I have to share a nostalgic story with you about this door. And I know that some of you recognize this door very well.
You see in 2003 when the farm first started, I didn’t have time to sit in a parking lot and hope that people would come buy our food. We (Miguel and I) were too busy growing our food to even be very personable trying to sell it. So we had to think about clever ways to sell the food that we worked so hard to grow. That is why we introduced the CSA model.
CSA in its truest form means signing people up for your farm’s food and then trying to force feed them kale in the spring and eggplant in the summer. I cannot tell you how many people I have offended with kale. You would think I made a bad joke about their mother or something. Anyway, there were a few hundred brave souls in NM who liked this idea (thankfully) and so began the journey of our CSA.
Back to the door though. So one of our You-Pack pick-up locations was in a storage room (8×12′) at an office building off Indian School and Carlisle. Members of the CSA would sign up for that spot and I would give them the code to the door. We were all fancy with a little push code door knob. So we would harvest first thing in the morning and then I would take my little Ford Ranger up to the storage room and set up a self-serve market. I would leave the newsletters, a check-list for members to sign in, and a list of what the CSA box was for the week. We could feed 35 members a day out of this space and did 3 pick-ups a week.
So this last week, I happened to be at this office building and walked by our old storage room. And sho enough, our old LPO logo was still on the door. So I had to snap this picture and take you on a stroll down memory lane.
But besides just being a nostalgic story, I wanted to share something else with you about this space and that is just how amazing our members were/are of the farm. We ran this self-serve pick-up for over 3 years and never once had anything stolen or go missing. No one ever said “Hey, I know the code to the door and can go shop for free.” No one “accidentally” took an extra pint of strawberries. It was a beautiful setup.
It gave me hope in the support that we could see from this community. It made me feel that if we put our trust in the people then the community would support a small farm movement. It is important to remember too that in 2003, there were only 35 CSA members in the entire city of ABQ. And by our second year we were feeding hundreds of people. The demand and the support for a healthy local food economy has always been there for us and our partners. Truly incredible.
Unfortunately, this has not been the case for many growers and local food systems throughout the west. Support grew in the early 2000s then the bubble popped and left many growers/ranchers stranded. It has been sad to see. Many of my mentors and business models that we have tried to emulate are no longer around. Support from their communities dwindled.
New Mexico receives its fair share of criticisms as a state. Some of them deserved. But over the last 15 years, New Mexicans have built a better local food movement than a lot of states that have more money and resources than we do. We should realize and celebrate this. Good work amigos!