To each her own opinion of herbs…
I’ve been newly employed this year as a coordinator for a CSA — a farm share program. For the last four weeks, folks have picked up their locally-farmed, organic produce at my home every Wednesday afternoon. It has been more work than I had anticipated, mostly in managing everyone’s quirks and preferences and keeping everyone happy. I’m not very good at that, in my own nature, but I’m trying and I’m learning.
Something that I am coming to understand is that, no matter what, some people are just thankful and pleased, and others are just grumpy. Blessedly, I have many more of the “thankful and pleased” sort of folks: I have received many genuine thanks, both spoken and in e-mail, from our now-24 members for the efforts that I’m making on their behalf. That’s endlessly encouraging.
I participated for a couple of years in a different CSA and this particular one — through single-farmer-owned Crooked Sky Farms — is excellent. They wash and portion-out everyone’s share. There have been a few missteps, but generally communication has been excellent. There’s a weekly trade basket, so if you don’t want Red Russian Kale, for example, you can trade it in and pick out three navel oranges instead. The farm — including one particular employee, who rather runs the place — works diligently to satisfy everyone’s needs, as best as she can. For instance: Even though every week’s share is eight portions of in-season produce, the most that any one particular thing has been repeated is once; the farm is mindful of trying to provide as much variety as possible. So, in our four weeks, 32 portions total now, the most we’ve seen any one thing is twice.
On my end, too, I do my very best to take care of everyone’s needs: Letting them come early, letting them pick up late, using my personal share to supplement theirs if something runs short, making note of what they like or don’t, compiling weekly documents that contain info and recipes for the produce that might be less familiar, communicating regularly via e-mail, etc.
I’m not trying to pat myself on the back too hard, but I think both the farm and myself are doing a good job.
Yesterday, though, one woman was fairly incensed about something and freely expressed her dissatisfaction to me. “What?? Dill again?? I didn’t even use nearly all my dill last time and I think that’s kind of like cheating when a small bunch of herbs is included as part of our share. It’s so small, and you can hardly use it. That’s why I stopped participating in the CSA last time, because they kept giving us too many herbs.”
I just listened to her, and then suggested that she trade it in. However, as she was one of the last people picking up, the trade basket only had curly mustard greens and arugula in it, in addition to more dill, and she didn’t want those, either. She just puffed her disappointment and left.
I tried to let her words roll off. “Not gonna make everyone happy…” I thought. It was only the second time in four weeks that we’d received dill and only one of the eight things weekly have been herbs; I don’t think that’s excessive. But I do understand her sentiment; I’d probably rather have a big bunch of carrots than a bunch of dill, even if the portion of dill is generous — and it is; it’s probably 4-5 times what would be in those little plastic packs of fresh organic herbs which you can find in the grocery store produce department.
Still, though… After she left, I felt a little emotionally bruised.
Then, the next person came in to pick up her produce. She had started a little late in the season; this was only her second time picking up produce. “Oooh, is that dill?” she asked, eyes wide, pinching a leaf and sampling it, “It is! I love dill. I could smell it before I even tasted it.” She clutched the dill to her chest. “To me, dill smells of home and my mother…” She went on to tell me that her mother — now sadly deceased — used to regularly make homemade bread using fresh dill, and it was one of her favorite memories and favorite smells. She firmly stated she would be making some fresh dill bread the next day….
She seemed close to tears.
I thought of that woman’s own daughter, and how this bit of herbs in her hand would be the vehicle to pass on a treasured childhood memory to the next generation.
I was then close to tears.
That interaction erased the negative words of the previous CSA member. It felt… powerful and perfect.
She sent me a follow-up message later in the evening:
I was serious about the smell of dill…it is home and momma and love and snuggles on a cold winter night to me…made me cry actually and now relishing all the sweet memories it brings…cant wait to make that dill bread tomorrow… csa is more than veggies, for sure.
If anyone else complains about dill, it will be water off a duck’s back, for certain. It’s all worth it, grumpy customers included.