate them. 

Note the section in our Shareholder Agreement regarding the treatment of site hosts:

“I will treat my site host with respect.

From a Site Host: “Most [shareholders] are gracious and thankful, but…I…have experienced some disrespectful behavior over the years. We are not farm employees. We gain no real benefit from hosting, except the knowledge that we are assisting in creating a beautiful relationship. Indeed, hosting often adds duties to our lives that the shareholders might not be aware of…”

If disrespectful behavior is reported, that person’s share may be cancelled immediately.”

Meet Our New Community Coordinator, Alícia Hernàndez Grande

Alícia Hernàndez Grande will be serving as our new Community Coordinator. Besides having the role of community builder, she will also be in charge of customer service.

Alicia writes: “I am passionate about building up local communities, and see community-supported agriculture not only as supporting our local economy, but as a path to a less isolated world. I hope that I can bring these skills to Angelic Organics and help this organization run smoothly and deliver great produce to their shareholders.”

Alícia

Alícia continues, “As an avid vegetable gardener, I am extremely excited for the opportunity to work with an established farm, learn as much as I can, and gain a deeper appreciation for where my family’s food comes from. Angelic Organics has a long history of bringing together their shareholders across the Chicago-land area. I am excited at the chance to join this organization and further build my roots in the area. I am graduating with my Ph.D. from Northwestern University on June 11. My client-facing time at the Writing Place is a highlight of my time at Northwestern University, where I learned so much from our clients. I am eager to get to know the shareholders of Angelic Organics and learn from them, too.”

Don’t Say Goodbye to Amanda

Amanda is currently training Alícia. Amanda will continue here at the farm in various roles—painting buildings, driving the transplanter tractor, tag-teaming a bit on customer service with Alícia, helping to ensure quality and consistency on the pack line…this list could become quite long if I completely gave myself over to it.

Problem?

Email email hidden; JavaScript is required if you have a problem with your share. Please don’t post your grievances to social media before Alícia has a chance to resolve them. We want you to be satisfied. Also, please approach Alícia with respect and openness. We work way too hard here to be chastised for doing the best job we can possibly do.

Season 33–Here We Go!
Farmer John

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Showing 2 comments
  • Rachel
    Reply

    Welcome Alicia! We are looking forward to a wonderful season. Thanks Farmer John and everyone at the farm for bringing us beautiful, healthy, organic food.

  • Regina M Weber
    Reply

    Thank you, Farmer John, for your news letter! I enjoy reading them and getting info on crops, employees, and the employees’ personal lives! I feel a personal connection due to your letters.

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