Janet Czarnecki raises five acres of vegetables, flowers, and fruit at Redwood Roots Farm on the northern California coast, just outside of Arcata. Almost all of her produce is sold through her CSA, with the remainder sold through her on-farm farmstand.
Janet shares how she has developed a year-round CSA farm serving 160 shareholders in the summer with pickup on the farm, and a u-pick winter CSA program that has her customers out in the mud harvesting their own vegetables in the mild but rainy coastal climate. Her summer CSA also includes a u-pick component, and Janet gets into the details of how that works, as well.
Janet puts significant effort into creating reciprocal relationships with her customers, her employees, and her community. We discuss how she has worked with her CSA members to finance the farm and infrastructure, how she uses a structured give-and-take with her employees to encourage them to engage in the farm, and how she manages a significant engagement with her local community through food banks and community education.
We also discuss how she manages a completely off-the-grid operation, her minimally mechanized production systems, and how she co-exists with the symphylans on her farm.
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast is generously supported by Vermont Compost Company.
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Quotes from the Show
Now on a share day I look out and everywhere I look in the field there’s people walking around and picking and enjoying the field and being up close and personal with the plants.
It’s a very peaceful place here at the farm, and you can see people let down. Their shoulders go down, they relax, they talk slower, they walk slower.
It’s a very strong, mutually beneficial relationship, and I think that lends itself to good shareholder retention.
That’s how I’ve been able to do these things: I partner with people, I don’t try to do it myself.
I like to buy really nice things, and then I keep them kept up.
The last book Janet read was The Lean Farm by Ben Hartman.
Janet wrote me after the interview to tell me that her favorite book on management is Managing Ourselves by Ari Weinzweig.