Nigel and I always felt that growing community was essential to all that we do. A couple of months ago, he was talking to me about learning that a community of plants in the pasture made for a much healthier crop. Somehow growing multiple varieties mixed together just worked better, probably because the plants work together in a system. And just like humans, they also can compete and fight, but with the right mix and good plant communication, the pasture would be rich, full and beautiful.
The past few years, we’ve tried growing our CSA community by opening up the events to the public. We learned from you that visits to the farm were key in making a solid connection between members and the land. It made the difference between you simply being a customer and becoming an invested share holder of the farm; Eatwell became your farm. So it made sense to us to have more people here, sharing in the events alongside our members. Of course, it would help us grow the CSA. The funny thing is that isn’t how it works. What I have learned over the past couple of weeks is that it’s not just about getting people to the farm, it is actually about us having the chance to really connect with one another. Opening the events to the public, which made them much larger affairs, meant we didn’t have the time to really visit with existing members. That doesn't translate into CSA growth. I think a big part of why it didn’t work is because you are the best ambassadors, and when you bring your friends and family they share your experience. Often they “see the light” and become members because of it. They are invited into the community and at least temporarily become a part of it. I now realize that maybe a better focus of attention is making sure all of our CSA members have that serious connection to the farm. ALL of you should know deep inside this is your farm,. This is your place to come to visit and be with the land. I want every member to not just open a box of produce, but to open a box of the bounty that is your family farm, even if you don’t get to visit often or ever. I have heard many beautiful stories over the past couple of weeks and they all confirm this concept for me. Yes we need more members so don’t stop the evangelism, but more importantly I want to make sure you each and everyone of you feel this connection.