Week 20 is here!
What a long season this has been for us. And, at the same time, one of the shortest. WAAAY back in the spring we were surprised with unusually late snow that delayed our start. Thinking back that seems like eons ago. This fall on the other hand has been fairly cool and we have already had our first snow. Perhaps that is why it feels so long. A late spring is aggravating on our nerves and so is an early fall. The drama of it all can be exhausting. I guess that is why people move to San Diego where the weather is always "perfect".
But the season has been long in other ways as well. When I think back on those early days of seeding in the greenhouse I realize that many of our management systems were still being worked out. One of our goals this year was specifically to tighten up our management and systems so we would not have to work so hard. Work smarter, not harder. And we certainly have made some significant progress on that front. The various check-sheets and record keeping sheets and task tickets we were experimenting with in the early spring have all been replaced by a much simpler and cleaner set of processes. At some point in the spring we invested in some education and learned many systems for some really excellent farmers. Over the rest of the season we were able to implement many of those systems and management strategies making everything move a lot more smoothly.
For instance, last season we had no extra help and it took everything we had just to get our CSA out the door each week. Weeds were bigger, things got neglected and we just squeaked though the season. This year, we took on help specifically so that Joel could improve our management (work ON the business instead of IN the business). When our help left in late August, we were able to send out significantly more product then last year with far less stress and exhaustion. And it is not just getting product out the door. All the other details that the customer rarely sees (like weeds) have been better kept up with as well.
We still have lots of improving and growing to do as a business, but it is encouraging to note that where we are now is a big step beyond where we were this spring. Being tired and ready for a break isn't so bad when you can look back and see that you have made a lot of progress.
But let's not forget. Producing high quality and nutrient dense food is only half of the puzzle. A farm business is nothing if it doesn't have customers. We can hardly express how thankfull we are for our CSA members who pledged support before there were any vegetables in sight and stuck with us through the swings of the season. Marketing your business is a big chore and one that we are not very good at. Having committed customers has been really vital for us and allowed us to use our time to devolop the inner workings of producing high quality food for you. So thank YOU for supporting us and sticking with us. Without you buying shares and telling your friends about us we could not do it.
Thank you everyone. We hope to see you throughout the winter and again next spring!
The ATF Crew