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CSA Season wrap-up, new plans for the Farm

Posted 11/30/2019 2:37pm by Joshua Reinitz.

Hello and Happy Holidays to our amazing Farm supporters!  We hope your fall (winter?) is going well and things are well in your life. 

We have some news we need to share with you.  We have decided after 11 years to discontinue offering CSA shares and change our land use/vegetable marketing business.  We understand this may be disappointing news, especially since some of you have been CSA members with us since year 1 and have built incredible relationships with us and our farm.  We will offer an explanation here, and explain our new path going forward (and we have some awesome CSA friends to refer you to).

We started our vegetable farm in 2009, after completing a course in Farm Beginnings with the Land Stewardship Project. At the time, we had zero infrastructure, 2 kids (one was an infant), and we were in our late '20s.  At the time, marketing our farm produce through a CSA made the most sense.  We had great success in our first 5 years marketing to the Twin Cities mostly, with a few shares locally.

in December 2012 we had our third child, Sam.  We knew things had to change due to the commitments of a newborn child, so we decided to stop delivering to the Twin Cities and focus locally, as well as the St. Peter/Mankato area.  This meant fewer shares and less income.  We took on some side work and continued the CSA, hoping to find financial viability.  At that point we had nice infrastructure, a lot of debt, and knew our soil to the point where we refined our crops to what we knew we could grow well.

Now, we realize in order to pay off debt, generate wealth for our children and our later years, preserve our bodies (we're now 40-ish and our bodies don't always cooperate), and include our diverse passions in life, the CSA model won't work for us anymore. 

One consequence of running a CSA farm is it requires so much intense focus on a daily basis that there isn't much room for any other part of life.  We haven't been able to travel.  My boys (now 14, 11, and 6) have never had a summer camping trip.  Some of our passions in life like woodworking, art, and music have not been served.  And our income has not been adequate to pay off debt and sustain a family life with 3 boys (who all eat way more than their parents combined!).  And, due to the time requirements of our CSA, we often eat purchased food rather than our own farm products due to not enough time to cook meals and preserve for winter.  I'm not writing this to be depressing, it's just the reality of how things have gone.  It is time to listen to these lessons and serve some other areas of our life more, especially family.

We are still going to grow vegetables, but will market them to wholesale outlets like the St. Peter Food coop, farm to table restaurants, food hubs, and schools.  We will likely grow the same acreage, but it will only be 6-10 major wholesale crops.  A CSA requires us to grow 40-50 crops and distribute weekly.  A wholesale-only model will mean we can plant less often, harvest and deliver larger quantities at once but less often.  It is very likely you will still be supporting our farm by purchasing at the outlets where we sell. 

In addition, a new vision for holistic land use is emerging.  Rather than adopting a business model that excludes other passions in life, we are currently writing a new plan that includes them.  I (Josh) am a passionate musician who wants to grow that part of my life.  Sally is now working in education and wants to do more skills teaching on the farm.  I love woodworking and building restoration and want to continue doing that.  We have livestock enterprises we have wanted to grow for a long time but have not had time or money due to running the CSA. 

Our new plan envisions our land as a multi-purpose food production space that includes events, classes, and community building.  Imagine a 40-acre farm that has regenerative, permaculture based food production at every corner, from livestock on pasture, to maple syruping and wild foraging in the woods, vegetables in the gardens, and perennial fruit and nut trees.  All in a balanced system.  We feel our CSA has kept us from achieving this balance, as we have only served one corner of the farm.  A one-legged stool doesn't balance very well, nor has our farm been balanced based on only vegetable farming.

Also, imagine a farm that has a bunch of restored buildings, beautiful spaces for gathering and teaching, hanging out, and staying on the farm.  This is what we want to achieve - the ability to host music festivals and concerts, host interns and beginning farmers, a space for other people to teach classes (like yoga and art classes on the farm), and for us to demonstrate a sustainable land use model.  We have been kicking around this vision for a few years but is has really become clear this year and we need to serve this new inspiration, rather than continue down an unsustainable path. 

So, we hope you understand our situation and decision.  We appreciate each and every one of you for your business and support for a local foods farming system.  Truly, we are humbled.  If you have been one of our CSA members and are looking for another local option going forward, please check out Little Big Sky Farm www.littlebigskymn.com, and Cedar Crate Farm https://www.cedarcratefarm.com/.  We know them both well and we would love to send our CSA members their way.

Stay in touch! We are not going away, and in fact you might be interacting more with the farm as our new business model takes shape.  Events, Classes, Festivals are going to happen here.  Farm Jam 2020 (a music and art festival) is already in the works.  And you will see a lot more of our produce in 2020 at the St. Peter Food Coop and local farm to table restaurants if you shop there. In addition, we have always wanted to create a farm stand to sell our products - we just need to decide if we want to do that on the farm, or find a space in Henderson to sell our diverse products in a retail setting. 

Follow us on Facebook to learn about events, and we will be re-doing our website to keep the public informed about our events and farm product marketing.  So please stay in touch. 

We hope your holiday season and winter are good. 

Peace,

Josh, Sally, Henry, Miles and Sam Reinitz

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