The farm's Community-Supported Agriculture members have a choice between shopping for items at our farm stands or picking up a collection of produce that we select each week. Normally, Jen packs the CSA totes each Wednesday while I help finish the harvest for it. She's on vacation this week though, so Ted packed boxes and I did the deliveries. In previous years I've delivered more often for various reasons, but this might be my only chance this season to share how it's done... so get out your CSA geek glasses and let's dive in to the nuts and bolts!
A couple dozen members start coming right to the farm stand to pick up their shares after noon-- they make their way around empty totes and boxes still being packed to find their name on a strip of red tape affixed to one of the containers. They empty the contents into a box or bag they've brought and leave us the tote for next week. Sometimes I'm in there sorting tomatoes at the end of the day and get to say hello, smile at the kids that come with their parents and start gobbling the strawberries right away. Other times I only notice an extra car or two along the street every once and a while, and by the end of the day set out the remaining few totes for people to pick up after hours. It feels simple and clean.
The other fifty members (not including the sixty-ish people that come to shop at the markets) pick up their shares at other locations around town. Michael or I drop off twelve totes at the Springfield Parks and Recreation (Willamalane) building several miles away, leaving once the youth crew is done for the day and the afternoon feels like it's settling in. The main delivery heads off in the big old Ford flatbed, bound for Eugene with boxes of food for the food bank alongside all those CSA totes.
First stop is a house near downtown that has a stellar shelf along its northern, shady wall. About twenty boxes end up there, carried in stacks of twos, threes, and fours depending on the type of box (family or small share) and how heavy the produce is each week.
Next used to be Ted's house in southwest Eugene, but since he moved across town the next-door neighbor has allowed us to drop shares in her (again, importantly, shady) carport. There go another ten.
And last, ten people come to the FOOD for Lane County warehouse in west Eugene to pick up along the east loading dock. It's always fun to peak in the boxes along the way and be dazzled by the smells and colors that hide so plainly under those dull, anonymous lids. Some CSA customers say it's like Christmas every week, to be surprised by what's inside their box. Others say they wish there was an easy to leave some things behind (beets? cabbage? tomatillos?) that they'll never use. We say, give it away! Share it with friends!
For the real CSA geeks out there: The empty (and unclaimed, sometimes) totes sit overnight at the drop sites. I pick them up from the food bank when I get the truck for market on Thursdays, Ted grabs the rest from the other two Eugene sites, and whoever's delivering to 100 Mile Bakery in Springfield goes to fetch the leftovers at the Willamalane building after market is set up. Produce that's left in the boxes either gets picked up late by the member, or we integrate into the farm stand display, or it goes in a box for the food bank. All the empty totes end up in a shed back at the farm and we spray them out the following Tuesday, in time to dry for another Wednesday packing.
This was Week 13 of our 20-week main season CSA program. Seven more to go, then five extra weeks with a somewhat different batch of members for our Late Fall share. We're gettin' there.