2018 Member Handbook
Thank you for joining the Farm Direct Coop. We are a 900+ member strong cooperative committed to helping farmers as well as delivering high quality, local food to our membership. The produce you get from the FDC is picked either the day before or the day of distribution and delivered as fresh as possible!
If you can please take a moment to read through this document, it will help you to have a better experience as a member of the FDC. Even if you are a seasoned veteran, you will likely learn something new.
ABOUT YOUR COOP:
This is a Cooperative: It is important to keep in mind that you have joined a cooperative. In a cooperative, we help farmers by providing a known, reliable market for their produce. They can grow more if they know we are here to buy it. If they have a proliferation of one particular item, we can help them out by buying all we can. We are a relatively large coop which gives us some collective buying power. We can buy in quantity and pay our bills on time. Relationships with growers are paramount.
As a member, you receive the freshest, local food possible. Our produce doesn’t have the travel time of grocery store goods. How else are we different from a grocery store? First, we share a risk with our growers. If there is a terrible blight and no one locally has tomatoes, then we will not have them. If we order arugula from a specific farmer and it is flattened by rain in the night (true story), then there will be no arugula that week. Since the FDC is a multi-farm cooperative, meaning we buy from many different farms each week, these risks are lower than with a single farm CSA.
Secondly, you will likely be exposed to some fruits and vegetables to which you might be unfamiliar. For some, this is a giant plus! Others pine for a share of only very familiar foods. Belonging to a cooperative is best approached with a spirit of adventure. You are helping farmers, you will try new things, and you will meet new people with whom to share ideas and recipes.
How we spend your money or how it works – a game of averages. This is really important. The money you pay for the fruit and vegetable shares goes directly toward the cost of your food. For example, a small vegetable share costs $230. We spend approximately $11.50 per week purchasing vegetables on your behalf. We spend less in the beginning and end of the year when variety and availability is limited and more in the middle during the more bountiful times.
For example, the target price for a small vegetable share is $12 per week. At the beginning of the season, it is likely that the weekly value of that share will be $8 or $9. In the middle of the season, when there is much more variety and quantity available for purchase, the share will likely be worth $12 - $14. Our job is to carefully track expenses to make sure that the end value is $240, and that members get the best share possible over the course of the 20 week season (five months).
Communications: We send the newsletter via email every week. If you are not receiving this email, please let us know. It is very important to read the newsletter each week. Like those who volunteer, members who read the news tend to have a better experience because they are informed about growing conditions, farmer relations, and can have a better idea of what to expect. Most everything comes via email, so it is important that you provide us with an email address that is reliable and that you check regularly. We do our best not to overload your inbox, so please do check out what comes your way from the FDC.
Our Facebook page is another great way to stay in the loop, and to share ideas with other members. https://www.facebook.com/groups/FarmDirectCoop/. We also have a blog, accessible from the front page of our website, where you can find even more recipes and articles.
*When you write or send us email, please be sure to sign all correspondence with your first and last name, depot location, and pick-up day. This makes it easier for us to look up your account and answer your questions more efficiently.
Volunteering: Everyone is expected to volunteer at least two hours during the season. Members who volunteer tend to have a better understanding of how things work, have a greater appreciation for the coop, and consequently a better experience. Additionally, for each 2 hours volunteered, your name is entered into a raffle for a free December Share ($80 value).
To sign up to work at the depot, we use SignUp Genius. Hot links to Signup Genius are posted on the font page of our website. Remember, we can’t run the depots without your help! For a list of other ways to volunteer, please click here.
Making Deliveries: One way to meet your volunteer commitment, and to win the favor of your depot coordinator, is to make deliveries on depot day. There will be a sign at the depot advertising shares to be delivered. If you can swing it, please do.
Special Orders: If you would like to order in bulk for canning or eating, just let us know by emailing Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org. If it’s local and in season, we can most likely accommodate your request. Many things will be offered in a more formal way with an order form. Special orders are offered through your Small Farm Central Account. When you log in, look under Your Stores on your home page and you'll find what's currently available for purchase.
Odds & Ends Store: This store contains staple items like honey, maple syrup, salt, and sriacha that our members want to have on hand, small quantities of specialty items, and new products that we're trying out. When you make a purchase from this store, the goods will be dispatched to your depot on your next pickup day.
There Will Be Greens. On the annual survey, we always get mixed reviews on greens. Some say they can’t get enough, and others would never consider putting a bunch of kale in their bag. The truth is, there will always be greens. This is for three reasons. 1) Readily available 2) cost 3) good for you!
Bread Share: All breads are baked fresh for us during the night before depot day. Most artisanal breads are meant to be eaten THAT DAY or frozen. Some of the breads with more oils will keep longer, but by and large, bread without preservatives doesn’t last for days. The bread share is delivered every week.
Changing Share Size or Adding Shares: You may increase or decrease your share size at any time, or add/subtract extras like bread, cheese or cooks share.
Dropping Out: If you would like to drop your shares for any reason, please notify us via phone call or email the week before you'd like your shares to stop. Otherwise, we will continue to order food on your behalf with the expectation that you are planning to pick it up and pay for it. Please keep in mind that the membership fee is not refundable. Your other shares will be prorated so you only pay for the food you received up to the date you designated as your last pickup.
Tuesday vs. Thursday: The shares received on Tuesday and Thursday are very similar but not always identical. Neither day is better than the other. So, if you hear that you neighbor got nectarines on Tuesday, don’t be surprised if you don’t get them Thursday….you may get plums instead. We do make our best effort to make sure everyone gets their share of each item.
Weekly Home Delivery: Home delivery every week is available for the 20 week regular season for a charge of $80. Delivery range is limited, so please inquire if you do not reside in Salem, Marblehead or Melrose proper.
Other Deliveries: During the regular season (June - October) each member within delivery range can receive one delivery free of charge. Subsequent deliveries cost $5 each.
For the November Share, we offer delivery or an after hours pickup option for $5 if arranged in advance. Forgotten shares can be picked up at an after hours location for $5 or receive delivery for $10.
For the December share, we offer an after hours pick up option for $5 if arranged in advance, and $10 if requested after the depot has closed. We do not offer a delivery option for the December Share because delivery hours are short and the share is giant.
*For all delivery requests, please contact your depot coordinator.
DEPOT LIFE, HOW THINGS WORK:
Sign Out Sheets: It is really important that you sign out for your regular shares (vegetable and fruit) and specialty shares. Depot coordinators use the sign out sheets to gauge how many members have come through, and how many are yet to come. She can’t tell if she’s running out of something prematurely, or has a giant surplus of a particular item, if those who have come do not sign out for their shares. Being a coordinator is a constant game of counting and reassessing, and we need accurate information in order to do a good job.
Special Shares: If you have a bread, cheese, flower, egg or mushroom share, you'll find your items in the Special Shares tent.
What if I forget my pick up and have Special Share?
Eggs - Will be re-dispatched the following week if you ask your coordinator to save them. Since there is no sign out sheet for eggs, we really don't know who missed them. Uncollected eggs get donated to the Lynn Home for Women.
Mushrooms - Are donated to the local COA or food pantry where each location sends their leftovers each week.
Cheese - We will re-dispatch to your next regular pick up. Check in with your coordinatorat the depot.
Bread - Like mushrooms, these are donated at the end of the night.
Cook's - We will re-dispatch to your next regular pick up. Check in with your coordinator at the depot.
Flowers - Are donated at the end of the night.
*Weigh carefully, we buy just enough for everyone. If several people over-weigh by just a quarter pound, we can run short at the end of the day.
*PLEASE don’t pick through the produce – that peach you squeezed and rejected is going to have to go home with someone else! As a cooperative, we only buy enough produce to satisfy everyone’s order, so nothing can go to waste from over handling.
*Watch your kids. We love kids (for real) and they are welcome to help, but please be aware of other members and make sure your little ones are not running amuck through the depot. If it’s busy, it may not be the best time for a lesson on weights and measures. Little hands also need to understand that scales can’t be played with like toys, and that the fruit tables are not to be confused with a snack bar.
*Make sure you sign out. This really helps the coordinators to manage the flow of produce.
What If You Can’t Make It to the Depot on time? If you are running late and don’t think you can make it to your depot by closing, all is not lost. You can call your depot coordinator BEFORE closing time to arrange for an after-hours pick-up. We recommend that you put the phone number of your depot coordinator in your phone at the beginning of the season. This way you will have it the day you are stuck on 128 with no chance of an on time arrival. Our phone number is 877.332.3276 (877.fdc.farm). Specific phone extensions and email addresses are listed at the bottom of this sheet. If you know in advance that you will need a delivery, you may email your coordinator to make delivery arrangements.
What if you forget to come or otherwise miss your share? If you know in advance that you are going to miss, you may send a friend to pick up your share. Please make sure they check in with the depot coordinator. Well intentioned substitute share gatherers often don’t sign out and take the wrong things because they don’t know the procedure.
If you miss a share, you also have the option to go to your depot at closing time on a Tuesday or Thursday, and take from what is leftover. Please arrive approximately ten minutes before closing and check in the coordinator on duty. Please note though, there is no guarantee that there will be anything left over and we have to let all of the people who have signed up for that depot and day go first. We do not offer compensation for missed shares. If you don’t call and don’t show, we donate your share along with the other leftover food to a shelter or pantry.
Vacation HOLDS – If you know you are going to be out of town, you can arrange for a temporary hold for up to two pickup days during the regular season. Please log in to your Small Farm Central account, click "Schedule Vacations or Pickup Location Changes" and follow the prompts. Requests to alter your pickup day need to be submitted by Saturday night at midnight the weekend before the change. If you opt for a Vacation Hold, you can choose to either donate your food the week you miss, or schedule a double share on a different day.
Double Shares – If you schedule a Double Share as the result of a Vacation Hold, here’s how it works. For Fruit and Veg Shares, just double what the sign above each table says; you are literally doubling you share. The same goes for Flower, Bread and Mushroom Shares. When you collect your scheduled double share, just take two. For our other special shares (Eggs, Cook’s, Cheese), things work a little differently. If you schedule a double share and have any of these share types, please read on.
Egg Share: If you skip an Egg Share week due to a vacation hold, we will save your eggs for you. You can pick them up at your next trip to the depot in the admin tent. Check in with your coordinator. Please keep in mind that when you pick up your vacation hold eggs, they will be in a special cooler at the admin table labeled with your name. Please ask your coordinator. If you schedule a double share on a week other than your first trip back to the depot after vacation, bear in mind that you won’t be getting double eggs on that day.
Cook's Share + Cheese Share: If you skip a Cook's or Cheese Share week, we will hold the items for you. You can pick them up at your next trip to the depot in the admin tent. Check in with your coordinator. This means you don't get a double share of these items if you schedule a double share - we'll save the things you missed instead.
Pickup Day Changes – You can also change your pickup day (from Tuesday to Thursday or Thursday to Tuesday), or pickup at another depot. Even if you are just switching pickup days, it’s still called “Location Change.” To accomplish this, please login to your Small Farm Central account, click "Schedule Vacations or Pickup Location Changes" and follow the prompts. Requests to alter your pickup day need to be submitted by Saturday night at midnight the weekend before the change.
Please note that if the depot day you want to switch to is full, you'll need to go through email@example.com to get the pickup change on your account. Melrose Tuesday is currently full..
Rotating Choices: This comes up frequently. Almost always, members have some choices at pick-up. The sign might say something like “take 2 items from table 3” or “choose two greens.” If members are instructed to take 2 things, we likely ordered 6 different choices! HOWEVER, we do not put them all out at once. If we did it that way, the people at the beginning would have a better choice than those who come later. The fun, new items would be snatched up immediately.
How we manage this is that we rotate the choices. At opening, the coordinator may put out beets, carrots, and potatoes. When the beets run out, she may pull out a box of leeks or scallions to fill in the empty spot on the table. So, if you come at 3:15, and then come back at 4:30 to bring your coordinator a latte, you might see choices that weren’t available when you picked up your share earlier in the day. Coordinators also try their best to keep track of what went out when. For instance, if last week they put the red peppers out at 3:00, the next week they might hold them back until 5:00.
Boxes and Bags: Please bring a box, bag or basket to the depot in which to collect your share. If you have a nice collection of clean paper grocery bags, or the plastic kind that you might get at Stop & Shop or CVS, you can bring them to your depot to share with members who forget to bring their own. We’d rather not take odds sized bags (newspapers sleeves, used zip locks, etc.) because they are usually not chosen and end up as trash at the depot.
SOME ADMINISTRATIVE TIDBITS:
Billing and Making Payments: The billing cycle is comprised of three payments. The deposit is due February 15, half the remaining balance by June 15, and any final balance by August 1. If you don’t pay your bill on time, your account may be suspended. A $20 charge will be applied for payments more than two weeks late. Communication is key here. If you can’t pay your bill on time, please let us know! Sometimes financial situations change unexpectedly, and if you let us know soon enough, we may be able to help you with resources from the Community Aid Fund.
You will receive an invoice via email near each due date, June 15th and August 1st. Since emails can be lost, buried in your inbox or diverted to spam file, please mark these dates on your calendar as well. You may make a payment by mailing a check to FDC, Box 1146, Marblehead, MA 01945. You are also welcome to pay at the depot. We do not accept cash at the depots.
February 15 - $100 deposit due for returning members
June 15 – Half of your balance after deposit
August 1 – Any remaining balance is due in full
You are welcome to pay more frequently to make the payments smaller. Many members choose to make monthly payments that are automatically generated by their bank's online banking system.
After the August 1st payment, we ask that you keep your balance below $40. This helps the membership because checks don’t have to be written for every small purchase made at the depot. It helps the coop too, because it cuts down on the number of payments we have to process, and keeps the balances closer to zero as we move toward the end of the season.
Special Order Payment: If you make a purchase for $40 or more, payment is due in advance or at the time of pickup. Smaller purchases can be folded into your monthly or installment (June + Aug) payments. For instance, if you purchase a pint of raspberries for $4 at the depot, you don't need to write a check just for that. If you purchase of flat of organic strawberries for $49, we would need payment in advance or COD.
Payment Methods: We ask that whenever possible, members pay by check. Electronic payments are convenient but cost the coop thousands of dollars annually ($8,000 in 2016). You can pay by credit card via paypal or dwolla by logging into your Small Farm Central account. We also accept SNAP and participate in the Healthy Incentive Program, which offers reimbursements to SNAP uses for purchases of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Refunds/Credits: Unlike most CSA's we do offer refunds if you need to drop out or reduce your share sizes. Members move, travel unexpectedly, or if the program just isn't working for your lifestyle, you may drop at any time. We do not offer refunds on the membership fee, but will prorate the remainer of the season for all other shares. Credits are occasionally needed to be offered for a cracked egg (44 cents!) or a moldy cheese - unusual, but it happens. We want you, our members, to be satisfied with the items you recieve through the FDC. That said, if we receive a poor quality item for the whole coop, we ask for credit at the farm level, and the whole coop benefits by recieving another item another week. We do not offer refunds for missed pickups.
Feedback: We always appreciate your feedback, positive or negative. It helps us to shape the orders each week and to have good communication with the farmers. If you have something to say, you can either tell your coordinator or email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tamara at email@example.com.
Contact Information: We recommend that you plug your coordinator’s phone number into your cell so you can call us from the road if need be.
Please make sure you contact the correct person to help with your question. Just hitting reply to a mass email can delay response time. Please include your full name, depot day and location on all correspondence.
For deliveries, after hours pick-ups, and questions about volunteering, contact your coordinator.
For billing and account information, contact Tamara.
For special orders, contact Julie.
For general questions, contact Julie or Tamara (after checking the website).
For newsletter submissions and inquiries, contact Jennifer
Marblehead Tuesday Depot Coordinator – Tamara Sullivan
firstname.lastname@example.org or 877.332.3276 ext. 12
Marblehead Thursday Depot Coordinator - Tamara Sullivan