Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2011 CSA Survey Results

It finally looks like winter around here! That means it will soon be time to start thinking about the 2012 garden (I already got a seed catalog in the mail!). Before I start that though, I’m going to spend some time thinking about the 2011 garden. And the best way to start that is to go through the 2011 CSA survey. Eighteen shareholders responded to our 2011 CSA survey. That works out to about 30% of our members. Thanks to everyone who filled these out. They are very educational for me and I appreciate your input. Below you’ll find the questions, the answers, what folks said and some of my insight. - Eener

1. On a scale from one to ten how satisfied were you with your CSA season? One would be not at all and ten would be very much so.
The most popular response to this question was an eight. One person gave the season a five, two people gave it a 10, four people gave it a nine, two gave it a six and two gave it a seven.

2. Was there anything in your box that you didn’t use because you didn’t like it?
The big winner for this question was okra; seven members listed it as something they didn’t like. In second place were melons which received three dislikes. I have a suspicion that some folks got melons that were either too ripe or not ripe enough, it’s hard to gauge when melons are just right.

Several items got two votes these were: hot peppers, kohlrabi, radishes and horseradish. A bunch more got one vote those were: fennel, eggplant, mustard greens, sunflower seeds, beets and very small potatoes. Interestingly enough, six members said there was nothing they didn’t like.

From this question I think it’s clear that there is no need to plant okra next year. It also appears as though we’ll need to work harder on harvesting melons so that they get to the members at the right eating stage.

3. Was there anything in your box you didn’t use because you didn’t know what to do with it?

Ten survey responders said there was nothing in their boxes that they didn’t know what to do with. Okra and horseradish received two votes each. Kohlrabi, seven top, turnips, tomatillos, fennel, sunflower seeds and hot peppers received one vote each.

4. Was your box in a cooler or entryway at your drop site?
This question was split about 50/50 which is good. The reason I asked it is because I’m wondering if there is any difference in quality between boxes that are put into a cooler or those put into an air conditioned entryway (see the next question for that answer).

5. Did your box get to you in good shape? For example, was anything squished or wilted?

All survey responders said their boxes got to them in good shape. As a result, I do not think there is much of a difference between picking up from a cooler or entryway.

6. How did you feel about your pick up time? Would an earlier or later pick up time be better?
Fifteen members thought their pick up time was fine. Three mentioned that earlier pick up times would have sometimes been more convenient.

7. Do you think you got a fair amount of produce for the price you paid for the share?

Fourteen members said yes to this question. Here is what the other four responders said:

“No. Probably weather influenced.”

“It seems we got more last summer than this summer. This may be a result of the difference in tomato output mostly.”

“Would have liked to receive a bit more, including Brussels sprouts.”

“It would have been nice to have larger amounts of an item than small amounts of many items.”

The tomatoes did really terrible this year and lots of folks were disappointed. They are one of those crops that really add a lot to a box and it’s really awful when they don’t do well. In 2010 we had a bumper crop of tomatoes. Brussel sprouts also did poorly this year. Many of the plants didn’t produce any.

Dividing up the crops is always interesting, especially with half shares. A couple of other folks made similar comments about variety versus amount. We want everyone to get everything and sometimes it’s hard to pack everything into the boxes in useable amounts.

8. Here is a list of what I harvested this year. Any major favorites or major dislikes? Suggestions for new things?

Green Onions, Onions, Peas, Beans, Rhubarb, Spinach, Leaf Lettuce, Head Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Herbs, Flowers, Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Broccoli, Kale, Swiss Chard, Garlic Scapes, Garlic, Potatoes, Carrots, Kohlrabi, Turnips, Turnip Tops, Beets, Okra, Tomatillos, Sweet Corn, Summer Squash, Sweet Peppers, Hot Peppers, Winter Squash, Pie Pumpkins, Melons, Soybeans, Shelling Beans, Sunflower Seeds, Green Tomatoes, Horseradish.

On the major favorites side of things tomatoes scored highest with eight votes. I think it’s safe to say that what few tomatoes we had were really good. Garlic scapes came in second with six votes. Winter squash was third with five votes and soybeans were fourth with four votes.

I’m surprised about the soybeans, last year they didn’t get a very good review and I had considered just dropping them for 2011. Now I’m glad I didn’t. Many, many other crops received one or two votes each.

On the major dislikes side of things okra was the clear winner with four votes. Kohlrabi came in second with four votes. Shelling beans and sunflower seeds tied for third with three votes each. Other things on the major dislikes list included: flowers, turnips, beets, mustard greens, eggplant, kale, swiss chard, turnip tops, lettuce, tomatillos and green tomatoes.

Ironically, all the items that received one or two votes as a dislike also received one or two votes as a favorite (funny how that goes).

9. Anything else you would like to add?

Here are some things people added:

“I would suggest less variety per box and more volume per item to make a substantial dish.”

“More squash.”

“This was our first CSA ever and we loved it!”

“Fewer beets.”

“Sure missed the tomatoes. We get things happen though.”

“Even though we got a lot of Kale, I really loved it.”

“I became a convert to kale chips this year. Can’t get enough.”

“It would have been nice to have larger amounts of an item then small amounts of many items.”

New crop suggestions for 2012 included: sweet potatoes, parsnips and raspberries.

I tried sweet potatoes in 2010 and it didn’t go the best mostly due to the type of soil I have. But perhaps with some research I could find a variety to try that might do better here. I think parsnips would be a great thing to try. I’ll put that on the list for 2012. We are starting to grow raspberries. For now they will go to full share members only.

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