On July 1st, 2014, the minimum wage in California will jump by 11.5%, to $9 an hour.  For people who earn the minimum wage or close to it, this is great news.

At Terra Firma, the minimum wage is an entry level wage, and we have very few employees earning it.  But growing fresh produce is a low-wage, labor intensive industry, and prices for the crops we grow are generally set by what is known as “the lowest cost producer”.  That farmer is the one who pays everyone minimum wage, and so wages on farms in general are governed by it.

Most of our employees earn 10-25% above the current minimum, and all of them expect a raise on July 1st.  But that across-the-board raise will also raise costs for us and most other fresh prodcue farmers.  So in the end, consumer prices for fresh produce grown in California will increase.  As will imports from other countries with lower labor costs.  Every time California increases the minimum wage, fewer fruits and vegetables end up being grown here and the ones that do get more expensive.

And so, after three paragraphs, it’s time to make the announcement:  On July 1st, Terra Firma will reluctantly raise the weekly price of all of our CSA boxes.  Our other alternative is to reduce the amount of produce in the boxes.  We decided not to do this because — due to other cost increases over the years — we are already putting fewer items in your boxes than we did four years ago.

Our new CSA weekly box prices will be as follows:
Small — $16
Medium — $27
Large — $38

We have several lofty goals here at Terra Firma: to grow healthy fresh produce organically and sustainably; to provide good year-round employment; to take good care of our subscribers; and to earn a decent living for ourselves.  In this particular situation it is very difficult to balance this equation.

If you have concerns or opinions about the price increase, please let us know as we are open to other ideas.