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CSA Choices

Posted 1/21/2011 12:59pm by Reuben DeMaster.

     On Wednesday, I attending a gathering of farmers who operate CSAs ranging in size from 2000 to just beginning.  We listened to the stories of how various farms began and grew and what challenges they faced along the way.  Each farm had its own unique style and mission and each farm had overcome many obstacles to acheive their success. 

    One thing that I noticed during the meeting was that each CSA struggled with both share size and price.  Farmers generally want to provide vegetables at a price that people can afford yet they constantly face steep labor, energy, and equipment costs.  Many farmers find that shares with too many vegetables can have a negative impact on customer satisfaction.  When people are not able to use all of the vegetables in their share, they feel like the food is wasted and do not continue with the CSA.  Several farms have started comparing the cost of the CSA vegetables with the cost of purchasing from a farmer's market.  At the end of the year, a farm can then show the cost effectiveness of a CSA membership. 

     Different CSAs also differ significantly on the question of how much choice to provide.  The CSA model began with almost no choice offered, but it has become more common recently.  After talking with several friends about the issue, I have decided to offer some choice in the Willow Haven CSA this year.  Members who pick up at the farm will be able to choose some of the vegetables that they receive.  For example, members might be able to choose 8 items out of a possible 10.  Members might also choose to pick two of the same item.  I will have to work out more of the details this spring and throughout the season.  Pick-up times for this option will also have to be limited so that the vegetables do not sit out for too long. 

     Farm pick-up customers will also receive more cut flowers this year and I may consider offering a flower share next year. 

      Members of the Willow Haven CSA should also realize that the home delivery service is not offered by most CSAs.  While it may become more common in the future, this service is still unique. 

      I hope that some of you will enjoy the farm pick-up option this season.  Please let me know how we can make it work for you.

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