Farmer John Writes: Good and Bad

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 11, September 12th – 17th, 2022


Fall Field Day Rescheduled to Saturday, October 1st

This season’s pumpkins and gourds are by far the latest ever, due to the very cold spring and the mild summer temperatures. The pumpkins are still green and the gourds are soft.

color of our pumpkins today

Therefore, we will reschedule our Fall Field Day to Saturday, October 1st. We’ll have the same program, same schedule, with live music and a barn dance by Jutta and the Hi-Dukes, etc., but two weeks later than originally scheduled and with ripe pumpkins and gourds. You can review the details of the Fall Field Day here.

The Season So Far

We are now in Week 11 of our deliveries—the beginning of the second half of the main season. Our regular tomatoes are just now coming on. I suppose part of this lateness can be attributed to all the green tomatoes we have been offering; those tomatoes would likely have turned red by now…but, wow, were the green tomatoes popular. The heirloom tomatoes are brimming with ripeness.

Sweet corn is almost over; melons are done, as are zucchini and cucumbers. The arc of summer is beginning its descent.

We finally have our farm delivery truck back from the shop.

Fall cover crops went into the ground at a blistering pace, like never before; they are now emerging. Transplanting is done for the season; direct seeding of crops, such as arugula, radishes and lettuce mix is done for the season.

The crew works in a blur; they get things done at an astonishing pace.

harvesting kale at dawn

Overall, that is a good report.

My report on shareholders is also overall favorable. However, there are exceptions. I hesitate to bring them up to you, as so many of you are fabulously supportive and encouraging, but I will nevertheless share some concerns.

Shareholder Unfoldings (Unravelings)

We have a shareholder who pretty much every week demands a refund for an unacceptable item. Last week, she demanded a refund for her whole box and claimed the whole box was unacceptable.

And there are occasional shareholders who forget to pick up their box and want us to replace it for free.

A shareholder recently contacted us and said he didn’t want the box that he was supposed to receive the next day.

Farm: “It’s already packed, on the delivery pallet and in the cooler. We already grew it for you.”

Shareholder:” I don’t want it. I want a replacement box. If you don’t give me a replacement box when I want it, I’m cancelling the rest of the season.”

Due to the second demand, we have therefore amended our Shareholder Agreement:

“Rescheduling My Deliveries
I understand that if I need to reschedule an upcoming delivery, I need to do so at least two weeks in advance by logging in to my membership account. If I’m not able to receive a delivery and I have not rescheduled that delivery two weeks ahead of time, I will have a friend or family member pick up my share, or my share will be donated by my site host if I pick up at a community site.

I understand that the farm does not cancel and give refunds for individual deliveries, since the farm has already invested in growing my vegetables.”

I will add here that my experience of unreasonable (entitled) shareholders has begun to haunt my imagination of a new farm truck. I think of the stacks of boxes that nestle and cuddle in the truck, en route to their destinations, en route to warm kitchens and enthusiastic families. But then, I  think of the capacity of this truck, how it is sized to carry all the boxes that shareholders are to receive. So, there is a space in the truck for every shareholder’s box. When a new truck is purchased, it is purchased with all those spaces in mind, for all those shareholders who are going to receive boxes that season.

Then I think of that space that at the last minute the shareholder demands be empty. “I don’t want my box tomorrow. If you send it, I’m cancelling my subscription. I refuse to accept the $30 cancellation fee.” So, this expensive new truck is supposed to host an empty space for this shareholder.

And think of the person who wants her box to arrive, and then wants a full refund for it. So, the truck hosts a space for a box in transit to this person’s destination so she can say it is a thoroughly unacceptable box and demand a full refund. The truck is sized to make sure there is room in it for this person’s box also, the box that supposedly justifies a full refund.

These types of issues make me appreciate all those of you who receive our shares with gratitude, but they also make me wonder why others would possibly sign up to belong to this CSA which is so clearly dedicated to service and so mindful of our fellow human beings.

A fellow CSA farmer does not allow shareholders to cancel their shares and receive a refund. His farm has already gone to the expense of growing the person’s share, so he reasons that his farm should not be liable for the waste of a cancelled share. His shareholders can either find another party to buy the remaining share, or a party to whom to gift the share, or can just let it go back to the farm with no refund involved—something to be considered here.

Evanston North Site Host John Quintana Ponders Entitlement

John Quintana along with his wife Andrea have been Angelic Organics shareholders since 1996, and have hosted the Evanston North delivery site since 2001. John wrote us a while back with insights into entitlement and when it might be warranted. When I saw that the message was from John Quintana, I knew before reading it that it would be insightful and original.

“Dear Farmer John and Crew,

I just got around to reading Farmer John’s ‘So What if it’s Not
Possible?
‘ and for some reason it struck a chord with me. We

certainly resonate with the Farm’s sense of entitlement that our
shareholders should live up to the social contract that they signed up
for (i.e. pick up their box). This year this has been going
“reasonably” well for us and we even had one day where all of the
boxes were picked up. I know we don’t have to elaborate to you the
issues site hosts have in terms of managing boxes that weren’t picked
up.

Entitlement has many definitions and the one that seems
appropriate to our current situation is “the belief that one is
inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”. The real
problem comes when we think that the special treatment should come
from others and that is a “taking’ mindset.” The whole foundation of
the CSA, in my mind, revolves around a giving and sharing mindset.
We share the risk with the farm; we give thanks to the workers when we
prepare and eat the produce and if our mindset is the right way, we
recognize that a slightly shriveled carrot truly reflects the best
that the farm could do that week and we should ponder the less than
ideal conditions that the workers had to go through to bring it to us.
The farm gives to the community its time and hard work in uncertain
conditions.

However, we all have entitlement, so where does that fit in?
I think it is recognizing that in a giving culture, we are
deserving of giving ourselves special treatment in ways that truly
enhances our lives and, if we are lucky, we live in a society that
allows this. Giving ourselves the privilege of gratitude for
ourselves and for those in our community enhances our lives and
others. Treating ourselves to self respect allows us to respect
others which is sometimes returned to us (although that is not a
guarantee. What I do believe is true is that we never receive more
respect from others than we give).

So, we are entitled. We are entitled to treat ourselves the
best way we can and in return we treat those around us with dignity
and hopefully kindness.

Looking forward to the garlic, in whatever shape it comes.

Best regards,

John Quintana”

Overheard

“I think the restaurant is near the Taco Bell…I can’t believe I live in a world where I have to say Taco Bell.”

Warmly,
Farmer John

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Comments
  • David
    Reply

    “Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees, please.”

    I can’t imaging asking, let alone, demanding a refund for imperfect produce?? Or because *I* failed to pickup??

    This reasonable (hopefully non-entitled) shareholder says: keep growing what the earth provides and helping us enjoy it. We love what you do and we love our produce, blemishes and imperfections and all!

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