Hello CSA members!

Wow! Here we are…Week 1 of the CSA. For returning members, welcome back! And for new members, welcome to the Two Bear Farm CSA. This is a 20 week journey through the 8 week Montana growing season 🙂 Our goal is to get you some very fresh, nutritious food all summer while also hopefully increasing your awareness about how much food can be grown in a state not much known for it’s vegetable production.

This is our refrigerator truck, it’s a grand landmark for locating us. It is parked at our tent at all three of the farmer’s markets, and your shares will be inside….so look for it.

I have to admit, week #1 is my least favorite newsletter of the season because it’s basically nothing but rules! So, I’m sending you this one today, to get the rules out of the way. And then tomorrow evening I will send you the Week #1 newsletter with more information about your a share. It’s important that everyone understands how this whole thing works, especially those of you who are new to our CSA. Due to the uncertainty with our restaurant and Farmer’s Market sales this season, we decided to increase our CSA share number as it is well suited to a pandemic. So, just so you are all aware, there are 342 shares this year. That’s really exciting that so many of you have chosen to support local, organic agriculture. It’s also a bit terrifying from a logistics standpoint.

Please recognize that there are only 7 of us who work on this farm. And now there are 342+ of you, plus lots of market customers. The most important thing you can all do as members is to read your weekly newsletter every week before you head to your designated pickup location. No skimming allowed. In fact, maybe read it twice. The newsletter tells you everything you need to know about the share each week, as well as giving you farm updates, storage tips, and recipe suggestions.

With only 7 of us on the farm, we need to be highly efficient to give you the quality product and service you deserve. Which means we need to minimize interruptions, confusion, and stress. Customer service is very important to us, but keep in mind that all seven of us are working very fast with both hands all day, and so responding to texts, emails, or phone calls can quickly overwhelm our customer service department. To avoid this need, I will commit to being as clear as possible in my newsletters to avoid confusion, and we ask that you commit yourself to reading the newsletter (in case I didn’t mention that yet). It’s a team effort! Also, due to Covid 19, we will be taking extra precautions this year to try to keep social distance and have farm employees unload you shares into your bags for you to prevent contamination.

Before I go into pickup specifics, there are 3 important rules to keep in mind.

  1. You can manage your membership via the online account you set up at signup. If you want to change your pickup location (either temporarily or permanently), you can do so as long as it is in by Saturday night before your scheduled pickup. You are also entitled to 2 vacation holds per season, which allows you to skip 2 weeks of delivery and get double boxes in two other weeks. If you need to make either of these changes, we ask that you try to do it on our software yourselves. If you have trouble, email us and we will make the change for you. If you need a last minute pickup change you can contact us via email, so long as it is at least two days prior to pickup.
  2. The produce you are going to receive is extremely fresh. What you do with it upon picking it up dictates whether it remains that way. Please recognize that your refrigerator is a huge dehydrator. Almost all vegetables need to be sealed in a plastic bag or tupperware type container to maintain freshness. Even crisp carrots that last 6 months in storage will go bad in your refrigerator within a couple of days if not sealed and protected. All the produce you receive will have been kept cool in our cooler and refrigerator truck, so try not to let it get warm (in your car truck, at the bar, etc.) before getting it home. All of the produce you receive will be pre-washed. You do not need to re-wash it unless you want to. Also, it’s all Certified Organic and grown on our farm, so the worst you’d find is soil or an insect.
  3. We commit to harvesting and delivering you a CSA share at the location you have selected and within the designated hours. It is your responsibility to pick it up at the right place within the designated hours. If you fail to do so, for whatever reason, you need to call us by noon the following day to let us know that you want to claim your missed share, otherwise we will repurpose it so it does not go to waste. When you contact us (preferably via text or email), we will set up a time for you to come out to the farm, and we will set your share out in a specified location so that you can get it at your convenience and without disrupting field work. We ask that you do not come out to the farm unannounced. If you do not contact us by noon the next day after missing a pickup, then you forfeit your share for that week. That means you can’t call us 4 days after missing a pickup and expect us to still have a share for you.

See what I mean….lot’s of rules. But really, it’s pretty straightforward. And if I don’t say it, things go sideways pretty fast. In order to give you the highest quality and best service, we need to be extremely efficient on the farm. And so we really try to minimize disruptions or surprises.

So, let’s get on with the pickup dates and times. Depending on what you selected when you signed up, there are five different days this week for CSA pickup, as well as mutliple locations. I will go through each one:

Whitefish Farmer’s Market pickup – Tuesday, May 12th from 4:30 to 6:00 There is no farmer’s market until June 8th, and Central avenue is all torn up for the park improvements. So, our plan for the first 4 weeks of CSA is to park our refrigerator truck across from the library on the east edge of depot park to do CSA distribution. I forgot to get approval from Whitefish Parks on this idea last week, so I will hopefully do so on Monday. If I fail to get approval, I will let everyone know what Plan B is (we have a backup location on Edgewood). All you need to do is find us at our truck, say hi, tell us your name and whether you have a full or partial share. We will get your share out of the truck, open it up, and load it into a box or bag that you provide. So, please remember to bring reusable bags, coolers, etc.

West Glacier, East Glacier, & St. Mary – Thursday, May 14th after 4pm at the Discovery Center– Once again, I forgot to check with Aubrie Lorona about whether the Discovery Center is even open, so I will update you if that is not the case. This season we are having Wicked Good Produce drop your pre-bagged shares in the left most door of the Discovery Center, and they will be there no later than 4pm. It actually might be more like noon, but I will give you an update in tomorrow’s newsletter. The shares will be separated into each group, and your name will be taped on the bag. Please verify the name before taking a share. If you are running the East Glacier or St. Mary shuttle, please verify that you are only taking to correct shares. A list should be provided by your shuttle organizers.

Columbia Falls Community Market – Thursday, May 14th from 5pm to 7:30pm – The market has decided to open on schedule this season, however it will be limited to food and produce vendors only. We have a side table set up at our market stand to distribute CSA. You do not need to enter the market tent. Provide us your name and whether you have a full or partial share, and we will get it out of the refrigerator truck and unload it into a bag, box or cooler that you supply. Please remember to bring something to carry your share in.

On Farm Pickup – Friday, May 15th, at 1978 K M Ranch Road from 5pm to 7pm. Please do not use GPS to find our farm, as it will not send you to the right place. Our farm is located at 1978 KM Ranch Road. The number is on a black mailbox just south of our driveway, and there is a large white Two Bear Farm sign at the driveway entrance. If you are looking up, and not at your phone, it should be easy to find. Come all the way down the driveway, past the greenhouse, and park in the gravel parking lot on the left, or the grass parking lot on the right. Follow the path with the ornamental grasses to the brown barn. Someone will greet you there and load you up with the CSA. Again, please provide a reusable bag, box or cooler for us to pack your share into. We ask that you drive slowly on our driveway, It is dusty, and all that dust blows onto the crops…not to mention there is a young puppy running around who doesn’t understand cars and driveways yet.

Kalispell Farmer’s Market – Saturday in the FVCC parking lot between 9am and 12:30pm Come to our tent at the market (the refrigerator truck will be parked right behind it), and let someone know you are there for your share. A farm employee will go into the back of the truck to get your share, and they will bring it out to you. Please provide a reusable bag, box, or cooler for us to pack your share into.

So, take a moment to verify the pickup location you selected when you initially signed up for your share. As I mentioned before, if you miss a pickup, you need to come out to the farm to get it. We do not automatically bring the shares with us to other markets or drop points, so please don’t go somewhere else looking for a share. And it’s important that anyone picking up your share understands these rules…so tell your family, or people you are sharing with, or friends who pick up your share while your out of town. Also, while the economy is re-opening in phases, we ask that you are respectful of others and practice social distancing and proper hygiene (even if you don’t personally feel the need to). We will do our best to get you your share with minimal contact, with hopes that restrictions relax as the season progresses.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for Week #1. Looking forward to meeting or seeing you all again. And in spite of my above rules, if I missed anything or you have questions, send me an email to 2bearfarm@gmail.com (don’t reply to this newsletter). Thanks, and we’ll see you and distribution!