Most years, we acquit our selves quite well. (notice how I got to use two "Q's" in that sentence - neat, eh?) In fact, a typical season sees us providing much more value for a share than was paid to us. We feel that additional value is a fair compensation for the investment provided by our members.
Experience Leads to Strong Shares Throughout the Season
The last three years have been slightly different from our earlier history in that we've added much stronger starts to our season, making it less critical to have super strong second halves to make up the difference. That doesn't mean we don't still provide strong second half shares, but it does mean we've been able to give a more consistent value throughout the season. An example of some of the things we have done to make our farm more consistently productive is our second high tunnel structure. Every year we strive to do better than the one before and we keep building towards better.
|Seeded trays ready to go to cold frames or high tunnels|
We Think Hard About Fair Pricing
We take pricing very seriously. We need to earn enough to pay us fairly while still keeping share prices reasonable for the many participants we know are working on a budget. Each season, we spend significant planning hours reassessing our costs and determining what we should do to meet both of those goals. A standard share cost $400 in 2016 (and the same share type will cost that same amount in 2017). For a 20 week delivery season, that comes to $20 per delivery. While this post is not about how our share costs compare to other Iowa CSA's, I think you will find that over time, we've kept our costs and prices under control. It is not uncommon to find similar programs that cost between $400 and $600 in the state.
|White onions harvested and being taken in to be made ready for CSA members|
In 2015, we had only two weeks where the share value dipped below the $20 mark. Weeks 1 and 2 had $15 values with asparagus and spinach providing the most value. Since that point, every week met or exceeded the $20 value for a standard share. Week 9, for example, exceeded $30 in value and week 3 was $25 in value (just to show you we could provide value early in the season too!). So, by the end of August, we are sitting at a 25% value increase over the amount 'paid' through that point of the season. With some high value crops at the tail end of the season, we provided 35% more value than was paid by our subscribers!
|Young Australian Yellow Leaf lettuce plant|
By the August checkpoint, we provided 28 different vegetable types to our subscribers. While we realize we could get into an argument about how we split things up to get the count, we tried to stay conservative. For example, we aren't counting snack/cherry tomatoes and slicing tomatoes separately. Nor are we separating out sweet peppers and bell peppers, even though we usually give them separate trays at a distribution. But, we are counting cabbage and napa cabbage separately, because they really are different things! By the end of the season, we had provided 35 different vegetable types to our shareholders.
|trays of lettuce ready for transplant|
Why Does This Matter?
We get the feeling that the price tag of a CSA share scares many people away. We certainly understand that a three-digit check can strain many budgets. That's why we offer the option of setting a payment plan with us that fits you best. But, the reality is that this is a very good buy for healthy veggies for your family.
|Tomato harvest at dusk|
How Many Meals Does $20 Buy in a Week?
Take your family to a 'cheap' fast food restaurant for dinner. If you get meal packages in order to save money, your family of four will typically spend $25 for a SINGLE meal. No leftovers. Nothing to help build another meal. Very little nutritional value. And, you've already spent more than the $20 for a WEEK of CSA veggies from the Genuine Faux Farm.
We are not trying to tell you that our veggies fill each meal out entirely. But, what you get from us will be a part of many meals during a week. From a pure monetary perspective, the CSA is a better deal than many things you will find out there.
So, there must be other reasons why you feel it is too expensive. Perhaps it is because...
|Pepper transplants lined up to be put in|
It's Okay If You Don't Eat it All
Certainly, we'll accept that as a reasonable premise. After all, Rob grew up as one of the PICKIEST eaters in the world and is continuing to work on eating a wider variety of things. We certainly get this issue - perhaps better than you know.
But, when you get over 30 types of veggies, you have a great number of chances to get things you will like. And, when you receive nearly a third more produce than you pay for with a share, that essentially means you can FAIL TO EAT 1/3 of your share during a season and still have a good deal. And, don't forget, there are people who like some of the veggies you don't like. Some of those people might be in the house right across the street from you! Hmmmmm.
|Why is this farmer smiling?|
I think we have made a reasonable case that our farm has the experience, ability and drive to provide a good product. But, the biggest variable here is YOU!
Are you motivated to make this deal work for you? If you are, please contact us and we'll get you set up with a share this season!