Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Can Take Constructive Criticism

I remember a day when I was in the second grade. My reading teacher elected not to assign us homework (unusual for her) and I was sure that I had made a mistake. When my dad came to pick me up I insisted we visit her room and collect the assignment I'd missed.

She laughed at me. She called me a worry-wort. I'd say her assessment was spot on. forward a couple decades, plus a wee bit, and fretting is still one of my major past times.

What am I worried about now?

The CSA, of course.

Week 16 of the 2011 Season
We're done growing for the 2011 season and now is the time to review our performance. The member surveys are rolling in and they are refreshingly candid, which I honestly appreciate, but my thin skin is definitely showing as I read some of them.

Here is what I tell myself before I dive into the more critical assessments:

1. I know that no CSA season is ever going to be perfect.
2. Regardless of how much we prepared ourselves (College, Internships, Getting to know our land for a few seasons) I knew there would be a big learning curve when we began growing on a larger scale.
3. CSA farming is community farming. Part of our job is to find members that fit well in our CSA community. I know we'll have a few years of relatively high turnover as we find those people that want to support the work we are doing. It takes time.
4. We asked for feedback so that we could find out how to make our business better. A better CSA will be the end result.
5. Finally, and thrillingly, most of the feedback has been positive. We already have many members who are excited to support us as our farm grows.

Most of the criticisms focused on areas that we knew were a problem (we really didn't plant enough big slicer tomatoes this year...especially considering it was one of the only seasons we may ever see here with weather that was perfect for them!) and we already have many changes in mind for next season.

More details about the changes are soon to come, but I'll say now they include a swap table to allow members to leave veggies they don't want and pick up other discards and an additional pick-up location in the Keweenaw.

I've said it before, but it still holds true. The hardest thing for me about farm life is waiting an entire year before I can start again. There is so much to do better next year, and I want to stop fretting over it and start getting it done.


  1. My family was not a member of the CSA this year (we have big-gardening aspirations of our own,) but I admire the work you guys do. I only dream about my wife and I running our little backyard 'farm' full-time.

    You three are living the dream. Keep it up. :)

  2. Any ideas where you might do a Keweenaw drop off point?

  3. Yes we do! The plan is to do the Tori on Wednesdays and the Lake Linden market on Saturdays. We need to work out all the details still but it looks pretty likely that that will be okay with all concerned parties.

    And thanks for your kind words Jason!

  4. Hi Andrea!
    I am writing from the Marquette Food Co-op in Marquette. We publish a farm directory every year of U.P. farmers and CSA's. We would love to include your farm. Check out our current edition: Contact me at if you are interested.
    Thanks! Kelly Cantway