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Tomato Mountain Newsletter - Week 35 | Fall Week 5

Posted 10/25/2017 5:30pm by Business Manager.
 10/23/2017 CSA NEWSLETTER
Whats in the box?! 
 Late fall has arrived after an extended, warm early fall. We seem to have missed out on lots of leaf color, and went from green trees with warm weather to leaves falling off the trees and cold weather. Such is the variability of weather.
The extra warmth was good for us, extending our tomato season and sizing up our carrots/other root crops nicely. We are slightly behind getting winter spinach transplanted in our hoops. We did get another 3 hoops done yesterday, bringing our total to 8 hoops planted, leaving 14 to do. We do have plenty of other fall crops to keep the boxes full for at least another month, so we’re in no big hurry for hoop spinach anyway. Besides, it doesn’t taste particularly special and sweet until exposed to cold weather, with outside temps in the teens or less, so things are on track.
Carrots have sized up nicely. All we need now are a couple of good freezes to sweeten them up, and some dry weather to allow us to dig the them. The same goes for our beets and storage radishes. Everything gets sweeter and has nicer texture after experiencing cold weather. We’re harvesting cabbage today, red and green. After that, the only other things left in the field are leeks and broccoli. The broccoli will get harvested later this week and next week, and the leeks shortly after that.
The last thing we have to do in the field is plant garlic. After losing the majority of our garlic due to a 60 mph wind event last fall, that blew off the protective mulch, we have to start over and buy garlic “seed”, which is actually just garlic. I am very lucky to have an excellent organic farmer near me who grows great garlic, and sells it to me for an extremely good price. Not only will we have two great varieties to plant, we’ll probably have a little bit left over to give to CSA customers. We will plant 6 beds, or ¼ acre, and completely get back up to inventory of top notch garlic by next July. Behind tomatoes, carrots and winter spinach, garlic will become out 4th most “valuable” crop. You can be 110% sure that we’ll successfully mulch the garlic when conditions are NOT expected to be windy.
Otherwise, we’re somewhat consumed with our new project, switching over to our new CSA management platform, via Small Farm Central, that will dramatically change the landscape for all of us. CSA customers will have choices about what is, and is not, in their box. It will be easier, on your end and ours, to make customization possible. You won’t have to pick out your box every week. Instead, certain likes and dislikes for every customer will be built into the system. You can be sure to never get certain things you don’t want, and have them replaced with the things you like best.
You will also be able to change your box on a weekly basis. If you’ve told us you love kale, like lettuce a lot, and like bok choi a little, but that you hate radishes, you will never see radishes in your box, and you’ll have them replaced by kale, lettuce and bok choi, respectively, depending on what we have. If you change your mind one week and decide you want lots of winter squash to make pie rather than your standing top choice, kale, you can make that change as well, as long as we have the crop available. You’ll be able to see our inventory/availability list alongside our add-on list. The system Small Farm Central has established for all this seems simple and user friendly. I’m sure there will be some adjustments, glitches and growing pains along the way, but it should roll out a lot better than did Obamacare.
Finally, adds ons will be simpler than ever, an extension of the process outlined above. You will be able to add on more of what’s already in your box, and you’ll be able to add anything we’re offering from our trusted farmer friends, from grass fed cheese to maple syrup to honey to eggs to mushrooms to fruit and sweet corn in the summer…. We’re thinking of offering frozen fruit in winter. What do you think of that?
And what do you think of all this in general? It will be 3-4 times more expensive to make these changes/choices available. We’re counting on these changes to grow our customer base, and make people happier/more likely to stick around. You’ll even be able to cancel a few boxes/year, and have credits applied to your account. All these changes will be easier to make from the customer’s perspective, and easier to administrate from our perspective.
In short, we think it’s worth it to spend $20,000+/year, instead of the $5,000 we’re currently spending, to give people choices that increase satisfaction and save time, while making it easier for us to facilitate those choices. We have not raised prices in 8 years of doing our CSA, and have been planning on a 15% price increase (about what inflation has been over the last 10 years) even without these improvements.  From that perspective, we’re not charging much, if anything, for the extra cost these changes incur. This is because we believe they will make us more efficient, lead to higher customer satisfaction and help us become more profitable. 

Photo(s) added: September 17th, 2018

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Photo(s) added: September 10th, 2018

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Photo(s) added: , Another New PhotoSeptember 3rd, 2018

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