When and Where is the Market? Each Monday from 2:30-6:00 in the Little Red Barn @ Full Heart Farm in Ledyard.
What are the Pick-Up Dates? PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR for 2017! June 5, 12, 19, 26 July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 August 7, 14, 21, 28
What happens if I miss a market day? We encourage our members to visit the farm each week during market hours to pick up items for their share, but understand that commitment is not always possible. Members are encouraged to send a friend or neighbor to pick up their share on weeks when they cannot make it to the farm.
If members cannot make it to market, we appreciate a short email or text so that we can plan our harvest accordingly. When planned, members can “roll-over” their points from one week to another within the calendar month. For example, a member holding a small protein share (5 points) taking a long weekend at the beach during the second week in June could use two of their extra points during week 1 (in addition to their normal selection) on an extra pack of hot dogs to bring along with them on vacation, and use the remaining three points from their week off during week 3 to purchase 1 bottle of milk to use to replicate that incredible ice cream cone they enjoyed overlooking the ocean, plus a pack of ground pork to make burgers.
Points CANNOT rollover from one calendar month to another (ie from June to July or from July to August), however, so vacations at the end of the month must be planned for ahead of time. For example, a member vacationing the fourth week in June can use those points throughout the first three weeks of the month, but cannot use them when returning to the farm in July.
What happens if there is a terrible storm this season or bad disease? As members of the farm community, shareholders assume the risk of farming. In cases of bad weather (drought, floods, storms), disease, pests, and other unexpected challenges, there may be shortages in farm products or a lack of diversity. The farmers will do their VERY BEST to deliver high-quality farm products in their full value each week. We are part of a large network of local growers that we are happy to work with to fill in gaps in our growing schedule, to the best of our ability.
There are no refunds for missed shares (on the shareholder's part) or small shares (on the farmer's part). The farmers also reserve the right to reschedule a market day during weather situations where it is deemed unsafe to harvest or travel to the farm for pick-up.
Why should I join the MarketShare, instead of just purchasing food from somewhere else? First, the MarketShare program is one of the best ways to support local farmers! It provides them with the money they need upfront at the beginning of the season and spreads out some of the risk. Second, the MarketShare program is the best way to ensure your family has access to fresh, seasonal food each week. It's a great way to learn about what's in season, gather new recipes, and be part of a growing community. Third, a commitment to the farm is a commitment to yourself. It is always easy to prepare locally grown, healthy meals for yourself and your family when you have the ingredients in your fridge and the recipes or menu ideas on your phone/computer. Our MarketShare members play an ACTIVE role in the local food movement as they spend a season learning about how food on our farm is grown, prepared, and enjoyed.
How does the MarketShare program differ from a traditional CSA, or the MemberShare program you offered in the past? In a traditional CSA program, members sign up for a share of a farm’s harvest and receive a pre-packed box of vegetables selected by the farmer based on season and growing conditions. In the past, our MemberShare program expanded on that further to include protein (chicken + pork + eggs), designed in a way to create meals. As our member families evolved and we recognized the diverse array of preferences, we saw a need to expand selection.
It is our hope that our innovative MarketShare Program allows our members to tailor their share experience to best suit their needs, while still allowing the farmers the upfront infusion of funding needed to start the season without relying on debt or outside funding. That money is used to purchase things such as seeds, potting soil, equipment, and other farm infrastructure. The upfront sign-ups also allows us to get an idea of WHO we are feeding, so we can grow more of the things that you like and develop a recipe selection that best suits your cooking interests.
Unlike shopping at a traditional farmers market, the MarketShare allows members to be truly connected to a small farm. The weekly newsletter includes anecdotes of life on the farm, recipes, meal planning ideas, and even tips on preserving the harvest to add diversity to your winter meals. Visiting the farm each week gives our members an indescribable sense of place.
What types of vegetables are included in the share? Full Heart Farm grows over 100 different varieties of vegetables, berries, herbs, and flowers throughout the calendar year. A short list includes; beans, beets, bok choi, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, eggplant, greens, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, peppers, potatoes, onion, strawberries, swiss chard, tomato, turnips, winter squash, zucchini, and so much more!
What about YOUR meat? You guys raise the best chicken + pork! For the 2017 season, we are allowing our pastures to REST, which is an often unpracticed but essential part of managing a healthy farm ecosystem.
For five years we raised pasture-raised chicken and pork of the highest quality - rotating the animals daily to maximize everyone's health and build soil. It is an incredible system that we are proud to have developed and fine-tuned. We used our animals to clear land, make compost, and turn this unused parcel of land into a bountiful landscape.
To manage the needs of our meat-loving members, however, we began to push the boundaries on what our pastures could handle. 2,000 chickens, 20 pigs, and dozens of laying hens started to become too much for our acre and a half of growing area. The responsibility of caring for so many lives also began to wear on our young family, which is inextricably linked to this tiny farm and therefore an essential part of decision making. It became clear that the farm’s sustainability required a change, and that taking a season of rest would allow us the time needed to better develop our fencing systems and movable infrastructure.
As is always the case when one makes the humbling decision to do what is best and ask for help, opening ourselves up to take a season off of raising meat has allowed us to connect with and support other young, women-run family farms in the area. We are excited to have connected with like-minded growers and to have provided them with a reliable market so that they can achieve their own small-farm dreams (especially Leaping Heart Farm, Broad Brook Acres, and Stonington Beef). We are also excited to be able to expand our selection for the 2017 season, while at the same time focusing on the development of the new MarketShare program. It truly feels like a win-win.
There will still be animals on the farm to visit with this season, as well as small quantities of our own meats, as we satisfy our love of raising livestock on a smaller scale.
Can I buy extra items at the market? We are not currently planning to set up a separate area in the market for items available to purchase separate from the share, as we have in the past. This allows us to focus our efforts on the MarketShare and improve customer service by removing the cash-exchange from the market. That being said, we can nearly always accommodate orders made in advance (if you need extra produce or protein for a specific recipe or for a large family gathering). Just email or text Allyson in advance of the market and she will be sure to set items aside.
Can I use all my points in one shot? While one could TECHNICALLY visit the farm only once or twice a month and redeem their entire share of points, we certainly don’t recommend it. There will be limits on certain items in high demand, making it difficult to receive a bountiful produce share this way. A member could not, for example, visit the farm the first week in June to pick up 20 boxes of strawberries or 20 jars of jam. The same follows for the protein share. A member could not, for example, pick up 20 dozen eggs in one day and utilize all of their points for the month, unless they made prior arrangements with the farmers.
It is our hope in offering point roll-over that members will better be able to manage their vacation time and appreciate the flexibility in managing their summer schedules, without taking advantage of this new perk that makes harvesting and planning more difficult for the farmers. It is the aspect of the MarketShare program that we as farmers are most nervous about, but we hope will bring increased customer satisfaction.
Can I shop at the market if I’m not a member of the MarketShare? Unfortunately, no. For the 2017 season, Full Heart Farm will largely be closed to the public while we focus building a deeper connection to the small community of members in our MarketShare program.
How do I know if the MarketShare Program will be a good fit for me? Our members come to the farm from a variety of backgrounds and stages in their lives, but they all value good food, enjoy trying new foods, and set aside time each day to cook. They value learning about the farm and testing out new recipes. They value their health and recognize the importance of nutrient dense foods in their diet. They value developing a relationship with their farmer so that they can become more informed consumers. In our experience, people that have very busy schedules or enjoy only specific foods usually prefer to shop at the grocery store or farmers market.
What if I can’t use my entire share/points for a given month? You are always welcome to send a friend or neighbor to pick up your share or a portion of your share. We also maintain a list of families in need and regularly make donations to the Ledyard Food Pantry, if you would like us to donate your unneeded share items to someone in need. Fresh food is ALWAYS appreciated by those in our local community and nothing at the farm goes to waste.
How will the MarketShare be set up? Inside our little red barn there will be signs for both the Produce Share and the Protein Share indicating what is available each week, and how many points each item is. Members can then “check out” their selections as they exit the barn. Points will be kept track of on-farm, but we are happy to update members throughout the month if needed.
Members are asked to bring at least two bags with them to pick-up each week to bring their share home in.
Can I trade my produce points for protein points (or vice versa)? Unfortunately, you cannot. For farm planning purposes we maintain separate systems for managing the produce share and the protein share and the points are not interchangeable.
Can I sign up for just a produce share or just a protein share? It is our mission to provide our members with the highest quality ingredients to make full meals. With that in mind, we ask that all members sign up for BOTH a Produce Share and a Protein Share, best sized for their family’s anticipated eating habits. Large families or those relying heavily on the farm for the majority of their food needs are welcome to sign up for multiple shares.
If you are interested in signing up for just one option (either Produce or Protein), please email us indicating your choice and your name will be added to a waiting list. We prioritize waiting list members interested in either a large produce share (ie, vegetarian members) or a large protein share (ie. members that grow their own garden). It has been our experience that members fully invested in eating locally and committing to the share program are the ones that have the best experience with our MarketShare.
If you are a past or current member that previously held a Vegetarian Share or a Meat + Egg Share, we are more than happy to continue that program with you, just send us an email.
Can I sign up for just one month? In following the spirit of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), we ask that all members commit to the entire share season. This allows us, the farmers, to best plan the farm. In our experience, members that commit themselves to the farm for several months at a stretch are the ones that have the best experience overall, because they are able to immerse themselves in the experience and develop positive changes in their cooking and eating habits.
If you are moving or traveling for a large portion of the season, you are welcome to email and add your name to a waiting list.
What about the fall and winter months? In the past our main MemberShare season ran from May through November, followed by a winter share season to finish out the year. We plan to return to that format in the future, but for the 2017 season we are dividing the season into smaller chunks. This allows us to trial the MarketShare program for the summer (July through August) and make modifications/improvements before the fall and winter season begins. This also allows our members to trial the new MarketShare program, so they can find the size that best fits their eating habits.
Do you offer payment plans? Our hope in offering a shorter summer season is to make the upfront cost more easily affordable for a larger number of families. It is also our hope that members will make a commitment to the farm during late winter/early spring, and budget to pay the remainder of their deposit throughout the springtime before the share season begins in early June.
That being said, we are always happy to work with families to make our food accessible to all. If you are in need of an alternate payment plan, please contact Farmer Allyson at allyson (at) fullheartfarm (dot) com, and we will do our best to develop an arrangement tailored to your needs.