What's New in 2013?
Nothing ever stays the same in life. At Bluebird Gardens, we are always learning from the previous year and making changes to do things better. Our members are the rudder that guides our ship. We take your feedback very seriously!
So what has changed at Bluebird Gardens?
It is so fun to watch members evolve in their use of the CSA from year to year. They get good at knowing what to do with all those vegetables. They seasonally eat, they freeze, they can, they enjoy. Those who have been with our CSA for the last three years have also seen the farm evolve. Each year we look for what could be better and make changes. There are a number of changes for next year that we are excited about. Everything our members say and do affects how the farm evolves. The entire farm is dedicated to our CSA members. We do no stands, no wholesaling...nope, our members get everything from the 150 acres of vegetables and 11 high tunnel greenhouses. The only exception is we have a small self-serve stand in the packing shed where the proceeds are divided amongst our wonderful and dedicated staff.
1) For those who find there is too much to eat in the weekly share box, we might have an answer for you. For 2013, we are offering the option of a share box every other week. The options we currently have of the weekly share and family share are still going to continue as always. Due to requests, we are also adding an every other week family share.
2) We are going to make the investment to get a better box for shares. The one we plan to get is the same dimensions as the family box, just 2/3 the height. It will allow for much easier packing and enable share members to also get the big heads of broccoli, etc. It will offer a more relaxed look instead of the current packed like sardines look.
3) Just like with our self serve stands, we knew the honor system of our harvest events would someday need tweeking. Since the famous Oct 6th "vegetable massacre" (as Anne Kaese calls it), I have heard countless stories of non-members also joining in on the fall harvest events. Next year a simple Bluebird Gardens sticker in the car window along with private viewing of harvest event info on the website for members only, will return the farm once again to our members. Many of our wonderful members have already volunteered to help on those extra busy days. We also have the extra fields of pumpkins and squash planned knowing how much our members value those last picks. As soon as the box season was done this year, all members who wanted extra squash, potatoes, kale, bok choi, cabbage, spinach, etc., could come and get them from mid-October to mid November. It was amazing how busy, yet calm and serene it became when only our members knew of those harvest events.
4) We have received so much wonderful feedback from our members this fall, so we are not doing a survey. Instead, when members sign up, there will be a checklist of what you really want in the boxes and what you would rather not see as often in the boxes. That will give us wonderful feedback in advance for next season...better than a survey which only a small portion of the membership ever fills out. However, we are always grateful for any suggestions from our members. These are always welcome. For example, one of our members without internet suggested we have a list of harvest events posted at each drop off site. What a great idea! We will certainly do that next year.
5) This was a hot summer. We will be getting new refrigeration in all of our delivery trucks to ensure the vegetables arrive to you crisp from the farm.
6) Knowing how much you like the cucumbers and tomatoes, we are building three more high tunnels this fall. That will bring us up to eleven high tunnels and two greenhouses.
Anyone who has raised a garden knows the battle is with the clock. The balance between planting, watering, weeding and harvesting takes time. The following are pieces of equipment that will help us tame the monster called the clock and allow us to make a much better box for you:
7) We have many weeding tools on the farm and they are great. When we were at the Moses Organic Conference last February, we saw a lay-down work cart that will change our farm. It is called a Drangen and is from Sweden. It has a gas engine, is self-propelled and has rotating disks with spokes that you control with your hands for weeding. It will be the answer for beets, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. It will allow us to plant broccoli and crops like that directly in the field without the time-consuming act of transplanting since we can weed them efficiently even before they come up. That will mean massive patches of broccoli and such for the box and your harvest events. It will mean beets and carrots will be added to the harvest event field that you can get anytime without a ticket.
8) The Oxbo BH100 bean picker will equally change the farm. Instead of picking 83 five gallon pails of beans by hand for the Thursday box, two of us will gather the beans while the rest of the staff does another task to make your box better. This will let us give you a better quantity of beans in your box but you will also be able to get your harvest event beans already picked. It can work for peas as well but might damage them some. We will work out any bugs and then you will get wonderful quantities of peas in your box for a more extended period, even in the fall.
9) We are also getting a corn harvester. We would pick corn for the day's box up til noon when it was hot. So the corn went in the box hot. This machine will let us harvest all the corn for the day's box while it is still cool. If you choose, your harvest event corn can be picked for you. I know we have a lot of families who love the adventure in the corn patch. We won't take that away from you!
10) We are getting a spinach harvester which will allow a much better supply of spinach or other greens in the box.
11) We have reached the membership size that is right for our CSA so our membership growth will be minimal. This will mean, for the first time, we might fill our membership and turn people away. I will keep you posted all winter if that is close to happening so do watch your emails. The CSA is not for everyone so if you decide not to join again, I completely understand. We have huge gratitude to all our members from this season...what a beautiful group of people you all are!!