This was a particularly difficult year, to say the least. We started out ambitious with big plans to:
- hire 3 employees - 1 more than last year
- increase the number of CSA memberships
- start using an online program designed for CSAs that allows members to put their accounts on hold for vacations and gives the option of bi-weekly shares, without too much extra administration.
- expand our farmers' market output by joining 2 much longer and busier markets in Ottawa
All the while, raising our new baby girl. What was the result of such ambitions?
- We only found 2 interns, one of which bailed after only 2 weeks. It took us another 6 weeks to find a replacement and we never did get that third. The lack of adequate help delayed planting and subsequently, delayed harvest.
- We only increased the CSA memberships by a few but due to a wet spring and unforeseen crop failures, we barely had enough to go around some weeks. For the first time, we had some unhappy customers. I cried. I hate disappointing people. When you put all of your time and energy into something, it's impossible not to take it personally when someone thinks you haven't worked hard enough.
- We didn't have the quantity or variety of produce we had planned to take to the larger farmers' markets.
- The last intern we hired (who stuck around until November) turned out to be great!
- Most of our CSA members were happy in the end (we loaded them up with fall veggies to make sure they got their dollar's worth) and are looking forward to a new season!
- We did well at the Ottawa Farmers' Markets and plan to do even better next year!
- The online CSA program was expensive but totally worth it; the vacation option was utilized by many customers and the bi-weekly shares were very popular.
- We got certified!!! After 4 years of transitioning, we got our papers!
Our plans for 2014:
- We remain hopeful that we will find 3-4 positive, hard-working, keen employees.
- We are keeping the CSA small for now.
- We will focus more on improving soil conditions by growing green manures, which will add organic matter and nutrient to the soil, reducing drainage issues. My personal goal is to learn how to drive that big tractor then become the 'Green Manure Planting Specialist' on Luxy Farm! I'm excited.
- Even though it's expensive, we will continue to certify and follow organic practices because it's important to us and hopefully to our customers as well.
- We will also continue to offer the online signup, vacation days and bi-weekly shares because it is a nice bonus for the members and I really enjoy using the program, although I still have a lot to learn.
- We will hold off on having another baby until 2016 so we can focus on our business, our vegetable growing skills and our busy little toddler - so stop asking already! (Joking.)