This past summer, my wife and I grew a large, luscious garden and opened up a roadside stand (West’s Homegrown Produce) to the right of our garage in Gloversville. As we grew, we became more and more convinced that we could better serve our customers and our farm if we formed a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
More people each year are being exposed to the CSA concept as both farmers and consumers realize the benefits to be reaped by all parties. If you haven’t yet heard about it or if you are considering joining a CSA, you’ll want a general idea of what’s involved.
A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables and fruit that vary slightly each week according to the season. Interested consumers purchase a share in the farmer’s harvest (think of it as a membership or subscription), and in return receive a box of seasonal vegetables and fruits each week throughout the farming season.
This arrangement creates many rewards for both the farmer and consumer:
Advantages for Farmers
- Get to spread time marketing the food early int he year, before their 16-hour days in the field begin
- Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm and cash flow
- Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
- Know exactly what, when and how much your customers want well ahead of time
Advantages for Consumers
- Eat ultra fresh food with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
- Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
- Get to visit the farm at least once a season
- Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm, even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
- Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
- All of the above, in many cases, can be obtained at restaurant wholesale prices
It’s a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and, in some areas of the country, there is more demand than there are CSAs to fill it. If you live near Gloversville, Johnstown, or anywhere in Fulton County, NY, I hope you’ll look into becoming a part of our family farm! Learn more about our particular CSA program here.