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Discussion Starter #1
Need some advice. We bought a share in a CSA this year as our garden just isn't up to producing enough for us yet. First week was very small amount which is to b expected at hte beginning of the season. THey email the list at the beginning of the week as to what will be available for the Friday pick-up. First few weeks they filled our orders when we got there from the list they had printed out. Next couple weeks they pre-filled our orders and had them in plastic grocery bags stapled sclosed with our lists attached to it. Many of us were missing items. Now they are telling us we get to pick our stuff out buffet style as they were giving us too much produce and it was costing them. Each item has been given a "price" and we get $20 in produce, baked goods and some canned items. So far we have not been very impressed with the bread products as the loaves are VERY small and some of the pre-backed pies were not done. Now today I had cracked 9 eggs into the bowl to make the kids cheesy eggs for lunch and the 1oth egg was ROTTEN. And I don't mean slightly off! I mean all out stink to high heaven rotten! I had to throw out all the eggs in the bowl!! The egg looked like a partially developed one. Now I don;t care if they have roosters running with teh hens or not BUT if you are selling to the public you should be collecting eggs fast enough that no development would have had time to take place right??!!
This is their first year doing this. My husband thinks that they have changed things WAY too much and that they should have stuck with one routine for this season and made necessary changes next season. After the egg issue today I am about ready to ask for a partial refund and be done with it. Am I way off here? Is this normal for first year CSA's??
Thanks for letting me vent a bit
Melissa
 

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That sounds very disorganised and I can understand your frustration. We are in our 4th year of running a CSA and we have never (not even in our 1st year) made changes to what we told people we would be doing. So I think I would take a close look at your agreement. If the agreement doesn't say how the produce would be divided then the farmer is free to divide it in whichever way works best. But rotten eggs are totally unacceptable - talk to the farmer.
 

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Wow, I would be very unhappy, too. I would not change things up part-way through the season. If I agreed to do something I would follow through. I really don't think you will get a refund if you ask for one, but I would certainly write a letter outlining your issues with the CSA, and offering suggestions of how you think it could be better.

I have to say this ~ I've had chickens, and fresh eggs, for over 4 years. I have, on two occasions, cracked open horribly rotten eggs. I do not know how this could happen but it does. I collect eggs twice a day so I can't explain it. BUT, today I will make sure to explain to my members the importance of cracking each egg into a cup, then adding to the bowl. That's something we do here at home, but I hadn't thought to tell my new customers.

I'm very sorry this has been a bad experience for you so far, but I would speak up. If this is their first year they are probably freaking out over everything. I'm not defending them, but I can understand what it's like to stand in the broccoli patch and cry........ It's very hard work.

Mistletoad, you add so much to our discussions; I wanted to say thanks! 50 members in 4 years!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
We were just sent this. Now we have had ALOT of severe storms come thru in the last few days however, should we not be given an alternate pick up?

We will be unable to come to *** tonight for our CSA drop off because we have a lot of storm damage that we need to clean up. All of our fence was knocked down and a lot of our vegetable plants were ruined. Sorry for the inconvenience.


And I have received no follow up on the rotten egg issue. We will NOT be repeating this next year. Hopefully by next year my garden will be up and running enough to provide all we need for ourselves.
 

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Oh dear, you are having a bad time of it. IMO needing to clean up is not a good reason to cancel - we all need to do other things. And although ruined plants probably mean no vegetables, I think they could at least still turn up with the eggs and baked goods if those are a normal part of the CSA.

I know sometimes it could be necessary to cancel one week but we pride ourselves on never having done that. Last summer my car broke down on the Washington beltway during tropical storm Hugo and I had to be towed home (timing belt broke and the rain and wind was so strong that roadside repairs were impossible). The next morning I borrowed a van and finished the delivery.

HTD you are too kind and I must give credit to DH - he does most of the grunt work, no way I could do this without him. I have total respect for you ladies who are doing this by yourselves.
 

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Again, I'm not defending them for this newest turn of events, but fixing downed fence would have to take priority over delivery of produce. Horses in the road is a very bad situation, and so is goats in the garden.
 

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HilltopDaisy said:
Again, I'm not defending them for this newest turn of events, but fixing downed fence would have to take priority over delivery of produce. Horses in the road is a very bad situation, and so is goats in the garden.
I agree. Fencing is extremely important and a priority here. In the last ten years we've had two bulls in someone else's corn not just one but two mornings in a row, a steer on US Rt 1a half mile through the woods, and goats eating the garden because we didn't know we had fence problems. Fences have to be repaired immediately. It's a reality of farming.

I asked someone to collect "all the eggs" one morning. He collected all the eggs from the hen house and when he found more in the barn he collected those too. I knew exactly what happened when a customer called screaming about half formed chicks in her fry pan. Thankfully the eggs had been cold long enough that the chicks weren't alive. Stuff like this happens sometimes. Eggs can get lost in the back of a nesting box full of straw. It's another reality of farming. I'm also not defending these farmers, but offering an explanation of how things sometimes happen.

I would speak with the farmers face to face, and give them a list of complaints in writing at that time. If you have suggestions on how to deal with your complaints I'd offer those too. The farmers might be very glad to hear your ideas. I would be. A CSA usually gives a share of the harvest. If there are 20 shares and they have 20 tomatoes that week everyone gets one tomato. CSAs were not designed in the beginning to give a dollar value of produce each week. I think it complicates CSA shares more than necessary.

Good luck! I hope it works out for everyone quickly.
 

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I think you may be unhappy with SOME justification, but on other points, it is a symptom of member's total ignorance of the realities of producing food. I think a working share would likely enlighten people who have no idea what is involved, but I am personally not willing to deal with people with no knowledge while working in my fields. It takes more time and effort for, often, less quality work (weeding, planting, etc.).
To the original poster: I hope you will present your criticism to the new CSA grower in a somewhat positive light, as they are probably overwhelmed with this new venture. The first year is very hard. You may have seen some of HTD's posts to that effect.
However, if you were my member and you asked for a partial refund, I'd certainly give it so that you were satisfied and so that you didn't bad-mouth me as I try to establish the business. We all make mistakes in something new. But if I were you, I'd stick it out for the season, try to help make it better, and maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised as we get into the heavier harvesting season.
Ann
 

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Here in Ky there are people in charge of the CSA organization - do you have someone you can call to let them know?

I agree that downed fence is a big concern but their financial responsibility is to you - the people that have bought their produce. And that also is a big responsibility. It's hard to balance all the things that can go wrong on a farm and they need to be more organized...for all of their responsibilities....

Good luck with finding a solution for all of you. CSA's do work and they do provide healthy amounts of produce and you can have a very successful one. I hope it works out......
 

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This is quoted from Anniew ~ "To the original poster: I hope you will present your criticism to the new CSA grower in a somewhat positive light, as they are probably overwhelmed with this new venture. The first year is very hard. You may have seen some of HTD's posts to that effect."

I have stated that I will not repeat a CSA next year (although the day after deliveries I feel a bit less stressed, and find myself thinking about how I will do things different next year). I have found it to be very painful for me, personally, to have a CSA member tell me she threw vegetables away rather than eat them, because "kale is kind of hard". Huh? If she knew the lost sleep, the agonizing over "Is this enough", the sweat, the bugs, the backache, the 90 degrees on my knees in the mud, generally not appreciative of what it takes to produce that glorious bunch of kale/chard/whatever. No amount of money is worth it to me when I feel that the person did not have any clue, did not ask, and acts as though vegetables are somehow foreign to them. To curl the nose and say "EW!" is insulting.

I can't say what is normal for a first year. I CAN say that I feel as though I have a ton of experience growing vegetables. Every week I feel like I miraculously pull enough stuff out of somewhere :) to make a nice basket, but I am telling you that I stand over the plants and beg God to let them grow enough so I can pick on Friday morning!

Wildfire_Jewel, I sincerely apologize for the thread drift, and again, I am not defending your CSA or minimizing your very real issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well....They not only lost fences but they lost enough plants that they may not be able to give us shares this week either.
As for the eggs. I have had chickens around my entire life. Not once have I cracked open a rotten egg.
I know what goes into growing things. I grew up helping my mom can and freeze the garden's produce for the winter. I have my own garden here as well, it just is not large enough to support us yet.
I am not some city girl who hasn't a clue!

I am not sure they will be doing this again next year either as this has GOT to be unbelievaebly stressful for them and I know that if they cannot give us our shares then they do not have enough for hte farmers market either :(. Not a good season for them
Melissa
 

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Discussion Starter #14
NO!! We missed 3-4 weeks. We did have a pick-up this past friday but there was very little and what was there was poor quality. Some members showed up (as we were told there was a pick up) and the food and owners were gone already.
We were told it was a storm that took out the veggies but that was a lie. The person they leased the land from (that had all the veggies on it) supposedly sold the property and the new owner locked them off the property, destroyed the green houses and plowed under the squash. And then I guess he wanted to renegotiate the terms of the lease. Something just doesn't add up with the story. Their meat was all at the processors which just burned down last week. And their commercial egg buyer bounced several checks on them. We have had NO explanations, nothing but one line emails that says whether there is food or not. It just does not all add up. To top it all off the husband becomes VERY rude and threatening and calls the customers names when they ask questions or have a complaint. The wife sent a ----y email as well about us walking in their shoes for a day and see how we would like it and how we act all nice to her face and say bad things behind her back. NO ONE has said anything bad. We all were questioning things though and comparing stories. Neither of them have conducted themselves in what I would call a business like manner, and this IS a business relationship.
We understand that farming is a risky business and you are at the whim of nature. However, this was not due to nature and the stories that we have all been told just don't add up. All I was interested in was a bit of communication from their end, some apologies and at least an acknowledgement of my problems with the eggs.
We will not be repeating this mistake!
Melissa
 

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I'd pull my support out of that CSA faster than you can say "rotten eggs".

Now realistically, even when I lived in the city I knew I'd never be a candidate for a CSA. I'm too picky. I'm the guy that tells the waitress how I want my BLT prepared. But my rule for selling food is that if I wouldn't eat it myself, then it doesn't get put out for the customers. And the way I understand the CSA concept, you've paid in advance ... so they have even MORE of an obligation.

If I were you, I'd get my money back or at least write it off as tuition in the school of hard knocks and then focus my efforts and energies on my own garden place. There are plenty of things that I don't/won't grow because my family doesn't eat enough of it and it doesn't sell ... so I just pick some up at the farm market when I go and have it for dinner. I don't need to provide everything, but the regular fare is what I concentrate on growing. Taters, tomatoes, carrots, etc.
 

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I can understand its hard to start a first year business no matter what it is.
And with the weird weather this year its been rough on farmers. Hopefully they will work it out. I would probably stop this year give them a year rest and go back to them on their third year if they haven't worked out the bugs by the third year theres somethings wrong. They need business guidance or help in the garden one or the other.
 
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