I wanted to address a few issues that subscribers have communicated with us recently in this week’s newsletter.
First: Plastic. We have entered the time of year when there starts to be more plastic in your boxes. Several subscribers have raised concerns about this, and we understand the reasons.
We bag items for several reasons:
1) It makes weighing loose items like potatoes or tomatoes easier, and keeps those items from moving around inside the box.
2) It helps protect delicate items from being damaged.
3) Plastic bags keep items hydrated, improving their shelf life.
— We always use paper bags when possible. However, we cannot pack wet items into paper bags.
— We only use plastic bags when the item being bagged needs to stay hydrated, or if the item/s are wet.
Beginning next week, we are going to experiment with a new system to try to cut down on the number of plastic bags in your boxes, by using the same type of “butcher paper” on the top of the boxes as we currently use on the bottom. We are hoping that this system will keep items like lettuce heads and bunched greens fresh and hydrated much the same way that plastic does. Please let us know if this change affects the quality of any items in your boxes.
Obviously, loose greens like spinach and arugula will still have to get bagged in plastic. We are currently looking into compostable bags for this purpose and will keep you posted.
Please note that any leafy green item you receive in your boxes needs to be stored in your fridge in some type of container to keep it from drying out and shriveling — whether a cloth bag, sealed glass container, or just a reused plastic bag.
Second: Quality Issues. Several subscribers have brought some important issues to our attention regarding the quality of certain items.
— Fall can be a challenging time for us as we can experience either hot or very windy weather when we are harvesting temperature-sensitive crops. Both of those weather phenomena can cause rapid breakdown and other quality issues with vegetables like lettuce or arugula. Normally, we try to avoid harvesting during those conditions, but at least a few times a year it happens anyway. Those items might look perfectly fine when we pack your boxes, but break down quickly in your fridge.
— The change of seasons also creates challenges for us with both new staff who have never harvested or packed the crops we’re growing now as well as the veteran staff who have spent the last four months entirely immersed in tomatoes, peaches, melons, and other summer crops. Our protocols for handling fall greens are completely different from those for summer fruit, as are the requirements for keeping them fresh. Every year this is a rough transition for the crew, but this year we have a new Harvest Manager as well. Mistakes have been made, and we apologize for them.
— Terra Firma founder Paul Holmes retired at the end of the summer, leaving Hector and I to run Terra Firma without him. This has left us with one fewer pair of experienced eyes to keep track of what is happening around the farm. While the transition has gone fairly smoothly, there is no doubt that details have been missed recently that might have otherwise been caught had Paul still been on hand.
Please remember that we appreciate all feedback from our subscribers and we rely on your eyes, ears and mouths to evaluate what we are doing and let us know when we screw up. With very few exceptions we will give you full credit for any items that are poor quality or damaged. It is our goal to provide you with the best possible quality fruits and vegetables we can grow, and we need your help to do it!