Happy NEW YEAR! Thank you for your support in 2012, to celebrate the New Year…EVERYONE that comes in to pick up an order this week will receive a free t-shirt!
I’d give a brief explanation of how TCH works. Some of you long timers probably already know all this but maybe this will help you explain it to someone else.
First off, TCH is best thought of like a traditional farmers market, because except for the lack of tents and tables, that’s very much how we operate. The growers are putting their own items up for sale directly to you, at prices and quantities they have set. The market volunteers and I are here to make sure it all happens smoothly, but the growers are all selling their products directly to you. Growers do have to apply to sell through the market, and I personally approve each of them before they list their products. Here’s a summary of the standards we have set:
•All growers must use sustainable practices and never use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
•All growers can only sell what they themselves have grown
•All growers must be from the greater Cumming area. Right now, this means within about 80 miles
•All animals raised for meat or eggs must be pastured
•Handicrafts must be made primarily from items produced or gathered on the farm
•Prepared foods must use organic ingredients if at all possible, and locally grown ingredients if at all possible
•All proper licenses, when required by law, must be obtained
When I’ve turned down requests to sell through TCH, the items clearly broke one or more of those standards. There are a few edge cases that I take on a case by case basis, like shrimp or coffee. In cases like that, we set the standards as strict as we can. With coffee, for example, the beans must be sustainably grown, they must be roasted locally, and the roaster must have a direct business relationship with the farm that grew the beans.
So, the growers list their available products and set their prices. For most all of the products, they do this before they’ve harvested the items, so they have to estimate how much they will actually have. They’ve gotten pretty good at this guess, but it is a guess, and the unpredictable nature of farming means they may have far less than they thought (thanks to deer, a hail storm, etc.) or they may have far more than they thought (a nice rain can double the growth of lettuce overnight, for example). Most of them are conservative with their estimates, and so they let you continue to order, even if they’ve already sold more than they guessed they’d have. That’s why popular items may have a quantity in the negatives when you look at the listings. The system will still let you order, on the chance that they’ll actually have enough, but you’ll get warnings along the way that you’re taking a gamble.
I do not collect items from the farm, and do not know myself until Saturday morning what the growers were able to harvest and bring in to town. The growers do have each others contact information, so if one grower is short and another has a surplus, they may arrange with each other to get all the orders filled, but in general, if a grower cannot fill an order for something, they’ll remove that ordered item, and you’ll see a comment on your invoice indicating that. Since I’m not a middle-man, I can’t arrange for substitutions myself.
When the growers bring in the items you ordered on Saturday morning, packaged and labeled with your name, I pay them on your behalf out of our shared cash box during the hour before we open the market. Then, you arrive and pay into the cash-box for your order. We then rush to the bank to deposit the money to cover the checks we just wrote to the growers. As explained elsewhere on the website, you are really ordering directly from and paying the growers yourself, but our shared cash-box system makes things convenient for you and them. (Imagine if you ordered from ten growers having to write ten checks when you picked up your items!) This shared cash-box system does mean that if you place an order and then never arrive to pick it up, we’re left holding the bag. For that reason, you are responsible for paying for orders not picked up, and that amount is automatically added on to your next order for your convenience.
For a number of legal reasons, TCH never takes possession of your ordered items. We don’t buy them from the growers and resell them to you, nor do we repackage them in any way. The growers drop off your items for you, and you arrive and pick them up. The market volunteers facilitate that happening. Because of the need to maintain that separation, we cannot deliver, nor can we generally hold your items later than 12pm on Saturday if you fail to come pick them up. We start calling those who haven’t arrived by 11:30, but most of the time we just get answering machines and voice mail. Anything still at our pickup location at 12pm will get divided up among those there at the time, primarily our volunteers, and then we finish loading up the truck and leave. There are some things you can do to insure you won’t get charged for things you didn’t come get:
1. If you know prior to Thursday at 8pm that you won’t be able to come get your order, send me an email and I will cancel your order.
2. If you find out later that you can’t come, send me an email. So long as I know before market begins, I can put the things you ordered on the “extras” table, and your fellow customers will almost certainly buy them for you.
3. If you discover Saturday while we’re at market that you can’t arrive, give me a call at 404-702-2601. I’ll put your items on the “extras” table, and if they sell, you’ll be off the hook.
4. If you have a cell phone, make sure that number is the number on your account. You can go to the “Your Account” page on the website to be sure. If you’re out and about and I get your home phone or your work phone, no one gets helped.
Finally, ours is a paperless system, so we do not have paper receipts for you when you pick up your order. An electronic receipt is generated, though, and can be found on the website. Go to the “Your Account” page, view your order history, and you’ll see an invoice for each order. By 8am Saturday, it will show what we expect to have for you that day. After we fill your order, it will show exactly what we packed for you, and what, if anything, was missing. You can view that at any time, even years from now. If we didn’t get you something we should have, or if anything you got was of unacceptable quality, please contact me ASAP. I’ll share the problem with the grower so we can insure it won’t happen again. If you’re logged into the site, most of the growers have their contact info on their profile page (off the “Our Growers” page), so you can contact them directly if you choose.
So, that’s TCH in a nutshell. If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or even complements, please send them my way!
Thanks so much for your support of The Cumming Harvest, all of our growers, local food, and our rights to eat it.
Every Spring we’ve had a Market Festival to help bring in the season, introduce customers to farmers and to hopefully connect with new customers interested in locally grown. I’d like to get a jump start on planning a Spring Market Festival and would like to get a planning group together. If you are interested in helping or even better have event planning experience and would like to help us organize a Spring Market Festival, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have several ways to pay for your order. Check/Cash are preferred, but you may also pay online or with a CC when you pick up. There is a 3% convenience fee to pay online or with your card at pickup.
LOCATION & PICK-UP
Building 106, Colony Park Dr. in the Basement of Suite 100, Cumming, GA 30040. Pick up every Saturday between 10-12pm.
To view the harvest today and tomorrow till 8pm, visit “The Market” page on our website, The Cumming Harvest