Q. Is the produce organic?
A. Great Country Farms makes every effort to use organic and sustainable methods of farming such as plasticulture, companion planting and no-till, however our crops can NOT be considered organic. We grow our CSA garden without adding any synthetic, chemical fertilizers or herbicides, and use extensive composting for enriching our soils. We do treat our orchards and some crops such as pumpkins, sweet corn and winter squashes when pest pressure threatens the yield. We have found that our members prefer to have some crops treated to ensure top quality and "no worms in the corn." We are constantly researching and implementing steps to use only sustainable growing practices to care for the land with which we have been blessed.
Q. How many deliveries do I get each season and when does it start?
A. We send 20 deliveries from the beginning of June to mid-October.
Q. How much is in Share each week?
A. A share is one box per week. We pack all our produce in the same size box each week that. Each box measures 10"x12"x14" and is roughly equivalent to a paper grocery bag. Boxes are lighter in the early spring when items such as lettuces, radishes, asparagus and strawberries are available and are heavier in the summer and fall when a larger variety of crops such as potatoes, squashes and apples are available. Check out our Produce List for a sample of what we plan to grow this season.
Q. What do I get each week in my box?
A. Throughout the growing season we try to include a variety of crops each week (over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables). As you compare CSAs, on thing that makes ours unique is that we include fruit in each box. Most items such as corn, squash and tomatoes will be included in several deliveries, while some items such as strawberries have a shorter growing season and will only be available 1-2 weeks. Each week we send out our e-newsletter, Crop Talk, with farm news and preparation tips for the items in the week's box. Here is a sample of previous years Produce List.
Q. Can I pack my own box?
A. Yes! Members who pick up at Great Country Farms have the opportunity to pack their own box full of fresh vegetables so you can pick the freshest and size items you would like from our Farm Market. We provide a list of times for packing each week and you can select each item yourself.
Q. Can I pick and choose what I want?
A. No, all of our pre-packed shares are the same. If you pick up at the farm and choose to pack your own box, you do have control over the size of the items you select and may omit items you will not use. We also offer the option to donate tohese items to Loudoun Interfaith. We do not offer the option to “swap” out produce as each share includes an equal amount of produce for all of our members.
Q. Can I u-pick if I am a CSA member?
A. YES!!! This is one of the best and unique things about our CSA. We post to Facebook each week and send a weekly e-newsletter with what we have available for u-pick and the quantities that are included with membership at no additional cost. Any additional u-pick items can be purchased with 10% off. CSA limits are not a GUARANTEE of availability-- we do our best to set limits so that availability is good for all members but u-pick is on a first come, first served basis. If the weather is beautiful and the crop is a popular one (strawberries), then we may not have much left by 12noon on Saturdays! We do try to recommend the best times to pick and some items are member-priority u-pick such as blueberries, blackberries, hot peppers, and okra. A u-pick bonus must be picked from the field by using our hayride access only, not in store and it cannot be delivered.
Q. What if I miss my u-pick? Can you deliver it?
A. U-pick cannot be delivered as it is a bonus. If you miss your u-pick it cannot be carried over from week to week so we encourage you to spend a day on the farm regularly to take advantage of this opportunity!
Q. Do I have to take the hayride to u-pick?
A. We do ask that you take the hayride to our u-pick fields. This way we can guide you to the areas where produce and fruits are ready for picking and know when and where guests are in the fields. We have had storms come up very quickly and want to be sure to get everyone out of the fields safely. Also, when members walk to a field and then go straight to their car with their bonus amount, it causes confusion and non-members think that the produce is free. Lastly, we regularly find guests picking items that we are saving for CSA boxes or picking and not paying for the items in the farm market. If we have everyone take the hayride, it helps us provide better guidance to all our customers.
Q. Can I have a friend u-pick for my CSA membership?
A. YES—As long as they are members of the farm they can pick for themselves and for you with your permission. All they need to do is sign out your share! If your friend is not a member of the farm, they will have to pay our general admission.
Q. When is the produce picked before I receive it?
A. It depends on the item. Many items such as strawberries and sweet corn are picked the day before deliveries so you will receive fresh produce within 24 hours. Some items that ripen all at once such as apples or fall squashes are clear picked and held in our cooler until delivery the following week. Thursday we pick and pack for Friday, Saturday & Sunday pick-up members. We try to encourage our members to pick up their share by Friday for the freshiest veggies as Sunday's boxes have been in the fridge since Thursday.
Q. Can we get replacement produce for any that are damaged in transit?
A. Of course! Fruits & veggies are very fragile and can be damaged if not handled with care. Please let us know if you have any concerns with the quality of your produce and we will be happy to send you replacements with your next box.
Q. What day of the week and what time of day will my delivery arrive?
A. You will receive your delivery on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday each week depending on your location. Once your delivery day is set, it will remain the same each week throughout the season. We deliver between 9am and 6pm. If your delivery has not arrived by 5:30pm, please call the farm so we may research the situation. We cannot accommodate requests for a specific delivery day of the week, since the routes are set by address and intended to balance our drivers' loads. Some of our group sites offer multiple pick up day options so you can choose your day at those locations. You can also choose your pick up day at the farm.
Q. If I miss my pick up day, can I come the next day to pick it up?
A. If you are running late or are unable to pick up your box the day you are scheduled please contact us or the manager of your group site immediately so we or they can make arrangements to get your box. Each group site sets their own guidelines for missed pickups and most do not have refrigeration so please familiarize yourself with your sites pick up hours and rules so you can plan accordingly. For farm pick up members, we hold boxes at the farm until Sunday at 5pm so come when you can. Any left over boxes are then donated to Loudoun Interfaith Relief food panty.
Q. What do I do when I am on vacation?
A. We ask for vacation notice in writing so we are sure we have the proper days to start and stop your delivery. After joining you will receive a login and password to access our vacation request form to make a vacation or CSA change request. You are entitled to request a double order any other week to make up for your vacation week's deliveries or you can donate your share to Loudoun Interfaith Relief when you are out of town. We do not offer refunds or credits for missed deliveries or make-ups on weekly u-pick Bonus amounts. Vacation requests must be made Friday prior your pick up or delivery day. We do not offer make-ups for requests made AFTER your missed day.
Q. When does the farm open to the public?
A. The farm opens March 22, 2013. Check out our calendar of events!
Q. Is Wine Tasting at Bluemont Vineyard included with our membership?
A. The Zurschmeide Family is a partner in Bluemont Vineyard and we are pleased to have Bluemont offer a special Farm Tasting of 3 wines for farm members. Just show your wristband and enjoy the current 3 selections as another membership bonus.
Q. Are all festivals included with our membership?
A. Yes, Festival admission is included, but it does not include extra items such as food, cow train, laser tag, etc.
Q. Are all field trips included with our membership?
A. No, Field Trips are NOT included because each field trip has a private guide, animal feed cup, and produce or other item included in the price.
Q. Are all parties included with our membership?
A. If you are hosting a party, there is a minimum of 10 paying children whether they are members or not. Those who are not paying do not get a feed cup, cow train ticket, laser gun, or other items that are additional to admission. If you are a member invited to a party you are welcome to check in and purchase these items separately so the host does not have to pay for your admission.
Q. Are dogs allowed?
A. Yes, please keep them on a leash and make sure they are wearing their rabies tag and have all necessary shots. We also ask that you bring your own dog water bowl and clean up bags. Dogs are NOT allowed in the u-pick fields to keep our produce clean from any dog waste.
Q. When do payment plans begin?
A. Members should send their first payment with their application to confirm their CSA reservation. Invoices are then emailed on the 15thof every month and are due on the 30th until all five payments have been made. The payment plan is not made for you to start and stop throughout the season. We have already planted for you and cancellation is not an option.
Q. Why are payments due in January when deliveries don't start until the June?
A. Believe it or not, many of the farm's biggest expenses occur in the first few months of the year. We buy all the seed, repair equipment and pay taxes and the mortgage early in the year. This is one reason why CSA is such a help to farmers, because it provides cash-flow when it is most needed.
Q. What happened to the half share and full share?
A. We have eliminated the term “half” and “full” share as to make membership sign up less confusing and simplify our payment options. We now call our “half” shares just shares and if you want a “full” share you can purchase two shares.
Q. Why did I have to pay a box fee last year?
A. We have eliminated box fees and completely redeveloped our pricing to help reduce the confusion with payments.