After promising myself that I would not dabble in CSA again I have started a small CSA that will run November through mid January. I limited it to no more than 6 members and I believe I have 5 members (4 have definitely committed and the 5th person sounds serious but have not heard from her).
I did a CSA for 10 years here in EC Indiana/SW Ohio and it never did well for me. But I realize that I was just a bit too far ahead of the curve on this idea. In the past 6 to 9 months there has been a huge increase in interest for CSA and perhaps the CSA will do what it was supposed to do for us-replace most of our farmers markets as an income maker.
I did make a big change in the CSA-No delivery-all members must come to the farm to get their food. this way we are not spending time driving around and the members get to see the farm and have connection with the farm. Also we will know all of our members (the last year we did CSA over half the members were unknown to us because we did delivery and they could sign up over the web at my LocalHarvest store) and thus be able to form and nurture community
I will see how this does through mid Jan and than go from there. I would love it if I can do an early spring CSA and than go on to do a spring/summer/fall CSA with 20 to 30 members
that sounds really good ohio. we have not been involved with creating a CSA or being a recipient of one, yet. the one thing i liked that you mentioned was the clients coming to your farm for pick-up. i know when customers come here and see the hands on experience they seem to purchase more. hope it really works out well for you. keep us posted!
Post by canadamike on Oct 24, 2008 20:52:06 GMT -5
I have been asked many times to start one, I could easily get 10 or so families right from the start, but the dedication it is asking to my friends who have one makes me wonder if it is worth it without some other place to sell. My friends are pondering that too I think.
For us, well, for me, the best would be to get together 3-4 small producers and have a couple of sales spots, one at the market for the week-end and one during some week days, so all our extras would have a chance to be sold. Since you HAVE to overgrow everything just in case, a small group could provide enough variety and ample supply to keep a clientele, by using the extras, and some veggies planted just for it.
After running one for only one year I decided to stay far far away from that idea forever in the future. Too many "false issues" with customers who are too picky as far as personal taste, everyone is a critique and apparently everyone also seems to think that they know all there is to know about agriculture.
I wish you luck with it though, if you can find a good group of co-operative customers it can be a great thing. Next year I'm just going to hit the farmstand hard in Pekin, hit up the two local stores I sell too and the co-op in the neigboring county and burn it up at the farmers market and here at the house.
Keep us updated on how your doing! I wish you great success friend!
Just a farmer/gardener with a message board! homegrowngoodness.blogspot.com Average last frost May 10, First Frost October 15'th. Hot and Humid Summers. Full sun plots, rolling hills, plots planted on southern and south western facing slopes. Greenhouses kept at 70 Degrees F.
I started a CSA this year and found it to be both rewarding and stressful.
The reward is knowing that folks are getting wonderful food for a great price without the crud in commercial food. And that I own my own company. The stressful part, weather. It was a horrible year for weather where I live. From tornados, gale force winds and drought it was a bit of a challenge at times.
Will I do it again? Yes. Will it be smaller yes to that as well. I also like the education piece as well. Educating my shareholders on heriloom( most of the garden I have is heirloom), is just as much fun as getting my nails dirty.
The challenge for me is time. I have a toddler and live rural which keeping both happy (Garden and my kiddo) is like balancing a dull knife on my nose.
I say congrats to you and my hats off to you as well. It will be a great service to all involved.
How much people do you service peapod? And how much do you charge? The number of families might be part of the solution for me. But if I had to charge 300$ for it like Alan, pfffft, I'd rather take a wee off from gardening and make commissions in my real job, then do like I do, give a lot to people who want it or need it. There is much to enjoy in freedom, and I want to do trials and research, along with breeding.
But at least here with everybody doing all these experiments, we might have part of the solution in terms of cultivars to select in case of horrible weather, which seems to come more often now, a pattern I don't like very much... but if it keeps going on like the 3 last years, we'll have to do with it...
I charged 400.00 for a "share" and I served 12 families. It was very frightning at frist. Since I had never had the pressure of feeding families before. I will only do 5-8 families next season so that my family can enjoy me once again.
I also do give quite abit of the produce to folks. That is important to me as well. We live so very rural that the 400.00 covered fuel for I delivered to a specified location each week. I had a contract written so that each person/ familiy knew that they were/ are part of a company and if I have crop failure, for example if a local business shuts thier doors and you need to return an item you cant, that crop failure is shared by all. I have never had total crop failure. However certain foods did not do well this year and the "share holders' did not get those items.
I may sound mean but really not. I made up for it in other areas. We raise chickens and I gave eggs in packages when we were hit with the tornado and I planted more beans so folks could freeze or can. I also made jars of pickled beets for each family as gift.
I have a few questions for you... Living in Canada how long is your growing seson? I imagine quite like mine her in MN. Short lived and sad when it goes down the drain when bad weather hits
How much or what kind of food do you put in the bag/box for folks?
Yes there is freedom in not having to feel the pressure of feeding people and that is my biggest stresser. I have done very little in the seed breeding dept. Which leads me to the third and final question.. What do you breed? and can you put those food items in the package for taste and feedback? I grow mostly heirloom everything. I will not grow hybrid. Just my belief and have no judgement for any one who grows hybrid.
One more question... if you dont mind.
What tomatoes do you like to grow in your short season that have decent flavour and a decent producer.
I tried Black From Tula's for the first time this year and glad to say they survived the worst of the worst. If you have not tried them... I have some seeds that I would be more than happy to share if you are intersted.
Mike you should do a small CSA for say 3 months. Don't under charge-I am charging $25 a week for the winter CSA. Now that I have done the first week I realize I am charging too little as the pick-up is every two weeks and not weekly and the members should be getting more food than they are. Also because I am down to one farmers market a month and have very little going on in the way of sales (other than the CSA) i have a lot of food to move. So my dilemma is how do I not rip myself off? I have food that needs to be used but if i put too much into the CSA shares I devalue my crops. I have discussed this with a couple of the members and they all think I should just collect more money but since the CSA has started I am not willing to do so as I set the price at $150 for 6 weeks.
I do know I will likely be raising the price for the main season CSA to $30 a week which would be $360 for 3 months.
Peapod, you should charge for delivery- when you deliver you are putting wear and tear on your vehicle, paying for fuel and your time away from the farm. I used to charge $50 per share for delivery for the season. Of course, I was doing this in an attempt to get people out to the farm to pick up their food and develop better community and get the members in touch with the farm. But I found all of them would rather pay for delivery
FYI the first Boulder belt Eco-Farm CSA share had the following 2 pints of strawberries 3 leeks 4 peppers 1/2 pound baby heirloom lettuces 1 pound Napa cabbage 1 small bag of either tarragon, thyme or dill 3 heads of heirloom garlic 1 bunch Easter egg radish 1 charantais melon 1 pound turnip greens 2 pound keiffer pears 2 pound Dr Matthews apples 1 pound yellow onions
Thanks for thesdvice Ohio. I much appreciate it. One thing I want to do to avoid the complaints my friends are having is follow your lead in fruits. People are just crazy for them. They would kill for good strawberries and great melons. Fruits are very expensive at the grocery store and they taste like shit. On the other hand, lettuce is quite acceptable. So perceived value right there for the customer in your case.
I think it's wise and good business practice Thumbs up my friend.
Thanks for the great idea. And you just gave me a pretext to et more heavily into small fruits. If I was closer I would give you a hug!
Peapod, I am not into the CSA thing yet. I grew a little stuff for a restaurant, but then the chef left and the replacement has a father who sells at the market, so I guess you can understans I gave a lot of stuff away.
I am gearing to sell a t the market next year and there is also a very popular convenience store right by the big pharmacy in town that want's me there outside, there is room, it is a very busy place downtown, so I think I'll go there. I am REFLECTING on this CSA thing.
I have beeen ask for a column in a local paper on gardening, so it would also make me well known.
I DO NOT BOTHER with earliness in tomatoes at all. It has been my experience that there is not much reliability in so called earlinesss, and the tomatoes designed for that ( glacier, sub-artic maxi etc...) only preceeds my main season by a few days, sometimes not even. So-called late tomatoes are more predictable, they usually are! But I do not care. We have a summer that is more than enough for tomatoes anyway. If there was one tomato I would want as an early, it would be BLOODY BUTCHER, a delicious small 2 ounces tomato loaded with flavor and the firs one to give some fruits this year, also the last, along with Paquebot's famous WISCONSIN 55, a very late one for me, but boy is it productive in the 6-10 ounces category. I love the blacks, and ANANAS NOIR and JAPANESE BLACK TRIFELE are just huge producers here. CLEAR PINK EARLY, NEW BIG DWARF are also fantastic, as ZIGAN is, another black. BLACK PLUM will see more room next year, I love the color in a sauce, as much as the taste. COPIA will also make a big comeback, with ORANGE BOURGUOIN being the pin up tomato of the garden.
Next year, I will also test drive many unknown to me accessions of GRIN-CANADA, all with names I never even read.
You're right, we should have pretty much the same climate, mine being probably higher in humidity during summer.
Ohio, Thanks for the information. I being a novice in such things had learned quite a bit this past year witht he CSA. I vascilate between doing it next season as well. I am going to be growing out some food for American Gardener to start his seed business and that excites me more than selling. I want to have a stand on our property for folks to purchace thier fresh produce from us. The trick is getting the folks to make the trip to us. We live so rural that that is the stuggle.
I am diligent with telling everyone, even those who have heard my dream for a long time now, that we will have a stand at our home for everyone to get their food from.
I have a bumper sticker that says "who's your farmer"
I know I need to charge more. It was my first year and what learning curve it was.