Casey chisel plowed a cover cropped field on the spring equinox
My oh my … friends, it has been so long since I updated our community in this format! I have mostly stuck to quick Instagram and Facebook posts, as our with break has been very full with beautiful in-person celebrations, gatherings, and work — all of which we especially treasure now.
Now we are in a new season (in so many ways!). Spring began this week, and the CSA begins soon — on April 2!
As we prepare, I want to share an important update on how we’re going to operate the CSA during this season of “social distancing” because of Cv-19. We are strong supporters of healthy distancing right now as a critical way to slow the spread of this disease and make sure that our health care system isn’t overloaded. The kids and I (Katie) aren’t leaving the farm at all, and Casey is limiting his trips to town and shifting as many meetings as possible to phone. We strongly encourage others to do the same.
However, supporting social distancing has been a jarring about-face from our foundational values in life. Prior to this pandemic, we had intentionally prioritized in-person community-building in every aspect of our life, including CSA pick-up, which is a weekly event that brings friends together in our sweet downtown storefront.
But to keep you safe, we needed to rethink HOW we do pick-up — at least temporarily. We wanted to retain as much of the experience as possible, especially the aspect of choice and the routine (day/time/location), but we wanted to limit the interactions until it is safe for us to share spaces again (I am SO looking forward to that day!).
Here is our plan for how each CSA week will work:
- Monday night or early Tuesday of each week, we will email you the CSA newsletter, which will end with an online availability list/order form
- By the end of Tuesday, you’ll decide on your order and fill out the form (this is new homework for you — we need you to do this)
- Wednesday, we’ll harvest for you
- Thursday, we’ll meet you at the CSA storefront during our usual hours (3-6 pm) where we will pack people’s shares into new, unused paper bags and deliver to cars (or bikes) as they pull up front — drive thru veggies! Woo hoo!
We will take precautions around cleanliness at every step — including hand washing, sanitizing bins, and cleaning surfaces. No one besides us will come and go from the door during the pick-up.
To keep things very clean, we will have a drop off box for payments, and we will only be doing prepaid CSA and “a la carte” sales. (If you haven’t sent us your first payment yet, you can bring it with you to put in the box at the first pick-up. We can accept checks or cash in an envelope labeled with your name. We also have set up PayPal for online payments — you can use any credit card to do this.)
For you to practice this new “ordering ahead of time” procedure, below is a SAMPLE form for you to fill out. I repeat: THIS IS JUST A SAMPLE and does not represent a real CSA share (although it’s representative of the season)! But please try it out so that you can check in with me with questions, and so that I can make sure it works on my end.
It should be fairly self-explanatory — you provide basic contact info, followed by an estimate of when you’ll arrive at pick-up to get your prepacked vegetables. We’ll be doing the packing on site, so we’ll prioritize filling the early arrival orders first.
Next you choose your items for the week! You will need to remember how many items you signed up for (and select that many items), or mark if you have an “a la carte” share and we will deduct the number of items from your account. Check in with me if you need a reminder of how many items you’ve signed up for!
Here’s the SAMPLE form for you to try:
How’d that trial go? I’m crossing my fingers that this works well for everyone! Thank you in advance for making the time to place orders each week.
If you have any questions, please contact me. My phone number is 503-474-7661 or you can email farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com.
I want to reiterate that, in our minds, this is a temporary innovation for our CSA. We look forward to the day when we can truly host you in the cozy storefront again and you can linger in conversation outside on the bench while you eat your strawberries. Friends, we cherish the social, community-building aspect of our farm, and it breaks our hearts to miss it now. But, because of our care for the community, we are putting safety first, and we think this plan will be an effective way to keep us connected (and keep you fed!) during these exceptionally challenging times.
Please let me know if you have any concerns, questions or ideas as we approach the beginning of the CSA. Also, new members at this point will not start until summer but you’re welcome to approach us about signing up now for later. However existing members are welcome to adjust their share size if desired (for example, you may want to receive more items each week if you are not eating out like you used to).
From our perspective, our work as farmers is more important than ever as we face this unprecedented disruption in existing economic and social systems. We have so many emotions every hour of the day right now as we respond to the ever-changing unfolding of this health crisis. So many moments in our days feel extremely normal — the kids and me playing games at the picnic table outside in the sun, Casey chisel plowing the field, sharing dinner as a family … but these daily moments are now supercharged with gratitude and appreciation as we realize more than ever before the unpredictability of life. And, then there are other moments that suck us out of the present and remind us of the great losses all around us: the social distancing that keeps away from friends and family and organizations/activities we love (choir for me!), the economic challenges for individuals and businesses alike, and the palpable fear for what is coming. My emotions have see-sawed from one extreme to the other, with many tears along the way.
More than ever, I’d love to welcome you back to the season with long chats. But, not yet. For the first part of the season at least, we will offer our care through the safety of distance and through excellent fresh seasonal vegetables. May they nourish your body and soul as we all walk through these challenging times together.
Watch your emails (and our Facebook page) for the first newsletter of the year and order form. Until then … stay well.
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla