Monday, September 23, 2013

Off-Farm Products Available at Henry Got Crops!

Since the beginning of the Henry Got Crops, five years ago, I’ve received countless feedback from shareholders, students and farm stand customers that they are interested in more items besides vegetables, and fruit has been one of the most sought after items. Over the past few years we have tried various approaches to respond to these requests, based on our capacity as a farm. First we started selling honey from the bee keepers that kept hives on our farm. Then we partnered with Yellow Springs Farm as a drop off point for their goat cheese CSA. Then we advertised the meat share that Saul high school offers in the winter.  Then we planted our own orchard! Then we partnered with Highland Orchards as a drop off point for their fruit CSA (since our orchard won’t produce for a few years).  Then we offered “Standing Orders” from Weavers Way Co-op, which included bread, eggs, yogurt, rice, coffee and pickles. Now we are trying yet another approach!
We will be offering local, in season, sustainably grown fruit that is available at the Weavers Way stores at our farm stand to be available for purchase by CSA shareholders and farm stand customers.  The purpose of this move is multiple: 1. To respond to frequent fruit request with a healthy, local option when a customer doesn’t want to commit to (or might not know about) the fruit CSA from Highland Orchards; 2. To generate additional income for the farm “department.”  3. To highlight trusted, popular items available at Weavers Way Co-op, our umbrella organization. 
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a painfully slow decision maker and I think through changes that affect this farm with grueling thoroughness.  I have had some really insightful, helpful conversations with coworkers and shareholders about the pros and cons of expanding the availability of off-farm items at our location. Like most farmers, my philosophies are ingrained in the work that I do, and this requires a constant checking-in with the pushes and pulls of an evolving farm. This farm is many things to many different groups- it is an outdoor class room for the students at Saul; it is a source of healthy food for shareholders, it is a department of Weavers Way Co-op which, in addition to the expectations just listed, is also expected to be financially sustainable.
When I think about Henry Got Crops down the road, I wonder if a small “store” is in the picture for our little white building; one that has vegetables from just outside the front door, meat from the neighboring pasture, and a few carefully selected “staples” from trusted sources such as bread, cheese and eggs. I would also love to see healthy after school snacks available for students. I would love to see some of the food that is grown/raised here at Saul go into the cafeteria for the students (more on the reality of this idea in next week’s newsletter!).  You can see how quickly I go from the small step of selling local peaches at our farm stand to brainstorming a 10 year development plan for the whole farm and school!
So getting back to the point of this article…please enjoy the apples and peaches! Last week on Friday they were from Beechwood Orchards ( We will always display the source of where the new items are coming from, and the growing practices they use. (Beechwood uses Integrated Pest Management (I.P.M.), which is an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. Click on IPM Info to find out more). Beechwood is a family run orchard that has been in operation in Adams County for over a century. They sell at farmers markets in the City and have been one of the primary fruit providers for Weavers Way Co-op for many years.  I’m open to your feedback and am happy to speak with any of you about these new items and talk about the farms they are coming from, and their growing practices if you have any questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment