Thanks to everyone who answered the survey I posted in last week’s newsletter asking about summer vacation. We got over 250 responses, which is a really great sample size at almost a quarter of our active subscribers. What we learned is that just about everyone is planning on taking a month’s vacation this summer. So, based on the information we garnered in the survey, we have made the momentous decision to do the same: Terra Firma will close for the entire month of August.
We’ve never shut the farm down in the summer before, but the choice seemed obvious. There are other great reasons beyond our subscribers’ vacation plans. First, we’re experiencing a terrible drought and it would definitely help conserve water if we stopped irrigating for a whole month: About 20 million gallons of water, to be exact. That should make a sizable dent in our state’s coming water shortage. Also, there’s a fairly high certainty that this year will bring more wildfires. We’re really not looking to repeat our experience last year with weeks and weeks of working outside in the smoke. In fact, many of us have already booked our flights to humid and tropical areas where we can spend our vacation month. With everyone at the farm now fully vaccinated as of last Saturday, we are almost ready to fly the friendly skies!
Of course, tomorrow is April First, and I couldn’t help jumping the gun on April Fool’s Day. (Those who answered the survey know that there was also an unintentional joke programmed into the responses). For a farm like ours, taking a vacation during the summer would be like a Halloween specialty store closing in mid-October.
In all honesty, we very much appreciate you taking the time to let us in on your summer plans. As California emerges from the other side of this pandemic (we hope) and achieves herd immunity or close to it, our farm and other businesses of all shapes and sizes are facing a huge amount of uncertainty about what people are going to do. Of course many people will likely still be unemployed. And others will continue to work mostly or entirely from home. Entire industries have been upended by Covid, and people are migrating in response. We are not anticipating a return to 2019 levels of sales to our other outlets such as restaurants or tech company cafeterias.
That leaves our CSA subscribers as our primary outlet for our farm’s produce. Knowing how many of you are planning on leaving the area this summer helps us get an idea of how much to plant for the summer. While we didn’t ask everyone to provide exact dates (thank goodness!), we can extrapolate from the data to tweak our numbers from last year.
As farmers, we do have a certain amount of job security: people will still need to eat. All we have to do is figure out what they want to eat, and then grow it. That is a pretty big challenge, but unlike most farmers, we have our customers’ email addresses and they have ours. We cherish the relationship we have with you, and we hope the same holds for you.