(This food of course was a gift before that date. Yes, I have some dumb friends.)
There was a tipping point, though. Excess vegetables are something most gardeners experience at one point or another (case in point: zucchini), and even four chickens can produce more eggs than three people can reasonably consume per week. But if you combine large gardens with year-round greenhouses, a lot of laying hens and then throw a milking animal into the works, well…excess is not the proper term any longer. It’s something else.
Over the last year I have formalized the process of purchase. I have a somewhat small a la carte list wherein other friends purchase items individually. But my stalwart “customer” friends get a box of goodies per week. A typical box-scheme CSA is usually where a set fee is paid upfront for a season of weekly boxes, and you get what you get, fresh, of what is harvested. My setup is different than the typical model.
I maintain the “get what you get” thing because I am truly not a masochist, despite years of blogging evidence to the contrary. But I do it with a weekly fee, usually paid by the month (and the month has either 4 or 5 weeks in it, so the fee fluctuates accordingly). And because my gardens are big but not huge, the food that goes in the weekly boxes is not all what’s harvested per week. Instead, that’s where the “value-added” label comes in.
So the typical year-round share is: a quart of yogurt and about 10 ounces of herbed chevre. A quart of vegetarian soup or a quart of veg ferment (sauerkraut, kimchi, sauerruben, lact0-fermented beets) and a loaf of whole-wheat sourdough bread. A gallon bag of salad (herbs at the bottom) and a gallon bag of other greens. A dozen eggs. And finally one canned good item (jam, chutney, salsa, tomato sauce, beans, peaches, applesauce, etc.). Year-round fluctuations are in the vegetable/fruit kingdom: more garden-fresh to less, more stored-veg (squash, potatoes) to less. It works, my friends are happy.
And my gardens and animals pay for themselves now…in fact, they’re creating a profit.
*”Friends” is completely accurate. I would not do this with people I do not know and trust. The sale of raw milk and its products is illegal, and indeed, my friends know the risk of consuming it. They also help around the farm. The payments help them (they know the value of the food, and therefore think it’s only fair) and they help my hobby’s bottom line.