Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are on the rise. Through a CSA, you have access to fresh produce without having to go to the grocery store. CSA participation also supports locally grown food that is free from chemicals and fertilizers. Starting an organic CSA is good for the community and reconnects us with the life sustaining power of the earth. It is a great green business venture and a part of the new food economy.
By participating in a CSA, you are able to claim authority over the food you eat. The concept is similar to having a magazine subscription. The members pay the farmers dues up front at the beginning of each season. Those dues are then used to by the farmers to purchase seeds and cover production cost, which insures the survival of the farm. Members then receive weekly baskets of fresh produce.
In order to begin, you need to first find members to join. It always easiest to start with the people that you know like neighbors, family and friends. Businesses, churches, schools and health food stores are existing groups that may be interested as well. If these organizations have newsletters and meetings, take advantage of these opportunities to further promote your CSA. Like many businesses, social networking is a wonderful media outlet that is free to use.
The next objective is to establish a core group. The core group will include farmers and consumer members who will be responsible for working out the details. Core group members work together as a team, broadening ownership, spreading the workload and organizing teams.
Some of the group duties include determining crop selection, share prices, payment schedules, product distribution and volunteer activities. The final stage would be to develop a business plan, which will address share prices, cost of production and organizational cost.
Anyone interested in starting their own organic CSA farm first needs to be familiar with organic farming practices. If you do not have experience, you can always begin by volunteering at another CSA.
It takes a community of volunteers to help the farm function leading up to, during and after the growing season. CSAs are constantly looking for extra help, and it is a good way to learn the ropes. Staring a CSA is fulfilling, educational and rewarding. All you have to do is start small and think big.