Steve’s Weekly Update for 11/12/09

Dear members,

As the prolonged fall continues, we also continue to enjoy bountiful fresh produce, combining the late season plantings of Gard-n-Hers Farm and the end of season harvests of Mesa Top and Tucker Farm, and soon we will see Harmony Farm vegetables.   This is the last week of lettuce mix from Mesa Top.  We will switch to salad greens from Gar-n-Hers next week.  We have Mesa Top carrots for a couple more weeks, and then we will have Harmony carrots in December, January and on into February.

We are so full of vegetables this week that we almost crowded out the fruit!  We have at least another week of persimmons to go, which we may hold until December, and we have poms also, but we are done with the low cost red delicious apples.  We will offer other New Mexico apples and then switch to Arizona Pink Ladies.  We expect the special South Texas Ruby Star Grapefruit and Meyer lemons to start soon.

So far, it looks like it will be a while until we have to supplement the shares with non-produce items.  I have a suspicion that many of the people who chose not to continue the winter share would be surprised to know how MUCH produce we still have, and how local it still is!  When talking to your friends about the CSA, please mention the incredible success that we are having as a collaborative of farmers at providing a mix of fresh and diverse local foods, even as we dive into winter.

As we transition from the summer/fall to the winter season, we have had a number of departing members mention that they had to leave the CSA for budgetary reasons.  This is a very sad fact and reflects a phenomenon that is being observed all across the country.  With the highest level of unemployment and underemployment since the Depression, it is absolutely true that many families have to make their dollar stretch further.  We hear of more and more people who are switching to lower cost food sources as a way to stretch their dollars.  Even Whole Foods has taken up new marketing strategies to convince its shoppers not to head for cheaper aisles elsewhere.  We can only express our regrets that anyone has to make such a choice.

The CSA is designed to give maximum value to members who are committed to sourcing locally.  We are saddened when we hear of members who have to abandon that value, even temporarily, as a result of budget pressures.  We ask you please to let us know of any ideas or suggestions that might help is to maximize CSA food value for members, so that as much as possible we do not lose members for budget reasons.

We believe very strongly that for members who can take the time to cook with CSA food, and to plan their menus to make the most of CSA Food, we are actually part of the solution to the problem of keeping food costs down and quality of food up.  Again, we welcome any of your ideas on how to improve in this regard.

It is true that if you do not have time to dedicate to cooking and preparing meals “from scratch”, then the CSA approach to local food can be frustrating.

The above points are worth keeping in mind when talking to friends and other members about the CSA experience:  We strive to offer value on the highest quality local foods for people who can dedicate time to food preparation and meal planning around the CSA offerings.  We do so in collaboration with a number of farmers who are grateful for our year round support.  We always are interested in ideas on how to increase value for members and sustain our commitment to our farmers.  We can best do this together, so we thank you for your support of the CSA, and your willingness to share with others the value, quality, and overall experience of the CSA.  Out of this collective process we create what we believe is one of the best opportunities in these difficult times for families to keep the cost of their food down while maintaining the highest quality and commitment to local farmers.  No one should have to leave the CSA for budgetary reasons.

For next week, we will also be giving pie pumpkins and pecans, so you will have these for your Thanksgiving meal preparation.  Along with the “customary” array of fresh veggies there will also be Mesa Top turnips and carrots, along with potatoes.  We are also have more leeks, but they may not fit into next week’s mix, we’ll see.

We have a lot of terrific food to work with.  And more surprises in store for you as the season progresses.  We hope you will continue to enjoy the mix that we are able to offer.  Keep watching the blog for ongoing dialogue about tasty ways to enjoy the CSA bounty, and for a new, regularly updated “feature farmer”, with information about our partner farms.

Happy Veteran’s Day (11/11) and thank you to all who serve and have served our country, and happy thanksgiving coming up.  Remember that next week’s 11/19 distribution will be the last one of November.  This is truly a time to be grateful, and to encourage others to share in the fruits and the process for which we are so grateful, and to redouble our efforts to be sure that none who want to participate lose that opportunity.

Steve Warshawer

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