OUR BUSINESS MODEL / OUR PRODUCTS / THE PROCESS
OUR BUSINESS MODEL
What does “Farm Box” mean?
While we are not a CSA, our model is built off of the traditional CSA model and with the same intentions. CSA means Community Supported Agriculture. The history and philosophy of the first CSAs is fascinating, but basically they started to link producers (the farmers) to the consumers (you) based upon shared interests, in the name of sustainability, health, local economies, and communities. The first CSAs in the country started in 1986 in New England, and CSAs have taken on many models since then, from individual farms with work trade agreements to “CSAs” that are essentially food distributors that use the name of CSA to bolster their green credentials.
Other programs let me choose my box weekly, pick and choose my veggies, or cancel anytime.
Why do I need to commit for the season, and why can’t I cancel with Tuv Ha’aretz Portland?
As a Portlander, chances are you value local in many purchases you make. You might love it when something is handmade, unique, and supports a small business, and that probably applies to your food as well — you feel good knowing that you are investing in local, sustainably-grown food, and that you know the people growing the food you are eating.
Programs like ours are proven models for supporting those independent local farmers and food suppliers who are working at small scales. Instead of just buying food as you would from a market or a food delivery service, by joining Tuv Ha’Aretz Portland you become a member of a community, investing your hard-earned dollars in local businesses.
When you buy a seasonal share at the beginning of the season, you guarantee our farms a decent pay for what they invest. You take on a bit of the risk (although with Tuv Ha’Aretz Portland the risk is spread across multiple farms), and farmers also gain the flexibility to give you the best of what they have. You are making their lives easier and allowing them to do what they love — grow great food for you.
Once you have joined, farmers count on that investment, and they are able to keep growing the food you value because you chose to join. If we allowed weekly ordering or cancellation, then there would be no such investment, and a major benefit of our model would be lost.
So in short, by buying a share in Tuv Ha’aretz Portland, you are putting your dollars where your values lie by investing in local farms and food businesses and helping to make their lives a little easier. Plus you get to reap the benefits and make new community, so that’s pretty great.
How much is in a full share, a half share?
In general a full share is enough for a family of four for a week, and a half share is enough for 1-2 people a week. See our product descriptions of our boxes and add-ons for details.
What standards did you use to source your products?
Our key priorities are to:
● Buy high quality, safe products from experienced producers
● Buy from local small farms and businesses
● Buy sustainably produced and certified organic products
● Buy local kosher products
● Keep costs accessible to you
How do prices and quality compare to what I’d find in the grocery store?
Prices are often competitive with what you might find for local and small family-farm grown produce at a small co-op grocery store. For the same quality product, sometimes we beat them hands down (challah, eggs), sometimes we’re about the same (beer, veggies, fruit), and occasionally we’re a little more expensive (flowers, wine).
We love Fred Meyer and Trader Joe’s (really we do!), but their extra low prices are based on the fact that they source a lot of food from bigger farms that can provide to them at scale. These farms are more likely to be industrially-owned, located across the country (or the world!), and use less sustainable growing methods. Even New Seasons or Whole Foods who source locally can’t usually take the risk of buying from small farms, given the scale of their operations.
Programs like Tuv Ha’aretz Portland are one of the key ways that small farms sell their products. Tuv Ha’Aretz Portland has taken great care to select farms that believe in sustainable small scale ag, and do their best to grow food in earth and human-supportive ways.
We’d love to hear from you on this. Do you feel like you are getting your money’s worth? Are the boxes too big, too small, or just right?
A famous food writer once wrote, “Not all tomatoes are created equal,” and any of our farmers will tell you at length why the varieties they choose are the tastiest, most nutrient-dense food in the world, and way better than anything you can find in a grocery store. They will also lovingly lecture you about how you will find new and different varieties in a farm box, and about the huge amounts of waste that that selling to grocery stores can cause.
You see, our farmers love food, that’s why they grow it. While their food may not always look as pretty as what you find in the store, you can be guaranteed that it is of the highest quality.
Which of your products are kosher?
Our challah, beer, and wine are certified kosher. Veggies, fruits, and eggs are naturally parve as long as they are washed and bug free.
Our key goal was to provide a full range of local products produced within a short distance from Portland. Where possible, we sourced from local kosher suppliers and with wine we even went as far as the Washington side of the Gorge to get you the Northwest’s only certified kosher wine. That said, the only local kosher cheese in Oregon is the mega-company Tillamook, which is neither sustainably produced nor small-scale. Additionally, we couldn’t find any kosher fermented products (pickles, sauerkraut), so we went with a small McMinnville based supplier who makes dynamite pickles! All of our non-kosher products are available only in add-ons, meaning that you don’t have to order them if you don’t want to!
Why would I get my flowers from Tuv Ha’aretz Portland vs. the florist or grocery store?
Just like produce, flowers are grown on all kinds of farms small and big, organic and industrial. Making a choice to buy local, sustainably grown flowers is therefore just like doing so with your food. Except, it’s even more important to consider where your flowers come from, since the current state of the mainstream flower industry can be disturbing. 75% of flowers found in the US are imported from Latin America, usually grown under terrible monoculture conditions that are heavy on the pesticide and water use, and can often involved child labor (see this in depth article on some of the issues in international industrial flower production). To make the 2500mile journey, flowers are dipped in fungicides and kept at super cold storage until they hit the grocery store or florist, an energy intensive process. Supporting Vibrant Valley Farm and other community growers who bring you locally and sustainably grown flowers guarantees that you are choosing a positive alternative.
How does this whole thing work?
The Terms of Participation spells out a lot of what you need to know, including pickup, payment and cancellation policies.
1. You signup and buy a share at our signup page. Shares vary in size and frequency, and you can choose your specific product.
2. Buy shares in any add-ons, including specifying the frequency.
3. Choose your pickup location and specify your desired pickup schedule.
4. Pay the down payment (20%) for your shares and add-ons.
5. GET EXCITED! Start planning your holiday and shabbat meals (if you want).
6. Prior to the start of the season, we will notify you as to your pickup location details and dates.
7. On pickup day, you head to your pickup location at the predetermined time with some reusable bags, say hi to the amazing volunteers helping you, and empty your contents of your box(es) into your bags. Grab a newsletter and be on your way!
8. Come to all of our amazing events, which we’ll schedule as we get closer to the season.
What’s up with the huge “sign up fee”?
The structure of our monthly payment program is 20 percent due on sign up, followed by 5 monthly payments of 16% each, all due on the 15th of each month (if you signed up with crdit card, it will automatically run a new payment each month.” The “sign up fee” is actually the 20% down payment on your box and goes to the full price you pay, its just that our webstore program calls it a “sign up fee” which can be confusing.
How long is the season?
22 weeks from June 1 to October 31 2016.
Where are the pickup locations and times?
We have six pickup locations located in each of the portions of the city at our partner institutions. Click here for our pickups. Note: if you buy wine or beer from Tuv Ha’Aretz Portland you must pickup from our Northwest location.
Can I pick up my share another day or time or get delivery? What do I do if this time doesn’t work?
We have worked out with our partner institutions, our farms, and our kitchen to receive our products Tuesday and get them to fresh you on Wednesday. Our small scale operation means we get one delivery time, and our host locations are kind enough to volunteer a few hours a week for that time. Therefore this is the only time available for picking up your share, and we do not have the resources to deliver directly to our members. Also, pickup time is a great time to build community and get to know other members or the partner institution’s volunteers. If this time doesn’t work, then you can work with a neighbor, friend, or coworker to have them pick up your share (maybe in exchange for a few veggies?).
I ordered a bi-weekly or monthly share? How do I know what weeks I need to pick up?
Upon sign up, you will be asked to provide us with your preferred starting date. Depending upon demand, we can’t guarantee you a specific starting date, but it will be one of the main factors for consideration. We will notify you of your start date in advance.
Unfortunately once you’re in the calendar we can’t shift weeks around, so choose well! The reason we can’t change weeks is because we need to provide consistency for our farmers from week to week in terms of the amount of food to harvest. Therefore we need to balance the number of members in each week. Thanks for understanding!
What if I’m out of town for a week or two?
We understand there will be days when you’re out of town. In case you are not able to pick up your share, we have two options:
● You may invite a friend or neighbor to pick up your share for you (and introduce them to
Tuv Ha’aretz Portland)
● You can notify us at least one week in advance and we will donate it to a family in need
in our area through Urban Gleaners.
Both of these avenues help to create more access and awareness of the local options available for our regional food system.
Do I get to choose my veggies or fruits?
Mostly no with a hint of yes. In general, what’s in the boxes are determined by the farmer and/or Tuv Ha’aretz Portland. Part of being a member like this is that the farmer gives you the best of what’s available from their farm. Tuv Ha’aretz Portland then breaks it out in a fair and balanced way. You can look here for what you should generally expect through the season. It’s also important to know that we have chosen not to get any of the “weird veggies” you might not be as familiar with. Even the novice chef should be able to recognize all of what’s in your box, and we give you hand dandy recipes to help you make sense of what to do with your goodies!
That said, the “Give a Veggie Take a Veggie” box at every pickup location let’s you drop off stuff you know you’ll never eat, and take a similar amount of anything in the box that you know you would want.
Can I change pickup locations mid season?
Sure! Just call us or email us. Let us know at least the Friday before the delivery date, so we have time to adjust your pickup location in our records.
Why is there an online procesing fee?
One of our biggest costs (besides the food) is for the accounting services provided by our online accounting applications. Instead of charging more for our products, we have decided to include a small (1.45% of your total order) filing fee for all purchases made online. This amounts to around $10 for a full share, $6 for a half share. In line with Tuv Ha’aretz Portland-as-a-partnership philosophy, we pay for the other half of the cost. We feel that this saves you money and allows us to operate more sustainably.