Swap Box Survey Results

During Week 5 of the 2011 Harvest Season, we invited all shareholders receiving a box that week, about 1,200 people, to give us their opinion of the Swap Boxes that appear weekly at each delivery site. Thank you to all who participated in the survey! We are grateful for your feedback and are discussing ways to implement your suggestions.

103 shareholders took the survey, and here are the results:

In your opinion, please rate the effectiveness of the swap box as being a trading place for shareholders:

The swap box as a trading place is:
Very effective                 48.8%
Effective                        34.5%
Neutral                          11.9%
Ineffective                      4.8%
Very Ineffective              0.0%

How often do you leave items in the swap box?
Never                                      14.6%
About once a month             23.3%
Twice a month                       33.0%
Weekly                                   17.5%
Other (please specify)          11.7%

  • depends on what’s in the boxes
  • I have not done this yet.
  • Occasionally
  • 2-3 times a season
  • I was unaware of the swap box until today – I will definitely swap!
  • couple times a season
  • almost never
  • It depends.  I like Kale and will always trade something if I see Kale in the swap box.
  • The one time I saw it I left something!
  • Rarely
  • on occasion est 2x during 20 wk share

How often do you take items from the swap box?
Never                                      2.9%
About once a month             25.2%
Twice a month                       42.7%
Weekly                                   17.5%
Other (please specify)          11.7%

  • occasionally if I am one of the last to pick up and items remain.
  • depends on what’s in the boxes, I only take something if I leave something
  • I have not done this yet.
  • Occasionally
  • See above, I’ve noticed the swap box, but was unsure as to what it was and didn’t want to hijack someone’s veggies.
  • 3 times a week
  • Rarely is there anything desirable in the box.
  • when there is vegs …..i dont leave anything if there isnt anything to swap
  • almost never (see comment)
  • Depends.  I like Kale and will always trade something if I see Kale in the swap box
  • The one time I saw it I took something!
  • on occasion est 2x during 20 wk share

How often do you find the swap box empty?

Never                                      35.3%
Rarely                                     36.3%
About once a month             7.8%
Twice a month                       11.8%
Weekly                                   2.0%
Other (please specify)          6.9%

  • Since I host the drop site, I see that every week the swap boxes are empty by noon.
  • I’ve only noticed the swap box last week and thus haven’t looked.
  • Just when I’m the last to pick up
  • It is often empty by 5 pm-3x/mo
  • Always, late in the day
  • almost every week.by 9am its empty
  • I’ve only seen it the once and it had two lonely garlic scapes in it. :P
How often are you not able to locate the swap box?
Never                                      85.4%
Rarely                                     6.8%
About once a month             1.0%
Twice a month                       0.0%
Weekly                                   3.9%
Other (please specify)          2.9%

  • often – 3x/month
  • The first two weeks I didn’t see it.
How long have you been a shareholder?
0-1 year                                 18.8%
2-5 years                                59.4%
6-10 years                             13.9%
11+ years                               7.9%
What suggestions do you have to improve the swap box?
  • I think we need more to start with and possibly a reminder that the swap box is for swapping not just taking. I noticed a big difference starting last season. In previous years the swap box had a good mix of items but now it only has 0-3. If I pick up later in the day it is usually empty.
  • I think you’ve done a pretty good job, no improvements needed!
  • Thanks for pointing out it’s a swap – take 1, leave 1. Keep reminding us now and then. I honestly forgot, and took a surplus thing once w/o dropping off.
  • none, the system works great as is.
  • I think it works fine.
  • Make it easier to identify which is the swap box, where you leave an item when you take one, and the box that has “extra” stuff.
  • None
  • None. It works great!
  • i think it works fine in it’s simple form.   as long as the drop site isn’t having a problem with messes or anything
  • I think reminding people that it is designed to be a trading place should happen more often.  I regularly see people using it as a “bonus” box instead of a swap box.
  • You could put a few more things in there to start with. I get there at 9 and there are usually 3 -4 items.
  • I think the swap box looks good in Downers Grove. There are always multiple items in it.
  • Maybe some indication of when things in it are extra versus actual swaps? I’m never sure if its ok to take something or not without putting something in.
  • I love it!  Especially when we are on the 4th or 5th week of a veggie my husband hates but I love, which shall remain nameless, zucchini.
  • clear (creative!) poster at the pickup location near swap box as a suggestion and reminder.  I think people should be encouraged to truly swap, not just take.
  • The swap box is never empty but there is very little in it (usuallly a bunch of greens), and whatever it is looks wilted.
  • Seems to work well at our location.
  • None.  Its fine.
  • it’s almost impossible for me to resist taking one more of something because the vegetables are so wonderful
  • One week the swap box was placed in the sun. I moved it. Not sure if this is something that you can control. Also, maybe bag items that are 1 item. One week I took some garlic scapes (Yum!) and I wasn’t sure how many items I needed to leave in exchange.
  • I like the idea of it and use it to swap out things I don’t use as much of.  Unfortunately, some people just take from it without leaving anything for later people.  This year seems to be better than last year, however.
  • Put in items there aren’t enough of to put in each box rather than more of what everyone has too much of already!
  • I love the swap box, it gives me an opportunity to put the things I may not utilize to good use for someone else, and I will occasionally benifit from someone elses dislikes.  If there is nothing in the swap box, loooks like everyone is happy withg what the got. Works great.
  • seems to work OK
  • Nothing, the concept is simple.  Put in what you do not want and take something you do.  Just make sure you add if you take!!
  • A VERY large sign that reminds people that it is an exchange.
  • no improvement needed! a great idea!
  • I’m sure this will change as more things come ripe but so far this year there hasn’t been variety.  Chances are good that the thing you don’t like is one of the two vegetables in the box.  This and the smaller boxes make it hard to find things to swap for.
  • I think folks see it as an “extras” box rather than a swap box and take but don’t leave anything behind. Might be helpful to add a note to the box “if you take you leave”.
  • I’m pretty happy with the way the box functions. I’m happy to have this option. I know not all CSAs offer this, and I’m thankful to be able to swap out items for something else!
  • wish people would swap and not just empty the box
  • I think it works well for me.
  • Make sure it is left in the shade
  • none – although this is the first time I’ve heard that you’re supposed to leave something if you take something…oops!
  • If the swap box has surplus items, why do I need to leave something – won’t that just end up with leftovers? In my experience, there is usually plenty, and I’m guessing it all evens out in the end even without that restriction.
  • as much as we would all like to assume the Golden Rule and the honor system, the reminders about what it is for are a good idea.
  • I love the swap box!!!  It’s great to have the option to switch something out!
  • It’s hit or miss.  Usually, the good stuff goes early and the stuff few people want fills up the box.
  • Probably just to make the starting pile a bit bigger…i think if you come a bit later it might be empty.
  • Nothing.
  • Just a reminder in our newsletter about its existence.
  • Nothing! So far as I can tell it works fine.

Please use the space below to include any other comments that you may have.

  • I think the swap box is a really nice feature of this CSA. I try to use everything in my box even if it’s a vegetable that I’m not as familiar with or fond of. That said, sometimes I know I won’t be able to use something or want more of something else. For example, I have no use for sage since I’ve got a ton in my own garden and sometime I need an extra eggplant to have enough for the recipe I want to make.
  • I haven’t seen any dill yet. Hopefully that’s still coming if not please grow some next year. Also pickles. Not just big cucumbers, but the little pickles are delicious and a must on a European table. Thanks for your hard work.
  • Keep the swap box!!!  The honor system, community-minded spirit captures one of the most positive aspects of being a shareholder: choosing to join a group where we give rein to our better natures.
  • Since I am new to CSA and am being introduced to new veggies, I often do not know what some of the vegetables/herbs are named. I would love to see a listed posted at the pick up site!!!
  • We are just not sure can we or cannot to take something additional from the swap box. We hesitate to take any additional. Only when we came after work as a least one to pick up our box we took one item from swap box. Four items were still in the box.  Where that surplus would go? Is it for the host? How it is work? Just wonder.
  • I’m a little unclear on using the swap box, because we aren’t supposed to open up and pick through our box at the site according to the directions.  One time I had a bad watermelon, so came back & got something else.  I found out that I’m growing lemon balm (didn’t realize) so sometimes I leave the lemon balm.  Also promised my hubby that I wouldn’t bring home any rutabagas, so left those.
  • We always leave something if we want to take something.  but I dont have a problem if people take extra stuff they can use.
  • I love the swap box, it enables me to trade the vegetables my family doesn’t appreciate as much for those that are more favored!
  • My only issue with the swap box, is that I don’t want to take the time to go through my box to see if there is anything I want to leave at the time I am picking up my box.  So, I end up being more of a taker than a giver.  But I only take something if I really want it and will use it.  Sorry, I don’t have any good suggestions for how to deal with that.
  • The swap box makes every week like Christmas.
  • I usually will take one more of something especially if it makes it easier to split the share with our partners.  Like, if there’s three ears of corn than I’ll take one more to make it an even number.
  • I never picked up the veggies when I got them in Chicago. And my sister never used the box. Since I have been picking up, I LOVE the swap box. I have swapped every week except the first 2. I pick up early so maybe it by the end of the day it might not be as good.
  • I’ve never had any trouble with the swap box. We pick up in North Oak Park and I am usually one of the last to get my box. That’s why I’ve taken from the swap box without giving an item back. I didn’t know it wasn’t allowed!
  • I think it’s wonderful!
  • Shareholder education is always going to be a bit difficult, I think.  People tend to be busy and thoughtless these days.  As I said, this year, so far, things have been better than past years, with some leftovers right until the end of the night.
  • I’m one of the guilty parties – I take more than I give…
  • We are getting too much lettuce!  Not enough stuff to cook!
  • I like the swap box and sometimes use it, I don’t think my share includes extras from the box, so if it’s empty, I think that’s fine.
  • Sometimes we get behind getting through a particular vegetable (like lettuce), so the box gives us a way to swap some of the next weeks lettuce for something we’re getting through better, and hopefully someone else who’s eating more lettuce can do the same—less spoilage and waste.
  • seems to work OK
  • Honestly, I’ve felt guilty about taking from the swap box and not leaving anything, but there’s nothing we receive in our boxes that I DON’T want, so that’s why I never leave anything.  To clarify, I don’t take a lot from the swap box, and since I don’t do the pick up each week, (I share the box), don’t take from it on a weekly basis.  What I do wonder is what happens to the items in the box at the end of the day…does the homeowner at the pick up site keep it?  Also, if the box is meant to be for both people leaving what they don’t want, and Angelics to leave surplus, how is one to know the difference so that perhaps taking a “seconds” item would be okay to do without leaving something?
  • I recently heard someone call a friend and tell them what was in the swap box , and ask if they wanted something… They spoke very quietly…
  • while I know the idea is to “swap” the location we pick up from is often full of veggies so the owner told us to take whatever we need.  I have never seen it empty.
  • the swapbox always seems to be full, so i often take something and dont leave anything.  it is overflowing sometimes.  but then your emails make me feel bad that i do this, but it really seems okay.  if there is surplus, why not take it?
  • sometimes by 9am there is nothing in the box……….maybe it would be better to just put extra stuff in the box we pick up and forget about the swap box…………..too bad tho….cause untill last year there was always stuff to swap and it was fun…………..
  • I like the swap box. Some weeks, I can not use all my vegetables, so I leave some. Other times I can get a little extra of my favorites. Over the season I try to make sure I do not take more than I leave, but not from week to week.
  • I usually only take items from the swap box when there has been a notice from the farm that surplus has been left in swap boxes, esp. if it is corn.
  • Keep doing them, they work and are a great way to tailor one’s individual tastes.
  • Can’t really complain – it’s a nice gesture.
  • I think the swap box is extremely useful.  I love being able to leave yucky things (like eggplant!) for someone who will enjoy them, and pick up something in return.
  • It is a great idea to have.
  • I have not had any problems with swap box.  I noticed that over the years it has become leaner, but I assume that is from an increase in shareholders….
  • Awesome idea!
  • Love the idea!  Very practical/easy way for shareholders to tweak their weekly offerings.  One farmer’s “unwelcome weed” is another’s farmer’s favorite taste sensation!  Thank you for keeping the veggie bounty as yummy as possible.
  1. As the host of a site, I’m glad when the swap box is empty by the end of the day — then I don’t have to find homes for extra veggies. It isn’t nice if it’s empty by mid-day, though, because then later picker-uppers miss out on the fun of swapping. I’m not sure how to handle that as everyone isn’t picking up simultaneously.

    I think it makes sense to “even out” your swapping across the season (so if you leave something today, take something next time), but if you’re taking something mid-day, leave something, so the later people can swap if they want.

    I agree with the idea of taking something to make splitting a share easier if there are “extras” in the swap box — esp. if it’s something that is in a bag and may not last the day on a hot day. Last week I suggested share-sharers take an extra bag of cilantro because it was so hot I thought it would suffer sitting on top of the swap box in a bag all day.

    Always be considerate of other shareholders at your site when using the swap system. Keep the “share” in shareholder!


  1. Pingback: 7th Harvest Week: Saturday Delivery, July 30th, 2011 « angelicorganics

  2. Pingback: 7th Harvest Week: Wednesday/Thursday Delivery, July 27th and 28th, 2011 « angelicorganics

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