Rettland Farm

Rettland Farm

Monday, January 30, 2012

CSA 2012, Part 2: The Long Distance Option

So we've had a good response for the Rettland Farm Chicken Subscription Arrangement since word of it hit the streets last week. 

But a few of our followers from outside the immediate area have contacted with their regrets at not being able to participate because of the distance from their homes to the farm here in Gettysburg.  So, that got the wheels turning again here at Idea Central.

And this is what I've come up with:

To make the trip more efficient for the long haulers, I will offer a Monthly CSA Share option.  This option will be for people who can only pick up their shares once per month because of distance.  The quantity of chickens will still be the same, one per week.  The chickens will still be the same type, size, and form (whole, halves, etc) as the weekly share.  The shares will still be picked up at the farm in Gettysburg, also on Saturday.

The difference however, is that these chickens will be cryovac packaged in plastic and frozen.  And, as a result of this packaging cost and the freezing, the Monthly share will cost $15 per week.  This brings the total cost of the share for the season to $450. 

For obvious reasons, the egg share isn't available for Monthly subscriber.

This option is really intended for folks in York and Harrisburg, PA or Baltimore, Frederick, or DC.  For those of you in the Hanover area, Rettland Farm chickens will still be available for retail sale at The Carriage House Market.  As an added bonus, if you buy our chickens there, you have access to Rettland Farm pork products, beef from Sheppard Mansion Farms, and lots of other products from local growers.

Hope this helps some of you decide to join us in the inaugural Rettland Farm CSA.  If so, drop me an email at , and be sure to mention the Monthly option.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chicken CSA, 2012

So today I'm going to roll out a new (to us) marketing idea, a new way to get our products onto your tables.

For 2012, I'm going to start a CSA.

Yeah, that's pretty confusing. CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture", (not Confederate States of America, for all of you Civil War buffs out there..) That's not much help either.

Basically, a CSA is an arrangement between a farmer (me) and a group of members or shareholders (hopefully some of you) where the farmer grows products for the members, and there is no middleman or other steps in the distribution chain. Other terms to describe it are Buyers Clubs, or Food Co-ops, or Subscription Services. The concept is pretty much the same.

Members go to a central location on a regular basis to pick up their "share" of the farm's bounty. Pretty simple. The payment for the food occurs in the beginning of the season, and then the group shares in the success of the crops or products that the farm produces over the growing season. No money changes hands at the time of sale--it has already occurred long before the delivery of the product.

Typically, CSA's are vegetable or fruit based. I don't grow fruit or vegetables, other than grass or livestock food, mainly because my thumbs are NOT green. They're black. I grow meat. thought was to form a meat CSA, specifically chickens. And since we don't really like the nebulous phrase "Community Supported Agriculture", let's change it up and personalize it. From now on, on my farm, CSA stands for "Chicken Subscription Arrangement". Cool? Good.

Here's the plan:
1. Why are we offering our products this way? I want to operate a CSA that provides fresh chickens and eggs for my members on a weekly basis. I think that this arrangement will strenghten relationships between farmer and eater, which is something that is important to me. It also ensures my members a supply of fresh food, and provides me with a stable, known quantity of products that I have to grow.

2. How does it work? Each "share" in the CSA will entitle the member to 1 pastured broiler chicken each week, usually unfrozen, usually whole, and packaged in a manner to be determined. We will also offer the option of adding 1 dozen eggs from pastured hens, also available for pick up weekly at the same time as the chicken. Each share will have a total cost for the year, and will be prepaid before the foods are produced.

3. What are the specifics on the products? This CSA will produce pastured broiler chickens, weighing approximately 4.0 lbs or more, but not less than 3.5 lbs. These chickens will typically be commercial white broiler chickens, with occasional heritage breed chickens provided as available for variety. The diet for the chickens, besides pasture, will contain whole grains (excluding corn), oilseeds, and vitamins and minerals. All processing of the chickens will occur on the farm, and be done by the farmer and/or farm employees.

The optional egg share will be made up of one dozen typically brown eggs from pastured laying hens. The eggs will be ungraded, but egg size is typically large or greater, and will not be smaller than Medium.

4. When will the CSA begin? End? The CSA will provide fresh food to the members every week from about May 15, run for about 30 weeks through the summer and end around late November or early December.

5. Where is the pick up location? The member will pick up their share at the farm, located outside of Gettysburg, PA once per week, usually Saturday. (However, if we have a concentration of people interested in becoming CSA members that live in other areas, we may have other pick up points--please ask if you think this is you, especially if you are from the Baltimore, Frederick, or Washington DC areas.) Our pickup hours will closely match the Adams County Farmers Market hours at the Gettysburg Outlets, which is only about 2 miles from the farm. That way, you can pick up your CSA share and then stop at the market for other great Adams County products, all in one trip!

6. What is the cost? The cost for 1 share in the CSA for 2012 will be $14 per week for a period of 30 weeks, for a total cost of $420. An optional egg share can be added for an additional cost of $4.00 per week. The total cost of the share will be paid by April 15, 2012, with a minimum 50% deposit due by March 1, 2012. (There may be a few limited opportunities for individuals to exchange labor doing light farm tasks in exchange for a CSA share. If you would prefer to exchange labor for a share instead of cash, please contact me.)

7. One share not enough? So your family eats more than one chicken a week, eh? OR, you are a planner and want to stock up on chickens for the winter while we are actively growing them in the summer? Good for you. Simply order as many shares as fits your needs.

8. Other benefits? Some CSAs do cool things like share recipes for harder to cook items. I'd like to teach people how to break down chickens into pieces, as some families prefer. Share tips for making stock (a must when you have access to fresh, flavorful whole chickens). Spend an hour with us on a harvesting day. Get a personalized tour of the chicken pastures. I'd be willing to do any or all of these things, if the interest was there. Anything to build a food community around our humble little chicken enterprise, and a sense of ownership for the members. What ideas do you have??

OK, team. I think I've thrown enough info at you for one sitting. Mull it over with your families this weekend. Decide if it's right for you and yours. Feel free to contact me with questions in the comment section--chances are, if you have the question, someone else does too.

If you decide you'd like to go ahead and join the inaugaral Rettland Farm Chicken Subscription Arrangement, send me an email at . We'll work out the specifics from there.

Thanks for your consideration. This is gonna be fun.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Has it really been that long??

Has it really been that long since I posted? June? Wow.

So my poor blog has been neglected for awhile, I know. I've been just a little busy with farm stuff, and family stuff, and any other kind of stuff that has come along that kept me from keeping you loyal blog readers up to date.

To be honest, I've also been lured into the ease and simplicity of Facebook and Twitter. It seems much easier to fire off some quick update and a picture to one of these sites than to sit down and write more than 140 characters to create a coherent post on the blog.

That's not really right, so I've made a few changes to keep the blog updated, and to make it easier to follow the blog, too.

First, you'll notice my Twitter feed in the left column. Now you can read what I'm posting to Twitter without subscribing to it yourself. You'd thank me if you knew how dumb Twitter really was. Really. You're not missing anything.

Second, just below the Twitter feed is a place to enter your email address, so you will receive anything I post here in your email inbox. No need to check here every day to see if I've updated the blog, a task which I would imagine was pretty fruitless over the last SEVEN MONTHS!

Finally, I'll try to be a little more diligent about posting here. I've got a few ideas rolling around in my head that might really benefit from the use of the blog.

I'll keep you posted. Honest.

**If anyone has any idea how to link my Facebook page to the blog, I'd really be grateful for the tip.