There are lots of moving parts involved in a home-delivery CSA. Here are some important points that you'll want to know when receiving shares from us.
Overnight/early morning deliveries, with new primetime option. Standard deliveries will occur between around midnight and 7 am, with most falling before 6am. It's best if you leave out a cooler (with ice packs in the warmer months) to receive your share. If you live in a place where it's impossible to leave a cooler for the driver, if you prefer direct contact, or if you generally prefer evening deliveries, you can select to have your box delivered during primetime evening hours.
Some general notes:
♦ If there's anything that is not self-explanatory about your location, please contact us with specific instructions, i.e., back porch, front porch, unlocked vestibule, leave with doorman, locked gate, etc.
♦ For early morning deliveries, we plan to not bother you -- instead, we'll just unload the veggies into the cooler and go. We won't be sending out text messages during overnight deliveries, as doing so slows drivers down.
♦ For primetime deliveries, we generally won't ring a doorbell or call after 9pm unless we have a prior OK to do so; feel free to contact us with specific instructions if you'd like us to buzz, knock, or call your phone.
♦ For primetime deliveries: If we don't make a direct hand-off or otherwise make contact, we'll send you a text message upon delivery so that you know your share is delivered.
♦ If you have a locked gate or lobby and are planning to give us a key, please make arrangements with Sean. Don't mail it to the farm! Please note that we only mark keys by street name, never the address or customer name or address.
♦ We strongly recommend that you put a cooler out at your desired location to receive your share; as the weather gets warmer, an ice pack or two will go a long way to keeping the produce fresh longer.
♦ If you have any problems or concerns about your delivery, please call Sean at 608-335-1198.
Vacations and Missed Weeks. Please give us at least 48 hours' notice if you will be on vacation or otherwise need to cancel your box for one or more weeks. There are no refunds for missed weeks. You are welcome to have the box delivered and have a friend pick it up in your absence or, with enough notice, we can make a drop off to an alternate Chicago-area home. We have an arrangement to deliver produce each week to the Rice Home in Evanston that serves children awaiting foster placements; if you don't designate a substitute to receive your box, it will be donated to the Rice Home and incorporated into their daily meals and snacks.
What is it and what do I do with it? Our website has a wealth of information about most of the crops we grow. Under Recipes & More you'll have access to
♦ our Crop Calendar with links to a separate page for each crop, including photos to help you identify what you've received, as well as storage tips and recipes
♦ a handy Recipe Index with recipes categorized by crop, season, meal type, and more
♦ a list of Preparation Tips which walks through various styles of cooking and information on methods of preserving fresh produce
In our weekly newsletters and sneak peeks, we'll kickstart your cooking plans with ideas and links to recipes.
Newsletters. We'll send a "sneak peek" newsletter on Fridays so you'll know heading into the weekend what you're likely to see in your box the following week. With a few days to go before harvest, there's always a possibility of changes, so consider it our best guess. On your delivery day, we'll send a newsletter with the actual contents of your CSA box, as well as information about what it took to get it there. Chris will share what's happening at the farm, and some of the challenges and joys of farming. We'll also offer recipes, storage tips, and nutritional information about some of the veggies you'll receive. We also hope that the newsletter acts as a reminder to put out a cooler or to watch for your evening delivery. Recipes will be farm and staff favorites, or adapted from cookbooks, magazines, websites, etc.; we welcome your additions, as well as ideas and suggestions for things you'd like to see in the newsletter.
Please read the newsletters! In addition to the information mentioned above, we'll let you know of particular challenges the produce faces; for instance, last season our onions fell victim to thrip (insect) damage in the field which caused soft outer layers in some and rotten cores in others. Still, there was a lot of good food value in them and we made the determination to include them in the boxes. If you don't read our newsletters you might just think that we don't know of these flaws and won't know of our thinking process about including them in the box.
Past newsletters are available via our Archives (though we've had trouble adding recent newsletters due to technical problems with Constant Contact), so if you're looking for a recipe or information about a particular vegetable, or just want to read about the farm unfolding from the beginning of the season, check them out.
Boxes and Packing Materials. We'll pack your produce carefully in a waxed box. If you leave a cooler out, we will remove the produce and place it directly in the cooler. Many items, especially lettuce and greens, will come in plastic bags inside your box or cooler. While this means that your produce won't burst forward in a colorful display like you may have seen in photos of CSAs, it will be packed appropriately to maintain its freshness and enhance its longevity. We'll let you know if you should be storing your produce in any special way. In general, of course, most produce will benefit from continued refrigeration.
The wax boxes are sturdy and reusable, but are not recyclable. Each box represents significant resources and cost, and as a matter of cost-efficiency and sustainability, we want to receive them back; we'll reuse them over and over again. Please open the wax boxes without tearing them (carefully broken down along the scored lines and flattened; Sean shows you how in the YouTube video below) and return them to your driver, along with any quart/pint containers, on a subsequent delivery. (We are no longer taking back and reusing the plastic bags; please reuse or recycle them as you are able; if you don't have ready access to recycling for plastic bags--most grocery stores have bins to receive them back--feel free to return them and we'll make sure they get to a reliable recycling bin.)
Feedback. Tell us what you like and don't like; we need to know either way. Your suggestions might influence what we choose to grow going forward or how we decide what to put in each box. We want you to have high expectations of us. If at any point you are not happy with our produce or service, we will gladly refund the prorated value of undelivered produce and applicable delivery charges less any discounts you received. And if you've under- or over-estimated your needs, please ask about upsizing or downsizing your share.