Farmer John Writes: Your Choice

 In Farm News

Harvest Week 4, Deliveries of July 11th – 15th, 2023

Hello, Friends,


We got a tremendous rain last week. No irrigation has been needed since then.

This past Friday, rain was scheduled for Friday evening and all day Saturday. I said to the crew at the morning meeting, with Victor translating, “You guys already work fast, astonishingly fast. But, it’s supposed to rain all tonight, and if it rains, there’s a lot of harvesting we won’t be able to do after the rain. And then our shareholders won’t get the crops we have promised them. So, I want you to do a day-and-a-half of scheduled work today, because we probably won’t be able to do it tomorrow. You’ll probably do it, because that’s what you are like.”

In their sporting way, they got a day-and-a-half of work done on Friday, and then it didn’t rain Friday night or Saturday.

Weather is capricious, and so are weather services. I can’t expect weather to be accountable, but weather services? I’ve never seen a weather service survey asking “how are we doing?” I know the weather services give probabilities of rain, but how accurate are these? If there is a 65% chance of rain, and it rains, they are right, and if it doesn’t rain, they are also right.


Here come the cabbage, the summer squash, the bok choy…next week, the basil, cucumbers, arugula again…lots and lots of great crops this season.

Done already after this week, until fall—spinach, radishes, beets and broccoli…




We harvested the most pristine broccoli last week, and, confusingly, some of it didn’t hold up. My apologies for that. We harvested it on a day with moderate temperatures, iced it before putting it into the coolers, but two of the 8 cribs we harvested degraded to where we could not put any of it into shareholder boxes. (The broccoli in other cribs was still perfect.)

We checked our cooler’s temperature logs on the internet, to make sure they were cooling properly—they were consistently holding temperatures in the mid 30’s. We are puzzled by what happened. Since that first harvest we have conscientiously iced the broccoli in the fields during the harvest, and further iced them before putting them in the coolers. Is the problem solved? Not sure. We are flummoxed but resolute.

ice is ready for broccoli

There’s a Form for That

If you received unacceptable broccoli, or if you receive any item that is of unacceptable quality, please fill out our Report an Issue form. This makes it a lot easier for us to know the problem and to issue a credit. 

Please don’t call, or post your complaint to Facebook (like some do). Don’t even email the farm office. Just fill out the form, please.

We Are Not a Call Service

Many people today are used to round-the-clock customer service. We don’t offer that. However, I get calls at any time of the day or night, requesting a call back that moment. Um…can’t do it..I already work all day 7 days a week. I can’t do more. I guess some shareholders are not aware of what they sign up for and how it works. Some don’t read the materials we send to make it easier for them and for us. I suspect that this paragraph is directed mostly to shareholders who will never read it.

We Are Not a Rage Cage

Rage Cages are paid services where people go to take out their aggression by breaking things and screaming. Just because a person pays to be part of our CSA does not mean he or she is entitled to be rude to us. This is unbearable behavior for a hard working group of people providing a service to the community. As above, I suspect that this paragraph is directed mostly to shareholders who will never read it.

Most of our Shareholders Are Fabulous

Back when The Real Dirt on Farmer John was coming out, I envisioned that I would be a farmer-writer and farmer-performer. This is where I thought the film would take me. I wrote book proposals accordingly, one for Farmer John’s Cookbook, which some of you are familiar with (now out of print); one for my autobiography; one for true short stories about my life, and one about Angelic Organics from the perspective of our shareholders. 

Back then, in 2006, I already had a book’s worth of stories, raves, revelations and insights from shareholders. Of course, today our shareholders have a public voice in myriad ways that they didn’t have back then, with Facebook, Instagram etc., so you already create a collective voice regarding the farm without having your expressions sandwiched between the covers of a book.

(About these book proposals, I sent them to many publishers, but it seems they were waiting for the film to go really big to make such a commitment to my writing. It did go somewhat big, but not big enough.)

I received so many interesting responses to last week’s Farm News, Whose Choice Should it Be?, about customization, that it seems appropriate for this issue of Farm News to be a venue for shareholder comments.

Shareholders Write

“Another member with memories of the farmer’s choice box, and later the swap box at my local delivery site. Those were the days before refrigeration at the farm, and the box truly reflected the abundance (or lack of) that growing season. One season was not very productive so I was introduced to pea shoots (didn’t care for it but others did)! We’ve eaten many veggies I may not have otherwise tried, but I do enjoy the customization option too. The assigned $ value for veggie customization is only a way to allow for changes- to me it’s also reflective of the availability that week. It’s all good!”

Thank you and the team for growing our food!”

Also, fashion models?!”

~ Deepa

(Note: yes, 4 tall, glamorous fashion models from Boston visiting San Miguel de Allende.)

“Thanks for farm notes, and for the customization option. I recall getting a ‘surprise’ box fondly, and the fun of figuring out what to cook with new or unexpected items. But with young kids now, it makes my life a little easier to know what’s coming and select a few more of the veggies I know the littles will enjoy. Thank you for providing this option despite the additional work it creates for your crew – our family is grateful!”

~ Kate

“I am a new member this year, and part of the reason I joined was that I had the choice of what I added to my box. There are certain products that you grow that I have no interest in, and if they were just put in the box, they would either go to waste or I would see if a neighbor would eat them.  I appreciate the choice, thank you!”

~ Donna

“As always, thanks for the farm news! I just want to mention, I love my CSA box – with or without customization! I was a member pre customization and learned that my tastes changed – I didn’t think I liked turnips, beets, Brussels Sprouts winter squash, or radishes, and because of my farmers choice boxes I tasted them anew and now love them.  But, I appreciate the option to customize my box – now, I grow my own herbs, dinasour kale, hot peppers, and cherry tomatoes – so it doesn’t make sense to have more of those.”

~ Allison

“I’m working with a nutritionist on a particular food plan so I appreciate the customization. 
Thank you for offering this.”


“Hi Farmer John. 

I wanted to send my thoughts on customizing. I am still not sure if like it or not. When it first started, I thought it would be a great idea. But I am not sure anymore. There are only a few things I am not super fond of in the CSA box, mostly herbs like dill. And it’s not even that I don’t like them. I like dill but I don’t have a use for a whole big bunch. So, back when the boxes were farmer’s choices, I would maybe keep a stem of it (if at all) and leave the rest and and maybe swap with some other stuff. Now, if I don’t customize I am stuck with a big bunch. It is on my “not prefered” list but I still got some. 

Anyway, I know this is overkill on just a bunch of dill. And yes I know customizing the box takes me like 3 seconds to check that there is no dill in there. Totally first world problem I am having here. I just hate wasting what I could not use. Do you think you have less waste now that the boxes are customizable? Back in the day what happened to things people would swap and left at the pickup site? Would the host get them? What if it was just bunch of dill they would not use? I guess there is always composting. 

Anyway all that to say that I don’t mind the customizatiom. However, my husband LOVES it. He was not fond of the “surprises” we got with the farmers choices box. 

So there you go, even in one household, you get 50/50 on the customized box. But we both still don’t know what to do with the dill. 


“I appreciate having the option to choose my produce because I am on a low oxalate diet and have to be careful with what I eat. The fact that you offer people the option to choose is why I became a member. A number of my friends are members too and they love the fact that they can choose the veggies and fruits they want. I would rather not pay for veggies I cannot eat. Thanks for offering us a choice!”

~ Karen

“I like choosing each time. If anyone wants to have a new/surprise item, they can just swap it out for Farmer’s Choice. You already anticipated this situation, so no problem! Thanks for all you do!”

~ Chris

“I feel I have received the best of both worlds in regards to customization. I joined the farm back before customization was available. I learned SO MUCH about about foods I had never tasted before – kohlrabi, chard, daikon radish, chinese cabbage, kuri squash, beets. Now that I am seasoned, I get to customize. To my great delight, I can now enjoy as many beets (and beet greens!), chinese cabbage, and winter squash as my box can handle. I can avoid daikon radish. Whatever you decide regarding customization in the future, I’ll be happy. But I consider this sequence of events unusually lucky. Sweet summer breezes to you and the team!”

~ Margy

Extra Special from a Shareholder

Below is a message from a shareholder that embodies what I want our farm to be for all shareholders, a place in your hearts, a place of healing, joy, and wonder, a place of sustenance and loveliness.

“This is our third summer participating in the Angelic Organics CSA. Most of our first season, we picked up our share at a local pick up point. Last summer, we decided to drive out to the farm on Saturdays to pick up our box of wonderful vegetables (and pick a vase of flowers if we had time). Although it takes a chunk of time out of our weekend to drive to the farm from the O’Hare area to pick up our share, each time I think of shifting to a local pick up location I just can’t do it. My teenagers and I feel a connection to the farm and the wonderful people who grow, pick and pack our vegetables. So until I move them into their dorms on September 1st, we will treasure this family time as we make our visit to the farm for our share. After that, I will make the trip on my own!”

~ Elizabeth

I called Elizabeth upon reading her message a second time, and she was on her way out here to pick up her box. I invited her for a little farm tour. I showed her and her son the fields, and offered a brief tour of the big barn. We talked about many things, and we shared a spccial connection through our travels in Italy—the food, the herbs, the dialects, history, and Goethe, who spent two years in Italy while on the run from his responsibilities to Weimar of Germany. (Consult Goethe’s Italian Journey.) 

I’ll add that Elizebeth is the only person I have met who has also visited the Trulli Region in Italy. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Brindisi on the East Coast. In the Trulli region, homes and barns are shaped like cones. Really—like cones—click on the link. As is still true of many regions in Italy, the people in the Trulli region spoke their own dialect, and could not understand a word our Italian friends spoke who were accompanying us from Brindisi, and vice versa. 

Twenty miles apart, and completely different dialects—well, perhaps I am digressing a bit from the message of this newsletter, but a memory of the Trulli region is too exotic not to share.

(Maybe it is not such a digression, as part of this newsletter is about failed communication.)

Thank You, Elizabeth

It was special to meet you personally, to acknowledge you for your deep, special relationship to the farm, to share with you that your message made Haidy and me feel joyful. 

There’s a line in The Real Dirt on Farmer John, “This is what farming should be.” 

Thank you, Elizabeth, for reminding me.

Thank You, Amanda

Amanda, who has worked in the farm office and helped with many other tasks on the farm for the past three years, has moved on from her role at the farm. Thank you to Amanda for her dedicated work in the past three years.


While We Search

While we are searching for Amanda’s replacement, my wife Haidy and I will be answering emails that come to the farm. Since Haidy and I are already very busy, please allow extra time for us to get back to you, and please make use of the resources we have provided for you such as our FAQ’s page and our Report an Issue form.


Bank Customer: How are you?

Teller, enthusiastically: Splendid.

Customer: Splendid?

Teller: Just splendid.

Customer: I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone around here say they are splendid. They say okay, not bad, not too bad, can’t complain, maybe good. But splendid?

Teller, with more enthusiasm yet, and a big smile: I’m just splendid!

Farmer John

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Showing 2 comments
  • Denise Kozel

    I love Elizabeth! And you all too, Farmer John and company! Wow

  • Farmer John

    Thanks for the love, Elizabeth, all the way around.

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