The 'Real CSAs' article from last week obviously touched a nerve -- I got a lot of positive feedback from our farmers about this dedication to farm-based CSAs. I am really interested in this subject and I would like to know how this issue is affecting your marketing in your part of country. Please send thoughts to simon[at]smallfarmcentral.com.
There were some vague comments that California is pursuing a "certified CSA" strategy. Does anyone have more details on this?
Today, I'd like to review some of the responses that I have received so far:
Gary of Ploughshare Farm in Minnesota says:
CSA need to define ourselves before somebody else does this for us. Already, the state of California is looking at ways of labeling CSA’s so that customers can know the difference (potentially for regulation purposes). I welcome some clarity for consumers so that they can differentiate between wholesale subscriptions, box schemes, and farmer driven CSA’s, however those efforts should really come from farmers themselves. In the Midwest, we are trying to organize CSA farmers around such issues. We look forward to this next year in having a CSA conference in the Midwest.
I personally believe that within the definition there has to be some amount of shared risk between customer and the farm. If we start watering this part down then we really take away the key success potential for CSA farmers. This is only one of many issues however that we must wrestle with.
"I like your article. This is an area of much importance to me, this idea of CSA, which for me boils down to having a relationship with a farm."For his response, he shared this excerpt from his weekly CSA newsletter
Much of my life has been devoted to sharing the story and the bounty of my farm. I would like to re-invigorate this impulse. Simply receiving a box of vegetables from Angelic Organics each week may seem like enough for many, but there can be so much more. Deepening ones connection to a farm is a gift for the earth and humanity; it guides us toward love and understanding, which gives rise to healing and transformation. This can lead to real change in our society.
On my film tour, I implored people all over the planet to find a farm to connect with. As a shareholder, you have a place on the earth that you can ponder, visit and eat from. You can directly experience our farm’s weather, workers and soil not only through the box you receive, not only by reading about the farm in our newsletter, but by actually visiting our farm. The more one takes a farm into one’s heart, the more restorative and transformational will this be for humanity and the earth alike. And the more you are involved with our farm, the more we can get to know you. This will help us to find our way together.
"but a csa is different in that it asks its members to assume the risks of a farm, and those can be quite formidable: weather, pests, water issues, soil problems, and the myriad other issues that keep farmers feeling anxious.Your Perspective?
by signing up for a csa, you’re shouldering part of that worry, you’re providing support and emphasizing to farmers that they’re not alone when it comes to facing the hazards. and to do that, you’re taking a risk. most of the time, that risk turns into reward, but there are plenty of stories where that risk turns into loss."
This notion of community involvement and shared outcomes seems absolutely central to the CSA -- that just isn't possible in some sort of wholesale "box scheme".
I'd love to hear *specifics* about how this issue is affecting your marketing -- if you are feeling pressure from these non-farm CSAs, how does that change your marketing approach? Maybe you are trying to be more full-service by offering add-on shares for fish, coffee, or honey? Maybe you are committing to 'telling your story' through a weekly newsletter to tell your members the unique story of your farm?
Send your perspective to simon[at]smallfarmcentral.com.
Missed the original article? Read it here.