2021 VLC Survey Results

Jon and I sat down today and read all the end-of-season surveys filled out by our Rivers, 14-week Brandon, and 24-week Brandon CSA members this afternoon.

Going over surveys!

I’m always a bit careful to be in the right frame of mind when looking at feedback: We put a lot of our hearts into this and criticism can be hard to hear (though it is the most helpful of all feedback). We’ve never had anything outright mean said on our surveys and this year was no different! In fact, we were in a bit of a down mood, and after reading all the surveys (aloud to each other) we felt really great and shared a high five!

It was a tough growing season for us with the heat, drought, and smoke. It made it hard to work outdoors many days and we spent countless hours hauling water to keep things alive. It sounds like all of you understand that, and a few mentioned how much the communication about the ups and downs of veggie farming help you to understand where we’re coming from. I believe this is the reason why relationships between those who produce food and well, everyone who eats ie everyone, are so critical. Thank you for making this important in your life and family as well!

On the Quantity/Quality/Value/Freshness/Variety/Storage Capacity question we got mostly rated “Excellent” and nothing below “Adequate”. There were some things in lesser quantity (eg leeks, lettuce mix, spinach, shallots, early carrots) and quality (eg leeks, celery) than we would prefer this season. We always try to explain in the newsletters when things aren’t up to par, and it seems like everyone understands that well (thank you!). We do plan to amp up the variety next year!

There were no identified issues with either of the pickup locations – I really liked how one person noted that though parking at Stanley Park may only get an “adequate” score, “I enjoy picking up my veggies next to a park in a community that feels alive”. I completely agree! We lucked out on the shoulders of Luna Field Farm and previous CSA farmers and we have an excellent location in Brandon, and also in Rivers!

The biggest work of going over the surveys every year is compiling all the “less” and “more” items. Jon helped, and here they are:

So, for context, the first column is things that you would like more of, including things that you regularly buy at the store. So, for example, mushrooms aren’t in our plans, but it’s good to know that people do enjoy them and if we ever connect with some or want to grow them or support another grower, there is interest.

Of note to us on the “More” column were:
– Broccoli (we plan to grow lots more next year)
– Corn (My Dad Paul says he is willing to grow it again)
– Peppers (something we had already identified as wanting to grow more of, there didn’t used to be any market for peppers but you must’ve all figured out how yummy they are!)
– Lettuce (yes. We lost FOUR whole plantings due to the heat. Not what we planned! It sucks to do all the work and not reap the harvest, that’s never ideal. So tell the sun to cool it next year, and we’ll also be branching out our varieties to mitigate that.)
– Arugula (now that we have a greenhouse we may be able to do it early, it’s a tough one due to flea beetles)
-Romaine Lettuce (we will try again and look for a heat resistant type or grow it in the early season. Head Lettuces are hard because we have limited space and find a low seed-to-marketable-head ratio… ie, the last time we grew them I planted 128 seeds and ended up with only 62 useable heads. But you don’t get better or a different result if you don’t try, so we will!)

Of note to us on the “Less” column:
-Beets (I’m with you, but they grow so well for us they become a staple crop in tough years. It wasn’t our intention to put them in so many times this season, thanks for bearing with us!)
– Kale (yup… Saw that coming too. Every year, Kale is too much for some! The Kale did well in the barn field while the Chard suffered in the main field, so we will move the Chard next year and hopefully need to rely on Kale less. Without lettuce we were just happy to have anything green and leafy!)
– Shoots (I’m a bit disappointed, but I get it. We used them in the beginning and resumed them earlier in the fall because we could see it was going to be tight as far as variety. Many of our later season crops just didn’t thrive and so the shoots are something we can turn around quickly when a field crop doesn’t come to fruition. People who love these, LOVE them, but many expressed not making use of them or struggling to. There will be less shoots in the program next year!)

All of the comments were really supportive and positive: thank you! We feel very loved, supported, and an important part of your family after reading them.
-Yes, we will send you a basil plant at the start of cucumber and tomato season next year, that’s a fantastic idea!
-We have thought about a smaller bag size as one member mentioned, and in my experience, everyone shifts to the smaller size and the entire thing crumbles. The high admin of CSA means we can only service those who can handle a decent amount of weekly veggies. Not to mention, keeping it at a reasonable value for the customer picking up each week. We are considering a bi-weekly share for this reason (though I find that a MESS to administer, nobody can ever remember when it’s their week to pick up). I hear you and agree that our bag size doesn’t work for everyone, completely understand if this is a deal breaker for you to re-commit.
-We liked the early start to the season too, and I sure as heck am excited about the early conclusion as well! Will probably do much the same schedule next year for 24 week.
-Perogies! We would need a commercial kitchen for that I believe. And someone willing to make them on a scale, I am certain Mom isn’t! But I love your ideas!

I’ve tried to share the general findings, please know that we did read every single survey and you are welcome to reach out if you feel something you contributed wasn’t heard, or if going over this summary brings up an idea or question or more feedback for you! Email me anytime at sales@brownsugarproduce.com

Lastly, the fun stuff! I’m SO GLAD I put that recipe question on there, even though only a few filled it in. How fun to have some recipes to share with you now!

Chłodnik- Polish cold beet soup
6-8 Pickled baby beets, shredded
1/4 cup pickled beet brine
1l buttermilk
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/4 cup chopped green onions
6-8 radishes, shredded
1/2 english cucumber, shredded
Optional: hardboiled 2 eggs diced or sliced

Place all chopped and shredded ingredients in a bowl, add buttermilk and brine. Stir, salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

I have a cookbook called Yum and Yummer by Greta Podleski and the Kaleslaw Salad is a good one!

https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-garlicky-roasted-broccoli-quick-side-dish-recipes-from-the-kitchn-199310 – this is a favorite side dish for us…lots of flavor.

My new favourite recipe would be Cowboy Candy! https://justinpasutto.com/food/how-to-make-the-perfect-batch-of-cowboy-candy-candied-jalapenos/ I love to put cream cheese on crackers and top with a jalapeño. So yummy!!

This morning I loaded my food dehydrator with three trays of marinated tomatoes (https://foodinjars.com/recipe/marinated-dehydrated-tomatoes/). They’re more flavourful than sundried tomatoes and I snack on them like they’re candy. They’re excellent on pizza, salad, etc.

Queen of the Chickens!

Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to send us feedback about your experience in our 2021 Veggie Lovers’ Club CSA. We don’t make huge changes from year to year, but our members have been critical in helping to shape what this program has become. Relationships take both sides working together for a common goal. We are so honored to be your farmers and to serve this wonderful community!

–Teri, Jon & Myrah 🙂

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