The raspberry disaster

We sent the following letter to our CSA members on Friday, June 12th, after hearing word from across the mountains that 80 flats worth of pre-sold raspberries were decimated by last week’s heat wave.

Thankfully, our members were understanding! Many even chose to donate their raspberry payment back to OPMA to compensate the farmers for their loss at the hands of the unpredictable weather.

We cross our fingers that this season’s unusual heat does not continue to wreak havoc all season long.

Dear CSA members,

You are getting this message because you responded to our offer several weeks ago for a flat of raspberries to be included with your first CSA box. Some unfortunate news came in to us today: Those raspberries will not be coming.

We apologize for what may be a disappointment. We were very happy to receive so many orders and hate for your raspberry cravings to be left unsatisfied! Rest assured, there is a legitimate and sobering reason for the change of plans   

The Reason

As you may or may not know, the fruit for our fruit share and all of our bulk fruit orders comes from farmers in eastern Washington through a partnership we have with a farmer cooperative called OPMA. When you ordered your raspberries through us, we collated those and placed a few larger orders with OPMA, totaling 80 flats. To ensure the raspberries’ freshness upon delivery, the OPMA farmers waited until today–the day before the first scheduled delivery to Oxbow–to harvest.

Unfortunately for the farmers, for us, and for you, these early-ripening berries succumbed to this past week’s record-breaking heat. That’s not to say they can’t NORMALLY grow in eastern Washington in June. They can. But this past week’s INSANE over 100-degree temperatures across eastern Washington (which baked and split a highway in Spokane) scalded the berries to an unsellable state. The farmers had no option. Early harvest would rot the berries and there is no way to protect bushes from the sun.

So, no berries. We are sure you can understand the differing levels of misfortune here, that “not having raspberries” is a far more serious problem for raspberry farmers than it is for hobbyist raspberry eaters. Still, we’re sorry that we can’t make good on your purchase. If nothing else, we are all granted a learning moment by this misfortune: Although rain and cooler temperatures in spring CAN make us wet and cold if we’re unprepared, they can also make raspberries grow.

Nobody in Washington has missed noticing the bizarre temperatures this winter and spring. In choosing what to be thankful and hope for, please keep in mind that for plants and farmers, “good” weather generally means normal weather.

Now what?

You have already been charged $39 for these raspberries. Here are the options we can offer to rectify this:

  1. You can ask us to donate your $39 to the OPMA farmers who are struggling at the mercy of this year’s unpredictable weather.   
  1. You can ask us to apply $39 worth of credit to your account on our CSA store, which you can use at some point during the season for any of our many add-on products, including honey, coffee, jam, granola, kraut, or soup mixes. You could even use it for a future purchase of bulk fruits or vegetables as they become available.
  1. You can ask us for a refund and we will mail you a check.

Please reply to this email letting us know which option you prefer.

We appreciate your good will and patience as we all deal with this change of plans. We hope at least that this tragedy (it IS a tragedy) provides us all an opportunity to see things differently. Next time someone says to you, “We have been having the BEST weather,” perhaps you can offer another perspective.

On behalf of the team here at Oxbow and the farmers at OPMA, thank you for understanding.   


The Farmers


This article appeared in our newsletter June 15. Sign up.

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