Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Combination CSA Subscriptions

Even though we aren't at a place where we could support supplying a CSA with meat (both in production volume and storage capabilities) I am becoming increasingly interested in the idea of joining with other farms to create a CSA subscription that includes vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs, beef, pork, poultry, and more. It just seems like it would be a great thing for all of the farmers involved and for the consumers. This way people could pick up a box of food that includes much of what they need for a diverse number of dishes. They could have pork one night, beef the next, a veggie meal following that, and even mix in some poultry. The possibilities are endless!

But, what really got me thinking about all this was the article I read about Marin Sun Farms from California, the subsequent comment on that post from "The Farmers", and now an article that I read in "Farmers' Markets Today" (FMT) magazine (that newish publication I think you should check out).

The article in FMT talks about a group CSA in the Chapel Hill/Durham/Raleigh area of North Carolina. This CSA is set up so that the consumers have a choice of participating in any combination of the three options they offer. You can purchase a produce share, a meat share, and a dairy share for various prices and then combine them in any way you would like.

Of course I have no practical working experience with this, but in my mind it could be a good marketing tool for the different farms involved because it will expose them to new potential customers and in turn open up new sales. I could also be a great way to sell some of the things that you seem to have a surplus of (that is what the Marin Sun Farms article was about).

I would love to hear any more thoughts on this subject if you have any. Or if you have any experience about how it has or hasn't worked let us know!

8 comments:

Chad said...

I think there are a few farms doing just that near you (If you are located where I think you are) at the moment . . . http://www.bluegatefarmfresh.com/ is one.

My wife and I take possession of our new 40 acre farm in Lucas county, IA at the end of this year - we'll be looking into setting up something similar to that once we get up and running.

Clicking on my name will take you to my wife's blog - you can see some of the progress we're making there. Somewhat similar to what I've seen here, though you are certainly farther along!

Ethan Book said...

Chad- Yes, I'm aware of Blue Gate Farm, in fact I was there a few weeks ago for their farm crawl! I see that you can add some goat cheese from Reichart's which is pretty cool ... hmm, maybe they would like to add some other stuff.

Also, would love to hear more about what you are doing in Lucas County ... do you live there now?

chad said...

not yet. we live in des moines currently - we'd been talking about retiring to a farm with an apple orchard since we got married, then our first child came along and we figured it would be a better childhood for her and more fun for us if we could start early, so we did!

We'll be taking possesion in december, first priority is to get the exterior of the farmhouse fixed up and resolve some plumbing and electric issues. Then we'll be working towards a mixed farm - veggies, apples, some livestock. We're planning to start by feeding ourselves and a market stand (or something similar) and work our way towards a CSA approach. I'll support us with my IT job in des moines until we can (hopefully) make the farm the primary income.

Mama Podkayne said...

Don't forget honey! :) (I'm Chad's wife, BTW)....

Actually, the farmcrawl is what got us really moving in the right direction for pursuing our dream. Seeing it can be done, small scale, but also watching the joy in my child's eyes as she interacted with everything. The folks at Bluegate are awesome!

Off Grid Ebert said...

If there was a CSA around that supplied milk, eggs, meat, fruit and veggies I'd be all over it! Right now we get our milk from one guy, eggs from the store, veggies from another... It's really a pain, and it's rather expensive too.

sugarcreekfarm said...

I think a meat CSA will be a future offering for us, hopefully about a year from now. I want to get a little more of a handle on how many of what cuts we get out of each animal, so I know how many shares we can commit to and what cuts will be in each share. I don't want to oversell ourselves.

We're going to start monthly deliveries to a couple of towns this winter, and that should help get our customers accustomed to getting a month's worth of meat at a time and planning accordingly.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Combining with a already established CSA worked great for us. We supplied eggs on a weekly basis for a set amount of weeks. Getting paid upfront was great and gave us some operating capital.

We knew how many eggs to produce and had ready made customers for our other seasonal meat products as well.

quirkyknitgirl said...

I think that sounds like an awesome idea--one thing, though, I would say from a consumer perspective, is that offering a wide range of sizes is key. I used to belong to a CSA and had to stop because as a single person, I couldn't eat all of the stuff in their smallest box. It's a shame, because something like that would be super convenient--I'm the type who will do anything to avoid the grocery store.

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