Bluebird Gardens can trace its roots back to 1978 when Mark and Diane Boen had only a tiller, some acres of land and a dream — to raise vegetables and fruit for people.
For 30 years, the literal fruits of their labor were sold at roadside stands until they discovered the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model that involved people becoming members of the farm in order to receive produce.
The model requires members to sign up for a share that fits best with their needs during the 20-week season; shares are based on family size and include:
- Family share (family of four)
- Share (family of two)
- Mini-share (family of one)
- Double family share (family of eight)
- Juicing share
In addition, Mark Boen added, CSA members can attend a variety of harvest events to further personalize what they receive through their membership. One of the best parts about harvest events is the excitement. “Kids get so excited to see where their food comes from,” Boen said. “Harvest events are a great opportunity for our members to make food memories with their families.”
That type of connection is what drives Boen in his daily work — he wants people to connect with farming, with each other and with nutritionally dense food that will keep them healthy. Keeping the food nutritionally dense involves adding nutrients to the soil to create the perfect growing environment for the fruits and vegetables, known as biological farming.
Connecting with members is easy during the summer; boxes are delivered each week to designated drop-off sites and harvest events bring hundreds of people to the farm on an ongoing basis. What Boen focuses on is maintaining that connection in the winter through email communication; he also sends a weekly email during the harvest season to explain to members what is in the weekly box as well as growing tips and interesting recipes for the items.
Last year, a personal chef blogged about how she used her items, and this year, members can participate in best recipe contests for a discount on next year’s membership.
Boen said Bluebird Gardens is constantly evolving and shaping its offerings to maximize member experience. “The goal is that our farm becomes their farm,” Boen explained. That is why boxes are only delivered to within an hour of the farm, and why harvest events are flexible and accommodating to even the busiest schedules. “People are busy, so we’re open 7 days a week during harvest events to make it possible for our members to come,” he said.
That type of flexibility is what helps bring new members to Bluebird Gardens. Last year, more than 2,100 members enjoyed fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm, and Boen hopes to hit 2,500 soon. More members means more opportunities to connect—with farming, food and each other. “Last fall, a member at a harvest event said this (farm) is like a big family,” Boen said. “And it is. CSA is like one big family.”
To learn more about how to become a member of Bluebird Gardens and biological farming, visit bluebirdgardens.net.