CSA Survey results are in

Thanks to everyone for your feedback. I’ve worked may way through all the data and comments and have gleaned some good ideas for how we can build more mutual benefits into our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) family. There were 45 respondents which is just less than of half of the community.

The difficulty in address community feedback is the duality in responses. While some feel they had too many apricots, others said that was their favourite part and where some felt the fruit was not ripe enough, others expressed dismay at over ripe fruit.

Fresh fruit is a dynamic product that is constantly changing in response to a myriad of unpredictable variables. I always do my best to provide nutritious, ethical and delicious food and I strive for the mean of those variables to converge in product that is as highly satisfying as possible.

Having said all that, there’s always lessons to be learnt and room for improvement, so, I’ll take everything on board and try to adjust my processes so that everyone is happy. I’ll address some of the negative feedback first, then some of the suggestions, and then the positives.

How satisfied were you?

Over 85% of respondents were either happy or delighted with the quality of the fruit, the included value, my communications and how I applied the principles of CSA, with around 10% being ‘mostly satisfied’. I think that’s a pretty great result.

People were less happy with the ‘variety included’. 62% were ‘happy/delighted’ and 24% were ‘mostly satisfied’.

Of the varieties that I harvested during the season, the only ones that did not make it into the box were those of which I did not have sufficient quantity. All varieties I could have included in the shares were there at some point. Actually, there were some varieties that did not make it onto the table at farmers’ markets as they were reserved for CSA members only.

The more varieties that are going into each box, the more cumbersome the logistics become so I was trying to limit the amount of varieties per week but make sure that everything got in at least once. With experience will come efficiencies and potential to include more variety per week.

Apples and Plums

Related to this was the clear request to include more apples/pears or extend the CSA season. I intentionally made the CSA end prior to when I expected to finish harvesting, in case I had a bad season. I didn’t want to short change anyone in the first year.

This was lucky because kangaroos ate hundreds of kilos of apples and I harvested next to zero. Earlier apples were affected by the heat waves and some of the pears didn’t set fruit. Of the apples I did harvest, the vast majority of them went to the CSA – there just wasn’t many! Next year I’ll be prepared for this, and I’ll extend the deliveries by a few weeks to capture the Pink Lady apples.

The other main issue was the plums! The Angelino plums that you all received in the last week or two were harvested too early. That was simply a mistake I made due to lack of experience which was then exacerbated by a lack of comms.

The plums do ripen (eventually!) even if they wrinkle a bit on the skin – I even had market shoppers coming back for more because they enjoyed them – but ideally what I should have done was leave them on the trees a week longer and move that weeks’ delivery to the end of the CSA season. I was under pressure as the chiller was completely empty of fruit!

For those that didn’t enjoy the taste fresh, those plums were great for making jam, adding to curries, stewing etc but I was too time poor to get that message across effectively or to research some recipes. There’s not much I can do now about that little fiasco, but thanks for sticking with me and for providing the honest feedback. Lesson learnt for next time!

The 3kg boxes were often over weight as I would usually throw in a few extras in case some were lost to rot or other factors. This combined with the reduced price of the shares compared to farmers’ market prices meant that all CSA members received significantly more than what they paid for. As disappointing as it may have been to receive plums that didn’t meet expectations, I hope the extra value gained over the season made up for it!

Share size  Suggested  price  Included  value
3kg $365 $472
5kg $490 $743
10kg $830 $1,513
10kg/fortnight $415 $722

Read part two of this blog to see some of the suggestions made for how we can improve our community for next year and, of course, enjoy some of the positive benefits reaped by CSA members.