It is more than food. It is a connection. We grow food. It is a big deal.
Starting July 2 we will be delivering our five different TapRoot CSA shares to 16 locations between Port Williams and Tantallon Nova Scotia. We started farming 14 years ago focusing our energies on non organic vegetable production for the wholesale marketplace. Four years later we started a small organic farm and that is when our CSA started. Back then 50 people joined us to support us in starting our organic farm, believing in the importance of organic agriculture. Back then our youngest Frank was a one year old. Since then we have transitioned nearly all of our land to certified organic production and have worked to grow our CSA membership, which provides as a much more secure income than the volatile wholesale marketplace.
The wholesale marketplace can be fantastic and we have been so fortunate over the years to have success in selling product to the larger retailers, however, it can make or break the farm in a very short period of time. This is one of the reasons why our CSA is so important. Last year for example we had a retailer decide last minute they didn't want the sweet corn we had grown for them. There are no contracts in these arrangements and so we lost a very large sum of money because of it. We work hard to roll with the punches and to adapt.
This year we have experienced a significant drop in both wholesale and CSA members. This has got us asking what is up. At the end of the day, we think that one of our largest challenges is that most of us are looking for ways to cut costs and that generally as a society we don't place value on our food. We don't pay attention to it. We don't consider how far the green pepper has come to arrive on our plate and the implications. If we could find a way for more of our population to engage in this, in a serious action oriented system change kind of way, it would have a significant positive implication for our province/us.
Our farm, TapRoot Farms has had a challenging couple of years on the books. We are working hard to adjust and adapt and make the changes necessary, but truthfully, the future is very uncertain. What we do know for right now is that we have planned and planted for 450 CSA members and the same amount of wholesale sales that we have done in the past. So far we have not reached our goals for CSA membership yet for this year. It is the first time we have experienced this. But we are not alone. From what our farmer friends are experiencing, the sales are down. We need an additional 150 CSA members to maintain our current farm operation.
I am often asked why. Why have people left and to be honest everyone has a different reason. We think it is partially related to having easier options. Participating in the CSA isn't the easiest option and can sometimes be inconvenient. We have a specific pickup time, we don't offer credits if you miss your share pickup, in fact we donate uncollected shares to local food banks. We ask that you get someone to collect your share if you are away on holiday because the effort is still the same here on the farm. We send you vegetables you might not ever choose or that you don't like. We don't (yet) provide meal planning service. And we can't make changes fast. If our members want more beans than lettuce for example, we can only fix that the next time we plant. So we understand it isn't easy or perfect. However, what we do offer you is us.
Josh and I (Patricia) and the farm team have a complete open door and open book policy. We want you to have access to as much as you want. We are honest and transparent with you. Everyone works hard on the farm each day to grow food that we know will be cooked or prepared to feed you, your friends, your loved ones. Josh and I spend many hours deliberating about what is the 'right' thing to do when we are confronted with the many challenges that come from running a business with 37 employees, caring for animals, caring for the land, caring for the water, caring for the community. So truly, we offer you us. We are 45 and 42 years old. We have three great kids: Izaak (16) Lily (12) and Frank (nearly 11). We work with a great group of people each day that come to work from communities surrounding the farm, communities in Newfoundland and communities in Jamaica. We strive to be life long learners ourselves (we self identify as constantly learning) and we provide opportunities for the farm team to engage in new learning. Although it may also be experienced as a possible burden to the farm, we test out new ideas all of the time because we want to provide our CSA members and our community with as many local products as possible. Seed to plate. Seed to shirt. Seed to beer.
Our farm is open to CSA members anytime. You can come for a walk about. You don't need to make an appointment, you can just come and be here. You are invited to walk into the tunnels growing the grape tomatoes, visit the animals, see the chickens in their moving hen house. The farm is here for you! We are the fortunate farmers who get to farm this amazing land and grow food for you.
It is not too late to join up. You can go to our website, review the options, create an account, sign up and next week your food will be available at the shares pickup location, and will be there for you each week for 24 weeks.
I don't know what our future holds, honestly it depends a lot on you. Your choices impact our future. Where ever you shop, everything you choose, impacts someone somewhere.
What you eat is important. Who grows your food? It is a big deal.
You can join our farm now and here are the CSA options we have available:
Full Monty Share(vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat)
Vegetable Share (large and small)
Single Size Share (veg and fruit)
Fruit Share (Noggins Corner Farm Fruit)
Egg Share (1 dozen and 1/2 dozen) Sold out
Meat Share (pasture raised fed non gmo grain chickens, pigs, goats and beef)
Our Vegetables can be found at:
Noggins Corner Farm Market Locations (Greenwich, Sante Centre, Seaport Market, Alderney Landing)
Pete's Halifax and Pete's Bedford
Sobey's sometimes (asking for our vegetables would be so helpful)
AND a few food establishments purchase our vegetables for their dishes:
The Noddle Guy
Lightfoot and Wolfville
Bessie North House
AND a few small businesses use our vegetables for their product lines:
Seven Acres Farm and Ferments
Off Beat Farms