vegetable share FAQ
What happens to my produce if I go on vacation?
We’ve factored that in! Since most families are away at least once during the Summer season, we’re actually only charging for 16 weeks over a 17-week time period. Simple let us know at least a week in advance that you’ll be away, and we won’t pack a box for you that week.
If you’ll be away for more than 1 week: you’ll receive an extra box at the end of the season (or, a double portion another week, if you wish) to make up for the extra week you were away. Or, send a friend to pick up your Share the week you’re away.
What happens if I FORGET to pick up my box?
All boxes of produce (and Flower bouquets) must be picked up from the pickup location within the allotted hours (at the farm) or by 9pm on the day of delivery (in town). If a box is forgotten or if we don’t receive advance notice that it can’t be picked up, it is forfeited; we cannot offer refunds or replacements. It will be donated to another family or a food bank or processed on the farm.
How much food is in a box?
We’re offering a smaller box this year, which is pre-packed, so that there’s not too much food for smaller households. This way, everyone can have more flexibility with what produce they add to this core box to suit the needs of their household.
This pre-packed box will contain enough salad greens, bunched greens and additional items (such as tomatoes) for about 2 people. There will be 5 – 6 items in the box, and a full range of additional produce to select from.
If I’m growing produce in my garden, will there be overlap with what I receive in the Vegetable Share?
We’ve specifically designed the Vegetable Share box as a small box of produce so that you can choose additional items that you’re NOT growing in your own garden. In this way, a Vegetable Share can integrate very well with our Seedling Share option. Grow some of your own, and fill in the gaps with what we’re producing on the farm.
What kinds of vegetables can I expect to receive?
Expect to find a variety of in-season foods each week! Here's what we’ll pack each week (with slight variations, depending on the season):
- 1 - 2 types of salad greens, such as spinach, baby lettuce mix, head lettuce, arugula, etc
- tomatoes in the summer / asparagus in the spring
- a root vegetable, such as carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, radishes, salad turnips, etc
- a type of cooking green, such as Swiss chard, kale, bok choy, etc
- 1 - 2 items from the "onion family", such as onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions
- a fresh herb, such as cilantro, dill, basil, parsley, etc
There will be so much more produce available, to add on to this core box (especially in the summer). Beans, peas, melons, sweet corn, peppers, and so much more.
In general, there are more greens in the spring, more tender fruiting crops in the summer (tomatoes, cucumbers, beans), and lots of roots and storage vegetables in the fall.
Check out this chart for a more complete look at what to expect through the season.
What are the exact dates for picking up produce each season?
We’ll establish the start date closer to the beginning of the harvest season. The tentative start date for the Spring shares is the 1st week of May (running ‘til the 2nd week of June), and the tentative start date for the Summer shares is the 4th weekend of June (running ‘til the 1st / 2nd weekend of October, depending on whether you take a vacation week in the Summer).
Is your produce certified organic?
Though we use exclusively organic and beyond-organic practices, our produce is not currently certified organic. A few of the reasons:
- We sell all of our produce directly to our customers / members, which means that our produce doesn’t need the labelling that would be necessary if it was being wholesaled and handled by middlemen
- We are very transparent with our customers about our growing methods, and invite conversations about it as well as the opportunity to see our production for yourselves.
- Being a small farm, we’ve chosen to not take on the additional burdens of expense and paperwork involved with the certification
- We feel that the organic term / label has been compromised by certain “industrial organic" practices, such as growing vegetables in water instead of soil, lack of soil-building practices, use of “organic-approved pesticides" (that are still harmful), allowing the use of compost materials from animals eating GMO feeds that are treated with pesticides, etc. We use very different farming practices than these. We never use pesticides, fungicides or herbicides of any sort.
- We feel that there’s a higher standard beyond “organic", and though it’s not officially recognized, we are raising the bar by aiming to grow food with higher levels of nutrition; healthier plants that don’t require the use of pesticides or other emergency measures; creating a healthy soil food web that will fully nourish plants and suppress disease; growing plants with richer flavours; etc.
The integrity of what we produce is of utmost importance to us, and we go the extra mile (or ten) to ensure that we grow crops of high quality.
Why do you bring in some produce from other farms? What is the quality of this produce?
As much as we’d love to produce every single crop here, we’ve found that it’s not feasible for a few reasons:
- We have a limited amount of land to work with, and simply run out of space! Therefore, we’ve chosen to outsource most of the crops that take up the most space, such as squashes, melons, sweet corn and potatoes. We grow some of them here, and then, instead of having only enough to offer a couple times in the season, we bring in more from the other farmers (since we all want more succulent melons and sweet corn!)
- Certain crops are not efficient to produce at our scale, so we’ve chosen to outsource these crops to farmers who have the proper equipment for those crops (e.g. sweet potatoes, potatoes). Since they can harvest them efficiently, it keeps the cost to the consumer at a reasonable level.
- It’s a much more efficient use of our time and resources to focus on relatively fewer crops (having said that, we still grow dozens of different crops!).
We’ve thoroughly vetted the farms whose crops we buy, and have chosen to work with those who use similar organic AND biological practices that we use here.
What does “beyond-organic” mean?
It’s a term that hasn’t been officially defined, but basically encompasses the growing practices that relate to increasing the biology (microbes) in the soil, regenerating the soil as we grow crops, increasing plant health (as measured by the brix of the plant sap, and striving to increase levels of sugars, minerals, proteins, essential fats and oils, antioxidants, etc, etc in the plants): growing crops with nutritional integrity and vitality and greater flavour, instead of just avoiding the use of chemicals.
Where is your produce available?
Our produce is available in a few places:
- Through our Vegetable Share program, with pickup at the farm, in London, St. Thomas, and Kilworth
- At the on-farm market on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning
Does membership in the CSA program have any other benefits besides the weekly produce and flowers?
Yes! As a member of our CSA program, you'll receive an exclusive newsletter through the season with recipes, cooking tips, easy food preservation tips, etc. You'll also have preferred access to surplus crops for freezing and canning, and other farm products that are not available to others.
What does it mean to "share in the risk and reward of a farm's production"?
This means different things on different farms.
On this farm, "sharing in the risk" means that there may be a shorter-than-expected supply of a crop if it's been affected by adverse weather conditions or pest pressure. This is usually a temporary situation. For example, last year we were out of spinach for a couple weeks, after a heavy storm flattened a tall crop onto the rows of spinach beside it. We grow a wide variety of crops here, so that if there's a shortage of an expected crop, there are other crops to fill the temporary gap.
"Sharing in the reward" from your CSA farm has two meanings here:
- First, you get to eat the freshest, most delicious produce that we can grow for you. Most members comment on how much better they feel when they start eating our super-fresh, organically-grown produce. So, the reward is double: great flavour, and we strive to produce health-supporting foods!
- Second, if we have a surplus of a crop, we make it available to CSA members first. This may be tomatoes for freezing or canning, spinach to freeze, herbs to dry for winter, sweet potatoes to store, etc.
What if I don't like a certain vegetable? Will I have to deal with it anyways?
There are two parts to this answer.
- We'd encourage you to try all of our produce at least once, because the flavour of a vegetable is HUGELY impacted by how it's grown and by how fresh it is. As you may know, there is a world of difference between our garden-fresh spinach or heirloom tomatoes (or any other crop), compared to what has been imported from thousands of miles away or grown hydroponically.
- If you really do have a distaste for something (or an allergy), let us know, and we'll do our best to keep that vegetable out of your box. (That's why we ask about this on the registration form.) Take a peek in your box when you pick it up, and if there's something there that you won't use, swap it for something that you will use.
Will participating in the CSA / Vegetable Share program be a replacement for going to the grocery store?
No. Maybe. Possibly yes!
It all depends on the produce you choose to eat on a weekly basis! We don't produce everything. There are crops we'd like to grow in the future (like mushrooms) that we don't have currently. And there are things that we wish we could produce, but can't grow in our climate (like citrus fruits, avocadoes, etc). So, there are likely things that most families would still choose to purchase from the grocery store.
Having said that, we hope to provide the bulk of your produce needs throughout the season. Every family's reliance on the grocery store varies, and depends more on your eating habits and preferences than on what we provide in the Vegetable Share each week.
Can you explain more about CSA?
It stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and is a program whereby consumers buy farm goods directly from farmers they know and trust, and for farmers to supply a local community with food.
Early in the growing season, members pay for a share of the harvest, which provides working capital for the farm to produce food for their members that year.
There are many types of CSA programs based on the types of products that are involved: vegetables, fruit, flowers, meats, dairy, fish, eggs, cheeses, fermented vegetables, etc. Here, we offer CSA programs with vegetables, flowers, and seedlings.
CSA programs are world-wide, but operate on a local level.
- The CSA system began in Japan when a group of mothers (who were alarmed when they found out about the amount of chemicals being used in the production of food and saw the effects on their families) approached some local farmers and contracted with them to grow all of the food that their families required throughout the year. They wanted clean food so badly, and arranged to buy the full diversity of the farm’s production, if the farmers would agree to grow food without the use of chemicals.
Through the years, there have been several evolutions of this concept, but one of the core tenets of CSA programs is that a local farmer is producing food for a group of members who commit to buying a portion of each week's harvest.