The Box Builder

Small Farm Central's Box Builder is a tool that takes the planning and managing of your weekly shares from a complex job and turns it into a simple task. Now, you will be able to create an organized list of the items you want to include in your shares and easily see which member types will receive the share, how much you will need to harvest, and the share's total value. Once boxes are created, you can use them to generate a Harvest List, which will help you to determine what needs to be gathered to fill the boxes. The Harvest List also allows you to specify where you need to collect your goods from, be it from different fields or different farmers. Read on to learn how Box Builder can manage your weekly share organization.

  Building a Box
  Creating a Harvest List
  Viewing Your Packing List

Building a Box

To start, navigate to:

  Member Assembler > Box Builder > Build a Box

Below is an example of a Box Builder form already filled out. The following steps will walk you though the process of creating a share or "box".


Figure 1. Building a box

First, label your box with a name or date and, if you like, add any important notes about the box. Then choose the member type that this box is being designed for. Most likely, you will choose only one member type per box, unless you plan on giving different member types the same goods. For example, if you offer a half share that is the same as your full share, but only gets picked up half as often, then you can build a box for both shares because on the weeks that they are both being picked up, the items will be the same.

Next, choose the pickup locations that will receive this box. The Box Builder will then use this information to calculate the total number of boxes that you will need to pack. Then, pick the date which your box will be picked up by your members so that you know when it will have to be ready.

If you like to try and pack your box according to a certain value, enter that value in the “Goal Value” section. As you add items to the box, you can determine how close you are to the goal value. Some farmers give a discount on the market value of their products to their CSA members. By adding a percentage amount to the the CSA discount section, this feature will take your discount into account when it adds up the value of your box, so that you can get a more accurate picture of what you are providing to your customers. If this does not apply to your CSA program, simply put a zero in the CSA discount section.

Now it's time to add your products. First, name your product, then use the drop-down menu to choose how you will measure the amount of that product. Some of these measurement options include by the pound, bunch, or stem. Then choose the number of units that you want to include in the box and the per unit market value. The Box Builder will calculate the CSA value based on the number of units, the market price, and your CSA discount percentage (if you applied one earlier) and this will appear in the CSA value section.

Once you create a product, it will be saved in Box Builder so that creating future products will be quick and easy! When you are finished creating your box, click on the 'Save Changes' button. You can continue to create new boxes based on the set-up of your CSA. For example, you can create a box for each different member type. If you only have one member type, you can create different boxes for different pick-up locations. There are many possibilities for using the Box Builder to help you keep track of what was given to your members and equally distribute your harvest to everyone.

Creating a Harvest List

Another key feature of Box Builder is the Harvest List. This tool creates a spreadsheet of items that you will need to fill your box (or boxes), the total amount that is needed and the location of these items. Building a Harvest List is easy. Start by navigating to:

  Member Assembler > Box Builder > Build a Harvest

First, label your Harvest with a name or date and, if you like, add any important notes about the Harvest. Then list the date of the Harvest and select which boxes (one box or multiple boxes) you want to create a Harvest List for. You can choose more than one box to be in your Harvest List by holding down the Ctrl key when you click each box you want to include. Finally, the "Adjustment" section allows you to increase or decrease your harvest by a percentage if you would like to collect more or less than what is needed for your boxes.

When you click the 'Save Changes' button, your Harvest List will appear as a spreadsheet. See below:

Harvest_List.PNG Figure 2. Harvest List

You will see a list of all the items in your box (or boxes) as well as well as the total amount you will need for each box you created. For example, if your box included 2 pounds of potatoes, and you have 30 boxes to fill, your "Box Total" for potatoes will be 60, since you will need to harvest a total of 60 pounds of potatoes. The "Total Harvest" column simply adds up the Box Totals of all of the boxes you have included in your Harvest List.

Optionally, the last columns of the spreadsheet list the sources of your items. This is handy if some of your items are growing in different places on your farm, or if you receive certain items from other farmers or markets. You can choose your sources from a dropdown menu of options, or create your own. To create a new Source, navigate to: Member Assembler > Box Builder > Harvest Sources and create custom names for your sources.

Sometimes one item will have more than one source. Perhaps you have potatoes in the Lower Field, in Storage, and even some from a neighboring farmer. To add more sources, click the plus sign link next to your last source column. Then, you can use the "#" column next to each source to indicate how many items you will be getting from each source.

Viewing Your Packing List

When you are ready to pack your boxes, use the packing list tool to print out a list of exactly what needs to go in each box. You can find it there:

  Member Assembler > Box Builder > Packing Lists

You can also use this list to copy and paste into a weekly reminder email, to let your members know what they can expect in their share.

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