Earlier this month we started our first deliveries for our Community Supported Agriculture project from our 22 acre property, ‘Near River’, in the Hastings Valley on the Mid North Coast of Australia’s eastern seaboard.
I need to say that it has been a very anxious time!
Not too dissimilar to being expectant parents, but in this instance people had put their trust in us, and parted with money, and now we had to deliver what we promised – fresh, wholesome and nutritious vegetables to their door each week.
So many questions and variables came up; would the produce still be fresh and un-wilted by the time we delivered the boxes to our Sydney clients 12 – 24 hours later? Would the handful of hares and wallabies that have yet to discover our crops suddenly realize what they are passing up? Would our customers perceive the amount in each week’s box to be of value to them? And why are the chooks going broody so often and messing with the egg laying schedule we’d been expecting?
The first Thursday in December arrived, and the harvest began. Up early with the sun to pick the leafy greens first – rocket, baby beetroot leaves, and stands of silverbeet and rainbow chard; rinse, and bunch them and then into the fridge to remove the field heat. Then some onions and leeks, move through the zucchini beds,and lastly some beetroot. Later in the day, the herbs and flowers were picked, and similarly, they were washed and packed before storage in the fridge too.
The night before had been filled with activity, taping boxes into shape, stamping our logo on each side, placing a clean sheet of butchers paper in the base, and then the sourcing of recipes and other material to include in the first of our fortnightly newsletters.
And along the way, take a few photos to share here on the blog!
And the response has been most favourable. It seems we’ll become known for our extra tasty beetroot, and a few clients have suggested that we need a warning label on our extra zesty rocket. The recipes have gone over a treat, and the hares and wallabies are still happy with their grasses and weeds. The situation with wilting silverbeet will be addressed in the New Year with the purchase of a small refrigerated van, and an additional flock of chickens is due to arrive in the next couple of weeks.
But it’s not all plain sailing by any means – will the weather stay relatively cool and moist for this time of the year? Will a seasonal hailstorm set us back a few weeks by wiping out the lettuce and other soft leaf veggies out in the open garden? Will the schedule we are using (‘imported’ from the US) work here in Australia?
So yes, it’s a huge learning curve. Are we enjoying it? You bet. Is it fun and exciting? Oh yeah. Do we want to shut up ‘shop’ and head back to the ‘rat race’? I DON”T THINK SO!