2014 CFCSA Member Survey Summary:
We get a lot of valuable feedback from our members during the season at the weekly pick-ups and through email, but each year we also carry out an end-of-season survey of our members which helps us reflect critically on the past season and think about changes we should implement in the coming year. We greatly appreciate receiving responses from our members who took the time to share their thoughts. Here is a summary of the results.
2014 CFCSA Survey Summary
Of the 169 members that were asked to provide feedback, 113 respondents participated in the survey (67%). (In 2013, 54% completed the survey, 55% in 2012 and 69% in 2011.)
Make-up of Survey Respondents
71% small shares, 22% medium, 6% large shares, 5% shared
47% Kingstown, 17% Chestertown market, 16% Farm, 10% Kent Island, 3.5% each Middletown and Dover, and 2% Rock Hall
Years of participation:
28.3% are new memberships (24.1% in 2013, 32.6% in 2012, 35.8% in 2011)
19.5% are second year members (18.4% in 2013, 27.9% in 2012, 16.8% in 2011)
33.6% have been members for the past 3-5 years (33.3% in 2013, 29.1% in 2012, 35.8% in 2011)
18.6% have been members for greater than 5 years (24.1% in 2013, 10.5% in 2012, 11.6% in 2011)
Plans to return
85.3% plan on returning (88.2% in 2013, 78.3% in 2012, 78.2% in 2011)
02.8% (3) are not returning (2.4% in 2013, 4.8% in 2012, 4.6% in 2011)
11.9% (13) are unsure (9.4% in 2013, 16.9% in 2012, 17.2% in 2011)
3.5% (4 ) skipped the question (2.3% in 2013; 3.5% in 2012; 8.4% in 2011)
In 2014, of the 14 respondents that gave reasons for not returning:
42.9% (6 people) chose “other” and comments included need to watch expenses, farm lane scrapes undercarriage of car, time constraints
21.4% (3 people) chose “too expensive”
14.3% (2 people) was a tie between two choices: “the share does provide the variety…I prefer” and “I will be out of town frequently”
In 2013, of the 8 respondents that gave reasons for not returning:
4 reasons were tied for most cited at 37.5% or (3 people):
“pick-up site is inconvenient”
“pick-up time does not fit into my schedule”
“the share does not provide the variety of vegetables I prefer”
“other” (write in responses included: “planning on starting my own garden” (stated by two people) and “Middletown is convenient but being unable to pick the produce is a disadvantage”
Second most cited at 25% (2 people) was “the share is too big”
Third most cited at 12.5% (1 person) was “too expensive”
In 2014, “desire for fresh produce” (85%) was ranked highest followed second by “desire for locally grown produce” (83%) and third by “knowing where and how your food was grown” (75%). This was similar ranking to last year’s results: in 2013, “desire for fresh produce” (95%) was ranked highest followed second by “desire for locally grown produce” (90%) and tied for third were “desire to support a local farm” (79%) and “knowing where and how your food was grown” (79%).
“Concern for children’s health” ranked lowest (52% ranked it as important or extremely important, 28% were neutral and 20% said it was not important) and “desire to try new foods” was second to last (ranked important or extremely important by 62%, neutral by 32% and not important by 7%). “Desire for less expensive food” was identified as extremely important by 26%, important by 42%, neutral by 24%, and not important by 7%.
In 2013, “desire for less expensive food” ranked lowest and “desire to try new foods” was second to last. “Expense” was identified as extremely important by 20.9% (20.8% in 2012), important by 40.7% (41% in 2012) and neutral by 27.9% (34.9% in 2012). (In 2011, 24.5% stated extremely important, 28.7% stated important and 39.4% were neutral.) “New foods” was identified as extremely important by 27%, important by 46%, and neutral by 20%.
Children’s health was roughly 20-30% across all levels of ranking, as indicated by the comments, this may be closely representative of the number of members with children. (It was similar in 2013, 2012 and 2011.)
18.8% of respondents (18 individuals) expressed “interest in volunteering to support the CSA” (20.3% or 15 respondents in 2013). Of those 18:
11 respondents have an interest in education and outreach
8 respondents have an interest in fieldwork
5 respondents have an interest in fundraising
7 respondents have an interest in social events
67 people expressed interest educational activities. Of those 67,
67.2% are interested in cooking classes (76.1% in 2013, 69% in 2012)
56.7% are interested in food preservation classes (43.5% in 2013, 48.3% in 2012)
35.8% are interested in farm tours (37% in 2013, 29.3% in 2012)
32.8% are interested in field days featuring organic farming techniques (32.6% in 2013, 34.5% in 2012)
20.9% are interested in children’s activities (19.6% in 2013, 24.1% in 2012)
Comments/suggestions for classes/activities:
something aimed at young elementary, maybe a parent-child class – harvest and prepare a meal
another mushroom class
pest management class
spring foraging day
more info about how to store produce
another fermentation class
how to grow garlic
prefer locations closer to Chestertown
Variety and Quality of Crops
The variety was well complimented but overall ratings were lower this year compared to 2013. Variety was rated excellent by 59%, good by 33%, and average by 7% compared to 2013 ratings as excellent by 72%, good by 24%, and average by 4%.)
Several crop requests included the addition or expansion of some offerings including winter squash*, more weeks of spinach, Brussels sprouts, head lettuce, sweet corn, carrots, snap peas, okra, parsnips*, beets, cucumbers, and others. Requests for crops that we don’t currently grow included golden beets, more varieties of herbs, lima beans, fruit (esp. berries), mushrooms, salsify, seedless watermelon, sunchokes, celery, and dry or soup beans.
*some varieties have or would have been offered and either growing conditions did not fair well (eg. parsnips, winter squash).
When we asked if any produce was of poor quality, 11 people mentioned sweet corn, 6 people mentioned onions were bad inside, 4 people mentioned lettuce (spoiled or wilted fast, caterpillars, or bitter), 3 people mentioned tomatoes (spoiled fast, heirlooms had large cores, cherries were overripe), 2 people mentioned they didn’t like the small or very large sweet potatoes.
Overall rating of freshness and quality were rated lower this year than in 2013:
Freshness: 87% rated it excellent and 12% good ( 2013: 95% rated it excellent, 4% good, and 1% average)
Quality: 83% rated it as excellent and 17% good (2013: 89% rated it excellent and 11% good)
Challenges and Benefits of Membership
When asked what was most challenging, the majority of responses (24 individuals) cited making it to pick-up, 6 stated deciding what to select each week, 3 cited the farm lane (potholes, too dusty or muddy), 3 cited managing to eat all the food in a week. Also mentioned was weather at pick-up, storing greens in fridge with limited space, getting around in farm market booth, paying lump sum, Kingstown pick-up too dark in the fall after the time change, leaving the Southern States parking lot at 4:30pm, planning ahead/not knowing what will be available, too few leafy greens in the middle of summer, traveling to Kent Island from Annapolis, wanting to be more involved but not having time.
When asked what CSA members most enjoyed, the majority cited the produce: fresh, good food, local, sustainably grown, clean, good variety, high quality, beautiful, great flavor, delicious, tastiest. Others cited the fall bounty, trying new varieties of food, getting to choose produce, knowing where food is grown and who grows it, meeting staff/apprentices and described them as good folks, nice staff, delightful, supporting a local farm, spending less money at grocery store, being a locavore, convenience/access to produce, seeing animals at the farm, seeing produce growing at a marijuana farm, walking dog at farm, harvest party/Oktoberfest, participating in classes, work share, CSA member camaraderie, the pick-ups, being inspired by the abundance and variety to get creative when cooking meals, having a kitchen that is always stocked with fresh vegetables, eating healthier, kids love it, Glory (our farm dog).