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Genesis Growers CSA

Genesis Growers CSA
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  • Genesis Growers CSA

    Post #1 - January 7th, 2005, 5:08 pm
    Post #1 - January 7th, 2005, 5:08 pm Post #1 - January 7th, 2005, 5:08 pm
    I know "Farmer Vicki" who runs a farm in Wisconsin called Genesis Growers. They offer a CSA (She also sells at Green City Market and the Oak Park Farmer's Market). I tried to forward, via the old listserv, information on the CSA and a sign-up form, but the file was too large. I have put the information on the CSA below, and if you want to sign up, either contact me for the form or (better) Vicki directly at genesis_growers@hotmail.com

    Farmer Vicki wrote:Genesis Growers CSA 2005

    22 weeks of organic produce, at $25 per week, beginning the first week of June and concluding the last week of October. ($25 worth of produce would be the approximate amount of produce a family of four would consume weekly - often a bushel of produce. Half shares are also available.) Each family would benefit by receiving the first fruits of each week's harvest and have the freshest produce possible. We pick fresh the day before delivery so that you have the freshest fruits and vegetables for your family. Our farm family wants your family to have the same produce we want for our own use - thus our motto - from our farm to your family.

    A typical mid-summer portion could contain:
    cantaloupe or watermelon
    sweet corn
    tomatoes
    bell peppers
    salad greens (lettuce or mesclun or spinach)
    cucumbers
    summer squash
    green beans
    bunching onions or bulb onions
    beets or carrots
    new potatoes

    The CSA members, in essence, have a share in the farm along with the farmer. This includes the benefit of a bountiful harvest, but may also include a possible crop failure. Ideally, each family in the CSA would offer the farm a few hours of labor through the growing season. This enables the member to identify with the labor involved in bringing a viable crop to fruition. It also provides a fun and fulfilling day with the family at the farm.

    A $25 share would cost $550 annually (half share =$275). This amount is due in full prior to the beginning of the season. Monthly payments are also an option. The CSA member, as a farm shareholder, helps absorb the cost of seed and the labor of planting the crops by paying their subscription fee in advance. Many people do not realize the resources required to start the season and how much labor is needed to successfully cultivate the land and plant the crops, many of which need to be planted many weeks before a harvest is possible. For instance, a tomato seed must be started in the greenhouse 8-10 weeks before it can be planted outside, and then another 2 months passes before harvest. So, if a typical field planting of tomatoes occurs May 15, those same seeds were sown in March. The seed had to be purchased several weeks prior to that. Thus the tomato=s inception began in January or February - much earlier than many non-farmers would imagine. Accordingly this requires not only seed purchases, but also a greenhouse, heating bills and labor. In order to meet this schedule, finances must be available for use. This is a notably difficult time for those in agriculture. When the CSA members join with the farmer in providing the resources to procure the seeds and the time to grow them, a great burden is lifted from the farmer. Together, as partners, the CSA members and the farmer pool their resources to obtain the eventual harvest.
  • Post #2 - January 28th, 2009, 10:00 am
    Post #2 - January 28th, 2009, 10:00 am Post #2 - January 28th, 2009, 10:00 am
    Anyone have any general feedback on Genesis as a CSA?

    Read all about miscellaneous random veggies from them, but overall people have been satisfied with their program as it seems to run a bit higher than some of the others available.
  • Post #3 - January 28th, 2009, 10:48 pm
    Post #3 - January 28th, 2009, 10:48 pm Post #3 - January 28th, 2009, 10:48 pm
    jpeac2 wrote:Anyone have any general feedback on Genesis as a CSA?

    Read all about miscellaneous random veggies from them, but overall people have been satisfied with their program as it seems to run a bit higher than some of the others available.
    We had a medium share from Genesis last summer and liked it enough to sign on for the fall and then to go ahead and commit to a three-season (spring, summer, fall) share for this year. Overall, we were very pleased with the Genesis CSA. While I have never been part of another CSA program, I can tell you (in no particular order) what we liked about Genesis.

    First, in terms of knowing your farmer, Genesis definitely gives you a sense of connection with your grower. As opposed to some CSA programs that draw from a variety of farms, all of the produce from Genesis comes from one farm. Farmer Vicki makes most (if not all) of the drop-offs herself and is generally around at the Green City Market when it is up and running. We did our pick-up at Green City Market for the summer share, and Vicki was always there when we picked up our box, ready to answer questions about what was in the box, how to prepare it, etc. My then two-and-a-half year old loved seeing her on those weekly pick ups; you would have thought she was some sort of celebrity by the way he got so excited to see her when we went to pick up our produce for the week -- which makes sense, I suppose, seeing as how farmer is part of the exalted trinity of vocations for 2-3 year old boys, along with firemen and astronauts. While we were not able to attend last summer, the farm also has a farm day for CSA subscribers over the summer where subscribers can go down to St. Anne, tour the farm, and share a pot luck meal with the farm workers and fellow CSA members.

    Second, we found Vicki to be very good with communication. We got a weekly email each week stating what was going on at the farm and what we could expect to find in the boxes and how we might use certain items. When things were bad on the farm (e.g., during flooding early in the season), she would let us know that and give us a heads up that the boxes were going to be a bit light as a result or might be missing a particular crop that got wiped out. While she is very busy in the growing season, Vicki did a very good job responding to emails we sent. A couple weeks we were going to be out of town over a weekend and emailed to see if we could pick up a box on Wednesday instead of Saturday, and she always responded and was very flexible. One time we did not get to her in time, but she went ahead and made us up a box based on what she had for sale at the market.

    Third, the variety of produce is really pretty good. We never had a box that was all beets or eggplant or something like that, and generally everything in a weekly box was in a usable quantity (i.e., no single potatoes or four brussels sprouts or what have you). Vicki grows some interesting/less common greens and squashes and the like that you are not going to find at a ton of other places. While I am sure it is true of CSAs in general, participating in a CSA really expanded our cooking horizons and introduced us to new vegetables and ingredients we would not have otherwise tried. Unlike some vegetable-only CSAs, Genesis also provides fruit (strawberries, apricots, blueberries, cherries, peaches, watermelon, apples, pears, concord grapes, and others) and fresh herbs. I thought the fruit was a bit more hit or miss than the vegetables, but it definitely brought an added variety to the boxes and certain items were excellent (we had the best watermelon we've ever eaten in one of our boxes in August). Note, however, that even with the wide variety in our boxes, we typically supplemented with other market purchases based on what we needed for recipes or what looked good from other vendors.

    I'm not sure how the price compares to other CSAs, but I recall when we were looking at various options last year that the Genesis summer CSA program was anywhere from 2-6 weeks longer than some of the others. Because I couldn't help it, I would often calculate the price of what we were getting in the boxes if we bought the same stuff at the Green City Market as "open stock" and it generally came out to be about the same as the CSA cost per week -- sometimes less of a bargain in light weeks and sometimes a much better deal when the boxes were overflowing (particularly in August and September). So don't go into it thinking you are going to get a better deal than you would get just doing market shopping. For us, in light of the factors listed above, among other things, it was well worth it -- but I realize it might not be for everyone.
  • Post #4 - January 29th, 2009, 7:35 am
    Post #4 - January 29th, 2009, 7:35 am Post #4 - January 29th, 2009, 7:35 am
    Matt wrote:
    jpeac2 wrote:Anyone have any general feedback on Genesis as a CSA?

    First, in terms of knowing your farmer, Genesis definitely gives you a sense of connection with your grower. As opposed to some CSA programs that draw from a variety of farms, all of the produce from Genesis comes from one farm. Farmer Vicki makes most (if not all) of the drop-offs herself and is generally around at the Green City Market when it is up and running. We did our pick-up at Green City Market for the summer share, and Vicki was always there when we picked up our box, ready to answer questions about what was in the box, how to prepare it, etc. My then two-and-a-half year old loved seeing her on those weekly pick ups; you would have thought she was some sort of celebrity by the way he got so excited to see her when we went to pick up our produce for the week -- which makes sense, I suppose, seeing as how farmer is part of the exalted trinity of vocations for 2-3 year old boys, along with firemen and astronauts. While we were not able to attend last summer, the farm also has a farm day for CSA subscribers over the summer where subscribers can go down to St. Anne, tour the farm, and share a pot luck meal with the farm workers and fellow CSA members.



    Your pleasure was Oak Park's loss. Because of certain conditions, especially related to her son and a rental truck, Vicki spent all her time at Green City. We in Oak Park miss that charm you cite.

    Now, you won't be able to schmooze with Vicki, but you can buy her produce this weekend in Oak Park at the winter market. Vicki's been taking great care of her surplus roots, and you should find outstanding carrots, parsnips, celery root, and beets at the market. There will probably also be some hoop-house stuff like lettuce, but that will go VERY fast. Market details here.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #5 - December 22nd, 2019, 12:02 am
    Post #5 - December 22nd, 2019, 12:02 am Post #5 - December 22nd, 2019, 12:02 am
    Just about an 11-year bump to deliver some sad news. Per an email I received from Vicki Westerhoff a few days ago, Genesis Growers will cease operations at the end of the year . . .

    in an email, Vicki Westerhoff wrote:
    First, I want to wish you happy holidays.

    Then, I want to inform you that I will not be offering CSA next year. As of December 31, 2019, I will no longer be a functioning farm - closing up shop after many years caring for the land and feeding so many people. Its a task we have loved. It is in our hearts and souls.

    But, unfortunately, I can no longer bear the financial burden of farming. We were the victims of 4 consecutive years of flooding due to weather changes. During those years we lost most to all of our crops. I would always replant and end up with something to harvest for CSA, but we were unable to adequately supply our other needs to Farmer's markets and restaurants. The costs involved in losing all the crops is huge. Its the cost of labor, seed, planting, fertilizing, cultivating, weeding, insect control, etc. All those costs are non-recoverable. The money is just gone.

    Following the four flood years we have had two good years for growing crops, for which I am very thankful. But, over the course of these last six years I have been unable to pay myself any wages. Five years in a row I had to take money out of my personal savings to fund Genesis Growers. This was my retirement money I worked hard to save working a regular job.

    This summer when I had to take a large sum of my retirement savings to make payroll for other people I decided I was done working 12-14 hour days, 7 days a week - especially when I don't get paid for it and in the reverse have to pay for the pleasure of being bone tired.

    It was a difficult decision in some ways. In others it was very easy.

    There are some very good farmers here in Illinois, but we are a dying breed. It is very difficult for a small farmer to make a living. I ask you to find a new CSA farmer and to go the farmers markets to support local farmers who work so hard to grow and bring to you a wonderful, tasty product. Together we can make a difference in the lives of local farmers.

    Thank you for your support over the years and best wishes.

    We've been with Genesis for a number of years but for a variety of reasons, even before we received this email, we were likely going to try something different in 2020. I guess now, we'll have no choice but to do so. Sad news. As we all know, it's a tough, tough business.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #6 - December 22nd, 2019, 10:16 am
    Post #6 - December 22nd, 2019, 10:16 am Post #6 - December 22nd, 2019, 10:16 am
    This is a real bummer. I've never been much of one to enjoy CSA's and Genesis Growers never was at a farmer's market I regularly visited - until last year when they started selling at the Logan Square market. Their produce was terrific. It seemed the stand was popular since by the end of the season there was often a sizable line to buy things. It's always sad to hear someone throw in the towel - especially after years of hard work. I'll miss them and the Chicago scene will be worse off to have a longstanding farm like them absent.
  • Post #7 - December 22nd, 2019, 10:21 am
    Post #7 - December 22nd, 2019, 10:21 am Post #7 - December 22nd, 2019, 10:21 am
    gastro gnome wrote:This is a real bummer. I've never been much of one to enjoy CSA's and Genesis Growers never was at a farmer's market I regularly visited - until last year when they started selling at the Logan Square market. Their produce was terrific. It seemed the stand was popular since by the end of the season there was often a sizable line to buy things. It's always sad to hear someone throw in the towel - especially after years of hard work. I'll miss them and the Chicago scene will be worse off to have a longstanding farm like them absent.

    They had one of the better stands at the Logan Market. But that was one of the things I found frustrating about our CSA with them. We'd often see things at their stall that never made it into our weekly boxes. I can imagine a number of perfectly justifiable explanations for this but it didn't make it any less frustrating.

    =R=
    There are many things that are legal that are not a great idea --Nick Shabazz

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #8 - December 22nd, 2019, 10:57 am
    Post #8 - December 22nd, 2019, 10:57 am Post #8 - December 22nd, 2019, 10:57 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    gastro gnome wrote:This is a real bummer. I've never been much of one to enjoy CSA's and Genesis Growers never was at a farmer's market I regularly visited - until last year when they started selling at the Logan Square market. Their produce was terrific. It seemed the stand was popular since by the end of the season there was often a sizable line to buy things. It's always sad to hear someone throw in the towel - especially after years of hard work. I'll miss them and the Chicago scene will be worse off to have a longstanding farm like them absent.

    They had one of the better stands at the Logan Market. But that was one of the things I found frustrating about our CSA with them. We'd often see things at their stall that never made it into our weekly boxes. I can imagine a number of perfectly justifiable explanations for this but it didn't make it any less frustrating.

    =R=


    A perfectly fair assessment. One of the reasons I don't like CSAs is that I prefer to be able to see what is available and pick amongst it rather than getting a pre-selected mix. I would have been frustrated with your experience as well.

    To be honest, I'm not sure if there any must-stops for me left at the Logan Market now that Genesis will not be there (and after Tempel Farms also dropped out). I'm curious to see if another larger farm gets added.

    Needless to say, it is sad to see so many farms these days struggling. I don't know if some plots of land or growing practices or business decisions will help better equip some farms to deal with the changing climate/weather conditions or consumer demand. I sure hope so. A vibrant local farmer's market scenes is a big highlight for me. I certainly try to do my part by regularly shopping at markets during the season.

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