Don't you hate it when your phone company offers some skookum deal for new customers and leaves you and your years of loyalty in the lurch?
You know how it goes . . . You get a notice your bill is going up by five bucks a month, again, and then you hear a promo for new customers offering three years at 50% off - or something else equally annoying.
You've been a loyal customer forking over your hard earned moola for year after year and what do you get for it?
BUNK. That's what.
Kinda sucks, doesn't it?
We sure think so. That's why . . .
We don't sell first come, first served.
We've done business this way for a long time now. We've learned some folks have trouble wrapping their head around it. After all, money's money, right? Right?
Turns out, money isn't everything! No really. It isn't.
I've worked for huge multi-national corporations. Lots of 'em. So when I started this little heart-driven business I swore that by-gosh and by-golly I'd be darned if I played by their rules.
We aren't farming to get rich and I don't have any shareholders to answer to. No one needs to see my quarterly earnings and I don't have to play the game of growth-for-growth's sake. Therefore, I have the luxury of DOING THE RIGHT THING. Whoa boy. What a radical way to do business, am I right??
So guess what. Our people, our Farm Family, come first.
loyalty is really, really rare. Really really.
Loyalty is viewed in our culture as fuddy-duddy out-dated, old fashioned and maybe even something we should avoid. (After all, if you're loyal, how are you ever gonna score those awesome 50% off deals from the phone company?? You'll be that dope who's stuck paying an extra five bucks a month, year after year. No one wants to be that guy.)
And yet, we have customers who have come to see us week in and week out, often from significant distance, for nearly seven years now. When we don't have eggs - they just don't eat any. They learn to cook their food differently so that our animals can have a better life. They tell their friends and complete strangers about us. They've watched our kids grow, been sounding boards, offered business advice and shared laughs and glasses of wine and even during our darkest days, they were there. They support us unendingly in our farming adventure, and really - it's their adventure too.
There isn't a week that goes by that I don't count my blessings that I get to serve such an amazing, kind, generous tribe of folks who give a sh*t about where their food comes from. Honestly. It is humbling.
The least we can do is return the favour
So when Gerry, who's been with us since our youngest was a wee babe, rides his Harley out all the way from White Rock to see us, who shares business wisdom generously, who happily sings our praises to customers old and new . . . When he needs eggs? Guess what. He gets 'em! (We love you, Gerry!)
And Lila who's here every other week and whom my kids love like a Gramma? (And who brings treats like a Gramma does to boot?) Her too. Mwah.
Or Olga who literally feeds me as often as I feed her, who always arrives with homemade bread or Russian tea cakes? Yup. Her too.
Or the Rachel and Mel who came with food and flowers and hugs when my Mom died? You're getting the idea now? You got it.
See? It's not about money. (Told you.)
We insist you come and see us because we want to KNOW YOU and we want you to actually KNOW your food. Really know it. Know the animals by name, the soil through the seasons, what it REALLY takes to put food on your table. We want you to build a relationship with your food beyond slogans and marketing buzz-words.
We VALUE that relationship. It's not about hooking you on some three year contract and then jacking up the price by five bucks every year and forgetting about you, while we rush off to chase the next shiny new thing.
So if you're new to the farm and we don't have eggs for you, we're sorry we can't serve everyone. We really are.
We are a small farm rooted in the limits of biology and ecology - our own limits included. But we want you to know why. Why we don't just give our eggs to the first person with a handful of cash. Why we limit our eggs to six dozen per family per week. It's not that we wouldn't love to have you as a customer, it's just that we think that loyalty, gratitude, people and community ought to come before profits and the undisciplined pursuit of more.
If you GET IT, and are willing to be patient until we have room on our list, well, you're our kind of people. We're so glad you're here. We think our customers are pretty amazing humans, and we think you will to.
Feeling all the feels about big goals and uncharted waters today. We've got some serious learning curve action ahead of us - so I'm channelling my inner Picasso and doing my best to remember that you can't learn to walk without falling on your face.
Most of us have told ourselves we can't go after our big dreams "until". I can't do it UNTIL I'm a certified expert. I can't do it UNTIL I finish my degree. I can't start UNTIL I'm perfectly ready. I can't do it UNTIL the kids are in school. Sure - lots of those things might be nice to have, but are they really the MUST HAVEs we think they are?
My current adventure started before I was ready. I didn't have all my ducks in a row. I didn't really feel that I knew how to do what was coming. I was pregnant and scared and unsure. It was pretty much the worst timing possible. But it was jump or be pushed. Being present in that moment brings a special (terrifying) clarity.
Most of the barriers between us and the life we want to live are self-imposed. Those MUST DOs weren't really MUSTs afterall. I leapt, fell on my face, continue to fall and fail daily - but guess what - I'm DOING IT. You know, that thing I couldn't do before!
Here's to all of you out there doing the things you can't do!! You've got this.
I am on a mission. A mission to do the bulk of my "grocery" shopping before frost sets in . . . Not my grocery shopping for the week or the month, but for the winter, and eventually, the year.
Our customers always comment that we must never have to buy groceries - we might get there one day, but with two wee babes and a steep learning curve, we're not there yet! So, in attempt to eat as close to home and as cleanly as possible, I've embarked on this quest to see what I can learn, who I can meet and what lovely things I can find to feed my family through the dark days of winter.
Here's how I'm doing it.
Take a realistic look at your diet. Can you simplify it? What do you really love to eat and cook? What are you likely to ACTUALLY eat and cook?
What do you have room for? Do you have a garage that could work as cold storage? Could you share bulk purchases with family and friends? Do you know how to can and preserve? How much room do you have in your freezer? Your space and storing ability will determine how long a period you can purchase for. Be creative. Even in an apartment with a balcony you can store a lot of food. (Better yet, barter with friends for freezer space!)
Figure out what you need. How many pounds of onions do you eat a week? Potatoes? Flour?
Next, the fun part.
A Treasure Hunt of Sorts
If you really want to eat well, inexpensively and locally, you have to be prepared to search in some pretty strange and unexpected places.
Craigslist, of all things, is my go-to source for groceries. Yes, Craigslist. I know, it's weird. It's also wonderful. Check out the Farm & Garden section of the Abbotsford / Fraser Valley CL. Be amazed.
Go out into the world with a spirit of adventure - don't wait for good food to find you - ask! I've even posted want ads for specific foods and received a plethora of replies.
Look Under Your Nose
Last week I called every small local farm I could think of looking to buy about 100 pounds of storage onions. No one called me back. (What's with that!?)
A few days later a neighbour from up the road sauntered up the driveway - her organic wine grapes were ready for me to come pick - only 50 cents a pound! While I was there, she deftly up-sold me on her other goodies and guess what - she had storage onions, organic and a third of the price of any others I'd found. Done.
Ask around. Get to know your neighbours. I was always amazed to walk the alleys of East Van and see just HOW MUCH food was growing in those backyards, hidden from view. Don't be afraid to barter and trade, it builds community and is ridiculously satisfying!
Learn to Preserve the Harvest
Apparently canning's the thing to do amongst the hipster crowd these days. You don't need a beard and big glasses (oh wait, that's Jeff! But I'm pretty sure he doesn't know what a hipster is . . .) to preserve your own food. It's easy and cheap and requires little in the way of supplies.
Other than canning, there are lots of ways to put food by that are simple and effective. I rip the leaves off my beets, boil them in the biggest pot I have and bung them serving-sized freezer bags. When I want beets I don't have to boil them an hour, I just defrost them, rinse off the skins and hey-presto, supper.
There are lots of amazing blogs out there featuring traditional food preservation; drying, fermentation, cold-storage - and more and more are geared towards folks who don't have a barn with a million freezers.
Let's face it, most of us wouldn't know what to do with an entire side of beef. But get together a couple of other families and suddenly you've broken down both the bill and the required freezer space, and scored organic pastured steaks for less than the price of feedlot burgers.
The biggest lesson I've learned since moving to the farm from the city is if we want to live this lifestyle and eat this way, we need a thriving community. We have to know our neighbours, eat with them, share, work together, barter and trade, watch each other's kids, pitch-in in each other's kitchens and gardens and let go of some of our notions of separateness, hyper-individuality and isolation.
My Grocery Connections
Here's who I've bought groceries from so far this year:
Enjoy and happy shopping!