"Too bad WEFS CSA is such a best kept secret"

Summer is finally realy here!

32 degrees Celsius yesterday and again today.  It is tough work being on the land harvesting or weeding during these intense hot days – I think Frank lost 4 kg this week and thus imagine how much water the soil and plants need in order to keep functioning as we want them to do!.

I hope by now everyone has been able to login into their new Bucky Box (BB) account and found his /her way around it. If not, please contact us so we can help you get aquinted with the new system. Thanks for the feedback so far regarding Bucky Box and the new way of packing your shares.

Bucky Box

Today Will from Bucky Box is here on the farm to help me getting to know the system better/ and or adjusting the system to make it work better for our CSA.  So far, I am really starting to like the software. Two big plusses from the farm point of view so far.

Firstly, as long as you as our member pay into the right account (the new one: 01-0274-0432230-01), it’s very easy to reconcile everyone’s account (even quicker and more straightforward than Xero). I think that from your side the same can be said in that you have an easy update of where your account is at.

Furthermore, the CSA membership management system is becoming less reliant on me , and all the data I was keeping together in my head – the CSA is slowly but surely growing to big for my head space and it’s a big relief that if anything would to happen to me, the CSA is not going to fall apart.  Now that all the basic information has been entered and because it is all systemized, almost anyone can take over the weekly tasks with some initial help. A big heavy weight of my shoulders!  Because computers like rules, however, it’s harder to create exceptions and compromises and we will have to find a way around that.  The feedback so far and your questions when trying to use the system are very helpful , and I will use them today to help solve them.

New packing system

With the use of the BB system we here on the farm have had to work (and are still trying to work out) the best way of dealing with the way BB prints out its packing details/summary.  It has been a complete turnaround which in the end we think will be for the better, but we are not yet there. In the past all bags were the same and it was easy to pack without mistakes, just focus on the quality of the produce going in.  The new way requires more focus and preparation as there is more room for mistakes.  Thanks for the feedback we have received so far. It helps us to work out where the mistakes happen and how we can best solve them.  The plastic crate liners are handy in keeping fresh greens fresh and minimise packaging, but they are not good at all for produce like strawberries – feedback tells me they are getting ‘cooked’ during the time between drop off and pick up. So, all in all still some work to be done!

Feedback from our 1st 2014 Wwoofer 

Our intern/wwoofer Rejean wrote a lovely piece after his month long stint on the farm in January which I like to share with you.  His visit will stay with our family for a very long time as he touched us all in many ways with his enthusiasm, knowledge and eagerness to learn. Thank you Rejean for all your tremendous enthusiasm, energy and hard work.  It’s great to have the plastic back on the greenhouse, have over a 1000 little asparagus plants potted up, and the wonderful weeded beds full of beans, carrots and coriander. You are always welcome back!  

Too bad WEFS CSA is such a best kept secret! by Rejean Cote.

"I am a French Canadian organic market gardener based on a 2ha property located halfway between the 48th and 49th parallels. I started my CSA in 2013 with 27 partners, in my third year as a producer. I hope to have 60 members in 2014. Unlike in NZ, our farming season is rather short. We usually start the seedlings in the greenhouse on the first of April, and we direct sew or transplant in the fields by mid-May. Then we harvest from July 1 to October 15. This leaves us plenty of time to discover how others do elsewhere in the world.

I had always dreamed of exploring NZ. Being newly retired from a twenty-year career as a teacher in the Tourism and Hospitality field, I felt the time had come to achieve my goals and realize some of my fantasies. Looking for Kiwi organic growers on the internet, I came across quite a few. None of them quite fitted my expectations in terms of size, type of production, customers, etc. I added the CSA criterion. Only one showed up: Wairarapa Eco Farms, owned and operated by Frank van Steensel and Josje Neerincx, probably the most knowledgeable and experienced organic growers in all NZ. The summer holidays, a crowded house and upcoming changes to the CSA were all good reasons to say no, but Frank and Josje spontaneously offered to have me on the farm for the month of January.

It is astounding that WEFS stands alone in the list of CSA farms in NZ. However, I could not have met more passionate, generous, dedicated and expert persons than this team providing a gorgeous bag-full of delicious and healthful veggies and fruit to more than 100 members every week, all year round.

It has been a pleasure to be accepted for a three-week term as a member of that dream-team, which also includes Antoinette and Bénédicte, two of the loveliest persons I have met in the whole country. Therefore, I can testify that members do not receive only a bag-full of veggies, but also a well balanced and flavoursome mix of craftmanship, science, tender loving care, every-minute attention, creativeness and perseverance. In one word, I would say they receive a lot of love in this bag. And they can be grateful that such an expert team puts in this much science, know-how and effort in order to supply the best possible healthy produce, week after week.

From a more personal and professional point of view, I have been absolutely lucky and delighted to benefit from Frank’s generosity, passion and open-mindedness as we talked on the way to and from the farm. At lunch times he would often spontaneously and literally jump onto the workbench to draw on the packing room wall a diagram illustrating, say, how inorganic matter decomposes into clay, and the actual miracle taking place when it meets the humus resulting from the decomposition of organic matter. From now on, I will never look at my beds of mesclun lettuce or chards the same way again. "Use your head" and "Follow your feelings" are precious advice that I will never forget, not only because they are the fundamentals of any balanced human behavior when it comes to decision-making, but because they actually rely on a fair balance of acquired knowledge (e.g. microbiology) and the development of observational and intuitive skills, these being acquired through sound and rigorous observation, consideration and respect of nature's cycles and laws. 

I wish the WEFS team all the success you deserve. I invite you, WEFS’ CSA partners, to be more conscious of the chance you have. Do not hesitate to promote new subscriptions among your relatives. Having your friends subscribing for CSA with WEFS is the strongest evidence that you love them.

Réjean Côté”

Coming up:

Website developments

Antoinette and Matt have been working together to update our website and make it flow even better. The page on crops and recipes hase been revamped and made easier to find information on the crops that we grow and end up in your shares. The link is: wefs.co.nz/crops . Bit by bit we will add more of our crops and recipes too.

New pages also include one on our hero's and one on learn and work opportunities on the farm. 

New Season's fruit

Our braeburn and pacific rose apples are almost ready! In 1 to 2 week's time you will see our tree ripened apples in your shares. Yummie.

Savings Pool meeting

Sunday 13 April, Aro Valley Community Centre. More infor to follow.

The new year has certainly begun, and its all go!

Healthy eating and living from us at the farm,