Seeds. It's a hot topic these days on the farm. We talk about varieties, sowing dates, germination rates, seeds per cell-block in the tray. Underlying all of our practical day-to-day concerns is the reality that most of the seeds we use to grow the tons of veggies in your food boxes comes from companies and farms spread all over North America, and even the world. When I stop to think about it it's a pretty wild concept, that little bag of seeds has grown and been cleaned and analyzed and travelled so far before reaching us. The history of its genetics and breeding is yet another journey, but on the inside.
The TapRoot Fibre Lab – the name we've given our linen project – is buying seeds from Europe this year. The breeding of high-quality flax fibre has a long history in the northern European countries – France, Belgium, the Netherlands and so we've gone to the source. Bringing seed from Europe on a commercial scale to Canada is a complex bureaucracy of paper shuffling, the seed analysis examines germination rates and weed seed content and it seems that Canadian standards are pretty demanding. This morning I found out that the cost of the documents we need will be double if not triple the shipping and purchasing cost. Once I found an authorized importer my worries about timing the paperwork and permissions were assuaged.
Flax growing and processing, like most textiles, is now pretty much all happening in China, 50% of global fibre flax farming happens in China and almost 100% of the processing is being done there as well. Breeding programs that individual companies were conducting are also being sent there because the Great Linen Brain is now in China. The seeds we are buying are part of older seed stock that was grown in Europe however the trend to outsourcing breeding programs has touched our seed dealer as well.
Facts like this remind me that despite our work to build and invest in a local food economy, we nonetheless exist within a very globalized and sophisticated machine supplying some of the fundamentals to this farm situated on a peninsula at the edge of a continent.
I started the morning with this chat about seeds with our flax seed dealer and Teri pointed out that these decisions and realities are worth sharing to our members. It's easy to forget the big picture in the day-to-day, but the reason we participate and invest in TapRoot is because business-as-usual can be pretty darn wacky and farms like TapRoot shine a light on paths to health and sustainability.
The other day, I was thinking about some of the accounting issues we have run into this year, and came up with a way to help describe to you the problem that we are having, and how you can best help us overcome it!
The idea, as best I can name it, is called TapRoot Self-Serve Accounting. The name should give you an idea of what it's all about. Basically, we would like to empower and encourage you to take a little extra initiative with your account. We are a very small admin team here on the farm. In addition to managing all of the member accounts, Falicia looks after all of the farm's bookkeeping and accounting, preparing the year end documents for the tax accountants AND payroll. As you can imagine, she doesn't have a lot of extra time to be checking out customer accounts and playing the role of collections agent. We are not the power company, and just can't manage the same level of service on the accounting end of things.
Here is what we request from you as we journey into 2014-15 together:
If you are paying in installments (4, or monthly payments), you need to take a little extra effort to know HOW MUCH to pay and WHEN. Conveniently, this information is provided on the payment schedule that you receive via email when you sign up. Don't have one?
PLEASE pay on time. It is a lot of work to chase after payments, and it is not our favourite kind of work, either! Keep your commitments, and if you will be late on a payment, please let us know ahead of time. Can't make a payment?
Post-dated cheques are the easiest way for us to process payments. We incur some fees with Paypal, see this blog post from last year for more info about that.
Log in to your account regularly especially if you are making installment payments or purchasing add ons. Confirm that your invoices are correct and that you are paying as things come due. Click here for more info on how to check your invoices.
Some background of our farm accounting: This year, we worked with our own accounting software-- Quickbooks-- AND our online software-- Harvest Hand, and as some of you may know, it was not the most successful system. With having to double enter everything, it turned into a mess and we were soon in a hole that was hard to get out of. So, we have gotten things mostly squared up again, and entering this new year, we are planning to do things a little differently: This year, we will NOT be entering any member info into Quickbooks, which means we will do our best keep your balances and invoices straight on Harvest Hand. What that means is: You can log on at any time and see if you have money owing. It will only show up after the payment comes due (for example, the invoice for April 1 will show up as due on April 1, not before). We will do our best to make sure that your accounts are correct at all times, but we really need your help keeping on top of your payment schedule.
If you have misplaced your payment schedule, or never got one, please email us and we can let you know what you owe for 2014-15 and when the payments are due. Please do this as soon as possible so we can let you know and so you don't miss a payment. Alternately, you can use this handy spreadsheet to calculate your share price and double check that the amount is correct.
How to check your invoices and make a payment:
Log in to your TapRoot Farms account anywhere on our website.
Then click "Make Payment"
Notice in the top right, it tells you what is owing. (This particular customer is delinquent and owes nearly $2000!)
We are happy to work out a payment schedule that works for you. If something comes up and you are not able to make a payment, just let us know and we can work together to sort out a payment schedule. It is very important that we know about these sorts of issues as soon as possible, ahead of when the payment is due whenever possible!
Thank you so much for taking a little extra effort with your accounting this year! Know your payment schedule well before things get going, help us run the CSA as efficiently as possible, and keep admin costs down. :)
Did you know that 2014 is the International Year of the Family Farm? April 25th, 26th and 27th will find us celebrating our farming heritage at the annual Saltscapes Magazine Expo. As many of you know, our beloved Patricia is Andrew Bishop's eldest daughter from Noggins Corner Farm. With her and Josh behind the helm of TapRoot, the connection between the two farms runs deep in many ways.
And now we need your help!
We need a tag line or slogan that represents the family and farming connection between TapRoot and Noggins. We will use it at our shared booth at Saltscapes and perhaps beyond! Think of something catchy and concise that showcases the pride that we all have in being from the land that nourishes the great food we eat.
Please post your ideas on our facebook page-- Thanks for your creativity and see you at the Expo!