Good evening All!
We hope you're all doing well & enjoying your holiday season!! Fun fact, it's still technically fall until the winter solstice which is TODAY! That means today is the darkest day of the year... It's the longest night we'll see until the next December! Just a fun fact because I enjoy being a little geeky- I hope you enjoy your last fall day, haha!!
We've been pretty quiet over here in Oak Park. After the CSA season & the farm sale were wrapped up we had about 3 solid weeks of farm clean-up to do so we put our heads down and got to work before it got really cold. Man, I am SO happy we got so much done this fall. It's such a good feeling to roll into winter with everything bundled up tight.
We've had more free time now that the farm season is wrapped up. We have been working in the woods lately, we're clearing a spot for a feed plot. We enjoy a variety of hunting and fishing hobbies and are planning to plant alfalfa in this feed plot for the deer next season. These are our puppy-in-laws, but Luna is out there running around too! Notice how this pic was taken a couple weeks ago, before the heavy snowfall. It was easy to work in the woods then.
We had a bonfire as big as our truck out in the woods! I know I've never shared this before, but I was certified as a Wildland Fire Fighter back in college! Of course, that's only to point out that we did have a very large safe fire.
We were cutting and piling and burning, spending several FULL days out in the woods! With picnic lunches and all. Fresh air is good for the soul.
During our fall clean up, we had a bunch of our employees out for a handful of days of clean-up, which always seem to be the hardest because we're playing catch up on a whole summer of "Oh just set that over there, we'll grab it later". Of course that's not the way I like things to work, but it's reality in the hustle and bustle of the season. We joke about tomato season and have now affectionately renamed it "tomatogeddon".
During our last days we enjoyed some meals together. We cooked lunch for everyone a few times. We grilled once, made chili, and even celebrated with ice cream Sundays on our last afternoon. Some of our employees had gone back to school already so they weren't able to make it. We miss them all so much already! When you spend so much time together it's easy to get close and really care for everyone.
*Picture of our squash donation!
As you know, we are still working with CAER (Community Aid Elk River) which is our local food shelf. We deliver CSAs there every week all summer and were able to bring them two CSAs that you purchased collectively- thank you!- in addition to two CSAs that we donated. We also donated produce above and beyond the CSAs when we had surplus. I'll get you all updated # s when we get that info from them, I think it's really fun to see how much we all donated!!
Just in SQUASH alone- we donated over ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED POUNDS at one time. And we went through every single one of these, they were blemish free which means they should last as long as it takes to give them away (and then some)! We asked them to bring lots of boxes because we'd like to try to keep ours, and they brought as many as we had and as you can see- they went home with a lot of squash in time to distribute for Thanksgiving.
We are in contact with them now about 2023 and I look forward to getting more info to share with you before we open Membership for 2023.
Membership for 2023
I'm sure you know it's that time of year again, already!! We are chatting with your hosts and confirming CSA sites for 2023.
We would love to have the opportunity to grow for you & your families again this season. We love what we do and I think that is reflected in the care and quality of what you receive in your CSAs. We are proud to grow for our community and would love to have you on board with us in 2023 again!
Pricing for our produce shares (Jumbo, Family & Single) Shares will remain at the same price for 2023! So you'll pay the same this season for your produce CSA as you did last season ($825, $495 & $325 respectively).
After careful consideration we've decided to increase our Add-on Share prices. We started offering them for many years. We've held off on increasing the price for 4 years but the input costs have caught up with us and we are going to increase the price a little bit: Apple Shares will be $60 (instead of last year's $50), and our Fall Share to $115 (instead of last year's $95).
To some folks, $10 & $20 increases might not be noteworthy. However, it's important to us because of the considerations that go into the food we're able to provide. It's really important to us to continue being reasonably priced, providing a great product, and delivering it with a smile. These are all the things I look for in our own purchases and we value them highly.
In the 2022 season we tried something new and added a lot of the fall products to the website under their own page. Many of you ordered boxes of onions, potatoes, squash, the list goes on. I hope it was as smooth for you as it was for us! Having your orders & payments submitted online like that made it very easy on our end to document your orders. Since it worked so well, we plan on offering the same set up this coming fall! I can't add that to the CSA Membership page right now though, because I won't know the availability of our surpluses until the late summer/early fall.
We will still encourage folks who want Fall Shares & Apple Shares to sign up when they can because it's helpful for our planning. (Though we do accept add-on shares mid-season too).
We are going to offer honey shares again this coming season! We plan on offering the same packages as last season at the same prices!
Our CSA Sign up will open on January 1st! We do have an ENTIRE month set aside for you- our Returning Members!
The way it works: 1. I create a special webpage that you need the specific URL to.
2. I send you the URL link on January 1st. Please do not share this with anyone. It is not password protected but the web address is only provided to those of you who were with us in 2022.
3. You have first dibs on anything you want for the entire month of January! All of the CSA sizes and Add-ons will be available to purchase.
4. Starting February 1st, we open up our Membership to our waiting list. There are over 200 people on our list that will get the invite to sign up Feb 1st.
So, any time before Jan 31st you can get ANYTHING you want, but after Feb 1st, we consider our CSAs as a first come first serve basis. We open our CSAs to the public Feb 15th, assuming we still have CSAs left.
You might be wondering why we open it up so early in the winter? It's actually common practice to offer sign-ups in the middle of winter. Most farms around us accept Memberships in November or even earlier, but we wait until January because it simply helps keep our books straight. That way, we're making our income during the calendar year that we are earning it. By offering our CSAs for sale in the winter months, it frees up more of our time in the spring when things really start to get busy again.
If you'd like info on a payment plan let me know and we'll get your CSA reserved for you regardless of payment status. It's more important to get your name on a CSA then it is to pay for it.
WRAPPING IT UP
Just like the presents that are patiently waiting for me, it's time to wrap it up. It's Wednesday December 21st and we're in the middle of a snow storm. The kids' had an early release today and tomorrow is an e-learning day. I imagine most of your school districts will do the same- this is a wicked storm coming in!
I'm going to send you another email a week from today. I have way too much to share from this fall (haha!) to fit it in one email!! Then I'll send you an email on January 1st that is really short and to the point- it'll be the link you can follow to sign up for your 2023 CSA Shares!! Thank you again for your continued support, we appreciate you more than you know!!
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
With love, ~The Farmer's Wife