Sunday, December 27, 2009

And The Survey Says . . .

Last week I finished reading the surveys from our Farm Share Members and here are the results:

1. Too much cut lettuce, and what was there went bad too quickly.  This was one of the more universal preferences among the 35+ respondees.  It is also an easy one to solve: less cut lettuce given, and I think it is possible to fine tune our drying of it.  I intend to ask one of the farms that does it on a larger scale what their procedure is.  This is one of the beauties of the Intervale.  Sharing info, it happens so constantly down there, it's easy to forget that it's a bit harder on your average more separated farm.

2.  Other likes and dislikes were harder to pin down as trends, but some were: less beets (this was a surprisingly one, and the second largest contingent after the lettuce thing, and also easy to fix.)  I think I got it in my head a few years ago that everyone loved beets and basically ALWAYS wants more of them.  Turns out this is not true and exactly what the survey is for.  People also wanted more EGGPLANT, and less GREENS, on average.  The eggplant thing, which I may have explained in an earlier post, is also fixable via the aforementioned info sharing, I basically have to keep on top of those potatoe beetles, perhaps adding some neem to my spray mix.  Neem is one of those organic superstars that can give you just enough of an edge to tip the scale (mixed metaphor?) in the eggplants favor.  As you probably know, it is derived from a tree native to India and gnerally seems to ward off numerous insects.

3.  The most general take away for me from the survey was more choices.  The greens thing is the perfect example.  I know there is a sizable chunk of members who could never get enough greens and another chunk who ask themselves what to do with more kale/chard/spinach/broc raab etc.  So that plus hopefully a few more peppers.eggplant/peas in the mix will allow for people to customize a bit more.  At Open Heart Farm I never pretend your never goingto get kale, but its also not something I'm hell bent on giving you all the time.

4.  Another interesting point for me was that people all felt the produce was of high quality, this is something that has always been important to Rachel and I.  It is always easier for us to get our members fresh produce, just because of our model of distribution, than it is for a supermarket, so that is where most of the credit belongs.  On a scale of one to five the average was probably about 4.7.  I didn't actually add it up though.

So, what happens with all this info, you ask?  Seed buying.  Which I'm starting NOW, a week or two earlier than last year, mostly for scheduling reasons.  It's already begun, but now is the time to comment right here, and I will see, if there is something you think was missing from my analysis, or just an extra chime in.

The reminds me:

5.  People also universally seemed to feel the size of the share was generally right, both pricewise and veg wise.  This is another good example of how surveying I think, has helped.  So the share will stay basically the same price and same size, people do always want more winter squash, and tomatoes and onions.  That plus trying to make a living doing this means I am likely to raise the price 5-10 dollars, with the potential for already members to avoid that increase by getting a share early and/or telling a friend about open heart.

One last thing, this is the first year I am ordering seeds with at least a few less paper catalogs, and just using the computer.  Is there any math out there on which is more green, using paper or electricity?

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