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Cashflow at the Farm: The Truth

Dear Amazing Vrndt Community,


As a small business owner, there is a lot to juggle. Rarely do I set aside time to communicate the "whys" behind some of the decisions I make at Vrdnt. Today, I thought I'd set aside that time and talk about the unique way I structure my CSA subscriptions which involve a Flexible Pickup option.


A Flexible Pickup purchase really helps support the farm through planting season. Why do I need so much support during planting season? By the time you receive the veggies in your CSA bag, I have already been investing in those crops for 6+ months. Let's take onions for example: I plant onions as seed at the beginning of October. We weed, fertilize, dig them up, replant them in January, cover them in compost, and weed again. In May/June, we pick, bunch, wash, pack, (and sell)those same October onions. It isn't until May/June that I ever receive any money for this crop.


The realities of crop cashflow is one of the primary reasons it is so hard for small/beginning farmers to get started. Farming is extremely capital intensive, from the land to labor to the fact that we often have to invest in inputs (compost, fertilizer, equipment) for over 6 months before we are paid for our product. (When selling to wholesalers the timeline is even longer: it is 30-60 days after they receive the produce that they send a check!) It is incredibly hard to have all that money upfront. helps


Spring planting is often a financially nerve-wracking season for farmers. We are usually strapped by limited resources, and have to make real decisions about whether to invest in labor, seeds, or fertilizer. This is why many of the early CSA models have customers paying upfront at the beginning of the season, which gives the farmer a chunk of cash to ‘invest’ in the farm. I know that it is a big ask to pay for months of vegetables upfront. And because I know that it's a big ask (one that's prohibitive for some), I’m really happy with the Flexible Pickup options I've created. This Flexible Pickup option allows you to buy 4 shares of veggies upfront (which really help us with planting cash) and it gives you the option to schedule shares around when is convenient or around when your favorite veggies are coming into season. (Lookout for Erin's weekly emails listing the CSA box contents!)


Although this model is different from the traditional CSA model of purchasing a season's worth of vegetables upfront, it was my best attempt at maximizing your convenience while also serving the original intent of supporting farmers with money and resources before the crop is sold. I built VRDNT's website on a website host and modified free booking plugins to create our custom flexible pickup ordering system. I know the ordering process might seem a little non-intuitive or clunky at times, but the back story is that your farmer taught herself how to build a website on youtube and this was the best she could do :-) (And it works!)


As always, I want you to think of us as YOUR farmers. Please never hesitate to let us know what veggies you want to get in your bags as CSA members. Is the flexible pickup booking system working well for you? Let us know what you love, and what could be better about the CSA. Not eating our veggies yet? Holler with any questions. And tell your friends who may be CSA curious. Please and Thank you.





All the best,



Your farmer (and website designer)


Becky





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