A farm share can be a fun and exciting eating experience, but it also offers challenges, especially to new members. In the farm share model that we offer at Second Wind, members do not choose their weekly allotment of food, it is chosen for them. As a small farm, this is the only way we can offer our shares at the price we do.
We address the potential challenges this might have for our members in two ways. First, we try to grow the most popular foods that the majority of members will eat and enjoy, in quantities that will be enjoyable to most households. This means that not every member will like every food we grow, but we try our best to please most everyone. One way we measure this is by counting the number of bunches and tallying the number of pounds left behind after the distribution ends for each item. Most items are taken by every member that attend, however there are a few items that a good percentage of members do not take. Can you guess the top three? Mustard greens, amaranth and arugula. The first two are no shocker to me, but the third one is! We addressed this issue last year by offering amaranth and mustard greens as “optional” parts of the share, and this year we have lessened their presence in our garden plan. We also have our leave or take it basket, that often had mustard greens placed in it that were often taken by the end of the distribution. (You may ask why we continue to grow these items. Well, they do have a following, and are hard to find elsewhere. They are also a farmer’s friend. Amaranth is one of the only greens that thrives in the heat of the summer, and it’s nice to have some greens in August, don’t you think? Mustard is also quite adaptable to the entire season and is extremely cold hardy, making it abundant in the spring and fall when there is less available.) As for arugula, a rather popular salad green, we are going to see what happens when we offer it loose and in salad mixes as well as in bunches for some of the season.
The second way we try to tailor our farm shares to our members is through education using this blog. As many of you know, I use this blog to share tips for preparing the vegetables offered throughout the growing season. We offer photos, descriptions, flavor pairings and recipes to showcase the potential for the season’s offerings. We also receive feedback through this blog and in person at our distributions, not only about our recipes and offering, but we also hear tried and true member experiences and meal ideas. In this way, the shares are like an active conversation, always changing and adapting to the seasons and to the palates of our members.
Finally, before I leave for the farm to start leek and onion seeds (!), I am sharing some food photos from last season, in anticipation for the season the come. (And coming it is! 50+ degrees in the forecast for Thursday and Friday. There’s going to be a lot of melted snow!)