Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Life on "Plan it GFF"

Ah.... real Winter has arrived.  We *really* don't have a need to work outside today.

So... we plan.

A number of people tell us they like getting insights as to some of the things we do for our farm that might not be as apparent on first glance.  So, I thought a quick look at planning for the 2012 CSA might be interesting.  At least it might be as long as I don't get too long-winded.  And, if you read this blog, you know the risk you are taking by starting to read this post!

CSA planning is a backward/forward process.  We start with our goal numbers for members and figure out how much of each crop we want to set as a goal to distribute to those customers. 

For example:
We would like 100 standard shares and 20 large shares during the regular 20 weeks season.  We hope for 20 Spring shares and 25 Fall shares (all subject to adjustment).
We can do some forward projection on our lettuce crops (for example) so we know our capacity for growing lettuce in our current field plans.  But, for now, we'll stick to backward planning.
We want a head of lettuce for every week of the Spring and Fall shares.  We also want 2 heads for each large and 1 head for each standard share for 15 weeks of the regular season share.  So, we need approximately 2400-2500 heads of lettuce just for CSA demand. 

Now we shift to forward planning!
We look at our historical crop records and use them to project what we can expect for lettuce production assuming that we grow what we grew last season (approximately).  Why last season?  Well...if the numbers work out, we don't have to adjust our field plan.  We keep the plan the same - even though the crop is planted in a new plot.  That's why we try to have similar sized and shaped plots.
Prior records show a capacity of 4000-5000 heads.  These records also remind me of variability in size.  In particular, head size is smaller in the Summer, when we pick heads younger to prevent bolting.  We also see that we have been able to provide lettuce in the regular season for 14 to 17 of the 20 weeks each of the last three seasons. 
What does this mean?  Our field plan is close.  We will now need to look and see if we can optimize the successions in hopes of targeting sales in addition to the CSA. 

Do this for lettuce.  Rinse.  Repeat (for many of the other crops we grow).

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