Thursday, November 14, 2013

Goals - It's About Reaching for Them - Part I

Weather has gotten colder and I have time to do a bit more with assessing how our year went and how we might like to move forward.  This year, there was a bit more motivation for season analysis with the Dream Big, Grow Here grant contest requiring some preparation and energy.  We're still processing much of went on this year, just as we are still harvesting and planting, but it is clear that the work load is shifting.

Every year, we set a number of goals for ourselves.  In some cases we fail and in others we succeed.  Sometimes the failure is through no fault of our own, just as some successes might have less to do with us than we'd like to think.  It isn't surprising that reaching goals gives much satisfaction and falling short can be a source of disappointment and frustration.  But, at the end of the day, it is the struggle to achieve the goals and the things we learned from the struggle that stay with us.  Failure forces us to learn and adjust.  It challenges us to improve and pay a bit more attention in the future.  Success encourages us to keep trying and reminds us that there are rewards to be had during and after the struggle to achieve the goal.  It is the act of setting and striving to reach these goals that helps maintain the desire to become better at what we do on the farm.

In our case, we set a number of goals - some are more formal than others.  Of course, there is the goal to "have a good growing season" and "keep our customers happy with quality produce, poultry, etc."  But, we'll focus on more measurable goals in a series of posts over the next few months.

1. Brrrrroccoli

In January, we asked our share holders what they'd like to see more of during the growing season.  Broccoli was mentioned several times.  The link above will take you to a blog post that discusses our goals for this crop.  But, to make it easier:

Broccoli(left) and Cauliflower
  • Double our production from 2013
  • Maintain a crop that continues to have outstanding taste
  • Provide 4 weeks of broccoli to the CSA minimum
  • Have additional broccoli for sales outside of the CSA
The late start to the season got in the way of implementing our plan for this crop in its entirety.  But, we were able to do a fair amount with it.  We did not double our production, but we did increase the production amount from 2012.  As a result, we were able to provide broccoli to our regular season CSA farm shares for 6 weeks of the season and 1 week in the Fall extended season.  On the other hand, we did not feel that we had excess broccoli at any given time to sell.  And, happily, we continue to be pleased with the taste of the broccoli.  The quality was excellent this year, even if the heads were a bit smaller than 2012.  Our strategies for 2014 will be a refinement of this year's approach.  We'll stick to Gypsy and Belstar (as long as seed is available).  It is likely we'll stay simple for 2014 and save variety experimentation with broccoli for 2015.  Instead, we'll run an experiment with cultivation versus mulch and see where that goes.

2. Improve Communication with Our Farm Share CSA Members

Ok, maybe you didn't see us actively share this goal with everyone in a specific post.  But, we do think persons who have been with us for more than one year have noticed improvements in this area.

We've been trying to share our responses to questions people ask us.  One example can be viewed in our What Makes Farming Fun post.   We've learned that people don't always ask on the blog or on Facebook, but they will ask us in face to face settings, or sometimes via email.  We're pretty good about responding in those situations, but then we realized that these are good opportunities to share our answers.  And, like the post linked above, we realize that many of you enjoy hearing answers to questions that are not necessarily specific to a function of the farm.

Of course, our email newsletters have evolved and we've stuck to a format in hopes that it will aid members in finding what they need.  We have to admit that Tammy wasn't sure Rob's humor was the best thing to add.  But, after the dust has settled and the groaning over awful puns was past, we have to admit that the tone of the communications going both ways tended to be positive.  And that was really our overall goal for this season's communications - we needed to stay positive!

We've been told that blog posts that have more pictures are favorites, so we try to do a 'picture this' type post, like this one for September, as often as we are able.  Another definite favorite is anything that features the views and opinions of our animals.  This Fall, we had a well-liked guest appearance by Jake the turkey.  And, we have to admit that we are not so good at giving views of the people on the farm.  So, we will continue to work on that.

We've continued to do some things that people have identified as favorites, such as our posts on vegetable varieties, such as our Veg Variety Winners.  And, our crop reports are simply a way to have something out there to keep you informed as to what is on its way (or not).

We continue to work on signage, email responses, order forms and any number of ways where we can make things more consistent and easier for you to work with us.  We're pleased with the efforts this year, but we're very aware that this is one of those times where continuous improvement will be far better than delayed perfection.

(to be continued)


  1. For the record, we liked the 'more weeks of smaller broccoli' version!

  2. So noted! I think we'd like a combination of the two. But, to be honest, I'll take either one as long as we have good broccoli.


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