Product handling & quality at market

Even though we strive to handle our products well on the farm, it’s still pretty easy for the quality to go downhill at market. Items have to sit out on tables to sell, and on a breezy, warm day like today’s market, lots of products start to be affected. By 10:00 today I was putting wet towels on the radish tops, trying to keep them from wilting. It’s really hard to maintain high quality under such conditions, which hurts when our business model is based on things being extra-fresh and long-lasting for customers. But I can’t leave things in coolers, either, because customers won’t stop and buy what they can’t see laid out.

Moreover, many customers don’t always think about the best way to handle their produce post-market. If you buy some nice fresh lettuce or herbs, which then sit in your handle-bag at 85 degrees for the next 30-45 minutes while you shop and talk, plus the 10-15 minute drive home in a hot car, you’ve just taken some real shelf-life off your produce. I’ve heard many farmers bemoan the pattern of folks buying produce, then going off to Gerbes to complete their shopping trip while the market stuff sits in the hot trunk. So please, please consider bringing a small cooler for your purchases and taking them back there if you’re going to be very long. Our reputation will thank you.

That being said, sometimes we don’t get things right either. We brought a few heads of broccoli raab this morning, which we’d gotten a good review on from a friend who’d tried some of ours, but we hadn’t eaten it ourselves yet. I brought one bunch home, we sauteed it for lunch, and found it to be really bad. Way too strong & bitter for our tastes, I actually spit it out. So if the other bunches were like that, our apologies to the customers and please ask us for your money back. I emailed one purchaser whom I know to warn her.

We also had a nice lady inform us that the radishes she’d bought from us last week had gone bad very quickly, becoming soft and shrivelled by the next day. I found this very odd, as we routinely keep de-topped radishes in our fridge for a week with no ill effects, and have overall had very good reviews of the radishes from repeat customers. I asked about her handling, and she swore she’d taken them right home, taken the tops off, put them in the fridge. So who knows what we did wrong with those. She bought some more, and I told her if there was any problem with those we’d give her both weeks’ money back.

Our overall trend is certainly to have many repeat customers happy with our quality, but we’re grateful to those who give us any forms of feedback so we can monitor our results.

Oh, and thanks to everyone who came out today and made the Memorial Day market a huge success. The place was bustling, and I sold out by 11. We never know what to expect on holidays, but this was fantastic. Enjoy the rest of your weekend; we’ll be planting, transplanting, and weeding like crazy until/unless the expected storms pop up.

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