Towards a CSA Model - Farm Member Shares
The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) structure has become the most popular way of selling for small market garden farms like ours. Within this model members of the community purchase shares in the farm harvest for the season. For a set price they receive a “share” each week of fresh produce, typically chosen by the farmer, according to seasonal availability. Shares are either picked up at the farm, delivered to your door, or to a central drop off point. There are some differences in how CSA memberships are structured. Some offer more or less choice from available produce. Some offer different seasons and sizes of shares. Some offer payment schedules and others require the full share be paid upfront at the beginning of the season. Some offer wobrkshares or sliding scale shares to offset the price of the share for those with limited income.
The CSA model works very well for small farmers as it provides an important injection of funds into the farmers’ hands at the outset of the year when expenses are highest. Cash in the spring helps with the purchase of seeds, compost and equipment upgrades necessary to get the season underway. It also allows the farmer to plan their crop selection and volumes with the certainty of known sales channels.
Customers who chose to purchase shares in CSA farms are often people who appreciate the closer relationship they develop with the farmer, knowing where their produce is being grown and how. CSA members often have opportunities to visit the farms and receive regular communication in the form of newsletters or blog posts (like this one) and so learn more about local food production and the particular farm and farmers they purchase from. Typically the produce in the boxes is picked the day before or even morning of delivery providing for much fresher vegetables than you could ever get in your grocery store. And, many who support CSAs are happy to cut out the midpoint in the supply chain and have their money go directly to a small farm rather than get filtered through one of the large multinational corporations that dominate the food supply system.
At Coyote Song Farm & Forest we have decided upon a slightly different model for our first year. As we are just starting out and have not yet demonstrated to our customers (or ourselves!) the quality and quantity of vegetables, herbs and flowers we can produce we want to take some time to gear up to a more typical CSA model. As such, we are offering a limited number of customers the option of buying Farm Member Shares in $100 increments. For each $100 share you will receive $115 to spend on Coyote Song produce and/or flowers. Members who purchase three shares are eligible for a 10% discount on Farm Stay glamping bookings. All who purchase shares will be invited to Members’ Days at the farm (Covid precautions permitting). Members’ Days will be a chance to visit the farm, see your food growing in the fields, walk the trails through the forest and get to know your farmers Liz & John a little better. And, as a bonus, visitors will leave with a jar of fresh cut flowers!
The purchase of Farm Member Shares provides you, the member, with fresh produce, discounts and farm experiences and supports us, your farmers, in the commitment to source a portion of your fresh produce from Coyote Song Farm & Forest.