Where and when do I pick up? What if I am on vacation?
After I receive your application I will confirm your day and location. By the end of May I will confirm your first start date. Once you have been confirmed for your choice of pick up day and location, you will keep that same day and location throughout the season. If you go on vacation and you can not have a friend pick up your share on the regular day and time, you may request an alternate day. The alternate day must be the week before or the week after your regularly scheduled pick up. The alternate day can be Tuesday in Hopkinton, Friday in Hopkinton or Upton and Saturday in Ashland which are our regular pick up days and locations. Please give as much notice as possible or minimum 48 hours notice by email.
What if I forget to pick up my share?
Everyone forgets now and then. If you have chosen Winter Street or Ashland for pick up location I will hold your share in the cooler for 24 hours IF
you email me that you will pick it up within that time. We have arranged for other pick up locations for shareholder convenience, but we do not expect the shareholder who lives there to hold over your share if you forget it.
What does a Long Life Farm share contain?
Long Life Farm grows mostly vegetables and some fruit: blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, ground cherries. In addition to common vegetables, we grow a large variety of greens: arugula, spinach, head lettuce, salad mix, swiss chard, beet greens, collards, chinese and other cabbage, many varieties of kale and asian greens. We grow 50 different families of produce and about 170 varieties. We also forage for Autumn Olive Berries.
Each week you will receive between 5-12 lbs, on rare occasions it could be less at the beginning of the season, on many occasions it is more as we get further into the season. In 2012 we had late blight and very few tomatoes. In 2013 we had a winter squash failure so we had very few squash. In 2013 and 2014 we had so many tomatoes that there were a few shareholders that said STOP, no more tomatoes. In 2014 we lost our eggplants.
How does the value compare to what I might pay in the grocery store?
In 2012 and 2013 we tracked the value of all the items which went into the bag using the same price we charge at the farmers market. This price has settled between Stop and Shop and Whole Foods Market prices. The share value of items in the bags over these two seasons was 10% higher than the share price paid by shareholders. In 2014 the shareholders received 45% higher value than the share price paid. Over the last three seasons the shareholders have always received more than the value of their investment.
Do I get to choose what goes in my bag each week?
No, we select items that are ready to harvest and pack the share bags with those items. We have had feedback from our shareholders that they would like to be able to trade an item for one they don't want. If you choose pickup at Winter St, we often have extras available for taking. This option is not feasible at the other pick up locations.
How does pick up day work?
You will choose the day and location of your preferred pickup: Tuesday or Friday in Hopkinton, Friday in Upton, Saturday in Ashland. On your pick up day or the day before your pick up day, you will receive a reminder email about your share pick up. A list of items in the bag that day will be included. If you don't recognize a vegetable in the bag, you can go to our website "what is that vegetable"
and take a look at the pictures to identify it. Or you can give us a shout for help. Generally I will include at least one new recipe each week for the new item in the bag. These recipes will also be listed on the website. At your next pick up, you will return the bag from the prior week and pick up your next bag. Please make every effort to return the bag. We utilize paper bags inside a plastic grocery bag if you don't bring the bags back, this causes us more work to label bags and they don't hold up due to the wet vegetables and will fall apart before you get them home.
Do you have 1/2 shares?
Over the last three years we have not offered a smaller size bag, we have simply offered the bags every other week instead of weekly. While this works for the majority of our shareholders, we do have some shareholders that feel like they are giving away or wasting food. So for the 2015 season we will be adding an Individual share. This share will only be available weekly for 20 weeks. It will contain roughly half of the full size share. So for example in 2013 we had an average of 10 items and 12 lbs of produce each week. The Individual share would have received 5 items or about 6lbs on average.
Can I share with another family?
You may certainly share a bag with another family. If you wanted to get a weekly share and alternate pick up weeks between you, that is one good way to share. Experience tells us, splitting your bag with another family each week is trickier. Splitting the share each week can be difficult if you only get one melon, or one squash or only a few beets. If you want to share a bag each week with another family, one of you will need to pick up the bag and split it between the two of you. Feedback from shareholders who try to split up a bag each week tells us they are not as satisfied and wished they had ordered the whole share.
What will change from 2014?
We are all about finding ways to improve our fertility, our yields, our efficiency in order to bring you better food. We had an exceptional season in 2014 harvesting almost 25,000 lb of vegetables vs 10,000 lb in 2013. Much of this increase is due to increased fertility, we will continue to see the improvement in yield as well as quality as we continue to build our soil fertility. Our eggplant was one of the only real failures we had in 2014 and no one really missed it? We will be putting up a hoophouse hopefully in April that will enable us to harvest some greens well into December, we will let you know how we will be marketing these once all is set.
Do you have an option for U-Pick?
We do hope that we can start to bring the blueberry fields back so that we can open the U-Pick at 11 East St, we will be adding compost and trace elements to these fields this winter trying to make the bushes produce again. In terms of picking other produce like peas or cherry tomatoes, depending on which field they are grown in a given rotation year, we may also make these available for shareholder U-Pick.
Does Long Life Farm accept volunteers in exchange for food?
We would be happy to consider you as a volunteer shareholder if you can work hard, can make a season long commitment, can work fast and don't mind working in the heat, cold or rain. This would involve working 4 hours per week for 20 weeks for a weekly share. The 4 hours per week will usually be on the same day of the week each week. Please contact the farm if this is of interest.
Does Long Life Farm require shareholders to work?
Many farms have this requirement and it is a great way for shareholders to connect with their farmer and their food. Long Life Farm does not require shareholders to work. This is due to a couple of different factors. We are limited in the number of cars that can be parked near our leased fields. One of our fields has a great deal of poison ivy that we are dealing with so we want to keep our shareholders safe.
Can we visit the farm?
We will be scheduling a tour of the farm in May or June, so that you can come by and see both fields and our seedling operation at 205 Winter St.
What does it mean to be certified organic?
The USDA Organic seal can only be used by certified organic producers. This is your proof that we are following the National Organic Program (NOP) guidelines. The NOP prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO). So buying certified organic is the best way to avoid GMO food. As you may know some summer squash, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, sugar beets and soybeans have been developed with these techniques.
Detailed record keeping and a whole system farm plan are required submission for review at Baystate Organic Certifiers. We detail every amendment, additive that goes into the soil and onto the plants. Each item utilized must be approved for organic use by OMRI, the Organic Materials Review Institute. We also keep extensive records of daily field activity, yields and failures for the inspectors review. The inspectors are now required to test 5% of the soils within their approved producers to insure compliance. Each year the inspector visits our farm and reviews all of our records, visits all our fields and inspects our amendment storage and tests soil if needed. I have heard many reasons from other farmers as to why they do not certify, cost and amount of paperwork is at the top of the list. For our small farm, we pay $685 to our certifier, the rate is based upon a revenue range. We received $530 reimbursement as part of the Organic Cost Share Program which is part of the Farm Bill, so our net out of pocket cost is $155. The paperwork is real, but all good businesses need to keep records and that is no different for farmers. I have recently been trained by Baystate Organic Certifiers to be an Organic System Plan expert, so I am assisting other farms with their certification application on behalf of NOFA/Mass.