We did know going in that we would have to gout of region during the winter for most fruit. We surveyed members and got some advice about this in fall 2008, and have been updating you regularly via weekly emails and so on. It is unfortunate but true that we cannot get local fruit to last much past the end of the calendar year in general, and this year is no exception.
Winter Squash, and cabbage, and roots such as garlic, onions, carrots, beets, turnips, potatoes, should all be available through the CSA from local sources until Feb or even March, but this year we got such a late start as a CSA, after being effectively closed down and out of business in fall 2007, that we simply were not able to gain access to the foods that we wanted. In general, demand for local produce does exceed supply, so we work on two levels, accessing what we can find and building capacity for the future.
For the coming year we can impact that problem and our member’s investment in the CSA is what makes this possible: we need early payments from members who can afford it so that we can invest in the farms that grow these foods and thus secure our share of the diverse products that can be grown here. We are diligently developing production plans with our farmers for the coming season and have enthusiastic support from several farms. The big step is to put member dollars into farmer hands so that we can support them at the time that they need it most.
So in the local supply gap we are functioning like a buying club and we are maintaining and developing relationships either directly or through small distributors with growers out of region, including Mexico. (soon we hope to have Mexican avocadoes from small Mexican producer COOPS via our connection with New Harvest in Nogales)
The value to members in our out of region items, as opposed to going to the COOP for them, is that the COOP dues not always stock these items and we are operating on a much lower overhead than the COOP and so we do save our members money when we function as a buying club.
I have written much longer piece on the history of CSA in general and this CSA in particular, that I hope you will read, that places our current work in a more clear context.
The local fresh greens will be starting slowly over the next 2 weeks, and we have found a small cache of local garlic, from a Green Earth Farm in Saguache Colorado. This is a first step, but the larger step is to put our purchasing power to work and plan for a more robust season ahead. Meanwhile we develop value as much as we can, using our mixed approach as a combination CSA and buying club.
Thank you for your comments, and please follow up with additional questions and I hope you will read the piece I wrote on history of CSA and Beneficial CSA that was part of this week’s distribution.