CSA Member Gathering and Field Walk - April 8th, 2017
What a lovely afternoon at the farm!
Patricia & Justine provided a tasty lunch of soups prepared with ingredients from the Farm, plus bread from Boulangerie la Vendeene, and Taproots own apple cider mmmmmm.
We gathered around the living room at the new property next door to the farm on Canard st. It's a beautiful home with a toasty wood-burning fireplace and open kitchen. Josh & Patricia took our questions about what it's really like running the farm, and many interesting conversations ensued.
They explained the requirements for Organic Certification; that there is in annual certification cost PLUS a lot of record keeping that requires significant time and resources.
Did you know that it takes 3 years of using organic approved practices before the land & products can be certified organic?
And they must use a list of approved products for all farming supplies, right down to containers & hand soap!?
It's quite a commitment to follow organic practices - Josh & Patricia believe firmly in the environmental, ethical, and sustainable reasons to do so. I am ever so grateful to support a farm & family that are committed to doing it the right way.
(Plus the perks of receiving weekly boxes of tasty, farm-fresh, nutritious food!!)
We also chatted about the changes they have gone through since they started, the upcoming CSA season, feedback form us members, and upcoming events. (Check out the EVENTS
link for the great line-up they have planned for this year - including Taproot Days Friday, August 4th-7th
I wasn't able to stay for the field walk, but I did manage to see the work they've done on the packaging warehouse since I last visited in March - it looks great! They've done a lot of work cleaning, fixing it up and painting. Patricia filled us on in some of their plans to improve the space for efficiency and reduce waste, based on some learnings from reading & workshops her and Josh have recently done.
Some of my major take-aways from this visit:
- They are always working on improvements
- Patricia & Josh really appreciate members input & feedback
- Taproot CSA members are lovely people and make great company!
I'm really excited to spend more time at the farm, and am incredibly excited to connect with other members at all of the events they are planning for this year. I've been dreaming about how fantastic the new shared space at 441 Canard would be for cooking classes and good ol' fashioned Kitchen Parties!
What cooking skills/recipes do you want to learn?
Would you come out to a kitchen party at the farm?
Would you join in on a jam session?
Would you like to hear a performer? Which performers would you love to hear?
Dawn's day at the Farm:
This week I had the pleasure of visiting the farm & staff of Taproots for a day.
I've been a member since 2014, and this was my first visit other than planned members events.
As members, we are welcome to visit the farm at any time.
I walked around the farm, worked with the staff, enjoyed the fresh air, and got to visit the pigs! One of my favourite moments was watching the pigs rub up against their scratching rocks.
The pigs on their way to the scratching rock
I had the pleasure of meeting some of the many staff that make everything happen. Previously I'd really only met Patricia, Josh, Justine, and the many lovely delivery drivers who bring us our boxes each week. It was great to meet some of the people working behind the scenes who make things happen.
There is a "new addition" to the farm that I got to check out!
A kind soul purchased the home & property next to the farmland on Cunard St and has allowed the staff full access to the property. It is a beautiful victorian style home full of character. There is a great open kitchen where I was able to bake some fresh sourdough bread to spoil & thank the staff. My brain is percolating with all of the potential this space has to offer - particularly for member events!!!!
The house at 441 Canard
Fresh sourdough bread and treats for lunch
Working is absolutely not a requirement when you visit the farm.
I was willing & able to lend a helping hand during my short visit, so Kim set me up in the building where they pack shares and I worked alongside Garfield & Michael. They were immensely friendly & kind - especially considering my lack of farm experience!! I helped clean a bit of the packing area as they prep the space to be painted & renovated - I'm excited to return after it's all done to see the difference.
Tim and Steve harvesting the greens for this weeks share
Patricia made some time to have a really great conversation. I am ever so grateful because as an owner & worker she has a thousand things pulling her in a thousand directions every day - not to mention being a mom with 3 kids on march break! She is also a really great person to talk to; she listens intently, focuses on solutions, is incredibly heart-centered, and is brimming with ideas.
We discussed how members can support the farm (more on that in a future blog post), some great opportunities for members events (think Kitchen parties, BBQs, Meals, Open Farm Day - stay tuned for more very exciting info coming soon) and some other really though stuff (see below).
I am so immensely grateful for my day at the farm.
I would highly recommend visiting the farm, or joining in on the scheduled Field Walks as often as you can - it's such an awesome experience! My partner & I were able to attend two Field Walks last year, and we are eager for this year's dates to be announced so we can add them to our calendars.
What's a Field Walk you ask?
The tunnels without the plastic
Basil stalks left from last year
Patricia, Josh & other team members will walk you through a tour of the farm.
It's incredible to see the farm in full swing, learn about how things are done, ask questions, see the differences between varying months & seasons, and connect with Josh, Patricia, the staff, and other CSA members.
Come on out to the next Field Walk - they will be announcing dates soon.
Bring your family & friends along!
See where your food comes from!
Walk the beautiful landscape!
Make a day of it!
Conversations with Patricia:
You see, I'm a member from the Prospect Area and I receive my deliveries on Saturdays.
We just received a message at the beginning of March that the farm has decided to discontinue Saturday deliveries.
I was heartbroken with the news because none of the other locations suit my schedule. The team has offered to refund us 100% of our remaining shares, but I was hoping to chat options during my planned visit.
Patricia & the team did not make the decision lightly - I can hear & feel the struggle in her voice as we discuss it. They considered other options such as delivering on a different day, doing a drop-off, discussing other options with members, and so much more.
When it comes down to it, they had to make an incredibly tough call - and I support them fully in their decision.
Right now Saturday deliveries simply don't work - There are so many factors involved.
They never planned on doing weekend deliveries - they actually consciously decided against it when they started.
They intentionally wanted to dedicate weekends to their family.
As business owners, they never really stop working, but they wanted to devote Saturdays & Sundays to being available for their children & extended family.
They did not want to take any business away from any of the markets that operate on weekends.
They very hesitantly agreed to start Saturday deliveries with much persuasion from a staff member. The particular staff member that took ownership of the process, along with his other duties, has since left the organization. Since then, they have tried to make it work, but it simply takes away from other aspects of the farm that require attention, and takes away time from their family.
They usually consult with members before making any important decisions that affect us as members. In the past they have had negative feedback about how frustrating or confusing it can be, and the message they heard was that the vast majority of people simply don't want to be included in the process - they just want to be informed when a clear concise decision has been made. So that's what the team did.
Right now, these locations, and Saturday deliveries Just Don't Work;
for them, their family, the business, or their staff.
They are so incredibly apologetic that the decision was made after the season started. As business owners they have to constantly evaluate their activities and make really tough decisions - decisions that affect their family, their livelihood, and the livelihood of their staff, decisions that are imperfect, challenging, and unfortunately don't work for everyone.
I'm still figuring out if & how I can continue my membership. I understand if you are frustrated, saddened, disappointed or upset. Please trust me when I say this was a really hard decision for them, but I honestly think they are doing the right thing.
If you are still struggling with their decision after reading this, please reach out to voice your concerns and to gain a deeper understanding of their choice. There is so much more to it than I have explained above.
Taproot Farms CSA member since 2014