Preventing plastic at pick-up

Pretty much unrelated to this week's topic, but this is a pretty photo of our earliest plums blooming right now!

Pretty much unrelated to this week’s topic, but this is a pretty photo of our earliest plums blooming right now!

It came to our attention last week that the McMinnville City Council recently approved a so-called “bag ban.” We were fortunate to have a conversation with one of the bag ban authors and promoters later that same day to learn more about what this means around town and for us at CSA pick-up.

For us farmers, the “ban” will begin in September of this year. The ban only includes the plastic handle bags that people pick up at the start of the CSA table if they have forgotten to bring their own tote bags or bins for produce. We will still be able to portion our vegetables using produce bags in the line itself.

So, we’ll all need to get creative about how to replace those handled grocery bags! I’d love to hear ideas from folks over the next few months about what would be a suitable replacement solution. An obvious answer would be for everyone to procure their own sturdy reusable container: a bin, basket or tote bag.

Tote bag holding library books, sitting in our living room RIGHT NOW!

A well used tote bag holding library books, sitting in our living room RIGHT NOW!

And, if you’re looking for a stellar tote bag, we do have Oakhill Organics “I eat local vegetables” bags for sale at pick-up now! They cost only $10, which is our cost! Why so much, you might ask? (Because one can buy tote bags for much less elsewhere.) Here’s why our bags cost this much: they’re high quality. They’re made out of cotton, right here in the U.S.A. (by a woman-owned company!). The cotton is thick, and the bags can hold a lot. The straps are actually long enough to use comfortably on your shoulder too, which I love.

We have several Oakhill Organics tote bags in our house that we use for everything: buying our own groceries, bringing home books from the library, taking towels to the pool, and more! We still use the bags that we first got over a decade ago — they are that awesome.

So, that’s step #1 of a possible solution: buy a tote bag from us (or procure one elsewhere).

Step #2 is trickier: remembering to bring it with you! How do folks make this work? I’d love to hear from you ideas that I can share with others. I know that, for me, packing my tote bags has just become part of my routine of leaving for the store. But I think it helps that with kids around, leaving the house inherently requires me to pack up a lot of stuff (jackets, snacks, etc.) — the tote bags are just part of it. If I could leave the house with just a wallet and keys on occasion, it might actually be easier for me to forget my bags too. But I also keep a roll up tote bag in my purse all the time, just in case.

But, you know what folks? In our 11+ years of operating our CSA, we know that plenty of folks will still forget. Because we’re all busy and, frankly, we are just so happy that people remember to pick up their vegetables! So, we’d love to have a back-up solution too. And this is where we’d love more ideas as well. Should we buy paper bags? Would it work for people to bring us their own leftover handle bags that folks can use if they want? Let’s get creative together!

This won’t be the first time we’ve seriously pondered the plastic use at pick-up. It’s something that’s always on our mind, and for us, we’ve always tried to balance reducing the use of plastic with offering people hospitality at the pick-up. We want you all to feel cared for and to feel like bringing home your vegetables is easy, which is why at some point we started offering the handle bags. It’s also part of why we portion some items into plastic as well — in our experience, storing vegetables in some kind of plastic is the best way to retain freshness (because the fridge will suck all the moisture out of veggies otherwise, leading to limp carrots and wilted kale!).

To compensate for our use, we’ve always chosen to buy higher quality produce bags, with the idea that people will not see them as single-use tools. In our experience, the produce bags we use can be reused dozens of times before they start to degrade. We hope that you find ways to reuse yours within your home before you finally recycle them.

Also, in case you are not aware, you do not need to use our produce bags at all! If you have cloth bags or your own reused bags, you are welcome to bring them with you to pick up and ask Casey to put veggies in them for you! We have several members who do this every week, and Casey is happy to help people prevent plastic use. You’ll just need to be a little patient, because it takes slightly longer to get veggies this way, but we love doing it.

You can also remove items from the bags and put them directly in your tote without a bag. Just slip our bag back in the bin and Casey will refill it for the next member to come along!

So, to recap: in September we will no longer be offering the plastic handle grocery bags at pick-up and we’ll be thinking of alternatives. We’ll still have produce bags, and you are always welcome not to use them. And we are thankful to the bag ban for another opportunity for all of us to reconsider our plastic consumption and how/where we can trim it down (for us as a business; for all of us as consumers).

In other quick farm news, this week our earliest plums started blooming (see photo above), and we had our annual organic inspection!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Seasonal salad mix
  • Cabbage
  • Purple sprouting broccoli
  • Kale
  • Rapini
  • Marina di Chioggia winter squash — We experimented with our squash this week. We wanted to eat some for dinner but there definitely wasn’t enough time to bake a big old chunk of squash, so Casey removed the seeds, washed and then cubed a slice of squash to roast (note: he did not peel it — we just ate the skin and it was fine!). He roasted it 450° with plenty of butter, stirring occasionally. It was delicious! And ready so soon! We ate roasted cubed squash several more times this week.
  • Beets
  • Sunchokes
  • Potatoes
  • Green garlic — What is “green” garlic? It’s the young fresh garlic plant before it has fully bulbed or started to dry down. When it is still green like this, you can chop it far up into the tender green section and use it all as you might normal garlic. We typically throw it into the pan with the butter before we cook other vegetables. It is amazingly delicious and such a special spring treat.
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One Response to Preventing plastic at pick-up

  1. Jocela Crawford says:

    What if “everyone ” brought a few extra tote bags- I’ve gotten rid of all mine but I bet there are a few laying around in people’s houses. Have a hook/rack/bin and kind of like egg cartons -people grab one to use if you forgot OR bring one back for another person to use next time…

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