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22 September 2009 @ 11:17 am
Email I just sent to Farmer Steve of Parker Farms:

Hi, Steve,

I'm sorry to hear that the difficult growing year has affected you
along with so many other farms around the region. I have enjoyed the
vegetables from my share a lot this summer!

I'm confused, however, about the update you just posted to facebook. I
thought that what I was signing up for when I joined a CSA was a
priority position in receiving the fruits of your farm's labor. In
buying a "share", I understood that I was taking a risk with your farm
and would benefit from good growing luck and suffer from bad growing
luck. Obviously, this year has been bad growing luck. But I ALSO
thought that as a shareholder, I would get priority as a customer, and
that I and your other CSA shareholders would see that reflected in
continuing to receive vegetables even if you didn't have enough to do
both the CSA and the farmer's market stand.

So, I'm disappointed to find that you're prioritizing your farmer's
market customers rather than your CSA shareholders. I wish you best
luck in your future farming, but I won't be joining as a shareholder

Best wishes,
I'm feeling: crankypeevish
7j: cookingtrouble4hire on September 22nd, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
I've used both Stone Soup Farm, and the Farm Project, and been very happy with them. I've heard other less then awesome things about Parker Farm, so I'm not surprised.
veek on September 22nd, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
That's well-written. Thank you for sending it.
Susan Constantsconstant on September 22nd, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
I'm not wotw, but I play him in your LJ.
One could imagine that you're buying a share in the profits of the farm. So lets imagine the farm uses $100 over the course of the year, $50 of which comes from the farmer (labor and outlay) and the rest from five $10 shareholders.

If the farm produces $200 worth of produce, how much should the farmer sell at the stand and how much should he distribute?

If the farm produces $100 worth? If the farm produces $50 worth? If the farm produces $1000 worth?
Jasonjd_trouble on September 22nd, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm not wotw, but I play him in your LJ.
I would think the shareholder agreement has something to say about what the expected/minimum/maximum returns are. Is there a guaranteed minimum level of return in the contract? Is there a maximum? I suspect that the deal is a little more complicated than just a "share in the profits", but I wouldn't know without examining the sales contract. AND if the contract doesn't say anything about the return rate, I certainly would seek my produce somewhere else.
unintentionally intimidatingcoraline on September 22nd, 2009 03:48 pm (UTC)
very good point, and very well-written.

Luminous mind, bright devilprosicated on September 22nd, 2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
I hope there are enough good local shares in other farms next year to accommodate all of us bailing on poor Mr. Parker. I hate to flee a sinking ship like a rat, any chance flamingos also flee sinking ships? or hedgehogs? or pygmy marmosets?
Technicolor Princess of Pomp and Circumstances: kazillawater_childe on September 22nd, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
Wow. I'm glad I saw this, as our pickup isn't until this Thursday.
Yeah, I understand your reaction, and I can't say I'm thrilled either.
Oh well, maybe this will further motivate Ro and I to get rid of the hedge on our property and put in raised beds to do some real growing of our own.
Statistical Outlier in All  Studies: coconut drinkchaiya on October 8th, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
My understanding, as someone who's talked with Steve a lot over the course of hosting a pickup spot but has not much involvement when it comes to farm matters, is that Steve usually gets a lot more income from the farmer's markets than has been happening this year. As a result, he's stuck with having increasing bills and no income other than selling as much as possible at the markets (since obviously the CSA members have already prepaid, and those who toss extra change into the till at a dropoff are great, but that amount of money doesn't go far against his labor and running costs).

He's trying to make both markets and CSA shares continue to happen for the rest of the season, as you probably have seen by now, but it's a real struggle. He's worried about the continued viability of his farm, period, after the poor income of this season. So in a way, selling more at the markets is a way of preserving his ability to do CSA shares in the future. It's not how I would like to see the situation exist, but that's my understanding of how the situation exists. I have also heard that he's not alone in this situation. At least one other CSA shut down for the season the week before Steve's update to facebook, and they haven't started back up again for their subscribers; they're just done.

I share your disappointment, and understand if you're just not interested in being a shareholder next year, but thought I'd add my $0.02, at least, in case it's helpful.
(Anonymous) on November 27th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
First,you never sent me this e-mail,and I will allow anyone here full access to my mail box to prove it.
Second,I saw you the week following the re-organization of the csa,you walked by the drop off in Porter and I shouted to you to come over and get some veggies and allow me to explain how the year would be finished-you choose to keep walking,as if your mind had been made up to be unhappy no matter what-now I understand why,you had already closed your mind to any resolution of the matter.
Your comments that I prioritized the needs of my farmers market customers,and my own needs over yours and the other shareholders are entirely unfounded.I lost 11,000 tomato plants this year to the well documented late blight-99% of the crop went to the csa as a result,leaving me no income at the markets from a crop that I depend on.Ditto the potatoes,corn,eggplant and a host of other crops.The apples you received cost me over $4000 in total,I brought then in at a time when I could ill afford to do so,but I did it because of continued crop problems though out this summer and wanted to try and make things up to the shareholders.I had a tractor re-posessed,plus fell further behind on my mortgage as a result of that decision.The watermelons that everyone raved about where a hot seller for me,I could have easily sold every one of the 450 that where distributed to the csa members at $5 apiece,giving me a quick influx of cash that may have enabled me to catch up the mortgage a bit,and perhaps not been forced to drop my health care coverage.
I have looked at your post-in almost the same breath that your bashing me,you want to know about your I-phone,or a trip to Iceland,while I was faced with making decisions to try and save what I have worked over 20 years for.BEST WISHES TO YOU AS WELL.