Good Day CSA Members,
Here we are with you at the end of our 2019 season. Wow, 10 whole years! I don't know about you, but I have eaten well for these past ten years.
There have been many questions about what is happening with a winter CSA. Brogan has been doing a nice job being in touch with you, but I told her that I would email you all about this.
The reality is that the farm has been struggling for the past three years to have enough sales to cover expenses and to have enough net income to cover cash flow requirements (loans etc). Personally, I can not keep doing the same thing, the same way and expect a different result. It isn't working. This is requiring us to tip ourselves upside down to sort out a path forward. This is not easy to do. Before we announce any plans for 2020, we must do this hard work.
What I know right now is that the idea of not having our CSA brings tears to my eyes every time it crosses my mind. Knowing that you depend on us for a whole or a portion of your daily nourishment means a lot to us. We depend on you too. It has been a powerful relationship that is very special to me, to us. We have a cooler of vegetables. We have a freezer with meat. We have great van that as you know is closer and closer each trip to the city to permanently retiring. It has been 10 years, so how do we want the next 10 to look?
Last night as we were laying in bed chatting about what to do and what the future holds. I asked Josh, 'if we have to strip away the few benefits to staff, if we have to strip away practices that protect the land, if we have to stop pasturing animals because it is more expensive, if we have to give up on organic certification because it is just another cost that adds up, then what and who are we? Does it make sense to carry on if the only way is to do so by taking away all the things we value and have worked so hard for?'
Josh and I are asking ourselves what gives us joy and how do we want our day to day lives to look. It has now been 15 years of working, really all the time. Often at home, and it likely spills out at work too, we can feel the stress between us and within us. In June I took a leave from the farm. I was overly stressed and not able to contribute effectively to the farm. I was working too much, leaving no time for the children or our families or for me. As you will see below I worked at various things, but I stepped back from CSA and office (mgt) and the farm yard in Canard. If only money could not have such power over me. It is very hard to not feel paralyzed with struggles related to debt. After all, it is only money.
So, we will do this work, we will sort out a plan forward and we will share it with you first. I expect by the end of next week we will have something to share with you. Are we offering winter shares and if so, how much and when will be answered.
One idea that has been bounced around over the last few years is creating a board of directors for the farm. I try but then it gets lost in the day to day shuffle. Maybe this might be a good time, to let go and open up further. It is easy to want to protect so you can't see the vulnerable parts.
I arrived back to work on the farm Monday December 9th. Last week Josh and I attended the AgEx conference on farm management. I appreciated the sessions and have things to implement. I learned some things and congratulated ourselves on other things that we have in place. We have a great farm.
In closing, the farm team has been doing such a fabulous job getting food to tables. It has been a challenging season of weather and everyone showed up ready to take on whatever the day delivered. I have chosen some images from my perspective over the past 6 months to share. Enjoy the pictures.
Please receive a tremendously big warm long hug from me, your middle aged woman farmer @ TapRoot.
ps. Just for our planning, could you do this one question survey?
Community Garden at 1736 Church Street this year had 8 members. Here is the group planting the African Diaspora Garden. We are looking forward to increase the number of members at the garden and one idea I have is to offer a once a week after schoolprogram for youth who want to have a garden. The idea is that I will support them in their gardens.
Josh attended college with these two. He met up with them this summer on a trip to PEI. The man in the middle is the Minister of Agriculture in PEI. Pretty cool.
Pauline visited us from France. She volunteered on the farm and worked on her English. This was our goodbye dinner together.
Elie also interned at the farm this spring and summer. He is from a dairy farm in France. It was great to have him here with us.
My dad is here after a long day having a snuggle with Marley Grace. The new addition to our family. Dad farms all of the fruit in the fruit share and run Noggins Corner Farm along with my sister, brother in law and many others.
My notes from the farm management meeting.
Emma our niece is here working/volunteering at the market at Noggins. This is her childhood, just like ours was, working alongside her mom, her grandfather and her great grandparents on the farm. Special experiences for sure. Emma is Carolyn's oldest.
It was so fun to partner with CSA Member Kim Barlow this summer to host live music and food at the farm. Life music is such a gift.
Martel is here with a big smile - getting out of the hospital. He had quite a serious event and is now healing well and ready to come back to work in the spring.
I put in an image of me and dad for the fun of it. Only some 43 years ago.
This fall I managed the food truck at the Noggins Corner Farm Corn Maze. We had a fun team of teenagers serving up the food we grow. It was fun and busy!