2017 was a really great year at Westward Orchards, and we give a lot of credit to you, our members for making it happen! We are grateful for your support last season and for the response to our member survey. We heard from 91 members – a great response! We appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback and thoughts! We wanted to take a moment to share what we learned and what we are doing and can do for 2018.
Did you like the additional CSA options this season? ie: freedom share, fruit only share, eggs, meat/poultry share
Many of you were really excited about the additions to our CSA offerings last year! We were too! The most popular were the fresh eggs, meat share, and Freedom Share. Overall our consensus was that the additions were a positive, and we’re happy to continue offering them all again this season!
How did you feel about your CSA share with WO?
There was an outstanding response that many of our members were really happy with their share this past season.
Some first year members expressed that their share might not have been a perfect fit for them and their families. We would love to help you figure out a better share selection for this coming season. Send us an email, and tell us a little more about the number of people you have in your family and your eating habits. We can make recommendations based on that information!
A few members mentioned in their comments, some items appeared fine on the outside, but weren’t on the inside. While we would love to have X-ray vision, (wouldn’t that be amazing!!!) we are always happy to offer a replacement for any item(s) that aren’t up to quality standards.
We did get some feedback that some members wished they’d had more variety. Comments referenced they wished to have more vegetables and berries. Or more of some items vs. more variety. We did plant an appropriate amount of veggies to balance out our shares for 2017. But due to the very wet spring, some of our transplants didn’t survive being water logged in our fields, which affected our yield. We did the best we could do with what made it through. But some vegetables cannot be direct seeded, and have to be started by transplant. We work with a gentleman in Westward Mass that starts our seeds for us in his greenhouses, and always plan for excess. But unfortunately we lost our excess and then some this past season.
Many of you understand we are first and foremost an orchard. That being said, in 2015 we began to scale back our orchards to diversify and appropriate field space to meet the desire for more vegetables. We have to do this in small amounts each year to ensure our economic viability as a farm. We took more trees down this winter, and are once again expanding our vegetable production. We are adding in more direct seed vegetables, and an additional late season transplant order. We will also add in some vegetables that offer shorter days to harvest, to help fulfill the desire for more vegetables in your shares.
Our blueberries were hit with hail on June 24, 2017 and because they were still maturing, we didn’t know what would happen in terms of yield. Many were left dingged and bruised, and didn’t allow for the yield we would have needed for shares. Our strawberries were new to us last season and due to the wet spring, the transplants needing to establish themselves, we sadly didn’t have the yield we had hoped for. We are excited to be adding more berries to the farm this spring and hope to have them make an appearance in our shares a few times. And we are REALLY hoping for no hail!!
This coming season we are asking members to pick a 2 day window for share pick up. Wednesday/Thursday or Friday/Saturday. We will still be offering the flexibility that everyone values, but just not so broad. This will allow us to offer the variety being requested, without having to meet higher yield requirements at one time for everything we are offering. The two pick up options will mostly contain similar produce, but might have some items that are different. This will also be a benefit to those members that typically pick up at the end of the week, as your share will be prepared on Thursday evening.
How often did you use your member discount – 15% off additional Westward produce?
We are happy to hear nearly all of you used your 15% member discount throughout the season! This will be returning for 2018!
What is your favorite part of the WO CSA Program?
We absolutely LOVED hearing what you enjoy the most about the CSA program. Answers ranged anywhere from variety, assortment of fruit, flexibility in pick up, the element of surprise every week, freshness of produce, and being able to try new things that maybe would have been passed over otherwise.
Overwhelmingly, the number of comments in regards to being part of a community, visiting us every week, and supporting our family farm were mentioned many times over. We want you to know the feelings are mutual. We can’t thank all of you enough for the support you give us, and want you to know how grateful we are to have you as our members, part of our community, and fierce supporters of local agriculture.
What items in your share could you do without?
We would love to hit the nail on the head for everyone each week. While some of you mention not liking certain items, others will say that they love them. Unfortunately we can not customize each share based on personal preferences. What we can do is offer a donation box for items that will go unused in your home. We make a point to donate to the Farm to Friend program and Loaves & Fishes throughout the season. If there is something you would rather not take home with you, please feel free to pass it off to a WO staff member to be donated.
Thank you again for making our CSA program a success! It plays a vital role in our viability as a farm, and we can’t do it without you! We look forward to another great season ahead!