Our Community Supported Agriculture model is an updated take on the traditional CSA that follows it roots back to Japan. A CSA at it’s core is a commitment between farmers and eaters to support each other. Members make a payment in the spring to our farm and in return we provide a ‘share’ of the harvest over our 26-week harvest season.
After 8 CSA seasons we’ve continued to evolve our model to better serve our members and create a business model that complements our independent farm start-up. We’ve given members either/or choices at pick-up and offer for purchase items to give folks flexibility in volume and taste. We have also responded to over abundance and trimmed our weekly amount in each share. Instead we have worked to stretch our harvest over a longer period and keep our membership price low.
Before every pick up members receive a newsletter reminding them of their pick-up, letting them know what they can expect and offering tips and recipes to prepare their bounty. We also invite members out to the farm a few times a season for events and every pick-up is an opportunity to enjoy the farm, catch up with the farmers and make connections and share recipe ideas with other members.
We’ve also updated how we fill shares and distribute risk from the traditional model. With traditional CSA’s, members are restricted to just what the farm grows that season. So if zucchunni does well and corn doesn’t you can quickly be over burdened by zucchini. While we grow over 40 different vegetables, herbs and greens and supply well over 90% of our shares, we do find that we can leverage our relationships with other farms to satisfy a broader range of seasonal favorites. Our model gives us the freedom to buy-in produce from other local farm to expand variety while distributing our surplus through other outlets. Keeping these farm-to-farm channels allows us to insure against crop failure while incentivizing us to maximize production and efficiency and strengthening our Local Farm Community.
As every farmer knows there is no off-season, just changes in priorities. By focusing on sales and marketing, repairs, plans, orders and other administrative tasks during the cold and short days of winter we free-up time during our growing season to focus on production. Because so much of our costs occur before harvest we ask our members to make a payment before their first pick up. This allows us to purchase seed, make repairs and updates to equipment and infrastructure, and take care of our annual operating expenses before our busy season begins.