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Box a Week program winds down
It is the end of an era.
Last week Mackin Creek Farm confirmed it is stopping its Box a Week program.
“We’re going to downsize a bit,” Rob Borsato, who runs Mackin Creek Farm with his partner Cathie Allen, said. “The box program was about a third of our gross income, and the farmer’s market in Quesnel is another player.”
They are also seeking more balance in their lives, he added.
“We’re not retiring yet, but we need to get a handle on things a bit.”
Mackin Creek Farm is located about 45 minutes drive from Williams Lake along the West Fraser Road.
For the last 18 years, close to 100 people had been receiving the boxes during a 16-week delivery period each beginning mid-June.
“We tried to stay fairly close to Williams Lake, to many of the offices and businesses in town, and individual deliveries if they weren’t too far out of town,” Bob Borsato said.
The intent was always to mimic what a person would have in their own vegetable garden, so the boxes changed as the season changed.
“We’d start with early greens — spinaches and lettuces in the spring, moving into summer crops of squashes, carrots and potatoes, and finishing with late season crops, such as parsnips and cabbages,” Borsato said, adding he and his partner Cathie Allen were going to enjoy some leek and potato soup later in the day.
Generally there was at least a dozen things in the weekly boxes, if not more, he added.
Borasto and Allen raise chickens and pigs for limited sale, and every year they attend the Medieval Fair to sell hundreds of pounds of carrots.
“We still have about 6,000 pounds of carrots in the ground, so we’ve been digging all day today,” Borsato said, adding it’s a race to beat the frost, and he’s banking on a few more weeks before the serious cold weather sets in.
He arrived in the Cariboo in the 1970s and it caught his eye.
“I loved the early springs, the dry Douglas fir forests, the warm summers, and the lower winter snowfalls,” he recalled.
In the mid-1980s when he met Allen they had the opportunity to purchase a piece of land and started the farm in 1988. Around the same time, they helped form the Quesnel Farmers’ Market Association and the Cariboo Organic Producers Association.
By the mid-1990s their interest in growing organic produce was stronger than the local farmers’ market demands, so they began exploring marketing options.
“We learned about box programs — often called CSAs — Community Supported Agriculture — through the local Ministry of Agriculture office, and decided to give this a try,” Borsato said. “Essentially, it is a food guild, where members prepay for the entire season, then get a box of vegetables delivered weekly to their doorstep or place of employment.”
They called it Box-A-Week, and their signature feature was the handmade wooden boxes with the logo branded on them.
“We also included a newsletter with each weekly box,” he said. “It contained recipes featuring produce in the box, and a little bit of chatter about what was happening on the farm at the time, or some food-related discussion.”