Staring out into the future right now can feel like driving in a rainstorm and trying to see out the windshield. It’s not just the raindrops continuously hitting the glass — the daily, weekly and monthly events confronting the world right now — but also the windshield wipers on high speed trying to keep the window clear. You get a clear glimpse of the landscape, but by the time the windshield clears again, everything is different.
There’s a common sentiment, especially among business owners, that we have no idea what is going to happen in the next six months. Covid has brought a tremendous amount of uncertainty to everyone’s lives, and climate change is not helping. But it also seems like the pandemic has accelerated or amplified trends that have been underway for years in the way things get done. People are questioning everything, and making big changes.
For us at Terra Firma, 2020 forced us to dramatically pivot, but it was really a return to the relatively recent past. Our CSA had been on the decline for several years, but we had stuck with it. This allowed us to ramp back it back up again as our sales to tech company cafeterias and restaurants fell off a cliff. It’s hard to call anything that happened last year positive, but for Terra Firma the CSA was the only bright spot.
Going into 2021, I felt fairly certain that things would “return to normal” by Labor Day. We anticipated a rapid drop-off in our CSA subscriptions by late summer. Instead, here we are in September with interest in the CSA remaining high and subscriptions holding strong. We are immensely grateful for this, given that many of our other outlets remain anemic at best.
One thing is becoming clear: that the transition that many people have made to working from home, either part-time or full-time, will likely become permanent — even after the pandemic finally ends. And CSA seems like a pretty good fit for this new lifestyle. Anecdotal evidence is indicating that plenty of people are spending some of the time they used to use for commuting on preparing meals at home to enjoy with family and friends. And while they’re working at home, vegetables and fruit make convenient and healthy snacks. “The Covid 15” may have been a catchphrase early on in the pandemic, but people I’ve spoken to are also crediting work-at-home with allowing them to spend more time on exercise or outdoor activities as well as healthier eating.
We want to make sure our CSA keeps up with the changes in our subscribers’ lifestyles. But we’re still relying on assumptions from “the before times” when we put together your weekly boxes and plan out the crops for each season. While we are always constrained somewhat by the time of year and the weather, we can also make tweaks in the boxes to make our subscribers get the most possible from the CSA. We depend on feedback from our customers to make these decisions, although we can’t always accommodate your requests.
Then there is the fact that people are moving. We have lost quite a few subscribers who have left California or the metro I-80 area. We’re not going to start shipping our CSA boxes via UPS of course. But we have seen growth in some of our less-urban delivery areas. We have also added delivery sites in the Sacramento area, and we are always open to starting new drop sites if they are conveniently located and we can achieve a critical mass of subscribers there. Let us know if you’re moving and want to start a site.
Looking out the blurry windshield over the last few months, the one object that has been easy to see is our CSA. We plan on keeping our focus on it, and we hope you do, too.