Friday, August 23, 2013

The Results Are In, and the Survey Says...

We are now half of the way into the season and have just completed our first member feedback survey.  We are very happy with how many members participated(113 of 500) and we have received a lot of good input from it.  Here is a summery:
  • About 1/2 of our members have never been a member of a CSA before--which we think is fantastic.
  • 87% of respondents said they are overall very satisfied or mostly satisfied.  
  • People are most interested in dried beans and grains options to add to their shares, also bread, honey, milk, and jarred items.
  • The most popular items people said they enjoyed are: kale and lettuce greens, squash blossoms and summer squash(especially patty pans), tomatoes, beans, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, cantaloupe and all the fruits.
  • The top items people do not enjoy look very similar to the list of enjoyed items: kale, fennel, lettuces, rhubarb, cantaloupe.
  • 62% of respondents said being a part of the CSA has changed their mind about at least 1 kind of produce, mostly for the better, but some for the worse.
    • The top items people changed their mind about for the better were: kale, beets, fennel, patty pans, kohlrabi, and green tomatoes
    • The top item people changed their minds about for the worse was kale.
  • Of the 113 respondents(71 small shares and 43 large shares) 81% have a household size of 3 or less. This may explain why 26 %  of members would like more variety and smaller portions, while only 10% would like larger portion sizes and less variety to make family sized meals.
Thank you so much for all the positive and negative feedback as it was all constructive. Lots of things came up we may have never considered, many good suggestions, comments and concerns about the produce quality, which you should know by now has been an issue this year. While most of you had no complaints about the quality, many were very concerned with the poor quality you have received.  For the foreseeable future we have worked out the issues with the lettuce, we have begun packing more delicate items into bags more often so they don't get smashed, and we are trying to be more diligent during packing to catch the little bad spots that may turn into big bad spots.  If you ever find anything in your bag upon picking it up that is of poor quality please let us know so that we can reimburse you. Please don't hesitate to let us know. 

We are considering the feedback from those of you requesting either larger or smaller portion sizes and since we can't make that an option of your choice this season, we will try and provide lots of variety and larger portion sizes of certain items we are able to do that with. Since you are subscribing to a portion of the harvest from our cooperative, we will share the bounty when that allows, but when a particular veggie hasn't produced very well, we may be able to only share a little bit with everyone. I hope everyone will be happy with this trade off. We may consider this an option of your choice for next year if we can work out a way to make it logistically efficient.

Many of you have requested more fruits this year. This has actually been the best year for fruit production since the cooperative started and we are very pleased with the variety we've been able to offer thus far. Our peach trees have given their best yield yet, which is something to say, as peaches are near impossible to grow organically without spraying them every 2 weeks to deter the bugs(which we don't do cause it's too labor intensive). They are also not quite suited for this cool a climate and often the spring buds will get frosted off. We got an apple crop this year, unlike last year when the buds got frozen off, and we've been able to get some berries this season from our berry patches which were planted recently and didn't produce anything last year. Tree fruits have been small and since we use minimal applications they are bound to have some deformities and maybe a bug here or there. Frank Romeo, the Farm Manager at Villa Maria Farm near Youngstown, used to say "it's just Mother Nature taking her portion of the harvest", and it's so true. It's really difficult when an entire crop is lost to a disease, pest, or the weather, but you're always bound to lose a few bites to the critters, and I think that's fair. They are all part of a healthy and sustainable farm ecosystem, and usually provide more good than harm.

We grow a lot of kale, so we are glad it's so popular, but also recognize it is the most unpopular as well.  It seems like many people said they didn't enjoy it because we have included a lot of it so far--but we've reduced the amount of greens to either a lettuce or a cooking green, rather than including both each week. It really is a balancing act deciding what should be included each week, especially after mother nature takes her portion of the harvest. We are hoping to include some more Heirloom tomatoes again very soon, yet they have proved to be semi unreliable in the quantity needed to fill every share. The stores we sell to are also not getting their heirloom orders as they would like this year. This is due to, again, the excess rains which have really accelerated the tomato blight and has already shown to reduce the yields of all the tomatoes.
Overall, we are very satisfied with how many members participated and how much great input you have provided.  We are glad to see that we have so many first-time members, and have the opportunity to help connect them to local, seasonal food.  Though we are glad most people are satisfied or very satisfied, we would like every member to be very satisfied. 

Finally, we have been about 7% under-budget so far, so the shares will be a bit more full throughout the summer and into the fall. 

Thank you all for your input and support. We truly value your commitment to local sustainable agriculture and our cooperative of farmers. 

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