Sep 8, 2016

Why Is The Farmers' Market More Expensive?

Tara Stainton of Rattle's Garden copied me when she responded to someone asking about the market value of her FarmShare.  I thought it was worded so well that more people could benefit from reading it.  I've bolded the parts that I wanna AMEN.

I'm going to write you a short answer and then a long answer in case you are still reading.  ;)  Admittedly, I don't buy many vegetables from the grocery store and don't pay much attention to grocery store prices, and I've never shopped at Natural Grocers.  But I would assume that if price is a big concern that you would be happier buying food from the grocery store. That is not meant to be snarky just a really honest answer.  I've found over the years that people who are comparing this program with what they spend in a grocery store don't end up coming back a second season.  I have a hard time comparing the two because you just aren't comparing apples to apples.

That is my short answer.

Now, my long answer, in the event that you don't have a two year old tugging at your pant leg while reading this.  :)

When I say it's not comparing apples to apples, I mean several different things.  Most importantly though, when you go to the grocery store you buy exactly what you want. In the quantity that you want.  In our program you won't know what you are getting until I send out the newsletter at the beginning of the week and you won't know quantities until you get your box because I don't always know the quantity until we harvest the food that morning.  There will be staples you probably will still need to get from the grocery store.  I still buy sweet potatoes.  We eat very seasonally but if you are used to a grocery store you may want tomatoes every week, we won't have them in the fall farmshare.  Right now I would say green beans are going to be a bumper crop this year.  You may get three pounds of green beans one week, like it or not.  You may get five pounds of squash.  (likely)  So, whether this program is of value to you depends on how well your family does at utilizing excess and if you normally would purchase the vegetables listed on the fall plan.

The second thing I mean has to do with organic.  If you are already buying from Natural Grocers I'm going to assume that buying organic is important to you.  Organic is super important to me.  Our farm is certified organic.  With that said, I have learned over the years that our standards are higher than organic.  Many people, mistakenly, assume that organic means pesticide free.  It does not.  Biological pest controls are allowed in organic production as long as they  are derived from a natural source (plants) rather than synthetic.  I feel without a doubt that these pest controls are safer than conventional pesticides but they are still a form of pesticide.  I was really proud this summer of the fact that we did not spray a single pest control on the edible portion of a single vegetable that left the farm.  My children work with me in our fields, we do everything we can to avoid spraying anything.  Organic grocery store vegetables are coming from large organic farms.  Without a doubt, these farms are using every available option in their arsenol to get that crop from their field to the grocery store.  They have to, they are contracted to get that food there.  They cannot afford to lose it.  Our farmshare allows us to connect with customers who appreciate that they can trust how we grow our food.  We are very transparent about our processes.  All of this to me means that our food cannot be easily compared to grocery store food.  They aren't the same product.  

Finally, our Farmshare is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the truest meaning of the word.  We share the bounty and the loss.  We've been extremely fortunate over four years to have had only minor loss, meaning that while we may lose a few crops every season, we are always able to make it up with crops that flourish.  Of course, this is only of value to you if you have the means to do something with the excess.  The number one reason I hear for people not returning to the Farmshare is that they don't know what to do with all of the food.  Because of this we try to be careful not to overwhelm. I walk a fine line.  This summer we made a change in the pickup in that rather than pre-pack the bags of food, we set everything out in crates with quantities written on the crate and let people pick their food.  Things like cucumbers and squash had "As much as you want" written on them most of the summer.  That way if you had the means to use it you could take it but if you didn't, I wasn't overwhelming you.  Due to the way the pickup works this fall where we have to send bags pre-filled to Julie's house, you will have to take what we send.  I try to find a happy medium for everyone.  When we have excess we'll try to send it.  I can see already that due to the cabbage worms that took our first round of seedlings, the cabbage and broccoli will be late again this year.  Like last year, we'll send it when it's ready.

Ok, so there I go talking someone's ear off again.  I hope this helps.  We'd love to have you if you want to try it out.  I've attached the membership agreement.   Otherwise, maybe we'll see you next spring at the Hillcrest farmers market where we set up every Saturday from March until at least September.  Have a great day. -- Tara

Related: Why pay more for eggs? 

Tara's FarmShare delivery starts Monday in Little Rock, and there are a couple more openings.  Contact Tara ASAP if you want in on her fresh, yummy, nutrient dense veggies.

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